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quite as easy picturing her baking breaded

chicken for her husband. Otherwise its all


men, a couple really good-looking ones, and
for the most part theyre kind, can keep their
machismo in check. Mick tells me this one
new guy is afraid of me. I think its because I
stared him down while I was taping up a few
weeks ago. His standing game is shit.
Im a weapon now. Im maybe not the best,
but Im certainly not a civilian any more.
Mick tells me as much, tells me to try not to
eL InLo LLe kInds oI bar BLLs Le used Lo. I
remind him Im a mom. He likes this angle.
"TrIpp comIn Lo your maLcL?"
Mick is washing up with a water bottle and I
cant tell whats sweat and whats water. That
means its harder to gauge how tough of a
workout it was.
You really want my kid watching me hurt
other people until they tell me to stop, dont
you?" He keeps asking about this.
"I don'L know. CouId be ood Ior LIm."
No. Abbys watching him again, after she
eLs my braIds In."
Mick laughs, puts a glove over one eye and
says, "0ood oI' CapLaIn Abby, eL?"
"YeaL. Wron eye LLouL, smarL ass."
Abby is braiding my hair close to the scalp
so theres nothing to grab on to in the ring,
and Tripp is kind of being a little shit. Thats
not fair. Hes still sensitive about my lack of
involvement and interest in hurting people,
so hes taking it out on me and Abby. Hes
brought a friend home from school, something
Im sure Im supposed to have remembered
but didnt. A kid named Brad. Abby was
already over helping me with a couple things
by the time Tripp and Brad came in. Brad
actually jumped when Abby rounded the
corner with the cookies we baked.
Abby has one eye, and she almost always
wears a patch, except if her head gets sweaty,
which is something that tends to happen in
the kitchen. So when the boys came home and
Abby missed them out of that left periphery,
all Brad saw was her eye-hole. That about set
the tone for the afternoon. Now the boys are
in the living room not-so-secretly making fun
of Abby while they play video games.
When her family still lived at the beach and
Abby was seven, her dad was addicted to raw
oysters and bourbon - salt and burn together.
She was fascinated with the shucking. Story
goes he went down the hall for a piss, and
she started in on a stubborn shell with the
oyster knife, and when he got back, she was
screaming, and the countertop was runny
with blood and oyster sea-grime. I used to
use her as a cautionary tale to warn Tripp
not to screw around with sharp things, which
worked better than any time-out. Abby is
not the best babysitter in the world - she can
literally only keep one eye on your kid - but
she knows us, knows what Tripp and I need,
and shes cheap. And Tripp likes her, which
is a plus, especially these days. Theyre close,
Tripp trusts her, and sometimes when Abby
tells me how Tripp was while I was gone,
it feels like they have some kind of secret
alliance, like Tripp will behave for her out of
unspoken respect. I dont mind; I just wish I
knew how she does it.
"Bo, Mom. You've oL a BLL LonILL."
"YeaL, TrIpp. I aIready LoId you abouL IL."
Abby pulls my head one way or another,
and Tripp and Brad keep asking these
repetitive questions, and Im annoyed. I could
use a mouthguard for the kind of clenching
Im doing.
Brad leaves around the same time my braids
are in, which is also when Elaines bus powers
through the neighbourhood for the second
time this afternoon, honking when shes
even with our mailbox. She tried to make up
after she found out Tripps dad was married,
so I dont think she means anything else by
the honk other than hello, but it still bothers
the hell out of me. Shes on the After-School
Special now, which means on Fridays she
drives her route twice, once for the regular
route, and again to bring all the kids at clubs
home. It means she makes even more money
from the county. Insult and injury. She lives
in our neighbourhood, and although I only
see her once or twice a month, its enough
for her to detail her sex life, to talk about
how great her high school-aged kids are, to
explain to me, to me, how great it is to be a
working mom. And anyway, how can she play
the other woman so freely when shes also
marrIed wILL kIds? I wanL Lo LeII Ler LLaL LLe
men she fucks are scrawny, that the MMA
guys I see every week are better than dads.
