The Mattress: The Glasgow Chronicles 4

BOOK: The Mattress: The Glasgow Chronicles 4
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The Mattress

By Ian Todd

 

 

The Mattress is a work of fiction.  The names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents in this book are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

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Chapter One

Mary Flint and her best pal, Elaine Hinky, wur well-known faces in Gourlay Street, Springburn.  Although the baith ae them stayed in Inverurie Street, which wis at the far end ae the drag, alang beside the bowling green, they’d been trooping up and doon Gourlay Street fur God only knew how long, tae get their weekly messages fae the shoaps oan Springburn Road.  Even though they wurnae related, people mistook them fur sisters, probably oan account ae them baith being well intae their sixties, averaging aboot thirty four stane between them and sporting the same hairdos, including bright flame-orange hair that anywan, other than a blind man, could see hid come oot ae a packet ae Recital.  Though it might’ve been obvious that the pair ae them wur clearly no able tae read hair dye instructions, whit people didnae realise wis that Mary wore a wig oan that napper ae hers.  The only time the pair ae them hid ever been close tae falling oot in the thirty eight years that they’d been pals, hid been aboot eighteen months earlier, when Elaine hid, oot ae the blue, change her hair fae shoulder length tae a sexy wee Helen Shapiro bob.

  “Bit it’s aw the rage noo, fur people oor age, so it is, Mary,” Elaine hid explained enthusiastically tae her best pal at the time, trying tae dampen doon Mary’s concerns, before things goat oot ae haun.

  “It’s no as raging as Ah am, so it’s no.  And whit aboot me, eh?  It’s awright fur yersel, bit whit am Ah gonnae dae wae this?” Mary hid wailed, pointing at her Highland jig, before nose-diving intae a huff.

  “Ach, yer hair is lovely, so it is,” Elaine hid purred, concerned that Mary wisnae tae be comforted.

  “It’s that ugly wee wummin fae the Toonheid, Liberace, or whitever his name is, that’s filling yer heid full ae shite.  Yer hair wis perfect as it wis.”

  “Mary, Mary, stoap girning and getting they drawers ae yers intae a twist.  And it’s Bertram…Harry Bertram.  Ah admit Ah spoke tae him when Ah wis in hivving a wee gander at whit his new salon looks like.  Aw the lassies wur raving aboot him and Ah thought Ah’d check him oot.  Ye know, we’re lucky tae hiv somewan ae his calibre up here in Springburn, so we ur.  He could’ve gone anywhere wae the talent he’s goat in they fingers ae his.”

  Mary hidnae spoken tae Elaine fur o’er a week efter that.  Harry Bertram, or Harry The Bouffant as he wis known, wis a famous hairdresser who’d hid a shoap doon oan Parly Road, in the Toonheid, before he wis forced tae shut up and move, tae make way fur the new motorway.  Everywan hid been fair impressed that aw his customers hid followed him up tae Springburn, although Mary hid put this doon tae the fact that they’d aw been re-hoosed in Springburn, since aw the tenements in the Toonheid wur coming doon alang wae his shoap.  Mary’s cousin, who’d jist goat shifted up tae Possil fae Glebe Street, hid telt her that the Toonheid wis like a bad dream noo, wae wasteland covering the whole area.  She’d said that some ae the families wur trying tae hing in there by refusing tae budge, bit The Corporation and they big Sheriff officers ae theirs wur aw manhaundling them oot ae their hooses and padlocking up their doors wance they goat them oot.  Thankfully, the carry-oan aboot Elaine’s new hairdo goat sorted oot when The Bouffant goat Elaine tae persuade Mary tae come doon tae his salon fur a personal consultation.  It hid been a bit ae a tricky situation tae start wae, wance Mary hid eventually been persuaded tae get aff ae that arse ae hers and go doon tae see him.  The place hid been mobbed wae aw the local auld yins, queuing up tae get rid ae their blue rinses, and poor Mary hid found it difficult tae tell Harry that it wis a wig she wis wearing, withoot hauf the bingo crowd finding oot that she wis a bald as an auld coot.

  “Look, hen, there isnae a problem, so there’s no.  Ah’ll soon hiv the pair ae ye...yersel and that Elaine wan...looking like a pair ae twin bombshells, so Ah will, or ma name’s no Harry Bertram,” he’d promised her, his bouncing bouffant flapping up and doon above that foreheid ae his like the tap diving board at the swimming baths up oan Kay Street.

