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!

He seemed to like telling me I was fucked as it wasn’t the first time he’d told me.

Must have made him feel better to know it wasn’t just him I thought. “You and me both” I said raising an eyebrow. That was my response the last time he told me I was fucked so maybe we we’re striking up a double act without knowing it. Or maybe not!

He stood in front of me and looked me dead in the eye and said slowly and precisely “no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

If this was “filling me in” then it wasn’t what I was expecting and I was so surprised that I couldn’t think of anything to say so just nodded my head, turned and pushed open the swinging doors into the club holding the door for Ossie gesturing for him to go through first which he declined.

You know, I don’t know if it was his intention but his knowledge of Hobbes which was undoubtedly impressive did comfort me. Don’t ask me why.

Maybe we had something in common after all.

As me and Ossie went into the club Finbar spotted us and when he caught my eye his jawed dropped and his eyes opened so wide his contact lenses would have shot out. Well, if he was wearing contact lenses.

“How’d it go Jack” he said.

“Fine. Took some convincing that you’re the real brains behind the operation but think Mr. Maton knows now” I said.

You could tell that that was the last thing he wanted to hear as he started to rub his hands around his belly and do a skippy skip movement which he did when he was nervous.

I didn’t have the heart or the energy to prolong his agony so said “Joking. I need some air so I’ll see you later.”

As I was heading for the door Ossie stopped me and said “we’ve got to talk.”

“Right now?” I said not really feeling in the mood.

“Let’s have a coffee outside. I know a place.”

We walked out into bright sunshine and headed off into Soho.

As we turned into Dean Street I sort of knew where we were headed but said nothing.

Sure enough Ossie stopped outside Bar Napoli and with a rather proud look on his face pointing up to the sign said “best coffee in London!”

Again I said nothing as I didn’t want to piss on his boots. We went in and as we approached the bar Ossie said “famous this place. Been here since the late 1940s and is an institution now. Friendly people. What you having?”

“What do you recommend Ossie? I don’t know anything about coffee. Don’t want half a pint though!” I was trying to bond so threw in his name ta boot to see how he reacted. He didn’t which made me feel more comfortable.

A waiter came over and took our order. Ossie ordered me a macchiato and a cappuccino with chocolate for himself. Not what I thought someone who could break your legs by just looking at them would drink!

When the waiter put our coffees on the counter we took them and plotted up on stools against the wall.

Ossie took a sip of his cappuccino, leaned back and raising his head to the ceiling made a noise like he’d just jetted his juice!”

“Coffee’s not bad then Ossie?” I said.

“Not bad? Absolute different gravy but we’re not here to talk about coffee.”

Here it comes I thought to myself.

“Things in the club we can sort easy enough later. The most important thing you need to know is Arthur” he said changing his expression to something akin to how a priest would look giving the last rights.

“Arthur?” I said thinking back to the big bloke in the club who was on first terms with Mr. Maton. Called him Mitch.

“What about him?”I said.

“He’s the guvnor’s nephew and he can do no wrong. That wouldn’t be a problem if he wasn’t a complete basket case. Lose canon would imply there was something stable about him. There ain’t!” “

So how do I manage that seeing Mr. Maton has appointed him as his eyes and ears.” I said.

“Just think of a way to keep hold of your eyes and ears!”

With that Ossie downed the remnants of his cappuccino and said “I’d better be getting back. Come down the club tomorrow anytime. I’ll be there all day.”

We slide off our stools and took the cups over to the bar.

Just at that moment the elderly guy who knew Aria and who I assumed was the owner came out from the kitchen.

“Hey Jack, how are you?”

Shocked that he even recognised me let alone remember my name I said “fine thanks and yourself? Lovely coffee!”

Ossie turned his head very slowly towards me and raised his eyebrows as if to say WTF.

“And Aria, OK? Aria very nice, you lucky man.”

By now Ossie´s eyebrows were no longer attached to his body but floating a few inches above his head.

“Aria’s great thanks” I said to the elderly guy whose name I couldn’t remember.”

“Well, give her my regards. I an old friend of the family.”

“Will do” I said and turned to walk out but Ossie´s vice like grip got hold of my arm stopping me in my tracks.

“Well?” said Ossie with a face looking more betrayed rather than angry.

“Look Ossie I’ve only been here once with Aria who’s a regular. The bloke doesn´t know me, he was just being polite. You seemed so chuffed I didn’t wanna piss on your boots by saying I´d been here before that’s all.”

He stood back, stared at me like he was trying to calculate pi to the seventh millionth place and said “fair enough but a girlfriend might not be a great idea in this line of work.”

We stepped out into Dean Street, nodded to each other and went our separate ways which in my case was just off Old Compton Street to get a minicab. I felt too knackered to get the tube.

A cab ride through London streets was always a pleasure but this time I just stared out of the window rolling over and over in my mind how I’d managed to go from Sociology graduate to apprentice sap in what felt like a whipstitch.

I knew I was out of my depth so I’d need a survival strategy. Just hadn´t worked one out yet.

Before I knew it I was paying the cab driver.

I got out of the cab and stood in the street gazing up at our flat thinking of what Ossie had said about having a girlfriend.

I turned the key to go inside and I hadn’t gone a step up the stairs when Aria came flying down almost jumping on me.

She hugged me and looked into my eyes and then stuck her tongue so far down my throat I was worried it was gonna come out the other end.

For a moment I thought of picking her up and carrying her up the stairs but thought better of it. Would feel a right twat if I couldn´t manage it.

We lay down on the bed in our room next to each other just looking into each other’s eyes whilst caressing each other’s faces.

“How was it Yack?” she said in a very understated voice.

“OK I think” I said trying to sound all macho. She kissed me gently on the lips and then looked down as if she had something to tell me but it wasn’t coming out easily.

Her eyes returned to mine and said. “Yack my father would like for to come to visit.”

Just what I need I thought but hid my lack of enthusiasm or I hoped I had.

“Does he know about me?” I said.

“That is the main reason for to come. He like meet you.”

“Is he nice?”

“If he like you and I think he like you very much.”

“And if he doesn’t” I said.

“Better he like you Yack.”

“Fine don´t worry. When’s he coming?”

“Tomorrow” she said.

Things getting better and better……………..not!