The sweat wis lashing oafay Sick Boy; he wis trembling. Ah wis jist sitting thair, focusing oan the telly, tryin no tae notice the cunt. He wis bringing me doon. Ah tried tae keep ma attention oan the Jean–Claude Van Damme video.
The train was nearly twenty minutes late, an excellent performance by British Rail standards. Stevie wondered whether she’d be on it. Paranoia hit him. Waves of fear shuddered through his body. The stakes were high, the highest ever. He couldn’t see her, couldn’t even picture her in his mind’s eye. Then she was almost upon him, different to how he thought of her, more real, even more beautiful. It was the smile, the look of emotion reciprocated. He ran the short distance to her and held her in his arms. They kissed for a long time. When they stopped, the platform was deserted and the train was well on its way to Dundee.
Ah never wanted anything mair in ma life than fir her tae stoap screamin.— The bairn’s away . . . the bairn’s away. . . Dawn. . . oh my god. . . oh fuckin god, wis aboot aw ah could pick ootay the horrible sound. She collapses oantae the threadbare couch.
Ah sing out, a twisting, pogo–ing mass of rubber. Iggy Pop looks right at me as he sings the line: ‘America takes drugs in psychic defence’; only he changes ‘America’ for ‘Scatlin’, and defines us mair accurately in a single sentence than all the others have ever done.
Myth: Begbie’s mates like him.
Reality: Begbie’s mates fear him.
—It’s also a fuckin good kick.
Tommy looks at us. —Gies a go. Gies a hit.
—Fuck off Tommy.
—Ye sais it’s a good kick. Ah pure wantae try it.
An unspoken contract was forged between them in a split–second. Jackie’s screams reverberated around the stairwell, as they booted and dragged him from landing to landing. He vainly tried to protect himself and, through his fear and pain, hoped that there would be something left of him to move out of Leith, when the ordeal was over.
Ah chums Dode tae the hoespital. His wounds wir likesay no as bad as they looked. Ah goes intae see um lyin oan a trolley eftir thuv, likes, patched um up.
Perhaps, he allowed himself to speculate, they had some perverse parental feelings for her. He had noted that with older people. They often try to control younger, more popular and vivacious people; usually due to the fact that they are jealous of the qualities the younger people have and they lack.
Rents picks up a stane and flings it at the squirrel. Ah feel likes, sick, ma hert misses a beat as it whizzes past the wee gadge. He goes tae pick up another, laughin like a maniac, but ab stoap um.
Ah walk tae freedom; perr auld Spud gits taken doon.
A polisman gestures tae him tae move.
—Sorry mate, ah sais, feelin cuntish.
Ah have an unresolved relationship wi ma deid brother, Davie, as ah huv been unable tae work oot or express ma feelings about his catatonic life and subsequent death.
Funny thing wis, jist before this, ah remembered boastin thit ah’d niver OD’d in ma puff. Thir’s a first time fir everything. It wis Swanney’s fault. His gear’s normally cut tae fuck, so ye always bung that wee bit mair intae the cooking spoon tae compensate. Then whit does the cunt dae?
He wis ma felly. Ye eywis think it’ll be different, thit ye kin change. Thum, thit ye kin make a difference.
The pub sign is a new one, but its message is old. The Britannia. Rule Britannia. Ah’ve never felt British, because ah’m not. It’s ugly and artificial. Ah’ve never really felt Scottish either, though. Scotland the brave, ma arse; Scotland the shitein cunt.
Anywey, ah widnae mind gaun aw the wey wi a gadge, if it felt right. Jist fir the experience. Problem is, ah only really fancy birds. Guys jist dinnae look sexy. It’s aw ahoot aesthetics, fuck all tae dae wi morality.
“I always find the term ‘opportunistic infection’ amusing. In our culture, it seems to invoke some admirable quality. I think of the ‘opportunism’ of the entrepreneur who spots a gap in the market, or that of the striker in the penalty box. Tricky buggers, those opportunistic infections.”
The guys are looking embarrassed, really shit up by the crowd that’s developed. It’s sortay like, feeding off itself.
It aw started tae go wrong fir the perr bastard whin we came back up here. It nivir stoaped gaun wrong eftir that. Perr Matty.
—Ah well, ah’ll leave yis tae it. Keep up the trainspottin mind! He staggered oaf, his rasping, drunkard’s cackles filling the desolate barn. Ah noticed that Begbie seemed strangely subdued and uncomfortable. He wis turned away fae us.
It wis only then ah realised thit the auld wino wis Begbie’s faither.
—It’s the fuckin best. You ken the Mother Superior, Rents. Ah believe in the free market whin it comes tae drugs. Ah’ve goat tae gic the NHS its due though. Since ah hud this pin oaf n went oan the maintenance therapy ah’ve started tae believe thit the state kin compete wi private enterprise in oor industry, n produce a satisfyin product at low cost tae the consumer.
Tommy looks well. It’s terrifying. He’s gaunny die. Sometime between the next few weeks and next fifteen years, Tommy will be no more. The chances are that ah’ll be exactly the same. The difference is, we ken this wi Tommy.
No. He had to stay in control, There was too much at stake. There was everything at stake. There is nobody looking at Begbie though. Those who are not oblivious to him, can feel the vibes he is giving out. They employ that special talent people have: Pretending nutters are invisible. Even his companions won’t meet his gaze.
Ironically, it was Begbie who was the key. Ripping off your mates was the highest offence in his book, and he would demand the severest penalty. Renton had used Begbie, used him to burn his boats completely and utterly. It was Begbie who ensured he could never return.
Now, free from them all, for good, he could be what he wanted to be. He’d stand or fall alone. This thought both terrified and excited him as he contemplated life in Amsterdam.