‘Eeeeeeeeeee, state of youz fuckin moshers, get a wash you smelly twats.’
A further hail of abuse came from the assorted crew of scalls as they prowled across the square towards the waterfront.
‘Twats, narrow-minded twats’ muttered Ian quietly and bitterly as the last of the group spat a mouthful of gob at the deck of the memorial.
Amber looked at Claire and sighed. ‘It’s normally okay round here for chav knobheads.’
‘Yeah the only reason they normally come around here is when they’re on trial!’ guffawed Ian, ‘What do you call a Scouser in suit? The accused! Fucking waster, retard scumbags.’
Claire hadn’t been hanging around the courts with Amber and the others very long and still felt nervous amongst group. Her still clean Converse stood unimpressively next to Ian’s massive flame-toed boots, though she thought the effort that she had made with the tartan mini-skirt and Green Day top was pretty cool and she had felt sexy, if slightly uncomfortable, when she had seen Mark checking her out earlier.
Ian was now on a roll, ‘They’re all fucking thick. A bunch of sheep, dressing and acting the same retard way because they don’t have any mind of their own. It’s great around here except for the locals.’
‘Erm that’s not really fair, my dad was born in Liverpool.’ The words came out of Claire with confidence but she felt the heat rise in her face the moment she had finished and she received a stern look from some of the others.
‘Well, at least he had the sense to get out’, he said in slightly restrained tones.
Amber took her to one side, ‘Ian’s a bit over the top sometimes, but him and a mate got beaten up by a group of the bastards once and his mate lost an eye, bad business.’
Ian continued his tirade a little more quietly. Amber rolled her eyes and walked away tugging Claire with her towards the side of the monument. They peered over the side and Claire was pleased to see Mark grinding along the steps on his board. ‘He’s so fucking cool’, she said almost without thinking, prompting a giggle from Amber, ‘Bit old for you isn’t he?’
Claire just carried on looking. Ever since she’d seen him in his own clothes when he went into the sixth-form, finally released from that bloody uniform, she had loved him intensely. Yet their only contact so far had been nothing more than a vague acknowledgment when they saw each other around. So she had begun to hang around more and more with Amber at the expense of her other friends to get closer to him. It wasn’t just about Mark now though. These guys were all so great, they knew loads about great music and films and stuff that other people didn’t know about and she loved the way they didn’t give a fuck what people thought of them and weren’t down on everyone who didn’t have the latest stuff or didn’t have a perfect body like some of the others were. They made her feel normal.
It was so much fun too, every Saturday coming over together on the Merseyrail in a big group and walking over to meet the big group from all over the place. Sometimes on the Queen Victoria monument, sometimes the Pier Head. It was so much better than kicking around bloody Hoylake where her brother’s mates would take the piss out of them. Amber went on nattering and Claire carried on looking at Mark
* * *
This is me favourite time of day to walk through the city, strolling down Bold Street when everyone’s gone home from the shops but before anyone hits town for a night out. The hum of the city is still there but stuck in a strange state of clam. There are some benefits to working till 6:30 on a Saturday I suppose.
The heat is fading away but the sun’s still there and bounces off the buildings in vast shadows. Another day over and I can get back home. No night on the raz tonight, go home, get a shower and out of these clothes. Hang on I’m bleeping…
Can’t w8 2 cu l8r hun. Xxx.
Me neiver sweet.
Another agency gig the last couple of weeks. Haven’t had a regular job since I packed in at that shower of shit in Kirkby, basically flogging shite over the phone to poor, dozy old ladies. No thank you matey. This job anit bad though, franking mail at a property firm on Hope Street, nice office, nice people and on a weekend I can come in me own threads and don’t have to wear that crappy suit from TJs.
It’s just a stop-gap mind. I’m going to study business in September at the college. Get some quallies, get a future, no more of this temping shite. Get a car and rent somewhere with Anna. Still in me fucking room at home. Mates take the piss like, but I’m the one with money left to go the pub at the end of the month when there starting to struggle to feed themselves.
Cut through past the courts. Ha look at all the goth kids, silly buggers. Don’t know why they all dress up like tha’. Still you know, each to there own. They all go a bit quiet when I go past. Probably think I’m gonna kick their heads in. See a fellah in trackies with close cropped hair and that’s what they think. Fuck that – told ya, each to there own. Wanna look like it’s fucking Halloween all year round be my guest. Look at him. Hair like the guy out the fucking Human League. Eh, I can’t talk I suppose, my atrocious ginger locks are probably what frighten them. Me sister Julie gets me mums nice dark hair and I get me absent fathers orange shite, scare anyone that.
Our Julie dresses like they do n’all. Drives me mum mad with her three-coloured hair but she’s a good kid like. She’s doing art at Myrtle Street College so it kinda goes with the territory I reckon.
