© Seamus Glas
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It is the 'Just before the Ulster troubles when youth culture was influenced by A Clockwork Orange-StrawDogs- Bolan and Bowie, etc. Please do not read if you're sensitive to extremes and profanity.
Two POV's, one with the real-time 1st person and the 3rd person POV ... 'Which works better for you'? Please give examples if you're a real reviewer. Otherwise will be seen as non-serious. Lastly, many reviewers comment on my Use of the American third voice, which is not the same as the third person OR A DISJOINTED POV. If you come across this voice it is to reflect on the current POV without their narrative input. That way as this genre dictates you get an extra inside view of the makings of the protagonist
From the outset of the troubles the Royal Ulster Constabulary was viewed with suspicion by the Protestant loyalist movement; traditionally woven into the same fabric of identity and culture, they are alone. Eventually, they regained ground with the vigilante loyalists, though it took blood sweat and tears getting their trust. Arriving in the province were the representatives of HM government. Apparent misguided support towards the nationalist movement further isolated the loyalist community. Coupled with army misguided nationalist protection from the loyalist’s perspective, army sympathy was an insult to most Protestants. Soon, a climate of imminent civil war in light of Home Rule between the two factions developed. In addition, the loyalists coming from a mindset of under attack and defense of the cause, their battle cry.
The R.U.C. task of impartiality all the more difficult, when a crackdown on loyalist vigilante activity occurred. They called it internment. This sometimes tipped over into what is by the loyalists thinking, betrayal. For their seeming disloyalty, enter the footmen of the vigilante loyalist cause, ‘The Tartan Men here.’ Glasgo-Angel-Big Geordy are about to change history in their part of county Down.
Couple that with their aforementioned, and you have Tartan mayhem.
Based on true events and Characters
Bold Tartan of Ulster
CHAPTER  The Brew That Satan Drinks
Nov 20th, 1973 Craigantlet Hills, Co. Down. Tues 1.50 A.M.
Pursued, is a white Ford van racing for home after a night of dance, liquor and no luck with girls of Bangor, co. Down. The boys within have been pushing their luck, though they manage to loose the blue RUC Ford Escort: Glasgo has no idea they are to run a waiting gauntlet of RUC and Army up ahead. They received a tip-off they are on their way. There is a security alert about recent weapons running operation over the hills.
Big Geordy’s husky voice sounds panicky amid the din.
“The blue flashin’ could be the bastarden fuzz.”
“It’s the sirens that make the fuckin’ difference, Geordy... isn’t that right, Angel?”
“Too right, I’ll know a fuzz siren when I hear one,” he cries over the van’s creaks, squeaks and winding crankshaft. The whine of the two-liter motor revs to a crescendo. At 75 mph, it cannot go faster over the hills. Be it our backyard, it is not the sort of place to be racing a stolen Ford transit van, especially up and down its sharp brows and bendy narrow by-roads in winter.
Angel leans over Geordy’s legs to get a better view.
“Alright, Glasgo, how was I to know it would be the fuckin’ Razzers.” Geordy let out a yell, Angel misplaces an elbow on one of his funny bones. His carbon clouds Geordy's vision and it didn’t go down well either. “For fuck’s sake, Angel.”
Angel pokes his finger up ahead, then bends it left untouched by Geordy’s pain.“Quick-take the next left!”
“That’s a fuckin’ field.”
“Better than ambush alley, have ye forgotten, Glasgo?” He throws me one of his Elvis leers.
''What's that sound from your side, Geordy?''
'' Them's them cat's eyes.''
''What sort of cat's eyes.''
''Ones we need so we don't crash from drink, like your old man, Glasgo.''
