by Saira Viola
art by Brendan Burrow
Crack Apple & Pop
Enter: March Aloysius Clarence a Jamaican Elder, an original Yardie gangster, now CEO and Operations Director of one of the most feared criminal enterprises in South London. Don March was a boom boom shake the room kind of guy with dreadlocked hair, pimp cane and pinkie ring, displaying more bling than Mr. T of the A Team. He was cool as shit and had a talk-sexy charisma that made him slick with the ladies and emulated by men. A money-baller, he commanded respect and malice in equal measure.
He was resourceful and knowingly opportunistic. In Tony, he saw a bright, high-spirited individual with natural charm and a self-possessed easy approach to life. He wanted him for his crew.
Soon after T’s stay in hospital, he invited him to breakfast at the Wolseley in Piccadilly London. Tony knew who Don March was, he also knew he couldn’t take a crumb and crust job as a working stiff in regular employment. Tony wasn’t built for service, he had a more laissez–faire attitude with a hint of aux-abois speculation. Being is what it is. Tony’s Sartre perspective on life had always worked well for him in the past and he was counting on it now.
Don March was seated in the lavish grandeur of the Wolseley like a Roman Emperor presiding over his kingdom. Before him, a full English breakfast comprising of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans tomato, black pudding, mushrooms and tea. An august feast fit for Tiberius and his dynastic family. He waved him over, grinning gold and glitter he was bling-dazzle hip.
“Rude Bwoy! Come sit wif me man come on over ‘ere- man run tings ‘ere man you like this man this is fine man, best place to eat breakfast bwoy.”
“Respeck man.” Responded T with veritable reverence.
“This is fine as hell man check out the ceilings, the lights, the floors man, best place to start the day. When a man has a strong start to the day and a big breakfast there’s nothin’ he can’t do d’ya get mi ’ bwoy.”
“Yeah it’s bad, fine as fuck.” Agreed T, still checking out the crisp white linen, bespoke table and silverware. His eyes fixed on the symmetrical sweeping staircase, chinoiserie and Venetian themed chandeliers. The Wolseley’s noble heritage, Doric pillars, thirty-foot ceilings and opulent design, a permanent reminder of Italian artistry. The waiter was buddy-buddy helpful. Don March had a quality reputation as a bountiful tipper and fix–it guy. He was popular and well- known there. They even kept a special bottle of West Indian Econa pepper sauce for him to use on his food. Don March liked the fact that he and T were the only black people in a washed sea of white faces.
“Good morning, Sir, well now what will you have today?”
“Yea, I’ll have the full English,” smiled T.
“Yes Sir good choice and will you have tea?”
“Yeah and orange juice.”
“You like this Tony, you wanna ‘ave some of this bad bwoy mi cargo is fine huh?” exulted Don March.
“Yeah man nuff respeck. Like- this? Who wouldn’t like it man?”
“Check in deep man soon come, this shit is real you know it.”
“Come here bwoy come look ‘ere see da picture of mi, this is mi other family man see that wiv mi horses and ting. Mi got private schools for mi childrens, and look man a white woman. She makes me credible you know what I’m sayin’ man.”
“Where’s that house then?” Asked T, more impressed with the layout and size of the home than the trophy white bitch.
“Me live in a stoosh place the house is a remade castle man in Surrey I built it miself. I got mi two lives one here in London and one in Surrey – it stays private what no one knows about.”
“And what your wife tink you do?”
“Oh man she tinks mi a music producer mi keep it low – key in Surrey you know just chillin’ wit the local people and ting. Music producer man is the best front there is for this kind of work. It allows you to operate at night and keep some glamour pussy near by y’a get mi?”
“Yeah,” T nodded.
“So now, let mi tell you the story of Don March: anyting is possible here man. I came here with nothin. I was the original no- moneyman. You get mi, I was on the run man from back home Trench Town. Those days man I was a fool runnin all over town so mi got ‘ere, mi had nothin so mi had nothin to lose understand. Mi only ‘ad one choice man: SURVIVAL. Mi had me crosses to bear and mi didn’t want to be down pressed all mi life d’ya get mi?”
