Authors: Malcolm Mackay
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General
– A young man ready to make his way in a world that seems determined to give him few options. He’s smart enough to make his own.
– As unemployable as his best friend Oliver, but much more of a dreamer. There are chances out there for tough young men, he’s sure of it.
– They call her a party girl, but it’s all about work for Ella. Work a horrible job to pay for what will one day be a good life.
Ronald ‘Potty’ Cruickshank
– Certainly the biggest, and probably the most unpleasant debt collector in the business. People are money, and money is king.
– Has looked after his grandson Oliver for a few years now, still worried about what direction the boy’s life might meander in.
– Ruthless, efficient and tough. Don’t let the rough exterior fool you though, he’s more than smart enough to grow his debt collection business in a crowded market.
– Marty is a lot of things. Pimp and debt collector are two of them, and a lot of people find those things ugly. Marty makes money though, and everyone loves that.
– There’s nobody Patterson trusts more than Bavidge. Tough, yeah, and seemingly without emotion, he does his job as well as anyone in the city.
– There are plenty of men like Jim. Big, brutal and inexplicably angry, he bounces from one employer to the next, wasting no time in making himself expendable.
– It’s not easy building a life with a man like Jim Holmes, you have to make yourself at least as tough as he is. So she has.
Gary ‘Jazzy’ Jefferson
– Jazzy provides a public service, lending money to those who couldn’t otherwise borrow. Charge creative interest rates and sell the debt on when they can’t pay. Easy money.
PC Paul Greig
– A cop, and to many, a criminal. He’ll take money from criminals, slip them some info now and then, but it’s all in the name of crime management, you understand.
– Decades doing a steady trade in selling weapons to the criminal industry. A good, reliable, solid individual: who could be better to work for?
– Alex MacArthur’s hard man of choice, therefore a man who doesn’t often have to face consequences. But then, you gamble like he does, and consequences will catch you up.
– A tough guy, sure, but not a smart guy. Doing a few menial jobs for John Young doesn’t make you important, he doesn’t seem to have realized that yet.
– His organization has been running at the top for decades now, but that makes him old, and illness has left him weak. Even he can sense the change coming.
Howard ‘Howie’ Lawson
– A man with connections and no money, looking to get a little by selling guns to the suppliers who desire them most.
– Runs one of the biggest organizations in the city, maybe the fastest-growing too. A lot of people, like Marty, are happy to be under his umbrella.
– People think of them as old men, maybe a little feeble, but you don’t get to be Alex MacArthur’s second in command without being as sharp and dangerous as a razor.
Ronald ‘Rolly’ Cruickshank
– He created the Cruickshank family business, collecting bad debts from weak people, and trained his delightful, beloved nephew to replace him.
– Controls the counterfeit end of the Jamieson business, and controls it well. A man to be trusted, a man to listen to.
– The drug business is a constant battlefield, and Lafferty is the man importing the goods for the Jamieson army.
– Peter Jamieson’s right-hand man, has been since the start. Very little gets past him, so you’d better stick to whatever rules he gives you. Not much to ask, is it?
– He’s the brightest star in the MacArthur organization, which, coincidentally, makes him the biggest threat to MacArthur’s leadership.
– A gun seller, not as cautious as some, not as desperate as others. Always on the lookout for a good connection.
– Mr Typical, when it comes to a debt collector’s clients. A man who only knows the value of what goes into his arm and will pay for it any way he can.
– Ranks among the best muscle in the city. Like all the best, he’s not just brutal, he’s smart too. That’s where the danger lies, and it’s why Patterson hired him.
– Got a reputation for brutality, and once he got it, the offers flooded in. Chooses to work alongside Conn for Patterson.
– He used to be a legitimate bookkeeper with ambitions. Might not be legitimate any more, but he’s still occasionally ambitious.
– Businesses like Patterson’s are built on men like Leven, at the bottom of the ladder, doing the dirty work for him.
– She hasn’t quite switched on to the real world yet. When she does she might just realize borrowing money to pay your previous debt isn’t clever financial management.
– He has a good job working for Chris Argyle, and a sister he constantly needs to keep an eye on. It can be a hard life.
– Everyone’s known for years that Argyle has a growing business as an importer. Always been good at keeping himself off bigger people’s target lists.
– He was Uncle Rolly’s moneyman for years, carried on working for Potty. Not much lately though, poor old sod hasn’t been well.
