Everything was a game up till now, rolling with the punches playing fast and loose. This was heavy; this was intense. He no longer had control. They were chauffeured back to Queens. Jimmy sat there rigid, saying nothing.
“Your face says it all?” said Kayla.
“It’s a bit of a shock. What do you want?”
“Not this. Thinking of Kelly is that it? Don’t look so shocked. You’ve been talking in your sleep.”
“That’s rubbish, I’m here.”
Jimmy was feeling the heat. He prevaricated to buy himself thinking time; time to position a response that wouldn’t kill their relationship and ultimately the band. Kayla’s position was crystal. He could either agree or split. The choice was simple the process impossibly hard. He soaked in the bath for hours inhaling eucalyptus vapour. A maelstrom brewed, questioned looped tormenting his brain, teasing him towards the exit.
He slept uneasy that night, dredging up the past, looking for the answer. He saw a faceless man from the Airport back in Rio. He sat with his wife and three kids; a baby, infant son and daughter. He was in his early thirties, slightly rotund, not fat just a bit out of shape. He looked battle wary, like he had given up and rolled out of bed in pyjamas. No one noticed him. The baby was crying, the kids fighting. He ran after them; his wife’s flamboyant paisley handbag swinging round his neck, but still he remained invisible. Just another battered family man doing his duty. He tipped the wink and smiled at Jimmy. It was as if Josh were speaking, urging him to lead the life he could not. When he woke the answer was staring him in the face.
“Are you sure this is what you want?” she asked.
“Yes, but let’s do this right.”
“What do you mean?”
They caught the red eye from New York to Las Vegas. Pra made use of the complimentary drinks; triple shots straight no chaser poured without reserve. The plane was a lively mix of boxing and casino punters. Pra juiced bourbon, rose to his feet and made announcement putting torch to flame. Toasts were made, music played and pre-game celebrations vigorously pursued. Word spread and the booze flowed with giddy delight. After the fifth round in just as many minutes the air stewards closed the bar before the situation got out of hand. The mood was undeniable set for the marriage of Jimmy Bramble to Kayla Moreau.
They alighted and climbed into Limousines courtesy of Cornell. One for the boys and one for the girls. Jimmy, Kevin and Pra clambered in.
“Ok your stag do has officially begun. Where we going?” asked Pra.
Kevin interjected. “I got some Mexican friends in the desert, they’ll know a place.”
They drove for an hour and pulled up in a parking lot opposite a Lucky 88 motel.
“Are you sure this is the right place? It’s pitch black and we’re in the middle of no-where,” asked Jimmy.
“Don’t worry. He said he’d be here. Just sit tight.”
They sat on a low wall waiting for Fede, Kevin’s Mexican friend. A gang of do-rag creeps sloped up under the yard lights.
“Hi, you looking for some action?” asked the leader. A skinny white girl came forward into the light, fresh from shooting up, rubbing the red marks still visible on her forearm.
“No, we’re ok thanks.”
“Where you from?” He said closing in.
“Yeah, that’s nice,” he said looking shifty.
Jimmy whispered to Pra, gearing up for action. “Grab the bottles on the wall.”
“Where’s your car?” He said getting ready to jump them. He pulled a blade and thrust it forward.
“Are you serious?” said Kevin stepping up. ”Put it down before you get hurt.”
“Shut up and hand over the keys.”
Jimmy and Pra grabbed the bottles and smashed them “Come on then, let’s do it.”
Suddenly a stout Mexican wearing a wide brim fedora emerged out of the dark pumping his shotgun.
“You wanna dance bitch?”
It was Fede, Kevin’s contact. He let off a round into the air ’Boom’ then pointed the barrel straight at his head.
“Well how about it ya punk ass bitch?”
They dropped the blade and ran. “Jodete, Bitch ass muthers fuckers.”
He turned to Kevin and the boys “You guys ok?”
“Good to see you man,” said Kevin, they hugged.
“Sorry I kept you waiting ah?”
“Cool, no worries.” He grabbed Jimmy. “This is the guy I was telling you about.”
Fede shook his hand “Congratulations. Don’t worry about nothin’. In Tijuana those guys would be ex’d, gone. We better go before La tira come, Vamos.”
