Just inside the doorway, a man dressed in black sat behind a small table.
“Evening, lads,” the man said. He picked up a lidless Quality Street tin and rattled loose change around in it. “Fifty pence to get in.”
Brian put a fifty pence coin down on the table and pushed through a door into the bar. Stiggy followed him without paying. The man looked at Colin.
“Fifty pence each, that is. You paying for your mate then?”
Colin sighed and shrugged. He unzipped his leather jacket pocket, took out a pound note and handed it to the man, then followed Brian and Stiggy into the bar.
A few local punks and older hippies sat around small tables placed in front of a make-shift stage area near the toilets. A tall, thin man with long hair threaded cables across the carpet and taped them down, getting everything ready for the band. Colin nodded to a few people he recognised and headed for the bar to join Brian.
“Any sign of them birds yet?” Brian asked.
Colin shook his head. “Not seen them. Where’s Stiggy?”
“He went in the bogs, probably getting glued up again. He’d better not get us chucked out before we get our money back.”
The barman approached and they ordered a pint each, then took them in search of a spare table to sit at so they could watch the entrance door. They skirted around the long-haired man in the stage area, who was positioning a microphone stand to the right of a small drum kit. All the tables immediately in front of the stage area were full, so Colin and Brian headed into a small secluded area in the corner. Becky and Kaz sat there, sipping from glasses of Pernod and blackcurrant. They both smiled and waved.
“All right. Been here long?” Colin asked. He put his pint down on the table and sat down opposite Becky.
“No, not really,” Becky said. She sat up straight in her chair and pulled down her pink mohair jumper to smooth out invisible creases. Colin stared at her green fishnet stockings and nodded absentmindedly.
“Budge up,” Brian said, and squeezed himself between Becky and Kaz. “You fancy getting off somewhere else after this?”
Kaz shook her head. “No, we want to see the band. We’ve never been to a gig before, and we already paid to get in.”
“What, never?” Colin asked. “How come?”
Kaz shrugged and looked away.
“Kaz’s dad won’t let her,” Becky said, “he says it’s too dangerous. He’d have a fit if he knew she was here.”
“That’s just daft,” Colin said. “We’ve been to loads and we’ve never seen any trouble.”
“So far,” Brian said.
* * *
“What the fuck are we doing here?” Don asked, looking at a crude drawing of a nun in the window of The Juggler’s Rest.
“There’s a fucking punk gig on tonight,” Trog said. “Word is that student cunt I battered the other night will be there and I want to have a word with him, see if he knows anything about Ian.”
“What, you reckon it was him that did Ian over?”
Trog laughed. “Nah. He’s all talk that one, but he might know who did. Here, did I tell you he pissed himself when he saw me?”
Don looked at Trog and smiled. “Yeah?”
“Yeah, straight up. He turned round, saw me, then fucking pissed his pants.”
Don shook his head and laughed. “Mate, I wish I’d been there to see that. Fucking hell, what a classic. Come on then, let’s go and see what the cunt’s got to say for himself.”
* * *
“That’s the cunt there,” Trog said, pointing from the bar. “The one with the bleached sticky-up hair, looks life a fucking scarecrow. That’s his mate, he’s probably weak as piss too.”
Don nodded and took a sip of lager. “The bogs’ll probably be our best bet. More secluded, less chance of being interrupted by the other yetis.”
While Don spoke, the student punk turned and locked eyes with Trog. He stared for a few seconds, open-mouthed, then looked away.
“You see that?” Trog asked. “The fucking cunt just gave me a right look.”
“Fuck him,” Don said, “he’ll get his soon enough.”
* * *
Continued next Friday.
Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.