Muscle and Blood

The girls got on in a shunt of perfume and laughter that reverberated around the ear. It took a while for the group to pay their fares. When Anderson finally put his money down, he found one of the women dangling halfway up the narrow spiral in a stance intended to be coquettish but that just looked precarious. The bus lurched to a stop, and she almost fell down the stairs.

‘You alright?’

‘Come up, darling. You want a tark to us, don’t you?’

‘I do not.’

‘C’mon!’ She held out a hand. In a halting wave the bus came forward and Anderson took the scratchy palm in his, steadying the woman with a hand on her rhinestone belt. ‘Okay mate. Get up in the stairs.’

They emerged onto the top deck to a chorus of ironic whoops. The women had the deck to themselves and had cigarettes and bottles of amaretto on the go. Two of them appeared to be watching something on a mobile. There was repeated mention of a male name and more shrieks of mirth.

He was introduced around and got a further cheer by managing to repeat their names. A nightmare of inch-thick foundation and jangly hoop earrings: Lisa Duke would laugh in my face. These were all beaten-down people, made weak by age and work and reproduction, but what the fuck, it was just a game anyway, and wasn’t there a vitality and even a nobility here, people making the absolute most of their leisure time and fuck the consequences?

‘Fuck the consequences, entirely, love,’ the Amy woman agreed. ‘I’ll drink to that! Will you not sit down?’

‘I feel more comfortable standing,’ Anderson told her. He had his feet planted in the gangway like a villain on the roof of a railway carriage, bars and takeaways flashing by him in fits and starts.

‘What d’you do, honey?’

‘Right now? I am a factotum, a man who performs many jobs.’

‘Like what?’ Romany-haired woman in front.

‘Nothing that interesting. Call centre. Booze delivery. It changes often.’

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One Response to “Muscle and Blood”

  1. December 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm, Ian D. Smith said:

    Good dialogue and dialect. Pretty assured stuff going on here…


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