Ghosts (Part Two)
The room’s went quiet, aw eyes trained in oan us, it seems, an ah feel like a fuckin actor in a play ah’ve no read the script tae; ignorant, completely fuckin removed fae whit’s gaun oan. Ah grab ma Ma by the airm an take her away; back tae McDade an Tracey an the group they’re staunin wae at the other side ay the room.
The murmur an thrum ay the place picks back up again as we walk back through the busy room an ah look at my Ma, eyes penetratin her face lookin fur answers but she disregards me, stormin away back tae the auld biddies in the kitchen, kiddin hersel oan that she’s goat important business tae attend tae.
Pearcey’s staunin wae Tracey at the table talkin when ah get there.
‘Whit wis that aboot Danny? Listen, ah love yer Ma, ye know that, but ah’m no huvin any grief at this, right? Just a nice quiet wake. Ma Granny always liked yer Ma an yer Granda an that. Where is he anywaiy?’
‘Sorry mate. Ah don’t know. Ah thoat he’d huv been here. It’s no like him. Fuck knows whit’s up wae ma Ma.’
McDade ambles back oer fae the jukeboax wae a smile oan his face just as the wummin behind the bar announces that the steak pie an veg ur comin oot an anybody that’s wantin fed hus tae make their waiy up tae the buffet table, ‘Ah fuckin love this wan, man. Didnae think these auld duffers wid huv it oan their jukie.’ McDade sais, noddin his heid sagely.
Ocean Colour Scene comes unceremoniously oot the speakers,washin oer the room; an acoustic number.
‘Fuck sake McDade. “Take some pills wae yer coke”, you huvin a laugh man? It’s a fuckin funeral.’
‘Aw, ah love this wan tae. It’s pure brilliant.’ Tracey appends.
‘So dae ah. It’s no really the point though, is it?’ ah sais.
‘Speakin ay coke –’ McDade sais, wavin a folded lottery ticket wrap ay gear in front ay him.
‘Fuck sake, man. Huv ye nae fuckin civility aboot ye? There’s a time an a place –’
‘Get wan ay them oot fur me.’ Pearcey sais, ‘ah could be dain wae wan.’ an just like that, it’s legitimised. Sanctioned by the only cunt in the room that kin reasonably gie it carte blanche the day, as far as ah’m concerned.
Ooirs pass, the proverbial powderin ay the noses ur actualised, oan mare than wan occasion, an everybody’s in good spirits, considerin. Pearcey even seems tae be gettin back tae his auld sel.
Ah’d goat a haud ay ma Ma an asked her whit the score wis wae Joe; telt her that he wis a good cunt an hud only ever looked oot fur me since ah’d been workin wae him but she wis huvin none ay it. Sais noo wisnae the time an she’d talk tae me when we wur sober.
‘Right, ah’m oan the bell, whit yies huvin?’ ah sais.
‘Ah’ll just huv another white wine then ah’ll need tae get a taxi. Goat uni the morra.’ Tracey sais.
‘Just another Mick Jagger fur me. Naw, make that a J.D. an coke. They pints ur baggin me up.’ McDade sais, cradlin his stomach tae emphasise the point.
‘Pearcey?’ ah sais, but he’s no listenin, just starin at some wummin ah don’t mind seein afore. She’s unsteady oan her feet, tryin tae order a drink at the bar. Wan ay Pearcey’s uncles is remonstratin wae her but ah cannae hear whit’s bein sais oer the chatter.
‘Ah don’t fuckin believe it.’ he sais.
‘Whit? Whit dae ye no believe?’ ah sais.
He looks at me, pausin fur a second, like he’s unsure whether tae answer the question, afore relentin, ‘ah think that’s ma Ma.’
His other uncle’s involved noo, an wan ay his aunties, ‘JUST TURN ROON AN GO, CATHY! YER NO WELCOME HERE!’ his auntie screeches.
‘HOW FUCKIN DARE YOU, YA STUCK UP WEE BOOT. SHE WIS MA MOTHER! AH’M ENTITLED TAE PAIY MA RESPECTS!’
The uncles grab a haud ay her an drag her taewards the door as she kicks oot an screams at them, callin them fur everythin.
