uncovering oneself (5)
With money in my pocket I walked quickly to the Atantis bar. Sammy Small Talk was perched in his usual seat at the bar, a half pint of lager in front of him and a face that looked as if someone had pished in the glass. He perked up a bit when he saw me. ‘How’s it gaun kid? he said.
Cammy the barman wandered away from the till and round to a leaning berth, near the door. A fistful of smokers wandered in and out bringing the smell of rolled tobacco with them.
‘I’m just dropping aff some money I owed to those batardin’ Curlies,’ I said. ‘I’m no’ stopping cause I’m a drunk.’ I fished the money out of my jean’s pocket and counted £150 in notes onto the bar. ‘Just let them know that’s us quits.’
Cammy shoved the money back at me, his moon-face leering at me. ‘Let them know yourself. They’re upstairs.’ He waited to see what I’d do. ‘I scooped the money up and stuck it back in my pocket. ‘Whit you wantin’ to drink?’
‘Fuck you,' I said. ‘Give me a double voddy. And a double whisky for my man.’ I slammed Sammy on the back, making him cough and splutter like an outboard motor that wouldn’t start.
I necked the drink in one go, noticing dirt under my fingernails I’d never be able to shift. ‘Another,’ I shouted, banging the glass down on the bar.
Cammy smirked. Unimpressed.
Jammie Curlie's hard features seemed to be forming in front of me. I’d taken an E. A warm feeling like I was going to do a shit, but didn’t care, made me feel all glowy. ‘I love you man,’ I said to Jammie, before the bass beat kicked in from the jukebox and I was off. Music was reverberating in my chest, bouncing off the inside of my head and even if the three Curly brothers had sat on me and tied my arms and legs together they couldn’t have kept me from dancing. Music was outside but inside me. Punters came from downstairs to watch me dance. The Curly brothers fed fifty pences into the Jukebox and grinned at each other.
We were the last to leave. Carol was brought from behind the bar and bent over it, tits out, long sleeved shirts and ugly suits slashed open, her bum shimmering like ice cream as they took turns shagging her.
‘You want a shot?’ Henry asked me, before zipping up.
‘Nah, I’m good,’ I replied, into my glass.
I sat at the bar thinking you can’t be doing this. Well, you might as well have one more drink before you go, a little double voddy to help you sleep. I kept thinking I’ll leave after the next drink.
The only effective hangover cure I knew was to get drunk again. Not stinking drunk, mellow drunk enough so that your head felt part of your body. I searched our house for hidden booze.
Our bedroom was in a putrid half-light from the lamppost outside. I slipped into the living room. It didn’t seem right sleeping in the bed without Jane. I dossed down on the couch. The air was fetid. It stunk of fag smoke and unwashed bodies. But it was too cold to open a window. Overflowing cans and bottles stalked my feet. The filth didn’t really bother me. I lay back and pulled my coat around me and lit a fag, which gave me heat, a cleansing perfume and a feeling that messing up again wasn’t the point. I got up and floated down the hall, banging into the walls and into the bathroom.
I tried to think rationally - a hot bath, but with no electricity and little likelihood of putting money in the leccy meter, hiding under the covers seemed the more sensible option. My eyelashes were filled with a green-eyed super grit that stuck my eyes partially shut. A tourniquet banded my chest; kidneys on a different time zone; cramps in my bladder and when I checked the lavvy pan, my diarrhoea was blood red. Squinting at my reflection in the grime of the bathroom mirror I looked pale and interesting as a corpse. I longed to be somebody else, someone like me, only healthy and full of vitamin C. The worst part were the tears and feeling sorry for myself. I vomited into the sink and felt better. I felt the hot guilty wash of tears and watched them splashing onto the mismatched scraps of brightly coloured linoleum. My phone began to play the opening beats of Crazy and I dashed through to the living room to pick it up.
‘Who’s this?’ I asked.
‘You don’t want to find out,’ was the curt reply. ‘Stop making waves and looking for Jane or we’ll come and get you. We’ll cut off your arms and legs. Watch you crawl around the floor. Then we’ll really hurt you. Got it?’
I should have been frightened -that came later- but I became all mannerly and well spoken. ‘Can you put Jane on the phone so that I can speak to her please? Just for a second. That would be nice.’
My phone went dead. I checked the number. Unlisted.