The Party ay the Year (Part One)
The sheen ay ma polished dress shoes reflects artificial light fae the street back at me fae the fitwell ay the taxi. Wee chaotic bursts an fragments ay orange an white racin oer the sharp, glossy sheen ay the leather as the taxi weaves in an oot ay the back streets tae get me tae the Masonic Hall where McDade’s twinty-first party’s bein held.
Just under two weeks huv passed since the trip tae the bothy wae McDade an Pearcey, an the incident. Ah’d tried tae keep it under wraps, embarrassed an ashamed as ah um.
Driven intae the murky depths by Bambi’s big brother. A deer - the maist placid, docile fuckin representative example ay an animal conceivable - wis the trigger fur the auld fight or flight response, flight bein the selected option. No that gaun ahead wae the cunt would’ve been any less shameful.
Ah’d decided against telling ma maw, knowin she’d huv went right through me, tellin me whit a stupit prick ah’d been. Ah know that much masel awready. It wis ay little consequence, as Trisha McDade phoned a few days efter we goat back, sayin how lucky it’d been that her Paul hud been there, making sure tae fill her in oan the precise sequence ay events leadin up tae the gallantry.
This didnae surprise me much; tae keep quiet aboot such a thing, as ah’d asked him tae, wis an insurmountable task fur McDade. Nae danger.
It’s no that ah don’t appreciate whit he did fur me - that goes waeout sayin - rather, ah just wish it’d been any cunt but him.
The digital cloack oan the taxi’s dashboard reads 7:56 as it draws up tae the Masonic Lodge. ‘Cheers driver, keep the chainge.’ ah sais, haunin oer a ten poun note.
‘Cheers son. You make sure an enjoy yersel, eh?’ the driver sais tae me, ma lack ay conversation evidently bein read as dourness. He might be oan tae somethin.
The hall’s rammed tae capacity; a maelstrom ay sovereign rings, fake tan, wet perms and chib marks, no necessarily in that order, right enough.
Walkin acroass the room ah’m greeted by the openin bars ay Build me up Buttercup by The Foundations blaring oot fae the DJ’s P.A. system.
‘Daniel. . . Danny! Mere a wee minute son.’ a voice comes fae wan ay the tables that surround the dance flair.
McDade’s maw, Trisha. She’s sittin wae a group ay her pals an evidently well oan her waiy tae roisterin inebriation. Oan the mad wae it scale - where wan is say, huvin a civilised conversation in like minded company; an ten is runnin doon the danceflair wae yer tits oot an yer bra tied in yer hair as some mad, inexplicable bauble - this table’s hittin a solid four.
Her peroxide blonde hair’s scraped back tightly intae a bun. She’s goat piercin bluish white eyes an a boady younger women wid be envious ay but wae aged, sun beaten skin that’s loast the vitality an elasticity ay earlier years. ‘Mere an sit doon a minute Daniel.’ she gestures tae the chair next tae her, patting it fur the avoidance ay doubt. ‘He’s a handsome boiy this yin, eh Mary?’ she sais, lookin tae another ay the wummin at the table.
‘Aw aye, Trish. He’s a looker awright.’ Mary sais.
‘Well you keep yer eyes aff him. This wan’s mine ya nauld tart, ye!’ the wummin erupt in a fit ay cackles wae the exception ay Mary, who flushes in embarrassment. ‘Right, ah’m gaun tae get a round in!’ she sais, grabbin the kitty aff the table an stormin away.
Ah feel a certain empathy wae Mary an ah’m squirmin in ma seat, ma eyes dartin aboot the darkened expanse ay the hall lookin fur a familiar face, some cunt - ANY CUNT - ah kin latch oan tae. ‘How ur you Mrs. McDade? How’s Ronnie gettin oan?’ ah sais, steerin the conversation away fae me.