‘OPEN THAT FUCKIN DOOR SOME CUNT.’ wan ay them shouts as she struggles wae them, breakin free. There’s a collective gasp as the copper coloured hairpiece she’s wearin faws tae the flair, revealin short, cropped hair underneath. She’s goat thick foundation oan, noticeable even at this distance, wae green eye shadow an mad pencilled oan eyebrows, makin her look permanently surprised. In fact, she looks like the make up application wis by waiy ay a couple ay rounds tae the face wae an semi-automatic painbaw gun. The place is deathly silent noo, aw eyes fixed oan her. ‘Ma ain brothers, eh? Flingin me oot ay ma Maw’s funeral.’ she sneers, contemptuously.
‘You gave up any right ye hud tae call her that when ye fucked off an left her wae yer wee boay. Noo go! Get tae fuck oot ay here!’ his uncle Jim, ah think it is, sais.
‘Stephen! Ma Stephen! Is he here?’ she sais, melodramatically, scannin the room, unsteady oan her feet. She looks oer in oor direction but the wee man staiys quiet, just stares at her like every other cunt, ‘WHIT UR YIES AW LOOKIN AT, EH? THE BEST THING AH EVER DONE WIS LEAVIN THIS FUCKIN SHITEHOLE! YIES UR WELCOME TAE IT!’ she screams an bends oer, pickin up her wig. An wae that, she turns an totters oot oan her heels, lookin like a moderate breeze wid blaw her oer. The door’s slammed shut at her arse an the inevitable outraged chatter ensues.
‘Ah think ah’ll stick another couple ay tunes oan the jukeboax.’ McDade sais, strugglin fur somethin tae say, fur wance.
McDade’s away in a taxi drappin aff Tracey first, then doublin back tae take Pearcey hame. The wee man’s blootered. Ah think he needed a blaw oot, efter the day it’s been. He sais he’s gonae staiy the night wae him tae make sure he’s awright which, fur McDade is a rarely witnessed act ay altruism. Ah widnae be surprised in the slightest if he gets another gram aff Johnny Scanlon an keeps the wee cunt occupied in a waiy mare conducive tae his waiy ay thinkin though. Either waiy, at least ah know he’ll get hame an huv company. He’s gonae need his mates in the comin weeks, ah know that much.
Ah’m hingin back, waitin fur ma Ma, who’s been deep in conversation wae a few ay the auld girls she used tae work wae at the factory, reminiscin aboot the auld days. Last order’s been called an the bar staff ur busy clearin up the tables an moppin the flair an that, ready fur the next day when there’s some sort ay tournament gettin played wae other auld yins comin doon fae other bowlin clubs aroon the city. They take aw that shite seriously, man. Ye should see ma Granda when he’s in action. Eye ay the fuckin tiger.
Ah head ootside fur a fag while ah’m waitin oan ma auld Dutch finishin her natterin wae the fuckin Golden Girls.
The late spring evenin’s mild an temperate as ah step ootside tae the street. Ah take a fag oot ay the crushed deck ay sixteen fags ah bought in the club fae the machine.
There’s a guy staunin further doon the buildin, usin the waw tae keep himsel upright. He hiccups an looks up taewards me as ah spark the lighter a few times tryin tae get it tae ignite. It’s Joe, shirt collar unbuttoned, sans tie, wae his suit jayket folded oer his airm, ‘Danny boy! hic Mere an gies a hic light, son.’ he sais, fumblin aboot wae his ain fag boax, puttin wan tae his mooth.
Ah gie him the lighter an tell him he’s goat his fag the wrang waiy roon, which he rectifies efter haudin it oot in front ay his face, tryin tae focus oan it, seeminly no believin me.
‘Yer auld hic, yer auld man hic, he wis a good cunt, ye know?’ he sais.
‘Naw he wisnae. He fuckin topped himsel. Who dis that, eh? When they’ve goat a wife an wean that loves them at hame, waitin fur them?’ ah sais, tirin ay hearin aboot aw this morbid pish,’
‘Aye, that’s whit they hic, that’s whit they sais happened.’ he looks at us quizzically, or mibbe no. He’s fuckin gassed. He’d probably look at us like that if ah asked him where he staiys, fuck sake.
