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.
As happens in such movies, they started oaf wi an obligatory dramatic opening. Then the next phase ay the picture involved building up the tension through introducing the dastardly villain and sticking the weak plot thegither. Any minute now though, auld Jean-Claude's ready tae git doon tae some serious swedgin.
--Rents. Ah've goat tae see Mother Superior, Sick Boy gasped, shaking his heid.
--Aw, ah sais. Ah wanted the radge tae jist fuck off ootay ma visage, tae go oan his ain, n jist leave us wi ~ean-Claude. Oan the other hand, ah'd be giKing sick tae before long, and if that cunt went n scored, he'd haud oot oan us. They call um Sick Boy, no because he's eywis sick wi junk withdrawal, but because he's just one sick cunt. --Let's fuchn go, he snapped desperately.
--Haud oan a second. Ah wanted tae see Jean-Claude smash up this arrogant fucker. If we went now, ah wouldnae git tae watch it. Ah'd be too fucked by the time we goat back, and in any case it wid probably be a few days later. That meant ah'd git hit fir fuckin back charges fi the shoap oan a video ah hudnae even goat a deek at.
--Ah've goat tae fuckin move man! he shouts, standing up. He moves ower tae the windae and rests against it, breathing heavily, looking like a hunted animal. There's nothing in his eyes but need.
Ah switched the box oaf at the handset. --Fuckin waste. That's aw it is, a fuckin waste, ah snarled at the cunt, the fuckin irritating bastard.
He flings back his heid n raises his eyes tae the ceiling. -- Ah'll gie ye the money tae git it back oot. Is that aw yir sae fuckin moosey-faced aboot? Fifty measley fuckin pence ootay Ritz! This cunt has a wey ay makin ye feel a real petty, trivial bastard.
--That's no the fuckin point, ah sais, but withoot conviction.
--Aye. The point is ah'm really fuckin sufferin here, n ma so- called mate's draggin his feet deliberately, lovin every fuckin minute ay it! His eyes seem the size ay fitba's n look hostile, yet pleadin at the same time; poignant testimonies tae ma supposed betrayal. If ah ever live long enough tae huv a bairn, ah hope it never looks at us like Sick Boy does. The cunt is irresistible oan this form.
--Ah wisnae . . . ah protested.
--Fling yir fuckin jaykit oan well!
At the Fit ay the Walk thir wir nae taxis. They only congregated here when ye didnae need them. Supposed tae be August, but ah'm fuckin freezing ma baws oaf here. Ah'm no sick yet, but it's in the fuckin post, that's fir sure.
--Supposed tae be a rank. Supposed tae be a fuckin taxi rank. Nivir fuckin git one in the summer.
Up cruising fat, rich festival cunts too fuckin lazy tae walk a hundred fuckin yards fae one poxy church hall tae another fir thir fuckin show. Taxi drivers. Money-grabbin bastards . . . Sick Boy muttered deliriously and breathlessly tae hissel, eyes bulging and sinews in his neck straining as his heid craned up Leith Walk.
At last one came. There were a group ay young guys in shell- suits n bomber jaykits whae'd been standin thair longer than us. Ah doubt if Sick Boy even saw them. He charged straight oot intae the middle ay the Walk screaming: --TAXI!
--Hi! Whit's the fuckin score? One guy in a black, purple and aqua shell-suit wi a flat-top asks.
--Git tae fuck. We wir here first, Sick Boy sais, opening the taxi door. --Thir's another yin comin. He gestured up the Walk at an advancing black cab.
--Lucky fir youse. Smart cunts.
--Fuck off, ya plukey-faced wee hing oot. Git a fuckin ride! Sick Boy snarled as we piled intae the taxi.
--Tollcross mate, ah sais tae the driver as gob splattered against the side windae. --Square go then smart cunt! C'moan ya crappin bastards! the shell-suit shouted. The taxi driver wisnae amused. He looked a right cunt. Maist ay them do. The stamp-peyin self-employed ur truly the lowest form ay vermin oan god's earth.
