Death Becomes Him - Part 4
Ah bow tae the temptation ae firin oan the laptop again. Ah need tae git massel a clearer understandin ae ma prognosis. Tae say that ah’m fucked is a huge understatement considerin the opinion ae the internet. Yin hing aboot the power ae technology is it doesnae sugar coat fuck aw and it tells yae how it is. Thirty-two years auld and ah’m gittin a chap oan the door by the angel ae death and there’s still sae much ah want tae dae. A bucket list that consists ae shaggin every prosi that the dams rid light district kin offer. A roadtrip doon route 66. And also, tae take a dump in the centre ae the Tynecastle pitch. The strength ae panic ah kin feel is like bein repeatedly knifed. Ma thoats might be paranoid but that doesnae mean suttin isnae oot tae git me. And the thoat ae livin is startin tae slowly kill me. In a last-ditch attempt tae keep ma mind oan an even keel ah dial up a few people but naecunt is answerin or they jist dinnae want tae ken. Even tried tae reach oot tae a few faces fae the past but none ae thum seemed willin tae furget ma past indiscretions. Cos they aw slammed the phone doon yince they heard ma voice. Clearly some bridges jist cannae be mended.
Bruce is busy snorin awey tae himself and is probably dreamin ae us oan some golden beach playin catch. Ah shovel him up in ma airms and take him through tae the bedroom and rest him oan ma bed. He gits spooked easy if he wakes up and doesnae find me lyin nixt tae him. And wae him oaff tae dreamland ah decide ah walk aroond the bloack is what ah need right noo. Especially since its jist turned midnight. The streets will be peaceful.
Crawlin the streets at this time ae night sends oot a clear-cut message that yur loast, lonely, or frightened. Sadly, there’s nae three better words in the English dictionary tae capture ma present mood. The street is quiet, and the road is tame. Before too long ah find massel in Dougie’s neck ae the wids, Brunton Street. Ah’ve travelled further than ah actually wis prepared fur and wae the cauld air snappin at my heels. This feels the right time tae find sanctuary in a place wae four wahs and a roof. People alweys bang oan aboot how we’re treated tae the four seasons aw in yin day in Scotland. And ah alweys thoat that wis bullshit until theday. A shoart while later ah find massel sittin in a dark room. There’s some comfort tae be foond sittin alain in the pitch black. Opportunities tae recharge ma batteries huv been scarce. And noo ah huv a fancy new companion cawed Johnnie Walker tae help me furget aw ae life’s aches and pains. But maire tae the point, ma ain imminent death. Ah’m no normally a whiskey drinker, eh? Oan accoont the stuff normally makes me feel far too emotional. But this is a decent dram, and it feels as if the strong and sharp flavours huv awoken ma taste buds. Jist as ah’ve poured massel another drink and knoacked it back the kitchen door creeks slowly open and in enters a semi-conscious, Dougie. He’s modellin a retro Hibs toap and matchin light green jammy boattoms. The fanny is still oblivious tae the fact ma eyes are currently cemented oan him as he stammers along tae the fridge. He opens it and then prcoceeds tae gulp doon a moothful ae milk right fae the carton. He then places the boattle back inside the fridge before littin oot a pathetic, tired yawn. At this point ah reach behind me and ah flick the light switch.
‘’Dougie’’ ah say, softly.
Words that send him abruptly hurlin back in shock. And he looks jist aboot ready tae hae a hert attack wae the wey he clutches at his chist.
‘’Aldo’’ he gasps, glowerin directly at me. ‘’What the fuck? Yae coulda killed me, ya daft cunt!’’
‘’Ah’m dyin, Dougie’’ ah tell him, almost at a whisper.
‘’But what the fuck are yae even dain here? Justine could huv walked in’’
‘’Did yae no fuckin hear me? ah said ah’m dyin.’’
He limps taewards the dinin table where ah’m seated. Still lookin tired and drowsy. At this moment he appears maire awake, and it wid seem his curiosity hus went intae overdrive.
‘’How did yae even git in here?’’ he asks. ‘’Ah ken fur a fact she loacks this place up tighter than Foart Knoax’’
‘’Remember’’ ah tell him ‘’A couple ae weeks back doon at the Carousel? She phoned yae aboot the spare set?’’