Kevin laughed. “Hey Jimmy, you can drop the bottle now,”
He looked across slowly. “You sure your dad’s a Preacher?”
They went back to Fede’s Hummer. Jimmy spied a wooden crate marked Property of US Army in the tailgate.
Jimmy turned to Kevin. “This guy is fucking hard core.”
“How do you know him?” asked Pra.
“In Harlem you either deal or use. Before my Dad became a Preacher he dealt blow.”
“Does his flock know?”
“Only reason they listen.”
“Fede was my Dad’s supplier. He’s like family.”
Fede slammed the glass partition open. “OK guys we’re running late, let’s go.”
They pulled up at the Lexx, a scavengers flesh pit for those in need of a quick fix. The parking lot was a dirt patch in the scrub. The club neon cut the night, a beacon illuminating poke rimmed pimpmobiles. Chrome coated Continentals and Caddy deVilles rolled in, sound systems pumping, bins popping so deep you could feel the ground quake. They entered and were immediately surrounded by pretty face honeys grinding, passing blunts, shovelling blow conspicuously unfettered.
They parked themselves at the bar opposite the podium.
“You see that guy over there? Don’t point,” said Fede.
“Yeah the dude with the hoochie?” said Jimmy.
“He’s La Tira, Police under cover. He thinks we don’t know he’s a plant, but we do. He in for a surprise later. Either he turns or we gonna ex him.”
“Ex him? you mean..”
“Yeah, we pop him in head, slip him in the trunk and you know, take a drive..”
Jimmy turned to Kevin “Nah, nah this is too much,” he cried.
Fede and Kevin burst into laughter. “Relax man, we’re kidding, it was a joke.” They fell around slapping Jimmy on the back.
“Fuck, thank god for that. I had enough gangster shit for one night,”
“Ok no more gangster shit, got it haha..ha. “Kevin tapped Jimmy on the
shoulder. “How about this instead?”
They turned round and were face to face with a line of dimes on the side stage, glistening with body lotion, oiling each other up in plain sight.
“Buoy, look she a skin up.” said Pra.
Jimmy weighed his options. “I got to get out of here, I’m getting married,”
“Don’t be silly, we’re just getting started.” Kevin grabbed a body banging babe
off stage. “What’s your name baby?”
“Glory.” she stood wearing clear heels in a postage stamp two-piece.
“Glory you are one hot piece of ass. You wanna freebase?” He got closer,
whispered in her ear and stuffed a wad of Benjamins in her hands. She saddled Jimmy. Her hands wandered, pushing up.
“Why you wear jeans? Don’t you know, you’re supposed to wear tracks,”
Jimmy no longer had the will to fight and followed Kevin outside. They went
back to Fede’s beach house. The party was in full swing. Dance hall Latinos in chinchilla bikinis welcomed Jimmy into a hot tub with a glass of Alize.
The last thing he remembered was diving head first onto the water bed before waking up face down in the morning on a concrete balcony you could fry an egg on. Barking dogs from a pen directly beneath bought him to his feet.
“Fucking dogs. What is it with Mexicans do they come with the green card?”
There was a loud roar. “What the fuck was that?”
“Hyenas,” said Kevin.
Jimmy looked vacant “I thought I dreamt that. I got to see this.”
“Ah, no time,”
He looked at the clock, “Oh, know Christ, I’m dead. I told you to wake me.”
“Don’t worry I’ve sorted everything,” said Kevin.
A horn blew, they ran, “I rang Kayla’s limo, told them to circle the block.”
They stepped into the Limo. A row of Tuxedos were hung ready and waiting
next to a stocked bar.
“What you need is some wake-up juice.” He mixed two shots of Tequila, coffee, sugar and ¼ cup of cream. “Drink this.”
They rolled up at the Chapel of Flowers, a country style chapel complete with reflection fall strategically placed to blot out the construction site opposite. Reverent Tyler presided dressed in black, sporting winkle pickers and a studded Stetson. Jimmy waited at the altar, cameras rolled, the wedding march played and Kayla took her place by his side in a fab Kazar silk and lace.
