Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Car Park

I was expecting the inevitable when we arrived at the corner of the car park and became even more distant to one another; Lenny tripped and we disengaged the shoulder to shoulder embrace as he did so. The corner of the car park was where his fights ended. And as I thought about that particular violent point of fact, it really was incredible that Lenny Fenton had never been barred again from The Iron Badger for life. Life should mean life. You shouldn’t get a second chance. No matter who was the new ruler. That sickened me, thinking that. It really did sicken me. That this could have all been avoided. I was about to get battered all because the current landlord did not have the necessary bottle to stand up to him. Bobby Tongue did when he was landlord. He had the bottle. Bobby Tongue barred Lenny. Didn’t think twice. You can’t have nutters challenging your authority in your own home. But not Micky Moon. Always turned a blind eye to Lenny. His mate Lenny. Micky Moon and them fucking blind eyes of his. He made sure he missed every aggressive trick Lenny played. Even when the mad cunt kicked off inside. But then again, I suppose that was rare these days. He normally does his work out here. In the car park. I have seen what he was capable of. So I had more than a good idea what I was in for. But strangely, as strange as this sounds, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. I realised that I was no longer scared. I mean that. I’d had enough beer for courage, but I also understood something new about the mental state of knowing what was about to take place. How when you’re actually confronted with the reality of getting your head kicked in by a proven and well respected old fighter, there’s no room for panic. Only the acceptance of what you are about to receive. Fate? You have no control. So there was nothing going on inside my head. Fear, dread, helplessness, self-loathing and depression was something that could wait until much later. When I eventually awoke from my coma. If, that  was, I did eventually awake from my coma. What if right now I was breathing my last few breaths on this planet? What had I got to show for myself, for everyone to remember me by? Fuck all, that’s what. My funeral would probably end up as grave and depressing as the one today. Or worse. What if no one bothered to turn up? Would there still be a funeral or would I just get tipped into a hole and covered in soil? If life was unfair, death now seemed worse. Time stood still momentarily when I thought about all that. Me hating myself when I should be the one with all the attitude. I then thought about fighting back. Having a go. I might as well as I had nothing to lose. I might even successfully fight my way out of the evening. End up walking Carol Lawns home instead. Stop over the night. Do the honourable thing and tuck her up in bed. Maybe I should do just that. Fight back, fight Lenny, stand up for myself. I can throw a punch to knock a man out and he was getting old these days anyway. He was an old man. And he was drunk. A worse state than normal. You could say that everything was definitely in my favour. But then I remembered August Bank Holiday Monday. Who could forget August Bank Holiday Monday? When hoards of travellers made their customary presence known in town. Every Bank Holiday they joined us for company while paying visits to pikey relatives and friends who lived on the Castle Island Estate. Notably the Ford’s, the Gunn’s and the Abraham’s. How both pubs on either side of the road bulged. Two pubs on opposite sides of the road joining hands. From what I can remember, the mood throughout the afternoon remained in good spirits. Rowdy but friendly. No hint of any trouble. But as the drinks flowed and the sun set, two young Macready boys – from one of the visiting clans – had made a joint pact. They had obviously heard enough about him beforehand and had grown tired by the casual evil his eyes loved to convey. They decided that Lenny Fenton and his reputation needed closure. They definitely, definitely, knew who he was and as they were in town, they had personally decided it was time to retire him. They were big lads. Brick shithouses. Lenny was within touching distance of being paralytic. You could appreciate the misguided logic of their timing. No one noticed any commotion around Lenny’s stool or when the three of them went outside. After all, to a passing eye, it would have just looked like a dad and two sons. We only knew that it had kicked off outside when Lenny returned. He had blood all down his shirt and he was slurring about how someone needed to get him a drink, urgently. I stuck my head outside and saw the two bloody lumps that lay motionless in the car park like they’d been shot and then run over by a tank. It took all the experience and diplomacy from many older heads – from all sides and backgrounds – to prevent what would have been an unstoppable riot; the mother of all bloodbaths. I went home soon after. I was convinced that The Iron Badger would still burn that night. And I didn’t want to be inside when it did. To be picked off when fleeing the pub. No, I went home. I got home safely; I heard that both pubs closed soon afterwards anyway. The next day everything was back to normal. Like nothing had happened and no one had got hurt. The bloodstained car park was scrubbed clean and the sun shined. There was to be no reprisals. The visitors had gone back. Normality as we knew it, without all them lot, returned. But images of Bank Holiday Monday had returned in me as I stood in the dark, in the car park. Bank Holiday Monday and the Macready brothers laying face down on concrete were a spiteful hallucination that had melted away whatever passion I might have had to fight back. What must it have looked like passing by in a car, coming over the bridge and seeing Lenny doing whatever he did to those Macready’s. There was no way I was fighting back. Not now. And anyway, if I did put up a fight he would only take it out on me even more violently. Lenny was the only person in my life that I had ever seen stamp on someone’s head. Some one-night stopover bearded lorry driver from Nantwich. Well that’s where he told us he was from earlier: about the only words of remote interest I guess he said all night. He might have been one big boring cunt, but it made me feel sick hearing the sound of his skull engaging with the car park tarmac. I was there watching and I clearly remember how Lenny laughed as he walked away that time. I reckon he definitely also stamped on the heads of those two Macready brothers on August Bank Holiday Monday. There was no doubt about that. They took one hell of an hiding. But still, I know how to be a man. I can take a good hiding too. That’s more like it. Like I give two fucks about Lenny anyway. Fuck all that bollocks. I ain’t no weak cunt. There’s still a fire in me. There’s definitely still a fucking fire in me. Come on then, I was going in my mind. Let’s fucking have it. Come on then, me and you. Come on, ruin my only fucking suit, batter me, kill me, or if you fail, paralyse me, set me up for a lifelong union with the wheelchair I will never accept. The ultimate bitter cripple. Come on then, you mad fucking wanker, you mad fucking cunt. You like your fucking fights. You horrible old cunt. Do you hear me? Come on then. Let’s do this. Don’t just stand there you geriatric piss-head prick. Do it. Fucking just do it. Let’s do it! “C’MON THEN,” I screamed. “LETS FINISH THIS!” I then shutdown. The defence mechanism in me, shut me down. I almost collapsed on the spot. What was the point anyway in now trying to direct Lenny? He knew what he was doing in his own idiosyncratic way. Anticipation was always better than the actual act itself. That’s what I heard someone say about the joy of anticipation. Lenny must be enjoying the anticipation of me waiting to get battered. I would have to be patient then. But while I was waiting for the inevitable, I made sure I didn’t look at him. In the same way I’d have my eyes clenched shut while facing a firing squad. Why give your killers the enjoyment of seeing the eyes to your soul in the absolute fear of that last moment? That’s where they get the buzz from for their erections. That last helpless look of fear and horror in the eyes of those soon to depart for good. So instead of looking round for wherever he was about to launch himself from and clump me one, I stared across the road at the barbers. I fixed my sights bang opposite, on his shop, Blackbeards. And fuck me did I get a surprise I wasn’t expecting. I couldn’t believe what appeared before my eyes. You see, that Italian still had my laminated picture of Bobby Gillespie that I took with me yesterday to help give him some guidance on what I wanted my haircut to look like. I accidentally left it in there when I ended up having to exit in a rush and now I could see that it looked like he had stuck it on show in his front window. From here, across the road, it definitely looked like my Bobby Gillespie. The cheek of the man. He probably thinks I intentionally left it in there for him. I could even now hear Enzo’s Italian camp voice in my mind: “Look people at this picture of modern pop star type of haircuts I can now do for you!” What a joke the man was. I was definitely going round there tomorrow. To have it out with him. Too fucking right. That poster of Bobby Gillespie was my property and this was all an outrage. Then I chanced a look at Lenny. I wanted to tell him about how outraged I was. About my plans for tomorrow. I was certain that prior to all the mayhem that he had planned, he would still have taken a sympathetic point of view regarding the certain liberties of that Italian. But I never got the opportunity to voice my frustration. I never got the chance because Lenny fell into me, almost knocking me over, and as we both regained our sense of balance he pulled himself close, so his face was in my face, his warm breathe a perfume of afternoon lager and whisky chasers. “That fucking record in there should be banned,” he said, softly in my ear. “Now get me home.”

