‘Better get goin’, or we’ll miss the train,’ Badger had to crane his neck to speak in Eddie’s ear. A DJ dressed as Elvis but wearing an orange wig appeared and he’d pumped the volume up, flinging in a medley of ABBA classics beginning with Winner Take it All and working his way back to Waterloo to get the girls dancing.
Eddie narrowed his eyes, staring through fag smoke at the glasses of drink piled in front of Fatty Patty. He picked up double tequila and knocked it back. Squeezing his cheeks together like a lemon as it went down. ‘She’ll ne’er work her way through all that,’ he joked.
‘Leave it.’ Badger slapped him on the back. He grabbed his suit jacket by the nap of the acrylic collar that he’d hung on the back of the chair. A fag hung from his lower lip. He stubbed it out and picked up his bag, blinking as if adjusting to being outside, while still pissed inside.
A green drink was thrust under his nose. He downed it, licking his lips. ‘It tastes like something you’d buy off the ice-cream van. Kids today haven’t a fucken clue about drink.’ He leaned in, ‘Twenty minutes or the next train is six hours…I know whit one I’m getting. I want to be hame before midnight.’
‘I’ll no’ be a minute.’
Badger stepped sideways to get past Doyle and his cronies. Eddie watched his head bobbing and his slightly bent back weaving through the crowd as he made his way to the double doors.
‘Fuck it,’ he necked two double-doubles, grabbed his bag and pulled Fatty Patty face down from the bar stool. She wasn’t much of a lady, quite happy to get her tits out for the boys and show her fanny as he breenged through the crowd waving her legs. He pulled up the collar of his tan leather jacket against the smirry rain, breathing in diesel fumes as a double-decker turned the corner and shoogled down Union Street. .
‘Where you goin’ wae my bird,’ he heard Doyle howl behind him—his braying laughter closed off when the door shut. Union Street was a fortress of grey granite rising above him as he walked with high-street shop windows on the ground floors flashing their over-priced wares at London prices. But nowhere to buy a carry-out with the oil money and the gentrification, the nearest off sales was near the docks going towards the Torry region where council housing was still king. And he didn’t have time. It was just as cheap buying it from the guys on the train, but not all of the trains had in-service carriages, which meant a three hour drouth. With his bag slung over one shoulder, he knew how it felt to be a woman. Pedestrians walked into each other on the wide pavements, stopping and turning their head to watch him as he trotted past them clutching a big-titted sex doll.
He was hoping Badger might be holding a bottle of something. He caught him up at the stairs going down to the station, and slapped him on the shoulder.
‘Fuck, it’s you,’ Badger said.
‘Aye, who else would it be?’
Badger kept walking, slightly out of breath, but puffing on a fag. ‘We’ll get out tickets on the train. Nae time tae…’
‘…You got a carry-oot?’
‘Nah, you?’ He flicked the dout away, a Catherine Wheel of sparks falling downstairs on to the main concourse. He ambled, which for him was an approximation of a run. Up ahead of them was the blue-banded Scotrail train to Glasgow Central.
They jumped onto the last carriage, the doors shutting behind them with a shushing noise and then bouncing open again. Fatty Patty got her pointed breasts stuck in the door. A woman with bobbed black hair stared at him like a doctor’s receptionist being told he was cancelling an appointment at short notice. He hauled and folded the doll into the warm air of an embrace to the sound of jeering.
Doyle and some familiar faces from the rig were piled into seats facing each other with a table between them. The sweet smell of hash hung in the air and a slab of Tennents lager was on the table. Doyle held out a can as Badger passed him.
‘Cheers,’ Badger clutched it in his hand. He put his bag in the rack above their heads and slid against the tilt of the train into the seat across from him.
Eddie stuck his canvas bag in the rack and with a grunt wedged Fatty Patty in beside it. Her painted on eyes and open mouth looking down on them. ‘How the fuck did you get on the train before us?’
‘You ne’er heard of taxis?’ asked Doyle.
‘Ten minute walk,’ Badger said, and slapped his chest before lighting up. ‘And cost a fucken fortune.’
Eddie squeezed into the seat beside Doyle. He pointed to the NO SMOKING sign. And Doyle laughed, ‘Aye, but it’s medicinal.’ Nipping the joint between thumb and forefinger and offering it to him.
Eddie shook his head and Doyle took a deep drag of his fag, blowing out a blue haze that hung between them.
‘You better watch out for the conductor.’ Badger looked out the window as the train picked up speed and began to leave the city centre.
‘Aye, it’s fifty quid to pull my chain.’ Doyle said.
Eddie glanced at Badger who looked back at him. ‘Whit the fuck’s he talkin’ about?’
‘Dunno,’ said Badger.
Doyle lazily pointed at the communication cord, with the penalty for improper use of the Alarm set out in block capitals.
Eddie folded his arms across his chest. ‘You’re a fucken bawbag.’
Badger chuckled his agreement. The table across from them the bearded lad from Dundee pulled out a pack of cards with a snap. They were hunched over the table with suddenly serious faces as he dealt ready to win and lose three weeks’ wages.
The hiss of a Walkman and Eddie’s eyes drifted towards a pretty, thin-faced girl, sitting alone in the seats in front of them. A cascade of red curls pressed against the window as she leaned her head against it and day-dreamed the journey away. She seemed not to hear or see them.
‘You aff the drink?’ asked Doyle.
‘Don’t be so fucken daft,’ replied Badger. ‘We just didnae have time.’
Doyle broke off a can from the pack and held it out for Eddie to take. But when he went to take it, pulled it back. A directness to his gaze in which his eyes looked smaller and harder. ‘I could gee you one, but only if you let yer doll sit on my lap.’
‘Done,’ Eddie shrugged, laughing. He winked at Badger as if to say, what harm can he do?