The perfect ceremony played out with sincere loving intent. Kayla smiled knowingly. Jimmy felt calm once more. They filed out to a flood of tears and congratulations. It was a relief, all the anguish dissolved in a hitched instant. Jimmy unbuttoned his collar, untied his bow and clinked a cold one with the group. After the wedding photos they climbed back into the limos and proceeded to lead a procession into the velvet room at The Bellagio. Pra broke out his speech, Jimmy broke out cigars and the champagne flowed.
Kayla left the suite for breakfast with the girls. Jimmy ordered room service; decaf, eggs benedict and toast. He lit a cigarette, sipped his coffee and rang Chris, his eldest brother to break the news, unprepared for what was to follow.
One phone call shattered their new found happiness. One call bought fragile walls tumbling down. Kayla rushed in to find Jimmy on his knees weeping inconsolably.
“Babes, what’s wrong?”
“It’s my Dad.”
Chris broke the news to Jimmy. His Dad had passed away.
Jimmy lost control. He was inconsolable, staggering hopelessly into the abyss, searching for a light to guide him out. All he could think of was getting back home to his Mum. He caught the next flight to England and left Kayla behind with baby, at her insistence.
He closed his eyes and drifted into the clouds up among the heavens. What stays with you in dire times are the things you hold most dear. Small things from the past now held epic meaning. His Dad pimping their Rover SD1; Holding masking tape while he straightened the edge and sprayed a bronze coach line. Goofing around underneath the bonnet with his brothers; trusty Haynes manual in hand. Dad got it, he understood the meaning of it all; treasure was not gems buried under foot but water to drink in the dessert, air to breath under ocean. Dad pulled something out of nothing, forging precious memories that held little importance until now.
The rain fell against a giant grey brick wall as he pulled out the car park. It wouldn’t let up. It reminded him of the last time he saw Vince, in the back garden. He was helping Dad erect a barbed wire fence around the fishpond to keep the alley cats out. Dad was always doing odd jobs round the house to keep busy, to keep Mum happy. He was a family man plain and simple, content on being just that, Dad.
The funeral was a huge affair, everyone knew Vince. Many friends from back home came to pay their respects. Jimmy invited Mark, Simon came with Lucy and Pra brought Kelly at her behest. Jimmy was elected for the Eulogy. He stepped up to the lectern, nervous but proud.
My Dad met Mum, in a General Store in Georgetown, Guyana. He grabbed any chance to serve Mum on her shopping trips from Mahaicony into town. They lost contact but met up by chance in England. When they arrived they found a bedsit in Highbury, Islington. Dad worked the trains, Mum worked as a trainee nurse. They intended to return to Guyana but they fell in love and stayed. My Dad was a family man. On Saturday we’d shell shrimp, mark up the test match cricket scores and give running commentary on overs as he ping-ponged from the kitchen to living room preparing dinner. At 3pm we’d catch Big daddy or Mick MacManus beat the nine bells out of the new fall guy. Times were different back then, men were men. I asked Dad to make a bird house and he proceeded to rip old beams and craft a mansion sized bird house complete with a tin gable, cut from an old Esso can. In the course of fixing our roof he’d steal out the attic window, three storeys up and replace tiles in his slippers. He’d close up shop and drive to Edinburgh for the day, cart us across Europe in our clapped out Victor. Heaven only knows how he performed these superhuman feats with four kids in tow. We were lucky, everyone says their dad is a hero but our Dad really was.”
The casket rolled in to the cremation chamber for incineration. Closure was grim, closure was unashamedly harsh, a dramatic act to bring home the finality of it all. Delilah, Vince’s favourite, played as everyone filed out to lay reefs in the memorial garden.
The wake was an altogether lighter affair. Mum decorated the lounge with pictures of Dad in his youth. Posing under a street lamp with his Teddy Boy frat, tugging a snout on his BSA. Elvis played as mourners circulated, ate parcel snacks and swapped stories. It was agonising but they put on a brave front, going through the motions for Vince.
Simon, Mark and Pra peeled off from the crowd into the side yard.
“He was always smiling your old man, always laughing he never had a bad word,” said Simon.