It’s getting chilly now as the sun fades. Bugger, I’ve left me coat in the office, got me wallet in it n’all. AH well, back we go I suppose.
* * *
Claire wandered around another corner and once again found herself at a dead-end made up of white sheet metal.
They’d gone off to look at Quiggins one more time before the bulldozers moved in. Mark and a few of the other s had climbed over the fence to check out some of the graffiti that now covered the walls. Amber had got bored and headed back but Claire insisted on waiting.
But they never did come back over and when Claire leaned over the fence they were nowhere to be seen. Now she was on her own and trying to negotiate her way through all the massive rebuilding going on. Streets she was sure would lead her back to the courts didn’t seem to exist anymore and she moved further and further towards the southern part of the city centre, down between the silent frames of construction sites and derelict buildings with Pigeons cooing inside.
It was nearly 7’o clock now and she wanted to get back over the river. Thoughts began to race through her mind.
She wandered across a wide road she didn’t recognised and seeing the familiar shape of the Albert Dock in the distance, she cut through down another side street and started walking towards it. Tall, dank old warehouses covered in scaffolding and sheeting towered above her on both sides.
In the distance she saw a lone man in blue trackies walking up towards her with his head down. A tingle of apprehension shot through her nerves but she dismissed it. He’s just a guy, just a guy.
As he got closer he looked up and at her, but didn’t change his expression from one of disinterest and looked down again.
The docks had gone out of sight again as she went further down the road and the sun bleeding through the glassless windows of the buildings that surrounded her was getting lower. She decided enough was enough and walked over towards him, trying to adopt a confident tone and expression, ‘Scuse me mate, do you know which way it is to the courts from here?’
She noticed then how dead his eyes were. He looked at her slightly puzzled. Some Seagulls cawed above their head.
There was a silence between them that seemed last forever and Claire felt her nerves begin to rise. Then he blurted out, ‘Yis wannin to hang around wiv yet iclke mosher mates are ya?” then grinned oddly.
‘I’ll show ya, it’s this way’ he said suddenly grabbing her hand.
‘No, no it’s okay’, she said as forcefully as she could and tugged away, but he tightened his grip and pulled her into off the cobbled road onto some rubbish strewn wasteland.
She screamed, long and loudly, before he grabbed her mouth, kicked her leg and locked his narrow eyes onto hers.
‘Make another fucking sound sweetheart and I will fucking kill you ya little bitch.’
He pushed her onto the ground. Still holding her mouth with one hand he began to undo his pants with the other. Grinning.
She glanced tentatively around for something to pick up and hit him with but he watched her intensely and she was frightened what would happen if she shifted her gaze from his. Sweat trickled down her back as she gently moved her fingers across the fragmented ground for something to use.
‘WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING SUNSHINE?’
He broke her gaze and both of them looked to were the shout had come from. A tall guy in trackies with ginger hair stood next to them,
‘I’m just having some fun wiv me little chick-a -dee, now piss off you fucking perv.’
“I heard her screaming mate, now fuck off before I do ya.”
‘Wait your turn cunt.’
Claire felt jagged concrete cold against her hand, gripped it tight and swung it at his balls.
He yelped and fell back doubling up in pain, spitting ‘Youfuckingslag’.
Not grinning now.
In between desperate, rapid breaths she managed to say, ‘He, he grabbed me on the road over the… I don’t know who he is.’
The ginger guy looked at her for a second then went for the other one, grabbing him up by his arms. The other guy grunted, swung around and broke his grip, running off with his legs at odd angles. The ginger guy turned as if to run after him, stopped and looked back at Claire. She felt another pang of fear.
‘You alright hun? It’s okay now he’s fucked off’ A warm smile reassured her a little. ‘Do you want to go to the Police?’
She thought for few seconds, everything was moving at a strange speed. ‘Yes. But first I want to get my friend Amber. Will you take us to the law courts, please?’
“Sure love, I was down there before and saw your lot.”
There was an awkwardness in the air now that the drama had began to fade. He helped her up and said, ‘You look a bit like me sister you know.’
Then he let out a low yelp, his eyes rolled back and he fell sideways. Claire stared at him then looked up. Ian was stood there with a broken chunk of concrete with a small wet patch of black in one corner of it.
‘We were looking for you and I heard you scream, thank fuck I got here.’
‘B…but…’ She suddenly felt very sick and confused.
Ian looked at the silent figure of the ginger man on the ground.
‘Come on, come on, lets just fucking go in case any of his mates turn up’, Ian grabbed Claire’s hand and dragged her back towards the street.
She looked back as he pulled her along. The ginger man didn’t move. A seagull cawed overhead.
By Kenn Taylor