Under The Streets Of London – Episode 40

Niall blinked at the landlord’s return to the subject, but even now he could see his brother being jostled by a group of lads, and he grimaced.

“I’ve tried, Ray.”

“Try harder. I don’t want trouble in my pub. It’s not worth it.”

“It is to him.”


“Desperate for funds, he is, to bring his wife over from Ireland.”

“Ah!” Ray nodded his grizzled head. “Women, eh? Poor lad. Nothing but bother, they are. Oi!”

He leaped over the bar with surprising agility for a man of his considerable girth, and stepped between Seamus and a far larger man who’d gripped Niall’s brother by his shirt and was lifting him slowly towards the ceiling.’

“Put him down, Frank.”

“I’m fed up, Ray. I don’t want compensation and I don’t want this toad spoiling my night. If you won’t throw him out, I will!”

Frank tensed his arms and Niall hurried to Ray’s side.

“I’ll take him home,” he said hastily.

Frank looked at him.



Frank dropped Seamus, who crumpled to the floor. Niall grabbed him and dragged him to the door.

“Thanks,” he called to Ray as they left.

“It’s got to stop,” the landlord threw after them, the words echoing out into the night and catching on a flurry of snowflakes.

“You heard him,” Niall told Seamus as they battled through the rising storm. “It’s got to stop.”

“But I need the money,” Seamus insisted, pulling his coat over the hole Frank had torn in his shirt.

“There has to be a better way than this.”

“What way?”

Niall looked along the run of the works, already disappearing beneath the now fast-falling snowflakes.

“I’ll go to the Metropolitan,” he said. “Maybe they’ll want a Christmas poster?”

He was rewarded with a spark of hope in Seamus’s eyes and a warm feeling of doing something good for his brother – not to mention the glorious tingle of anticipation at the thought of seeing the lovely Eliza Rutherford again.

*  *  *  *

The next day, however, standing outside the imposing façade of the Metropolitan offices, Niall did not feel anywhere near as confident as he’d sounded the night before.

He’d run all the way after the end of his shift but it was long since dark and office-workers were streaming out of the brightly lit building, buttoning cloaks and hailing cabs to head back to their cosy homes and do whatever fancy folk did in the run-up to Christmas – go to carol services, maybe, sit around a fire making paper chains to hang from their ceilings, or bake delicious cakes and puddings.

Niall’s mouth watered at the thought. Christmas Day wasn’t going to be a lot of fun in his lodgings. If he was lucky, Seamus would let him bring some ale back from the George and splash out on a cut of meat for their dinner, but they’d already agreed not to buy each other presents, and he feared that festive cheer wouldn’t be in abundance.

He wondered what Eliza Rutherford would be doing for Christmas. She would go home to her family in the countryside somewhere and . . . He stopped. What did it matter what she was doing for Christmas? Niall was here to see if there was any work going. Business, that was all.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.