“Hey, remember that time we borrowed your ’ol man’s Rover, tell Mark,” said Pra.
“Dad lent me the car I said I’d bring it back in one piece. On the way to the pub
I had a “conversation” with a lamppost, completely demolished it, the windscreen caved, car totalled. We got it started and took it back to Pra’s. We went back to Dads. I said the car had been side swiped while we were in the pub. I thought he’d swallowed it, just as we were about to leave he says. ‘If you weren’t in the car why have you got glass in your hair?’ You could have heard a pin drop; you lot vanished. I didn’t know what to say, he knew I knew and left it at that.”
“Clever, your dad was cool,” said Mark. They sipped shots of Mezan. “What’s all this I hear about you in the movies, how did that happen?”
“Ever since my dad took me to a Cinematic fair in Bethnal Green I wanted to be a Cameraman.”
“Really? I heard you shagged some tart named Fiona,”
“Yeah, thanks Pra.”
Out of the corner of his eye a man and svelte woman made their way through the front door. They looked vaguely familiar. Mum greeted them, they hugged and stood wearing sunglasses like a couple of incognito film stars ‘dodging the press.’
Pra explained. “I didn’t think you’d mind. He was in town visiting, insisted on coming to ..you know pay his respects.”
Jimmy barged through on impulse. “Christ man, Marvin. It’s good to see ya.”
The sight of his old friend was comforting but in the back of his mind and over his shoulder loomed unwelcome drama.
Before they had time to place their coats, the chief protagonist, Kelly made a b-line for Yvonne. He streaked pass shock and horror and went straight for panic, taking Marvin to one side all the while sizing up Kelly’s deportment, bracing for detonation. When things dried up he shoved Marvin forward ducked out and slid across to Pra at the end of the hall.
“Yeah I know,” said Pra.
“You know!” He sneered “You could have warned me earlier.”
”Yeah, sorry about that.”
He took a moment to clear his mind. “Look you got to help me out here. If it all kicks off Mum will kill me slowly over many years.”
“Just simmer down. They know the coup.”
“Not good enough. Does Kelly know Marvin’s married? Actually, does Yvonne know Kelly is Marvin’s Ex…and we all know that’s only the half of it don’t we?”
A typhoon of theatrical shit was heading his way with his Mum seated ringside.
“Chill the fuck out. I’m on it.” Pra waltzed over, interrupted Kelly and whisked Yvonne away to Simon and the boys for introductions leaving Kelly with Marvin to catch up. “Anything else?” he asked Jimmy.
“If it all goes off take Mum into the garden.“
“How do I do that ?”
“I don’t know, make something up. Ask her about the roses. C’mon man help me out Pra, please.”
An age past. Jimmy left them to get on with it but kept an eye out just in case. Kelly set eyes on Jimmy, he knew he was in the firing line and fell back to the conservatory to evade capture.
Moments later Marvin entered. “Where you been hiding?”
“You looked tied up,” said Jimmy “Didn’t want to complicate things?” He indicated looking across at Kelly.
“Oh nah, it’s cool we just had a chat.“
“What did she say?”
“She wished me all the best. Said Yvonne was beautiful and I was a lucky guy. What did you expect her to say?”
”I don’t know. You guys were an item. I thought she might..ya know get a bit arsy.”
“Nah she’s cool, with me that is.”
“What does that mean?” he snapped.
Jimmy felt at ease. At least Marvin was out of the frame.
“Does Yvonne know about her?” asked Jimmy.
“Yeah, I just told her she was my Ex, an old friend.”
“And she’s okay with that?”
“Yvonne? Yeah totally cool.”
“Man, you are so jammy. You got her hypnotised I swear?”
“Man that’s dark,” joked Marvin leading Jimmy into the garden for a smoke. He pulled out two panatelas. Jimmy ladled a glass of punch. “To be honest mate it hasn’t all been peaches,” confessed Marvin.
“How do ya mean?”
“We had a fall out. It’s cool now. Nothing I couldn’t handle,”
“Yvonne’s friend wanted private lessons at her home, you know with me as her trainer. I thought it odd ’cause she’s fit but money is money right? I go round and she comes on to me. I knew it was test. So I played it like a priest.”
