homeless magician.. Macker MucDunna
Act Two Chapter eleven
-‘Scaly lizards and twisting lilies’-
Jimi Kwin opened his brown eyes and brought them into focus.
He grinned, then grimaced and hunched, as a band of pain attacked his forehead, and another shot down his groin.
–‘Ow, shit what’s that?’-
He’d been sleeping on a toy plastic car. Outside a real car was hooting and revving down the river quays, real thunder rolled not very far away.
–‘Oh God, me head. What a party!..’- he groaned.,
Sitting up to check out the gang, breaking into a chuckle, then a full laugh.
-‘Ow ow ow.’-
He grasped his temples, as his memory flooded back, and he took in the post party wreckage.
A huge stuffed toy panda was eyeing him with an angry scowl. There were mounds of cuddly toys, mountains of clothes, and people.. arms, heads, legs.. sticking out from under them.
He remembered robbing the booze, jemmying a roller shutter, and the lumbering run with crates of scotch and vodka, then moving on, meeting up with the others, and finally this crazy Clanner celebration.
They were in a safe house, a four storey abandoned block facing the river, but to gain entry they’d had to scale a high back wall, all drunk and sprawling and muddy, and hefting crates up and down a ladder. [ref.25 squat the lot ]
They had settled in a big high store room on the third floor, piled up with sacks of toys and clothes, from a closed downstairs charity shop.
Jimi knew these places. He’d been on a Pools scheme to ‘secure and weatherproof derelict buildings’. He knew how to patch and block a roof leak, he dared to slot in a sixty amp fuse.
On this floor there was a tap with water, and a working toilet, and stacks of old stock.
-‘Bleeding massive.’- he muttered. examining his attire. He was clad in a fancy gold jacket, and a woman’s summer hat. But where the hell were his pants?
And what a crazy party… Starring Macker the Magician… Leaping up on the table, holding a mock auction among the clothes and toys.
Inventing outrageous but fitting characters and jobs. Insisting they bid for goods and speak on stage,
It was so mad it was cool, and Macker had triumphed. The street gang had all dressed up, swapping dares for promises, and rolling in helpless laughter.
Teasing and throwing sexual poses, bidding for each other’s erotic treasures…
Macker had been a panic, doubling as a bumpkin, arguing with himself, then switching character, and breaking in with take off snatches of pop songs.
We laughed so hard we almost choked on joking.
Now that over there must be Bernard in a crumpled suit, snoring face down on a table, with Sandra the tourist in a yellow spoon bikini, and …
Sleeping naked. Jimi observes. He sees a couple of flies, homing in on Carmody’s hairy balls, and one of Janie’s warm bare feet is sticking out, actually touching his own thigh.
Her toes… actually resting on his calf.
Sucking his wishful gaze up and up her long legs. Setting off a thrill that shivers through him.
Jimi has almost no experience with girls. He’s sixteen, but has no sisters.. He and his Clanner friends have been thrown out of his crumbling all male school.
Dropping his face in his hands he peeks at Janie through his trembling fingers, hoping to see more but she turns away. He flits off a fly that lands on her brown foot.
Only now are there some girls in their group. Seven of them now, himself and Shoveler, Sandra and Potbelly, plus Janie of course, Ernie and Harry. No, they are eight. ref 10 and glossary ‘deschools’
Janie keeps rolling about, restless under those hunting chameleons. He would’ve made her a better bed than that.
She rolls right over onto her back.
The flowery curtain slides off her legs, exposing all her lower half. Slap up starkers in front of his face.
Jimi is gaping like a parrot fish.
He’s never seen a girl undressed, close up in real life. Like an exotic tropical fruit, he thinks, but breathing. Framed by long wisps of curly red hair.
He hears her catch her breath. He holds his own, as five fingertips appear.
Short red painted finger-nails, scamper round her tummy button. Like naughty red mice. Skipping all the way and plunging in.
He doesn’t know whether to laugh or groan.
As Janie stretches and moans.. ever so softly.
He can see her profile. Her mouth-suck in the sheet.
Too late to look away, he blushes and grins, letting out a long breath.
She sees that he’s seen, that she can see him watching her.
And she rolls out of sight, under the lizards and lilies.