I want to tell her that her kids do drugs and
cheat on exams. I want to remind her that
she has a working husband, that she isnt
putting up with this shit with only the help
of her one-eyed babysitter and her kind,
murder-machine trainer. My scalp feels tight.
I dont know how I can feel so tired by six
oclock. Micks small car is in the driveway,
behind the big, yellow bus, and he gives it one
polite beep while I grab my gym bag and give
Tripp a kiss on the forehead. He lets me. Abby
is making macaroni and cheese for dinner. I
tell her to pan fry some cut-up bratwurst to
add in at the end for Tripp. She says sure,
smiling and scratching under the elastic
band of her eye patch. Im at the door when
Tripp takes a couple steps forward and says,
"Hey, Mom? Can I. . . 0ood Iuck, Mom."
"TLanks, Honey," I say. "I'II make you proud."
Tripp never wishes me luck. Maybe I just
havent been paying enough attention. Its
the most beautiful thing hes done all week.
Im rolling my shoulders, staring across
aL FaLLI AIvarez, rIndIn my mouLLpIece.
Tomorrow, once LLIs BLL Is In LLe ba, I'II
have a couple of really nice bruises, and Ill
be making Tripp a grilled cheese sandwich
with French fried onions, telling him about
how great his mom was. Its great that hes
showing interest in some of the things I love.
Micks given me the speech about Patti,
how her standing game is pretty great. Her
strikes are fast as hell, and she can use
LLose buIIdozer knees oI Lers even In LLe
tightest clinch. Shes my weight, maybe a
couple inches shorter than me, which should
make it easier to get her on the mat. Ground
and pound. I'm 80, and LLIs Is onIy FaLLI's
second raLed maLcL, buL sLe won LLaL BrsL
one In under Lwo mInuLes In LLe BrsL round.
Fast as hell.
At this point, you never really hear what
the announcer is saying about you, and
sometimes you can barely hear your trainer
shouting whatever it is hes shouting. Its
all visual for a little while, at least until the
elbows and knees start landing. Patti and I
hit gloves once the ref gives the word, and I
can see her bobbing, I can see Mick hitting the
cage in time with whatever song is playing,
and over Pattis shoulder I can see a girl and
boy in the front row. The girl has one eye. Patti
throws a couple test jabs my way, lands one
that smarts on the right side of my ribcage. I
pop her in the brow. The girl and boy have a
big bag of McDonalds between them, and the
boys hands are wrapped around a fat Coke.
Abby shouts something; the sound is starting
Lo BILer back In. My son Is abouL Lo waLcL me
hand some girl her own ass. Hes about to yell
something, too
*****************************************************
Cody Greene lives in North Carolina, USA, and is a
wrILer oI BcLIon and poeLry. HIs work Las appeared
in First Inkling, The Roanoke Review, and is
forthcoming in the online anthology Plain China.
You can contact Cody via email:
codymac.greene@gmail.com
Be sure to order the next issue of Tough Talk
for Part 2 of TAP OUT!!
*****************************************************
42 tough talk magazine Bummer 2018
Short Story: Tap Out
JImmy 'TLe Weed' DonneIIy Is an underworId Ieend, Iamous as a key Bure In MancLesLer's
legendary Quality Street gang, an enigmatic group of car dealers, club owner, ex-boxers,
scrap merchants and villains who inspired the hit song The Boys Are Back In Town.
He has mixed with some of the most notorious gangsters in Europe and been arrested
numerous times on suspicion of offences including murder, drug supply, violence and fraud.
In this extract from his best-selling autobigporahy, Jimmy The Weed, he tells how his pal
Jimmy Monaghan, who went on to achieve fame as a pro boxer under the ring name Jim
Swords and became recognised as the leader of the Quality Street Gang, established his
repuLaLIon as LLe LouLesL sLreeLBLLer In MancLesLer.
Inside the Quality Street
Gang: My Life in the
Manchester Underworld
James Patrick Monaghan was an
Ancoats lad, and in Manchester that meant
something. Ancoats was a special area. A
hundred years earlier, its cotton mills had
driven the Industrial Revolution and made
Manchester the workshop of the world. The
steam-powered engines of its huge factories
Lad LLumped away aII day Ion, Banked
by row after row of terraced houses for
the thousands of families drawn in by the
promise of a living wage. Ancoats created
riches for the mill owners and merchants, but
its inhabitants were the poorest in the city,
living in cramped, overcrowded slums. Many
families were Irish or Italian, descended from
immigrants who had arrived with just the
shirts on their backs, looking for work. They
formed a huge casual labour force, and many
ended up aL BmILLBeId MarkeL or as sLreeL
sellers and hawkers.
