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My dad was a docker. And me granddad. Lived and died on the docks, they did. Both of em. Me, I never got the chance.
Most of the actual docks are still there, you know, the water bits. But they turned em into places for posh boats and stuff. Rich boys paddlin pools, that sort of shit. The warehouses and the market and the clubs, and all the other stuff, all that stuff what made this place so special in the old days, it’s all gone. Flattened. Levelled. Fucked. And where all that life was, they went and built an airport on it.
Who’d have thought it, eh. Round here. A fuckin airport. My dad would have laughed himself silly at the thought. Me granddad, he would’ve spit his stout all down his front.
But there it is. Right there. All big and shiny and new.
I only been there once, the airport. There was this job in the paper, see. Baggage handler. The docks was gone, but I’m thinkin, least I could carry on the family tradition, you know, workin where the docks was. Close as I was gonna get to followin in me old man’s footsteps, I reckoned.
So I phone em up and they send me a form. I send it back to em all filled in with me best handwritin. And I get this call they wanna see me. Cushty, I thought. I’m in. So I mosey on over in me Top Man suit and me twenty quid shoes, and a fair bit of hope in me heart.
Was bigger than what I thought, the airport. Huge. Me dad used to tell me the docks was massive in the old days, like its own little world. And walkin into this aiport, it’s sort of like that. People everywhere. Millin about. Thousands of em. And there’s shops and places to eat, and everything. A proper world of its own.
I take meself a deep breath, put me best foot forward and ask one of the security where to go. I show him the letter. ‘Good luck,’ he says, sort of like he meant it but takin the piss at the same time. Couldn’t work out which, if I’m honest. Too nervous, see.
But I let it go.
When I find the office, I knock on the door. ‘Come in,’ someone says. There’s two people when I got inside. All suited up, sittin behind a desk. A geezer and a bird.
They was all pucker, to begin with. Askin if I got there all right, where I see the advert, stuff like that. But then it gets a bit . . . well, you know, they start askin me about me ‘previous experience‘. ‘Other jobs‘. Now I’m a bit touchy on that subject. I’ve turned over a new leaf since I come out the nick. All I’m askin for’s a fuckin chance.
‘Previous?’ I says. ‘Other jobs?‘
That’s right, they say.
‘Mr Livingstone,’ the geezer says, ‘we only want to ascertain your suitability for the post.’ Says it all posh. Like he could shit on me any time he wants.
So I’m straight with em. Tell em about me time inside and how I’m turnin over a new leaf. I tell em about me dad. How he was on the docks from leavin school, shiftin this and shiftin that. How he’d come home for his supper, knackered and filthy, but you know, settled for havin done a day’s work. And I tell em about me granddad and how he worked the docks forty years, till a box of bananas fell on his head. Squashed him flat. Tell em I come here to follow the family tradition. Not the bananas bit. Wouldn’t wanna go that way. But, you know, workin where they worked.
‘You do know this is an airport, Mr Livingstone, I presume?’ the geezer says. He’s sayin the ‘I presume’ bit every time he says me name, thinkin he’s funny or something.
I don’t get it, meself, but the bird, she’s smirkin every time he says it. I ain’t in there much longer than another ten minutes.
‘Thank you, for your time,’ the geezer says. ‘We’ll be in touch soon.’
Two weeks later I get this letter sayin I ain‘t got the job. They wished me luck findin something else, and that. But it was too late for fuckin niceties. If they’d have just listened. If they’d just understood, you know, about me turnin a new leaf, wantin the job cos of me old man and me granddad, and the docks, and not took the fuckin piss, I’d have forgot the whole business. But they didn’t.
So, I couldn’t.
I give me old mate Danny a bell. You don’t wanna know what shit he’s into. Trust me.
You don’t. But if you wanna make a difference, up the anti, he’s your man.
And Danny boy’s come up fuckin trumps.
So, I’m on me way back there, to the airport, gettin out the station, me sports bag slung over me shoulder.
There’s the same security guard. I give him a nod. He nods back.
‘All right?’ he says.
I nod. I don‘t smile. Puts the shit up him. I walk on.
Queues of people, whinin and moanin and grumblin and thinkin they’re the most important fuckin people in the whole fuckin world. But they ain’t worth fuck all, these sort. Standin their with their business suits and their mobile fuckin phones and their laptops. None of em would’ve lasted ten minutes in my old man’s day. Ten fuckin minutes.
All the pretend’s gone now. I went for that shitty job in good fuckin faith. I was tryin to go straight. I really was. But they laughed in me face.
I head for the karzi.
There’s a geezer with his back to me, havin a shave at one of the sinks, and one of the shit-houses is locked. No-one at the pissers, so I‘m as good as on me own. But I don’t care if no cunt sees me anyway. I put the bag on the floor. Open it up. And I think of me dad and me granddad livin and dyin on the docks.
I take out Danny’s piece of kit and feel the weight of it in me hands.
The geezer at the sink turns round as he hears me load up. I pop him with a quick blast, and watch him explode into the mirror.
Then I’m out the karzi and into the airport proper. Stridin. Fuckin stridin. And I’m blastin away and there’s people screamin and runnin and bleedin and dyin and I’m cutting em down like Clint Eastwood in that cowboy film where he goes mental at the end.
You know, that one where you see it’s comin all the way through and when it does, when it does come, it is just so fuckin beautiful.
Ian Ayris lives in London with his wife and three children. He's had over twenty-five short stories accepted for publication both online and in print. His stuff can be found in the Byker Books' 'Radgepacket' collections, A Twist of Noir, Curbside Splendor, Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, Pulp Metal Magazine, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Waterhouse Review, Powder Burn Flash, Yellow Mama, and in print in Out of the Gutter Issue 7.
Ian's novel, Abide With Me will soon be published by Caffeine Nights. He can be found hanging around at http://ianayris.blogspot.com/