The taxi did a u-turn and sped up the Walk.
--See whit yuv done now, ya big-moothed cunt. Next time one ay us ur walkin hame oan oor Jack Jones, wi git hassle fi these wee radges. Ah wisnae chuffed at Sick Boy.--Yir no feart ay they wee fuckin saps ur ye?
This cunt's really gittin ma fuckin goat. --Aye! Aye ah fuckin am, if ah'm oan ma tod n ah git set oan by a fuckin squad ay shell- suits! Ye think ah'm Jean-Claude Van Fuckin Damme? Fuckin doss cunt, so ye are Simon. Ah called him 'Simon' rather than 'Si' or 'Sick Boy' tae emphasise the seriousness ay what ah wis sayin.
--Ah want tae see Mother Superior n ah dinnae gie a fuck aboot any cunt or anything else. Goat that? He pokes his lips wi his forefinger, his eyes bulging oot at us. --Simone wants tae see Mother Superior. Watch ma fuchn lips. He then turns and stares intae the back ay the taxi driver, willing the cunt tae go faster while nervously beating oot a rhythm oan his thighs.
--One ay they cunts wis a McLean. Dandy n Chancey's wee brar, ah sais.
--Wis it fuck, he sais, but he couldnae keep the anxiety oot ay his voice. --Ah ken the McLeans.
--No if ye take the pish oot ay his brar, ah sais.
He wis tahn nae mair notice though. Ah stoaped harassing him, knowing thit ah wis jist wastin ma energy. His silent suffering through withdrawal now seemed so intense that thir wis nae wey that ah could add, even incrementally, tae his misery.
'Mother Superior' wis Johnny Swan; also kent as the White Swan, a dealer whae wis based in Tollcross and covered the Sighthill and Wester Hailes schemes. Ah preferred tae score fi Swanney, or his sidekick Raymie, rather than Seeker n the Muirhoose-Leith mob, if ah could.
Better gear, usually. Johnny Swan hud once been a really good mate ay mines, back in the auld days. We played fitba thegither fir Porty Thistle. Now he wis a dealer. Ah remember um saying tae us once: Nae friends in this game. Jist associates.
Ah thought he wis being harsh, flippant and show-oafy, until ah got sae far in. Now ah ken precisely what the cunt meant. Johnny wis a junky as well as a dealer. Ye hud tae go a wee bit further up the ladder before ye found a dealer whae didnae use. We called Johnny 'Mother Superior' because ay the length ay time he'd hud his habit.
Ah soon started tae feel fuchng shan n aw. Bad cramps wir beginning tae hit us as we mounted the stairs tae Johnny's gaff. Ah wis dripping like a saturated sponge, every step bringing another gush fae ma pores. Sick Boy wis probably even worse, but the cunt was beginning no tae exist fir us. Ah wis only aware ay him slouching tae a halt oan the banister in front ay us, because he wis blocking ma route tae Johnny's and the skag. He wis struggling fir breath, haudin grimly oantay the railing, looking as If he wis gaunnae spew intae the stairwell.
--Awright Si? ah sais irritably, pissed off at the cunt fir haudin us up.
He waved us away, shaking his heid and screwing his eyes up. Ah sais nae mair. Whin ye feel like he did, ye dinnae want tae talk or be talked at. Ye dinnae want any fuckin fuss at aw. Ah didnae either. Sometimes ah think that people become junkies just because they subconsciously crave a wee bit ay silence.
Johnny wis bombed ootay his box whin we finally made it up the stairs. A shootin gallery wis set up.
--Ah've goat one Sick Boy, and a Rent Boy that's sick n aw! he laughed, as high as a fuckin kite.
