CLEAROUT SALE MARK EDWARDS
The right of Mark Edwards to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This is a work of fiction. Any similarity of persons, places or events depicted herein to actual persons, places or events is purely coincidental. Copyright ÂŠ 2008 by Mark Edwards All rights reserved Published by Andromache Books, London ISBN 978-1-4092-4695-4 Cover image: View from Scotstown ÂŠ by Pamela Adam
CLEAROUT SALE poems and stories
for my mates
you duck inside an old bomb shelter the floor wet leaves beercans used condoms a chokehold stench fifty years of teenage pish graffiti you glimpse lighting your cigarette I hate Mongols but youâ€™re not alone someone or something lurks in the corner your stomach drops glint of steel and sure knowledge of one thing only a door that wasnt there shuts behind you
ÂŁ500 or nearest offer the sign goes up front passenger window mustâ€™ve knocked it up on his computer rust showing through the wheel arches december through january bad enough but two wee boys and another on the way his wife carried it all back from town while he sat tapping at an online application buses departing hourly on sundays a well lit supermarket the reduced to clear section but he burned these thoughts recycling the empties
sair ane I didnt think it would happen again but then it did this lassie at my work she used to give me a lift I had to buy a car just to stop myself going insane! she has freckles on the backs of her ankles I saw them one day when she was wearing halfmasts I used to sit in her car and we’d talk and laugh so much it felt like my last love resurrected I have to watch what I say even the other day she has this long red hair and says it’s for the chop I almost burst out —No! Dont do that! in two days it’s her birthday I know exactly what to get her but didnt get an invite life’s a bit sair at the moment business as usual
science fiction in the glistening blueblack window the shadow of wiry branches wind batters the window branches flailing in the distance a few spots of light orange, white, yellow a science fiction night nothing out there is human
MAN IN BLACK
Colin reversed the car fast in a big curve and BANG! Jesus! He opened his door and I opened mine. Round the back big Stevie was lying on the ground. Fucksake Stevie, I didnt see you! I’m alright, said Stevie, in a shaky voice. Dont move, I said. We’ll get an ambulance, Colin— He was already walking back towards the pub. I stood over Stevie, Is anything sore? No, I’m alright, I dont need an ambulance. He was lying on his back, his face pale in the darkness. You’ll be okay, but it’s better to get checked over. He was all in black. Black jacket, black trousers, black shoes, black gloves. No wonder Colin hadnt seen him. It was a pitch black Sunday night. The last night of October. Fucking hell Stevie, are you okay? It was a woman’s voice. She’d just come out the pub, was walking quickly towards us. He seems alright, I said. I’ve told him just to keep still till the ambulance gets here. I’m freezing, said Stevie. My arse has gone numb. It’ll be the shock, the woman said. Whatever you do dont move. She gave me a look. Are you the driver? No, my mate was driving. Where’s your mate?
Over there, I nodded towards the pub. Colin and Elaine were coming out the door. Have you had a drink? the woman said. No. A shandy and that’s it. Colin doesnt drink and drive, said Elaine. I looked at the car. There was a four inch dent right in the middle of the boot. Can I get up? said Stevie. No, the woman said. Wait for the ambulance. It’ll be here soon. You’d better turn off the engine, Elaine told Colin. He went and turned the engine and lights off. I followed him, It’ll be okay— I could lose my licence for this. There’s no point worrying. Just bide calm. Fucksake, he said, walking away. I got my fags out and lit up. Near enough everybody had come out the pub and there was a fair crowd gathered round Stevie. Old Jock still had a pint in his hand, was saying Colin would get six months for this. It’s not funny, Elaine said. Aye it is, said Jock. Drink your drink, said George the barman. I’m really sorry, said Colin. I honestly didnt see you. Stevie didnt say anything. If his eyes hadnt been open you’d have thought he was asleep. The woman was crouched down beside him with her hand on his arm. You’re going to be fine, she said. I’ve been saying we should have lights out here for ages, said Elaine. It was only a matter of time before there was an accident. Colin got his fags out and lit up then offered the packet to Elaine. The woman stood up, took one as well. We stood around smoking. Colin finished one fag, lit another. Then we heard a van coming down.
