The first time happened a few months ago. He knew I smoked and he’d ran out. “Sure, help yourself” – I gave him half of what I had. Then he came again. And again. In the end I told him I’d given up for a while. Too much work to do. It wasn’t all one way of course. He’d give me a little back, the times I’d see him at the bar.
Now here he was again. 2 o’clock in the freaking morning and I’m stood there naked except for my jeans. I open the door and let him in. “What’s up? You can’t be desperate for a smoke at this time in the morning…”
“Have you seen Gemma?”
“Gemma? Not since yesterday in the bar.”
Gemma was his wife. Sorry, his girlfriend. He told everyone she was his wife. They had a kid when they were young. Stayed together for the last twelve years. She worked in the bar. He drank there. I drank there. We bought each other drinks. Shared a few joints. After hours with the owner, once the tourists had left.
“You got anything to smoke? I’m going mad here.”
I knew it wouldn’t be long before he asked. “Sure, help yourself, let me go find a t-shirt or something.”
He rolled a joint and we began talking. It was late, I was tired and they’d had a fight. They were always fighting. He never worked. Never talked about finding work. They had no money. They lived off her wages at the bar. And her tips. It didn’t go very far.
I know a few years back he was a dealer in Manchester. Made quite a bit from the sound of his stories. Yachts, Mercedes, Caribbean holidays and bling. All that sort of shit. He got caught with over a million pounds in cash and more than a ton of hashish in his apartment. Served 4 years of an 8 year sentence in Alharin before he bought his way out. But now he’d given it all up and was really paying the price. He hated being skint, it was too much of a come-down. So he drank a couple of bottles of wine a day and smoked freebies where he could. Like here and now. In my apartment, when I should be in bed, ready for work tomorrow. I couldn’t be bothered with all this but I’d already opened the door to him…
Gemma was a slight of a woman, stick thin, brunette but with nice tits. Not an ounce of fat on her body. Her arms slightly muscular from all the running around she did. The perfect barmaid, she made everyone feel welcome. All that “What’s that darling?”, “Nice to see you again George honey, the usual is it?” She never stopped moving. Never stopped smiling. Never stopped talking. Beautiful soul. In many ways, Martin was the opposite.
He never moved. I wondered how they’d managed to stay together so long. He never did anything. He was massive. A mean stare. Looked like a thug. I kind of liked Martin, but only in the bar. He had some good stories and a good sense of humour. I like a good story. A good laugh. Maybe that was what she saw too.
”What’s up man? It can’t be that bad” – I didn’t want to know but I felt as though I had to ask. I knew he had his demons.
He’d hit Gemma a few times. Bruised her face once. I didn’t want to drink with men like that. There was no need. It was enough to make me back off. I didn't want to get too friendly with his sort. Didn't want them knocking on my door looking for drugs. That and the fact he’d once came into the bar waving a gun around, looking for some Welsh bloke who’d been renting his mouth off. What sort of lunatic brings a gun into a bar? I didn’t get it. He was big enough to floor most men with one punch. Even the Welsh. Maybe it was all show. Let them know who they’re dealing with.
“Fuck knows, I can’t remember. She came back to make the Sunday lunch and all hell broke loose. I think I may have started it.”
Why is it always something like this? Something stupid like the meat wasn’t good enough. Or there wasn’t enough roast potatoes. I felt sorry for her. She didn’t deserve it. She once told me in the bar she couldn’t get away from him. He was the sort that would come looking for her. Anywhere in the world. She didn't know what to do. I couldn't help. He was too big. Too dangerous. I'm as thin as her, work with computers, smoke too much. No muscles.
“You’ll have to sort yourself out man. Get yourself a job or something, stop drinking so much. Stop smoking so much, it’s making you paranoid”
“You’re right. I’ve been asked to work on a building site next week. 100 Euros a day. I’ve got me and Alan fixed up. I’m giving him 70 a day so I’ll make 130.”
This threw me. It was the first time in all the months I’d known him he mentioned work.
“I was thinking of letting Simon the Moroccan have my job. He’s skint and he’ll do it for 50. So I’ll make 80 Euros a day for doing fuck all. I can’t go back to manual labour.”
I thought as much. Another scam. Another way of living for free. This time it would be his friends as well as his girlfriend who’d pay for his habits. Why not just get a fucking job like me? Sure I was skint from time to time, but I always had a joint to smoke. A bottle of wine to drink. And didn’t he know it. What sort of mug was I to even open the door at this time in the morning? Too soft. That’s my problem. Too fucking soft.
“And I can’t do another stretch in prison.”
He had a point. I heard some of the horror stories from the time he was inside. Spanish prisons weren’t the friendliest of places. Gemma had waited for him back in Manchester. I think she was too scared to do anything else. As soon as he’d been released, the family came down and joined him in Spain. They’d been here ever since. I’d got to know them over the past few months. When they were up, they were a good team. Life and soul of the bar. When they were down he was a pain in the arse and I couldn't be bothered with them. I wished he’d fuck off and leave me alone. The joint was waking me up. I knew I couldn’t get straight back to sleep. Twat.
“You need to do something man, this is not helping anyone”
We finished the joint and he made his way out. He looked quite sad as he walked down the stairs. I think he was regretting the argument with Gemma. More than that, he was probably regretting the fact I didn’t have much smoke to give him. I locked the door and grabbed a mouthful of apple juice from the fridge. The joint had left my mouth dry, and it would be for at least the next 20 minutes. I didn’t care. All I wanted was to get back to sleep.
Walking into the bedroom I threw my t-shirt on the floor and took off my jeans. Gemma crawled out from hiding under the bed. Smiling as she always did. The full moon highlighting the silhouette of her naked body. “Nice tits” - the only thought on my mind and this time he didn’t knock.
The fat bastard just burst through the door. He was aiming for me but he shot Gemma. Then I think Gemma reached for her bag. It was all over in a few seconds. Two or three gun shots more. I don’t know how we made it out of there alive. I don’t know how she managed to shoot him dead. Her arm was wounded. Bleeding. I didn’t even know she carried a gun. I’m still too shocked to remember, to tell the truth. And Gemma’s still too afraid of him to tell me.
You got any cigarettes, Officer? Spanish prisons aren’t the friendliest of places…
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