Johnny often snorted some coke wi his fix or mixed up a speedball concoction ay smack and cocaine. He reckoned that it kept um high, stoaped um fae sittin aroond starin at waws aw day. High cunts are a big fuckin drag when yir feeling like this, because thir too busy enjoying their high tae notice or gie a fuck aboot your suffering. Whereas the piss-heid in the pub wants every cunt tae git as ootay it as he is, the real junky (as opposed tae the casual user who wants a partner-in-crime) doesnae gie a fuck aboot anybody else.
Raymie and Alison wir thair. Ali wis cookin. It wis lookin promising.
Johnny waltzed over tae Alison and serenaded her. --Hey-ey good loohn, whaaat-cha got coohn.
. . He turned tae Raymie, whae wis steadfastly keepin shoatie at the windae. Raymie could detect a labdick in a crowded street the wey that sharks can sense a few drops of blood in an ocean.
--Pit some sounds oan Raymie. Ah'm seek ay that new Elvis Costello, bit ah cannae stoap playin the cunt. Fucin magic nun, ah'm telling ye.
--A double-ended jack plug tae the south ay Waterloo, Raymie sais. The cunt ey came oot wi irrelevant, nonsensical shite, which fucked up your brains whin ye wir sick and trying tae score fae him. It always surprised us that Raymie wis intae smack in such a big wey. Raymie wis a bit like ma mate Spud; ah'd eywis regarded them as classic acid-heids by temperament. Sick Boy hud a theory that Spud and Raymie wir the same person, although they looked fuck all like each other, purely because they never seemed tae be seen together, despite moving in the same circles.
The bad-taste bastard breaks the junky's golden rule by pitten oan 'Heroin', the version oan Lou Reed's Rock 'n' Roll Animal, which if anything, is even mair painful tae listen tae whin yir sick than the original version oan The Velvet Under ground and Nico. Mind you, at least this version doesnae huv John Cale's screeching viola passage oan it. Ah couldnae huv handled that.
--Aw fuck off Raymie! Ali shouts.
--Stick in the boot, go wi the Row, shake it down baby, shake it down honey . . . cook street, spook street, we're all dead white meat ... eat the beat ... Raymie burst intae an impromptu rap, shakin his erse and rollin his eyes.
He then bent doon in front ay Sick Boy, whae had strategically placed hissel beside Ali, never taking his eyes oaf the contents ay the spoon she heated over a candle. Raymie pulled Sick Boy's face tae him, and kissed him hard oan the lips. Sick Boy pushed him away, trembling.
--Fuck off! Doss cunt!
Johnny n Ali laughed loudly. Ah wid huv n aw had ah no felt that each bone in ma body wis simultaneously being crushed in a vice n set aboot wi a blunt hacksaw.
Sick Boy tourniqued Ali above her elbow, obviously staking his place in the queue, and tapped up a vein oan her thin ash- white airm.
--Want me tae dae it? he asked.
He droaps a cotton ball intae the spoon n bbws oan it, before sucking up aboot 5 mls through the needle, intae the barrel ay the syringe. He's goat a fuckin huge blue vein tapped up, which seems tae be almost comin through Ali's airm. He pierces her flesh and injects a wee bit slowly, before sucking blood back intae the chamber. Her lips are quivering as she gazes pleadingly at him for a second or two. Sick Boy's face looks ugly, leering and reptilian, before he slams the cocktail towards her brain.
She pulls back her heid, shuts her eyes and opens her mooth, givin oot an orgasmic groan. Sick Boy's eyes are now innocent and full ay wonder, his expression like a bairn thit's come through oan Christmas morning tae a pile ay gift-wrapped presents stacked under the tree. They baith look strangely beautifill and pure in the flickering candlelight.
--That beats any meat injection . . . that beats any fuckin cock in the world . . . Ali gasps, completely serious. It unnerves us tae the extent that ah feel ma ain genitals through ma troosers tae see if they're still thair. Touchin masel like that makes us feel queasy though. Johnny hands Sick Boy his works.
--Ye git a shot, but only if ye use this gear. Wir playin trust games the day, he smiled, but he wisnae jokin.
