The Arseholes by Desimond
The called him B, or Big B.
Given his size, attitude and his reputation, most people had their own opinion on what the B might have stood for. It had been so long since he had been called his real name that even he had forgotten it. Despite dark brown eyes that hinted at a touch of the Arab way back in his family history, he was as Scottish as they come and skin didnt come much whiter than his. He was large, he was imposing and along with the rest of his feared team, he took no shit from anyone in Glasgow. They quite readily gave plenty of shit out mind.
He lived in the Gorbals, just behind the Sheriff Court. Had been there for a while now, a long way away from his humble country beginnings. He could still remember the small village, it wasnt far from where Jock Stein had worked apparently. Like most of his type, he had never known his father. His mother had been kind enough but as soon as the other kids started coming along, he knew he was out there on his own. It wasnt long before he was running with a crowd and after maturity hit, his impressive bulk and fearsome attitude found itself attracting a certain type of attention. There were only certain roles when you grew up in the village and pit or field work wasnt going to be for him.
Soon enough he was being led down the path that took him towards the bright lights and the big city. He knew it was a path of violence, mania and having to constantly keep one eye in front and one eye behind. He knew it was a path were danger was everywhere and he never forgot it. He had the brains to know that concentration was everything, anything else would come natural. Sure some special training helped but he knew in the heat of the moment, natures fight or flight response would always keep him right. At least it had up to now.
He’d been in a few ‘altercations’ in his time. Nothing too serious really, He hadnt suffered any major damage and would joke that at least he still had all his own teeth, A fact that was more than could be said for The Arseholes. Despite his derisory nickname, The Arseholes were the ones who actually controlled the City. Glasgow was no one horse town and all the criminal factions intersected somewhere along the line. That line was drawn by The Arseholes. A mutual understanding existed between The Arseholes and B and his team, an understanding that worked out beneficial to both parties. To The Arseholes, B and his team were the guys to go when a “Dont mess with us” message was needed given out. To B and the Team, helping to meet The Arseholes requests ensured keeping them in a comfortable lifestyle. B and his team didnt care what was asked, they did it, got the reward, moved on. Everyone was happy. B just wished The Arseholes could cut out their sad wee amateur dramatics sometimes, there was just no need for it.
To B, The Arseholes were just the wee guys who would turn up and start going on about how they would really really really appreciate some assistance. B always sighed at the faux flattery and the constant “It will be fine, its just in case” re- assurances. Just who was this amateur charade for? They all knew why they were there and what was needed and it sure it wasnt flattery. Brute force, imposing stature and the ability to direct matters in the desired way was the requirement, B knew this, his team knew this and The Arseholes most of all, should have known this. All B’s team needed was a name, time and place and their sheer professionalism would took care of the rest. All the Arseholes had to do was hand up what was due, and everyone was happy, job done.
The sun wasnt quite overhead when Tam, a member of B’s team who was down near the doorway, stepped back to allow the latest requester entry. B began to think ‘Here we go again’ but found himself surprised as he watched one of The Arseholes approaching. It was a woman which wasnt exactly the norm. ” Need you help today B, could get messy but we think we have it covered. We need you and another 11 of your team just in case. Hopefully in and out within 3 hours tops. Make it worth your while of course” said the woman, gesturing downwards where she brazenly opened a brown bag that she held in her hand. B looked inside, did a quick calculation and nodded his approval. The woman rambled on with the custimary compliments and reassurances and eventually B picked up the necessary details.
The job wasnt far, handy even. It was just a few miles up the road. Sounded like a typical Control job. B gathered that as per occasional business needs, there was going to be a meeting between 2 local rival mobs. Trouble wasnt expected, it was a business meeting after all but as ever The Arseholes just wanted to make sure everyone remembered who was actually in control. “Just the usual wee control job” she had said. No one needed trouble. Trouble was bad for business. Everybodys business.
The plan was straightforward enough, Turn up early, make presence known, group them in close, let them do their thing and then send them on their way. If it all went accordingly, they could all be home and hosed before sundown, just the way B liked it. That wasnt to say B was totally against things kicking off. Everyone in Bs line of work enjoyed letting off some steam now and again but after a few years in the game, B had a little more appreciation for the graceful silent touch and the art of gentle persuasion rather than the use of brute force. These things came with age.
B had never forgot the tale of how an aggressive youngster had got his come-uppance back in his old village. First of all the headstrong idiot had gotten careless and came off worst against a piece of 2×4 timber. Before anyone knew, he had vanished and village rumours were that he’d been shot and disposed off. After hearing that, B always favoured the cautious measured approach over gung-ho go for it!
After getting themselves ready, the team gathered together and had a quick bite to eat. B avoided rookey mistakes such as going to work on an empty stomach, no-one ever needed the distraction of hunger when on a job. Lunch over, they headed out to Ballater street, they moved into convoy formation, turned up to the right and headed South East. They arrived at the meet before 1 and as per usual, all took up the necessary positions.
Everything proceeded as normal and although B noticed the gathering numbers seemed to be a little more boisterous than expected, he didnt worry, he’d been down this road before, a few times in fact. Despite the hot sunshine, he kept his cool and watched on. Eventually, everyone from the rival sides had arrived and been ushered inside. B remained outside and relaxed in the sunshine. Inside was their business, he didnt need to know. All he needed to know was that the situation was contained and his job was almost complete. There was a reason this was his area of expertise.
