Angel 27 (tony and bruno)
Everything about prison quickly became routine and depressing. Visitors and visiting- time, bucked that trend and gave Angel a share of the communal hope, joy and sometimes dread. Third in line, she hurried through the connecting door, it was almost like being on a blind date. Angel’s eyes shone with renewed hope.
She would have recognised Tony anywhere. His hair was spiked and he was casually dressed in a black Nike training top and jeans. Some people used to mistake them for brother and sister. Later, back at the block, the girls that had been in the visiting room, grilled her about Tony and said he was gorgeous. They mentioned a few other things. But Angel didn’t think about Tony like that.
Tony sprawled across the chair and raised his hand, almost shyly, to show where he was sitting. To show where they were sitting, because it was the person sitting next to him that was getting eyeballed the most.
He or she had one of those stage school voices, high and dippy that attracted attention like metal filings to a magnet. ‘YOU’VE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING,’ ranged across the room, children stopped howling and Angel smirked.
Angel didn’t recognise the face, but his voice. A beard and moustache sculpted into a circle and a gold septum ring piercing his big nose. One eye was covered in silver glitter and the other kohl eyed, with the lashes burnished gold.
Bruno’s hair was platinum kiss curls. She remembered him from the Home, constantly shadowing Tony, but then he’d been a wee, thin, nervous kid who’d pulled at his hair and left scabs on his head. Now he was big in lots of ways. His mock tiger-skin coat and matching high-heel boots had the guards sniggering.
‘Angel, lovely,’ shouted Bruno, rising to meet her as if Angel was his guest. He smelled of cheap perfume and held her at arm’s length, before declaring, ‘Emm, you look a bit too scraggy and thin, but then again, you always were. Men like a bit more meat on the bone. Don’t you think so, Tony?’
Tony shrugged, his head dipping to one side as he looked her over. ‘Yeh, suppose.’
His eyes glinted at her with familiar warmth she recognised and had once fed off and he smiled back at her.
Bruno kissed her on both cheeks, his green lipstick leaving a smudge and lines around his cracked lips. ‘Sit over there so I can ogle you, lovely.’
‘Well, how you been, anyway?’ asked Tony.
‘Fine.’ Angel clutched her wrist. ‘How’ve you been?’
‘Fine.’ Tony nodded, shrunk deeper into his seat, his elbow on the chair-rest and a finger rubbing his lips.
‘Jesus wept,’ shrieked Bruno, rubbing the back of his hair and neck. ‘Look at the pair of you. She’s hardly fine if she’s in prison, is she? And I see nobody’s bothering to ask how I’ve been.’
‘How you been anyway, Bruno?’ Angel grinned, enjoying the spectacle.
‘Magnificent, in a word. Men seem to find me irri-sizz-able. And who can blame them? I’ve chosen love over cracked nail beds, hair extensions, financial stability and even over health. And I’m hoping my debut single ‘Ethiopia’ will take me straight to the top of the charts.’
‘I didn’t know you could sing.’ Angel glanced over at Tony for an explanation.
‘Sing! If you painted me black people would mistake me for Whitney Houston.’
‘Is that true, Tony?’ Angel enjoyed needling him, seeing him squirm.
A male prison guard did a circuit around the tables in the visiting room. He stopped near the vending machine, and glared at Bruno, until Bruno stared back and the guard quickly looked away.
Tony scratched the back of his head. ‘Suppose.’
‘No suppose about it,’ declared Bruno.
Angel jumped in with a question. ‘Whit’s this song about?’
‘Well, I’m glad you asked, because I don’t really like talking about myself.’ Bruno took a deep breath and sat up a little straighter. ‘It’s about Ethiopia and you may like to know that’s in Africa. And the people are poor. And I’m poor too. And in a kind of world zoo. So you’ve got to understand, when I’m talking about Ethiopia, I’m really talking about myself. But there’s a lot of jealousy out there, you’ve got to understand. And people with genuine talent—even in Ethiopia—are often overlooked.’
‘Do you still draw and paint?’ Angel scrunched her forehead. ‘I remember you were pretty good at that.’
‘Phewwww,’ Bruno turned to Tony. ‘I don’t really have the time now, do I Petal?’
‘Guess not,’ his voice was droll. ‘You’re too busy, being you.’
Bruno turned a gold eyelash towards Angel. ‘Of course it’s always a joy to see you. And to see you looking so fab-u-lous. But really, among friends, we were really wondering why you invited us here?’
He put an elbow on the table to lean across and speak confidentially. ‘It’s really nothing personal and nothing to do with you, but this place is really, rather, depressing and brings back so many unhappy memories, so if you can just tell us and we can get away, prontish.’ Then he reconsidered. ‘If it’s anything to do with sex, press my knee and if it’s anything to do with anything else call the operator and talk to Tony, because he’s really rather useless and sodomy’s law, he must be good for something.’
‘Fuck off, Bruno,’ growled Tony.
Bruno waved a glittering finger. ‘Truth hurts.’
‘Well, thanks for the offer and for coming to see me all this way, but it’s really Tony I wanted to talk to. I wisnae expecting you to be here.’
‘Oh, I see you can still be so bitchy and bossy! You were like that even when you were a little girl.’
‘I cannae drive and he drove me.’ Tony held a hand over his mouth as he yawned.
‘Chief cook, bottle-washer and driver,’ Bruno admitted, with evident pride. ‘And much else beside.’
‘It was one of those weird things, bumping into your mum like that.’ Tony looked at Angel for an explanation. ‘I mean I’m not often in Clydebank these days.’
‘Neither am I,’ Angel kept her face straight until they’d laughed with her.