Editor’s Note: Chibbed definition: to stab or slash with a sharp weapon. – Collins English Dictionary.

The truth is, I didn’t like any of these people. I didn’t trust any of them, including my own cousin. In fact, I most likely distrusted her more than anybody in that taxi. She was trouble. Sly. A snake in the grass. But her pals had the drink, and she had the Charlie, so I’d be spending the night in their loathsome company. What stupid places that urge to get fucked up takes you. My head was trying to tell me;

‘Paul, this isn’t going to end well, you know it…’

I did, of course. But who wants an early night? Who out of all of us wants to go home? Maybe you do? Maybe it’s normal to call it a night and go home in more comfortable situations. Shit, it probably is perfectly normal to head home when you know you’re in dire company. Oh well, I chose not to. If I had, you wouldn’t have the opportunity to read this story, so there’s that…

It had just gone three o’clock in the morning when our taxi pulled up outside the tenement on Lochend Drive. There were five of us, all in. My aforementioned cousin, Amanda, The flat’s owner we’d just pulled up outside, Mary, a real tom-boy. Quite a rough lass who was most definitely interested in having sexual relations with me and had been for some time. The thought turned my stomach, to be honest. Also, there were Tommy and his bird, Faye. He was a nasty-looking fucker, ugly with real violence to his face. A proper street kid. His missus, on the other hand, was a stunner. A short and petite brunette, with smokey eyes and a soft, yet slightly husky voice. They were worlds apart in terms of looks, it being obvious, to me at least, that she was into him for that bit of danger, and, his wild and well-earned reputation. The boy was a volatile and dangerous wee bastard, and, later on, as you’ll learn, I’d be on the receiving end of that venom.

‘That’ll be £7.80, guys’, the taxi driver spun his thick neck around and said.

Then it started. The faux digging around in their handbags. At least Tommy was confident in his contempt at even thinking about paying. He was already out the door.

‘I’ll get it. Take the tenner, mate’, I said.

‘Are you sure, Paul? I think I’ve got a fiver in my bag’, said Amanda.

‘It’s all good’, I replied.

Out of the taxi and into the bitter early morning air we got. As I stood there watching the group head into the flat, a horrible realisation hit me. I only had a couple of fags left. The garage was only a five-minute walk from Mary’s, so I set off down the road, and, as I did do, I contemplated doing a runner. ‘This night is going to end in tears’, I thought. They usually do. But the lure of a session was, once again, and regrettably, too much.

‘Twenty Regal, boss’, I said to the forlorn-looking staff member working the graveyard shift in this god-awful estate. He took my money, and handed over the packet of cigarettes and my change, without saying a word. I didn’t blame him. And so it was, I made my way back to Mary’s flat. As I entered, the sound of awful music and over-excited, raised voices, greeted my ears. A dreadful din.

‘We thought you had bumped us, cousin’, said Amanda.

‘If only’, I thought.

‘Nah, I was just getting a packet of fags’, I said.

‘Chuck me one over’, said Tommy.

‘Aye, me too’, Mary chimed in.

‘No bother’.

I dished them out and headed to the kitchen to pour myself a drink. A nice tall vodka with lemonade that I greedily gulped down. ‘I need a line’, I thought. Back in the living room I zeroed in on the glass table that I presumed wasn’t used much for its intended purpose as a dining table, and, instead, was more familiar with different-coloured powders adorning its surface. The lines were already chopped up, and, as I rolled up my note, I studied them for that one with the extra milligram of Charlie.

‘I needed that’, I said after it had been hoovered up my nose.

‘It’s good stuff, lad’, Tommy remarked.

‘Aye, decent mate’, I replied.


The hours flew past, made up of repeated trips between the kitchen, toilet, and, most of all, that glass table. This was all interceded by complete gibberish, disguised as conversation. It was during one of my jaunts to the kitchen to grab another drink, I heard loud voices coming from the bathroom. The voices of Tommy and Faye. His voice had an anger to it, hers, sounded like she was crying. I paused at the kitchen door and listened in.

‘You’re a fucking slag’, Tam shouted.

‘I’ve not even done anything wrong’, Faye replied.

Then, BANG! I jolted at the unmistakable sound of a fist connecting to the jaw bone. I abandoned my idea of making a drink and knocked on the door.

