Part of a chapter from Lucky Portbraddon…my next novel! One of the family, Nick Portbraddon decides to go for a late night drink…

“Hello Nick,” Con spoke genially but he was looking at Nick carefully. Nick Portbraddon wasn’t big but he could cause a lot of trouble when drunk. And he was drunk now.
“Hey, Con, who’s on tonight?”
“Spandex Sky,” the bouncer glanced up the street to where a group of youths were standing indecisively on the corner, wondering whether to try their luck at getting past Con and into the club.
“Never heard of ‘em, Con. Any good?”
“Dunno Nick. You coming in?” Con made a decision. He wanted Nick out of the way in case the youths headed down to the club and attempted to cause some aggro. Con could deal with them and send them away peacefully, or let them in if they seemed safe, but Nick was unpredictable, and when drunk, very unpredictable.
“I’ve had enough to drink, Con, just want a coffee and listen to some music. Lurex any good?”
“Spandex, mate, Spandex Sky. Don’t know who they are or what they’re like. Me, I like the old Country and Western stuff, so anything else just sounds a racket to me. Be a good boy, now Nicky.”
Nick staggered into the club and Con stepped out onto the pavement to wait to see if the youths would head his way. He was bored and half hoped they’d cause some bovver just so he could have a bit of an excuse. He glanced over his shoulder, Nick was standing by the ticket desk chatting to Tracey with a mug of something steaming in his hand. Con had known of Nick from school days, he and his brother Tyrone were in the fifth form when Con had started at St Finbarr’s High. He remembered them from the sixth form, always together, Nick then with dazzling good looks and Tyrone with bleached hair and dark glasses, always dressed in black. Now Ty was a normal looking teacher and Nick looked like a tramp most of the time, any good looks hidden beneath his tatty beard. When sober he was sound, when drunk Nick was a menace.
The lads came to a decision and swaggered down the alley. They were young, and decent, pretending to be older and harder. They looked like kids from the grammar school and maybe it was because he had been thinking back to his own school days that Con called them ‘gents’ and, after a warning about drugs, let them in.
As they went down the stairs Kes came up wanting a cigarette so Con left the door and went to check on Nick. He’d heard his grandma had died, old Mrs Portbraddon. Con remembered her at the school gates at junior school where she would wait for her other grandson Alex who had been a year above Con. Alex’s parents had been killed when he was in nursery and the old lady had become his mother, even coming into the classroom to help out with reading. She’d had to do the same thing a dozen years later when Alex had unexpectedly become a father in Year 11.
Nick was sitting at a table on one of the raised areas at the back. It was where patrons sat to eat from the small menu; it used to be things in the basket with chips, now it was paninis and wraps. Nick still had the mug but had a sketch pad out and was drawing, although how he could see in the dim light from the lamp on the table was a mystery. Con made a circuit of the club, chatted for a moment with Dave who was standing arms folded viewing the small dance floor and then made his way round and up the couple of steps to the ‘bistro’ area.’
“Can you see what you’re doing, Nick, mate?” he asked, sitting down so he could still watch the crowd. The boys he had let in were all standing near the band, just watching, causing no trouble and Con wondered if maybe one of them had a brother who was playing.

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