“I don’t give a flying fu*k about you, where’s my money”? This is not how I expected the conversation to play out, and I was shocked to silence by his conversartion opener. “I have most of your money; just waiting to shift”. My retort was solid and mostly honest, but he did not want to hear any of it.
“Why the 'ucking (how he said it, "'ucking") 'ell you calling me den, mutha 'ucker”? Well, my reason for calling was simple -- I wanted some more gear. There aren’t many reasons I called this guy; it was a rhetorical question.
“Get 'ere wiv me cash, chop, 'ucking, chop.”
“Okay, I have most of it but was thinking I could...” He wasn’t listening; I could hear him shouting at someone unfortunate enough to be in the same room as Danny. “Alright, alright, just get to my place in a minute.” The call ended.
Danny was my new “geezer,” having recently met him three or four months earlier. I had kept things simple; paid up front in the beginning, then took extra, which I paid back promptly once I had sold it (minus a profit). Business was good. It’s amazing in my early, early 20s, and with just three months' graft, I had amassed what I considered a small fortune.
That morning I had called to see if Danny would be able to put two 9bars aside for me -- we had spoken a few days previously and he told me about this new “shit” he had in, and that it was “running out fast.” I did not have the money, but with the last bits in the tin I thought I could pay him off and use the profits to put a big down payment on the next load of stock.
This happened often, sinking in all of my profits straight back in. I had a cash flow problem, in that I never had any cash that was my own. Once I started banging it out I would have £200 to £300 and I would spend it was like my own, but really it was not mine -- it was my suppliers; more often than not by the time I paid back what I owed and picked up more stock (on tick), I would have nothing left.
There are two options, and if you are sensible you become frugal, spending as little as possible until you save enough to buy your gear out right. I had been doing that and was very careful how long I ever owed money for, and made sure I paid people back ASAP; mostly because I wanted to be a good customer and get the best possible deals. And avoid getting my head smashed in, while at it.
The trouble was, I was still young and was not used to having £300 in my pocket; it was far too easy for me to dip my hand in and buy a few drinks in the pub, or whack £20 in the fruity with the promise of paying back the “loan” with my winnings. This was getting easier for me to justify to myself, and started happening more frequently.
As I fished the wodge of cash out of my pocket, I noticed it felt thin and as I counted it I realised that I may have spent more than I thought. A very quick check of stock revealed a more worrying bit of information -- I did not have enough left to sell to make up the difference.
How the fuck had this happened? I was saving for a car; I can’t have spent that much, as I added up the previous five nights out in the boozer, in my head. Ok, maybe I could've done.
“Alright Danny,” I decided a call to defuse the situation and sort myself out.
“You coming over then?” Danny hadn’t forgotten our call 10 minutes earlier, damn him.
“Yeah, but what I was going to say was that if I pop over at the end of the week I will have your money and will need to pick up some more.”
“How much short are you on the money?” My response to this question was initially to shout “fuck!” as loud as I could in my head.
“About £190,” I said very calmly, knowing he should really double that number and add a bit.
“Well, just bring me the £190 worth of weed you have today as I need it for someone else and then I will sort you out some more Thursday.”
“See you in a bit, fella,” I responded; heartbeat quickening.
Why was I so worried?
As I mentioned, I was still fairly young at this stage, and moving up through the “business world," I had met and started buying from Danny three or four months before this call happened. Jay knew him from a community service that they had shared together, and again, this limited knowledge of him was why I started off very timid in my approach. The trouble was it was hard not to be timid around him; mostly I listened as he half-shouted, half-spoke to anyone in the room; never loud enough to be deemed aggressive, but not far from it.
One of the things I always mention is the best way to act is normal; do whatever you are doing openly, no one looks at you if you normally pass a bag to someone in a town centre, but everyone will look at a shady hand-off through the window of a car (young dealers please stop this now; no-one has three mates pull up an hour to talk to you, without getting out of their car).
However much I took pains to appear normal, Danny did not act normal. In fact, Danny went out of his way to look like he was up to something criminal, at all times.
Danny had a buzz cut, a number three or four all over, but somehow he would make this look like a side parting. His eyes had a dark blankness to them; he blinked less than other people and constantly looked up and down, left and right as he spoke to you. His face had one or two minor scars, nothing big; a nick to the eye brow and mark on his cheek. Aged 25, he looked and acted much older than he was.
