Too Few locks the door, pushed the heavy dresser on front. I’m sitting on the bed, my head spinning, the room spinning, Few spinning. He fucks the rickety chair up against the wall and smashed his foot through it, grabs two of the broken legs and hands me one.
“You’ll need this, keep it in bed beside you.”
“He’s a violent psychopath.”
“But..He’s our violent psychopath..”
“He’s got a drink on, he’s been smoking weed, he’s insane, it’s going to be a long night. No matter what he says or does do not open the fucking door, do you understand?”
I’m lying in the dark, on the floor. Few took the bed. Bastard. It does smell of piss though. So does the floor.
“How did you meet The Denis?”
He swings out of bed, rummages in his case and pulls out a bottle of Connemara whiskey. He takes a swig and hands it to me.
“Here, it’s a long story.”
It was the blistering summer of 1989. London. South London. I was a callow youth, hard to believe, I know, unsophisticated, aiming for maximum beatnik, achieving gauche self-consciousness. Goth self-consciousness. Painful youth. But I had promise and big fucking dreams.
We – me and my three acolytes, Ted, Flash and Bob, got the tube to New Cross Gate. This London was crumbling, seedy and positively dangerous in parts. Thatcher was on the wane but she’d done irreparable damage. We lugged our battered suitcases down Lewisham Way to a basement flat, number 179a. The landlady greeted us, Angela Jolly – she had been Irish, a long time ago. She was also Jolly, in a kind of jolly fucking crazy way. She called us dahlin’ and pet and luv and “my Irish babies” and that was just the greeting at the door. Bottle blonde, heavily made up (unlike this story) and plastic-flower fragrant. She was faded, defeated but I took to her all the same.
Denis, her brother, was in the kitchen, drinking tea and chain-smoking John Player Navy Cut. He had the moustache then too, small guy, he looked hard but he’s friendly straight away. I noticed the blue ink on his arm, prison tattoo I find out later. He’s all manly handshakes and backslaps and we are going to have a fucking great summer boys, I’ll get you the start on the old buildings, I know a man in Victoria working on the Austrian Embassy and on and on.
“Denis will look after you my luvvies!” and Angela is gone. She lives up in Lewisham proper.
“So what do you think of The Angela?”
“I say nothing, Ted pipes up “She seems nice.”
“You fancy The Angela.”
“I tell you mate, you wouldn’t have it in you. She would kill you stone dead”.
“Listen pal, you can’t fool me, I was married and I twenty one, I know all about the ladies. And the men. Drop up your fucking bags and we’ll go for an old drink in The Clarrington”.
It was actually called The Clarendon, not a bad pub. Gone now. Think it’s was a coffee shop before it folded. The Marquis of Granby is still there, and The Rose.
Denis entertained us, he could be a charming host. He wasn’t big on paying for anything. We felt obliged, then anyway. We returned to the flat to find Kevin, an unemployed Scottish stoner chef, having a spiff at the back door of the kitchen. Lank of limb and hair, he stared balefully as we staggered in.
“Look at this old Scottish cunt, I tell you The Few he is a devil-worshipping junkie and he shouldn’t be living in my fucking house. The Angela..”
“Ah shut the fuck up Hitler, good ta meet ya lads. I’m off tae bed. Watch this one like a hawk, ken? There’s a few cans a Holsten in the fridge, help yersel. G’night.”
The Denis did have a way with the ladies. He used to trip up to Holloway prison and hang around outside, waiting for someone to be released. If there was nobody to meet her, he’d buy them a drink, and they’d end up back at our place. As I said, charming. I met a lot of broken, desperate women that summer, and you had to be really desperate to have anything to do with him.
On the other hand, I struck up a great friendship with Kevin. He taught me to cook, I was a fast learner, a brilliant student. As you’d expect. We were happy potheads together, lounging under the fig tree in the wild back yard.
It was the night of the lunar eclipse, mid-August and we’d been living it up, out of our heads, completely out of our heads. Denis wasn’t wrong about everything, Kevin did have an interest in the occult. He arrived down stairs with a Ouija board, Ted, Flash and Bob were in the garden howling at the moon, werewolves of London.
We gathered together around the kitchen table, the Holsten was flowing. The front door slammed. Denis laughing, roaring and falling down and up the hallway. He had a Holloway girl with him. They burst into the kitchen.
*To be continued.
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