Angel 11 (Edinburgh)
Pizza Face parked in his usual spot and smiled as Angel rushed out of her house, crossed the road and rushed to meet him. Sunday, her day off, and they’d arranged to meet early. The Jaguar had done quite a few miles. They’d been all over the place after work from Drymen to Balloch to Hellensburgh to Coulport and he hadn’t even tried to kiss her yet. That pleased her, but also worried her, although she kept telling herself it shouldn’t. He said all the right things and even complemented her on the smell of her cheap perfume. And patted her hand and leg, now and again, as he drove, but, maybe he didn’t really fancy her and just felt sorry for her, after what happened, and was being kind.
As she slid into the car, the heating was on too high and the engine was purring.
He grinned as if he’d given birth to her and pointed to the dashboard. ‘Whit dae yeh think of that?’ he asked.
She pulled on her seatbelt and coughed, looking at him. ‘Whit?’
‘Classical music,’ he nodded. He was back to wearing his short-sleeved black shirt and black trouser ensemble. ‘Piano something in something.’
She cocked her head and listened to the tinkling, violins cutting in, overlaid by the crash of cymbals. ‘Aye, very nice.’
Since they planned to spend most of the day together she made a bit of an effort, but he didn’t seem to notice, putting on a gold choker and little bit of makeup and rubbing a more expensive perfume on her wrists. A long, double-breasted wool coat worn over a pearl-grey jacket, white blouse open at the neck, a pearl-grey dress with a slit in the side and open-toed silvery shoes, because her feet tended to sweat in the car.
‘You look a million dollars,’ he said. ‘But then again, you always do. Where do you want to go tae? We live in Scotland, but don’t really go anywhere tae see it. If you wanted to go anywhere in Scotland, where would it be?’
‘Eh, I don’t know,’ she searched through her bag for her cigarettes. ‘You choose.’ She’d the packet in her hand and tapped a cigarette out and pulled out the coil of the cigarette lighter on the dashboard. ‘Whit about Edinburgh?’
‘Oh, no,’ he held a hand up and turned away. ‘Full of traffic wardens and people hobnobbing and robbing you all over the place. You couldnae pick anywhere worse. And they talk funny. Pick somewhere else. Anywhere else.’
She automatically wound down the window when she took a draw on her cigarette. ‘We could go to the castle.
‘Whit dae yeh want to see an old rock for?’
‘I just do. And you said we could go anywhere, I wanted.’
‘Suppose,’ he huffed. Putting the car into gear and checking the wing mirrors before drawing away from the kerb.
He was in a better mood by the time they’d hit the outskirts of Edinburgh. ‘That’s right,’ he said. ‘There’s nae traffic wardens on a Sunday.’
He found a parking spot at the station and opened the boot, and pulled on a long crumpled black Crombie, pulling the collar up. They walked hand in hand along Princes Street, down into the gardens and huddled together like penguins to get a better view of Edinburgh Castle as the wind blew through them and rain sleeted down horizontal.
‘My feet are freezing,’ she said.
‘Serves you right for wanting tae come here.’
She nudged him with her elbow, but he didn’t notice. He was mesmerised, studying the way the slope started about thirty degrees and then shot up perpendicular into a plug of almost black volcanic rock. Ramparts of the castle build on top of that and perched at what seemed an impossible angle, a room with an electric light left on, which made it seem even darker.
‘You could have 100 000 men standing doon here, and ten guys up there in their pyjamas, laughing’ he mumbled. ‘And you wouldnae get near it.’
Angel laughed too and squeezed his shoulder. ‘But you’re forgetting they’d need to come out to get something to eat and a drink of water.’
He nuzzled the side of her face with his nose and shaved chin. ‘Suppose,’ he conceded. ‘How did you get to be so smart?’
‘Me?’ She pulled away a little. ‘I’m no smart. I just like to read a wee bit.’
‘I don’t read nothing. The last book I read was at school. That wan wae the parrot?’ He stared at her and waited for her to tell him the name of the book.
‘Dunno,’ she shrugged.
But he was insistent. ‘The parrot and Jim?’
‘Aye, that wan, Huckleberry Jim. Watched it on the telly. I watch all my books on telly.’ He screwed an eye shut, and jerked a shoulder forward and tapped it, as if it had a parrot sitting there. ‘Argh, Jim, ma-lad.’
She burst out laughing. ‘That’s Treasure Island.’
‘Same thing.’ He squeezed her shoulder and pulled her in closer. ‘See, told you, you were a smarty-pants.’
He planted a smacker of a kiss on her cheek. She laughed and tapped her index finger near the corner of her mouth. A robin-redbreast stood on the edge of a puddle underneath a park bench, looking away and then keeping beady black eyes on them. He kissed her softly at the corner of her mouth. She smiled and tapped the side of her lower lips. He pecked at it and the robin took off flying up towards the castle ramparts. She put her index fingers on the middle of her lips and he clamped her face and kissed her.
She closed her eyes and was smiling at the way he pulled her close, yet danced around her on the gravel path and was first to pull away.