The giant panda stares back at him, unblinking, but now grinning.
Cocking his head, Jimi chuckles, and yes!
He barely picks it up… Her answering giggle.
Jimi laughs out loud, and Carmody farts like a tuba.
The fly is back on her foot.. The thunder grumbles,
And the floorboards tremble, with the whoosh of an air-bus passing.
Jimi was laughing, well woken up, though the dawn was only breaking.
Gazing at the fireplace, where Macker Mucdunna sat on a box, hugging his battered jacket to his skinny chest. Still wearing a curly black woman’s wig.
Macker was a mess, his clothes were filthy and bloodstained; his runners worn right through.
Jimi half expected the sleeping figure to jump up, he was liable to leap into life, joking, cursing and singing.
The robbery and the party had been Macker’s idea. He’d proposed it at a card game in Mart Street flats.
-‘Well we got nothing on. We’re waiting for our De-School Project in the Free-Uni.’- Jimi had replied. And everyone took that to be a yes.
No way could Jimi sleep more. Thinking about Janie’s body and sniffing for her smell, imagining it was he snuggling together with her, just one meter away. Mmmm.. if only!
He sat up straight, rummaging seriously for his pants like a proper Clan leader.
Jimi was way too embarrassed, to let his personal parts be seen. He’d never flash like Ernie or Harry did, hanging cool in Warrior bands and thongs.
He needed to feel a normal average Clan Warrior first….
And what if it suddenly changed size? Shrinking to a wrinkled walnut.
Or much too big, like now!
Ernie from Clan Sunshine wore a fashionable Peeny-Belt. They had dared each other into trying it on, up on the roof of the flats..
-‘Short, long or medium mode…’– said the instructions.
One by one they had paraded, streaking round the chimneys. While the rest nearly melted laughing.
There were his pants at last, and his shoes. Under everything of course.
And there was Macker looking at a book. How lucky he was staying with them now.
Jimi groaned and laughed, and got to his feet, clambering over cuddly toys and bodies to the window. It had been a good robbery, a good few days away.
Away from his family bickering in the little flat, away from his sullen enduring silent rage.
His father hated him, partly for failing in school, and seized on every single chance to shame him. But now, despite his hangover new life was rushing in him. This was a beginning. Now to divide up what was left of the spoils, and retire in good order. Maybe Janie shocked him wide awake.
Outside the broken window the rain had stopped, and a pale sun was piercing the murk. He took in the yellowy green waters of the river, sliding past below, imagining it gurgle like the poisonous booze in his belly
On the other side were more boarded up buildings. And further away the smelly leather factory, now occupied by the local Pool.
You could see the banners flapping in the breeze.
If you had work you could still scrape a living. The shiny offices, the rich gliding by in their big cars. But less and less people had work. And no one even pretended anymore that there was any possible future for him and his type. Or for hardly anyone really.
Jimi pushed back his greasy hair, took a deep suck of the cool polluted air. An open backed air-van pulled in on the pavement below him. Three men were getting out.
But his eyes were caught by a flock of black headed gulls, diving and skimming the water.
An armoured police van stopped below, blocking one lane. –‘No parking on the pavement.’– he thought.
Then the side door opened and cops in robot gear started to clamber out. Nodding at the three men, who he now saw were carrying crowbars and sledge hammers. They were climbing the three steps to their door. There was a loud crack.
Jimi panicked, rushing, falling, shaking people.
-‘Get up. Get up. Warriors wake up. Wake up wake up the cops are coming in!’-
I was already awake when Jimi started shouting, I’d been up, on and off, for hours, struggling with diarrhea and a bit of fever, drinking tepid tap water, and feeding the fire with bits of broken shelving.
My thoughts just kept repeating and repeating. Bad thoughts, the death of my mother, losing my brother and sister.
And I’d cut my fingers and thigh, quite deeply, someone had moved the ladder when I was getting them all over the high, glass topped wall. That didn’t really bother me. I’d washed and bandaged the cuts and I would heal cleanly, I hoped. What really did me in was….
–‘Get up. Get up. Warriors wake up. Wake up wake up the cops are coming in!’-
Forgetting my woes I bounced over to the window, then to Jimi where he was shaking Steamer awake.
-‘How long will the door last? – I asked him.
