I walked downstairs to the club feeling like Zilly on his way to hand in his resignation to the Vulture Squadron with Ossie behind me all the way. I was just about to push the swinging doors open to join the others when Ossie put his hand on my shoulder.

I’d felt that before although this time his touch felt almost gentle as if he was about to comfort me.

“Jack” he said as I turned around to look at him.

“What Ossie” I said feeling an expectant moment of empathy coming on.

“You're fucked” he said but without a glimmer of emotion.

Empathy had gone AWOL then!

I needn’t have worried about the roll as the die wouldn´t have had the time to caress the green table felt in the time it took for Mr. Maton to get close enough for me to feel his breath on my face. In a blink there he was in front of me so close our noses could´ve touched like two Inuks on a blind date.

He said nothing and I could physically feel the tension in the room which was as silent as Messina during a sirocco. I was about to say something, anything when he almost wrenched his head back without moving his body, bellowed a huge laugh, and said

“you just love making me laugh don't you Jackie boy” and turning to a younger looking bloke built like a barn door with a tattoo on his neck who was standing behind him said”

“doesn't he make you laugh Arthur?

Thankfully Aria phoned a cab from the pub and the next thing I remember was waking up with her snuggled up to me.

Looking down at her at that moment made me forget my meeting with Mr. Maton but then it came flooding back to me.

Yeah, today was judgement day and I was hoping for anything but the black cap!

I removed Aria's arm from my chest and got out of bed as quietly as I could thinking I'd managed it without waking her but as I got to the door on my way to the bathroom I heard her say

“you OK Yack? You like me for to come with you?”

Before I knew it the afternoon had gone and it was almost time to meet the lads in the Tree of Life. I decided to walk to give me time to mull over things in my head and as I made my way up Hermitage Lane it felt like my brain was gonna explode.

It wasn't just trying to get the ideas clear in my head but also how I was gonna sell it to my mates.

To tell the truth I wasn't even sure if I had things that clear but had convinced myself that there was light at the end of the tunnel after listening to Jimmy's story. See, I figured if I could use the place he'd been with the whips and chains in New York as a theme only a tad softer we could make the club stand out. Clutching at straws maybe but that's all I could come up with!

I spent the rest of the day lying on the bed staring up at the ceiling hoping more than a person who hoped a lot that the flash of inspiration I needed would hit me and give me the idea of a life time. A long life time ta boot!

But the longer I stared the less chance there seemed of anything slightly resembling an original idea entering my head.

In Sheffield it was relatively easy to get people through the door as there was little competition as all the mainstream clubs did exactly the same so it wasn’t that hard to look different but this was London. I mean, this was the Big Smoke, The Swinging City, the Great Wen and …..ughhh… other things.

Next thing I know I'm in hell and can see it's flames licking all around me and hear the sound of tortured souls crying out for a respite from their misery.

My heart beat started to race and I could feel panic kicking in when all of a sudden a sort of serenity and calmness came over me as I realized this was too scary to be real and in fact I was dreaming.

As I awoke I looked at Aria next to me in bed who was fast asleep and seeing her reassured me that hell was the last place I could be but there was indeed a yellow pulsing light shining in from the window onto the bedroom wall.