"No yet, but it's early days. He wull, given time."
"What makes you so confident?" asked Nick.
"Because I have something he needs, and fair exchange is nae robbery."
"What have you got that he needs that badly?" asked Danny.
"Never ask a question that you don't need to know the answer to," said Nick, jumping in.
"Canny man, yer friend Nick," said Big Al.
"So what can I do for you, Mr. Craig?"
"I believe you'll find it's what I can do for you."
"I don't think so, Mr. Craig. I've been banged up in this shit-hole for the past eight years and during that time I haven't heard a dicky bird out of you, so don't fuck me about. You know I couldn't afford even an hour of your time. Why don't you just come to the point and tell me what you're doin' here?"
Craig had carefully checked the interview room for any bugs before Kevin Leach had been allowed to join him for a legal visit. Client confidentiality is sacred in English law, and if it were ever breached, any evidence would automatically be ruled inadmissible in court. Despite that fact, Craig still knew he was taking a risk-but the prospect of a long spell in prison locked up with the likes of Leach was an even less attractive proposition.
"Got everything you need, have you?" asked Craig, who had rehearsed each line he intended to deliver as if he was in court cross-examining a key witness.
"I get by," said Leach. "Don't need a lot."
"On twelve pounds a week as a stacker on the chain gang?"
"As I said. I get by."
"But no one is sending you in any little extras," said Craig. "And you haven't had a visit for over four years."
"I see you are as well informed as ever, Mr. Craig."
"In fact, you haven't even made a phone call during the past two years-not since your Aunt Maisie died."
"I see you are as where's all this leading, Mr. Craig?"
"There's just a possibility that Aunt Maisie might have left you something in her will."
"Now why would she bother to do that?"
"Because she's got a friend who you're in a position to help."
"What kind of help?"
"Her friend has a problem-a craving, not to put too fine a point on it, and not for chocolate."
"Let me guess. Heroin, crack or cocaine?"
"Right first time," said Craig. "And he's in need of a regular supply."
"And how much has Aunt Maisie left me to cover this considerable outlay, not to mention the risk of being caught?"
"Five thousand pounds," said Craig. "But just before she died, she added a codicil to her will."
"Let me guess. That it wasn't to be paid all at once."
"Just in case you decided to spend it all at once."
"I'm still listenin'."
"She hoped that fifty pounds a week would be enough to make sure her friend wouldn't need to look elsewhere."
"Tell her if she makes it a hundred, I might just think about it."
"I think I can say on her behalf that she accepts your terms."
"So what's the name of Aunt Maisie's friend?"
"Always from the outside in," said Nick. "It's a simple rule to follow."
Danny picked up the plastic spoon and began to scoop up the water that Nick had poured into his breakfast bowl.
"No," said Nick. "You always tilt a soup bowl away from you, and push the spoon in the same direction." He demonstrated the movement. "And never slurp. I don't want to hear a sound while you're drinking your soup."
"Beth always complained about that," said Danny.
"Me, tae," said Big Al, not stirring from his bunk.
"And Beth is right," said Nick. "In some countries it's considered a compliment to slurp, but not in England." He removed the bowl and replaced it with a plastic plate on which he had put a thick slice of bread and a helping of baked beans. "Now, I want you to think of the bread as a lamb chop, and the baked beans as peas."
"Whit are ye using fur gravy?" asked Big Al, not stirring from his bunk.
"Cold Bovril," said Nick. Danny picked up his plastic knife and fork, holding them firmly, with the blade and the prongs pointing toward the ceiling. "Try to remember," said Nick, "that your knife and fork are not rockets on a launch pad waiting to blast off. And unlike rockets, they are going to need to refuel whenever they return to earth." Nick picked up the knife and fork on his side of the table and demonstrated how Danny should hold them.
"It's not natural," was Danny's immediate response.
"You'll soon get used to it," said Nick. "And don't forget that your forefinger should rest along the top. Don't let the handle stick out between your thumb and forefinger-you're holding a knife, not a pen." Danny adjusted the grip on his knife and fork in imitation of Nick, but still found the whole experience awkward. "Now I want you to eat the piece of bread as if it were a lamb chop."
"How wid ye like it, sir?" grunted Big Al. "Medium or rare?"
"You will only be asked that question," said Nick, "if you order a steak, never for a lamb chop."
Danny dug into his slice of bread. "No," said Nick. "Cut your meat, don't tear it apart, and only a small piece at a time." Danny once again carried out his instructions, but then started to cut a second piece of bread while still chewing the first. "No," said Nick firmly. "While you're eating, place your knife and fork on the plate, and don't pick them up again until you've finished the mouthful." Once Danny had swallowed the piece of bread, he scooped up some beans on the end of his fork. "No, no, no," said Nick. "A fork isn't a shovel. Just pierce a few peas at a time."
"But it will take forever if I carry on this way," said Danny.
"And don't speak with your mouth full," replied Nick.
Big Al grunted again, but Danny ignored him and cut himself another piece of bread, put it in his mouth, then placed his knife and fork back on the plate.
"Good, but chew your meat for longer before you swallow it," said Nick. "Try to remember you're a human being, not an animal"-a comment that elicited a loud burp from Big Al. Once Danny had finished another piece of bread, he tried to pierce a couple of beans but they kept escaping. He gave up. "Don't lick your knife," was all Nick had to say.
"But if ye'd like tae, Danny boy," said Big Al, "you cin lick ma arse."
It was some time before Danny was able to finish his meager meal and finally put his knife and fork down on an empty plate.
"Once you've finished your meal," said Nick, "place your knife and fork together."
"Why?" asked Danny.
"Because when you're eating in a restaurant, the waiter will need to know that you've finished your meal."
"I don't eat in restaurants that often," admitted Danny.