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They argue for the entire walk to Bill’s. Terry keeps laughing about what he did to Chris and how much of an idiot he must look now. Emmet has been trying to remind him of exactly how much trouble they’re going to be in now. Neither are getting through to the other. It’s only been in the last ten minutes of the walk that Terry has finally shut up and Emmet has been left in silence as they walk. He keeps running through what’s happened in his mind. They’re in deep shit and it’s finally beginning to seem like dealing is more trouble than it’s worth. Finally, they’re at Bill’s and a knock on the door is quickly answered by Bill, the scruffy chav in tracksuit bottoms and no shirt. He looks wide awake, tweaked out on something.

“You alright lads?” he says, scratching his belly. “What’s up?”

“Can we crash here?” Emmet asks. “We’re in a bit of trouble.”

“Sure,” Bill says. He steps back so the two can pass him by. “What sorta trouble.”

“Oh mate it was brilliant,” Terry gushes as they walk into the living room. “There we were in Club Cocos. We got caught dealing and we’re sure we’re gonna get fucked. He’s called his copper mate you see, someone he’s got on the take, and he’s on his way. So me and Emmet are stood there, waiting to see what happens. And Emmet’s bricking it. Me, I don’t care. It’s one of those things innit? If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. Anyway -”

Emmet tunes Terry out as he talks. He just watches them. Terry is delighted once more with what he’s done, a smile and laughter breaking out across his face again. Bill’s grin is growing with every word that Terry says and by the end of the story they’re both laughing their heads off. There was no concern on their faces for what could have happened or for how much trouble they were and still are actually in. Bill is laughing his head off and slapping Terry on the back, congratulating himself for what he’s done. A light bulb goes off in Emmet’s head when he sees that, he practically hears the sound of a penny dropping on to a wooden floor, that sharp clink of metal.

He needs out. The game’s got too dangerous. It’s messing with his life. He could go away to prison, get beaten up so bad he ends up in hospital, even get killed. They’ve been playing in the minor leagues so far, nothing too dangerous, just a deal here and there. Now they’ve taken a step into the big leagues, messed with the major players and they’re fucked.

“Terry pack it in,” Emmet snaps out eventually. “If we’d not got out of there we could have ended up doing a long stretch in prison for this. Hell we still could, you chucking that desk added an assault charge, not just dealing anymore.”

“Mate, we’re fine,” Terry says, “We got out of there before the coppers appeared. Besides. All we would have got was a caution.”

“No. We wouldn’t have,” Emmet says. “Chris and DC Walker are tight. You heard them on the phone. Chris wouldn’t have reported us unless he wanted to make an example of us. We know how this works; we’ve both seen the films and we’ve heard the stories. Chris dobs us in to keep the heat off the club. He reports dealers that aren’t his and gets them locked up so the plod doesn’t look too closely at his club and he can keep selling his stuff. And it sends a message to other dealers, tells them to keep the hell out of his place with their shit.”

“Bollocks!” Terry cries, “You’ve been watching too many films. It’s nothing like that. He’s just a racist twat who wanted to get you off the streets. You heard what he said to you, he called you fucking Afghani.”

“So he’s a racist twat, big deal,” Emmet says. “I’ve had to put up with that shit all my life, doesn’t mean anything. But he’s going to use us to send a message. Before it would have just been a general one, ‘back off dealers, this is my patch’. Now though you’ve fucked him over and made him look like a twat. It’s going to be personal and he’s going to beat the crap out of us.”

“You’re being a drama queen,” Terry says with a groan. “Isn’t he Bill?”

“Yeah, you are a bit mate,” Bill agrees, nodding wisely. “Think you need to relax.”

“We’re in deep shit,” Emmet says, ignoring Bill, “We’re going to get the crap beaten out of us and then go to prison.”

“We’re gonna be fine,” Terry says.

Bill’s nodding along with Terry’s words. There’s still a dumb grin on his face.