‘Come on, Tommy, cut this shite out’, I said.

‘Fuck off, Paul, she’s alright’. He replied.

I could hear her said attempt at muffling her sobs on the other side of the door.

‘She doesn’t sound alright to me’.

The door flew open and Tommy emerged, all fucking wild-eyed and foaming at the mouth.

‘It’s got fuck all to do with you, Paul! Don’t get involved!’, he screamed at me.

‘Well, it has because I can hear it, and it’s completely out of order’, I replied.

As the last of those words fell out of my mouth, he swung a punch at me. Quite, and this was to my complete surprise given his reputation, a weak right hook, that caught me around the side of the head. At that moment, Amanda and Mary came out to see what the commotion was in the hall.

‘What the fuck is going on?’, Mary said.

‘This cunt is getting involved in things that don’t concern him’, Tommy exclaimed.

‘You’re going to regret this’, I replied to him.

At that statement, his eyes immediately blackened. His lips twitched and took on a snarl. He put his hand into his pocket and produced a medium-sized kitchen blade.

‘Is that fucking right?’, he sneered at me.

I backed away, my hands already in a defensive stance.

‘Put the knife down, Tommy’, Mary said. ‘Don’t be stupid’.

‘Aye, put it down, lad’, I said. ‘There’s no need to chib me’.

The look on his face was one of grotesque hatred. I continued to back away, keeping an eye on that glistening blade and his movements. But then, disaster struck. I’d tripped over something in the hall, one of Mary’s kids’ toys, if I remember correctly. Tommy seized his moment and lunged at me. It was over in seconds. I initially hadn’t felt a thing. No pain. Nothing.

‘That’s what you fucking get, dafty’, I heard Tommy’s voice say as he made his escape from the flat, dragging a hysterical Faye with him. I started up back to my feet, and, just then, the pain started to hit me. A throbbing in my cheek, just under my left eye at first. Then, a duller pain came from the top of my skull.

‘Oh my god! Oh my god!’, one of the girls was saying. ‘Phone an ambulance!’.

I could feel my warm blood begin to flow down my face, and, I watched as it hit the wooden flooring. It was like a tap, pouring out the most beautiful of red wines. ‘Fuck!’, I thought. ‘I’m in a bad way here’. Mary brought me towels, holding one to the top of my head and telling me to press another against my cheek. I didn’t know it then, but I had been stabbed four times. Twice under my eye, once to the top of my head, near the crown, and, luckily for me, a smaller, more, superficial wound to the back of my neck. He’d missed my eye by about an inch. ‘What a complete piece of shit!’, I thought. The pain in my cheek had gradually got unbearable. Thankfully, the ambulance arrived in around ten minutes.

‘Can you tell us what happened?’. The female paramedic asked.

‘He’s been…’ Mary started to say before I cut her off.

‘I fell. Face first into the metal bed frame. I’ve had far too much to drink. So stupid of me’.

The paramedics gave each other a quick knowing look and ushered me outside to the ambulance. They quite clearly knew I was talking out my arse, but their job was to get me to the hospital, not to investigate a potential crime, and so it was left at that. As I was sitting in the back of the ambulance having my wounds checked out I saw a car pull up and my heart sank. It was my mother. Amanda had phoned her and let her know what had happened. She rushed to the open back doors, horror across her face.

‘Oh, Paul!’, She exclaimed.

‘Does it look bad, mum?’, I asked, my voice cracking a little at the sight of her.

‘It’ll be okay once we’ve got you cleaned up at the hospital’, one of the paramedics said.

‘I’ll head up and meet you there, Paul’ my mother said.

‘No worries, Ma. See you soon’.

With that, the doors were closed. I can still picture that look on my mother’s face to this day when she saw the state I was in. It broke my heart. A couple of weeks later, with my battle scars healing quite well, I was informed my cousin Amanda was out with Tommy and Faye at another party. I told you, reader. A real snake in the grass.


R.A. Gallagher is a new writer hailing from Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Focusing on the trials and tribulations of working class life, he is a great admirer of the work of Bukowski, Fante, Celine and Salinger, among others. He can usually be found either reading or writing under the watchful eye of his cat, Ed.