An hour passed with nothing to report. Then another. B’s ears picked up when heard a lot of voices were being raised inside but none of The Arseholes seemed to mind so he dismissed any concerns. B, cautious as ever, also noticed there were a lot of The Arseholes standing on the outside of the meet which was very unusual. The Arseholes always liked to make their presence felt, especially on the inside. “Perhaps its just going a little too perfect inside” worried B. Within 10 minutes, he realised his fears were been fulfilled. Before B knew it, everything had went disastrously wrong and nothing would never be the same again.
A large double door suddenly opened and B saw around 50 men exit as fast as they could. Some men ran, some walked swiftly, some even just stumbled forward, but all shared the same anxious look on their faces. More doors were opening and more desperate men were exiting with the same fearful look. B looked around and noticed The Arseholes were starting to assemble. This was not good. This meant bad bad trouble inside. Something had went very wrong and when that happened, thats when B and his team were going to be needed.
“B, time to get in there” urged a voice just behind B and up to the left. B didnt need any further instruction and immediately ventured forward. B went down a long shadow laden corridor and then he stepped into the light. B immediately felt like he had stepped back in time. Was this Glasgow in the 20th century or was this Rome back in the Emperor days? Ever the professional, B immediately assessed the situation in front of him, it was simply carnage. It reminded B of a Gladiator contest, All he could see was men fighting men amid chaos and destruction while others high above in galleries watched down in anticipation and lust. “What you waiting for? get in there” shouted the Head of The Arseholes. Again B didnt need telling twice and stepped out onto the field of conflict.
From his expertly selected entry point, B had a perfect view of all the fighting in front. Angry ugly men covered in sweat and blood were engaging in combat all over the place. A Post mortem would tell B that it all kicked off due to a simple joke but for now none of that mattered. What mattered was getting it sorted. ‘Sometimes that rewards had to be well earned’ thought B as he prepared to advance on the hordes generating such mayhem.
To his left, B could see a small numbers of the rivals where making gestures at each other but he instantly knew they were offering no real threat. To the right a few members of his team had stepped in and were breaking up any conflicts. Such areas could be ignored. It was at the heart of the battle he was needing to go. That was around 40 yards away and B moved on. B had made it about 10 yards when he was joined by some from his team, B nodded to Rocky to his left and Tam to his right and along with a few of The Arseholes, they headed into the centre of the chaos. Ever vigilant, they watched as kicks, punches and gutteral screams flew out between the rivals. Bottles passed overhead, crashing into man and ground. Bricks, sticks and stones were being thown and showering down. The centre was now only 10 yards away.
Suddenly, B felt a clumsy blow to his rear. Without thinking, B immediately kicked out, the muscular limb went high and hard. He heard the assailant moan in muffled agony as he landed some 10 feet behind. B moved on, now wasnt a time for review or pause, now was a time of action. B nodded as Rocky turned to peel away to the right and delve into a combat pocket. Around 6 rivals where gathered, with the 2 central figures holding each other with one hand while throwing punches and kicks with their free limbs. Rocky, a good 6 foot just up to his shouler, accellerated and slammed directly into both of them.
As the other 4 ran in terror, the central 2 hit the ground, realised the game was up and scrambled away towards their nearest friendly exit. B and Tam carried on, Tam was next to get involved, 2 guys from the right had gathered more ammunition and tried to run forward and engage their enemy.
The brave Tam stepped between the foes and faced them down. The rivals paused, looked at Tam, looked at each other and dropping any ammo, turned and ran. They might have been daft enough for a rival fight but they werent stupid enough to annoy Tam.
Soon The rest of B’s team and a number of The Arseholes were spreading out around the battle zone. B took a commanding spot centre stage and surveyed the situation. The worst was now over. It was all starting to get a little less chaotic and the end was in sight. The rivals were well distanced apart and edging back towards the exits. Any full scale fights were over with only a few random skirmishes and empty posing left to deal with. B watched as his team herded the idiots out the doors and sent them packing, back to their own wee patches to brag and lie about their involvement in the madness. B didnt care what they said, all he cared about was getting an A-Ok from The Head of The Arseholes and heading back to his own H.Q. if ever there was a need for a quiet Saturday night in, this was it.
Soon B heard the words “Right B, thats its all over” and thanking the lord that all his teamhad survived with only a slight cut or bruise here and there, B gathered and led them back to the Gorbals.
B knew severe repercussions would come. He knew The Arseholes would be angry and no one ever liked an angry Arsehole. The Arseholes as always, blamed everyone bar themselves. B as expected, heard no criticism come the way of him or his teams. As expected, the blame, punishment and payback was directed down upon the two rivals. As per always, both then turned upon and blamed the other. After the punishments were handed out to both, one thing that everyone agreed on was that no-one would ever try such madness again. Such trouble really was bad for everybody’s business.
Even though B or his team hadnt been harmed, he took it as a sign. It was a sign that it was time to get out. From deciding it was time for him to get out the game, it then wasnt a big leap for him to see that it was a sign for him to get out the city. It was time to head back to the country, back to where he really belonged. Time to go home.
Years later during those retirement days, somewhere on a hillside near a village where Jock Stein had once worked, B was told the story of Joey. Joey it seemed had been in the War. B heard how Joey faced rejection, fatigue, hardship and witnessed the horror of man. “A War horse?” laughed B “Thats easy..tell him to try being a Celtic – Rangers Cup final horse!’
“This is like a scene now out of Apocalypse Now… We’ve got the equivalent of Passchendaele and that says nothing for Scottish football. At the end of the day, let’s not kid ourselves. These supporters hate each other.” – Archie McPherson 10th May 1980
This is part of the Celtic Fiction Series. if you fancy writing some Celtic Fiction, send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org