“Yeah man,” replied T, listening intently.
“Well I got to Croydon and stayed with mi posse they gave me areas to run you know what I’m sayin’ from da time I got there to now only been five years man.” He raised his hands and showed five digits to re- emphasize the point. “Now look at mi I got mi own liccle Empire and people runnin for mi now.” He leant back in the gilded chair and slapped his knee beckoning T closer:
“If you do it good you can ‘ave it all man everyting cook and curry man cook and curry.”
“So you get it by starting small then when bizzo falls into place and you get the trust from the people we take you all the way man all the way to the Top Table understand?”
“Well what you tink then man you in?”
“It’s a good life man.”
“Why does the waiter keep calling you Lord March?”
“Hee Hee,” he rolled with laughter.
“Yes mi bought the title man mi is a Lord right and proper.”
Don March even had a soubriquet of Viscount March that was more than a little ironic as there was a real Lord March in the actual House of Lords.
“Yes man mi tinks me is Viscount March. I paid for it, paid to play the money game and take my seat at the Top Table man. I paid to belong.”
Viscount, Lord, what did it matter, the fact was Don March was top dog and Czar of South London
“So all them other…”
“Yeah businesses what are they in?” Asked T with frank gullibility.
“Hee hee, it’s everyting wanti wanti can getti getti no want understand ?”
“It’s bitches, betting, chop shop car deals, money from the street, ID scam everyting understand all part of March’s bizzo but we don’t cheat the street understand we don’t take from our women or children never sell to anyone under age understand they have to be fully grown to take it home get mi?”
“Yeah, so was it hard back home?”
“Lord God man yes I was only a yout of ten when mi earnt my stripe as a shotta but it was the only way for mi to get outta the ghetto. Listen to mi you had tree choices: You played football, you sang songs or you become sponsored by a Drug Don and you know we give back to our own man that’s the way it happened to mi. Just a bullet a bag and a dream that’s all I had and now mi got all of this oh yeah zimm zimm zimmer sweet”
“I’m only dealing to the bashment crowd no children, no hard ups that’s the way I wanna roll,” T explained.
“Yeah that’s safe man you got to have your line and stick to it man you got to ketch man make it real get mi?”
“All that’s between you and all of this is a Ratchet and a Mac 9 that’s the way we spell Front Line – Stonebridge where all our people is at man but if you screw the market it’s easy to score. There’s so many big rich people to pork man – then you can get everyting man and a liccle bit extra trust mi.”
“Yeah soon come ay say this is the life I’m lookin’ for man this is it,” T concurred in thoughtful mood.
“Y’ar know you could have been a real mamadoo a top boxing champ man, shame about your eye – but it’s SURVIVAL bwoy listen chicken merry da hawk is near understand?”
Tony put on an earnest face but was unsure of some of the more colourful Yardie terms and just fudged it, not really understanding everything that Don March was saying.
“Soon come and remember T got to keep running costs low in the city yeah run it low keep your overheads minimum.”
“Yeah I get that.”
“You got to take it easy – small at first then one cocofil up a basket.”
“Now what mi gonna do is put you in wit de baddest rude bwoy there is dem is liccle B (Big Bernie ) they call him but don’t you be callin’ him liccle B not yet not to his face otherwise he gonna mash you up. You know Bernie he got plenty of Bandalu bizness to get you earning. He’s one sharp cookie y’ar know he’s got plenty of bandulu bizness to get you grafting but he’s not a blabba mout and ‘ee’s got it all, knows his figures, what scams to run knows what works and what won’t then soon you’ll be a Don Dadda that’s the way to do it man. I’ll hook you up with liccle B and soon you’ll be badder than Don March hee hee!”
They continued eating and mixing dialects, Patois and English, in the velvet luxury of the Wolseley, toasting T’s entry to the good life and sorting out the meat and potatoes of their undertaking. Don March would take a ten percent cut of all bizzo for the first six months and thereafter the deal would be re-negotiated.
