4 It’s All Done by Mirrors
Colin leaned against a wall outside The Juggler’s Rest while he waited for Brian to arrive. He looked down at Stiggy, who sat on the pavement by his side, breathing into a glue-bag. Colin didn’t know how Stiggy had the nerve to do it right there, out in the open where anyone could see.
“Look at my shoes!” Stiggy shouted. Fucking hell, look at my shoes!” His eyes were wide and staring, and the glue-bag flopped around in his hands as he gestured wildly at his trainers.
“Yeah, very nice,” Colin said.
Stiggy raised the bag to his mouth and spoke into it, still staring at his trainers. “My shoes have got magical powers. Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
Colin sighed and shook his head, wondered if that was what he had been like himself at Stiggy’s bedsit the previous night. He reached into his leather jacket pocket for his cigarettes, and was about to light one when he thought about the solvent fumes in the air around him. He didn’t know if they would be flammable or not, so he decided to be cautious and took several steps away from Stiggy first. He took a deep drag and looked down the empty street. No sign of Brian yet, and he was already fifteen minutes late. No sign of the girls either.
He turned his attention to a poster displayed in the window of The Juggler’s Rest. A hand-drawn, simplistic doodle of a nun brandishing a crucifix in a suggestive manner advertised the evening’s entertainment. Welwyn Garden City’s pranksters in revolt The Astronauts present an evening of folk in hell, it promised, for an entrance fee of fifty pence. The poster didn’t inspire Colin with confidence, and if Becky and Kaz hadn’t said they would be going he would’ve given it a miss and gone to The White Swan instead.
“All right, Col!”
Colin turned away from the poster. Brian strode toward him, his leather jacket flapping open in the wind to reveal an Exploited T-shirt beneath it.
“About fucking time,” Colin said. “We’ve been here ages.”
“Yeah well, I’m here now aren’t I?” Brian pointed at Stiggy. “What the fuck’s he doing here? Talk about fucking gooseberries.”
“Never mind Stiggy, what’s that fucking stink?”
Colin leaned closer to Brian and sniffed. A flowery, chemical smell mixed with tobacco smoke assaulted his nostrils, so potent he could almost taste it in his mouth. He wafted his hand under his nose in an attempt to disperse it, but the smell lingered, overpowering him.
“Borrowed a dab of me dad’s aftershave, didn’t I?” Brian said. “Got to make an effort now and again, haven’t you?”
“Smells like you used the whole fucking bottle.”
Brian grunted. “Any sign of them birds yet?”
“Not seen them.”
“You checked inside?”
“No, you have to pay to get in tonight. There’s a band on.”
Brian looked at the poster in the window. “An evening of folk? Sounds crap.”
Colin smiled. “Yeah. When them birds get here I reckon we should fuck off somewhere else with them.”
“Yeah, maybe. Let’s go see if they’re inside. If not, fuck it. We’ll wait half an hour, then get our money back and go down The White Swan.”
Colin nodded at Stiggy, who was mumbling something into his glue-bag. “What about him?”
“Just leave him there, he’ll not know any different when he’s in that state.”
“Yeah, but what if some coppers see him?”
Brian shrugged. “Who cares?”
“Nah, I think we’d best take him with us. You hold his arms while I get the glue off him. They’ll not let him in with that.”
* * *
Continued next Friday.
Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.