“Stiggy’s off on one again, we need to get him out of here quick.”
Brian rolled his eyes and nodded. “I told you we shouldn’t have fetched him.” He sighed and beckoned Twiglet and Spazzo over. They both had red faces and were dripping with sweat.
“Fucking smart or what?” Twiglet said. His smile dropped. “What’s up?”
“Fucking Stiggy,” Colin said. “He’s that fucking glued up he’s on about taking a skinhead bird home with him.” He nodded at the group of skinheads by the stage, who seemed to have had their fill of Nazi salutes and were jumping on each other’s shoulders. “We need to get him out of here before that lot find out.”
Stiggy looked like he was about to leave when they reached him. He stood by the bar, holding hands with the skinhead girl, and they turned toward the exit together.
“Stiggy wait,” Colin shouted.
Stiggy looked over his shoulder but continued walking.
“Oi, that’s my fucking bird, you cunt!” someone shouted from nearby.
Colin spun around. The large skinhead ran toward him, closely followed by his young mates. Colin’s stomach flipped. He took a few steps back, out of their path. This was it, Stiggy was toast and there was nothing he could do about it. They were too late.
The barman disappeared through a door into a back room. Colin looked for the two bouncers, and saw them standing guard at the band’s dressing room door. They were smiling as they watched, arms folded across their chests.
“Leave him, Joe,” the skinhead girl said. She stood between Stiggy and the large skinhead, looking tiny and frail in comparison. Her bottom lip trembled as she clenched her fists by her sides.
“Shut up you fucking slag,” the skinhead snarled. He lunged toward her and slapped her hard in the face with the back of his hand.
The skinhead girl staggered back, a bright red mark on her face where she had been struck. She stumbled and Stiggy caught her in his arms. The skinhead rushed forward and punched her in the stomach. She doubled over and fell to her knees groaning.
Stiggy roared and ran at the skinhead. He picked up an empty Babycham bottle from the bar and raised it. He swung it down at the skinhead’s head. The skinhead brought up one of his tattoo-covered arms just in time, and the bottle bounced off it. He grabbed Stiggy’s wrist and twisted it. Stiggy cried out and dropped the bottle. The skinhead stamped down on it, shattering it beneath his boot, and wrenched Stiggy’s arm up his back. Stiggy bent over, yelling. The skinhead roared and shoved him head-first into the bar. Stiggy crumpled to the ground, the skinhead moved in for the kill. Stiggy curled himself up into a ball, the skinhead kicked out at his arms and legs. The young skinheads cheered him on.
Twiglet and Spazzo rushed forward to intercept. The young skinheads swarmed over them and they went down in a hail of fists and boots. Brian jumped on the large skinhead’s back and wrapped his arms around his neck. He kicked out his legs to unbalance him. The large skinhead twisted and turned, tried to punch Brian in the face. The skinhead girl stumbled toward Stiggy, holding her stomach with one hand.
Colin knew he should do something to help Brian but he was frozen to the spot. He watched the skinhead girl help Stiggy to his feet, then support him with an arm around his waist while they staggered to the exit. It was only when the group of young skinheads got bored of kicking the unconscious bodies of Twiglet and Spazzo and looked around for a fresh target that he sprang into action.
Colin rushed up to the large skinhead and pushed him in the chest with both hands. He toppled over, Brian still clinging to his back. Brian gave out a loud gasp when the skinhead landed on top of him. His hands fell to his sides. The skinhead rolled over and straddled him, raised his fists to pummel his upturned face.
Colin grabbed the skinhead around the neck and pulled with all his might. The skinhead sprang up and spun to face him. He laughed and grabbed Colin’s wrists, stretched his arms out wide and pulled Colin closer. His head snapped back, then launched forward to smack Colin on the bridge of his nose.
Blinding pain soared through Colin. The skinhead pushed him away, into the waiting arms of the younger skinheads. They pulled him to the ground and went to work on him with their boots.
* * *
Trog watched the scuffle at the bar with interest. It wasn’t his fight, so there was no need to get involved. The gobby student punk and his mates were getting a right fucking hammering though. The Shefferham mob had no class the way they were all steaming in six onto one. Trog preferred a fair fight, something you could brag about to your mates later. This was just the sort of brutal thuggery that gave skinheads a bad name.
