“Tony, mate, what the hell are you doing?”

“Just a second.”

“You’re going to hurt yourself.”

“Shut up, I’m concentrating.”

“Would that not be easier if you put out the joint?”

“Ach… this is impossible. The guy on the video told me to get loose and relaxed before attempting the moves.”

“He probably meant you should do some stretches, Tony.”

“Are you a martial artist, John?”

“If I was I wouldn’t be using YouTube as a point of reference, mate. I’d go to a class and learn.”

“That’s rich. My dope supplier advocates education.”

“Well, that’s the difference between me and a low level dealer like… whatever the fuck you’re like. I’m educated… Um, is that a Bruce Lee costume?”

“It’s an oriental suit made from the finest Chinese silk available.”

“You’re not Chinese, though.”

“What’s that got to do with it, John?”

“This is exactly what I’m talking about, Tony. You don’t put enough emphasis on education. You’re not Chinese, how can you know that you’ve got the finest Chinese silk?”

“A Chinese man told me.”

“Proper Chinese, like?”

“You think you can fake being Chinese, Mister Education?”

“I think that a very good salesman told you that you’re wearing the finest Chinese silk and that he or she may have been a salesman of Chinese descent. But whether or not that person of Chinese descent actually travelled from China with a fresh batch of guaranteed finest silk…? Let’s say I’m a little cynical, Tony.”

“Come to think of it, he did have an English accent.”


“But, here, let me show you this move I learned.”

“Off YouTube?”


“No thanks.”

“I’m going to teach it tonight, though. I have to practice.”

“You teach a martial arts class now?”


“Have you ever been to a martial arts class?”

“Did a bit of kung fu when I was younger. It’s piss easy. I could teach you this wee move… no? And I’ve combined them with my knowledge of drugs to help—”

“I have a degree in business studies.”

“Good for you. Where did it get you?”

“I’m a businessman.”

“You supply drugs.”

“Goods and services. Supply and demand.”

“And you’ve to deal with the likes of me.”

“You’re entertaining, though, Tony.”


“Get off the floor. You obviously can’t do that.”

“I could if you weren’t here judging me. You going to help me up or what?”

“Come here… God, look at the state of you. You need a shave, Tony. And that finest Chinese silk is a holy mess of hot-rock burns. Why would anybody take instruction off you?”

“Hold your arm out and I’ll show you.”

“So you can…?”

“Put it in an arm bar.”

“And that’ll hurt, right?”

“Only if you fight back.”

“What if I fight back before I let you put it in an arm bar?”

“I won’t be able to do it, then.”

“Has nobody called you on that?”

“On what?”

“Never mind, Tony. Never mind. Have you many students?”

“About fifteen. A couple of them are wing nuts but they’re mostly cool. They respect me. And they’re all kind of like customers too, if you know what I… yeah, you know. But having a studenty-customer-type-thing is so handy. They trust me. And they’re loyal and they give me money. I don’t have to stand on street corners and deal with the lowlifes. Just the kind of people who want to improve themselves.”

“So you sell these students drugs.”

“No, I don’t sell the drugs. They come free with the lesson. It helps them to loosen up and learn.”

“Learn the stuff that you’ve gleaned from YouTube?”

“And I don’t get arrested on a street corner. Genius, right?”

“I’m not sure if I recognise true genius, Tony. You know that saying about the thin line…? But here, about that money you owe me.”

“Um. Can you come back later? I’ve a class to prepare for.”

“Yeah, I’ll be back. And maybe you could try that arm bar thing on big Frank. Show all your students how good you really are.”

“Hmmm. Or… I have a box of suits out back. Chinese silk. The finest Chi—”


~ fin ~

Gerard Brennan's short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies; including The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime volumes 8 and 9. He co-edited Requiems for the Departed, a collection of crime fiction based on Irish myths which won the 2011 Spinetingler Award for best anthology. His novella, The Point, was published by Pulp Press in October 2011 and won the 2012 Spinetingler Award for best novella. His novels, WEE ROCKETS and FIREPROOF, were published as ebooks by Blasted Heath in 2012. He graduated from the MA in creative writing at Queen's University Belfast in 2012.