Jaz can’t find his house keys and hammers on the front door, flipping the letter box with an untimely rat-a-tat-tat, echoing through the close. Karen’s playing funny-buggers, he imagines, and not answering. His attacks become more personal, and he begins kicking the door, shouting her name and what he’s going to do to her unless she answers the door and hurries up about it.
‘Sorry,’ Karen apologises when she opens the door in her polyester pink nightdress, an old pair of shoes on her feet. She holds her hand over her mouth, in a not very convincing yawn. ‘I wiz sleepin’.’
Jaz marches into the hall. Her back is pressed up against the wall, making herself small, letting him past, and trotting behind him. Not sure what he wants or needs. When he gets through to the living room with Angela sleeping sideways across the bed, their bed, he’s annoyed. A muggy unwashed smell, mixed with the faint stink of pee, dilates his nostrils. ‘Put some scran on. Some ham and eggs.’
‘We’ve no ham. Nae eggs.’
He takes a few steps into the cupboard sized space that is her kitchen. The sink is full of dishes and pots rusting like scuttled ships in greasy water. He trails the sole of his shoe back and forth, measuring the stickiness of the floor. The blackness of the empty houses across the way mirrors his mood. He turns to look at her, dallying, half in and half out of the kitchen. ‘Toast then.’
‘We’ve nae bread.’
‘Yah, fuckin’ lazy cow.’ He raises his arm to give her a back-handed slap, but she takes a step backwards.
‘We’ve nae money.’ She took another step back, her eyes on his, and a note of defiance entered her voice, which he didn’t like. ‘You took it all. Never thought to leave a penny.’
‘Fuckin’ cow,’ his voice rises the louder. He follows her retreat into the room and the courage in her face crumples like a children’s den hit by a bin lorry. She stumbles backwards falling onto a corner of the bed. Angela groans but remains asleep.
‘But I get my money the morra.’ Her voice flutes up and down and she holds her hands out in appeasement. She scoops Angela up and lifts her floppy marionette body across the bed. Her daughter’s eyes open and close. Karen kicks off her shoes and she slips her bare legs under the sheets.
Jaz turns away, hangs his coat on the kitchen door, and unzips his denims. He stands peeing into the kitchen sink, washing the pots. A light comes on in one of the houses across the way. Jaz shakes his penis, a few droplets, but he’s getting a semi-hard-on. He tugs his shirt out of his trouser. Karen watches for him breezing through the door. He flings his shirt onto the bed, his skinny torso showing light-yellow bruising on the ribs. He sits on the cover to untie his shoes, her hand wandering across and patting his warm right hip. She is waiting for him, her legs open and the smell of her need hanging in the air like a crayoned note. His cock raises, a flag of convenience, pointing out of his Y-fronts and her hand covers it. Tugs and teases it out of his pants, bringing him crawling towards her. He pinches the strap of her nightie and she smiles and slinks her shoulders, showing her breasts, as she slips it off. She gasps as he enters her. The bed thuds against the plasterwall sweat mixing, skin on skin, her hand on the small of his back, guiding and encouraging as he rides her hard and tries to master that glint in her eyes.
‘Stop hurting my mum,’ squeals Angela. And she’s looking at him with her big eyes. And he slows and his penis begins to shrink and slip out of Karen.
‘It’s OK, pet, he’s just tickin’ me,’ says Karen to Angela. Her hips scoot forward towards him and her bum lifts from the crumpled and wet under-sheet, trying to keep him inside her, but his penis slips away. ‘Just go back to sleep,’ she orders.
Angela studies the burst of colour on her mum’s face, the slick of sweat on her breasts, the top half she’s covering with a sheet as she sits up. Listens to the play of car gunning along the road like a wasp, drifting inside her, deciding, unsure. ‘I’m no’ tired,’ she says, stirs her feet to get up. ‘And I need a drink.’
Her mum tut-tuts. Then her hand darts out and explodes against her ear. She cries out, a small aww sound, is going to say more, but when she looks at Jaz, freezes, tucks herself in and turns her back on them, pulling a bit of cover over her ears.
Karen reaches for his penis, still wet and slippery from her juice.
‘You got a fag,’ he says.
‘Nah, nothin’, but I could make you wan up from whit I’ve got in the ashtrays. That’s whit I usually dae until payday.’
‘Alright,’ he says, taking his flaccid penis in his hand. Looking down at it. Wanking it, until it grows a bit of bone. ‘Give me a bit of head first. Finish me off.’
She did as she’s told. Puts her lips over his shrinking cock, pulls and jerks the foreskin, licks clean the purpling head and wanks him with her mouth and tongue. His cock grows in her mouth and he grabs her hair, jerking her head backwards and forwards, breathing through her nose, until she comes up for air, and thinks she is going to gag. But she’s sure he’s going to come soon and goes at it with a renewed fervour. But his cock shrinks and she knows she’s lost him.
‘You’re nae fuckin’ use,’ he says.
She scoots out from under him, and slips out of the bed. Her eyes are used to the dim light, and she picks her steps and an ashtray from up under and to the side of her bed, searching for half-smoked blackend carcasses of lipstick smudged douts to make into a whole fag again. To keep him sweet. She picks out the most likely candidates, half smoked and discarded. She keeps them in cupped in her left hand as a paltry offering. The sweat on her body has dried and she’s shivering. He’s still playing with himself, picking at his penis. She squeezes her left breast, rubs her nipple and licks her lips, longing to be back in the warmth of the bed. The douts are place carefully on the top of the ashtray for later. He grunts as she takes him once more in her mouth. He keeps hold of the base of his penis, wanking and jerking his cock into her mouth in a renewed frenzy. She tastes pre-cum, when he slaps her on the back of the head.
‘It’s no use,’ he says. ‘Let her do it.’
‘But she’s only wee. She doesn’t know how to do it.’
‘She’s got to learn. Noo is as good a time as any.’
‘Whit if she’s sick?’
‘Then you get her to clean it up.’