Someone yelled “Coppers!” and everyone drew silent to listen. Trog heard two-tone sirens wailing in the distance, until a mass stampede toward the exit door drowned them out.
“Time to get fucked off,” Don said. Trog nodded and followed him to the exit.
Near the bar, the large skinhead picked up the stem of a broken Babycham bottle and straddled the gobby student’s mate. He smiled as he raised the jagged glass shard above his head like a dagger. Trog stopped to watch, torn between intervening and getting the fuck out of there while he still had time.
The gobby student’s mate cried out and raised his hands to protect his face. The skinhead slashed down and sliced through a wrist. Blood spurted like it had been shot from a water pistol, staining the skinhead’s British Movement T-shirt.
“Trog, come on,” Don yelled, “we need to get fucked off before the coppers get here.”
“You go on, I’ll catch you up later. Meet me at the train station if you need to scarper from outside.”
Trog ran up to the large skinhead just as he raised the broken bottle again. He made a grab for his wrist, but the skinhead jerked it away at the last second and backhanded Trog across the face. Trog stumbled back, the skinhead laughed and rammed the broken bottle into the punk’s neck. He pulled it out and threw it at Trog, then swaggered casually toward the exit door.
* * *
Colin opened his eyes and groaned. Every inch of his body ached. Sirens howled in the distance, getting closer. Colin rolled onto his side and pushed himself up onto his knees. He shook his head and looked around. Tables and chairs were tipped over, broken glass was everywhere. Twiglet lay groaning a few feet away. Spazzo sat holding his face in his hands, blood dripping from his mouth.
Colin looked down when he realised his knees were wet, and saw a large pool of blood. He searched his body frantically for knife wounds. When he found none he looked behind him and gasped. Brian lay still on the ground, a skinhead straddled over him.
Hands around Brian’s neck.
Rage surged through Colin. It was the same skinhead who had been giving him hassle all week, the midget bald bastard who had attacked him for no reason in The Queen’s Head. And now he was killing Brian.
“You’ve had it now, you fucking cunt!” Colin roared. He ran to the skinhead, adrenalin coursing through his body and giving strength to his aching limbs. He barrelled into the skinhead, hands outstretched, and pushed him off Brian. The skinhead rolled onto his side and sat up, glaring at Colin. Blood spurted from a large, gaping wound in Brian’s neck. Colin stared in shock. Brian was unconscious, his face deathly white.
The skinhead crawled toward Brian and clamped a hand over his neck. “We need to put pressure on the wounds or he’ll fucking bleed to death,” he said.
Colin gaped at the skinhead, open mouthed. The skinhead looked up at him. “For fuck’s sake, get down here and help me or he’ll fucking die!”
Colin knelt down and stared at Brian, saw more blood gushing from his wrist. “What do I do?”
“Take your belt off and tie it around his arm, just below the elbow. As tight as you can. Then hold his arm up. I hope that’s a fucking ambulance I can hear coming.”
Colin removed his belt and held it out to the skinhead. “I don’t know what to do. You should do it, you seem to know what you’re doing.”
The skinhead glared at him. “If I let go of his neck again he’ll fucking die. Now fucking do it or I’ll fucking batter you! Get that fucking belt round his fucking arm! Now!” Colin startled, almost dropping the belt. “For fuck’s sake, just do it you useless cunt!”
Colin looped the belt around Brian’s arm and pushed the end through the buckle. “Here?” he asked, still unsure if this was the right thing to do or not.
“A bit further up his arm,” the skinhead said. Colin slid the belt a few inches closer to Brian’s elbow. “That’s it. Now pull the fucker tight and don’t let go.”
Colin looked at the jagged gash in Brian’s wrist while he pulled the belt tighter. The gushing blood slowed to a trickle.
“It’s working,” Colin said, amazed. “Shouldn’t we do the same with his neck?”
The skinhead looked up and shook his head slowly. “Don’t be fucking daft.”
Before Colin could finish his sentence, police swarmed through the door with a loud yell. Colin looked up just in time to see a raised truncheon hurtle toward his face, then he slumped over Brian and lost consciousness.
Continued next Friday.
Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.