''He drives like he wouldn't know the difference, kills anything that moves across his path.'' Entering a field, the Ford skids sideways on muck pranging off the gate and spinning its wheels. Big Geordy manages to get traction before advancing over the rows of ploughed earth. My arse hit hard on the rib metal floor. Grasping the back of the passenger seat, Angel thinks it funny, as his head bumps once then twice off the ceiling before the van begins falling apart. Shaking and rattling, it begins breaking up over the field like we were hit with German flak: Big Geordy chewing hard with focus, throws left his steering then right over-doing his Steve Mc Queen. Again, the van spins its rear wheels before traction catapults it, leaving behind palls of exhaust. He still has to learn the clutch needs proper pressing, as third gear clunks into place. Angel starts laughing again and dumbstruck is too less a word how we feel. He rolls down the passenger window. For a second we thought he has other ideas, like throwing up what the ride churned. He raises his hand and I suffer a panic attack. Geordy snatches a glimpse and nearly looses his steering... Now that is something.
Too fuckin' right, big Geordy.
The words coming to me were from deeper down.
Are you taking the piss? Angel holds in his index finger a big black Web before rotating it. He begins aiming it at the squaddies from the open window before withdrawing and rotating it up to his face to sense its cold metal. He points it at each of us, Does this look like a piss-taker? He withdraws it admiring its sleek possibility for the first and last time. He licks along its barrel to taste its cold Matt black metal as I watch out the back portal. He points it there, then back to us. Seems he didn’t want to part with it.
“Fuck!” An armoured Land Rover is racing toward us. Geordy sees it closing in from his side mirror and cuffs the sweat from his brow. Had our pursuers caught a glimpse of Angel’s Web too.
“All right, all right, I’m not going to, okay, relax!”
“Hurry the fuck up then, will ye,” said Geordy spitting out his spent wrigley, “and chuck that bastarden thing, they’re behind us, fuck ye.”
Angel points a bent finger, “Gate on left coming up.”
Geordy follows and swings left crashing through the steel gate to another field skidding sideways: We loose them dropping away on the other side to another hill. “I think we’ve given the bastards the slip.” Seemed easier to me this time. Geordy giggles before spitting out the window, They've done a Burton into a ditch... fuckin' wankers. Angel tosses the weapon aside. We were humming from over-confidence and our nervous systems avoided the worse kicking of a life time. Inside me, thumping my chest I feel like my heart suddenly comes alive. Thumping in rapid sequence so much so, it made me winch from a fear and excitement I felt once on a ride from Barry's amusement park.
“That oughta do it...a good dollop of muck and cowshit will clean away me Da's prints to with a bit of luck.”
For a moment, I thought Angel might just use it. Way I know him, something began like a seed sowing inside him. Looking out of the rear portal he turns and winks…“Oh no! it’s squaddie again,” Angel mimics cockney as Geordy’s foot down all the way. Angel is a mustard piss-taker at times like this.
“He's takin’ the piss, Geordy, relax christ-sakes... big girl's blouse here, he is only takin' the piss.”
Me myself remain to scan the distant outline for Peeler black and Army green. Geordy, less the nervous wreck than myself, struggles with the van’s skidding when I realize, he too is taking the piss.
“Very funny, ha, ha.”
NEVER, never again, Angel mimics Paisley, ''will the bastards get past us. He pops another Wrigley into Geordy's big mouth. Okay, make a right, not a left, what’s the matter with ye Mr. Pope, make a right, fuck ya? Geordy gum-smacks Angel. The eyeteeth he flashes at me...shouldda heard your nurse last night, Glasgo, gagging for it as usual.
I couldn’t explain it, but he has a way of making us feel good under pressure; we broke to laughter.
Angel knowing the hills better, guided Geordy to follow his directions homeward. Steve McQueen took over and Angel went along with it. Quiet and focused, Geordy's face forms a menacing look, his hand jerking the stick into place more than it needed. Me and Angel liked Geordy and knowing the path Angel followed, I could put my hand on my heart and honestly say, at no time did I know big Geordy's. He could be driving us straight to the limeys for all I know. Though he seems sound enough, I hope he would be around long enough to be a real mate.
