Angel 9 (and Pizza Face)
Angel stayed in all week and also the following week, barely venturing from her room, other than to go to work. Kimmie had chapped the door a few times, but she’d told her mum to tell her she wasn’t in. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see her. Rather she just didn’t want to drag her down with her when the police finally came calling. She’d already decided that she’d admit everything. Admit she was guilty and protect Kimmie that way. Getting out and going to work was a saving grace.
After work she slogged up the hill on Byron Street on a miserable Tuesday night, her coat pulled tight around her uniform and on the crest of the hill she saw a car parked outside her house. She stopped, thought about turning back and making a run for it, but she didn’t know where to go. What’d she’d do for money, or how she’d live? She’d heard of people hitch-hiking down to places like London and making a new start. Anonymous in a big city, where nobody knew you. But it was just beyond her. She couldn’t imagine herself to be one of those people. She was just normal. And she intended to stay that way, come what may. She walked toward her house, but staring down the car, ready to be huckled.
Angel’s expertise in cars extended to they had four wheels and a couple of doors and they took you from A to B. But as she got nearer she felt a sense of guilt and relief. It looked too fancy to be a police car, a lime-green colour, sparkling in the rain, with one of those shiny insignia things on the front, matching the wide radiator silver and wheel hubs, a Jaguar, and if they were using it as a wedding car they’d have tied a v-shaped, white ribbon. There was somebody sitting in the driver’s seat and she heard the faint beat of music playing. She edged towards the hedge and unslung the shoulder strap of her bag and felt for her bottle of cheap perfume, which she planned to spray in her face if he attacked her. But then she saw who it was and he ducked his head down, laughing, as if he knew what she was thinking.
Pizza Face leaned across and sprung the passenger door. ‘Get in.’
She handed him her bag as if he were her valet and slid her long legs in and sat in the leather passenger seat. The rear-view mirror had a Christmas tree and with rose-wooden trims and the car smelled as luxurious as it looked.
Pizza Face dropped her bag at her feet and started the engine. He sounded slightly hoarse. ‘Thought I’d take you for a wee drive, so we can have a chat.’
He was dressed in a short-sleeved black shirt open at the collar and black trousers. He’d an expensive looking watch on his wrist.
‘You alright?’ he asked, before he indicated and took the turn past Parkhall shops. He’d flecks of blood surrounding the iris and a fading bruise beneath the eye, which didn’t have the birthmark.
‘Aye, great.’ She nodded her head. ‘And you?’
‘Can I smoke?’
‘Aye,’ but his left hand came off the leather trim of the steering wheel and a pointy finger danced, before he translated it into words. ‘But wind the windae doon a wee bit, to let the smoke out.’
She lit a cigarette and wound the window down. ‘You want one?’
‘Nah,’ he screwed his face up and kept his eyes on the road and the white van in front. He cut out and accelerated past it on the wrong side of Faifley Road. An Austin coming the other way tooted its horn.
‘How did you know where I lived?’ she asked. Boogie Wonderland was on the tape and she turned it up, half listening to the compilation.
He chuckled, shaking his head. ‘You’ve got to be fuckin kiddin. Angel, believe me, anybody that looks half as good as you in this shitehole isn’t hard to find. He glanced at her sideway. ‘I heard about your bit of trouble.’
She grasped at her stomach. ‘How did you hear about that?’
He laughed and relaxed. ‘Och, I hear practically everything. And nothing really should surprise me. But when the police came up to the Boulie and asked me about a blonde girl I’d been reportedly talking to that night, in relation to an attempted murder. I nearly fell aff, my perch, not that I was on a perch, you understand?’
The car jumped forward as he put the put down, climbing the hill towards Milngavie.
‘So is the guy, all right then?’
Pizza Face rubbed at the back of his neck, taking his time before he answered. ‘Nah, I think he’s a bit of a spazz-ball, wae the brain and that.’ He made a face. ‘But the cunt was anyway. Whit happened?’
Angel took a long draw of her Benson and Hedges and held a fist over her mouth. ‘He tried to rape me.’
He banged the palms of his hands on the steering wheel and his birthmark went puce. The car jumped forward again over the crest of a hill and skewed across the road towards a sign on the grass verge that instructed: This is a residential area and a forty-mile-per-hour zone. He slowed down and pulled the front of the car away, the brakes squealing and back wheels skidding.
He seemed to gather himself in and spoke matter-of-factly. ‘I’d never let anybody hurt you Angel. Never. If I see that cunt again, I’ll cut his arms and legs aff, wae a rusty spoon.’ He pointed at the road. ‘You want to go up to Drymen and I’ll buy you a bite to eat?’
She pulled the ashtray out of the dashboard and ground her cigarette out. ‘No thanks, I’m not hungry.’
He looked at her and smiled. ‘Look at yeh, no a pick on you and your no hungry? I’m always hungry. He indicated and turned left, up past the well-lit petrol station. ‘We’ll go up that way anyway, bit of a drive. And don’t worry about the bizzies, I told them that they were mistaken and that you’d a big gigantic nose and ginger hair. And you’d given me your number, but I’d flung it away. And I remembered you lived somewhere in Drumchapel.’
‘Aye, but whit about that other boy, Billy?’
He flicked the lights on full beam as they took one sharp bend after another. He seemed to enjoy the sport of accelerating and braking and accelerating from curve to corner to curve. ‘Don’t worry about him, he’s a pussy. He’ll soon no be remembering anything.’
‘I don’t want you to hurt him,’ said Angel.
‘I’m no gonnae hurt him. I’m just gonnae talk to him.’ He squinted sideways. ‘In fact, there is a few questions I want to ask the cunt, anyway…But whit about that wee fat bird, will she keep stuhm?’
Angel giggled and laughed. He smiled back at her, wondering what he’d said that was so funny.
‘She’ll be delighted to be described like that,’ said Angel, eventually. ‘A wee fat bird!’
‘Well, she is, isn’t she?’
Angel pushed his shoulder. ‘Shut up Pizza Face and take me home. I’m knackered. And thanks for everything’
‘Nae bother, I’ll just take a right here and a left at…’
‘Shut up,’ she said. ‘And just take me hame, the quickest road.’
‘You sure you’re no wanting a bite to eat.
‘Aye, but you’ve got to be careful,’ he said, ‘Sometimes up here a deer wae they big antlers jumps right out in front or yer car.’
She looked at the edge of the headlights, the rocks and the drop and the blackness beyond it. ‘Whit do you do then?’
He held his hand over his mouth and started laughing. ‘If a deer jumps oot of your car, you’ve got to stop and jump out of your car and say “Boo!”
She giggled and squeezed his hand and pinky on the wheel. ‘Shut up Pizza Face.’ Then she grew more sombre and sighed. ‘I hope we can put it all behind us.’
‘Me too.’ Pizza Face fiddled with the compilation, jumping over a track of music he didn’t like. ‘But there’s always something, or someone on the road ahead, ready to jump oot at yeh.’