“So, now I got a place for you to stay – nice flat on the South Side. Your crew has to be tight man, dem has to be people close to you dat you can trust wit your life man, people who you keep clamped to your chest, know what i’m sayin, no harries no worries everyone joins the party, get mi? No time for diva attitudes we run a tight crew get mi?”
The chunking groove of the Croydon nucleus was a hive of bars, clubs, pubs and house parties. It was a microscopic speculum of Caribbean street life, so at the start T served the local community with marijuana and cocaine never dealing crack unlike other West Indian dealers.
Then, under Don March’s private tutelage, he began supplying the clubs and bars and VIP holes of the London glitterati, moving up the criminal career ladder and making a name for himself as someone who could be trusted and would deliver.
T’s business was open 24/7 and busier than Billingsgate Market. Everyone was buying coke: those that were blessed with diamonds on the soles of their shoes and those that were cursed to the netherworld. T soon pegged that cocaine was a universal, multi-user cross-cultural high and stopped selling weed altogether.
The coke profits paid for more than his rent, sundries and upwardly mobile lifestyle. They paid for social acceptance and a plausible identity. From now on Tony was no longer a boxing dead-beat he was an entrepreneur, a Record Producer, a Promotions Dealer, and low–level investor. He had a prime appetite for success and the Einstein precocity in Bernie, was particularly impressive.
T was different to other dealers, he hardly ever used drugs for personal consumption and was diversifying at terrific speed. With Bernie’s lissom bizzo flair and T’s princely charm, they became a hit amongst the Bugatti classes, taking themselves out of the ghetto and into the Rich Man’s Club of uptown. T was looking for more than just a pimpster’s paradise, using dirty cash to free himself of white lines and a bread and butter existence.
That night while they were counting their monies, they were cut short in their calculations by the shriek and shrill of Tony’s former girlfriend mother of his child Amber. “Toneeeeeee it’s me Brittne!” she raged.
“We can’t let that psychotic bitch in she’ll get fed up soon man.”
“You think so bro’ the woman is like one serious evil bitch.”
“She’ll get tired soon man.”
“You sure, she’s like a roasting hog about to frazzle man.”
“I can’t talk to her right now let’s move this gear somewhere safe.”
“She’s holding up bizzo man.Your space should be free from such fuckery man serious, can’t stand that bitch.”
T’s crew were all inside, they needed to drive into West End Central and score the door of L’equipe before midnight but the stupid slag wouldn’t let up.
“You guys go through the back – you know the side entrance,” directed T
“And I’ll deal with this, but the griping slut was still whining through the letterbox flapping it noisily.
“If you don’t open this door right now I’m gonna blow it off!” She oinked.
Tony did his best to ignore her.
“She’s scaring me,” muttered Bernie under his breath.
Within seconds, she had dropped a homemade grenade through the letterbox. It was more of a firecracker than a missile but the kitchen and storeroom were sparking flames.
“What the fuck! Phone the fire brigade now man.”
Bernie lobbed the phone at him.
“I’ll go check on the merchandise.”
“Yeah this is 53 Addington New Road my ex has tried to burn mi house down.”
Tony’s principal priority was the money and the stash of coke hidden underneath the floorboards in his bedroom. The Fire Crew caught the blaze just in time. Minutes later, it would have spread through the entire house.
“That insane bitch. Why the fuck do I do this job man?” T was feeling the pressure of keeping one kilo of coke worth £26,000 safe from the crazy slut.
“She slashed Dipsy’s tyres and threw all my clothes away and now she does this says she wants to get back together again. I’ve had enough it’s too much of a gamble to stay here.” T was carving a rep as a big shark in a local pond; he was making tracks breaking ground. The last thing he needed was cuckoo bitch screwing up his chances.
There was only one option he had, to move into the West End or Soho, that’s where most of his customer base was concentrated now anyway and where he could increase and expand operations without any trailer trash interruptions. The stench of dry smoke and charred tinder were chugging his throat with corrosives.