“Damn that’s rough.”
“I know, I thought it was a joke at first but turns out it was more a test to see how dumb I was. If I was gonna cheat that’s not how I’d do it.”
“How did you handle it?”
“I had a heart to heart told her straight up I ain’t like that. When I married her, I meant it no fooling.”
“And nothing, that’s it. She apologized but it’s Brazil. They’re all at it so it was like standard procedure.”
“You didn’t mind?” He puffed on his cigar and blew the smoke skyward.
“I thought it was cute. If I was her I would have done the same thing I mean look at me.” He said flexing his biceps. “The girls are all up for it but why throw the dream over a bit of skirt?”
Jimmy nodded agreeing wholeheartedly. Given his situation he half suspected Marvin was throwing a hint. “Nice.”
“Yeah don’t worry about me.” He looked back checking the coast was clear. “This probably isn’t the place but mate you need to have a word with Kelly.
She’s very upset. You had a spat, a falling out I understand Pra told me everything - you and the band thing but …I don’t know, you just got to wrap things up.”
Jimmy drew in a deep breath “Yeah I know, thanks.”
“We’re still mates. I know I haven’t seen you for ages but you’re still my brother. You know that?”
“Yeah I know.”
“I hate to admit it but you got further than I did. She was more into you. I think she still is. Just talk to her leave things right.”
“You think she will listen?”
“Why do you think she’s here?” Marvin had to cut and run. He had a sit down dinner planned with the in-laws. “Maybe we catch up tomorrow?” He shook hands and left.
Mark stood hovering, waiting in line. He grabbed Jimmy before he lost him to some else. “You know Rawl’s gone? I got a call from the airport. Left me right in the shit. I had to fly out to calm things down.”
Jimmy welcomed the distraction. “Yeah, he said some people were after him.”
“Well he never told me. Anyway he got too flash, I mean a flat on 71st Street is fine if you’re Ewan but Rawl? Like I said people will take your shit.”
“I guess you’re right. Any how what about you, I thought you were getting out,”
“Nah, soon as I gave Sophie that diamond she turned into Imelda Marcos,”
Jimmy topped up his glass with punch. “I got to stay in got no choice. What else is there?”
“Do a Rawl, go legit, buy a business?”
“Can you really see me running a corner shop?” He shook his head. “ Thanks Jimmy, I know what you’re saying but it’s too late for me.”
Kelly walked by. Jimmy hoped by now she’d calmed down but he had no such
luck. “Can I speak to you?” He knew there was no escape and showed her through to the rear. `She had held it in for long enough. “Why didn’t you tell me you were getting married?”
“Can you keep your voice down my Mum doesn’t know.”
“Oh well at least you’re consistent.”
He walked away and she followed indignant determined to push her agenda. He led her down a path covered in auburn leaves to a secluded part of the garden, a secret enclave in the back obscured by hedges and an overgrown trestle. He rolled a long-necked doob, let her rage then casually passed it over.
”Her aggression blunted, they lay on a blanket looking up at the stars. It was twilight the crowd had petered out.
“My Dad was run over, killed by two boy racers; just crossing the road and whack. He was going to the Doctor for his back. I don’t get it do you, he never hurt no-one. He didn’t deserve that.”
“Did they catch them?”
“Yeah, they were knocked out. Even the Bill couldn’t screw that up,”
“At least that’s something.”
“Is it? Doesn’t feel like it.”
She passed the blunt across. “… Why did you get married?”
“I don’t know, I never know which way to go, sometimes you get pulled, you know.”
“What are you saying?”
“I don’t know?”
“After I heard I was so upset I went to your pad and waited. I stood under a tree in the pouring rain to be close. How silly is that?”
“It’s not silly.”
“It was, if only I wasn’t so stupid. I can’t help it I’m a hothead. You saved my life Jimmy and you risked your own to do it. A girl doesn’t forget that easily.”
“I thought you had forgotten me, moved on. The whole thing was kinda sudden. I thought about you but things were moving so fast.”
“If I had called, would you have changed your mind?”
“I don’t know, maybe.”