After a couple of circles, the heavy-duty van makes contact with tar. He drove in no rush to the top of the hill leaving the field for an unlit road. Muck covers the van providing good camouflage. Then he cuts the main lights. Now and again he flashes ahead with his full beam, though is almost driving blind. Me and Angel see Geordy has a few tricks up his sleeve. Very savvy of him to give the idea we were another security vehicle flashing like others dotted around us. A busy searchlight means we can escape with some light too. Angel and I look at each other knowing, we were okay with big Geordy. But, in the tartan Book of Rules, tomorrow is another day.
Tossing his blonde hair back about his arse-cheeks, Angel notices it too, ''Geordy, if you weren't such a butch bastard, I'd shag you myself.''
“Gimme my bastarden directions, Angel.” An empty five ml bottle of Smirnoff hits the metal floor beside our awakening passenger. The Ford lifts into the air at the hill’s summit before contact with patches of new tar. Causing him to loose his balance, a 4d from my ready knuckle duster sends him reeling downward. The tyres hold out, but something falls off. Behind, a metal box vanishes into the mist. A searchlight blazes a beam to the source tumbling away into nothingness.
“Fuck a duck, that’s done it.”
Being around two a.m. we couldn’t see what had fallen off.
“Wha tha fuck was tha?”
“Move to plan B,” demands Angel.
“Hurry up will ye, plan B.”
Geordy drops a gear with a clunk and blows a bubble-gum smack.
“Slowly does it.” Another bubble-gum smack and clunk, his speed down to under twenty.
“Fuckin’ hail Mary, mama of our dear lord… more squaddies said Angel, and I think they may have seen us, the bastards.”
''It's okay,'' said I, “I think we’ve given the bastards the slip” I peek the side mirror. Geordy does his slow and easy with head-beam flash again. Angel leaps back to the rear portal and the regret of not having his toy shows.
“No fuckin’ idea how they knew this back lane, bastards!”
“I didn’t say shit.”
“No, but I could hear you thinkin’ fuck ye.”
“Fuck you too.”
He always did that, uses me as nerves kick in. Since we were in high school together, he needed me to make a decision, like a boat needing an anchor.
“Quick, the fuckin’ lights, Geordy!”
“… them’s not ours.”
Something stirred behind “You’re all dead… Bastards.”
“We forgot about him: Who he is anyway.”
“I'll chuck him out the back?”
“Nah, won’t make a difference,” said Geordy. But it would have made all the difference if we’d left him behind, right, Glasgo.''
Maintaining speed at around ten M.P.H. the van idles along for a couple of scondering yards. Angel relied on his memory. We made it past the narrow link road, where any moment the army Land Rover could be coming up to meet us. A few seconds on and we are crossing the ramp leading up into a slip road. Relieved there is no searchlight or worse, an army ambush, “Them stone-rows are a big help, or they would ‘ave see us.”
Angel puts a fag into his mouth, then smiles. Geordy displaying his eyeteeth, quickly dabbed the sweat from his brow “We can admire stone-rows another time, Glasgo.” Angel sniggers, but he isn’t really enjoying it. Geordy then wipes away the condescension from the screen.
“Okay, I think we’re okay,”
“Okay,” said I, lighting a Parky and inhaling for a speedy effect.
Angel leans in patting Geordy on the back of his neck. “That was fun … now let’s get the fuck outta here if we still can.”
Geordy normally hated being touched around the neck. Angel knows it too. The Ford makes another hard clunk click jerking forward. A metal grinding pierces the relative calm. We sped away steadier with Geordy’s eye fix to the offside mirror, working the foot pedals with a little too much of everything. A little too much throttle, then a little too much braking. Because his left foot needs coordination, he has a tendency to apply the foot brakes instead of the clutch. And always never enough clutch, but always too much damn brake.
Angel dives to the back to see from the back portal.
“Oh fuck! Nearly broke my fuckin' neck.”
