Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Colour of Lead

I broke the unwritten rules of Glasgow one time. It was to be the first and last time that I made such a mistake. The guy they put in front of me made me look small. He was a freak of nature, an aphorism of terror, and a clear case of psychotic medical experiments gone badly wrang.

My one eye moved rapidly over the pulsing veins in his neck, and the sticky sharp chib he held between his lips.

Institutionalised for most of his years, this barbaric looking divil was wheeled out purely to turn a mans bowels to warm running water. I’m not ashamed to say that it worked on me as I lay before him, staring up at him with the one good eye that hadn’t been closed during the doing I had received at the haunds of his pals up the stairs.

Joseph Fahey lay on the floor some thirty feet away fae me.

I could see right off that he was near to death just by the amount of blood still oozing out from the place where his shiny black quiff used to be.

Oul razor boy had already had his hors d'oeuvres with Joseph, and it was looking all the more likely that I was going to be cut, sliced and chewed until his taste for flesh had been slaked of blood by way of my own.

Strange things happen in a man’s mind when he is faced with imminent death. For some reason my attention was taken by a single protruding lead nail, which had once been a slate layer’s coat hook on top of a roof so high that it could almost reach out and grasp the freedom that was on offer to all but masel.

I remember thinking that it would leave a nasty gouge in my chest if they dragged me by my feet towards the divil’s own who was sobbing with the effect of the drugs under his skin, and the taste of Joe’s blood upon his tongue. My rapidly closing eye remained transfixed on the many sudden interesting colours of the lead.

I could almost hear my eldest brother calling me to come out of the kitchen, and be quick about it if I was to escape the beating of my life that awaited his rage. He had in his haund the remains of the last bottle of ginger that I had swallied after my first real drink with the shipyard men in the bar.

I was eleven going on nineteen, and my head pounded far worse than if it had already been tanned by Christie and his fury over the missing juice.

I would have given anything to have been stood before him again on that Sunday morning back in the safety of oul Drumchapel. Head still banging from the previous nights diligence over three pints of porter and the strains of a vigorous chorus with their own rendition of ‘Sean South’ and his heroic exploits in a far off place called Garyowen.

For the life of me... I could no see the creature salivating over my unbroken bones, bursting into song as he linked arms and danced to the tune of many a rebel song with the unsmiling faces before me.

It was a half choke that escaped fae somewhere inside of my throat when the first hammer blow made contact with my knee. It was a cross between a tentative sob, and the croak of a man about to accept his final fate with the indignity with that of a noose already about his neck.

I still realised however, a certain irony before me as I lay there in agony.