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?

“Yeah, a right card Mitch” said Arthur without changing his facial expression.

Calling Mr.Maton Mitch made me think that Arthur was more than just an employee but I didn't want to lose the momentum so I jumped in.

“With respect Mr.Maton we agreed that I'd have control so if it's OK with you I'd like to present my team.”

This seemed to flummox Mr. Maton as he said nothing but made a “hmmm” noise while rubbing his chin and as he did so his expression changed from an almost pratonising smirk to bemusement before pointing an open palmed hand in the direction of my “team” who were standing there like a group of 3CPOs only without the annoying repartee.

“present on then Jackie boy. Present on” he said almost nonchalantly.

I introduced Vinny, George and Finbar explaining what they'd be doing whilst glancing over at Frank every now and then trying to work out what he was doing there but my curiosity would have to wait.

When I finished with the introductions I said

“Mr.Maton is there somewhere we can talk in private please?”

“Who's we exactly Jackie boy?” he said with the smirk returning to his face.

“Me and you” I said wondering who he might have thought we were.

“Certainly” he said “there's nothing I like more than a private chat Jackie boy. Follow me.”

Was finishing every sentence with “Jackie boy” starting to grate or what!

I turned to Finbar and said

“can you see if any of the bar staff want to stay on with us but give them time to change out of those clothes please.”

Finbar nodded and went over to the bar staff who were standing to attention.

George was already in the DJ box and Vinny was eyeing up the place.

I followed Mr. Maton and Ossie followed me. Yeah, sandwiched in between the both of them!

Mr. Maton pushed open a pair of swinging doors so hard that I had time to follow him through before they swung back.

Ossie must have been used to it coz he didn't move a muscle but just stood still waiting to catch the doors.

Mr. Maton pressed the code pad of an inevitable controlled access door and then up some stairs where we reached another controlled access and then inside and into an office which was just as lavishly designed as his office in Cuff Links.

“Try doing that when you pissed,” said Mr. Maton smiling to himself.

I assumed he was talking about remembering the door codes but it struck me how the comment was almost friendly. Well, by his standards.

“Would you like a drink?” he said as he poured himself a large something which looked like whisky whilst puffing on a cigar the size of a barrage balloon.

“Never drink when I'm working Mr.Maton” I said trying to think what to say next.

“Admirable Jackie boy, admirable” he said as he gestured to a leather lorry sized seat in front of his desk.”

I waited for him to sit down and then sat down slowly making sure I'd understood the gesture.

He eased back into his seat cupping his drink in his hands, took a large puff on his cigar and said, well…nothing.

Absolutely nothing!

They say silence is power and if he was trying to intimidate me it was working a treat. In fact, it was all I could do not to blurt out something just to make a noise but thankfully resisted.

There we sat just looking at each other until he moved forward and said

“do you know what my dear old mother used to say to me, god rest her soul?”

I shook my head as if to say no.

“If you make your bed you've gorra lie in it. Do you know what that means Jackie Boy?”

Where's this going I thought to myself.

I moved forward to mirror Mr. Maton's movement and just I was about to say “I think so” I changed my mind to avoid coming across as uncertain and said “I know exactly what it means Mr. Maton. In fact, my mother says the same.”

“Oh does she” he said. “Clever woman your mother. Let's just hope her son's as clever” he said opening his eyes large as if to say are you?”

“You see it's like this Jackie boy. If you say you can make this club, my club, successful then you're making your bed. Is that a fair summary Jackie boy? “ he said with such a piercing stare that it could have burnt holes in the wall behind me.

“Perfectly fair Mr. Maton” I said trying my best not to crumble.

“And once you've made your bed you've got to ….? he said and sat back in his seat waiting for me to finish the sentence.

“Lie in it Mr.Maton” I said knowing there was no going back now.

“Nothing else to say then is there Jackie?”

What no boy this time?

I shook my head in agreement whilst trying to stop the rest of me from shaking.

He stood up, walked around the desk until he was right in front of me and said

“My nephew Arthur will be my eyes and ears. Ossie'll fill you in on how we do things. Any questions?”

I was feeling more frightened than a person who was really frightened and about to say no when I remembered why I asked to talk to him in the first place.

“We've not discussed dispensation Mr. Maton!” I rather embarrassingly blurted out. Freudian slip or what!

Mr.Maton let out another of his glass shattering laughs and said “dispensation?”

“Sorry I meant to say remuneration” I said feeling as if I pulled the rug out from under myself.

“Ah you wanna talk money” said Mr.Maton as he positively beamed a smirk.

“Yes Mr. Maton. I was thinking our share would be…” but I didn't get any further as he interrupted me with

“Jackie you need to understand something. You're working for me now so I tell you how much you're paid.”

“Not very incentivizing Mr.Maton” I said.

“You don't think being able to walk is incentivizing Jackie?” he said and stared at me.

Going really well I thought to myself but in for a penny!

“What I mean is I've got to manage this project and my team and the club staff need to feel part of it. I would humbly suggest you can set the club staff pay but my team gets 50% gross of anything over break even.”

Wished I hadn't used the word break as soon as I'd said it!

“And if you don't break even?” he said emphasising the word break.

“Not thinking of not breaking even Mr.Maton.”

“Really Jackie!” he said “nothing like a bit of confidence is there?”

He took his jacket off, looked at me and said “better get comfortable if we´re gonna fight” and before I could think of an answer said

“20% of net.”

“50% gross of anything over break even,” I said looking straight at him.

“20% of gross” he said.






“20%” that shocked me but too late to bottle it.

“40%” I said maintaining my gaze.

He let out an even louder laugh than normal, lent over the table, grabbed my hand and shook it so hard a ripple went up my arm that whacked my shoulder into my ear.

That seemed a bit too easy!

“Done Jackie! Let's have a little nip to cement our business relationship shall we?”

I didn't really fancy it but he was already pouring two shots of whisky so put out my hand to accept the invitation.

We chinked glasses and downed them in one.

Mr. Maton put his jacket back on, turned and raising his arm as if to usher me out said

““You know, I’m really looking forward to my first pay day Jackie” and turning to Ossie said “fill him in on things he needs to know about the place.”

Ossie opened the door for me and after a few paces towards it I stopped, turned back and said, “by the way, I saw Frank downstairs. Will he be around the club Mr.Maton?”

“Don't worry about Frank Jackie. I've got plans for him!”

I couldn't wait to find out what they'd be!