He dressed like a henchman from Ray Winstone’s earlier films; black shirt, and short black jacket, with a large gold chain over the shirt collar -- he claimed the large cross was from a deal that went wrong, “so I took all the mug's gold,” he had told me the story a bunch of times, and each time he ended it with a menacing glare, just to reiterate to me his "hardness."
The way he walked, casual but shifty; constant shrugs of the shoulder and glances around while holding his pocket. He was half hip-hop limp, a quarter nose rubbing East London lad about town strut of his namesake Mr D Dyer, and one quarter composed suspicious stroll of Paulie Sorvino through the Bronx.
He had four mobile phones and would tell anyone who would listen:
“I have a phone for me buisness; a phone for me mates and family; a phone for me bird, and a phone for the ladies on the side."
I never understand why some guys carry so many phones, and why would he not have his family and girlfriend on one phone and bits on the side on his work phone. I think this was more to do with the fact his little brother worked in CPW and was a theiving little twat. How do you explain to the police, why at 25 and with no formal employment, you have a requirement for that many phones?
But mostly it was the talk; if he went into a shop he would leave explaining the best way to rob the place without getting caught -- every big guy on the telly is a mark or a mug who would get his ass kicked for stepping into Danny’s “manna."
If he was ever in the pub he would constantly be sniffing and touching his nose; usually he had a “toot” but he showed it more, wearing the affects like a badge of honour to the rest of the crowd.
Every action followed by a shifty glance, surveying the area of opportunities, a blag, a scam.
Plus the stories of his shows of toughness, his ability to muscle his dealers to pay up or he would do some damage; his hostile takeover of the boozer and declaring it a drug safe zone, it always had been apparently.
And it was these stories that had me worried -- one story (thanks to Jay) in particular had me worried. Apparently due to the highs and lows of cocaine use, Danny flipped and beat the shit out of two dealers who owed him £100 each. To make matters worse, one of the guys he has around him is a man mountain, shaped like a “One Man Gang,” Si (Simon) was built to inflict pain on others, although this did not stop Danny calling him “Si-Cu*t” every few seconds, without fear of reprisal.
I was worried -- there were no stories of Si’s antics on the usual grapevines; even Jay did not have a yarn to spin. I needed a plan; I needed not to get on the wrong side of this geezer, small circles, and I needed Danny. For all his boasts, he did get great weed, and his stories, although repetitive in theme, were really just the plots to a late night straight-to-DVD gangster-movie.
With Danny it was tough to tell, his mates backed up his stories:
“So I went to pull out me shooter and said to the guy 'I will put a 'ucking hole in you, you ucking prick!” Danny’s menacing glare would follow as normal, followed by “didn’t I, Si.” Si would always nod in agreement with a wry smile.
Recalling these conversations in my head, I gave him another call.
“Danny, it's Jamie, I can’t get over to you today, I can do tomorrow though...” I just needed a day to sort this, no fucking clue how to yet, but it seemed reasonable enough to ask.
“Nah mate; I need it today.”
“Ok, I'LL see what I can do, but I should be able to...” I was worried, this guy seemed dangerous; coked up to the knee caps (he could not afford more).
A plan was needed quickly, so I went straight to Dave, my old dealer -- I knew he had some good gear in; I had given him a good deal on 4 and a half ounces a few days earlier. Dave had lost his best customer (me); plus Dave was into me for about £600 -- time to make a collection.
Now, with Dave it was tough to get a response; he was always in a dressing gown and it's tough to be insistant at someone in head-to-shin towling, and his lankiness was emphasised by his constant bleary-eyed approached to life. No money, but I took the remain ounce from Dave, leaving him enough to smoke until he realised he just had to call a number and drive for 5 to 15 minutes to pick up some more. Actually, remembering the state of him that day, it might have been too much.
Looking at the folded-up envelope that had become my “tick sheet,” it was clear I was not going to scrape together enough. There was only one thing left to do -- get Dave. I popped back 'round and asked him to come with me. With no attemmpt at resistence, Dave took off his towling gown to reveal trackies and a t-shirt; the bottom of his Adidas three stripe almost reaching the middle of his socks. Taking off the robe made him look taller, and he sloped out of the door next to me to his car. I felt like it was partly Dave’s fault; he had smoked all the skunk he owed me money for.