Kelly was filled with regret. She would trade a lifetime for one moment just to know. She lent in close and kissed him, it felt the same as the very first time. They let the cards fall where they lay, he fell asleep. When he woke she was gone.
Jimmy went for a walk to clear his head. He had no particular place to go, just put one foot in front the other and began walking. It was a brisk morning, perfect thinking weather. No sooner had he settled into his stride, black clouds loomed, unwanted gate crashers intent on spoiling the fun. His body tensed and shoulders hunched bracing himself for rude intrusion. He strayed into the local off license seeking a small bottle of Martel rum but all the small bottles had gone. He eyed up the Kestrel, blue cans of lager next to the super strength black and gold. He reached for the blue and could hear the boys scoffing; blue’s for pussies. ‘Fuck off’ he muttered to his illusory hecklers, but acquiesced. Today was a black day, so he checked it out together with a large bottle of Martel, the job didn’t seem complete without it.
He crossed the street and doubled back to the bowling green nearby. Sat on a park bench he cracked the first of four cans cueing the heavens to open. God’s timing was perfect. Every pit and pat taunted. Jimmy cursed. Why take his Dad now? He had played the hand he was dealt; used what God had given and did well to get this far. Did he not deserve a few days of sunshine? He sat undeterred slugging it out with his maker polishing the contents of his can, his clothing soaked, bitter at his impertinence.
Jimmy knew the park. The green was trimmed to perfection. There were beautifully arranged garden beds of bluebells and marigolds. The winos would gather under the pavilion to shelter from the rain. The locals complained, they messed up the view. The Police moved them on but eventually gave in. The locals cleared and the council were left making an effort for the very people they were trying to evict.
A raggedy tramp approached. Jimmy outstretched his arm and offered him a can. The man wore a bomber jacket with fur lined collar and fawn kakis. He looked okay, but the pervading stench of urine and fags as he approached changed his opinion.
He took the can. “Come to the pavilion mate you’ll get drenched here.” Jimmy followed orders. They rushed to the shelter and passed him the remaining cans. “Cheers man. What’s your name?”
“Hi I’m Vince. You’re a good bloke Jimmy. All the folk round here treat us like lepers but you’re alright.“ He smiled happy to be accepted and made to feel normal again.
A lady suddenly shuffled her way from behind the bushes followed by a rather startled looking gent in a grey suit. He slipped her some brown notes and high-tailed it out of there trying to avoid detection.
Vince stepped in. “This is Eunice.”
Eunice straightened her dress, buttoned up her chemise white blouse. “Is he a mark?” She asked.
Vince signalled shaking his head furtively trying not to give the game away. “No no this is Jimmy.”
Vince was either her friend or pimp he couldn’t decide which. Eunice was in her forties. Preceding events formed an uneasy impression but behind her smile he could see a once pretty lady who made one too many mistakes.
“Jimmy’s a good bloke. Look,” he said holding up the cans.
“Don’t you want nothing for it?” asked Eunice.
Vince shook his head once again urging her to cut it out.
“What you doing out here friend?” asked Vince.
“Just thinking.” Jimmy unscrewed the rum took a swig and passed it round.
“A little more than that by the looks of it. Girl is it?” he supposed, Jimmy’s face let slip. “I wasn’t always a bum. I was like you once, had a home to go to, a girl, a car on HP.”
Jimmy dipped in a furtive toe. “What happened?”
“Huh, booze. I lost the fucking lot. I wouldn’t mind but.” He paused and aborted, it was all getting too intense. “Fuck it mate it’s all bollocks.”
Jimmy dare pry and felt sorry for asking. He had no right to judge but could no more do that than change the colour of his skin.
He felt he owed him a response by way of apology. “My Ex got me a bit confused?”
“He’s seeing someone else,” said Eunice smiling wide. She knew straight away. She’d been on the receiving end. Jimmy felt petty. After what they’d been through, this was kids’ stuff to them.
“Are ya? Is that it?” asked Vince.
Jimmy nodded with down-turned lip. “Yeah she’s pregnant. Now my Ex wants me back. I don’t know what to do.”
