Angel 30 (hard to say no)
Angel looked over and Tony followed her gaze. A kerfuffle in the corner of the room, close to where some kids were playing with a plastic Thomas the Tank with a smiling face moulded on to the engine and with shiny Matchbox cars. Luke Skywalker, Batman and Superman figures were scattered across the floor. A stocky man, wearing a tartan bunnet and with a ginger beard, jumped up towering over a prisoner with spiky black hair, calling her ‘Fucking, useless slut. Fucking cow.’ Kids beside them cowered away. Guards hurried over to sort it out.
Out of the corner of her eyes she saw the guy with the scar on his face pop a condom with what she assumed to be drugs in his mouth. He leaned across the litter of coffee cups and ashtray, kissing and tongued his partner. When the rammy had wound down she’s swallowed it and they were both smiling at each other. He immediately got up to leave.
The guy with the tartan bunnet was being escorted away by a fat prison officer. He looked across at the man with the scar on his face, who hung back, but signalled with a nod.
‘Whit was that all about?’ whispered Tony.
‘A dog chasing its tail.’ Angel ducked her head down a little and kept her voice low, but she was amused by Tony’s naivety. ‘A magician’s trick, create a distraction, and while you’re trying to work out how he done it, you’ve already been diddled.’
‘You’re smart, you.’ Tony yawned, hand over his mouth. ‘Well, soon be time for me to go too.’
‘I know I’ve got Bruno’s plastic engagement ring to remember you by.’ She raised her index finger from her lap and flashed the gaudy plastic ring as if it was made of diamonds and gold. ‘But you’re at least meant to ply your fiancée with gifts, a can of Coke and a Mars bar and even a couple of fags.’
His lips made a smacking sound. ‘I would, but skint.’
‘Never mind.’ She waved away his concern. ‘I’m no really that bothered. Remember the time when you caught me out the back trying to get something to eat out of the bins.’
‘Aye,’ she was insistent. ‘I was out the back with Blodger and you were coming hame with a fish supper? And it was dark and when you came round the back we gave you such a fright you dropped the chips and Blodger wolfed them down?’
‘That’s right,’ he smiled. ‘That dog was completely bonkers.’
‘You were mad at him.’ A faint smile appeared on her face. ‘But you gied me your Curlywurly.’
‘And you gied a bit of that to Blodger as well,’ he laughed. ‘Which made me even madder.’
She grew sombre. ‘And Jaz and his mate hung Blodger for biting them.’
‘Aye, I remember that well. My da plum knocked Jaz oot. Put him in the hospital. Best thing that dog done was bite Jaz. Should have ripped his fucking throat out and saved us a lot of bother.’
‘Aye, should have.’
‘Well, I better be going.’
‘I never did thank you for whit you done.’
‘Whit?’ he shrugged. ‘Dunno, whit you’re talking about.’
There were tears in her eyes. ‘You know,’ she whispered, ‘wae Jaz’.
Tears welled in his eyes too. ‘No,’ he shook his head, blinking rapidly. ‘No got a scooby, whit you’re on about.’
‘You were under the bed. I seen you. And I seen you running doon the stairs. It was Pizza Face’s party. You were about twelve.’
‘Aye, I remember the party well. All of us in that wee house. Jaz’s daft sister hovering about. I think she was wearing a tablecloth. We were lucky to get out of there without being eaten alive. She ate everything that wasn’t nailed doon.’ He raised his eyebrows and his forehead furrowed. ‘Had to go up the road early that night. Curfew. You know whit it was like. Had to be in the Home by nine o’clock.’ He allowed himself to smile. ‘Bruno would be waiting up for me.’
‘It was snowing.’ Tears ran down Angel’s cheek, she brushed them away. ‘Snowing hard. Me and Bruno were going to run away and you told us not to. You told us not to. You’d take care of it…and you did.’
Her sobbing drew curious stares from other prisoners and visitors, but it wasn’t uncommon and the hum of voices washed over them sitting crying together.
‘Pizza Face never knew.’ She sniffed, wiping her nose. ‘And I’d never tell him.’
He shook his head. ‘Ne’re would I.’
‘But yous two got on wae your life,’ she made it sound like an accusation. ‘Still pals?’
‘Aye, but you know whit it’s like. He couldn’t stand Bruno—and let’s face it, he wasn’t in a minority there— always had somewhere to go tae. A mum and da. We kept in touch, but he got a job and I wasnae working. Then I moved in with this older bird…’
‘I’m totally, jealous.’
‘Och, nothing to be jealous about. She was nineteen and I was barely sixteen. We thought we were in love. She’s a council house and I moved in wae her. That was me oot the Home. And that was me fucked when we split up and I’d naewhere to stay.’
‘Did you see Pizza Face?’
‘Och, no much, the odd pint noo and again in Partick. But I’d nae money and he was working during the day and in the Boulie at weekends.’ He cocked his head. ‘He said he could get me a job as a bouncer. Easy fucking money. Could you imagine me daeing that?’
‘No really,’ she said. ‘You’ve no got enough badness in yeh.’
‘Whit about Pizza Face then? Has he got enough badness in him.’
‘A bit,’ she admitted. ‘But no like Jaz.’
‘Well, he’s one of my best mates - ever.’ He pondered what to say next. ‘But let’s just say for talking sake that he thinks you’re having his child. Then you tell him it’s no his. And you want me to be the father…whit’s he gonnae think then?’
‘Dunno. I havenae really thought about it.’
‘You do know Angel.’ He spoke emphatically. ‘He’ll think I’ve been shagging you on the fly. And he’s no gonnae be happy. He’s in prison now. But where’s all that badness gonnae go?’
‘You do know.’ The chair creaked as leaned on the armrest to stand up. He leaned across the table to kiss her forehead, but she raised her head and lips towards his and he smacked a kiss on her nose.
‘You will come back?’ she asked.
He shuffled toward a group of visitors near the door.