Trog punched the door of The Black Bull, wishing it could be the gobby punk’s head. It was bad enough having his bird yelling and screaming at him for no reason, then stamping off in a sulk. But having someone call him a ‘fucking rotter’ just tipped him over the edge. Probably some sort of layabout student. Well that’s one student who won’t be giving him any lip next time.
Trog would have done his mate too if he had the chance. He’d waited for them outside the Queen’s Head, but neither of the useless pricks had come out. If someone from The Black Bull had been smacked like that the whole fucking pub would be out there looking for revenge. Because that’s what skins do. They look after their own.
The rowdy sounds of a Cockney Upstarts song playing on the jukebox blasted out when Trog pushed open the door and entered the smoke-filled lounge. He waved at a group of skinheads taking up the far corner, nodded at the old codger nursing a half by the door. Alf, his name was, but everyone called him ‘H’, short for Half Pint Alf because that half sitting before him would last all night. He was the last of the old time Black Bull regulars, from before the town’s skinheads moved in and turned it into their own regular hang-out. The stubborn old bastard just plain refused to move on, and had become part of the furniture.
Trog leaned on the bar and nodded. “Yeah, cheers Mandy.”
Mandy pulled Trog a pint of lager and placed it on a bar towel before him. She smiled as she held out her hand. “Cheer up Trog, might never happen.”
Trog shrugged, staring at his pint. “It already has.”
Trog reached into his flight jacket and pulled out a leather wallet. He peeled off a five pound note and handed it to Mandy. “Don’t worry about it, just a rough day that’s all. Here, get yourself a drink on me.”
Mandy poured herself a pint of lager and blackcurrant, handed Trog his change, and leaned her elbows on the bar. She cradled her face and smiled at him. “You want to tell me about it?”
“Nah, not really. Just a bust up with me bird, she’ll get over it.”
Mandy winked. “Well if she doesn’t, it’s her loss.”
Trog laughed and nodded. “Yeah, too fucking right.”
Trog knew Mandy was an ex-skinbyrd from the 1970s, an original. That was probably why she didn’t mind the skinheads moving into The Black Bull, even after they chased out all the regulars. They didn’t know this at the time; she was just a normal-looking older bird by then, the skinhead look being long gone. But Mandy always had a friendly smile for the young skinheads, and the more they got to know her the more she revealed of her own youth. The Shefferham gang she ran with, the fights she got into on the terraces, her tussles with bikers and the law. Everyone was enthralled with her. Even more so when she re-donned a feather-cut hairstyle and said she’d had enough of living in disguise. Trog had a lot of respect for that. Most women her age had settled down into a life of mediocrity long ago.
“I think she might have dumped me for good this time though,” Trog said. He took a sip of lager and eyed Mandy over the rim.
“Yeah. We were on our way to the cinema to watch Death Wish II when she kicked off. I waved to this bird I knew from school and Barbara had a fucking fit about it. Said I were screwing her behind her back.”
“And are you?” Mandy asked, the faint trace of a smile on her face.
“No, am I fuck. I don’t screw around like that, it’s not right is it? Like I said, it were just some bird I knew from school. Trendy bird as well. And she were with some bloke, some fucking yeti, so she obviously likes them hairy. But Barbara weren’t having none of it, she said it were obvious I’d been fucking this bird from the way she looked at me.”
“So what did you say?”
“I didn’t get the chance to say anything. She got all fucking hysterical right there in the street, and then lunged at me and tried to scratch me face. So I gave her a slap, just to calm her down like. Then she just stamped off, calling me all sorts, so I went into the nearest boozer for a drink just to calm meself down a bit.”
Mandy shook her head, still smiling. “Didn’t work though, did it?”
“Yeah well, it probably would’ve worked if it weren’t for some fucking student giving it the big gob. That just wound me up even more. Called me a fucking rotter, would you believe?” Mandy laughed. “Anyway, I think it’s definitely over with Barbara this time. It’s not really been right between us for quite a while now; I think she were just looking for an excuse, really.”
“Never mind, plenty more fish, eh?”
Trog looked into Mandy’s deep blue eyes and held her stare. He smiled, and picked up his lager, turned to leave. “Yeah, I guess. Anyway, I’ll see you later.”
“Trog, you fat bastard,” one of the skinheads yelled as he approached.
Trog grinned. “Aye up Stew, you skinny cunt, how’s it hanging?”
Stew, a cigarette bobbing in his mouth as he nodded, hooked his thumbs under his braces and stretched them out. “Hanging well, Trog. How’s it with yours?”
“Yeah, not bad.” Trog squeezed himself between Stew and an older skinhead, Don, and sat down on a long padded bench.
“Oi Trog, you going down to Shefferham for the Cockney Upstarts gig on Saturday then?” Don asked.
“Too fucking right I am,” Trog said. “Wouldn’t miss it for the fucking world.”
* * *
Continued next Friday.
Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.