Sick Boy shakes his heid. --Ah dinnae share needles or syringes. Ah've goat ma ain works here.
--Now that's no very social. Rents? Raymie? Ali? Whit d'ye think ay that? Ur you tryin tae insinuate that the White Swan, the Mother Superior, has blood infected by the human immuno- deficiency virus? Ma finer feelins ur hurt. Aw ah kin say is, nae sharin, nae shootin. He gies an exaggerated smile, exposing a row ay bad teeth.
Tae me that wisnae Johnny Swan talkin. No Swanney. No fuckin way. Some malicious demon had invaded his body and poisoned his mind. This character was a million miles away fae the gentle joker ah once knew as Johnny Swan. A nice laddie, everybody sais; including ma ain Ma. Johnny Swan, so intae fitba, so easy going, that he eywis goat lumbered washin the strips eftir the fives at Meadowbank, and nivir, ivir complained.
Ah wis shitein it that ah widnae git a shot here. --Fuck sakes Johnny, listen tae yirsel. Git a fuckin grip. Wuv goat the fuckin hirays here. Ah pulled some notes ooby ma poakit.
Whether it wis through guilt, or the prospect ay cash, the auld Johnny Swan briefly reappeared. --Dinnae git aw serious oan us. Ah'm only fuckin jokin boys. Ye think thit the White Swan wid hud oot oan his muckers? Oan yis go ma men. Yir wise men. Hygiene's important, he stated wistfully. --Ken wee Goagsie? He's goat AIDS now.
--Gen up? ah asked. Thir wis eywis rumours aboot whae wis HIV and whae wisnae. Ah usually jist ignored thum. Thing is, a few people hud been saying that aboot wee Goagsie.
--Too right. He's no goat the full AIDS likes, bit he's tested positive. Still, as ah sais tae um, it isnae the end ay the world Goagsie. Ye kin learn tae live wi the virus. Tons ay cunts dae it withoot any hassle at aw. Could be fuckin years before ye git sick, ah telt um. Any cunt withoot the virus could git run ower the morn. That's the wey ye huv tae look at it. Cannae jist cancel the gig. The show must go oan.
It's easy tae be philosophical when some other cunt's goat shite fir blood. Anrey, Johnny even helped Sick Boy tae cook up and shoot home. Looking at Sick Boy's thick, juicy, dark-blue wiring, he paraphrased the auld Carly Simon song: --You're so vein, you probably think this hit is about you . . ., lovin every minute ay it.
Just as Sick Boy wis aboot tae scream, he spiked the vein, drew some blood back intae the hrrel, and fired the life-giving and life-taking elixir home.
Sick Boy hugged Swanney tightly, then eased off, keeping his airms aroond him. They were relaxed; like lovers in a post-coital embrace. It was now Sick Boy's turn tae serenade Johnny. -- Swanney, how ah love ya, how ah love yah, my dear old Swanney . . . The adversaries ay a few minutes ago were now soul-mates.
Ah went tae take a shot. It took us ages tae find a good vein. Ma boys don't live as close tae the surface as maist people's. When it came, ah savoured the hit. Ali wis right. Take yir best orgasm, multiply the feeling by twenty, and you're still fuckin miles off the pace. Ma dry, cracking bones are soothed and liquefied by ma beautiful heroine's tender caresses. The earth moved, and it's still moving.
Alison is tellin us that ah should go and see Kelly, who's apparently been really depressed since she hud the abortion. Although her tone's no really judgemental, she talks as if ah hud something tae dae wi Kelly's pregnancy n its subsequent termination.
--How should ah go n see her? It's goat nowt tae dae wi me, ah sais defensively.
--Yir her friend, ur ye no?
Ah'm tempted tae quote Johnny n say that we wir aw acquaintances now. It sounds good in ma heid: 'We are all acquaintances now.' It seems tae go beyond our personal junk circumstances; a brilliant metaphor for our times. Ah resist the temptation.
