Short Story Preview: Starting Over – Josie Arden
Revisiting Smithfield’s Meat Market all these years later, to somehow close the circle, I was in for a shock. It was no longer there! My youthful memories, though, were as vivid as ever. I could feel again the thick blood-soaked sawdust underfoot when I staggered in with the bleeding carcases on my back. The pubs used to open for us at 5 a.m. in those days. They appreciated how vile was the lung-searing stench; how vital our need for the breakfast pint. I first met ‘friendly’ old Scarface in the Crown. (He knew just where to recruit spineless blood-sick fools.)
‘Can’t be much, yer screw ’ere,’ he said. ‘Come wiv me an’ I’ll get ya more dosh dan ya know wot to do wiv.’
I began by driving the get-away cars. True, he paid me well, but like all guys in that line, I got greedy. I wanted my own show. For a while, I made it big-time. Different banks, different disguises – then someone shopped me.
Now, after seven years inside and – dare I say it? – as an older and wiser man, I strolled up to Covent Garden noting the changes with amazement. Like the meat market, the old vegetable hall had gone, its place taken by a plethora of food and trinket stalls, cafes, jugglers and musicians. Even so, as I filled my lungs with fresh air, dizzy with my new-found freedom, I suddenly felt old seeing the young giggling girls in floaty summer dresses and pony-tailed boys in ear rings.