As he drove home, Gabby’s mind was playing back events at the Walkabout. He was angry at himself for his reaction to Diane the way he did. The unexplainable attraction he felt toward her.
How can I ever think about another woman when I have the greatest wife I could dream of.
Gabby had always been a ladies man, up until he’d met Antoinette. He had decided to give up that lifestyle from the moment he lay eyes on her. There was no doubt in his mind that he’d found his queen, she was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. This was confirmed when he eventually convinced her to go out with him, being with her made him feel more alive than he’d ever felt before.
That was until he met Diane today, felt the same kind of attraction toward her, except this time his conscience wasn’t with it. His heart told him to succumb to the temptation, but his mind was not willing to betray his commitment to his wife. The problem was he couldn’t get her off his mind, it was as if Diane had cast a spell on him. The invisible force of attraction drawing him to Diane was almost impossible to resist. Even now driving home, he felt a strong urge to turn the car around and go back to the pub. To see her again, to dance with her one more time, feel her body close to him. He wanted to look into those green eyes again.
So what is this feeling then, Lust? infatuation? What am I doing... I shouldn’t be thinking about this.
Gabby loved his wife, there was no doubt in his mind about that. Antoinette was an amazing woman, totally gorgeous, intelligent and extremely confident.
It’s true she can be stubborn and argumentative sometimes but that’s not really a bad thing.
In fact, one of the things that attracted him to her was that stubborn and fiercely independent personality. He didn’t want a woman who jumped at his every word and whim, he wanted a strong woman, someone who spoke her mind. He wanted an equal partner and that was exactly what he had found in Antoinette. What others saw as obstinate stubbornness, he saw as a feisty and passionate personality.
And most importantly, I owe her my life. I can never repay her enough. My guardian angel, he thought.
His left hand unconsciously traced the rough scars on his chest beneath the light fabric of his shirt. His memory drifted to a different time in his life.
Gabby’s introduction to drug dealing and crime began when he was nineteen years old and had just started university. Unlike most people in the trade, he did not grow up in the streets or around criminals nor was he forced into it out of necessity and deprivation. His mother was one of the country’s most prominent artists which meant that he didn’t want for anything while growing up. From the time he was a little baby up until he’d started university, he was what might be termed a mama’s boy. His mother had always been his best friend. He went to school regularly, never got into trouble and hardly ever left his house except for school and football practise. Most of his spare time was spent playing video games with his only friend Andy or painting by his mother’s side in her art studio.
It was during his first year at Edinburgh university that Alisha, his Jamaican girlfriend at the time introduced him to smoking marijuana. He found the drug helped him relax after a stressful day in class.
Alisha also introduced him to her cousin, Bragga, one of the biggest dealers in the city. Bragga was a skinny man with a neatly trimmed beard and side burns. Gabby had never seen Bragga without his usual brightly coloured turbans tied conically around his head.
Gabby sometimes ran errands for Bragga, collecting money from buyers who owed him or delivering the cannabis to some of them. Bragga saw in Gabby an intelligent and trustworthy young man and liked him. One day he was smoking with Bragga in the penthouse, which was what Bragga liked to call his house, in fact it was a third floor apartment in one of the new residential blocks around ocean terminal, Edinburgh’s waterfront area. Bragga turned to him,
” hear this, sound bwoy, “ he’d said, puffing out a cloud of thick smoke from the cannabis joint in his hand. He looked at Gabby from bloodshot red eyes. The semi-darkened room was filled with the smoke of marijuana melded with the scent of incense burning from every corner of the room. ” I and I think seh you need fi get ina the business, my youth. Most’a the youth them ina you school them ah smoke the herb. Me can give you the weed wholesale price, seen? You bag it up and retail it brethren, you ah go make whole heap’a money, man. Lock down the place. What ya think? “ He took another draw from the joint and passed it to Gabby, coughing wildly.
Gabby knew that what Bragga suggested was a good idea. A lot of the students at his university smoked marijuana and most of them didn’t have a regular, reliable supplier. What Bragga offered was a big money making opportunity. He Picked up the cigarette lighter from the ashtray on the table re-lit the extinguished joint in his hand and draw in a lungful of cannabis smoke before answering.