-‘A double mattress with doors behind and akro bar-wedges.’-
-’How long?’- I vaulted onto the table, where I’d hosted the party, clapping my hands like an Explainer. –‘Come on now kids. Everybody up. Get your clothes on now now now.’-
-‘Five minutes at least I’d say.’- Jimi estimated. A steady hammering had begun below.
–‘Come on now. We want all the good bottles here in the crates. Bernard. Pato.. Can we go by the roofs Jimi? ..We’ll never cross them walls.’-
They were blundering about, looking for clothes and shoes, some people were still intent on sleeping.
-‘Yes yes, it’s a big wide ledge down to number fifty seven. That’s empty as well. Yes Macker, by day it’s easy.’-
-‘Okay kiddie winkles.’- I clapped again, ‘Everyone’s going out upstairs right now. We’ll hold them off for a while. Get dressed Janie quick.’-
-‘I can’t find my clothes. Where’s Potbelly gone?’-
I noticed I was still dizzy, trying to slide up the stuck sash window. Jimi and Shoveler appeared and we heaved it up together.
-‘We’re not going to fight them are we?’-
-‘No no, you’ll see I’m going to wind them up..’-
I pulled down the black wig, got ready my high enraged housewife voice, stuck my head half out, and let rip.
-‘Stop that right now. Stop now, get away from that door. You. Fat fella.. I know you, that’s private property you’re destroying. For God’s sake officers, there’s children sleeping here, get out. Get away from that. Have you no shame sir, I’ll have the law on you. You with the tattoo. Officers, arrest that man, my brother is a Clanner the Mart Street Pool. They’ll have your guts for garters, you there, you’ll pay for this. There’s decent people here, get back in your van right now you’re a total disgrace to the force. You’re….. ‘-
The men had paused. Consulted with the police, and looked set to continue. The door-frame was half smashed in already.
-‘I’m warning you fellas. Right now I’ll phone my brother and he’ll have half the city CLANs here in five minutes. You officer. You’re committing a monstrous Shit-On for the cameras. Shame on you. We’ll all be up to your house to… ‘-
I’d snatched up a box of children’s clothes, and was chucking them out one by one. So they sailed down beautifully on the traffic jam and onlookers. Keeping up my diatribe all the while.
-‘More clothes. Those sacks.. We need a girl’s voice. Janie come here.’- I said as the nighties went out. -‘Just women and kids stuff.. You’re my daughter, okay. Scream at those bastards.’-
Janie looked doubtful, then yelled realistically, I knew she was a natural actor, from how she impersonated her ex teacher at the party, drilling the drunken yunkers in romantic poetry. Now she went convincingly into outraged victim mode. They couldn’t see her of course, which was just as well, because Jane was acting in the nip, half wrapped in a sheet with chameleons on it.
Maybe impersonating her mother, while showing off her nice body and glancing for our reactions.
I slumped down and took a welcome break, feeling queasy and watching Janie move, so natural and sensual.
People were leaving the room, waving and grinning and passing back choice items to be thrown out. Others were collecting bottles or still dressing.
Jimi was selecting cuddly toys, dresses and lingerie for Janie to throw, and she yelling and threatening all the while.
I knelt back at the window and poked out my head. The work had paused, the door had unaccountably resisted, and a little crowd was blocking the far pavement, cheering as a shimmery see-through nightdress sailed right into the river, jeering at the police and their thugs.
Horses were tossing and getting restless, vehicles were hooting, passengers were hopping out of a trapped ammonia-bus.
–‘Shit-On you Rambo. Give us more.. Can’t you even break a door?’-
I was chucking out handfuls of socks and briefs, hankies that floated away. Cameras and a microphone had appeared already. Then Jimi had a shoebox of little pink rubber pigs, and all of us were grunting, as Janie started pelting the police!
-‘Go home coppers. Shame on you! Go and evict your own mother’-
The last party-goers were disappearing upstairs.
Shushing each other very loudly, and honking like porkers.
Then a sudden gust of wind blew my black wig right off! Just like that. I snatched but lost it and it fell down among the officers.. A riot cop lifted his visor and pointed up at me in the window.
-‘That’s Macker Mucdunna Sir.’- he shouted. –‘That’s a wanted man. He’s only taking the mickey out of us, Sir.’-
-‘Almighty shite.’- I remarked.
