Outside the wind carries the rain and it spills against my room window, but it’s not really that cold. I’m tucked up cosy in bed. I know all the fairy stories off by heart, but it gives me a thrill imagining what else could happen, if, for example the prince didn’t kiss the princess because he fancied Pauline Moriarty, and would rather kiss her. I’m also doing homework, well, it’s not really homework, because you don’t need to do it, but I like playing with numbers in my head so I don’t need to think, or listen to the way things move about when you’re not listening. I hear shouts and somebody coming up the stairs, a kerfuffle in the outside landing. I’ve got jammies over my clothes and two pair of socks on my feet to keep me warm. I sneak into the hall, holding my breath and poke open the letterbox with my finger and peek out.
Karen is slavering drunk. Jaz in his long black coat is stroking her arm. Two other long black coats are there, chain smoking. Rab with the plukey face and greasy hair lives in the next close and Godge, his pal, unmistakeable, with blonde hair in a bouffant and a vivid scar from under his left eye to the dimple on his chin. She has no coat, but dressed as a fashion plate with hooped gold earrings. Cheesecloth blouse showing a patch of bare stomach. Yellow bellbottoms. Karen is swaying, tottering. Her glassy eyes circle around the close trying to focus on something or someone to keep her upright and the conversation around her stops. ‘Let’s get you inside,’ says Jas, grabbing her by the elbow, trying to direct her from the landing to the front door. She staggers forward and sideways, bumping against him.
‘Fuck off,’ she screams. ‘All of yous. I’m fuckin sick of it. I’m fuckin sick of you. Fuck off.’
‘C’mon, don’t be like that,’ says Jaz. He runs his finger down the bare flesh of her arm. ‘We’re goin to have a wee party. Me and a few of my mates.’ The plastic bag rustles against his leg. ‘You’ll like that,’ he adds. Rab and Godge snigger, taking a step forward, bottles clinking.
Karen is swaying, undecided as a nation. Her front door flies open and she stumbles inside past her daughter. Angela’s golden hair is framed by the hallway light. Blodger silently shoots out the door and wraps its jaws around Jaz’s leg, the denim above his boots, meaty flesh below the knee. He shrieks like a lassie and tries hopping, leg outstretched, to pull away, but Blodger lets go only to bite him again, higher up, and, snarling, gets a better grip. Jaz screems even louder. Godge and Rab dance together beside man and beast. And Godge, on the front foot, tries to give the dog’s flank a fly boot. Blodger’s hackles rise higher, it lets go of Jaz and goes for Godge’s balls, but its head slides from his long coat. Rab scrambles down the stairs, Godge behind him, kicking out at the dog, fending it off. ‘Fuck off, ya, evil bastard,’ he is shouting. Rab scurries out of sight.
Jaz jumps up and clambers over the bannister and railings. He hesitates, hair hanging over his face, looking at the drop, but when Blodger, teeth bared, growling, loops back up the stairs he drops down to the landing and I hear the thud of his feet. ‘That dog’s gettin’ it,’ echoes round the walls. Blodger doesn’t miss a beat and runs into the hall past Angela, its tongue lolling out.
I pull open the front door and stands in darkness. ‘Whit happened there?’ I ask Angela.
‘Blodger bit Jaz because he’s a cunt,’ says Angela.
I put my index finger over my lips and whisper ‘Sshhh, he might be listening.’ And I point downstairs.
‘I don’t care,’ says Angela. ‘I hate him, and next time I hope he dies,’ and bangs the door shut.
I shut the door gently and tiptoe back to my room and pick up the book of fairy stories.