– Potty’s full-time moneyman, charged with making sure dirty money comes out of the accounts smelling of roses, or any similarly fragrant cliché.
– A pal of Oliver and Alex, a boy with the same problems and the same ambitions. Bigger than them, and maybe a little dumber. Not a great combination, really.
– He’s Marty’s twin brother, and runs a club that Marty uses for some private parties. Whether Adam knows it or not, he’s in his brother’s shadow for keeps.
– In the conversation about hardest men in a hard city, Colgan often tops the list. A man who can scare the beasts out of nightmares.
– Like many gunmen, he’s a hard man to know, harder still to like. If he’s looking for you, you have a problem.
– With his cousin Charlie, he runs an efficient drug business that makes an effort to stay out of the city itself. Why pick a big fight when you’re winning all the little ones?
– Yes, he does get fed up of people calling him and Ian brothers, but who really cares? More than cousins, they’re a damned profitable business partnership.
Donall ‘Spikey’ Tokely
– Trying to elbow his way into the gun market, but he’s mostly selling to the young and inexperienced right now. People like himself.
– He’ll sell you a gun if you want one, whoever you are. In desperate times, anyone who’ll buy is a good customer.
Stephen ‘Gully’ Fitzgerald
– An old-school hard man, taught the likes of Bavidge and Colgan a lot of lessons they’ve put into meaningful practice.
He ended up unconscious and broken on the floor of a warehouse, penniless and alone. He was two weeks in hospital, unemployable thereafter, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that, for a few weeks beforehand, he had money. Not just a little money, but enough to show off with, and that was the impression that stuck.
It had been a while since they’d seen him. Months, probably. They were heading back from the jobcentre having made a typically fruitless effort at sniffing out employment. They went in, they searched the touchscreen computer near the door, and they left. Two friends, officially unemployed since the day they left school together a year before, both willing to do unofficial work if that was available. They bumped into Ewan Drummond as they walked back up towards Peterkinney’s grandfather’s flat.
‘All right lads,’ Drummond said, grinning at them, ‘need a lift anywhere?’ He was as big and gormless as ever, but the suggestion of transport was new.
‘Lift? From you?’ Glass asked.
‘Yeah, me. Got myself a motor these days. Got to have one in my line of work, you know.’ He said it to provoke questions that would allow him to trot out boastful answers.
Glass and Peterkinney looked at each other before they looked at Drummond. There wasn’t a lot of work among their circle of friends. The kind of work that let a man like Drummond make enough money to buy a car was unheard of. They could guess what was involved in the work, but they wanted to hear it.
‘Yeah, we’ll take a lift,’ Peterkinney nodded.
They followed Drummond back down to where his car was parked. Turned out to be a very respectable-looking saloon, not some old banger or boy racer’s toy.
‘Well, yeah, got to keep up appearances you see.’
Glass dropped into the passenger seat, Peterkinney the back. They were in no hurry to get anywhere, but this was too intriguing to pass on.
‘Come on then big man,’ Glass said with a mischievous smile, ‘what’s this big job you got?’
‘Well, uh, I can’t really tell you much. Shouldn’t tell you much, I mean. Hush-hush, you know.’
By this point Peterkinney was leaning over from the back seat, crowding Drummond, knowing he couldn’t keep quiet for long. Drummond’s mouth and brain had always been loosely acquainted, so things he shouldn’t say frequently slipped out.
‘I mean, I suppose I can tell you a bit, but you got to keep it quiet, right.’
‘Sure,’ they answered together.
‘I’m working for Potty Cruickshank. I’m one of his boys.’ He said it with such pride, such force, that they both assumed it meant something. Then they thought about it.
‘Who?’ Glass asked.
‘One of his boys? The hell does that mean?’ Peterkinney asked warily.
‘Nah, nothing like that. He’s, like, a debt collector. I go round and pick up money that people owe him. It’s all legit. Well, sort of, financial services, that sort of thing. Good money, real good money. You know how much I made last week alone?’
‘Isn’t that dangerous?’ Peterkinney asked.
‘Not really, no. Well, now and again, but you got to be tough to make a living these days, guys, that’s how it is. How else you going to make good money?’ Said with wisdom he presumed but didn’t possess. ‘So come on, guess what I made last week.’ He was desperate to tell them by this point and unwilling to wait for a guess that might be accurate enough to take the wind out of his sails. ‘Six-fifty I made last week. Worked four days, couple of hours a day. Six-fifty. I’m telling you, it’s the life.’