It was time to get up.
Time to ratchet the old eyelids skywards, ease the cheesegrater throat with a
Sure, it was time to get up, but the old eyelids were in no mood for ratcheting, the old frame spoke powerfully against leverage, and there was no
‘Jago,’ said a voice. ‘Hey Jago. Time to get up.’
And with that, the old cheesegrater decided to get things underway, easing out a cough somewhere between broken glass and sandpaper. I rolled over and squinted up into the morning light.
‘How are ya, Jago?’
It was Sammy the Squib. Or Spiv. One of the two.
‘Nice joint, Jago.’
I levered the old frame up and ever so gently away from Sammy, and cast a bleary look around for the old hat, found her crushed and crumpled were the old noggin had lain. I biffed her back into some sort of respectable shape, planted her on top, glanced at Sammy, and hacked up a half-smoked Holiday from somewhere down the old gullet.
‘Looks like it’s my lucky day, Sammy,’ I said. ‘Got a light?’
Sammy flamed me up and said: ‘Mine too. Nice joint. Set you back much?’
I took a drag and scoped the streetscape. Not much movement out there, but plenty of sunlight. Maybe it wasn’t going to be such a lucky day after all.
‘Whaddya want, Sammy?’
‘My money,’ he said. ‘Fitty bucks, Jago. Been gone some time now, but I want it back.’
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Yeah. Fair enough.’
‘By midday, Jago,’ said Sammy.
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Yeah. Fair enough.’
‘Be seeing you, Jago,’ said Sammy. ‘Be seeing you in Summerworld.’
‘Dare say,’ I replied. Sammy got out the Cortina and vanished. I flicked the rest of the
‘What the hell are you doing in my car?’ she said.
I glanced back at the Cortina, but it turned out the Cortina was in fact a Subaru. Not my lucky day at all.
* * * * * * *
The first thing to establish was a schedule, so I checked the old time on the mobes. Quarter to twelve. Best, I figured, to hit up Sammy with the cash quick smart. But when I scoped the old wallet to see the reddy situation, I saw only a couple of supermarket dockets, a business card for some local café where a bloke worked who might be able to hook me up with some hot sheila maybe or probably not, and a band-aid. A poor start.
I hit the streets in rapid mode, feet pounding the footpath in that casual lope I like to call ‘clock’s a-tickin, ribs a-kickin’. I can cover 400 metres in about two minutes using c a-t, r a-k, and my best estimates figured the nearest ATM to be the Commonwealth around the corner. I was figuring no worries, but I figured wrong.
First I had to brush past a woman pushing a pram – no mean feat while c a-t, r a-kin. Then some wanker coming the other way on a bike had us both this wayin and that wayin, but I dodged him sweet and left him for a fool. Then some little punk thought he’d try to take me down with the old ‘pretend I’m walking the same way’ ruse: a quick elbow to the back of the head sorted him out. Then I realised I’d been going the wrong way the whole time, and, after a brief confabulation with self to correct the course, I retraced the old steps reversewise, executing a pram hurdle on the return leg.
It was going to be close.
There was nobody at any of the ATMs – sure sign of a trap, but I had no time for that now. I fumbled the old wallet out, scrambled through the plastickery to find the old bank card, and took a moment to check the time.
I’ve tackled ATMs before and only been beaten once or twice. This one put up a stiff fight: only grudgingly accepted my card, then demanded the access code. I won’t lie – a bead of sweat dripped off the old brow as I worked furiously to crack the code. Finally the combination came to me, I punched it in, and retrieved fifty bucks from the vault.
Now it was on for young and old – particularly old. Some sneaky old biddy had parked her arse right up mine, ready for the quick pounce, but I had half a step on her. A quick start-stop, start-stop got her guessing, and before she could gather herself, I was past and into the Summerworld.
Sammy was sitting near the pool table with a pot and the form guide in front of him. I slid the fifty across.
‘Ta, Jago,’ he said. ‘Good bloke.’
I gave him the old upthumbs and winkjob. Another satisfied customer.