Sunday 30 December 2012

The Scottish Play: The Meeting

The Grill was busy as usual. The long, dark mahogany bar accommodated dozens of jostling elbows amid a forest of pint glasses and the occasional whiskey chaser. Cigarette smoke hung in clouds adding to the unmistakable air of masculinity.

The patrons were a mixed crowd. Printers, shunters and posties at the end of their shift. A couple of solicitors from Golden Square were having a quick one before heading home. Roughnecks wetting their neck before going on the piss in Union Street and a few, mostly older men, who were ensconced for the night.

McBeath had invited a couple of his key employees at Cawdor for a quick dram. He had a taste for Malt and this was the place in Aberdeen to come for a real drink. Being a traditional galley bar, you could see everyone and conversation was lost amidst the dense concentration of voices. Whilst they drank, talked and laughed in self congratulation at their big oil find, McBeath was able to quietly monitor the comings and goings in the pub.  When they made to leave, McBeath made an excuse to stay "last one for the road before I have to face the wife's cooking", and took a vacant seat with an eye on the door, one of the few seats in the pub. He kept the chair next to him free with a double malt left tactically on that edge of the table that was little bigger than a dinner plate.

He took a pint and drank it slowly, in part to keep his wits, in part to steady his nerves. Banks was late. Ten minutes had gone by and McBeath started to feel on edge. The place would start to fill shortly with people trying to get a drink before going to the Music Hall across the street.

Suddenly Banks sweeps in, his open trenchcoat following him. "Roddy!"  He appears like a genie out of a lamp. A larger than life character and downs the double waiting for him in a single gesture of satisfaction. "Another one?" Not waiting for an answer he efficiently parted the bodies at the bar and returned with two glasses. McBeath had missed the man who slipped in unnoticed in Bank's wake and positioned himself at the bar.

Banks, emphasising his Glasgae patter kept up the loud and ebullient long lost friends meeting up routine till any listeners got bored, and then suddenly switched to a lower, more serious tone, "So, what does the hero of the hour want with an old warhorse like me.....?"


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