Monday, January 02, 2012

big bird

There are three distinct voices coming through the battered black door of the flat. Rae’s modulated appeals; a drunken wail, and a loud, male monotone. We go in and find Rae standing with a middle-aged woman behind a sofa. Rae has her gloved hand on the woman’s arm to hold her upright, whilst the woman – her thick grey hair flattened with blood across one side of her head – furiously points and waves with her hands, almost pitching herself back down on the floor again. The object of both their attention is a thin young man in his twenties, pacing about the room. He has an extravagant mass of curly black hair and as he walks he jabs forwards with the blade of his nose. In his fake fur jacket, scarlet V-neck and drainpipe jeans, he could be a giant, exotic bird scavenging for food. And as he walks, he talks, lurching from affection to spite.
‘You know I love you like my own mother. You know I’d do anything in the world for you, Mary. Anything. You name it, I’ll do it. You know that.’
‘I want you out!’ she says. ‘Get out!’
‘Don’t worry about a thing,’ he carries on. ‘I’ll lock up. I’ll switch off the lights, take care of everything. I’ll even wash up. You don’t have to worry about a thing. I’ll set everything right. Then I’ll come and visit you in the hospital.’
‘Out! Out! I want him out!’
‘Though God knows why I bother, the shit you give me. Nobody else would. Nobody does. You’ll die here alone and no-one will care.’
Frank tries to guide the man out of the flat.
‘You’re not helping, are you? If you really care about Mary you’ll let us get on and treat her. Yeah? Okay – so just get your coat and give us some space.’
‘Don’t you come near me,’ says the man. Beneath the floppy fringe of his hair his eyes are tightly closed, and for a second in the smoky light of the flat it almost seems as if the skin has healed across them. He turns his beak from side to side, sensing the emotional currents in the air. ‘I’m not going until I’ve got all my things,’ he says. ‘I’ve got my dog in the next room. I’m not leaving him here. He’s six months old, a Staffordshire blue if you want to know. I’m not leaving him here all by himself. She wouldn’t look after it.’
‘Okay – so get your dog and go like Mary says. She’s perfectly entitled to ask you to leave, and I think you should respect that.’
‘And I’m not going without my vodka.’
‘That’s my vodka!’ screams Mary. ‘I bought that – for me – with my money.’
‘No. You’re wrong about that. I bought that vodka and I’m not leaving here without it.’
‘Mate – seriously. Just come back another time for the vodka. Mary needs to come to hospital to get her head treated, and you’re just getting in the way.’
‘That’s my vodka. I spent thirty quid on it. A reputable brand. I’m not wasting thirty quid’s worth of vodka on a deadbeat like her. You might as well pour it down the drain. Look at her.’
‘Get out!’ screams Mary.
‘He’s been dreadful,’ says Rae. ‘He picked up the phone, called her son and told him she was dead.’
The man has his eyes firmly closed, but he lifts his head and sniffs the air in Rae’s direction.
‘I hope all your children are still born,’ he says. ‘I hope you get cancer.’
‘Lovely. Thanks for that.’
‘That’s it. Out you go mate,’ says Frank.
But he’ll have to physically grab Joe and throw him out, and even Frank hesitates. I call Control and ask for police back-up.
The man stands there for a second or two more, then grabs a harness off the back of the door.
‘Fine. I love you, Mary. I love you like a son. You’re the mother I never had. So don’t worry about a thing. I’ll make sure the flat’s safe. I’ll lock up for you and keep it nice.’
‘Get out! Get out!’
He opens the bathroom door and a shy little staffy comes out, flicking its eyes around the scene, keeping its head low. The man slips the harness over the dog and stands ready to go.
‘And you can keep the vodka,’ he says to Mary. ‘Why don’t you stick it between your legs, you old witch. You’ve done nothing for me.’
‘Just go,’ says Frank. ‘And good luck for the new year. I think you’ll need it.’
The man strides out of the flat onto the landing, the dog jogging along behind him.
‘Nice,’ says Rae, then: ‘Thanks for getting here so quickly.’
‘Sorry it wasn’t sooner.’
‘Has he gone?’ says Mary. ‘Good. Now – get me my slippers.’

11 comments:

tpals said...

Yikes! May I never have a 'friend' like that. You really do meet them all, don't you?

Spence said...

I've no idea what the relationship was there! Whatever it was, it wasn't working. He was appalling - so volatile and unpredictable. I was pretty relieved when he strode off down the road (and I felt v sorry for his dog). Mind you, I have to say that just a few minutes later, Mary was happy as anything, laughing and joking as if nothing had happened at all. But maybe that was the vodka... :/

A Daft Scots Lass said...

You wear slippers?

Spence said...

It's very much a scratch uniform, so whatever's lying around. Lately it's been dog slippers, lederhosen, bowling shirt and a pin-wheel hat.

drunkenspaniel said...

Hello! Sorry I've been away so long, Glad you'e still here Spence.

Jean said...

Oh geez. I now have that image of your uniform firmly in my head. Thanks.

;-)

Spence said...

Hey Drunkenspaniel! How are you? Great to hear from you again. Hope all's well with you.

Jean - Well - it's so important to feel comfortable.

familyAffairs said...

At least she managed to keep the vodka Lx

Spence said...

I must admit it was a big bottle. I'm surprised she could lift it.

jacksofbuxton said...

Blimey Spence,not sure which one needed the ambulance there.Tough call out.

Happy new year as well,did you have a good one Spence?

Spence said...

You know, the funny thing is I toned down Big Bird's language considerably in this post. I don't normally shy away from repeating the language, but his was truly dreadful!

Happy new year, Jacks. Had a good one, thanks. Worked for most of it, but mostly day shifts, so it wasn't too horrendous. Didn't do NYE night - phew!