Bitter Water

Bitter Water by Gordon Ferris Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Bitter Water by Gordon Ferris Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gordon Ferris
Tags: Fiction, Mystery
through Eddie’s window and a copy for Sandy to peruse on Monday, though it should
have gone out by then. Eddie was doubling up as sub-editor on Sunday. I knew my piece was well enough written, but it didn’t stop me feeling nervous. Eddie was almost as much a master of the
blue pencil as Sandy, sometimes for the sake of it to show who was boss, but mostly because he’d edited more newspapers than got wrapped round fish suppers on a Saturday night across
Scotland. Eddie had done Sandy’s job for years before being promoted to editor.
    He was at my desk almost before I got back to it. He passed me the scarred copy covered in his blue annotations and arrows. I glanced down and saw immediately how I could change it and why.
Seems he loved the bit about crunching bones and wanted more. Eddie knew his audience. He leaned over and tapped the sheet.
    ‘No’ bad, Brodie. But no description of the nutters?’
    ‘Balaclavas don’t let in much daylight.’
    He nodded and left me to rework it. His question had unsettled me for different reasons. I hadn’t mentioned Ishmael and his vow. There was simply no proof. Glasgow was full of Highland
accents. Docherty’s beating was almost certainly the work of a rival shark. A turf battle.
    By one o’clock I’d produced a draft Eddie was happy with. The pressure was off for Monday’s edition. I had the rest of the day to myself and all of Monday morning to get
something fresh on the stocks. For a reporter on the incident-strewn streets of Glasgow, surely a doddle.
    The Docherty article went out on Monday and I had a pat on the back from Wullie McAllister himself over a pint or three that evening. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday stalking the
parched pavements looking for trouble – though my aim was to report events, not provoke.
    The sight of girls in summer frocks distracted me and I found myself detouring via George Square to remind myself how easily the skin of Glasgow secretaries took on a glow. There would be a run
on Calamine lotion in Boots tonight. I couldn’t get enough of the female form after years of being surrounded by shapeless males in khaki. Enforced abstinence gave every demobbed rake a
licence to leer till we’d caught up on the lost time. I think the girls understood that. They might even have missed the attention.
    I got back to the Gazette to cool off and eat my sandwich. But the room was like a furnace, even with all the windows open and a light breeze coming through. At least it dissipated the
tobacco clouds. As I steered my way through the room I caught a hopeful look from wee Morag, the girl I’d taken out last weekend. I smiled and pressed on towards my sanctuary in the corner.
I’d give her the nod later on for a drink after work.
    I hung my sweat-damp jacket on my chair and slid in behind the desk. It was Spartan enough: front and centre an old Imperial with sticking keys; on the right a wooden tray with some draft
articles and my early and as yet illegible efforts at shorthand. On the left sat an ashtray and a wood block with a spike skewering a small pile of letters. Underneath the desk was a single drawer
with a few sheets of fresh foolscap, carbons, typewriter ribbons and a couple of chewed pencils left behind by a guy who never came back from the front. I hadn’t the heart to throw them
out.
    A white envelope perched on the typewriter. It was stamped locally and addressed succinctly to ‘Mr Brodie, Crime Column, The Glasgow Gazette’. Fan mail or barbs? I’d hardly
been with the paper five minutes before the excitable readers of the back pages – the voices of the people, by the people – were unloading their views in a steady stream. Usually
they were sounding off about the rise in violence and the fall in standards of civility. We were all away to hell in a hand basket and they needed to let me know they had no intention of going off
gentle into that good night. There was even a sense that I was somehow to blame for

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