Colin squinted up at one of the seemingly endless blocks of high-rise flats that comprised Shefferham’s landscape. He shielded his eyes from the sun and tried to imagine what it would be like to live so high up in the sky.
“So where do we go now?” Brian asked.
Twiglet pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his back pocket and unfolded it. “The Maples, Fitzholme Street,” he read out loud.
“Where the fuck’s that?” Colin asked.
“How should I know?” Twiglet said with a shrug.
Spazzo sighed. “You cunts are fucking useless. I knew I should have gone with Johnno instead.”
“Yeah, right,” Stiggy said with a sneer. “And them fucking skinheads he’s mates with. So what’s that about then?”
Spazzo shrugged. “Dunno. Johnno seems to know them from somewhere.”
“Yeah well, anyone who hangs around with skinheads is a fucking cunt as far as I’m concerned.”
“Yeah, I’d go along with that,” Colin said, nodding. He saw an old woman across the road and called out to her. “Scuse us, missus.” The old woman looked, then hurried on. Colin ran across the road to intercept her. “Scuse us, missus,” he repeated.
“I haven’t got no money,” the old woman said. She stopped and raised her palms to Colin. Her hands shook as she stared at him wide-eyed.
“Neither have I,” Colin said. “Do you know where there’s a place called The Maples?”
“Never heard of it,” she said, and turned and walked away.
“Hold up, missus. Oi Twiglet, what’s the name of that road again?”
“Fitzholme Street,” Twiglet shouted.
Colin caught up with the old woman and stood before her. “Scuse us, missus. Do you know where Fitzholme Street is?”
“Oh heck, you’re miles off,” she said, pointing back the way they had come. “It’s up that way, about a mile or so past the train station.”
Colin sighed. “Cheers, missus,” he said. “We’re going the wrong fucking way,” he shouted to the others.
* * *
After asking a few more people for directions along the way, they arrived at Fitzholme Street a little under forty minutes later to join the end of a lopsided queue trailing down the outside of The Maples.
Stiggy glared at a group of twelve skinheads in front of them, and Colin saw his fists were clenched. He hoped Stiggy wouldn’t start anything because they were vastly outnumbered. One of the skinheads, heavily built and standing a good six inches taller than the others, looked to be in his mid-twenties. He had his arm draped around the shoulder of a small, much younger girl with a shaved head and a long pink fringe. The other skinheads, all male, were closer to the girl’s age than his, and he ordered one of them to go to the front of the queue and see what the hold-up was.
“There’s a pair of fucking gorillas on the door,” the young skinhead said when he returned. “They’re searching every cunt that goes in.”
Colin looked at Stiggy, wondering if he had any more weapons hidden away.
When they neared the front of the queue, Colin saw two black bouncers. They both had short cropped hair and were dressed in identical grey suits, both sporting a pair of dark sunglasses and the same scowl on their faces. People were let through the door one at a time and frisked. Confiscated items lay in a pile by the side of the door, mostly studded wristbands and bullet-belts, though Colin did see at least one knife glittering amongst them.
When it was the large skinhead’s turn he raised his arms and glared at the two bouncers. One of the young skinheads, the next in line, started making monkey sounds. The bouncers waved the large skinhead through and beckoned for the younger skinhead to enter. He walked toward them swinging his arms from side to side and grinning. He stood before the bouncers and raised his arms, still grinning. One frisked him from behind while the other stood before him, glaring down. When the skinhead had been searched, the bouncer in front raised his foot and stamped down on his toes.
“Ah, you cunt,” the skinhead cried, hopping on one leg. “What did you do that for?”
The bouncer shrugged. “Testing for steel toe caps. Now on your way, you little shit.”
When they searched Stiggy one of the bouncers found his can of glue and tossed it at the pile of confiscated items. It landed on the tiled floor with a dull thud and rolled to a halt near an expensive-looking cassette recorder. Stiggy made as if to retrieve it, but the bouncer blocked his way.
“You can pick it up on your way out,” the bouncer said. “Either now or at closing time, I don’t care which.”
Stiggy stood his ground. He stared at the bouncer and clenched his fists. The bouncer stared back, unfazed.
“Hurry up mate, we want to get in before the band comes on,” a young punk standing behind Colin said.
“Yeah come on, Stiggy,” Colin said. “You won’t need it in there anyway, you can pick it up when we leave.”
Stiggy held the bouncer’s stare a moment longer before turning away. He looked at his glue, then turned back to the bouncer. “It had better be there when I come back out. And I know how much is in it too, so don’t think about pinching any.”
The bouncer laughed humourlessly and shook his head. “On your way, freak.”
* * *
Continued next Friday.
Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.