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Pub Quiz & In His Room

Pub Quiz

It was my
guiding light
you said
having done well
done alright
but was it
your guiding light?
when the facts
prevailed tonight
in the pub quiz

You done alright
I could have said
but you were
praying so instead
I had a fight
by the fag machine
with a member
of the losing team

In His Room

His name was Boon
come up to my room
he said
when I got round there

In his room
just me and him
the others were all out
no one else in

Just how we both want it?
Boon said
I nodded back
and sat on his bed

Fifteen minutes later
we are both
on the carperted moor
of his bedroom floor

He in ecstasy
me in pain

Of my Subbuteo team
four were snapped
at the knee
by his fat knee
and Celtic went on
to win seven three

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Wave

I could never get the gesture out of my head. Not the features of a face, of some lost expression, because I don’t think there was one; one that was supposed – for me – to be remembered. I actually think that there was simply just the white hand in the foreground on a darker shade of white background. Or was it grey on a darker grey? It doesn’t really matter. All that matters is the image that remains, how all I could see, all that I can remember, is the movement of a hand, the slight wave. And it is the wave alone, on its own, that torments, that chokes me. For I do not know whether the wave was loving or mocking. I am tormented because something deep inside, at the pit of my stomach, won’t shield the answer. I know the answer is buried deep inside. Has been there all the time. But my stomach will not share this information with me. Out of selfishness or out of protection, out of loving or out of mocking? I just don’t know. All that I know is this. That the wave forever lingers, every day; haunting, prickling, bitching. I tell you what, that fucking wave’ll be the death of me. How I would love to get the chance, just one chance to get my hands around that cowardly hand, throttle the very life out of the little shit, rid myself of these feelings so deeply rooted in doom. Then the sun shines in and all shadow fades. I pour a fresh glass, this time the toast – drink to forget.