It was after seven and the Scotch was still coming fast and furious. I’d been up on stage twice, once for “That’s Life” and once for “Summer Wind”. The only two songs from my repertoire that I knew word for word and confident I wouldn’t embarass myself half way through by fluffing my lines. I was deep in conversation with an old lady who had once been a “Tiller Girl” at the London Palladium when I noticed Uncle Ted calling me over. I made my excuses to the old girl and pushed through the crowded bar to where Ted was standing with Jack Simpson.
“Good news Tommy. Jack’s got what you wanted.”
Slasher handed me the piece of paper that I’d given him earlier that day.
“I’ve written his address on the back. He was released on licence in 2013. Served seven out of ten. Normal conditions apply. He has to be a good boy and not get into any trouble. He can’t leave the country. He has to look for work but it has to be approved by his supervisor. I’ve written down the name of his supervisor as well in case you need anything from him.”
I didn’t look at the paper, just put it in my pocket.
“Thanks Jack. I really appreciate this. What do I owe you?”
I said the words but already knew the answer. He just looked at me.
“Don’t be a cunt.”
Thankfully he smiled as he said it. But then the smile disappeared and he tilted his head to one side.
“Just one thing Tommy. This kid Nolan did armed robbery. Amateur stuff, Building Society in Walthamstow. No way were they going to get more than a couple of grand between the four of them. But here’s the thing. The old bill take a dim view of armed robbery, so does the legal system. Usual sentence is fifteen to twenty. Three of them got fifteen, but your man only got ten. I wonder why that was?”
I thought I knew the answer.
“Replica guns? No one got hurt?”
Jack shook his head.
“Replicas? Don’t know where you got that from. These were the real thing. Proper shotguns. All sawn off. Nolan also beat up a guy who was in the queue just waiting to be served. No, they should have ALL got the fifteen. Minimum. And Nolan maybe a bit more.”
I didn’t know what to say. Ginny was either lying or she didn’t know the truth. I wasn’t sure what to believe. But I did know what Jack was inferring. Bobby Nolan might be a grass. Before I could say anything Uncle Ted butted in.
“Come on you two. Let’s have a drink. Whatever this Bobby Nolan is or isn’t his mum should be able to see him before she pops her clogs.”
The three of us headed for the bar just as the “Tiller Girl” started singing “Show me the way to go home.” I was amazed that someone of her age could still kick her legs above her head!
Uncle Ted poured me into a cab around nine. I was completely wasted. He, on the other hand seemed as sober as a judge. True to form as I went to pay the driver he told me that “The old boy” had already covered it.
Sandra wasn’t too pleased when I stumbled through the door. She took one look at me and said “You’re a mess” then headed up the stairs to bed. The spare room seemed like the best place to go in the circumstances. Once on the bed I must have passed out.
I woke up and for a few seconds didn’t know where I was. My head was pounding and my mouth and throat were so dry I thought I must have eaten a bag of sawdust during the night. I was also fully clothed. Then it started to come back. Ginny Nolan, Uncle Ted, Bobby Nolan and Slasher. It had been one hell of a day. I glanced at my watch. It was ten past eight. I needed to apologise to Sandra.
Even though I brushed my teeth twice and rinsed with strong mouth wash, I could still taste last night’s Whisky. I showered, splashed on some aftershave and got dressed. Sandra was in the kitchen when I went downstairs. She gave me one of her looks.
“I can smell toothpaste, mouthwash, soap and aftershave.”
She paused for a second and before I could say anything she continued.
“Oh yeh. And Whisky!”
But, she smiled and I instantly knew she was okay. I put on my sad face.
“Sorry babe. It was the most bizarre day. I’ve got so much to tell you.”
She pulled out a chair from under the kitchen table.
“Sit down. I’ll make coffee and then you can tell me all about it.”
I loved this lady. She was my second wife and the most understanding woman I’d ever met. We had two great kids all grown up and married now, so it was just the two of us rattling around in our big old house.
The coffee tasted good. I gulped it down and then told Sandra about my visit to the cemetery, my meeting with Ginny Nolan and then the revelation about Dads affair and then the bombshell. I had a step brother. I think she was even more shocked than me.
“Bloody hell Tommy, who is he, what’s his name, where does he live, are you going to see him?”
It was at this point that I decided to change certain details. Don’t ask me why, because I can’t explain it. I just left out the bit about Bobby Nolan going to prison and being a total scumbag.
“Ginny hasn’t seen him for a few years. They had some kind of row and he moved away. But she did have his National Insurance number and date of birth, so I went to see Uncle Ted. If anyone could track him down I knew he could.”
“Now I know why you came home so plastered. Once you get with your Uncle Ted it all goes wrong. How is he?”
I pictured him in my mind. Immaculate in his suit, Whisky in his hand and singing “My Way” at the top of his voice.
“He was in great form. Still looks ten years younger than his age. I gave him the details and he said he’d get back to me in a few days.”
Once again for some reason I can’t explain I withheld the truth. She poured me another coffee.
“That man is a force of nature.”
I nodded. I couldn’t disagree with her analysis. Then I remembered the piece of paper that Jack had given me. I hadn’t looked at it yet to find out where Bobby Nolan was living. I drank my coffee then kissed her on the cheek.
“I’ll go and clean up the spare room. It’s a mess and to be honest I think I need to open the windows and let some fresh air in.”
We both laughed and I went back upstairs to look for my prize. I found it and looked at the address.
Bobby Nolan was living thirty miles away in Chelmsford in Essex.