“I bet you know exactly what to do you’re just too afraid to do it.” It was curious, Vince had the same name as his Dad but he shrugged it off as mere coincidence but if his Dad was there that’s exactly what he would say.
”You got any smokes Jimmy?” asked Eunice. Jimmy obliged all the while reassessing his opinion. He now saw them as mysterious interlopers who’d only help those who dare ask.
Eunice sparked up and reached out the only way she knew how. “You sure you don’t want payment, I don’t mind.”
Jimmy felt obliged if only to prove he was accepting of her. He moved in and gave her a hug. “You are a lovely lady but I got some thinking to do.” The rain stopped. “Here keep the smokes and you can have this too,” he said passing across the rum. They had more dignity than most by Jimmy’s reckoning. He wished them luck and crossed the street back to the other side.
As planned, Marvin turned up at V Park, strutting round perfectly sun-kissed surveying his old haunt. They use to hang out there back in the day dreaming up ways to impress.
They crossed the huge playing fields to the far side and approached the summer house, a wooden shack called Oasis. The weather-beaten Palm tree facia hung down defaced in tatty brown and green. It was derelict. The council pulled out- cut backs they said due to the recession. Not to say there was much to sing about, a tatty ping pong table and water tap were the only things inside but it was their only refuge during the summer holidays. They walked over to the climbing frames opposite.
“Hey remember when he got chased by those moto cross kids?” said Marvin.
“Yeah, I remember. I shit myself.”
“Did ya?” said Marvin fronting it.
“C’mon man they were like Mad Max. Zipping round in the long grass. All you could see was the tops of their helmets and that sound..”
“Yeah like a chainsaw. Nah never got to me.”
“You ran to the frames remember? Clever.”
“I was following you,” confessed Marvin.
“Yeah, I was following you. “ Marvin began to climb up.“ You know after we left school I think Kelly wanted to be with you back then?”
“Yeah when you were in Funkenstien. She kept going on about how good you were. I must admit I was a bit green,”
Jimmy tried to hide it at the time, but Marvin knew, that’s why he kept her away.
“Did you speak to her last night?”
“Good. What you said is between you and her but be careful, in your state, things get a little confused. Stay focused.”
“She asked me back out,” confessed Jimmy.
“What would you do?... You know if you were me?”
“Don’t lay that on me. If you want a sweet six pack I’m your man otherwise..” He shook his head. ”Don’t worry you’ll figure it out.” Marvin played for distraction. He looked around. “Hey remember when I busted my lip on that roundabout?” He recalled laying face down testing the ride to destruction.
“You were a lunatic,” said Jimmy paying homage.
“Come on follow me.” They ran to the swings. “Remember this one” They swung to get height, faster and higher egging each other on till they reached the limit. “After three jump,” exclaimed Marvin.
Marvin leapt and landed ahead of Jimmy. “Damn every time.”
They went back to Oasis and broke the lock. The air was still. On the counter were Smash hits and Look-In , pop magazines caked in dirt. The water was still on. They slurped from the tap and wiped the trickled from their chin.
Marvin hopped up on the counter. “How’s your Mum holding up?”
“Up is down at the moment.” Jimmy welled up, he rubbed his eyes dry. “Sorry.”
“Don’t worry. When my Dad went I cried for weeks, wouldn’t talk to no one.”
Marvin put his hand on his shoulder. ”Don’t worry man it will pass. I was cut up for you when I heard. In time those memories….they’ll make you smile trust me.”
They kept up the dead yard tradition and slept at Mum’s for nine nights out of respect. Jimmy was cast adrift, paralysed by a recurring dream. The same scene nagged him every night. He thought it would fade but it grew stronger. Once a quarter his brother, Chris and Dad would cook the food from back home; souse, pig hoof, black pudding, exotic delights not for the faint of heart. The kitchen was a slaughter zone, under no circumstances was he allowed in, so he’d press his ear to the door to catch the fuss. Warm blood ran, limbs hacked, pots pressurised. He was never allowed in, but in his dream the door cracked opened. He told Mum. She knew what I meant straight away.
‘He wants us to go back home.’
She immediately gathered them into the front room and made announcement.
“We’re leaving for Guyana.”