  He’d been true tae his word, and the problem hid soon been sorted oot.  Elaine hid haunded in her wig and Harry hid cut it doon intae a bob, jist like Elaine’s.  Nowan hid been any the wiser and Mary and Elaine hid soon been back tae being the best ae pals.

   The two ae them wur noo sitting shaking, fags sticking oot ae their faces, scared tae take another puff.  Two weeks earlier, Mary hid scooped seventy five quid by winning the full hoose.  As they wur partners, they always split their winnings.  Then the previous week, they couldnae believe their luck, and neither could aw the other wummin in the place, when they’d scooped the full hoose again, although it hid been Elaine that hid shouted oot ‘Hoose’ efter getting the winning number that time.

  “Aye, it’s right whit they say, money always goes tae them who’ve goat plenty,” Elsie Moran, who always sat in the seat behind Elaine, hid muttered loudly.

  It wis noo Thursday again and Christmas wis jist roond the corner.  Mary wis sitting wae a circle roond fourteen numbers oan wan ae her game cards, waiting fur wan mair number fur the full hoose, which wid make them the winner, three weeks oan the trot.  Her hauns wur shaking and the sweat wis nipping her eyes like an auld albino sitting oot in the desert sun withoot a pair ae sunglasses tae his name.  Elaine wis wanting tae take a run doon the middle aisle and punch Handsome Eric oan that handsome face ae his fur aw the fannying aboot he wis daeing, insteid ae getting oan wae shouting oot the full hoose number that Mary wis hinging oan fur, which wis twenty three.  Earlier, the baith ae them hid shot in through the glass doors ae The Princes Bingo Hall oan Gourlay Street at bang oan seven o’clock.  They usually went fur a couple ae spins oan the wan-ermed bandits, bit this week, they’d gied that a miss, believing that the quicker they hid their arses plapped doon oan the seats in the main hall, the quicker the games wid start and they’d be walking hame wae the prize money…again.

  “Ah’m telling ye, Mary, everything comes in threes,” Elaine hid been jabbering aw week, since their second win, the week before.

  “Is that no jist fur bad stuff?”

  “Is whit no jist fur bad stuff?”

  “Everything happening in threes?”

  “Naw, naw, it could be fur good luck as well.  Ah’m telling ye, we’re no gonnae furget whit happens the night fur the rest ae oor lives.  Christ, oor great grand weans will be talking aboot it, so they will.”

  “Two fat ladies, eighty eight,” Handsome Eric shouted, smiling as he lifted the baw oot ae the draw machine and placed it in the number box.

  “C’mone, Eric, gie’s twenty three,” Elaine pleaded under her breath.

  “Doon oan yer knee...”

  “Here it comes noo, Elaine, here it comes!” Mary whimpered wae excitement, ready tae let fly wae a shout ae ‘Hoose’.

“...forty three.”

  “See that ugly basturt?  Ah’m gonnae take a run and jump at him if he disnae stoap farting aboot, so Ah am,” Elaine howled in frustration.

  “Tickety boo… sixty two.”

  “C’mone, c’mone,” Mary groaned.

  “God’s in heaven…number seven.”

  “That tailor’s dummy is daeing that deliberately tae ye, Mary.  He knows fine well ye’re waiting fur twenty three, so he dis.”

  “Stuck up a tree...fifty three.”

  “Ah jist cannae staun much mair ae this.  Ah think Ah’ve awready hid a few unintended dribbles because ae that bampot wan,” Mary groaned through gritted teeth, clamping they legs ae hers shut like a vice.

  “Legs eleven…number eleven,” Eric shouted intae the microphone, as the whole hoose erupted in cat-calling whistles.

  “Is it me...”

  “Yes, yes, yes!” Mary and Elaine baith panted in ecstasy.

  “...number three.”

  “Hoose!” some selfish whore shouted fae o’er oan wan ae the back rows, screaming wae joy.

  “Aw naw!  Ah cannae bloody believe that, so Ah cannae,” Mary howled in frustration.  “That wis aboot an hour and a hauf that Ah wis waiting fur ma number.  See that ugly Eric?  He’s bloody-well useless, so he is.”

  “Aw, wis it jist the wan number ye wur waiting fur then, Mary, hen?” Elsie Moran asked her fae behind, happy as fuck.

