The O.G.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

When Margaret starts stressing over the gangs of people hanging out over the street, Frank assures her it is nothing. Kids being kids, that's all.

Frank Costello thanked the bus driver and hopped off the bus. He moved quickly and easily for a man in his eighties. Some people his age shuffled along or used sticks to assist them, but Frank prided himself on still being able to dance down the street like Gene Kelly.

He went into the tea-room, saying hello to a few people he recognised. He found Margaret sitting at their usual table.

‘Hello, sweetheart.’ he said.

Margaret smiled as he took the seat facing her. The waitress came over.

‘Hiya, Frank. Cup of tea?’

‘You’re a life-saver.’ he grinned.

Frank found his London humour and Cockney charm went down well in Manchester. If he came across any anti Southern sentiment, he would smile and explain that his mother was from Salford and had gone to Wembley to watch Manchester City play Bolton Wanderers in the 1926 cup final and had ended up staying.

As he sipped his tea, he sensed that all was not well with his old friend.

‘Everything okay, Mags?’

‘Yes, fine.’

There was worry in her eyes and she was clearly distracted.

‘Go on.’ he said, his voice a whisper.

She took a sip of tea and sighed.

‘I’m sure it’s just me stressing over nothing. You know how I worry.’

Frank fixed her with a stare, tell me.

‘It’s the lad that lives across the street. I’m sure he’s up to no good.’

‘What makes you think that?’

‘There’s lots of comings and goings. I see these people coming to the house at all hours of the day. They look like such scallies.’

Frank nodded, saying nothing. As she neared her eightieth year, his friend seemed to get more and more paranoid. Last year she had been convinced that the ice cream van was selling more than choc ices.

‘It was on the news the other night that crime is on the increase in the North West.’ she said.

‘It could be completely innocent. The lad might just have a lot of friends. Just because he wears a baseball cap the wrong way round, doesn’t mean he’s a criminal.’

Margaret laughed. Frank patted her hand gently.

‘Just relax, okay? Try not to over-think things.’

‘But I’m sure he’s upto something.’

‘So what if he is? That’s for the police to sort out, not blooming Margaret Marple.’

She didn’t reply.

‘I tell you what, how about I come over to your gaff tomorrow and check it out?’

‘Would you mind?’

‘Not at all. I’ll come over, see what is going on, and you provide the tea and biscuits. How does that sound?’

Margaret nodded, a look of relief on her face.

 

As Frank turned onto Margaret’s street, he anticipated putting her mind at ease, and to have a nice cup of tea and a chat, then he saw the group of people straight away. They were congregated outside the house opposite. There was around ten of them, all wearing hooded tops pulled down low to hide their faces. They lined the garden wall, music blaring out.

Frank told himself not to be so judgemental. The young people these days dressed differently, that was all. The clothing the kids wore was all tracksuits and trainers, the kind of apparel that his generation only wore when exercising. This lot weren’t about to set off on a jog around the neighbourhood. Still, that didn’t mean they were up to no good. When he approached, one of them, a lad in a baseball cap waved a hand.

‘Alright, grandad?’ he sneered.

Frank didn’t reply, and headed for Margaret’s front door.

As they sat on the sofa, drinking tea from cups and saucers, Margaret nodded in the direction of the house over the road.

‘What do you make of it? Is it anything to worry about?’

‘Nah, I don’t think so. They aren’t the most polite young uns I’ve met, but I think it’s all front. Kids being kids, that’s all. Mind you, if my grandson spoke to me in that tone, I’d swing for him.’

Margaret nodded.

‘Mags, it’s nothing to do with you. If those little scallies out there aren’t doing anything to you personally, then you can’t dwell on it. If anything does happen, which I doubt, then you phone me and we’ll get the police involved, okay?’

‘Yes, yes. Thanks, Frank.’

‘No probs. Have you got any Jammie Dodgers, love?’

 

Having finished his brew, put his friend’s mind at ease, and having polished off the biscuits, he shrugged into his overcoat and told Margaret to let him know if she got worried about anything.

Stepping onto the pavement he glanced over at the hoodies. Perhaps they were just young people, dressed in the casual fashion of the day. As he passed the group, he felt their eyes watching him.

‘See you around, old-timer.’ a voice yelled.

Frank glanced back over his shoulder. One of the lads stepped forward, pointing. He wore a black cap.

‘Laters, O.G.’ he called.

Frank simply shook his head and kept walking.

 

He called round to Margaret’s a few days later. His friend was still worried by the group over the road. Frank watched the lads closely as he neared them. One lad, in a black Raiders baseball cap and a Chicago Bears hoodie, seemed to be in charge. He bossed and shoved his minions around. They did his bidding, eager to impress. The nastiness emanating from him was just horrid.

Frank spotted someone hand the guy a ten pound note. The lad fished something from his pocked and quickly palmed it over. There it was. Frank had seen it with his own eyes. He was old enough to recognise a drug exchange when he was one. He simply carried on towards Margaret’s.

