(1100 words) “Rumours are, the Jones brothers are coming back,” said Christine, my wife and best friend. I put my coffee down onto the table in slow motion. “Tell me you’re joking.” “Sorry Tony, that’s what Shirley just told me.” Christine had just returned from having her hair cut by a lady with her ear to the ground, and her head up her arse. But Christine’s hair looked nice, I had to admit. “I heard they were doing alright in The Smoke.” “They were, or are, I should say. Shirley keeps in touch with Babs. Says they control south from The Monument down as far as Cannock Town. They’re leaving Smiler in charge. He’s rounded up some new men, … real hard men, she says.” I looked at my face in the mirror. It was almost white. “Oh,” was all I could say. “Yeah, anyone who doesn’t pay on time gets three strikes. The first is on the body, so the bruises don’t show. Second is the face, so everyone knows.” I hesitated to ask what the third was, but Christine told me anyway.