‘Please Danny, it’s Trisha. . . you know that.’ she sais, starin at me intently. ‘Ah don’t know where he is. Probably proppin up the bar, fuckin waste ay space that he is. Never mind that miserable bastart. How ur you efter yer wee fright?’ she sais, placin her haun oan ma leg, lettin it remain there fur just a bit longer than is comfortable.
‘Eh, aye. Fine noo. Bloody stupit really. Ah mean, imagine runnin right intae the watter like that. Mental!’ ah sais, recognisin the pathetic nature ay the statement.
‘Ye see, Danny hud a bit ay a scare there the other week.’ she sais, addressin the rest ay the wummin at the table. ‘He fell in the watter an ma Paul hud tae rescue him, int that right Danny?’ she sais, lookin tae me fur confirmation.
‘Aye, that’s right. McDade. . . ah mean, Paul, pult me oot. Don’t know whit ah’d huv done if he hudnae been there.’ ah reluctantly concede.
‘How’d ye faw in the watter son? Where ye oan a boat or somehin?’ wan ay the wummin asks.
‘Naw. . . ah. . . eh. . .’ ah attempt tae explain.
‘He wis gettin chased.’ Trisha sais. ‘Win’t ye gettin chased Danny?’
‘Eh, aye. Ah wis gettin chased.’ ah sais, tryin tae gie it the casually unperturbed vibe. This is exactly the type ay conversation ah feared ah’d huv tae endure the night; the kind that pores oer every minute detail, cementing ma place as the prized fuckin wanker ay the piece whilst simultaneously ensurin McDade’s lauded as some sort ay ned action man. ‘Who wis chasin ye son? the same wummin enquires.
‘A reindeer it wis, Michelle, win’t it Danny? A big bastarn thing tae.’ Trisha answers.
‘A reindeer?’ Michelle replies, astonished. ‘Who set it oan ye? Santa Claus?’ The table erupts again intae riotous laughter an ma baws shrivel up intae the wee raisins they deserve tae be.
‘Naw. It wisnae a reindeer. It wis a deer. A red deer ah think, a stag though. A huge fuckin thing wae antlers an that, an it charged me. Ah goat a fright, know whit ah mean? It wis comin right at me.’ ah sais, painfully aware ma status as a complete fuckin clown is further assured wae each additional sentence ah append in the desperate an futile attempt tae retain some dignity.
‘Never you mind them son, ah’d like tae see any ay them wae a big bloody reindeer chasin them.’ Trisha sais, starin intae ma eyes, ostensibly tae ease ma discomfort but makin me feel mare anxious still, as she places her haun oan ma leg again, squeezing it, in dangerous proximity tae ma baws.
‘PAUL!’ ah blurt oot, staunin up. ‘Ah’ve goat his caird here. It’s his birthday efter aw. Ah cannae sit here bletherin aw night, much as ah’d like tae.’ ah sais. ‘Ah think ah see him oer there actually, ah better go an gie him this. See ye later.’
‘Don’t you disappear noo, ye hear? Ye’ve tae get me up fur a dance later!’ Trisha shouts efter me. Nae fuckin danger man, the wummin’s sex mad. Ah allow masel a wry smile as ah consider whit McDade would make ay it. ‘Danny boy, how’s it gaun wee man? Whit ye drinkin?’ a voice comes fae the bar.
Through the jostlin crowd, vyin fur the attention ay the overworked barmaid is McDade’s cousin, Johnny Scanlon and his mate, Stevie McShane. ‘Fuckin hell big man, how ye doin man? Ah’ll take a lager please mate.’ ah sais, as happy as ah’ve ever been tae see the cunt, McDade’s maw still seared in ma mind.
‘Bran new ma man. Ye know ma mate Stevie, dain’t ye?’ Scanlon sais noddin tae McShane, who raises his gless in recognition.
We manoeuvre through the crowd findin a wee ledge at the edge ay the room. ‘That’s better man. Been chokin fur that aw day.’ ah sais, efter takin a large moothfae ay the cauld lager, feelin at ease fur the first time since ah goat here, an in good company. ‘Where the fuck’s yer cousin anywaiy? Ah’ve been walkin aboot wae this caird fae ah goat here.’ ah sais.