A kid had caught the wig and run off with it, dodging through the jam. Then I shouted in my little boy voice
-‘You listen to my Mama. Get out of here now this minute.’-
–‘He has no mother Sir.’– The robo-cop shouted, pissing me off a lot.
And the sergeant had nodded to the heavies, who set about finishing off the door. Some of the crowd booed and whistled, but nobody intervened.
-‘Time we got going then.’– said Jimi. –‘Oh! No.. Janie!’-
She had snatched up an emerald green evening dress with golden shamrocks on it, but much too thin. She was trying to wriggle into it, arms in the air doing a jerky belly-dance.
Janie looked like she was having an orgasm. Jimi goggled and I gawked
-‘Let’s go.’- she cried. Gyrating in a hopping panic.
The dress was much too small. It couldn’t go on.
-‘Help me Jimi, quick.’– came her muffled voice.
The waist was tiny. He had to lever it over her tits. Tucking in her pointy nipples, then struggling down to her bottom.
-‘You’re gorgeous gorgeous beautiful…’- he panted.
-‘Ha ha ha.’- she snorted. Both of them tugging.
I was staring at them, dumbly in a daze.
–‘Me mama says I was blessed with a bulging bottom.’-
Her dress ripped up the back, but slipped down over her.
-‘Yippee..’– They hugged and went to run. The crashing came suddenly louder. Any second now the angry police would be storming up the stairs.
But there I was still sitting, head in my hands, I couldn’t get going at all.
-‘Come on Macker. Come on. Come on.’-
They grabbed an arm each and pulled me to my feet. I staggered, breaking free of my lethargy, suddenly happy, because I did remember my little rucksack.
-‘Last one out’s a jailbird.’- I yelled. And we all raced up the stairway.
There was a rickety ladder, just catching the attic skylight.
-‘You first Macker.’- said Jimi –‘Up you go.’-
I squeezed quickly out the little window. How had the others got the crates through? And crouched panting on the wide ledge, reaching in to help them up, feeling the strong cool wind revive me.
-‘Out you go… Oh Janie!.’- She had hiked up her torn evening dress over her ample posterior, but it burst right up her back.
Jimi grabbed her buttocks and shoved her up. Her bare feet treading his head as I pulled her hand,. Then he slipped through after her to safety.
-‘Help me pull up the ladder.’-
But the little ladder stuck. They pulled together, swaying in the wind on the sloping tiles. There were more shouts and pounding of boots.
The ladder slid out. I caught the top end cleanly as it toppled, and we left it on the ledge as Janie shut the skylight.
-‘That’ll keep them guessing.’– said Jimi, as we scuttled off, leaning away from the edge.
We ran crouching along the wide ledge, all the way to number fifty seven, and in the open window. If there were cops out back we didn’t clock them.
This building wasn’t so wrecked at all. I spotted a coil of light, strong rope on the way down, and found a sack to bring it in. We made our exit out the back of the first floor, down a bit of drainpipe and across the muddy waste ground.
-‘Hairy Mary had a canary.’– said Janie. Shivering in her bare feet, and winding bits of evening dress around her.
-‘Watch out, sure the mud is full of glass.’-
–‘Here put on my coat.’– said Jimi. Glancing about and stripping off his stripy jacket, though he wore no shirt beneath it.
Muddy? It was more like a lake, we passed two traveller caravans where a tied dog yapped madly.
–‘Excellent mobile homes.’– I was thinking. Every one of them was some kind of a cousin of mine. They were doing well, trading recycled goods with the CoOp Pools, and world economic collapse had been a grand opportunity for them.
A red haired woman opened a half door on the trailer, saw me shout a greeting, but she slammed the door shut. She knew who I was but I had no welcome here.
Because bad blood never dries, anyway I was only a half traveller and…
-‘Yer old fella’s in the loony bin… loony baloony…’- Came the familiar taunt.
We had reached a patch of concrete where two boys were playing with a pram.
-‘He’s dead.’- said the bigger boy. –‘Yer old fella dived off the roof.’-
-‘Loony loony loony.’- went the other as he skidded the pram.