“It’s a pity ya didn’t,” said the one on the floor.
Angel drives his heel backwards connecting with something fleshy, then sings…there’s a Starman watching from the stars… he’d like to come and meet you, but he thinks he’ll blow your Fucking brains out. On the floor, our man let out a groan sounding like his last. I pour a drop of Poteen down his cake-hole, then slap him about the face a couple. Behind, disappearing, reappearing, we could hear the siren of the army Land Rover losing ground. Each time into eye-shot then down to vanish again along the hills. It seems they give up on us. Nearby Angel, the chest of our hostage with a tartan scarf around his neck heaves up and down. He happens to be the van’s owner, attempting to stop us stealing it when he lifted a sledgehammer. His mistake. A big man too. In addition, he just happens to be enemy tartan. Big Geordy laid him out with a double upper crust to the chin. The rest is history. Big Geordy says he never drove so fast going down steep hills until now, with an engine sounding like it would explode. He could have fooled us. Mustard, it is focusing on anything, especially two rows of trees passing that quickly.
Me myself sickly and I hated the neasea others never get with stress unless like Angel, they hid it. Geordy, you’ve lost them, slow up, chrissakes. Whilst we hold on for our lives, I start scanning the main valley road ahead for the-tell tale stream of flashing blue.
Angel blows smoke “ You know, they planned to ambush us.’’
‘’They failed,” said Geordy.
''Maybe.'' Angel spat, “maybe something pulled them off us, or maybe they got a snap of us with all them damn lights.”
“That could be a bad sign, or maybe,” said Geordy, ''maybe a couple of mini-skirted ladies just happened to be hiking in that mist, we missed.”
Across the valley, as we dip and rise, an army searchlight catches us here and there. There, the hills were crawling with them and seemingly thrown of our scent. Here, big Geordy has been mustard tricky again. Then a bright beam blazes the van’s interior like some bombing mission. Angel at times could not resist laughing from the adrenaline rush but trying to suppress it for Geordy. Geordy needs his hash fix bad, as his stress like an engine picks up steam. Angel whispers, Old Geordy likes a joint these days,?
'Me too,' I told him, ' for moments like this.'
“If our luck holds out, we might make it into the housing estate at the bottom, eh Geordy?”
“That’s the plan!” his relief clear from normal breathing. Angel retreated to the rear, his hands cleaning the screen to see better.
Me myself, there is a price to pay: Cherrhill tartan is known for their nighttime activities. It is not a safe place for their enemies. A price for fun there is payment, and usually, we would not have it any different. We enjoyed the odd kickin', especially them. But these are our arch-foe and though we loved chainin' and dusterin' em up a bit, any noise this time may be our undoing. So a bit of old Sweet from the van's rad and Angel throws caution to the wind. To make it a pleasant experience, he said, said Geordy.
Big Geordy starts talking to the mirror whilst we drive toward them. How utterly gorgeous you look, George, what a pity I have to risk that beauty again for God and Ulster.
Maybe the army arranged the Fuzz to wait on us in the village below, I told them. But they both were thinking about hiding a stolen van. Angel checks the breathing of our unconscious passenger. Then a sound we didn’t expect to hear.
Aaa warr, warr warr warring...
“What’s that, Angel?”
“Relax, it’s the Banshee sirens on the other side of the glen…weird eh?
“Not like our RUC boys, eh, Geordy? Eh, Geordy.” By now I am a nervous wreck trying to lighten up from my chit chat. It is a pathetic attempt to harden up also. Red with their malarkey, a confident fakey smile is hard to bluff. A whimpering grin is all I could pull across my features for them to see. But when the bantering gets too much, inside me turns to cold before a nervy giddiness follows bad. It depends on who I am with if I like them or not.
“If we got lifted, better the RUC filth did the liftin’.” According to Geordy, which is why we are heading for the village.
Angel hadn't missed the blade flash across my eye. He knows better when my stress is pushed too far, which is why he has quietened down.
