An excerpt from Squeaky Clean by Callum McSorley

An excerpt from Squeaky Clean (Pushkin) by Callum McSorley one of the shortlist authors for the Bloody Scotland Debut Prize.

Click HERE to read our interview with Callum.


“THREE HUNNER AN TWENTY-SEVEN FUCKIN THOUSAND POUND!” Paulo bellowed. The gyprock walls vibrated. Paulo took huge, deep breaths, nostrils wide, shoulders moving up and down, his body puffing up like a hissing turkey about to peck some cunt’s eyes out. Davey wasn’t sure if Paulo had finally run out of steam after ten straight minutes of screaming and swearing and elaborating on the various ways he might torture and murder Davey and then defile his corpse, or if he was just taking a quick break. Paulo licked his lips and a smile crept over them. Dropping nearly to a whisper he added: “An sixty-four pence.”
Davey’s body had the consistency of a cheese string. “A swear, Paulo, it wisnae ma fault—”
The Big Man lifted a huge bear paw to strike him and Davey flinched, throwing his arms up over his face. The blow didn’t land; Davey wasn’t smashed through the wall. Paulo’s fist hung there above him, a row of sovvies as big as two-pound coins flashing in the stark light of the office. “Ad kick yer cunt right in, wee man, if somebdy hudnae done such a good joab ae it awready.”
Sean glowered from the other side of the room, hands trembling over a Street Fighter video-cassette case where he kept the day’s grass and skins, his grinder and poke. He sure as fuck wasn’t going to jump in for Davey but nor did he want a man being killed in his office. So he did what he could: rolled a fatty.
Paulo continued: “An a still might, if ye don’t tell me exactly wit a want tae know. Ye understawn?”
Davey nodded, head bobbing like a dashboard toy. “A-aye, Paulo.”
“Hawd back anythin an al take the missus’ GHDs tae yer fuckin toes. Right?”
“Act fuckin smart an al put the nozzle ae that Kärcher right up yer arse an pull the trigger till the water’s comin oot yer mooth like a fuckin fountain. Followin me?”
“Aye, a get ye, Paulo.”
“An Uncle Paulo doesnae believe in lube, son.”
Davey nodded, swallowing hard, throat dry, the reek of the bifter Sean had sparked stinging his eyes, fighting back tears.
“So, ye bumped ma motor. Then wit happened?”
“A didnae bump it… A wisnae gonnae—a just needed tae get tae the court cause, cause—”
The slap made his ear ring again, burst the inside of his cheek open against his teeth.
“That’s gettin smart. A don’t want tae know why, the noo a just want tae know wit happened. Get tae it.”
Davey went through the hijacking, the knife, the journey to the alley by the tracks where they beat him and black-bagged him. Waking in the rain in the industrial estate, the blinding, deafening explosion as the car (all £327,000.64 of it) went up in flames. Paulo asked for detailed descriptions of the teuchters— Mince and Mealy—and Croaker, their accents and mannerisms, the cars they drove. Davey did his best, his memory occasionally jogged and clouded by another slap or a flick to the nose.
When he was finished, Paulo folded his arms and leant his bulk against the IKEA unit which functioned as the car wash’s 83 canteen—microwave, grill and mini fridge among a sea of crumbs and spilt milk. His eyes bored through Davey to the wall behind him, unblinking. Looking beyond him, brain turning over, pistons pumping as hard as the supercharged V6 of his now-exploded car.
The silence was growing unbearable. Davey waited for another kicking. Eventually he chose to speak up and snap the tension even if it meant bringing it upon himself. “Al gee ye the money back, Paulo. A will, a swear a will.”
“How, Davey Boy? How ye gonnae get ma money? Sell a kidney? Huv a bake sale?”
“Al hink ae somethin, Paulo, a will.”
In his desperation, Davey was entirely earnest, but already the obstacles were falling in front of his scattered train of thought. He had nothing in the bank except the money for next month’s bills. He had no house to sell, no car. His telly, his clothes, his furniture would add up to a fraction of what that motor was worth.
Paulo let him squirm under a long, heavy-browed gaze which then opened up into one of his chummy smiles. “Look, Davey Boy. It wis just a motor. Some sheets ae metal and a bit ae rubber. Wit’s important is you are awright, son.”
Davey had a stupid smile on his beaten face, clinging to the almost believable sound of concern in Paulo’s voice while the Voice of Reason groaned in disgust at his wretchedness, his wilful gullibility.
“We’ll hink ae a way ye can pay me back. Plenty ae time, we’re aw pals here.” Paulo turned his smile on Sean, whose stoned face was slack and dejected. “Put the kettle oan, gaffer.”

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