Ugly Puggly 30
Ugly Puggly had a hard and fast rule never to fling out food just because it was out of date. Potatoes could go soft and grow a beard of buds but he said that showed they were maturing and with a small knife would remake them with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt into some kind of pasta that was delicious.
He’d thinly sliced a baguette and placed it in a bowl. It smelled as if it had been dunked in a garlic press, just the way I liked it. Dave stumbled into the kitchen putting me on a downward spiral by being himself. Jeff, the estate agent, was with him, which made it worse. Things had gone back to Ugly Puggly normal. I’d assumed he’d given up the idea of selling our home.
There was another bulkier presence lurking at their back. He had the style of dark glasses that Stevie Wonder wore when singing Happy Birthday. He was bald, with a scar on his cheek, and I guessed he didn’t get invited to many social gatherings, unless he was standing outside on the door, hands folded in front of his crotch and telling you, Nae chance. You werenae getting in. And no matter how drunk you were, not only would you not argue with him, you’d thank him for his consideration in taking the time out of his busy life for telling you. I wondered if he was Jeff’s backup and he’d come to shake Ugly Puggly like a piggy bank and get the house out of him.
I reached across the table to the chopping board for the sharp knife. The big guy glared at me and I thought he was grunting, but that was him laughing. I chopped a soggy tomato and dunked a slice in my mouth.
Ugly Puggly sat on the bench opposite with a checked dishtowel in his hand. Jeff did the introductions, ‘
‘This is Harry. He’s got the contract to buy the house and he’s brought the £80 000 wae him to buy it, noo.’
His dark glasses made it seem like trying to second guess Darth Vader. But the way he tilted his head he took in the kitchen, Ugly Puggly, Dave and me, but not necessarily in that order.
‘Right,’ he reached into the inside pocket of his tweed jacket and pulled out a couple of pieces of paper stapled together. ‘This is a shitebox. I’ll gie yeh £65 000 cash. And as a wee sweetner, yeh don’t huv to move oot right away. In fact, I’ll rent the house right back oot to yeh. Say yer living in a bed and breakfast, £300 a skull, a week. Housing Benefit il pay it and the money goes straight tae me. I’ll need tae take a deposit, of course, of a few grand.’ He resisted the urge to smile, but put the contract down in front of me to sign with my own blood.
Jeff put a hand on the table and leaned over. ‘He’s no the homeowner. It’s Mr Lowther, oer there.’
He pulled the contract away from me and glared at me as if I was a timewaster he’d met outside The Oasis. He plonked the papers down in front of Ugly Puggly. ‘Right,’ he tapped the bottom line. ‘Sign there.’
‘Gie him a pen,’ he told Jeff.
Jeff patted his chest. He’d several pens in his pocket. A silver Parker made the cut. He passed it to the big guy. And the big guy thrust it towards Ugly Puggly’s face.
Ugly Puggly had stretched out his long legs under the table and was reading the contract the way he read most things, with singular purpose.
‘Here, you don’t need tae read it.’ But his hand holding the pen dropped to his side. He scowled at Jeff to show his displeasure.
Turning a page, Ugly Puggly glanced up at him. ‘£900 a week to rent my ain house. It would be cheaper movin intae a nursing home.’
‘That can be arranged. Just fuckin sign it. And stop fuckin me about and we’ll let bygones be bygones.’
‘Hi mate,’ I said. ‘Yeh cannae make im sign it.’
‘I get that, noo and again,’ he laughed. ‘But business is business.’
‘Jeff,’ he told him. ‘Go and get the money out of the car.
He glanced at Dave and jerked his thumb like a Roman Emperor letting him live. ‘Beat it,’ he said.
‘And as for you, yah little prick.’ He leaned over the table, breathing all over me. My hand darted out towards the sharp knife, but he grabbed my wrist, and swatted me with his other hand. My body jerked backwards with my lip bleeding.
‘You get blood on my good jacket,’ he growled, ‘and I’ll fuckin kill yeh’.
Dave jumped on his back and held him around the neck. I don’t know what his plan was. Maybe to get a coal bag upstairs and shag him to death. The big guy stumbled backwards and whipped him around.
Dave squealed, ‘Don’t hit me. Don’t hit me or I’ll phone the police.’
‘I um the police,’ he flung him against the sink. He sunk down on to the floor and he stuck the boot in.
I noticed Ugly Puggly placing the contract down on the table and picking up the chopping board. He swung it like Joe Di Magio hitting the ball out of the stadium and claiming a home run. It cracked off the back of the big guy’s skull. His legs buckled and he toppled.
Dave stamped on his head, with his shoe heel, again and again, screaming obscenities in a shrill voice.
I wiped at my mouth with the back of my hand. ‘Stop it, I told him. ‘You’ll kill him.
Ugly Puggly pulled him by the back of the collar away. Dave was sobbing into his shoulder. ‘I think he might be already deid.’
Jeff was standing in the kitchen door with the suitcase. I wasn’t sure if he was going to cut and run.
‘It was an accident,’ I explained. ‘We’ll need to phone an ambulance.’
‘There was nothin accidental about it,’ said Ugly Puggly. ‘Phone an ambulance and the game’s up for aw us.’