‘’Aye. That rings a bell, actually’’
Appearin bewildered. He pulls up a seat oapposite me.
‘’Well, ah heard yae tellin her it’s under the tall orange gairden gnome in the back. What huv ah been tellin yae fur donks, Dougie? Anyboady could be listienin intae yur conversations. They could easily come in here and help thumselves tae yur stuff’’
‘’Someboady did, ya radge bastard? You did!’’ he sais, signallin tae the ever decreasin boattle ae whiskey. Ah casually pour massel a toap up.
‘’Ah tell yae ah’m aboot tae snuff it and aw you’re concerned aboot is yur fuckin hoosehold security?’’
‘’What are you bangin oan aboot, fur fuck sake?’’ he motions dismissively wae his hands.
‘’Ken suttin, Aldo? You really do need tae lay oaff the gear, eh?’’
‘’Ah’m no coked up, smarts arse. Ah’ve goat fuckin bowel cancer. A silent killer’’ ah inform him as ah mumble through another moothful ae whiskey.
‘’What the fuck dae yae mean, bowel cancer?’’ he gushes, flabbergasted. ‘’How dae yae ken you’ve goat that?’’
‘’Ah read it in ma fuckin tea leaves’’ ah scowl. ‘’Who dae yae hink telt me, eh? the fuckin doactur. Science, a scientific fact! cunts yae cannae argue wae.’’
Dougie stares at me withoot blinkin ‘’Aldo, ah dinnae ken what tae say. Ah’m sorry, mate’’
‘’Ah dinnae want yur sympathies’’ ah tell him, whilst pushin back oan ma chair ‘’Ya unsympathetic little prick’’
‘’So, what dae yae want, then?’’
‘’Ah need tae git hings in order fur when ah’m gone. Needless tae say Bruce doesnae ken anyhing aboot it yit. And that’s why me, you and Craigy need tae sit doon and huv a serious conversation aboot what happens when ah’m gone’’
‘’Of course, mate. Anyhin fur mate. Jist you tell me what yae need? Yae ken, mate…’’ he continues ‘’Me and Justine wid love tae take Bruce in. Ken, when the worst happens, that is’’
Ah stare straight throw him ‘’We’ll talk aboot aw that themorra. Ma flat, eh? be there. Twelve o’cloack.’’
He nods approvingly ‘’Dinnae ken aboot Craigy, though, eh? He’s jist goat yaist tae walkin again’’
‘’Ah dinnae care if he needs a golden retriever and a fuckin stick. He better be there’’
When ah go tae pour another stiff drink. Fae the corner ae ma eye ah kin see Dougie is itchin tae say suttin but at the same time seems unwillin tae speak his mind.
‘’Yae never seen a deid man walkin before, eh?’’
‘’It’s no that, mate’’ he says ‘’It’s jist that’s a four hunner quid boattle ae whiskey sittin there. She broat that back fae New York, eh?’’
‘’Ah didnae jist hear that, Dougie?’’
‘’Aye’’ he says, nervously ‘’Yur right, mate. Furget ah said anyhing’’
‘’Fuck that!’’ ah scream, risin tae ma feet. Before raisin ma glass in the air ‘’Fancy joinin me fur yin. Before ah go, likes?’
‘’Aye’’ he says ‘’Ah hink ah will’’
Dougie then stands up and makes his wey tae the cupboard near the lime green microwave and produces another gless. In his tiresome nick he makes his wey tae the freezer and grabs a bag ae ice cubes and then heids back oor tae the table and plants it doon.
‘’You wantin any Ice n aw, Aldo?’’
Ah noad ma heid and stick ma gless oot tae him.
He droaps a couple ae icebergs intae ma tumbler. He then re-claims his seat and pours himsel a gless. Dippin his hand intae the bag and plonks a couple maire intae his drink. Until he decides tae fianally take the plunge.
‘’So, huv the cunts said how long you’ve goat? Weeks? Months? Years?’’
‘’Wae aw that medical mumbo jumbo, they speak in’’ ah tell him ‘’Wae the fuck kens, eh? Ah guess they’ll need tae wait fur the test results tae come back’’
‘’Wait a fuckin minute, mate’’ he says, excitedly ‘’Yur tellin me you’ve no even hud yur test results in yit?’’