The lights of the Spar supermarket shot into view. Something flashing yellow falls away behind as we drive into a shimmer of darkening patches of black and green.
“What now, fuck’s sake?” Geordy blows his Wrigley out of the open window. Angel breaks away to peek out the rear portal.
“We hit the fuckin’ diversion sign, ya fuckin’ Eegit…Quick into that fuckin’ field.” Geordy turns the Radio down, Sweet's 'Blockbuster', died a death, but Angel couldn't resist its melody, You better get ready, You better get... Blockbuster,
''Where now, Geordy!''
Wrestling with the steering wheel, he makes his final swerve at the bottom of the hill into the last field. Switching off the lights, he makes a final mental note hoping we wouldn’t collide with trees. Dashing his foot down hard on worn brakes, we coast to a slippery halt. He thrust on the handbrake to ensure we do stop. He got it, be it all skidding for a while before another oak he didn’t memorize. Muck peppered the sides and the last remaining puffs of exhaust from behind, as the engines cut. The dying sounds of motorize parts join its own loss of life with echoes of twist and breaks. Of all the vans we test drove for their owners, we test-drove this one hardest of all. And it . I can smell its electrics burning, its tyres wore from skidding and hard driving, not to mention the smell of burnt oil and brakes. But all around, fresh air, and we live another day with another tale to tell.
“Back in enemy turf, chased from another, feels like success.”
“What the fuck was it back there at the side of the road?” asks Angel.
“That was yer girls lookin’ a ride, as usual.”
I don't know why myself, it felt mustard odd when big Geordy said that. With his debut, we fall about in hilarity and with it, our own type of Formidable banter, as Angel put it. This was the early seventies Northern Ireland, before we know what is to come.
November 22nd 1972. 4 PM Northern Ireland.
Angel spat before surveying the graphite horizon for the arrival of his homing pigeons. 'Bollocks' echoed around the valley. From the hills of Craigantlet, he sees the circling predator. It maybe a good omen to a fancier but not to Angel. He let's off some B-B pellets to drive it farther across to a Glen. It never fails to twist his juvenile perspective to something so utterly tranquil from a pair of binoculars. But still it is over there, until a group of deer are startled from an opposite hill. Something stirs below in the city. It is too still. He pans the Glass east where the winds coming up the valley are not normal and before he could make sense of it, the first nauseating brown plume rises from a mass of red against the city's afternoon skyline.
Grit comes in the wind. In an Augenblick- the devastation of a thunderous din reverberates towards him, triggering alarms all over Belfast. His Glass focuses on the bend of the river down by the old puddled docks of H/W and where the Lagan visits with the Irish Sea. Yellow they might be, but David and Goliath stand their ground with more determination than those who attempt to unearth them. But all Angel could think of were his Angels. He starts praying not from the unfolding scene, but he isn't sure if he is alive witnessing most never see by republican bombs. Before he could finish, the second upward plume against the lighter edifice of Belfast is like a Genie from Dante's Inferno. A bead of sweat trickles down into the nap of his eye. Out of the following plumes of brown, he spots them. They're off course due to the activity below them but leastways on the home run. His heart is giving him the kicking of a lifetime and dare he, if can't get this down before his old man calls, c'mon you little bastards, bank to the east, to the east, flank the Lagan, flank the fuckin' Lagan for chrissakes. Crashing into his testes is hope, when the next brown spiraling plume of debris and metal slice into his squadron with the same hideous swirling gases. It feels like a kick in the nuts and he could not accept such an outcome. His eyes found a miniscule of salvation from another desperate attempt to rise above the oncoming broken metal and cutting ceramic. The salvo fails to reach them, but not the tailing group who in a flurry of disengaging alignment and floating feathers are thrown down-ways. Then, just as he took comfort, another gut wrenching unrelenting blast. Negotiating the impasse by rising above the scourge, Angel is studying the skyline for any sign of their colours. Many other groups from other fanciers are tailing. It has become a wave upon wave in a quandary of beating wing and stretching feather beyond usual capacity. Exploding below the ether morphs into a whirlpool of debris and grit spanning mainly west of the Lagan. His old-man is on the east coast of England and waiting for their safe arrival. He ignores the first three calls from him. Suddenly he sees Fenian then Taig emerge as two bats out of hell