-‘Get up the yard you long-nosed sparrow fart.’-
-‘Woodja ever eff off outa that.’- I replied in kind.
Then I was lagging behind, wagging my head. Jimi took my hand, he’s a good guy, and Janie took his other one.
And we picked our way together, like a treble crab, through the deep ruts and puddles.
-‘Carmody will be waiting for you.’- said Jimi to Janie.
-‘I’m not with him at all, silly, we just ended up together.’- she said.
Slipping her arm round his bare waist, and changing the rest of his life.
Out onto the open street and we stopped holding hands, realizing we were totally conspicuous.
Then we were trying, with zero success, notto look like Newbies from Planet Weirdo.
But in just two minutes we arrived safely, through the gates of Mart Street Flats to meet up with the rest of our party.
I was still having trouble walking straight, biting my lips, head down.
Those traveller kids would slag me off, and say that my father was mad, but one phrase that bigger boy had said I could not admit. Couldn’t even think about.
One idea only must rule me now. To get away somewhere safe, to rest and recover
Macker the Magician
-‘I am here to astound! ..I am here to amaze!’-
-‘Well now. me old partners in crime.’- said Macker. Watching a crowd of children skipping and darting inside the gates. –‘It looks to me like the party’s over.’-
-‘Hey lookat there’s Macker!’-
-‘Hey Macker cumear.’-
In a moment they were surrounded. Jimi raised his hands, but it was Macker whose arms and jacket were seized. Others were coming running, and small hands tried to prise the almost empty half bottle of whiskey from his pocket.
-‘Gis a sup o that.’- said a grabby boy.
-‘Ah go on out of that.’-
-‘Janie’s lost her knickers.’– cried a skinny wide-eyed girl.
-‘C’mon Macker and do a show.’-
-‘Ah Macker do Elvis, c’mon, c’mon please.’-.
-‘The school is on strike again.’-
-‘We’re going away on a project.’-
-‘Hey Janie your bottom’s hanging out.’-
-‘That’s latest Clan Sunshine fashion, ignoramus!’- Janie protested.
-‘Do your show. Do your show. C’mon. 0h c’mon.’-
-‘Get off! Get off of me’– Macker yelled. Head down. –‘I’m not doing nothing today, I’m in rag order.’-
-‘Please pretty please for me.’- That skinny black girl was hanging on his sleeve.
He sighed, grimaced and grinned, then took the plastic bag of his things from the rucksack, and gave it to Janie. Then he swung out the coil of rope, re-slung the sack.
Suddenly ducking clear of the grabbing hands, he went zipping round the crowd, and ran down into the courtyard, between the big old flats. Where he surprised a few tiny children playing, and a few tired women, sitting out in the hot sun.
The kids pursued him in a mass, the girls and young fellas, all shrieking with glee.
As he ran he beckoned at a dark stairwell, where the rest of the Warriors were lurking with their booty.
Vaulting onto the roof of a smashed up car, a relic of the night before, he stood, stock still, legs splayed, bottle in hand.
Then he started yelling in an Alabama drawl.
-‘Okay you Ladies and Gentlemen down there. Will you please now take your seats in the places provided. Now you young gents have gotta stay offa this here stage. Or maa bouncers will eeject you head first from this here thee-ey-tuh.’-
Macker dropped his head, wiggled his hips, threw out an arm…
Threw up a long lonely lamenting wolf howl.
He was off!… A shaking and a hopping.
-‘Ain’t nothing but a hound dog,…Howling all the while… ‘-
And the kids were howling and squealing. The women walking over with broad smiles. People were opening windows and leaning over balconies.
An air of Festival infested the sunny flats.
Girls held hands and danced. Toddlers were lifted onto shoulders.
A flock of startled pigeons dived by the green river and clean washing flapped in the sun.
-‘Oh I’ll do any thing,…That you want me to,
But hey ho hunny lay offa my booze…’-
He was making an amazing noise, his sickness quite forgotten, crooning into his bottle, and flapping the fronts of his worn out runners.
-‘Get off. Get OFF.
Get offa ma bloo swayd shoooz…’-
Jimi and Janie sat on the charred black bonnet, as Macker repeated and got everyone clapping hands. While Pato and Steamer were lifting down little kids, as they climbed up onto the roof.
