Despite smirry rain, Jaz and his two pals, Godge and Rab are drinking bottles of wine and messing about on the canal. They've hollowed a shallow boat out of Styrofoam and practice standing on it wedged into the reed bed as the side of the embankment. Laughing, they take turns wobbling and almost falling into the canal. Rab is best, he balances on the boat, sits and pushes away from the side of the embankment. Rab uses his hands and paddles to other side of the canal. On the bridge across Dumbarton Road. Angela is gawking at them through the railings, Blodger by her side.
‘Ya, daft cunt,’ shouts Jaz, in a good-natured way.
Godge and Jaz cheer and Pizza Face’s brother holds up the bottle of Eldorado. ‘You forgot something.’ That brings another round of cheering. Jaz takes a slug, wipes a mouth and passes the bottle to Godge.
‘Hi, keep some for me,’ shouts Rab, doing a nifty manoeuvre to turn and he’s paddling with his hands as quick as he can to get back across the canal. He’s got to the reeds when the Styrofoam raft turns turtle and his foot gets caught in it and he goes under. Godge and Jaz watch him kick and flapping, unable to get air.
Godge says, ‘You think we should jump in and save him?’
Jaz takes a quick uppie and downie of wine. ‘Fuck off, I’ve got my good jacket on. Let the cunt drown.’
Rab, with great gulps of air, crawls up on the reeds the Styrofoam boat still attached to his heel. When he can stand up in the mud on one leg, he kicks it off. Water runs off his hair, his face, his coat and his denims. He turns to Jaz and Godge. ‘Fuckin great. Now I’ll need to go up the road and get changed.’
Jaz hands Rab the bottle as he sloshes up onto the pathway. ‘Here, take a drink of that to warm yeh up, ya nugget.’
Rab takes a drink, necking the bottle.
‘Hi, Hi, don’t finish it.’ Godge say, but it’s too late.
‘I needed that,’ says Rab, smacking his lips and flinging the empty bottle into the canal with a splash. ‘And noo I need to go up the road to get fuckin’ dry clothes.’
Godge butts in. ‘I thought we were goin up the toon anway.’
‘We ur,’ says Jaz, ‘when I’m good and ready. We’ve got a bit of business to dae first.’
Angela waits until for the all clear before she heads down onto the canal bank. A collie dog comes wandering from the direction of the sewerage works and Blodger takes off after it along the dirt path. ‘Blodger come back.Heel, Blodger, heel,’ she cries, forlornly. But her attention is already elsewhere.
Angela uses a stick to bring the Styrofoam coracle closer into the embankment. When it’s close enough she edges a heel onto the Styrofoam, it bobbles a little, but holds steady. She puts a little more weight on that foot. Then she risks two feet on it and she is balanced between canal and shore. Blodger is a barking dot in the distance. She holds onto the sides as she sits down and turns her head to see if anybody is watching from the road. Nobody is. The sound of the traffic and the combined stink of the canal and the sewerage works are stronger nearer the water. She’s determined to do what the man done, go across the canal and back again in her boat. She twists sideways and pushes off from the embankment, but the craft tilts deep to one side and she almost falls out. Out on the water she clings on, scared to move one way or the other, crying, but not too much in case that topples her in. In the distance she sees Blodger lolloping back towards her. She feels someone watching her and she turns slowly, sure it’s Jaz come back for her. And that’s enough to put her under the water. She feels her hair spreading out, spun gold, becoming part of the water, becoming part of the air, the key to all living things.