sent him, for fuck sake.â
Ange padded back out through the screen door, carrying a tray with two steaming mugs of tea and a plate of chocolate biscuits. She beat a hasty retreat. I picked up one of the biscuits, dunked it in my tea and began sucking the chocolate off it.
âNot bad. But unless these are the fanciest fucken biscuits money can buy, I believe you owe me seven large, Freddy.â
âSure, sure. Iâve got it for you. Well, not all of it, but Iâll have it for you in a day or two.â
I laughed quietly and shook my head, popping the rest of the biscuit in my mouth and swallowing.
âNow that I think about it, you actually owe me fourteen thou, since you gave away seven grandâs worth of my glass.â
âYeah. Suppose thatâs right enough. I canât really get that back for you, though.â
âI know Freddy, I know.â I took another biscuit and dipped it in the tea. âThese are pretty fancy. Ange has good taste in bickies.â I waved to his kids as I sipped the tea. Earl Grey, it was. Really hit the spot. âThatâs why Iâll be content to take the seven grand in cash and the other seven out of your useless fucken hide.â
I set the mug down on the tray and rose to walk to the edge of the pool. I crouched down by the water and the kids swam over to me.
âListen, you boys better go inside and dry off. Thatâs enough swimming for now.â
The lads exchanged a puzzled look, then to his credit the older one said, âFuck off, mister, youâre not my da.â That tickled me, it really did.
âAh well, have it your way. Donât say I didnât warn you.â
Freddy was out of his chair by then, unsure whether he should run or stand his ground. He probably didnât really believe Iâd give him a hiding right there in front of his kids. He was frantically trying to work out how much physical damage equated to seven thousand bucks, and if he could afford it. He tried to fight me off and backed into the plastic table and chairs, sending them flying. One of the chairs skittered away and slid into the pool. The kids were frozen in the water, their mouths hanging open in shock. Thomas the Tank Engine looked on impassively, stupid grin still plastered across his face as he watched me slap the not-so-Fat Controller around.
Ange came running just as I was administering some blows to Freddyâs kidneys. She was squealing for me to let him go and for a second I thought I was going to have to whack her one too, which I really didnât want to do. I have principles. Fortunately the two blokes in Freddyâs crew also made an appearance. The big one threw his hands up in the air and turned away, shaking his head. The other bloke in the singlet had his shottie at the ready. Fair play to him, he met my eye as I angled Freddyâs body between us just in case, his neck in the crook of my arm. He surprised me then by making a real smart move. Ange was making a beeline for me, her thongs flapping against the concrete, painted fingernails at the ready. Casual as you like the young bloke stepped up sharply and grabbed her by the arm. She cursed him and tried to break free so he flung her onto the grass and turned the shotgun on her.
âStay there, Ange,â he said coolly, âthe boss is in a meeting.â
Shit, I was so impressed I let Freddy go after only a thousand bucksâ worth of a hiding. He couldnât take much more than that anyway. He sprawled forward and almost fell in the pool, collapsing in an unruly heap by the waterâs edge. I nodded to the bloke with the shotgun and he lowered it, allowing Ange to crawl to her husband.
âRemind me of your name,â I said to the young guy.
âItâs Patrick. Patrick Gray, from Nowra.â
âYour friends call you Paddy?â
âNot within earshot, if they know whatâs good for them.â
How could I not like him? If I