Southsiders by Nigel Bird Read Free Book Online

Book: Southsiders by Nigel Bird Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nigel Bird
of rock’n’roll himself. They were on the same tour for a while there.”
    Fish looked at it. His face creased and seemed unimpressed. “This is just an old photograph. It could be anyone.”
    “Course it couldn’t.” Jesse clenched his fists at his side. Felt the volcano in his tummy stir and send heat into his head and his eyes. He wished his dad was there to tell Fish that he was telling the truth. “We’re peas in a pod, me and Tam. Everyone says so.”
    It was true. There was a strong look about the two of them. It was the softness of the eyes. The gentle look to them like they should be priests or saints or vets or something. Not that Tam lived the life of a saint. Or died like one, stabbed in a brawl in the Barrowlands just before his seventieth birthday. Jesse remembered hearing the news the morning after the fight, the same morning they were packing to go over for the party. Remembered his dad locking himself in the bathroom for an age, then hiding in his room and playing his music all that day and the next. Recalled the way his own heart had popped and deflated like a bouncy castle when the power’s turned off.
    The thought of pawning the only things his dad cared about made Jesse ’s insides twist. The guilt gripped hard and grew so that it felt like he’d swallowed a lump of coal. The thought of leaving the pawnbroker’s without the money he needed made it feel like he’d swallowed two. “I need a grand,” he said and was pleased that Tony Fish didn’t laugh.
    An enormous hand at the end of a very long black-suit sleeve reached over Jesse’s shoulder and gave him a shock. He’d thought he was alone with the pawnbroker. The huge hand took the records that Fish handed to it and removed them.
    The man who’d taken the merchandise was a giant. Like Lurch from the Adam’s family and about as cheerful looking. There was a scar running across his face that made him look incredibly menacing. He went behind the counter, slid open a door and placed the records inside. After sliding the door back into place, he rang a small bell and a moment later there was the sound of machinery from upstairs.
    “What’s he doing?” Jesse was half expecting to hear that his stuff was being stolen. Imagined them throwing him out of the shop and laughing at him and his stupid ideas.
    “I understand the value of what you’re offering,” Fish said. “But I do want to be sure.”
    “They’re worth a lot more than a grand. Dad always says the Elvis single’s worth a couple of thou’ at least.”
    “Maybe your dad would like to come down and tell me for himself.” Fish picked up the quill from the desk and scraped a little something from behind the fingernail of his ring finger.
    “He’s dead.” Jesse said it before thinking it through. “And that’s why I need the money, see?”
    “I’m sorry for your loss,” Fish said, and that seemed to end the conversation.
    They sat in silence at the desk for a couple of minutes. Tony Fish seemed relaxed throughout. Jesse tapped his feet to the rhythm of “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock”, Bill Haley, 1954, written by Max C Freedman and James E Myers, put out as a B-side to “Thirteen Women (Only One Man In Town)”, Brunswick Records, colour of the label: black. By the time he’d run the song through his head once, the mechanical sound from upstairs returned.
    When it stopped, Lurch slid the door open and took out the records and a sheet of paper. He carried them over and put them on the desk like some posh waiter serving soup in a fancy restaurant.
    Tony Fish unfolded the paper. “Well, well, well. It seems your dear departed knew his music. My employee upstairs agrees with his valuation and therefore I’d be happy to offer you the amount specified for the objects in question.”
    Jesse’s heart jumped a couple of times and did a somersault inside his chest. He tried his best to look cool and collected, but the broad grin on his face gave him

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