The Black Bag
The Black Bag
Chapter 1 - Harry Soul - The Photograph- Glasgow
Fourteen Years Ago
It’s as cold as a whore’s heart. Harry’s Dad used to say that as he struggled in the morning to light a coal fire in their kitchen and in response his Mum would chase the cheeky auld git round their blue formica table. ‘You dirty minded sod,’ she’d shout. Harry smiled at the memory though he felt the reference inappropriate, surely it was their clients who had cold hearts…and their pimps. He hated sex industry hypocrisy, pay a poor girl to have sex, that’s prostitution and illegal. Pay a girl to have sex in front of a camera, ticketyboo, you’re in the movies. Welcome to Holywood. It’s a thin line between right and wrong in law.
He sucked hard on his cigarette, puffed out a jet of smoke that filled the balcony space in the icy air before it was killed by a sharp stab of wind. Tenth December, frost on the rails, and him in his boxer shorts watching Glasgow rouse reluctantly into a grey dawn. He shivered, he had less meat on him than a vegan sausage. His Mum couldn’t chase a door stop nowadays and she’d had no one to chase since his Dad died just a year past. He’d like to see her right as she got older, get her some decent care, she deserved that.
Harry took a heavy draw on his cigarette. The first of five that he allowed himself since Kenzie got pregnant. First is best, like his girlfriend, the only one he ever had, and he knew that he’d never have another. He peeked through the window at her lying on the bed, her perfectly balanced face always smiling. He could look at her all day long. Nevertheless, he turned back to the city taking another deep drag on his smoke.
Glasgow is mixed like an omelette. Edinburgh a poached egg, the best bits in the middle. ‘Look at me you stuck up bastards,’ he shouted, his voice still morning hoarse. ‘I look down on you.’ Harry stabbed his forefinger towards the source of his jealous rage, a grand row of proud Georgian town houses that lay nine floors below Harry’s council flat. Over a million quid a pop. A million quid to live in the same place as him. In front of them, sat polished CGWs. Kenzie called them that. BMWs, Bentleys, Mercs and Range Rovers. CGWs, Causes of Global Warming. He smirked. At least if you were poor in Edinburgh you didn’t have your nose stuffed in it when you had your morning fag. A wind snuck in round him and he shivered. ‘Some day,’ he thought and flicked his cigarette end over the balcony towards the money. ‘You fuckers are no better than me.’ He spat after his cartwheeling ciggie to seal the insult, turned, slid the door across and entered his pristine council flat.
‘Harry, what are doing out there in your Y-fronts? Dickhead. You’ll lose the end of your wee man, and I love your wee, man.’ Kenzie stumbled over to him as he returned to the flat, wiping her eyes looking full of sexy sleep, long shapely legs hanging out of her sexy sleep gear, a light blue baggy shirt hanging over her shoulders, taken from his collection in the wardrobe. She looked sultry, vulnerable and self assured all at once.
‘Less of the wee…’
‘…wee man, show me your wee man, Harry Soul.’ She laughed loudly as she waddled over to him, hands under her big bump for support, letting them go to throw one round Harry’s neck the other reaching between his legs, fingers teasing and tickling, eyes up to his in longing. He had to bend his back to avoid crushing the bump.
‘Can you not crave ice cream like a normal preggy woman? You just crave more sex,’ he smiled and kissed her, his hands reached round for a bit of cheek.
She screeched. ‘Your hands are like bags of frozen chips. Anyways, more sex? Look what happened last time.’ She giggled and pushed her stomach out making him bend over even more thrusting her waist towards his. Her tone changing from teasing to sexy. ‘Mmmmm, your wee man’s no so wee no more.’ She moaned with pleasure then pulled away taking his hand in her’s to tug him towards the bedroom. ‘Come back to bed.’
‘I can’t love.’ He resisted her pull despite knowing that he had no hope against the temptation of Kenzie and that inevitably and swiftly his resistance would cave in like the foolish builder’s house of sand.
‘What were you doing out there on the balcony?’ Kenzie laughed and leaned back against the pillows side by side with Harry, heads together, both entirely satisfied and in a zone of post sex bliss.
‘Watching our future.’
‘You’re an arsehole, Harry Soul.’
Come here. He pulled her out of bed to the window and out the sliding doors to their little Baltic balcony. Dawn had finally passed into a twilight zone of greys and the city lights turned off in official signal of a new day ahead.
‘See the first house over there.’ Harry pointed to the Georgian houses. ‘He sells drugs.’
‘He owns a chain of chemists, dickhead. I looked them up for you.’
‘Next one along is a loan shark.’
‘He’s a banker.’
‘The fourth along threatens people.’
‘He’s a lawyer.’
‘Yeah, he threatens people. Thin lines, they’re just a step away from us. Someday.’ He stared at her and put his hand up in signal. ‘Stay.’
‘But, it’s freez…’
‘I know, just stay.’ He ran inside, returning seconds later with his mobile. Stand there.’ He pointed to the corner of the balcony. ‘Look sexy.’ he grinned.
‘I always look sexy,’ she false huffed.
‘You sure do, Kiddyo, every second of every day.’
