Traffic sloshes through the rain on Dumbarton Road. We pass a woman holding a brolly at forty-five degrees against the wind and to keep her permed hair dry who gives us a funny look, as she pushes a pram. But Pizza Face’s eye socket has stopped bleeding and apart from a little pinkness the wound looks clean, but he is shivering wet as he squelches along with his head down. He briefly looks for the ball he left in the gutter, but it is no longer there.
‘Thieving bastards,’ he spits, some of the gravel returns to his voice.
Blodger trails behind Angela, her face is wedged into my neck, but I’m weary to the bone and my steps shorten as we get past the church and I stumble, almost falling and dropping her. ‘I’ll need to put you down pet,’ I say. ‘I’m completely knackered.’
Pizza Face takes my lead. He leans his shoulder against the brownstone wall of a tenement and waits for us standing a couple of feet away. Blodger splurges down in the middle of the pavement, so pedestrians have to walk around him.
‘OK,’ says Angela. Her grip loosens, and her bum begins to slide down my chest, but then she grabs me tighter around the neck, clinging on, leaning and whispering hot breath in my ear. ‘I need to tell you a secret, first.’
I nods and hold her tightly, for a few seconds longer. ‘OK.’
Pizza Face takes the opposite approach to hanging about and slides down the wall and sits on the pavement in the rain watching us.
Angels whispers, ‘You know when I was under the water, sleeping, and all the church bells were ringing and everybody cheering.’
‘Aye,’ I say, nodding my head in an exaggerated manner and humouring her.
‘Well,’ says Angela, ‘your mum came to see me and she was awful smiley and happy. And she kissed me too, but I didn’t wake up, because she wasn’t a prince, but it was funny, because I could see her and hear whit she was saying.’
I can no longer hold Angela’s weight. I lose my grip and she slides down my duffle and and standing on the pavement, looking up at me. ‘Whit did she say?’
‘She said she loves you, but you’ve got to watch out or you’re getting AIDS’.
‘Whit else?’ I grip her by the wrist, shaking her arm.
Blodger gets to its feet and growls, before slumping down again.
‘Nothing else. That was it.’ Angela frowns and begins to cry as she tries to remember. ‘No that was it.’
Pizza Face sighs and gets to his feet and shuffles towards us. ‘C’mon touts, I’ll carry you?’ he says to Angela, waving her towards him.
Angela shakes her head in a very deliberate way. ‘No, I’m not a baby. I’ll walk.’ Blodger nudges her hand with its nose and she pats it on the head and caresses under its throat. She reaches up and takes her cold hand in mine.
‘AIDS?’ I say, aloud, testing the idea in my mouth. We start walking, not far until we’re home. ‘That’s brilliant. I’ll end up like Superman being able to fly through the air. Or seeing people nudie through their clothes with X-ray vision. Or Spiderman.’ I pretend spray webs from my wrists onto the dull windows of the buildings above him.
‘AIDS?’ says Pizza Face. ‘More likely turn you into fuckin’ Scooby Doo or Thelma.’
Pizza Face, Angela, with Blodger by her side, and me, walking together, taking up most of the pavement as we trudge home and disappear into the blackness of the close mouth, ready to conquer the world.