racing alongside their brothers and sisters. For that is how Angel came to think of them paradoxically. His joy he kept the lid on until totally certain his tired eyes were not giving him away. Thank fuck they were dodging to the right this time and directly along the Lagan. C,mon, for sake of Paisley, stay straight and true. He always boasted the sound of his birds are in his ears at an age most have difficulty with. He could hear their tiny hearts banging away inside the wee ribcage when in the loft. He could only imagine what feelings a bird might have, but difficult to draw a comparison with. There is a explosion of a different kind and not from the city, but feathers only a predator could shed. Buzzards swooping down into them like Messess 109's are this time lenient. Checking the numbers of his own he raises his W-T as they swoop past in a unit of collective flight... All fifty Angels coming in and safe this time, Da. He releases the button and thanks the almighty, before letting off some more shots at the Hawk climbing the thermals before it fell at his feet with an open eye. He spat on it and kicked it into a thicket. Jammy bastard you are, Ang. The Homers-along with Fenian and Taig- circle above him before swooping down to the right and then his left. It is noble music to his ears to hear that sound. Trained like his own squadron, they set off down the valley of patchwork green toward a dozen or so sheds. He races after them like the youth he never was allowed to be and what is to shape him from this moment on. For Angel has experienced his first epiphany and made a secret pact to defend a way of life.
Below is the valley, where the Ulster Hospital eclipses a village six miles from Belfast. A God-send for the victims of 500lbs of Gelignite. Not much one can do from its force of air, says big Geordy handing myself three Tenners, And that 'Air De Force' Glasgo, sweeps you off your feet and it's explosion will take your eardrums to the ether. I wipes the blood of my knuckles before handling it. Woody this time. Offered me fisty on the way in. So I give him one. Dumb-fuck thanked me. You believe that. Geordy smirks, That's my mate, better show them who’s a hard man before they get any ideas. I search for me Da's mouth organ and found it inside the pocket of his tweed jacket. Without a care in the world, I launch into Shenandoah and brought the house down with singing, humming and a whistle from someone's accompanying flute. Then we all sang Two Little boys, though we changed it to three as Angel enters with the Dandy for big Geordy and the Beano for me tucked inside his Cromby. The Penthouse he nicked from Parks Newsagent for himself.
The injured, said big Geordy, many brought to our neck this time, though a hospital is handy place for us too. Unlucky not to have heard army ordering those pouring out from buildings to hit the deck will be the last vestiges of human activity you'll hear, said the army Officer, said big Geordy, though at seventeen how the fuck would he know. Despite the Saracen blown up over onto its roof, limbs are being picked up nearby as possible rejoins, then wrapped in green linen for the ambulance crews. The smell of sulphur and burnt fabrics hang in the air. Mingling within it, a nauseating taste the tongue finds horrid and unfit for the mouth but resonates deep, deeper than the taste itself, said a reporter on the box by the hospital reception. Around and above, where windows were, are Venetian blinds hanging out flapping in the wind and behind them, alarms alerting the eye and the ear skyward. A woman bleeding from a head wound shouted down the corridor, Where were you. Soon they pale into a cauldron of chaos and emotions as though no longer having a purpose. Some of the fallen pedestrians have fainted, usually elderly folk from the flurry of panic. Help him, he needs it more. One standing, fails to sense his only leg before collapsing; he isn't screaming no more when being wheeled away. Shock can do that to someone. Others are walking in circles picking the grit and glass out of their clothing, spent matchsticks embedded in their hair and cleaning the blood from their orifices. But this is when most are dispatched, said he, and army know only too well the moments after are the ones of death. Having to take more risks, soldiers return to the zone to keep victims on the ground until the all-clear. Follow-ups are the latest development. It is an eerie silence. After-effect from a blaster, said the soldier. The nearest City and Royal hospitals are already working at full capacity as fifteen others have detonated around the city centre. The BBC on Bedford street took the blast and this time not the Europa. If not for the army using their Saracens to block the blast, causalities would have broken the tolerance levels and to some extent, it is relief among their staff. Then he went quiet after muttering to himself. But I heard it.