Many of what would later be called the
Quality Street Gang were born in Ancoats
of Irish or Italian extraction. I was myself
adopted by the place when I was sixteen
years old and I live there now, nearly six
decades later. The area bred a certain type
of person: tough, self-reliant and clannish. It
was my kind of place.
Jimmy Monaghan was a typical Ancoats
urchin, brought up near the canal on
Woodward Street. I learned that hed had a
very hard upbringing. His father, a foreman
at a timber yard, had died a few years earlier,
leaving his mother, Flo, to raise four children:
Jimmy, his older brother and sister, Chris
and Mary, and a younger brother, Joe. Flo
was a tough woman and a real character, in
the pub drinking a Guinness every night, but
she had little money and the kids grew up
with nothing. Jimmy had little schooling and
ended up in childrens homes and approved
schools. He was raised in the streets, did
some boxing and knew how to look after
LImseII - Low weII, I wouId soon Bnd ouL.
We got on well from day one and within
a few weeks we had formed a tight group
of pals with some other market lads. Our
workIn day usuaIIy BnIsLed around noon,
after which we were free to do what we
wanted, with money to spend. If someone
was skint, we clubbed together and sorted
them out. Every day we earned and every
night we enjoyed ourselves. The Edwardian
dress craze was sweepIn LLrouL ErILaIn
and rock and roll was infecting the jive, jump
and dance bands of the youth clubs and halls.
Drape suits, ducks arse haircuts and crepe
shoes became our uniform, complete with
studded belts that could be used as weapons
when required. A new suit every month was
not uncommon, made to measure for less
LLan a Bver.
Jimmy Monaghans reputation as a
BLLer was earned aL daybreak one mornIn
when he wheeled his porters truck to the
Ice works. EresL BsL came InLo MancLesLer
on wagons from the docks at Fleetwood, and
LLe BrsL job oI LLe day was Lo oIBoad IL and
ice it up to preserve it. The market had a big
machine to break up slabs of ice and Jimmy
was sent for a barrelful. There was usually a
rusL Lo eL LLere BrsL and avoId LLe queue,
though it never bothered me, I was content to
go for a cup of tea and a bacon butty and wait
until the line had gone.
The boss at the ice works was a surly
bloke in his mid-twenties known as Big John.
On this day the wait seemed longer than
usual, so Jimmy asked why the delay.
Fucking wait your turn, was the answer
from Big John.
Jimmy gave him some verbal back, so
Big John, who was not accustomed to young
whippersnappers giving him grief, threw a
punch at him.
TLe BrsL I Leard oI IL was a sLouL: '0eL
round Lo Ede BLreeL! JImmy MonaLan
Is LavIn a BLL wILL EI JoLn Irom LLe Ice
works!' I LurrIed round Lo see LLem squarIn
off in the middle of the street, with seventy or
eighty porters watching. Fights were common
on the market, as the porters were always
falling out, accusing each other of stealing
customers or whatever, but this one looked
a total mismatch. Big John was a powerful
man and towered over his opponent, who was
only in his mid-teens. Nobody gave Jimmy a
chance. Then he went to work.
JImmy beaL EI JoLn Lo a puIp. HIs BsLs
were a blur and you could clearly hear the
thud of his punches even through the shouts
of the crowd. The scariest thing was, he
would not stop. Some of those watching had
to step in and haul him off. Big John was in a
bad state and went for medical treatment.
The next day, Jimmy went for ice again.
EI JoLn came ouL oI LIs oIBce wILL a LeavIIy
bruised face and said to his worker, Serve
LLIs IeIIer BrsL,' LLen sLook JImmy's Land.
They became friends, and James Patrick
Monaghan became a name.
I soon reaIIsed wLaL a BLLer LLIs kId
was. At weekends, some of the market lads
started coming to Wythenshawe for dances.
