“So, when you at court for that burglary then?” asked Shanks, sucking on a spliff. He passed it to his flatmate, Drifter, the dingy room like a mini-rave, Eminem’s Slim Shady booming.
“Some time in January, innit. I’ve got the charge sheet somewhere.” Clutching an X-box control, Drifter motioned to look for the said sheet, but couldn’t be arsed and reclined on the tatty sofa.
Most of the items in the flat were ‘borrowed’ – the X-box, flat screen telly, matching DS’s, and even the cigs and cans of Stella littering the coffee table, the latter picked up from a skip.
Shanks crushed an empty can and tossed it over his shoulder. “Candice... bring us two more Stellas in, would-yer, babe?” He heard faint sirens in the distance, but couldn’t be sure if it was on Grand Theft Auto or not. Maybe it was, as he’d just reversed over a cop.
Paranoia kicking in, for the first time in three hours, Shanks’ arse left the sofa and he headed for the window, peeping through a gap in smoke-reeking curtains to gaze down from the high-rise at the dotted city lights of Manchester.
The vividness of blue police lights jolted him to his senses. Six black shadows emerged from the white rectangular van, and snaked toward the communal entrance below, panic and uncertainty flooding him.
“Shit, it’s Five-O!”
Drifter glanced up, his version of startled. “Cool it, man. They could be ‘ere for anyone in the block.”
“You sure it’s not for you, Drift?”
“Look, man. I’ve done a few little jobs recently, but the only one those fuckers got me for was the one am in court for, so my slate’s clean. Chill.”
Shanks’ mind was all over the place, skimming the haziness for his recent ‘escapades’. He recalled potting a lad in Checkers two weeks ago, nicking an old Escort when he couldn’t get a cab home – not that he’d have paid anyway. Plus, he’d stabbed that student, but that was over two years ago, so surely...? Then there was the daily coke dealing. He could do with a line now.
Candice entered from the kitchen carrying two more cans of Stella, fag in mouth, Babylons to die for. “There you go, your bloody Highness.”
Shanks snatched the cans, gave one to Drifter.
“What’s up with yer?”
“Cops are sniffing downstairs.”
Candice looked round at all the knocked-off gear. “Well, they aint got this address have they? You’ve only been ‘ere a month.”
“No. Yer right. I need to calm the fuck down.”
Footsteps on the landing, all three froze, pivoted.
Bang, bang, bang on the door.
“Police, open up or we’ll put the door in!”
Drifter stood up, Shanks and Candice eyeing him.
He put his palms out. “What? I needed a bail address. Otherwise they’d have kept me in over Chrimbo, innit.”
“Yer should’ve give yer mum’s, yer prick!”
“RIGHT! WE’RE FORCING ENTRY!”
“Well, I’m not going down for Chrimbo either.” Shanks headed for the mini-balcony.
Candice headed for the door, opened it.
A cop holding a steel wham-ram burst through, just managing to keep his balance. He was followed by five more uniformed officers and a smooth-looking, sharp-suited detective.
Before you could say, “Gotcha!” Drifter was face down, cuffed to rear.
The detective held up a warrant, peering down at Candice’s Babylons.
She covered them defensively.
“What... yer... locking me... up for...?” yelled Drifter with a face full of carpet.
“Sus’ burglary times three, sonny boy!” replied a uniform.
“Detective Proverbs, darling. And who might you be?”
“Candice Jefferyson. What’s it to you?” she spat.
Proverbs turned away, discreetly speaking into his radio, receiving comms via an earpiece.
Three minutes later, the flat had been ransacked and Drifter sat sulkily on the sofa.
“So, why’s that wannabe-gangster boyfriend of yours skulking on the balcony? Guilty conscience?” Proverbs smirked, shook his head. “We’ve not even come for him. Seems you lot are in it so deep that you’re losing track.”
“Huh?” Candice looked perplexed.
“Candice Jefferyson, I’m arresting you on suspicion of robbery. You do not have to say anything...”
Everyone froze, as a diminishing scream emanated from the balcony.
BIO: Col Bury is the crime editor of award winning webzine, Thrillers, Killer 'n' Chillers, and he's currently writing a crime novel series under the guidance of New York agent, Nat Sobel. Col's ever-growing selection of short stories can be found around the blogosphere and in many anthologies, including, THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH CRIME 9 (& 10). He has an eBook out called, MANCHESTER 6.
Col lives in Manchester, UK with his wife and two children, loves 8-ball pool, and is an avid fan of Manchester City FC.