She stood in the corner for the photo. Posed like a model, her skin blue and pink she looked adorable and vulnerable against the dark wet concrete, even darker skies to her right, wind blowing her black bob sideways, big blue shirt billowing. He looked at the image he had captured. ‘Beautiful. You are so fucking beautiful.’
She wrapped the shirt around her. ‘I can hear brass monkeys screaming, Harry, come in back inside.’
Harry thought he’s gonna treasure that photo, take it to a booth later, print it out and buy a fancy gold frame. He stared for a minute longer at the row of Georgian houses imagining carrying Kenzie up the grand steps of the middle one to the front door entering the big atrium and looking up at the cupola three floors above. He’d carry her all the way up the circle of cantilevered stairs to the top bedroom, where he’d have a huge brass bed, a bottle of expensive Champagne on a table in an ice bucket. ‘Someday,’ he said aloud then returned to the bedroom where Kenzie had retreated back to bed. He kissed her forehead and showered. Still half wet, standing naked, he pulled out an ironing board and pressed a white shirt.
‘You watch what you do with that iron, lover boy,’ Kenzie laughed at him.
He ignored her and pulled the shirt on.
‘You’re looking good, going somewhere fancy?’
‘I always look good and that’s why I’ve got a good looking girl in my bed.’ He winked at her as he dressed. ‘Always dress like you’re going somewhere,’ he added.
‘…and where are you going?’ she turned over in the bed to snuggle down.
Harry replied by retrieving a black leather holdall from the wardrobe and thumped it down onto the end of the bed.
‘Hoy.’ Kenzie sat up, rubbing her eyes.
‘You look woozy.’
‘Yeah, just …you know…’ she pointed to her belly. ‘Fancy bag, what’s in there?’
He tipped the bag towards her, unzipped and they both looked in. She couldn’t quite see and made to pull the side down.
‘Careful, Love,’ here, let me. He cautiously tipped the bag towards her. She peered in, making no reply for several seconds.
‘Oh shit, Harry. That’s fucking gorgeous. Where…’
‘…never you mind that. It’s our future. Gotta hide it for a few days then…’ he didn’t finish his sentence, just tapped the end of his nose. Harry forced a reassuring smile, a deception that made made him feel guilty, like he was tricking her by not saying how he had come upon the contents of that bag. He couldn’t tell her because then she’d know and he knew there were people who would do anything to get their hands on this bag. He’d woken with images of The Mad Munro stalking him, tying him to the Chair that he’d heard so much about.
‘…then what Harry?’
‘Never you mind that either.’ He had to do the deal fast.‘You just take care of you and Mr Magoo in there and…’
‘He’s not Mr Magoo. She’s Ingrid Bergman.’
‘Well it looked like Mr Magoo in yon scan last week and who the fuck is Ingrid Bergman?’ Harry wondered then that maybe they should have asked for the baby’s sex but Kenzie wanted a surprise and he agreed because it didn’t matter and he couldn’t wait to be a dad.
‘You don’t know Ingrid Bergman?’
‘No I don’t know Ingrid Bergman.’
‘She was the most beautiful woman in the world. ‘Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time.’
‘Eh yeah ok.’
Kenzie laughed, ‘That’s a line from Casablanca, do you know nothing Harry Soul?’
‘I know you watch too much TV.’
She gave him a sleepy grin. ‘If it’s a girl I want to call her Matilda.’
‘Lean The Professional, I loved that film.’ Harry made a gun shape with his hand.
‘No, Dickhead. Not that Matilda, Roald Dahl’s Matilda.’
Harry laughed. ‘Ah ok, and what if it’s a boy?’
‘It’s not going to be a boy. Boys are just wankers,’ she roared with laughter.
As Harry glanced in the mirror to check his tie, he heard her flop heavily onto the bed. ‘You sure you’re ok love?’ The sound of an intractable yawn followed and he turned towards her as she lay on the bed.
‘You and Matilda in here are taking their toll on my wee body.’ She patted her tummy. ‘I’m going back to sleep. Got a bit of a headache.’
‘Not like you. Sure you’re alright? Don’t need a doctor or nothing?’
‘Naw. Just feel like I’ve had way too much coffee yet I’m dead sleepy.’
Harry bent down to the bed and kissed her longer than he intended. ‘Awe look you creased my good shirt.’ Harry stood and flattened his shirt, straightened his tie, checked the mirror again and turned seeking approval.
‘Harry, you look like James Bond.’
‘See you later Moneypenny,’ he left wondering why, even now, when anyone impersonated James Bond they tried to sound like Sean Connery. Unfortunately he looked no more like James Bond than Spud from Trainspotting. ‘You’re Like a bird with the back hauled out of it’, his dad used to say. ‘You couldn’t pull the skin off a custard tart, son.’ Yeah, thanks dad. Still, Kenzie’s description gave him confidence, something he’d need in buckets given the risks he’d taken to get that black bag and the dangers he faced to trade it. Like that mad bastard Arthur Munro. ‘Fuck him,’ today was going to be Harry Soul’s day and tonight, after he collected Kenzie’s diamond ring, he would do something special for Kenzie and Mr Magoo.