  “Aye, number twenty three.  See that eejit, Eric?  Wan ae these days, wan ae these wummin in here is gonnae swing fur him, so they ur,” Elaine replied, sick as a parrot.

  “Aw, is that no a shame?  Mind youse, ye’ll still hiv a wee bit left o’er fae yer last two wins, nae doubt, eh?” Elsie sympathised, as Handsome Eric announced tae all and sundry that the numbers oan the selfish cow’s card fae the back row who’d shouted oot, corresponded wae the wans in the number box.

  Mary and Elaine didnae hing aboot tae hear any mair shite coming oot ae Elsie’s gub.  They wur awready making a B-line fur the double exit doors up at the back ae the hall, which hid been jammed open tae ease the mad dash, as Eric wis wishing them aw a safe journey hame.  It wis important fur them tae get a move oan or they’d be stuck at the back ae the queue roond at Salty Tony’s, another refugee fae Parly Road in the Toonheid, who’d opened up a chip shoap oan Springburn Road.  Hauf the Thursday night bingo crowd heided there straight efter the full hoose wis shouted oot every week.  The pair ae them jist managed tae squeeze through the double exit doors thegither and wur scurrying towards the ootside glass doors in the foyer, when their lives changed furever.

  “Aye, we might be wee and fat and jist been shafted by a big handsome bingo caller, bit we’re no so slow oan oor plates ae meat, eh?” Elaine hid jist quipped, turning tae Mary, who wis scurrying behind her like a wee overfed, hauf-sized hippo.

  It happened so fast that it wis aw o’er and done wae in under a minute.  Elaine pushed the glass door tae let them oot oan tae Gourlay Street, bit came up against a solid resistance.  In wan sense, it wis probably fortunate that she turned her heid roond towards Mary when she did.  It meant she didnae hiv tae watch the first plunge ae the bayonet intae the side ae the boy’s neck.  When Mary let oot a shriek that wid’ve wakened the deid o’er in the graveyard oan Keppochhill Road, the bayonet hid awready been withdrawn and wis being plunged back intae the young boy again.  This time, the blade disappeared intae his right side, which made him let go ae the haundle ae the door, as he tried tae cover up the damage inflicted oan his body wae his hauns.  By the time Elaine turned and looked oot through the glass door tae see whit wis gaun oan, a spurt ae blood hid shot oot ae the poor boy’s neck and splattered against the glass, hivving the same effect as if somewan hid thrown a tin ae red paint against a mirror.  Before Elaine’s shriek drooned oot Mary’s wan, she caught sight ae whit wis happening oan the other side ae the glass door, through the clear parts, where the blood wisnae running doon.  She saw three sets ae legs, aw kicking the boy as if he wis a rag fitba.  The boy himsel wisnae shrieking or anything, bit wis wriggling aboot the ground, trying tae avoid the feet, his eyes bulging in fear, mooth opening and closing, screaming wordlessly and clearly distressed.  Within seconds, it wis o’er wae and he lay there, curled up intae a ball, baith hauns gripping his stomach, his face screwed up and twisted in pain.  The muffled shouts and curses ae his assailants faded as they ran and jumped intae a red coloured car that hid been sitting, waiting, wae its doors ajar.  Elaine watched horrified at the life slowly fading fae the boy’s scared eyes which wur looking up at her pleadingly through the glass, as a pool ae blood formed roond aboot him.  Mary, who wis staunin behind Elaine, made an unsuccessful attempt at trying tae catch her best pal and break her fall as Elaine fell backwards in a faint that wid’ve done Mary Pickford proud.  Unfortunately fur Mary, oan the way doon, Elaine accidently grabbed her friend’s good Helen Shapiro-inspired, bobbed wig aff ae that heid ae hers, taking it tae the carpeted flair wae her.  This left poor Mary, awready in a state ae shock hersel, still feeling the need tae explain tae a couple ae hunner shocked wummin fae Springburn, who’d aw known her fur years, that the reason fur Elaine suddenly shrieking and fainting in front ae them wis tae dae wae whit she’d jist witnessed oan the other side ae the glass doors, and hid absolutely nothing whitsoever tae dae wae Mary staunin there wae a bald napper and the wig clutched in Elaine’s ootstretched right haun.

 

BOOK: The Mattress: The Glasgow Chronicles 4
5.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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