I backed out and closed the door, crossed to the other side and pushed at another door. My nose caught the whiff of stale cigar smoke and through thick curtains enough light played to show me that this flat had been turned into one giant room. I walked forward and felt wood under my feet. I saw the shape of an armchair near one of the windows and, at the far side, I saw the glint of something. I walked across the wood and froze. A shape moved in the dark.

I tilted my head a few inches to the left and the shape moved again. I froze again. I could make out the rough shape of a man or a woman. I shifted my head again and the shape’s head copied me and I let out a laugh. Walking forward I touched the ice chill of a mirror and breathed a sigh of relief. I traced the mirror all the way to the window and then all the way back to the far wall. I reached up and I couldn’t feel the top of it. It stretched all the way to the ground.

I had heard of such rooms in dance classes but I had never been in one. It took a fair bit of cash to buy someone’s house just to turn it into a dance studio. I looked over at the armchair and wondered if the old man used to sit and watch the dancers practising. I shivered — there was something not quite right with that thought.

I retraced my steps and walked back into the stair well. I was fascinated by the whole place. Why would someone buy an entire tenement with all the cost of converting it? It was a massive undertaking. David’s dad must have really loved the Gorbals.

I started up the stairs hoping that common sense would put the living rooms on the next floor and, at worst, the bedrooms on the floor above. If the bedrooms were at the top of the building I was in for a long search.

At the next floor there should have been three doors leading off the landing. Instead there was one door right at the top of the stairs and when I pushed it open there was carpet beneath my feet.

The light was better up there. The three homes on this floor had been opened up into a huge living area with windows on three sides. If the dance studio was impressive the scale here was breathtaking.

Here was a man who had a living room the size of three houses. Around me there was a wealth of furniture and I wondered if it was safe to turn on a light. I could see some lamps and given the curtains were shut I decided to risk it and, after some fumbling, I managed to switch on a small table lamp.

The room hove into view and it was no less impressive — although I couldn’t help wondering how the hell three families had managed to live their lives in the space.

The walls were a veritable art gallery of paintings. In those days I had no idea of the value of such art. I studied a few and thought I could do better given half a chance and a bunch of crayons. Of course I was so wrong it hurts.

I crossed the room and scanned for anything of value and my eyes found a chest with a gold padlock the size of a loaf of bread. It was the sort of chest that you would expect to see in Treasure Island. The padlock could only mean one thing — jackpot.

I took out my lock pick kit and popped the padlock with ease. I raised the lid and jewellery shone in the dim light. The chest was stuffed with it. If it was real I could retire today and six generations of my descendants would never run out of cash.

It was then that my life took a left turn. I suddenly knew that I was in the wrong place. I slammed the lid down and locked the padlock. I sprinted across the room, dousing the light as I went and I was down and out the front door like the wind across the top of Ben Nevis.

As I ran I knew I was in the deep brown stuff. Deep in the crapper. I knew what I had to do but my guts were churning and I wanted to be sick.

It was well after one o’clock by then but that made no difference. I knew where David Read might be and I now knew what he was — and more importantly what he could do.

I cut down on to the Clydeside, across the Albert Bridge and headed with speed towards the Merchant City.

I found the street I was looking for — gasping for breath and scared to the bottom of my nuts.

Chapter 8

The single light above the door told me I had arrived at the right place. I walked up to it, paused, took a deep breath and knocked on the imposing double door that guarded the entrance.

High up in the wood a small shutter slid back and a pair of eyes looked down on me.

‘Mr Read, please.’

I said it in a whisper but it was enough. The left hand door swung open and heat and light spilled onto the street.

‘And what would a little gob-shite like you be wanting with Mr Read?’

The doorman was decked out in a royal blue overcoat that struggled to keep his muscles in check. This was no polite club steward. This man was a human blockade.

‘Tell him that someone is going to do his house over.’

The blockade cocked his head and vanished.

I tell you now that I wanted to run. With every bone in my body I wanted to sprint down that street and let the night swallow me up. I’ll also tell you that had I done so I would have been dead in twenty-four hours and you wouldn’t be here listening to this.

Two men in dark suits appeared in the doorway and, without stopping for a by your leave, stepped onto the pavement, lifted me bodily by the armpits and whisked me along the road and into St Andrews Square.

They hauled me round the church that sits in the centre of the square and into the shadows beyond. I was dumped to the ground and one of the men kicked me in the thigh.

Just making his point.

I lay on the cold pavement and waited. I knew better than to ask any questions. Questions led to pain.

I looked up at the church and from the back end of my mind I remembered being told that Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army had encamped around the church’s walls after the disastrous invasion of England in 1745. I think I knew how he felt.

The two suits lit up cigarettes but said nothing and I watched as the crappy street lighting played games with the smoke.

I heard footsteps and a heavily over coated man rounded the corner. He was stocky and walked with purpose. A man used to getting his own way in life. The two suits parted and he walked up to me.

‘Stand up.’

I did as I was asked and he turned and told the suits to take a walk. Obviously I was no threat.

‘I’m here. Talk.’

I launched into my story. Disjointed and without purpose he looked bored until I told him about my break in to his house and his eyes darkened. I told him I had taken nothing and seen nothing. His eyes dropped another shade. He didn’t believe me.

I told him where I had got the info on the house and I told him I was in the shit however this played out.

‘How did Rachel Score know that I wouldn’t be home tonight?’

I shrugged.

‘How did you know to find me at the club?’

‘I didn’t but I knew your dad used it. If you hadn’t been here I’d have left a message for you to contact me.’

He laughed. It sounded odd in the dark. But I could see his point. Me leave a message for him — good joke.

‘So why don’t I just get my friends to teach you to swim with a chain round your legs?’

I tell you my heart was racing at twenty to the dozen and then some. I had no plan other than to offer up Martin and Rachel in return for my safety.

‘Because if I hadn’t come here Martin would have done over your house. Still might.’

He looked at me. The way a boy looks at a bug just before he squashes it. He shouted back to one of the

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