Emmet and Terry keep arguing. Terry keeps insisting they’re going to be fine. Emmet keeps insisting they’re going to be beaten up and that they’re fucked. Every time Terry makes a point Bill agrees with it without hesitation. Whenever Emmet says something or asks for Bill’s opinion the other man frowns for a moment and thinks about it before he disagrees and repeats one of Terry’s points. Emmet shouldn’t be surprised but he is a little. Then again Bill has always been obsessed with Terry, wants to be just like him. He’s even wearing a pair of knock off tracksuit bottoms in the same style that Terry is.

“We should never have done that,” Emmet finally cries, “Going to Baslow and messing with Chris was a stupid idea.”

“It was your fucking plan!” Terry cries. Emmet stops and stares at him. “Yeah, remember? You had this big vision, not me. You said we had to go to the Baz club scene. You said we could build a good profit outlet through the clubs there. You suggested we try Chris’ place. It was all you. Not me.”

Emmet sits back on the sofa, stunned. It had been his idea and yet he’d forgotten that with all of the fear and terror. When they had been in the club and it had gone so wrong he had finally seen how stupid what they were doing was. And he’d blamed Terry. Those sorts of fuck ups were usually Terry’s fault and it has become habit. But this time it had been his idea, not Terry’s. He’d been the one to say they should be dealing in the clubs. But of course they couldn’t deal in the clubs. There were already dealers based in those places. Territories had been divided and shared out. No one new would be welcome. It had been obvious once they were there and it should have been obvious as soon as he’d had the idea. Why had he ever thought it was even a possibility? Was he losing his edge?

Terry towers over Emmet with a proud smirk on his face.

“Yeah, figured you’d forgotten.” Terry says. “So you just sit there and think things out. Me and Bill are gonna play on his Playstation. I’m gonna beat the crap out of him on Fifa.”

Emmet nods blankly. He’s just sitting there, staring at the wall. He can hear the other two already starting to shout and goad each other in the background. He’d gotten in to deep shit and in truth he only has himself to blame, no one else, not even Terry. Although the thing with the desk and Chris was Terry’s fault it was Emmet’s fault that they’d even been in the club in the first place. Everything leading up to that was Emmet’s fault.

Once upon a time Emmet had been smarter than that. He’d been a fucking coke dealer for God’s sake. He’d dealt Class A, the good shit and he’d made good money with it. The profits had been good, freakishly so, with an average profit of £80 per punter and double that if they wanted a lot. Even just seeing twenty customers a day had made a massive amount of profit for him.

But it had been a dangerous business. People were ruthless when it came to Class A’s. People would either try to rob him of his money or his gear. He couldn’t spend his money fast enough. Violence had been common and things had gotten even worse when dealers and addicts alike had replaced knives with guns. Emmet hadn’t been prepared to carry a gun, the charges if he’d been caught would have been even worse than for dealing a Class A.

So he’d turned to the low margin happy pills. The profits weren’t as good. He has to sell hundreds each week just to earn a living. Life has become a constant search for buyers and the money for his next batch to sell. He’s always looking for the next big pill. People aren’t desperate for the pills either, some try them once and want nothing else to do with them. It’s hard to make the living wage he needs to afford the flash car, Prada clothes for him and his girl, champagne on ice at all times, a fancy flat in a good part of town. He could live on less but he doesn’t want to. He loved the life he had when dealing coke and he doesn’t want to give that up now.

So he deals every minute of the day, trying to sell each punter more than they think they want. He comes up with deals that improve his margins. But it’s starting to grate. There’s no guarantee that someone he deals to one day will want some more another. The happy pills are party drugs, used for good times and not overly addictive. There’s not the drive there for repeat clients. True most people who try them want them again but there’s no clear point for when. Each day’s income varies and some days are bad, really bad, with no sales made at all. Until now though it has been safe.

He looks at Terry and Bill, both laughing at the potential of going to prison, at the reality that they’ve seriously pissed off another dealer who has a lot of muscle on his side. It’s not funny anymore, not fun. It’s dangerous, more so than carrying a gun. Emmet’s in deep shit and he doesn’t want to be, now or ever again. Terry and Bill, so amused at the thought of going to prison and at pissing off Chris, are now liabilities to him. Emmet looks at Terry.

“I’m out,” He says. “I’m not dealing anymore.”

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