Angel 56 (old wounds)
Angel had kept in touch with Bruno by phoning him. They skittered around where Tony was like two drunks trying to find loose change to pay for a round of drinks. She made a conscious decision not to mention him. When he turned up on a visit with Bruno she tried not to look too pleased. He was dressed in denim that smelled of stale cigarette smoke. She thought he looked thinner, tired, with bags under his eyes, older, even though it had only been about six weeks since she’d seen him.
‘How are you?’ Tony asked, his eyes sliding from her gaze to the twins peering up at him from the crib. He grinned at them and it was less of the counterfeit smile, a twitch of the lips, he’d given Angel. ‘Which is which?’
He crouched down and took Lisa’s little fist in his hand and kissed her fingers and made baby noises.
Angel put a hand on his shoulder and she felt him flinch a little. ‘That’s Lisa.’
‘And the other one’s Adam,’ declared Bruno. ‘And he’s the dead spit of you.’
‘No, he isnae,’ Tony shook his head and looked over his shoulder at him. ‘He looks more like you.’
‘Well, he’s the lucky one, then.’ Bruno flapped a hand; a thin silver chain glinted on his wrist.
‘Whit’s that?’ Angel asked.
‘It’s my chastity bracelet.’ Bruno held up his hairy arm and the bracelet slid down his wrist so Angel could get a better look.
‘Jesus,’ muttered Tony and went back to playing with the twins, who seemed to be enjoying the attention.
Angel felt she’d stumbled in a conversation they’d been having and she giggled. Bruno would blab, eventually, but for now she spoke to Tony. ‘You want to hold them? While I make the tea?’
‘Could I?’ his face lit up.
‘Yeh, they love cuddles. Lots of cuddles.’
‘That’s all I do now,’ Bruno insisted. ‘Cuddle and kiss. Let’s face it. Sex is vastly overrated. If I never gave another blowjob the world would still turn on its axis. That’s not to say I never will. I’m just saying…A boy can never be too safe.’
Angel lifted Adam from the crib and held him out for Tony to hold. Their hands touched and their eyes met and there was warmth and she felt good about that. ‘He’s not made of glass.’ He stood like a stoogie. ‘He won’t break, you can breathe.’
She lifted Lisa from the crib and handed her to Bruno. He was far more adept, his pasty hand supporting her neck. ‘I’ll leave you boys for a minute to get acquainted. I’ve made some cakes, well, more like rock cakes. Sometimes it gets so boring in here and one of the girls is showing me how to bake.’ She frowned and held a finger to her lip as she rephrased it. ‘Well, she’s not really a girl.’
‘Oh, shut up,’ Bruno holding Lisa swished around in half circles beside the couch in a bizarre dance. ‘And just go and get the tea and coffee and do whatever you’re doing and stop wittering on about it.’
Tony dared to take a step and turn his head. He was getting the hang of holding a baby. ‘I’ll take a rock cake. Stick some nice jam on it.’
When Angel came back with a Bakelite tray with tea and cake they were sitting on the couch, holding Lisa and Adam close to their neck and looking smug as the twins were sleeping. She put them back in their crib without waking them and served tea, sitting in the chair across from them.
‘I’ve got good news from Harold,’ Bruno bit into a cake and made a face as crumbs rolled onto his striped shirt. ‘They’re nice,’ he declared.
Angel wasn’t hungry and sipped tea. ‘Whit is it?’
Bruno picked at his teeth, keeping her waiting. ‘It seems out rapist friends have been busy boys. Up until now seven young girls have given statements and a boy. One of them was only eight-years old and they’ve both been arrested and are in Barlinnie. So much for his supposed handicap. Fucking perverts.’
Tony put his empty mug down on the carpet. ‘Fucking hell, why didn’t you tell me this before? You told me it was just it visit.’
‘You never asked and it is a visit. ’ Bruno was enjoying the limelight, but was startled by Angel’s response. She started sobbing.
‘I’m sorry,’ she told him. ‘It’s just those poor wee souls…’ She wiped at her eyes and tried to compose herself. Then the twins started crying too, quietly, but then a stronger note. She picked them up and this calmed her.
‘Aye, that’s a shame,’ Tony stroked at his chin. ‘But it doesnae make anything easier for you. They don’t need you now. Seems like an open and shut case.’
Bruno toyed with his chastity bracelet. ‘Well, good old Harold did predict this.’ He squinted sideways at Angel. ‘And that’s where somebody with a bit of panache and je ne sais quoi should make the media aware that there is another victim that was raped, but jailed for attacking her attackers. A victim that really should be given a medal and not falsely accused and incarcerated.’
‘You mean you?’ Tony pulled at the cuff of his denim shirt. ‘The press don’t like being told what’s what by a poof.’
‘Like it or lump it, the truths the truth – and how would you know?’
‘Dunno.’ Tony shrugged. ‘Just saying.’
‘You think you could do better?’
‘No, I wis just saying. I really don’t want anything to dae wae it.’
‘You really don’t want anything to dae with it?’ shrieked Angel. She stood up, advancing on him holding the squirming twins. ‘Really, don’t want to have anything to do wae me, or my babies. Tony dae us a favour and just fuck off. I used to really love you, but see noo…’
‘Angel, he doesnae mean it,’ Bruno held his arms out and hands open in a sign of appeasement. ‘I dunno whit’s wrang wae him, lately.’
‘Well, I dae,’ Angel nodded towards the door. ‘He can just fuck right off.’