Instead ah content masel wi making the point that we wir aw Kelly's friends, and questioning why ah should be singled oot fir visiting duties.
--Fuck sake Mark. Ye ken she's really intae ye.
--Kelly? Away tae fuck! ah say, surprised, intrigued, and mair than a wee bit embarrassed. If this is true ah'm a blind and stupid arsehole.
--Course she is. She's telt us tons ay times. She's eywis oan aboot ye. It's Mark this, Mark that.
Hardly anybody calls us Mark. It's usually Rents, or worse, the Rent Boy. That is fuckin awful, getting called that. Ah try no tae show that it bugs us, because that only encourages cunts mair.
Sick Boy's been listening in. Ah turn tae him. --Ye reckon that's right? Kelly's goat a thing aboot us?
--Every cunt under the sun kens that she's goat the hots fir ye. It's no exactly a well-kept secret.
Ah cannae understand her, mind you. She wants her fuckin heid examined.
--Thanks fir tellin us then cunt.
--If you choose tae sit in darkened rooms watchin videos aw day long, no noticing what's going on around ye, it's no up tae me tae fuckin point it oot tae ye.
--Well, she nivir sais nowt tae me, ah whinge, biscuit-ersed. --Ye want her tae pit it oan a t-shirt? Ye dinnae ken much aboot women, do ye Mark? Alison sais. Sick Boy smirks. Ah feel insulted by that last remark, but ah'm determined tae treat the issue lightly, in case it's a wind-up, doubtlessly orchestrated by Sick Boy. The mischief-making cunt staggers through life leaving these interpersonal booby-traps fir his mates. What fuckin pleasure the radge derives fae these activities is beyond me.
Ah score some gear fi Johnny.
--Pure as the driven snow, this shit, he tells us.
That meant thit it wisnae cut too much, wi anything too toxic. It wis soon time fir us tae go.
Johnny wis gabbin a load ay shite intae ma ear; things ah didnae want tae listen tae. Problems aboot whae hud ripped off whae, tales ay scheme vigilantes making every cunt's life a misery wi their anti-drug hysteria. He wis also babbling oan about his ain life in a maudlin sortay wey, and spouting fantasies aboot how he wis gaunnae git hissel straight- ened oot n take oaf tae Thailand whair the women knew how tae treat a gadge, n whair ye could live like a king if ye had a white skin n a few crisp tenners in yir poakit. He actually sais things a loat worse thin that, a loat mair cynical and exploitative. Ah telt masel, that's the evil spirit talkin again, no the White Swan. Or wis it? Who knows. Who the fuck cares.
Alison and Sick Boy hud been exchanging terse sentences, sounding like they were arranging another skag deal. Then they got up and trooped ootay the room thegither. They looked bored and passionless, but when they didnae come back, ah knew that they'd be shaggin in the bedroom. It seemed, for women, that fucking was just something that you did wi Sick Boy, like talking, or drinking tea wi other punters.
Raymie wis drawing wi crayons oan the wall. He wis in a world ay his ain, an arrangement which suited himself, and every other cunt.
Ah thought aboot what Alison hud said. Kelly hud jist hud the abortion last week. If ah went and saw her, ah'd be too squeamish tae fuck her, assuming that she'd want us tae. Surely though, there would still be something there, gunge, bits ay the thing, or even a sortay rawness? Ah wis probably being fuckin daft. Alison wis right. Ah didnae really know much aboot women. Ah didnae really know much aboot anything.
Kelly steys at the Inch, which is difficult tae git tae by bus, n ah'm now too skint fir a taxi. Mibbe ye kin git tae the Inch by bus fae here, bit ah dinnae ken which one goes. The truth ay the matter is, ah'm a bit too skaggy-bawed tae fuck n a bit too fucked tae jist talk. A number 10 comes, n ah jump oan it back tae Leith, and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Throughout the journey ah gleefully anticipate the stomping he's gaunnae gie that smart cunt.