” I think it’s a good idea, but the thing is, I don’t have a clue about selling weed. “
Bragga shook his head, ” No matter that, brethren, Me ah go explain the business to you, star. “
It was the beginning of a lucrative business for Gabby. He took Bragga’s advice and started out small, buying just four and a half ounces of cannabis from Bragga for four hundred and fifty pounds which Bragga promised was extremely cheap. Bragga showed him how to weight and bag it into small plastic bags. The whole process was accompanied by a running commentary from Bragga.
” Hear this Gabby ( he always pronounced it Garby), fi each twenty pound bag’a weed, you haffi put three point four gram, seen? Now, you av four and half ounce, that is about hundred and twenty seven gram, which mean seh you ago av thirty seven bags, brethren. You sell it twenty pound fi a bag, you ah go make seven hundred and forty pound, seen? Easy thing. “
He took some cannabis from the plastic bag on the table and placed it on the small digital scale, adding and reducing until the small screen read 3.4 and placed it into one of the small bags.
Seven hundred and forty pound! That means three hundred pounds in profit, easy money, Gabby thought.
” Yeah, thanks, Bragga, “ he said picking up the little bags as Bragga finished bagging the last one. ” How long will it take me to sell these you think? “ he asked.
” Depend pan the amount’a people you av. Two day maybe. You need fi careful though, no deal with no strange man, you hear? Nuff babylon bwoy undercover, brethren.“ Bragga always referred to the police as babylon bwoy or police bwoy. Gabby who always thought Jamaicans have a cool way of talking, like the term.
” See you tomorrow then.“ Gabby said, pounding fists with bragga.
” One love, Garby. “
Gabby had sold all his bags of cannabis the same day he bought them. It was a Friday night and most of the students were either going out to the clubs or having wild house parties. Once he got the word out that he was selling cannabis through his friends, his phone rang like an emergency hotline. He was amazed at how many of the university students smoked. It was far more than he suspected, especially amongst the females. It was the girls, who bought the majority of his supply, and he was invited to various house parties by some of them but he was too excited by the success of his new found enterprise.
I should have bought more, he thought. His phone had kept ringing long after he had run out of cannabis to sell.
He was at Bragga’s early the next day for more. This time he bought double what he’d bought previously. but this too sold out in two days and made him a profit of over seven hundred pounds. He carried on investing his profits on bigger quantities and pretty soon was selling to smokers as well as other small time dealers. He was so caught up in the business that he paid little attention to his university attendance. His tutors’ warnings went unheeded and soon he’d stopped going altogether. Even his mother didn’t see him as much as she used to. She had no idea that he had dropped out of University.
He decided to introduce his childhood friend Andy into the business as well. The two of them worked with Bragga, expanding their trade by recruiting smaller dealers to sell for them. They had people selling for them in other cities, Glasgow, Aberdeen, any city popular for its night life.
They were making tens of thousands of pounds, buying everything from designer clothes to electronic gadgets and cars. Almost every night was a party at the penthouse, live was good.
Then all of a sudden trouble started to rear its ugly head. They were competing for territory with other drug gangs and it wasn’t always pretty. There was a lot of violence, gangs setting up each other, tipping police on rival gang activities and robbery between gangs became almost a daily occurrence. Stabbings and shootings became everyday news. There were few people to trust, but Gabby and Andy stuck loyally with Bragga. The two of them took care of the business end of things, while Bragga took care of the threats and any trouble that came their way. Bragga was no stranger to violence and he liked to let his two disciples know this. He even seemed to relish it, giving himself the title of war lord.
” hear this brethren, “ he would say to them, “ you is mi likkle brothers, seen? I gwan look out fi you, nothing ah go happen. Any bwoy try diss we program, ah blood fire, Rasta! Me will bust them bomboclaat, seen? Bragga nuh fraid’a nobody. “
And Bragga was right.
Bragga did he take kindly to disrespect and because everyone knew this, most of the other gangs left his little posse alone. But as things go in the drug trade, trust was hard to come by. Some of the members in his own group resented Bragga’s trust of Andy and Gabby over them.
One even, Gabby was having dinner with his latest girlfriend, when Bragga called. He was going to meet a new contact who was looking for a new supplier.
” Do you trust this meet, Bragga? how did he get your number? “
” Is cool man, him is Marcus friend. “
Marcus was Bragga’s right hand man before Gabby got into the business, but he was more muscle that brains. Gabby had quickly won over Bragga’s confidence with his business savvy mind and had soon Marcus’s place as Bragga’s new lieutenant.