The dance halls were little more than youth
club huts but we were still too young to drink
in pubs, so this was our social scene. We
soon bumped up against a nasty fellow called
Sutton, who was a few years older than us
and who ruled the roost in the local dance
hall, where he had a habit of threatening
people. We had a bit of a row with him and
some of his cronies, a few people got arrested
and BuLLon ended up wILL a Bne.
Not long after, I went to the annual
funfair in Wythenshawe Park with some of
my market pals: Jimmy Monaghan, Jimmy
Specchio, Charlie Pearson and Dave Grant.
We were fooling about, checking out the
girls, when we spotted a few fellers watching
us. Within minutes, twenty of them were
glaring in our direction. The ringleader was
unmistakable for his huge head and fair
ginger hair: it was Sutton. We knew it was
on top, so we slowly made our way out. They
followed and, as we reached the main gate,
they broke into a charge. We had little choice
but to scatter. I cut off the main track and
headed for a small fence. I was just about to
clear the fence when a blow on the back of the
head made me stumble. I turned to see a guy
with a bat about to hit me again.
Suddenly an arm wrapped round his
neck, then another hand with a blade came
over and round his face. He gave a terrible
scream as the blade tore his cheek, cutting
from his ear to his chin. Then the blade was
stuck up his arse. It was Jimmy Specchio
Lo LLe rescue. We Bed LoeLLer, IeavIn my
attacker writhing on the ground.
We crossed the fence and found the
others. Everybody had got away.
'WLere LLe Iuck Lave you been?' saId
Jimmy Monaghan. I told him what had
happened and showed him the lump on my
head.
Right, he said. Find out who the guy
with the big head is.
A few weeks later, I had the information
I needed. His full name was Derek Sutton
and he went every night to a caf called the
Boxtree. The plan was laid to go after him:
me, Jimmy Monaghan and Dave Grant.
We met at my mothers and at nine
oclock we headed for the caf. I went inside
and spotted Sutton. Nobody took any notice
as I walked back out. We split up and waited.
About an hour later, he came out alone. We
regrouped and followed him.
Hey, Sutton, shouted Jimmy.
This monster turned around and quickly
took in the situation.
'Do you youn pups wanL some Iun?' Le
rowIed. 'I'II BLL you aII.'
No, said Jimmy. Just you and me.
Sutton closed in on him. He was as
strong as an ox but he could not put punches
LoeLLer IIke JImmy. A IILLnIn Burry puL
him over a wall into a garden and he was at
Jimmys mercy. That was not a good place to
be. Jimmy hit him with everything. With the
commotion and the yelps of Sutton, windows
opened and someone shouted, Phone the
poIIce!' I LoId JImmy we Lad Lo o buL BuLLon
had hold of his legs and was screaming, Im
holding you for the police. So Jimmy reached
into his pocket and pulled out a small blade.
He jabbed it into Suttons face, then slashed
him across the head for good measure. Sutton
let go, Jimmy got back over the garden wall
and we were off. I grabbed his blade and
another one off Dave Grant and dropped
them down a grid.
We put some distance behind us and were
trying to walk nonchalantly down a road
when we were surrounded by police. There
was no escape. They took us to the local nick,
BuLLon IdenLIBed JImmy and Le was cLared
with causing grievous bodily harm. However,
when it came to court the case against Jimmy
was slung out because of Suttons actions
in the witnesses box: he ranted, raved and
threatened barristers and even the judge.
Jimmy and I had a conversation
afterwards. I want you to come with me and
watch my back, he said. I am going to batter
every hard man and doorman in Manchester.
Anybody with a name. I am going to take
them all.
He was deadly serious. And for the next
three or four years, that is what he did.
**************************************
Jimmy The Weed: Inside the Quality Street
0an IBEN 9781908479198, pubIIsLed by
Milo Books is now available in paperback,
prIced 7.99, vIa LLe TouL TaIk websILe, or
as an eEook vIa Amazon KIndIe, ITunes and
Kobo.
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Bummer 2018 tough talk magazine 45 44 tough talk magazine Bummer 2018
Chapter Extract: Jimmy The Weed