‘What’s this?’ Molly asked.
Before Spaghettio had time to answer the phone rung, which was unusual, but not unknown as they were ‘courting’ as Molly’s mum, Nellie, liked to call it in a public phone box that had a broken window that let in the rain, but still smelled of pee, half the phone book torn and the other half missing so the numbers from Reilly to Zebedee were available. His best mate Rab was a wee guy who acted big, with a hooked nose and plukey skin, and who’d got him the job valeting put it more bluntly, he was trying to get his hole.
Spaghettio had know Rab forever, when he was just plain Alan Spence, but because he was pink faced and incredibly thin and was able to bend his fingers right back was known at Dalmuir Primary school as Spaghettio
That’s where the ring came in. It was gold and it looked like a real diamond. Spaghettio didn’t mean to propose, he hadn’t had much luck. They’d kissed for hours every night, and he’d got no further than him standing on tiptoes, his fingers on the edge of her bra strap. Bumping against her and bouncing back. Molly was a big girl and wore double denim like an armadillo, jacket and skirt, with a tight white blouse, she’d easily held him off.
They only used the phone box when it was raining and nobody much was waiting with a stack of ten pences. Usually they went behind the garages and smooched. He didn’t have any luck there either.
Molly pushed him away as she picked up the receiver and answered the phone. ‘Hallo, who’s that?’
Ginger ringlets swished as she nodded her head and tutted. She smelled nice. Her hair and big tits were the best part of her. Rab said she was a fat dog, only good for one thing, but that was only because he was jealous. Spaghettio liked her a bit, but he didn’t mean to propose, but he had the ring and wasn’t sure what to do with it.
Molly put the receiver down with a clunk.
Spaghettio licked his lips. ‘Who was that?’
‘Wrong number,’ Molly replied. ‘He was getting a bit cheeky, so I hung up.’
The phone began to ring again. She ignored it, in the same way she ignored his wandering hands, the ring was on her finger and she twirled the gold band back and forward to get a better look at the diamond.
He’d found it in the front seat of a Jag, under the metal runner, wedged in beside the carpet he was hoovering. When he’d first started the job, he’d carefully picked out pound notes and even tenners and handed them into the office. Rab soon put him right, called him a stupid, fuck-faced mongo. He’d put it more crudely than that, of course. Old Vellors pocketed the cash. Finders keepers.
Spaghettio soon caught on. All the boys done it. Their haul included an impressive collection of porn mags, which they left in the bothy they shared with the mechanics. One of the boys was sacked for stealing a set of golf clubs from the boot of a car, but that was just plain fucking stupidity, said Rab. Just take the things that nobody will ever miss and they were all rich cunts, anyway. So the odd pound or two, or even bit of hash or coke would never be missed. Wages were shite and so it was their due. A kind of tip to show their services were appreciated. Old Vellors didn’t care because he was getting weighed in and he was screwing the secretary.
When Spaghettio showed Rab the ring his mate sneered, ‘I think you got that out of a Lucky Bag. Cheap shite. Paste and glass.’
Spaghettio stuck it on his pocket. Then later on he’d put the ring in the top pocket of his denim jacket. He’d had another look at the ring, when he walked home, taking a circular route from the garage up past the golf course, as if someone was going to start following him. He’d put the ring in his mouth and ground down on the glass with his back molars. It didn’t budge or taste of anything, which made him feel a bit stupid. He was no expert on what a diamond should taste like. Anyway, he was starving and his dinner would be on. He hurried home, forgetting about the ring until the thought sneaked into his head that maybe if she showed it to Molly she would lighten up and let him feel her up.
Molly picked up the receiver and slammed it down again. ‘It’s beautiful,’ she smiled and was almost pretty. ‘It must have taken you months and months and years and years to save up for something as gorgeous as this.’
Maths was never Molly’s strong point at school. Spagehettio had only been working as a valeter for about three weeks. They’d met again at the disco in the guild hall. Spaghettio had wanted to dance with Molly’s pal, who was big-time fanciable and definitely shagable, but he was too scared and not drunk enough, so he danced with Molly instead. Ever since then she’d latched onto him and now they were an item. Now they were engaged.
‘Where’s the box?’ Molly asked.
Spaghettio looked at her slightly squint left eye and then at his sannies. ‘The box?’ he asked. It was his turn to feel stupid.
‘The box where you keep the ring, when you bought it.’ She spoke in a kind of huff of disapproval. ‘If I’m going to show it to my mum and tell her we’re engaged, I’ll need to put it in its box. I can’t just wear it around town. It wouldn’t be right and proper, would it?’
‘Nah, don’t suppose.’
An old guy was walking down the hill towards the phone box, the palm of his hand holding his tartan bunnet. He slowed at the huts, stopped, and peered in at them through the grime.
Spaghettio pushed at the door with his back and stepped out into the splash of rain. ‘Sorry,’ he mumbled to the old guy.
Molly stepped out of the phone box as if she was expecting courtiers to fling down cloaks to cover puddles. ‘I think it was engaged,’ she remarked, crooking her hand, holding out her ring finger.
The old guy stared at her as if she was daft and carefully stepped around her and into the shelter of the phone box.