Evening in Dundonald and a heavy smog descends the village as expected. The man with the glasses said to the nurse, Chaos is soon to come out here, you wait.
And so, it would begin as an innocent riot comparable with a guilty graveyard smelling of something beneath it. In the distance, an explosion of a different kind with the arrival of Semtex and this time, army disposal units are at a loss. The Ra have up'ed the anti they say around our wee village.
Soft harp notes are an odd sound to a Prod like myself when light fingers pluck at strings. Some low some high but never reaching a crescendo. Me myself is used to another kind of instrument. Outside, darkness and rain pelts the arriving ambulances. Inside, my eyes burn in the bright light and a dribble of red on the shine of the hospital floor is not from much pain yet. Nurses and doctors are engaged in screams of command up and down the corridors to the loading bay. The smell of burnt flesh is unlike anything I have ever sniffed before. Then the plucking of those notes again. It is one of them Harp things from one of the children wards on another level and so, music a mother would play.
8 pm. Down the road, loyalist Internment is under way and panic from the capital jolt the expecting staff headlong to their operative theaters. A blue flash of emergency is a constant coming and going. Along the main stretch of dimming haze, traffic from Belfast is an undulating homeward rush from fear of another campaign. The army is everywhere, above, below, vertical and horizontal.
A piece of tartan scarf I'm using could hold no more.
“Breath easy, won't be a moment.”
Sixteen and hard men, Angel, big Geordy and me. Wee Smicker, the fourth was interned for headbutting a squaddie. That's what me myself calls a Limey or a soldier. They’re me mates and they're all I got, apart from old Stompy, though don't know why. We can take it more than most. Nursey knows it too. In fact, she knows myself quite a bit of recent, I’ll tell ya. Angel’s bowler is a strange object to her, but he can sing piecing together David Bowie’s, Queen Bitch. Big Geordy taps the floor with his acquired fancy walking stick; Angel tosses his bowler on to it. They're both nervous here when beginning to spit more. No saliva just the noise, you see, it's a tartan thing. Geordy in turn lifts and flips it back, Angel begins singing... I’m on the 11th floor and she’s in hurry below…dan dan dan dan dang. Me myself, I'm in another world when I hear her voice and them footsteps. That's the funny thing about a hospital; footsteps are loudest when you know you're next. Big Geordy falls to the floor to peek the coming nurse’s drawers. He pretends to be in agony rolling toward her, baring his eye teeth. With her hurried side step, she approaches; clean water she manages to keep within the bowl, the smell of antiseptic, mustard! I’ll tell ya. Obstructing her, springs Angel, his hands sliding up down his lapels flashing his razors in her face before continuing…she’s down on the eleventh floor watching the cruisers below, da da da da dang. He dances around her, gimme a kiss. Geordy rises up, throwing his waist side to side with his big scary stare when both move in with their juvenile dopiness, arms waving above their heads. She could not help a resistant smile, 'So knuckle-head, what colour are they'. 'They’re green and by Christ, loveliest shade of green ya ever clamp eyes on, and that’s not all,' he says shimmying away. Angel hates green, spits more on hearing it. His problem. Me, I like it, even the orange and white.
I step to block him fluck aff outside, be with ye in a mo.
…Ziggy played guitar, miming us with weird and rubbers... jammy bastard.