“Can you fucking believe that man – we have to thank God and count our blessings that we still got our stuff and that everything is safe. We could ‘ave got busted or the bitch could have made me lose it all man in the friggin ‘ fire she could ‘ave created havoc man take mi bread my living man, and fucked me up big time.”
“Yeah man she’s like fucking radio rental we gotta get out.”
“Yeah time to leave the fucked up country dive of crappy Croydon and boogey on down to the West End of London now that’s what I’m talkin’ about man.”
“You’ll ‘ave to tell Don March.”
“Yeah I’ll call he’s got a place for us right in the centre of coke central.”
“Still can’t believe what that crazy whore was gonna do she’s Amber’s mother you know she’s totally crazy, man one crazy coconut know what I mean, no way back for her selfish bitch and I’m gonna get my baby girl off her too if she carries on – I mean it. It’s always about her, she’s always looking for her cut, her steal of the deal, her way out.”
“Yeah she’s fuckin’ dangerous man.”
“Hey Don March it’s T man. Yeah everythin’ is fine man everythin’ is safe but we wanna move now you know it’s aggravation station with the bitch man she’s walking down ruination line man so we wanna move like today you know in the place you got in the West End. There’s too much nastiness it’s gettin’ in the way of bizzo the sooner we move the better I’ll feel.”
They took the blow, their guns, two cases of ammo, some clothes, and shut the door on suburbia for good.
At least three, sometimes four, and even five times a day, casual builders, rising pop stars, and slick-suited Essex blokes making their way to and from Bank Tube Station would whistle, wave, or hoot their car horns to try and get Eva’s attention.
Eva was a blonde with glamour girl curves and an irresistible innocence about her. She spurned them all. She had an exclusive attachment to a certain someone. He was special: brave, good and true, a modern knight, someone who believed in her and made her feel a perfect ten. It was a cliché, she was quietly smug about. She hung onto that feeling for days.
Eva had always thought of herself as a maverick actress, and at work she would while away the day playing with different scenarios in her head. She likened herself to the tragic femme fatales of the fifties and sixties. She was cool, edgy, sometimes angst ridden and had no sense of “self,” just like Garbo and Monroe, or so she thought
“I can be just like Marilyn,” she rippled as she applied her Perfect Red YSL lipstick with a slightly affected air and carried on with her work. Eva Potoski, twenty- four and originally from Lodz in Poland, lived in Battersea now with her two sisters and an aging aunt. She had been a paralegal with Deschamps Bouverie for eight months. She was congenial and, for the most part, easy going with her work colleagues, all, that is, except her Senior Partner, Richard, for whom she had a seething dislike. He was always lying to her.
He never wanted to do any work, and he was always at lunch. She felt like spilling the beans to her other bosses and letting them know about his four-hour trips to the local lap dancing bar in Holborn Circus, and his stealthy comings and goings to the office at night. Why did he even bother showing up at all?
She had to do all the donkeywork; Francesca would type it up and he would sign it in the firm’s name. He appeared to do very little except wax lyrical about his pension and tax liabilities and his plans for a retirement home in the south of France. Richard Davey, Senior Partner at Deschamps Bouverie, at thirty five years old, a bit too chubby now to be considered “phowar” but attractive, nonetheless, firm, and round of face.
He had a happy, ruddy hue and sharp blue eyes that seemed to say, “How much am I worth?” They really said, “Hello, goodbye.” Not yet married, he had too many encounters of the wrong kind with female clients, female work associates, and sundry females whom he met by chance on the street.
Richard enjoyed the power of being a lawyer and not much else. He liked the way it sounded to his erstwhile friends who had never made the grade, those that had to settle for less and were never part of anything more than the daily grind. Richard, on the other hand, believed he was affecting change where it mattered; he was making shit happen.
Why, then, did he feel like the “Man on the Hill,” out of reach, out of touch, out of control? Richard was up to his neck in it, that’s why. Nobody knew about the spiralling debts, his secret connections with the criminal elite, and the coke demons and whiskey goblins dancing in his head.
Copyright © 2012 by Saira Viola
All rights reserved.