He decided not to mention the drugs thing to Margaret. She was anxious enough as it was, without having her fears confirmed. The lads hanging out in the house over the road, were not, as he’d hoped, just ordinary young people, getting together. They were dealing drugs. He sighed. It was none of his business. He hoped the scallies would soon move on to another part of town, or ideally, another town altogether. He found, over the years, that this kind of thing, never lasted that long. It was just a matter of waiting it out. He’d once had a neighbour who played awful rave music all night. The guy had moved to a flat in Bolton, just as Frank was thinking of launching his stereo off the top of their tower block.

And so, he made cheerful small-talk, without mentioning the scallies. Yes, he thought, we just need to sit tight, and things would soon be back to normal.

Frank had just returned from an afternoon of crown green bowling at a pub in Chorlton when his telephone rang.

‘Hello, this is Frank.’

‘Frank, it’s me.’ said Margaret.

Something had happened, he could hear it in her voice.

‘They’ve gone too far this time.’ She said. ‘I was coming back from the supermarket, and they came over, saying things, shouting at me.’

‘What did they say?’

‘They were calling me names. I ignored them and tried to get by. One of them kicked my shopping trolley over. My groceries went everywhere, all over the pavement. And they all laughed.’

‘What did you do?’

‘I lost my rag. I grabbed the nearest tin off the floor, and told them where I’d shove that corned beef if they didn’t clear off.’

‘I’d have paid money to see that.’ Frank said gently.

‘They sensed their fun was over, they went back over the road, and back to hanging around outside the house.’

‘The guy who kicked your trolley over, did he have a black cap? Did he seem to be in charge?’

‘Yes, that’s him. Flaming little toe-rag.’

Frank laughed, but inside he was raging. It was one thing being a bit of a nuisance, and even dealing drugs. If they left him and his friends alone, then he didn’t care what they got up to. He’d done things in the past he wasn’t exactly proud about, but he had never tormented an elderly woman.

One evening as Frank was watching a Michael Caine film on television his telephone rang. No doubt it would be Margaret. He took a deep breath, preparing to calm her down, tell her everything was okay, and to ignore those herberts giving her grief.

‘Hello?’

‘Good evening, is that Francis?’

‘Yes. Who’s this?’

‘I’m calling from Hope Hospital. I’m afraid we have a friend of yours on the ward.’

‘Margaret?’

‘That’s right. She was the victim of a mugging this evening.’

Frank knew exactly who was responsible.

‘How is she?’

‘She’s bruised and battered, and in pain, but she’s okay.’

‘Did the muggers get away with much?’

‘I’m sorry?’

‘Did they take anything of value?’

‘I’m not sure of the details but I don’t think so.’

Frank nodded. This wasn’t a mugging. This was a targeted attack. An old lady gets beaten up and they automatically label it a mugging.

‘Can you give Mags a message?’ he asked.

‘Yes, of course.’

‘Tell her Frank says she has nothing to worry about, and that I’ll see her soon.’

 

Frank woke just after eight o’clock the next morning. He felt like he was back in 1960s London. He felt like Frank of old, instead of old Frank. He showered and shaved, and dressed in his best suit. He had a determination in his step as he shrugged into his long, dark overcoat. He adjusted his tie and left the house.

 

The following afternoon Frank visited Margaret in hospital. Lying there in the hospital bed, she seemed very old, very small, very frail. He took the plastic seat at her bedside. She winced in pain as she half-turned to face him. She smiled.

‘Hey, darling.’ he said. ‘How you doing?’

‘I’m okay.’ she sighed. ‘They say I can go home tomorrow.’

‘That’s good. Now, don’t you go worrying about anything. Everything is just fine.’

Margaret nodded.

 

Leaving the hospital, Frank stopped off at the small kiosk and bought a newspaper. He tucked the paper under his arm and headed for the bus-stop. The 1437hrs bus was almost exactly on time. Today was a good day.

As the bus trundled across the city, Frank flicked through the newspaper. One article in particular caught his attention.

The body of a Manchester man was discovered this morning. The man in his twenties, was believed to be a local drug dealer. He was found in his bathtub, fully clothed, a single bullet-hole to his head. He was fully dressed with a playing card, the Ace of Spades, in his right hand. Reports state that this style of execution has not been seen since the London gangland assassinations of the late 1960s.

 Frank smiled. Yes, today was a good day.

 

 


Submitted: June 17, 2021

© Copyright 2021 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

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Comments

AdamCarlton

Nice little revenge fantasy. Made me smile. Wasn't there a Michael Caine movie with a similar theme?

Thu, June 17th, 2021 3:46pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for your comment. Oh yes there was a Michael Caine vigilante film. In my mind I was thinking of an ageing 60s London gangster.

Thu, June 17th, 2021 11:47pm

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