Back home, I looked in the one place I promised I wouldn’t -- the car fund, a tin in the sock drawer. A promise I had broken just three days earlier, and the week before that. £80, just £80, that’s not even going to buy one tyre to surround a 3 spoke alloy. But nonetheless, I put it in my pocket and got back into Dave’s car, which he drove as slowly as he spoke; so stoned by mid-morning, Dave could only focus in short bursts, then faded away into thought, a what-if-this-happened daydream.
As I walked into Danny’s gaff, Si was sitting watching TV as Danny sat at the dinner table in the room, looking at a large bag of “Jack n Jill’s." They had not bottomed in price by this stage, but were not the commodity they had been a few years before, apparently.
“Alright geezer,” Danny was less aggressive suddenly. Oh, he was talking to Dave.
“Goodtosee ya, howyoubeen,” Dave slurred through an attempt at a response.
“Stylin, profiling.” Did he just quote Ric Flair?
“Not too bad geezer, just been sorting out a mass supply of chang, going to be a white Christmas geezer ( it was nowhere near Christmas); once I have got this stock in, you should come and work for me.”
Danny had just offered a job to the most stoned man on the planet.
“Si, shouldn’t Big Dave come and work for me?” Si nodded along with Danny.
Danny picked up the bag of pills he had been inspecting, and threw them to Si.
“Do you want any pills; I got thousands of the things, Si, give me those pills 'ere.” Why did he throw them to him in the first place?
“Have you got that gear, son?” He was a few years older than me; not old enough to be my dad at all.
“Yeah, 'ere, I owe you about £150 on top of that,” I said, producing the gear and some cash.
“I have a few people that owe me.”
“Can’t you cover it, 'ucking hell” Danny fell back on the sofa as he endlessly shifted around the room.
“I 'ucking need it today, I need it for a deal, for 'uck’s sake.”
“Mate, I just can’t get it now; I have called the guys and they...”
“Who the 'uck are they?” as if he was going to go 'round and collect it himself.
“You don’t know them; it’s a few people that owe me little bits, I will get it.” I hoped.
“Nah geeze, that ain’t right, you need to get me my money NOW.” Dave the useless bastard was still leafing through Danny’s CD collection, his eyes barely open, and blood red.
As Danny began to move 'round the room more frantically, my heart was relatively calm, I in no way felt threatened. I recalled all the stories Danny had told me, his way of warning me to pay up, the running down of late payers, “Dobson’s a cu*t; Joe is a grass; I threatened Paul D; I bitchslapped Lewis T; that c*nt tried not to pay me so I told him I would smash his mum’s house up, kill his dog,” and finally, “I will fuck you up like them dealers back in Riverside estate.”
As I got up I realised all the threats were just that -- what was he going to do, kill me? Very unlikely. For all his talk, I was still bigger and most likely stronger than him, plus it was a few quid in the grand scheme at the end of the day (a few days graft with stock obviously), and I would have the cash.
Danny walked across the room with a big grin, cocking his fist half ready to punch. I still felt calm.
“Don’t bother, Dan” Dave woke up.
“I am just 'uckin around, pal” Danny stopped in his tracks.
“I owe Jamie a bit; I will give it to him laters and he will sort you out; come on J, let's get me home.”
Dave completely sorted it with one sentence; I had never seen that side of him before, and had not really picked up on the fact Danny seemed overly nice to Dave, or that Dave really did not care about going to see Danny; something that had terrified me due to the reports from Jay. Even as stoned as he was, Dave had Danny covered.
“He was 17,” Dave’s focus was off again.
“Who?” I asked, as we waited at a set of traffic lights.
“17 when he...?” as we pulled away Dave instantly stopped talking; his stoned face blank as he slowly corners extremely widely at a junction.
“When he beat the shit out of the dealers; they were kids, 14 or 15.” Why had Dave kept this to himself?
“The gold he took, that’s bullshit as well -- he did not have a choice, and it was way under the value he was owed.” As Dave smiled his eyes disappeared completely; so puffy from the earlier spliffs.
I paid Danny back in full on the Friday and picked up two more 9s. Business continued pretty much as before, although I did take a few liberties on payment from then on. Danny has always been a good contact to have, and once you get past the bullshit stories; self-hype and over-inflated self-worth, you are just left with a pretty normal guy.
A normal who is, and always will be, a bit of a twat.
Jamie Snoll is a pseudonym for a drug-dealer born and bred in Essex, who offers up a view from the different side of the law to our Friday columnist Matt Delito. Check back this Friday for Matt’s next episode.