‘’Ma stomach’s been fucked fur months’’ Ah explain ‘’The doac said nine times oot ae ten everyhing comes back fine. But there’s alweys that yin time, Dougie. Alweys.’’.
‘’But that doesnae mean anyhing, mate. Could be any number ae hings’’
Ah sit up straight and wipe awey ma tears and blow ma nose yaisin a cream cardigan laid oot neatly oan the table ‘’Aye, mibbie yur right, mate’’
‘’That’s Justine’s, Aldo.’’ Dougie states, pointin at the cardigan and nearly chokin oan his drink. ‘’Egyptian cotton, yae ken how much that’s worth?’’
‘’Egyptian cotton?’’ ah ponder. ‘’Makes sense, that. It wis rather easy oan the nose. Anywey, Dougie. Hink it’s time that ah leave yae in peace’’
As ah stand up ma legs wobble ever sae slightly. And as a result, ah hesitate tae make any sudden movements. Steadin massel ah make a move tae leave and jist as ah git tae the kitchen entrance Dougie caws oot efter me.
‘’Aldo, mate. Kin ah hae the key back, please?’’
Ah swurl back aroond and clumsily throw the keys oan the table. Ready tae make ma wey back haime.
Walkin aboot ootside in the cauld air again hus encouraged the feelin ae bein plastered. Stumblin intae lampposts and no bein able tae focus oan what’s directly in front ae me proved a challenge, tae say the least. In spite ae the many hazards that ah encoontered ah’m miraculously standin ootside ma flat in yin piece. Efter droappin the keys oan maire than yin occasion ah somehow managed tae steady ma hands and eyesight long enough tae pit the hing in the hole. Efter which ah wis able tae slowly creep inside. Fawin through the door entrance ma attempts at an SAS style entry huv proved futile and worse still, eh? Bruce is sittn waitin fur me.
‘’Bruce, ah love yae’’ ah annoonce, wae ma airms wide open.
He kens that ah’m hammered and it’s the drink talkin but never huv truer words ever passed fae ma lips. Nevertheless, drunk as ah um, he gawps up at me wae unconditional love and gees an expression that says the feelin is maire than mutual. And we baith dive intae a starin contest.
‘’Brucie’’ ah yelp, collapsin tae ma knees. ‘’Ah cannae wear this mask any longer, ah’m dyin son’’
His boady freezes up and his eyes fill wae water. Then his boattom lip starts tae tremble. He lits oot an exaggerated whimper and turns awey. Makin a dash fur the spare room. Leavin me tae face the realisation that ah’ve jist crushed the only pure hing in ma life.
Been up aw night, eh? Worryin aboot the mental trauma ah’ve inflicted oan the wee man. Ah kent he couldnae handle the truth and he husnae disappointed. He’s still hidenin awey in the room and despite ma pleas fur furgivness and optimistic assurances that hings will be awrite. He remains stubborn and clearly wants nuttin maire tae dae wae me. No even been afforded the luxury ae a wink ae sleep cos ah’ve been busy askin massel a series ae questions that ah cannae quite answer. Dinnae even ken what time it is cos the blinds are closed and the entire night hus been nuttin but a hazy memory. Ma guts are still fucked, eh? been back to and fae the toilet aw night.
An annoyin loud knoack oan the front door kin be heard echoin through the hallwey. When ah stand up tae go and answer it ma ear drums are rattled again wae that same nippy bangin. Oddly, by the time ah git sight ae the hing Bruce isnae waitin eagerly tae greet whoever’s oan the other side. Ah pull it open only tae find Dougie and Craig are the yins clutterin up the landin.
‘’What dae you’s two want?’’
The pair ae thum look at me puzzled and unconfident.
‘’You telt us tae be here fur twelve o’cloack?’’ Dougie flings back in a hushed tone.
‘’Oh, aye, so ah did. Well, c’moan in then, eh?’’ ah tell them, while wavin thum baith inside.