It’s the police, said Elaine. Here we go, said Jock. Colin dropped his tab, stood on it. He walked over to the policevan, spoke to them through the driver’s window. Where’s the ambulance? the woman said. Godknows, I said. It should be here any minute, said Elaine. Colin came back with PC Foulis and a younger bobby I didnt recognise. The younger one crouched down beside Stevie. Are you in pain at all? My arse is sore. That’s about it. You’ll be okay. The paramedics are on their way. We’ve told him to lie still, said Elaine. The bobby nodded. Did anyone witness the accident? Folk said no or shook their heads. Nobody mentioned I’d been in the passenger seat. Here’s the ambulance, said George. It was coming down the road, blue lights flashing. Okay, let them do their job, said Foulis. Colin, I’ll have to ask you a few more questions. He followed the bobbies back to their van. I went over to the ambulance. The paramedics came back with me. Give them some room, said George. The crowd opened to let them in about. One of the paramedics was a youngish woman and she asked what had happened. I gave her the story while her partner, an older guy, crouched down beside Stevie, asking questions, touching Stevie’s legs and hips. Will he live? said Jock. I think so, said the paramedic. Can you get up? Stevie started to get up slowly. The paramedics helped him to his feet, led him over and into the back of the ambulance. The whole crowd followed. The paramedics had to shut the door.
Is he okay? said Colin, coming towards me with the young bobby. I think so, aye. The bobby opened the door and we saw Stevie sitting in there, looking very pale. Is it alright if I come in and ask a few questions? In you come, said the older paramedic. The bobby climbed into the back of the ambulance. Did they breathalyse you? the woman asked Colin. Aye, nothing showed up. Lucky for you. Elaine gave the woman an evil look but held her tongue. PC Foulis had just walked over. Okay folks, you can disperse now. The panic’s over. Folk started to leave in groups of two or three. Old Jock downed the last of his pint, handed George the empty glass. See you all later, he gave a mock salute, started unsteadily up the road. That man’s a bloody idiot, said Elaine. The ambulance door opened. Stevie and the young bobby got out. Stevie started up the road, limping slightly. The woman caught up with him, took his arm. PC Foulis turned to Colin. No sense hanging about. If there’s anything we’ll be in touch. No bother, he walked back towards the car and I followed. We got in. He let out a sigh, Fucksake, you still want to go for a smoke? We were parked in our usual place down by the esplanade. The heater was on and I was skinning up. I cant wait till this month is over, he pointed at the dashboard clock. This has been the worst month of my life. First me and Jackie split up, then I get paid off, now I’ve run over Stevie! Imagine it struck midnight and the car exploded.
Dont even say that. Telling you, at one minute to twelve I’m getting out of here and I’m running down the road. You’re a madman! Cheers. I put the joint between my lips and lit up. Colin looked over. You think he’ll be okay? They wouldnt have let him go if he wasnt. I exhaled a cloud of smoke. I wouldnt worry . . . One day we’ll laugh about all this. You reckon? Well, obviously nae thenight, cause it could’ve been a disaster . . . But we live and learn, ken? Aye. I took my third drag, tapped ash into the ashtray, passed him the joint. So you think Stevie’ll start wearing florescent colours instead of his trademark black? I doubt it. I’ve never seen him wearing any other colour. Mind you used to call him Johnny Cash? Johnny Cash, the man in black. I shot a man in Reno— Behave! He shook his head, wound the driver’s window down a crack. Never figured you for a Country fan. Well, there you go. I leaned back in the seat. What about that woman following Stevie up the road? What about her? Never seen her before. I’ve seen her a couple of times. She was well pissed off. Aye. He passed me the joint. Anyway, that’s my three. Eh? They say it comes in threes.
Hmmm. I took a drag and looked out into the night. You could see the shimmering lights of towns and villages all along the coast. Here, I said, finish this off willya? He reached over and took the last of it from my hand. I leaned back in the seat and closed my eyes. You fancy another? I opened my eyes. The clock said quarter past twelve. Nah, Iâ€™m working at eight. I pointed at the clock. Thatâ€™s October over. Thank christ for that. Colin started the engine.
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