Ugly Puggly 26
‘It’ll no take us long if we work as a team,’ Ugly Puggly picked up a ladder from the side of the building. Both aluminium ladders seem much the same. And he dithered about which one was best. Opening it up and standing on the first trestle. Leaning forward as if he was going to fall. I felt like kicking him off.
The playboy and me had trailed outside after him, and follow him back inside and up the stairs. He was edgy. Knew we didn’t want to be part of his team, but he’d bought us off with a couple of cases of lager. He’d cooked a stack of stuff, immense dishes of steaming meats and vegetables. Stacks of pancakes. Various soups, salads and fruit. Every dish he added to my blood pressure and the belief the attic must be worse than I thought.
The playboy was a man of few words when there was work to be done. He was a man of few actions as well. I handed him a pair of Council issue leather gloves and he tried them on. Smirked as if he’d been working for the Council for years and knew the score. He let them drop to the floor, beside the ladder. After answering a message on the phone, he wandered into the bedroom to get a bit of privacy. He shut the door on us.
I stood halfway up the ladder. Ugly Puggly was wearing a head torch and had another hand torch propped up inside the loft. He handed me down the stuff that was nearest the hatch and I carried it the edge of the lobby and pushed open the door of the bathroom and pushed old tins of paint up against the bath, half a fishing rod and a broken deckchair propped up against the lavatory pan. When the floor space filled up like an over spilled yurt, I took a breather.
‘I’ll need tae get the van round,’ I told Ugly Puggy, who crouched with another box in his hands.
‘Where is he always?’ I snorted. ‘Happy as pig-shit wae that phone of his. But he’ll need tae gie me a haun takin this stuff doon the dump.’
‘Don’t worry,’ Ugly Puggly said. ‘I’ll just get mair stuff down and you can load yer van again wae it when you get back.’
‘How many trips dae yeh think? Cause the guys doon the dump are a nightmare. Worse than fuckin Russian border guards checking yer passport and yer vehicle for a stash of Western decadence. They check yer numberplate. Then they check yer van. Then they check you out. Make you wait it out until you pull out a wee ten or twenty quid. The last time I was doon, I said tae him,
“It’s me Jim, yah stupid cunt. I worked wae yeh for two years in the yard.”
And then he said, “Sorry, I didane recognise yeh wae the glasses.”
“I’m no wearing glasses,” I told him.
He waved me on. “Nah, no you, me. I got these glasses oot a skip. Crackers, dead expensive, but I cannae really see anythin wae them on.”’
‘Fuck off, Aldo,’ I said.
The toes of my boot nudged open the bedroom door. Dave’s wan face was lit up by the phone in his lap. He was sitting with his back against the headboard, scrolling. The light on his face moved to his cheeks and faded as he turned his head to look at me.
‘You want to gie me a haun here?’ I asked. ‘I need tae go doon the dump wae some stuff and it’s easier if there’s two of us.’
‘No problem.’ He shut down his phone and brushed down the front of his denims as if they were dusty.
There was too much stuff to get in the back of the van. I left one door open with bits of wood and Gyproc poking out the back. I had to take it easy on the speedbumps and hope the police wouldn’t pull us. Chart music from the eighties was playing on the radio and I kept the speed below thirty. ‘How ur you and Howard gettin on?’
The playboy had a variety of shrugs, which he left open to interpretation. ‘It’s just this song,’ I pointed at the radio and I was laughing as I spoke, ‘Reminded me of the time me and Howard got into a fight o’er a woman.’
He sat up a little straighter. ‘Howard likes women?’
‘Aye, member that film, Robin Hood, Bryan Adam’s warbling that shite: Everything I dae, I dae it for you?’
‘No really,’ he said.
I took a hand off the steering to wave away his misgiving. ‘Och, disnae matter. We were in the Cleddens. And that wisnae really oor pub. And this guy came o’er and says to us, “You pair been eying up my bird?”
‘Well, I hadnae really noticed her tae be honest. But she was a big lassie wae a fringe that wisnae long enough to cover her face. The size of wan of them weather balloons that’d been let oot for the day. But I did the usual backtracking chat. “No pal, I never even noticed her big tits”.
I sniggered, and told the playboy, ‘You know somehow you go to say somethin and something else comes oot?’
He looked out the window at a guy in a canoe as we passed alongside the canal. ‘That doesnae mean he likes woman,’ he said in a rush.
I gripped the wheel. ‘Nah,’ I said. ‘That’s whit I was tryin to tell yeh. But it wisnae me staring at her big tits. It was him.’
‘Doesnae prove anythin,’ he said.
‘No it doesane.’ We got stuck at the traffic lights. ‘But dae yeh love him?’
‘I’m no sure,’ he admitted.
‘Good answer.’ I patted his knee and put the boot down to get us through the lights. An honest answer. ‘Noo, if we see this cunt Aldo, and if yeh see me takin my jacket aff, and he gie’s us any hassle, yeh might need tae back me up.’
I swerved the van around and barrelled over the bridge. An old purple BMW was in front of us. A guy in a bright hi-viz vest taking its details before he let the car into the compound.
I nosed the van up towards the guard, and wound the window down. He raised his head and looked at his clipboard and then glanced at me over the top of his specs. I leaned out the window.
‘Aldo,’ I told him. ‘You can go and fuck yersel!’