Angel 24 (Corton Vale)
‘How’ve you been?’ Karen stumbled and pressed her face against Angel’s neck and a male prison guard patrolling the passageways around the tables and chairs in the visiting room looked over.
‘Fine Mum, fine.’ Karen pulled away, her eyes downcast.
Angel had on a red T-shirt and blue tabard that marked her out a prisoner. The equivalent of Corton Vale’s netball team. She slid into a seat facing her mum a low table between them, with her back to the doorway and corridors and walkways that would took her back to the main prison block.
‘I got you this from the machine,’ Karen plonked a can of Coke and Mars bar on the table. ‘I know whit it’s like in here, the food isn’t great.’
Angel laughed. ‘The food in here is great. A lot better than I got at home.’ The can of Coke fizzed as she opened it, putting it back on the table and giving it time to settle.
Other prisoners were leaning across the table, foreheads almost bumping and talking intensely. Some prisoners held hands with their partner and a group of small children ran about squealing. In the table near the door a man with sunspecs on kissed a prisoner, but a guard hastened across to break it up.
‘They’re at it,’ slurred Karen. She peeled open a fresh packet of cigarettes and tossed one across to Angel. ‘I’ll leave you a few, but better smoke them now.’ She rubbed at her eyes. ‘Whit was I saying again?’
Angel lit a cigarette, took a draw and sat back with one hand in her lap. ‘I don’t know Mum, whit were you saying?’
Karen leaned across the table and nodded in the direction of the guy with sunglasses. ‘Drugs, they’re all at it. Mouth to mouth. Fucking eejit. Thinks we’re all buttoned up the back.’
‘I know Mum, I know fine whit it’s like.’ She sniffed and stared over at the corner where an infant, a redhead with a bowl-cut haircut—it could have been a boy or girl—squatted down and poked at a brightly coloured toy in the shape of a clown that wobbled. ‘I’ve been in here almost six weeks and this is the first time you’ve turned up for a visit and at least he didn’t turn up drunk.’
Karen sulked. ‘I’m no drunk.’
‘OK Mum.’ Angel took a drink of her Coke. In a more upbeat voice she added. ‘How did you get here, anyway?’
‘Tony Macaroni, he gave me a lift.’
Angel shrugged. ‘I don’t know who that is Mum.’
‘Aye, yeh dae. Tony Macaroni! Tony Macaroni!’
Her loud voice and cackling laughter made people from other table glance over. Angel unwrapped the Mars Bar and took a bite. She held a hand over her mouth as she spoke.
‘OK Mum, so where’s Tony Macaroni, noo?’
‘Oh, he’s outside. I wouldnae bring him into this shitehole.’ She waved a hand to explain. ‘They might keep him in if he did.’ Her mouth fell open as she laughed at her own joke, but stopped as quickly as she began.
‘Whit’s the matter with your face?’ Karen asked.
Karen took a deep breath and sighed. ‘Well, you better smoke your fags and drink your Coke and stuff because you’ve no got a lot of time.’
‘I’ve got eight years Mum, minimal. I’d say that’s a lot of time.’
‘Aye, but you know whit I mean, visiting time. That’s how I’ve no been up. I mean there’s no hurry, is there? It’s no as if you’re going anywhere.’
Angel rocked a little, her head nodding. ‘Thanks for reminding me Mum. Thanks for reminding me.’
‘I told you to get that lawyer I got when I went to trial. He was really good. I told you that. I mean…he was the best.’
‘…I know whit you mean Mum. The difference is you were a big case, almost a celebrity. You were on the front page of the Daily Record.’ Angel held her head high and looked about her. ‘And I was nothing and nobody. No big-time lawyer would look at me.’
‘Aye, but I could have got him and you wouldnae let me.’
‘You send him a Christmas card mum. That’s hardly keeping in touch.’ She turned her head to look at the clock above the vending machine. ‘And anyway,’ her voice trailed off, ‘it wouldnae have made much difference’.
Karen stubbed out her fag and stuck her head across the table to argue differently. ‘You never know, naebody gave me a cat’s chance in hell of getting aff wae murdering yer faither. The girls all in here thought I’d get life: a twelve to fifteen, minimal. So you can think yourself lucky.’
Angel lit another cigarette, even though the other one was still burning in the ashtray. ‘Jaz wasn’t my biological father. But he was the guy that repeatedly raped me when I was a kid. I told you that already. Don’t ever fucking call him my father.’
‘Don’t be like that.’ Karen’s shoulders slumped. ‘I mean, I came all this way to visit you and I get that attitude. All high and mighty.’
‘Well, fuck off then and don’t bother visiting. Makes nae difference to me.’
Karen picked up her packet of cigarettes and lighter. She stood up. Her head turned side to side and she glanced at the clock and the door that would take her outside to desk and checkpoint where her identity would be re-checked and she would be buzzed outside. A guard leaning against the wall looked over. She wet her lips and her finger flickered in his direction and that of the exit.
Angel glared at her, a cigarette jammed between her lips.
Karen slumped back into the seat. ‘We’ve still got ten minutes. We’ll keep Tony Macaroni waiting, eh?’ She blinked away the tears. ‘He can be a bit of an arsehole, really. But that’s whit all men are like, eh?’
‘I’m sorry Mum. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.’
‘Nae harm done hen. Nae harm done.’ Karen’s smile was like a chewed slipper. She nudged the cigarette packet across the table. ‘Better hurry and take one…I don’t suppose you hear much from that boyfriend of yours, whit do you call him again, Pizza Tomato?’
‘Pizza Face Mum. And no I don’t hear anything from him. He’s in Barlinnie. I’ve wrote him, but I’m not sure it got through, or how it works. The girls all say different things.’ She looked at the clock behind her. The hum of activity increased and children were being rounded up and fiercely hugged, mothers wearing tabards burying their faces in their tot’s necks and sniffling.
Angel sighed. ‘I’m pregnant Mum, and I don’t know whit to dae for the best.’