A gun… No, no no. Not what I should have seen. He hadn’t meant me to see it. But there the thing was – some kind of pistol: one of those types Steven Seagal uses to push into the face of a Mexican Cartel Boss seconds before whipping a kick into his jaw.
It was just laying there all black and dully menacing on the carpet, by an armchair. Ok, so this gun wasn’t the first I’d ever seen, but those ones had been legal. This wasn’t. And it was in the opiate-fuzzy ownership of a heroin dealer who was currently struggling with extreme paranoia.
He’d been holed up in the flat for a couple of weeks, not daring to go outside for fear of the Police and someone he referred to as “Gedgy” (a supplier from a nearby city who was apparently higher up the street narcotics food chain). When he told me that Gedgy had already kidnapped someone selling heroin a few miles away for non-payment in full of a wholesale drug contract, I began to wonder how long I’d been in the flat and if I really needed bundling into the back of a transit van on a Friday afternoon. By the sound of him, Gedgy wasn’t someone to reason with rationally. And I didn’t need that kind of adrenaline injection under any circumstances; who does?
My patient’s girlfriend appeared from a bedroom, half dressed. “Hi, Ben,” she said. “Has he told you about being paranoid as fuck?”
“I said it’d all be ok, but he won’t believe me,” she said. She moved towards him but he motioned for her to sit near me.
“They won’t get anything anyway. She hides our stash up her,” he said. “So when the coppers come, there’s nowt they can do unless they’ve got proper good evidence. It’s fucking awesome up there, ain’t it love?” He laughed, then stared lovingly at her sitting next to me in her tiny vest and g-string.
The gun loomed large on the floor. He was twitching nervously, blood-shot eyes flicking around the room. It was obvious that despite his corpulent opiate habit, he hadn’t slept for long enough to make being within murdering distance of a firearm a safe prospect for anybody. I’d dealt with raving lunatic heroin dealers before, sometimes even if they were armed with machetes and motorcycle chains, but you can run from those things. Even in an advanced stage of paralytic fear, I would always back myself to find a whimpering solution, or a ten meter head start… Guns were different. They were death machines, with no quarter given. No fighting back, or running, would save anybody against someone armed with a gun who really wanted to kill them. A brutal and universal truth; a truth that wasn’t lost on me.
I couldn’t contain the tension any longer, “SO…..is that gun real?” I asked him, looking him straight in his unhinged eyes and nodding at its place on the floor.
He thought for a moment, “Yeah.” Then added, “But I wouldn’t use it unless I really had to…..Sometimes you just need to show people you mean business.”
I nodded sagely. What the fuck was I doing in here with a maniac and a gun?!
He rolled and lit a spliff. Leaning back in the armchair, he blew great clouds of silver-grey smoke into the air above him. The weed seemed to calm the twitching. He sat motionless, like a great monstrous bullfrog, overweight, sweating, then mouthed some silent words to himself. And that, my friends, was the cue I needed. Calm was one thing, talking to yourself was another. And at some point the elephant in the room was going to raise its ugly head: now I’ve seen the gun, when was I going to call the police? It was only a matter of time before this thought appeared across the fractured plains of what was left of his mind. And then….well….things could develop into something neither of us wanted at that exact moment. Or, in fact, ever.
I made some feeble excuse, after pretending I’d received a message on my phone, and said I’d be back next week. He seemed happy with this, and said he’d watch me from an upstairs window until I’d gone. “And if you see a black Tranny Van out there, put your fucking foot down.”
I started up my car and rolled gently, as coolly as I could, through the small estate. The call to the Police took place about ten seconds later. When they finally kicked his door in, the gun was gone. Some places are better than others to hide things, I guess. He knew that wisdom better than most.