Plink Plink Fizz (content warning)
November 17, 2011
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A foretaste of the latest work from Callum MacIrnbru, the gritty Scottish novelist whose work deals with alienation, loss, and dental decay.
Detective Inspector “A.T.” Shilling slammed the brakes on as the youth in the Adidas tracksuit stumbled out into the road. He managed to stop no more than a yard in front of him. The youth gently toppled towards the car, and put his hands on the bonnet. He grinned. Shilling noticed with horror the gingivitis affecting the boy’s gums. He visibly winced at the sensitivity the exposed dentine must cause him every time he took a cold drink or an ice cream.
Shilling was about to risk getting out of the car to help the lad, when a different Samaritan came over to aid him: a girl, also in her late teens, also clad in a dark blue tracksuit – only her long hair and soft complexion indicated she was female. She said something, and Shilling noticed that she had a fixed appliance on both jaws. Some serious orthodontic work was going on – probably preceded by several extractions. Did her small jaw indicate higher than average brain capacity? Who prompted her to have the work done? Was it done privately? Who paid for it? Shilling’s mind frothed with questions. He abandoned the car in the middle of the road and went to the nearest pub, The Fox and Informer. It was one of the only four pubs in Glasgow that Shilling had never set foot in. He liked new experiences.
A small but dedicated group of seven year-olds descended on the car after Shilling left it, petrol-filled milk-bottles and hammers in hand. He ignored them. He had an urgent appointment with Mr McEwan and Mr Grant.
Inside the pub, the saloon was packed and the lunchtime customers made a loud hubbub as they drank. Most of them ignored the small stage and its trio of teenage girls, naked except for stockings and high heels, who smeared each other in massage oil and rubbed their heavily pregnant bellies together as they gyrated to throbbing music. Shilling was appalled. Clearly none of them had brushed their teeth for days, and floss was probably something they had never seen. He reached up, and tucked a few packets of 0.5 millimetre “Teepee” brushes into the nylon lace garter of one of the girls. It was the least he could do. If only he could get the opportunity to show them how to use them. He was keen to get the stiff probe into every corner and crevasse.
Shilling ordered his usual: a pint of export and a 70cl bottle of whisky with two straws. He quaffed the beer and drew the spirit up the straws, contemplatively. He needed to think. Some-one was picking out vulnerable girls in the Castlemilk estate and paying for them to have state-of-the-art fixed appliances fitted, but why? What did this Mr Big (or Mrs or Ms or Doctor or Reverend Big) get in return?