The phone goes and I answer it, ‘Come and get me. Come and get me, Coach,’ he says.
Befuddled with sleep. Think it’s the work and I’ve slept in –again. Jobs are hard to get. Pitching up early at the lockup in Drumchapel. We’re meant to start at six am, but arrive at five to sort out the van deliveries. Guys arrive even earlier than that in the hope they’ll get a better run. It happens, but not very often. In the same way that we’re meant to finish at one or two pm. Job and finish, as per contract. Self-employed, van and man for hire. We mostly finish at midnight or one am. No extra pay, night rolls into day, six days a week, stretching into seven. Even the God of Genesis creating the world wouldn’t get a day off, or he’d get his books.
‘Who is it?’ I bark in a gruff voice.
I’ve had two or three beers and watched Match of the Day and fallen asleep on the couch. The widescreen muted into standby.
‘It’s me, Coach,’ he says.
I’ve a terrible taste in my mouth. Ever since I’ve given up the smoking it’s been the same. Wife said I’m talking shite, which is just about right, because that’s the way it tastes and that’s the way she talks to me. Grunt, lean, wiggle my fingers, searching around the outside of itchy toes, nylon stockinged unwashed feet and the side of the couch. Grasp the top of the lager tin and take a quick up and downie and burp, before answering.
‘I don’t know who you are pal. I think you’ve got the wrang number.’
‘It’s me,’ he says, in a reedy voice, ‘Badger’.
‘Badger?’ My mouth puckers and face grimaces. Outside and along the tenement block I make out somebody is playing their records, pumping out the party tunes. I’m glad I don’t live below them. The wind whips the rain against the window and there’s that hint of slush which makes me shiver. I change my tune.
‘Oh, it’s you, Badger, how you gettin on, son?’
I’d helped out with a local football team, Dalmuir Dazzle. I had to give it up. Badger played for us on the gravel parks with cuts and bruises on his knees after every game with a kind of reckless determination, a promising inside forward. He didn’t stay long with our team.
‘Coach, pick me up…I’m in trouble. You’ll not regret it.’
I took off my specs and wiped at my eyes with the heel of my right hand. Cocked my head and listened for noise from the wife’s bedroom, trying to work out if she was sleeping.
‘Sorry son,’ I scratched under my ochter, where a heat spot was growing, giving me gyp. ‘I need to go to my bed. Why don’t you phone yer mum or da? …I’ve nae idea how you got my number or why you’re phoning me.’
‘Aye, you dae,’ he says.
‘No, I don’t.’
‘Aye, you dae.’
‘No, I don’t.’
‘You can dae me BB.’
I shook my head. ‘Whit’s BB?’
I hold the phone away from my ear and listen for my wife. ‘Have you been drinking?’
‘Aye,’ he whines, ‘I’m blitzed. Full out of my face on coke. Some guys have let me down. That’s how I need a lift.’
‘How did you get my number?’
‘Easy-peasy,’ he shrieks. ‘Fuckin easy-peasy. Coach, I know where you live. I know everything about you.’
‘I’m gonnae hang up.’
‘BB,’ he says. ‘And a blow-job to start. You can dae anything you like to me.
I become aware of my asthmatic breathing, in and out. ‘I think you’ve got the wrang end of the stick, son.’
Badger cackles. ‘Coach, you’ve got to be fuckin kiddin me.’
‘Here, is there somebody else wae you? I thought I heard something!’
‘Nah,’ his voice dropped into a mournful tone. And I hear him sniffing. ‘Just you…And me…Just the way you like it.’
‘No son, it’s late. I need to go to my bed, I’m sorry.’
‘Fuck the bed. Come and get me.’
I hear my wife coughing. Know that’ll have woken her up, at least temporarily. Move the phone from one ear to the other. ‘I cannae, the wife’s in bed and I’ve been drinking.’
‘Make some excuse up.’
‘I cannae, she’ll know.’
‘Where ur yeh?’
‘Possil. Saracen Street, near Screwfix.’
My works jacket, day-glo, hanging on the back of the dining-room chair has my van keys in the side pockets. My mind is jumping ahead to the route I’d need to take.
‘No that far,’ I whisper into the phone.
‘Whit about your wife?’ he mumbles.
‘Fuck her.’ I use the rest on the couch to stand up and crouch, listening. Actions not matching my words, I pad across a few steps and reach into my pocket for the van keys and change my mind, pull my work jacket on. ‘I’ll make something up…She doesnae care, anyway.’
‘Cool,’ he says.
‘Whit about your mum and da?’
Something about the way he laughs stops me. I stand, one hand on the handle of the living-room door, listening.