‘Whit dae ye mean? Ma Granda’s awready telt me, he flung himsel aff the high flats. The polis done aw the tests; he’d been usin again. Sais it wis an open an shut case; nae suspicious circumstances –’
‘Aye, ah know hic, never mind me, ah’m pished. Where’s that fuckin taxi, she’s gonae –’
‘Never mind the fuckin taxi’ ah sais, ‘ . . . whit dae ye mean?’ He looks at me, suddenly alert, like he realises he’s sais too much; like he’s it’s just dawned oan him the fuckin severity ay whit he’s sayin tae me, ‘WHIT? WHIT IS IT?’ ah shout at him.
‘Wee Titch Lavery. It wis his flat he wis in when it happened. Look, it’s probably nuttin. Titch wis a fuckin looney tune. He wis carted aff no long efter. Spent the rest ay his days in the Parkheid hoaspital.’
‘Whit is it? Say whit ye wur gonae say, fur fuck sake. Ah deserve tae know.’
‘Right hic, awright. They’d been in there usin. He sais yer Da just showed up, oot ay the blue, efter bein aff the scene fur years. He’d squared himsel right up. Aff the skag fur years, but he sais he wanted a fix. Didnae even jag it, Titch sais. Just hud a toot. Anywaiy, hic, he goat his fix an conked oot, gouchin. Sparkled. Titch sais he left him oan the couch tae sleep it aff an went tae the shoap tae get a few bits an pieces –’
‘Right. Then whit happened? Mone tae fuck Joe.’
‘He sais when he goat oot the lift, at the grun flair, there wis two cunts gettin intae the other wan. He turned an looked an he sais he seen Harry McNulty an that fuckin Franny Montgomerie just as the doors wur shuttin oer.’
Montgomerie. Fuckin Monty, the arsehole that chased us wae the sword. The wan that shouted doon tae the street at Tracey.
‘Whit happened next Joe. Tell me!’
‘He sais that as he wis walkin tae the shoap, cuttin acroass the wee park in front ay the tower blocks, he heard the scream. When he turnt roon, it wis just in time tae see him hit the grun. Look ah’m sorry kid, ah shouldnae be tellin ye aw this. It wulnae chainge anythin.’ He stubs the fag oot oan the waw behind him, red embers showerin doon tae the pavement, ‘ . . . look, like ah sais, Titch wisnae tae be relied oan as a credible source. He wis known fur talkin pish; wisnae, eh, compos mentis, know? But he sais, when he looked up at the veranda oan the ninth flair he seen two cunts lookin doon afore disappearin away behind the barrier.’
‘Did he report it, whit he saw?’
‘Ah don’t know. Ah think he tried tae. The coppers widnae huv gave him the time ay day. The thing is, there wur other witnesses. People fae the other flats. They sais they seen John staunin there, starin oot – they’re shared verandas, runnin the length ay the buildin. See, yer Da hud a history ay depression an that, an wis known tae the polis as a junkie. Tae the polis it wis just another smackheid deid –’
‘An aw these years you’ve known this, ye’ve never done nuttin aboot it. Whit aboot ma Ma, eh? Ma Granda –’
‘Look, by the time Titch told me, it wis years later. It wis aw oer wae. The polis hud closed the case an yer Ma an the rest ay yer faimily didnae question it. Ah telt ye, he wis a depression case. Nae cunt wis surprised, tae be honest. Whit did ye want me dae, rake oer auld coals oan the word ay a schitzo junkie. It widnae huv brought him back, wid it? Ah’d been clean fur years by this point. Just like yer Da, ah goat aff it. Difference is, ah staiyed aff it. Yer Ma an yer Granny an that hud been through enough wae him; wae aw ay us. Ah’m only tellin you oot ay respect. Ah shouldnae huv sais anythin.’
The door ay the club opens an ma Ma an another five or six wummin spill oot oan tae the street, laughin an jokin. Private hire taxis arrive an form a queue oan the street, their diesel engines rattlin away like army tanks an ah jump in the first available wan wae ma Ma an another couple ay auld yins she’s decided we’re drappin aff. Ah look oot the windae as the motor pulls away, back oot tae the coarner ay the buildin where we wur talkin, but he’s gone, just another guy in his housecoat an slippers, staunin idly, waitin while his dug sniffs eagerly aboot a lampost.