” I can come with you if you want, “ Gabby had suggested, but Bragga wouldn’t hear of it.
” no man. Chill, brethren. Take care of you girl. I going to be alright man. “ he insisted.
The meeting turned out to be a set-up. Marcus had decided to get rid of Bragga and take over his operation so he had hired some guys to lure Bragga to the bogus meeting. He was attacked by a group of men in ski mask as he stood under the bridge where he was supposed to meet with his new contact. He was found unconscious a few hours later with severe stab wounds and rushed to hospital. Gabby and Andy were the only two people at his hospital bedside.
“ He is conscious but he’s punctured both lungs and sustained severe abdominal injuries too, “ the doctor had told them.
Bragga opened his eyes as they approached his hospital bed. His breathing came in laboured gasps. It was an effort to speak, but the two friends couldn’t stop him despite the tubes and breathing apparatus in his nose.
“ Garby… You… is me real true brethren “ The words came out in a dry raspy voice. ” Most’a the people ina this business them’a Judas under disguise. Them will sell you out. Hear... me advice my... youth, you know weh mi money deh..., I man nuh have... no family, take the... money, the two’a you, leave ...the business and ...do something with you life.“ he coughed wildly before going on, ” me nuh want you to end up like me, is not a... good life man, you ...“ He was seized by another coughing spell that shook his entitre body and the EKG machine beeped loudly. Gabby and Andy were asked to leave. That was the last time they ever saw their friend alive.
Andy took Bragga’s advice and decided on a career as a soldier, joining the Royal Marine corp.
Gabby continued his criminal activities until just like Bragga, he found himself in bad deal. Expecting to make a quick transaction, he’d hired a taxi to meet his client but no sooner had he stepped out of his taxi, than he found himself suddenly grabbed in a headlock from behind. Even though he was a physically strong man, he could not get his neck out of the man’s locked grip. Then another man had stepped up to him.
” Hello pretty bwoy, just so you know, we run things now, rude bwoy, “ the man said bringing his face within inches of Gabby‘s. He spoke with a Jamaican accent but Gabby could tell he was not Jamaican. ” say hello to Bragga fi me. pussy!! “ He spat.
Before he knew what was happening, Gabby felt a searing pain in his stomach as the man thrust a knife into him. His hand materialised out of the darkness, Gabby could see the blade glistening with his own blood in the dimly lit street. He tried to make a sound but all that came out of his constricted throat was a low gurgling noise. With a look of pure ruthlessness the man had plunged the knife in again, stabbing Gabby several times before the other man let him slump to the ground, blood flowing from his wounds..
He was left on the deserted street, blood spewing from his mouth and wounds. His breathing shallower and more laboured as he realised he was slowly losing consciousness.
Is this it for me? Idon’t want to die on this empty street. Mother... he thought ... it will break her heart. God... I don’t want go out like this...
His limbs felt as heavy as lead and the darkness was creeping in at the edges of his vision.
Then a bright white light filled his vision… just like in the movies, he thought, will I go to heaven...
“ I’m sorry… mother “ he whispered, ready to succumb to the light.
Hello... hello, oh...god… are....alright? He heard a voice, then he saw the blurry face peering into his face, it was the angel, she was the one the voice belonged to. She is beautiful!! he thought, I must be in heaven!!
” are you alright? Can you hear me? “ the angel asked in a faraway voice.
Then everything went black.
The ringing phone on his lap roused Gabby from his mind trip to the present. He was almost home. He picked up the phone as he pulled up in the driveway.
” hello, babe, I’m just parking. “ he said and hung up. Antoinette opened the front door and gave him a small wave. Gabby looked at her silhouetted figure leaning against the doorframe.
I’m a really lucky man.
He walked up to the door and took her hands in his. He gave her a long, lingering kiss.
” I love you babe. “
” Hmmm!! is everything ok? You don’t look too cheerful today. “ she looked up at him.
“ No, I’m alright. “
” Did you have an argument with one of the guys? You look a bit tense, “
” Nothing’s wrong, “ he shrugged. ”can’t I tell my gorgeous wife that I love her? Come on, let’s go inside. “
Antoinette followed him into the house, I know you and by the look in your eyes, I know something’s on your mind. Maybe you’ll talk about it later.