Craigy brushes past me in the doorwey. Ah notice straight awey he’s still cairyin a bit ae a limp efter that hidin he goat fae Mikey Hood and his heavies. But he’s clearly oan the mend and his puss hus healed up as well as kin be expected. He’s sportin a predictable black French connection tracksuit and white trainers. Fae a certain angle he resembles a domino. And the only hing visible in this darkened oot hallwey is his carrot toap heid. Dougie, oan the other hand, hus chosen a grey and navy jumper and black jeans which makes him reflect a model oot ae the Next catalogue. Or should ah say this is what Justine hus decided tae dress her dolly up in theday.
Ah trail behind thum intae the livin room. And right awey Dougie hits the light switch oan. Which consequently pits intae focus what ah shite hole the flat hus turned intae in the last twinty four hours. No, that ah really gee a fuck, though. Cos obviously ah’ve goat bigger hings tae worry aboot than a tidy up. Ah sit doon, slumpin intae the yin seater. They baith are lookin stunned as they survey the mess. Until Dougie chooses tae jump aboot ma heid while ah’m face doon in a mountain ae shite.
‘’Aldo, what the fucks happened? The place is a dump, mate. And you look terrible. A loat worse than last night. You’re no even dressed yit’
‘’Well, mibbie this news didnae reach yae livin aw the wey oot there oan easy street. But ah’m a fuckin coprse, ya selfish cunt.’’
‘’Again, wae the dyin hing? It’s aw in yur heid’’
Craigy inserts himself intae the conversation tae by conveyin his condolences ‘’Cancers a kick n the baws, man’’
‘’That’s pittin it fuckin mildly’’ ah tell him.
Dougie directs a dirty look in his direction ‘’He’s no goat cancer’’
‘’Jist sit the fuck doon, the pair ae yaise’’ ah instruct thum, pointin tae the couch.
They baith plonk doon oan the sofa. But then Craigy suddenly rises tae his feet and wanders oor tae the blinds and opens thum up. The light shines through and leaves me feelin as if ah’m a vampire fae the fuckin lost boays.
‘’That’s better’’ he announces. It’s wis like a coffin in here’’.
At this point ah’m sittin wae ma hands in ma puss. Ma soul utterly destroyed. Until ah finally process the significance ae his words.
‘’What did you jist say?’’ ah ask him, wae murder in ma eyes.
Craigy scratches his heid, tensely ‘’Ah dunno, likes…That’s better?
‘’It’s like a coffin in here? it’s jist an expression, man’’
‘’A loat ae words fur a fuckin expression’’
Then, a news bulletin suddenly flashes oaff in ma mind. ‘’Your mum is a cleaner at Leith Surgery, right?
‘’Aye, she is’’ replies Craigy
‘’Well, mibbie you ken suttin ah dinnae?’’
‘’Aldo, he didnae mean anyhing by it. Yur fuckin paranoid, mate’’ Dougie says.
Too late though, eh? cos in a hertbeat ah’ve grabbed Craigy by the scruff ae the neck and goat ma sledgehammer clenched and ready tae land. He scrunches his puss up in anticipation ae the punch and ah roar in his face ’Who you been talkin tae!?’’
‘’Naecunt, honest, Aldo!’’ begs Craigy.
Before the hammer kin come doon, a desperate Dougie yelps ‘’Aldo, it’ll be murder, eh? he’s still goat that shunt in his heid’’
This warnin snaps me oot ma paranoid driven frenzy. And ah soon slump back doon in ma seat. Resemblin a man ready tae be sectioned at the Royal Ed.
‘’Ah’m sorry, mate’’ ah sob. ‘’Fuckin been losin it big time, lately’’
‘’It’s awrite’’ Craigy says, still lookin rattled.
Ah straigten up in ma seat ‘’Ah’m dyin, man. And noo Bruce ken’s and he’s in a deep depression’’
‘’You telt him you’ve goat cancer?’’ asks a shocked Dougie.
‘’Like ah hud a choice, eh? He saw straight through ma act. That fuckin twin telepathy?’’
‘’Where is he?’’
‘’In the spare room. Been in there since last night. He’ll no come oot’’
Craigy hus a chuckle tae himself ‘’Bruce kin git oaffy emotional’’
‘’He wears his hert oan his sleeve’’ ah utter in a soft voice. Before crackin up the volume ‘’There’s nuttin wrong wae that!’’