How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 53

The limp had gone and the injuries McNair sustained in the beating were largely cleared up by May. He had managed to get a cleaner to tidy his place up and although he didn’t understand what she was saying, he got the impression that she wasn’t happy and charged him accordingly, despite him playing the sympathy card. Since he got his mobility back, he had been making an effort to keep the place at least vermin-free nowadays.

He had heard no more from Ferraro and had no desire to. The officer had been to visit him a couple of times to see if his memory of the incident had thrown up any names or events, but McNair had insisted he couldn’t remember a thing about it which seemed to satisfy him.

Having only his betting skills to keep him going without dipping into his dwindling savings wasn’t a problem. Since he got out of hospital he had enjoyed a good run, taking the online bookies for thousands, all legally, and keeping him on top of his bills. He had done especially well on the Champions League Final where he placed £50 on 3-0 being the final score at 12/1 netting him a profit of £600, although he was sweating a bit near the end when it was still 2-0 and looking likely to stay that way.

He was also worried about the treatment being handed out to Bradley and wondered if he might be taken off early, not because of the kicking he was getting, oh no. It was a man’s game and he should have learned to deal with it by now. He had taught him early on in his career at Hearts. Maybe he would thank him one day, he smiled. No, he was worried because if he had been taken off it might have affected the final score.

It was now only a couple of weeks away from the World Cup and this was where he saw himself making some decent money, including hopefully, his main bet on Scotland beating Argentina 2-1 in the final. He had reservations about that bet though. It was with a back street bookie in Edinburgh and although he had got him checked out to see if he was good for the money, he wasn’t sure he would get the full sum and another beating if it came off. He might try to get a middle man to pick the money up for him.

Brian and Diego were sneaking a few minutes here and there when it was quiet to watch the game on the TV in Brian’s office. He was appalled at the treatment his son was getting and it was like he felt every kick. Diego was incensed also. This was his team and Bradley was their star player and he was disgusted that a great team like AC Milan should resort to such tactics.

They had missed the first two goals but as he was recording the game, they could all sit down later and watch it with a nice bottle or two of wine. Even Lucy, who had no real interest in football, was captivated by the game. Although she had still not got really close to Brian’s son, she liked him and didn’t like seeing him kicked off the park.

She had only ever been to one game in her life, that was with her thuggish ex-husband who dragged her along to an Arsenal game years ago. Nobody had warned her that he was a hooligan and ended up in a fight outside the stadium leaving her to fend for herself while he beat up some young Sunderland fan. She didn’t hang around and fled to the safety of the Underground and headed straight home. When her ex finally got home covered in blood and with a couple of teeth missing, she tore into him and told him what she thought. Unfortunately, he was still fired up and drunk which made him start punching her. When she ended up in hospital, she made her mind up to leave him, despite him begging her to stay once he had sobered up and realised what he had done. He had never liked her being a stripper either and used to abuse her when she got home from a shift and taunt her about how many men she had screwed that night, even though she never did.

So seeing the game on TV brought back bitter memories for her, especially the violence that Bradley was enduring. Happily, he survived and they won the cup so it had a good ending for once.

When the last customers had left they pulled the TV out of Brian’s office and into the back of the restaurant so they could watch the game in full. Brian had explained what an important game this was and how proud he was that his son was playing a starring role. She got that. She would have felt the same if she had had kids. Probably not much chance of that happening now if she was going to spend the rest of her life with Brian. Deep down she regretted that. She was only in her mid-thirties and she should have had a couple of children by now, just like her old friends. She didn’t have anything in common with them anymore and that was sad.

Still, after all said and done, she was lucky to have Brian. He looked after her, cared for her, and he wasn’t likely to beat her up. Not having kids would be a small price to pay. Not that she wasn’t trying. She had stopped taking the pill months ago so with no contraception, you never knew. She didn’t know how Brian would react if she told him she was pregnant. He was nearing his fiftieth birthday and that wasn’t ideal, although loads of pop stars and actors had raised children that old.

She would cross that bridge when, or if, she came to it.

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