‘Take a look oer there.’ Scanlon sais, noddin tae the dance flair.
Oot oan the strobe light spattered, worn varnished parquet ay the dance flair, there in the middle ay the hall, is a lone figure; loast in the music, he rhythmically moves tae the beat, which is bein provided by Donna Summer wae I Feel Love.
Ah take another stank ay the lager, watchin the silhouetted frame ay a boady, that’s so entranced by, an subservient tae, the pulsin bass drum ay the track. ‘GAUN YERSEL MA MAN!’ ah shout tae the cunt. ‘Gien it fuckin laldy in’t he? Who is it?’ ah sais.
‘That’s the birthday boay. He’s mad wae the ectos.’ Scanlon sais.
‘No fuckin danger man! He’s aff his tits! How many’s he hud?’ ah sais, pissin masel.
‘A fuckin few ah’d say, judgin by the nick ay him.’ McShane sais.
Wae the three ay us starin at the dance flair, the song fades oot an the main lights come oan. ‘HEY HEY, LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE’S HAVIN A GOOD TIME OUT THERE! TRY AN SAVE SOME ENERGY FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT BIG GUY, EH? HA HA! THE BUFFET IS NOW OPEN GUYS AN GALS. I’LL BE BACK WITH SOME MORE PARTY HITS IN FIVE WEE MINUTES!’ the DJ announces in a mid-atlantic drawl ay his ain fabrication as McDade stoats taewards us, drenched in sweat, wae a chemically enhanced grin oan his dish. ‘Whit’s happenin troops?’ he sais, puttin an airm roon me an Scanlon.
‘Many ay them huv ye hud?’ McShane sais tae him ‘Ah fuckin telt ye tae watch whit ye were dain wae them.’
‘It’s sound Stevie. Bran new. Sound man.’ McDade sais.
‘Ah fuckin telt him they were mad double dipped, mental wans.’ McShane sais tae Scanlon, who shrugs his shoulders in indifference.
McDade leans in an whispers in ma ear ‘Danny, how dae ah look? Be honest, dae ye think any cunt will know ah’m oan the eccies?’
‘Eh, naw mate. Ye look bran new. . .’ ah lie, ‘. . . just make sure an drink plenty watter, eh?’ ah sais, puttin ma airm roon him, gien him his card. ‘Happy birthday ya mad cunt, ye.’ Ah try tae hide ma revulsion as ah pat his soakin, sweat drenched heid, an wipe ma haun oan ma troosers.
‘Here! Did he tell ye ah’m a hero? Jumped in the watter an pult him oot.’ McDade blurts oot.
‘When wis that, five minutes ago? Cos ye look like ye’ve just crawled oot the Clyde.’ Scanlon sais, laughin an wipin sweat fae McDade’s brow, flickin the perspiration aff his haun in mock outrage. McShane chimes in an ye kin tell he’s in fur a poundin. ‘Same again is it? Ah’ll get them in.’ ah sais, leavin McDade tae suffer the verbal onslaught he’s ill-equipped fur.
The urinal is a waw ay stainless steel, sheet metal that draps doon tae a wee gutter oan the flair wae a step in front, runnin the length ay it. The room is fuckin baltic an steam fae ma breath as well as the jet ay pish ah’m firin aw oer the urinal’s surface rises like dry ice. The metal waw bevels ootwards, flickin pish taewards me just as the door crashes aff the waw as Pearcey enters, disappearin straight intae a cubicle.
He’s been actin weird, the wee cunt. No been aboot much. His granny an the cancer an that must be takin its toll oan him. ‘You no talkin tae me or somethin?’ ah sais tae him, through the door.
‘Is that you Danny? Ah’ll be oot in a minute mate.’
‘Ye awright man, ah’ve no seen ye aw night?’ ah sais, but there’s nae answer.