David R Ewens

Lucky Malarkey

17th February 2007

Of course, Lucky Malarkey wasn’t his real name. In fact, not many people referred to his surname. Everyone knew him as ‘Lucky’ – ‘Lucky’ by name, ‘lucky’ by nature. His real name was Kenny Mallard. He’d acquired the moniker ‘Malarkey’ (as he would put it) not from some schoolmate but actually from his English teacher, Bill Yeats. Kenny was always cheerful, always indulging in banter. He was a joy to teach, but infuriating as well. Mr. Yeats had said on one occasion, with utter exasperation, ‘Enough of this malarkey, Kenny – just get on with your work’ – and somehow Malarkey, Kenny, had become Kenny Malarkey. ‘Malarkey’ had stayed when Kennybecame ‘Lucky’. He liked the anonymity his name gave him.

Kenny was a joy to teach because he was bright as a button. In particular he loved words. Words tripped off his tongue in a silver torrent. His flights of pure prose held everyone spellbound at school – teachers and school mates alike. He cherished words. He devoured them. Words like ‘sphincter’, ‘serendipity’, ‘exsanguination’ – three particular favourites – were as natural to him as self-delusion to a junkie.

But as Lucky Malarkey, he was much more than a mere connoisseur of words. His other stellar talent was buying and selling. Lucky could turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. From early adolescence, this other magical quality was put to making money – not for Lucky a tedious slog on some paper round treadmill. Spotting a market and exploiting it to the full was his forte. Lucky had every conceivable deal going (or scam, it didn’t matter to him). Later on, it was Lucky who got the most sought after tickets to soccer matches, who spotted local clothing trends and cornered the market. Even in the matter of taxi travel he was king. He never went anywhere without a group of mates to pay for the ride after he’d got the taxi. His nose for a deal and his ability to make a bob or two in the difference between wholesale and retail were more legendary than even his love of words.

Lucky had never had much of what he called a ‘moral side’ either. Money was there to be made in whatever way was easiest. Ifpeople let themselves be exploited, who was he to have qualms? And that’s how he moved into drugs – not of course as a drug dealer – no way. Lucky styled himself, with typical panache, as a ‘purveyor of dreams’. The techniques of his ‘dream purveyance’ were age-old. He dangled the hook, a free tab here, a free line there, and then, before you knew it, dependence and a steeply inflated price rapidly followed.’That’s how it goes’, Lucky would cheerfully say to himself. His ‘operation’ had class – from his striped shirts on the club scene to his rich- kid clientele. There was nothing sordid in the way he operated. It made him an excellent living. Life was ‘as sweet as a nut’. His girlfriend, Marcie, completed the package. With her sinuous, long, tanned legs and curves in all the right places, her outfits from Dolce and Gabbana, her shoes from Russell and Bromley, and her ineffable style, Marcie was breathtaking. On his arm, she helped him conquer the world. The recent high point had been the three weeks together in the Maldives.

There was only really one dab of reality. The retail side of the operation was hunky dory. The wholesale side was sordid because he had to deal with the ubiquitous Danny Squillachi. Lucky hated the purchase of his supply, every part of it. Squillachi lacked sophistication. He had as much élan as a limp Caesar salad. His office was passé, with old-fashioned, dull walnut panelling and rich-red wallpaper that cast a gloomy spell. Squillachi’s two ‘assistants’, whom Lucky christened ‘Looming’ and ‘Morose’, filled him with depression. Squillachi and his henchmen made him nervous too, because Lucky could not help but take rather more in profit than was allowed under the terms of the agreement Squillachi had with all his ‘purveyors of dreams’. Lucky’s hope was that a small extra, unauthorised profit on each of a large number of deals would be much less noticeable than big profits on just a handful.

So life went on. Demand. Supply. Wholesale. Retail. A profitable life. A charmed life. Lucky only thought occasionally to look over his shoulder. But it was when he was not looking over his shoulder that it happened. He’d just finished the most lucrative of deals with some feckless clubbers with more money than sense. ‘Consider the lilies of the field They toil not; neither do they spin’, he’d said to himself. Then Looming and Morose had appeared from nowhere to break his train of thought.

As Looming loomed, Morose said (gloomily) ‘Lucky, old son, Mr. Squillachi wants a word.’

There was no choice. Lucky found himself at the end of an alley beside the ‘Last Hurrah’ club. Although the club was loud, there was no sound in the cushion of the three walls – except for the patter of light drizzle.

‘Lucky’, said Danny Squillachi, ‘you’ve been screwing me over for much too long and I’m sick to death of it. If you get away with it, where’s it gonna stop?’ He held up his hand to pre-empt the protestations. ‘I’ve got to do something, or all my dealers will be ripping me off’. (‘Pour encourager les autres’, Lucky thought obscurely to himself).

Then the knives were out, glinting dully in the dirty urban light. Swift stabs to chest and belly. The leisurely tread of feet away from the scene of the crime. Lucky sank to the filthy, debris-spattered ground. He knew he didn’t have long. His sphincter opened and warm liquid trickled down his leg to mingle with the blood of his wounds. He was no purveyor of dreams now. There was nothing serendipitous in this. But he didn’t see the sun-kissed beaches of the Maldives, and didn’t mourn that he would never smell Marcie’s hair or kiss her lips or touch her skin ever again. He didn’t even see all his past life flashing before him in that monstrous age-old cliché. He simply thought ‘So this is exsanguination’.

David R Ewens


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