“Okay nursey, I need a slash and outta here pronto!”
Truth is, I felt dirty, dirtier than the dirtiest with her. Her, with her nice crisp starch uniform and clean lingo from her mouth, and then that watch, to remind me how long I’ve got with her. At least she’s mine in that time. But all I could think of, is showing- off them new notes on my Saxophone.
“You again,’’ she says like she didn't know, setting the metal surgical bowl down on my lap and unraveling the roll of bandage.
“A-yahhh… what of it?”
“Lift your hand up and hold straight out like this, like you’re beggin’ this time.”
“Yes, now use your good hand supporting it?”
“Like this,” said I, like she knew I am flirting.
“You’re gettin’ quite a wee selection of scars.”
“I’m a hard man, don’t ye forget it.”
“Hard to look at… So what wee secrets have ya to tell me tonight, Mr. hard man?”
“Just the Gospel, like 'em others. I know I know I said it all before, but this is real, reliving it you could say. Some things don’t go away with me, who I am, where I've bin.”
My nurse has that look on her face like she wanted to believe. Me myself could see, her's is another world from mine. A safer one and one she felt secure in. She wanted me in her world. I wanted in so I could take her to see The Bay City Rollers in the Kings Hall.
“This one is the one, just like yer self. Now hurry.”
It began with 'The Bay City Roller's', Teenage love, I told her, playing from a blaster. She eyes me for earnestness. Had to follow it. It was teeming from the heavens. Talk of civil war around the village and you get edgy. An operative ‘IRA’ cell is preparing to car bomb the fuckin’ heart of our wee village, they say.
“Mind the lingo, this is a hospital.”
Blood from my cut hand drips from my fingertips. My pulse runs with it. The bowl beneath she expertly places, catching the dispersal of colour. Not much pain yet, I told her. She eyes me, absent of believing. I could tell. With her smile wanting to shine through the front a nurse has to wear; I got comfortable with it. Mustard it is, the mess I mean. She smiles without making eye contact. I could tell. Give me pain, less mess, that way I can prove I am a hard man, I said in case she’s got funny ideas about what a boy is verses a hard man. She went silent. The antiseptic bites... A-yah…
“So how did this happen?”
''Knifed by a Taig who came to nick our acquired van… he wasn’t alone. The others scarpered. Someone is watching.”
“Oh never mind him, only old Davy, drunk every night, thinks here is home.”
''Clever them ‘Taigs’. This time, we hid it in a field, see. He didn’t run like his mates... I respect that.''
''You do. Makes me feel better already.''
''Hurry up, haven’t much time, Sister four-eyes calls the fuzz when we turn up here.''
Known as Glasgo, mine is a mustard tale. Not one of those whimsies hoping for breathin’ space or an effort to be a local hero. Them others, they'd rather forget. Me, I wanna remember, okay. Record its importance you could say. Be forewarned, tis a true story of hard men and mustard aggro, aye, and I’m one of 'em. The hardest they will ever know. The days of kneecapping and head-jobs are round the corner. Most of them will not live long. I can tell, see. But I tried with me mates to...well that's another story. One thing else…
Shit, now it’s hurtin'.
‘'Sorry, tis slowing.'' She dabs the wound with antiseptic before bandaging. The other is beyond me... damn. ''Nearly said sumpin' I hadn't planned.''
''Hang in there, almost done stitching ye up, Frankenstein,'' she said, her smile clearer. It is then I know she is cracked on me.
Some say mustard crazy today, maybe, but with these fellas, I'll tell ya. I remember them and believe me, theirs are days of madness though numbered if you see what mean. It began when ‘the Army’ using internment on our boys and drafting informers in; gettin’ the picture yet. Like I said, tis all true, give a bit of waffle here or there. Damn your antiseptic.
Nursey's hard eyes pierce me like the knife and just as sore, No spittin' either. Her smile vanishes and it is then I know, I'm mustard special to her.