Macker could do Madonna and the Pope, and Michael Jackson till you cracked up laughing.
Plus a stack of acrobatic magic.
-‘I’m here to astound. I am here to amaze!’- he would shout, and everyone loved it.
Being so young and so little, he seemed to be mocking himself, while magically making things happen.
He had the rope out, telling a CLAN joke, while he hitched some knots.
-‘Have we got a volunteer? Have we got a hero?’–
–‘Can anyone here climb up there and hang this swing? Coz I’m well scattered folks, I am indeed well maggoty today.’-
Pointing up the big double lamppost in the middle of the yard.
-‘Me me me. I can do it.’-
-‘Can we have your name, brave Sir?’-
-‘Now Mr. Kenny here will try to hang the swing for the Mart Street Warriors.’-
Wiry little Willy went easily up and up the pole, attracting all eyes, and hung and arranged the lassoo. But Macker had disappeared.
–‘Run. Run. Run.
As fast as you can.
You can’t catch me I’m..
SPIDERMAN… all together now.. Run. Run. …’-
He was shouting down from a third floor balcony, holding the other end of the rope, and tying knots, adjusting strings on his sack, and leading the chant.
-‘Run. Run. Run………..As fast as you can…’-
-’But he can’t jump from up there.’– said Bernard.
-‘Okay now Ladies and Gents. Silence please. Silence please. You are about to see me, for the first and only time, leap into the air, like Spiderman himself, and fly round and round this here Emporium… ‘-
-‘No way can he jump, Steamer. He’ll hit the ground.’-
-‘The rope’s way too long.’-
-‘But I can only fly if you all shout together. You’se all gotta help me fly. When I count to three. All shout together.’-
-‘Don’t jump Macker.’- Janie was yelling,. Biting her fists.
-‘Jump. Jump. Jump.’- screamed the little kids.
Jimi was up on the roof of the car, waving and shaking his head. The distance was wrong. He’d hit the concrete yard.
Macker was ready, hitching one more loop, when a wave of dizziness enclosed him.
And the image he’d been blocking slipped clean through…
A child memory of his father. Patcheen the poet. Diving off a cliff rock into a wild sea. He was a diver! –‘He dived off the roof.’- The traveller kid had said.
He could never have made that up. Why should he? And suddenly he knew that his father could really be dead.
-‘This is for you Dad.’- he said –‘This is for you.’- and then he was shouting -‘Okay let’s do it… All together now, as loud as you can…
Run Run Run……As fast as you can
You can’t catch me I’m
SPIDERMAN… Run Run…. ‘-
Macker took off. But he went sprinting sideways along the balcony wall. When he reached the end of the rope he lifted off, swinging down in a wide arc round the lamppost, and pulling himself up the knots.
He whirled in over the crowd, tugging the first cord.
With all the coloured silk hankies and underwear flying out behind. He was fairly whistling around. Almost hitting heads. Pulling himself higher.
On the second round the little wrapped sweets went scattering everywhere.
Foot in a loop, twisting round. Lighter in hand for the rocket. Last sweets flying as the confetti started whirling up and away in the breeze.
The fuse caught. The firework whooshed up, and exploded with a loud bang.
He had done it!
Macker swung round once more, through the twinkling confetti. Planning to land on the derelict car, where Jimi and Janie stood close together.
The third round, but still much too fast. He doubted, jumped, hit the roof and rolled, knocking Jimi and then Janie onto the blackened bonnet.
And the three of them slithered onto the ground laughing and cursing.
-‘Yippeeeyiyiyoo!’- he cried. Delighted to be in one piece.
-‘Ow ow ah oh Jayzus wept. You came in like a fucking plane!’- says Jimi.
-‘Thanks for stopping me.’-
-‘You had to land on us!’– Janie muttered, screwing her face and grasping her sore leg.
-’Are you okay ?’– Jimi asked, hand on her arm.
-‘Cacacatoooo!’- she whooped. –‘ I’ve never been dirtier in my life.’-
-‘See the confetti!’– The wind had caught and whipped it, way up over the roofs.
-‘We thought you were gonna die.’– said Bernard.
-‘My bleeding knee’s bleeding.’-
-‘Uh oh.. look. Here come the Peelers..’- Janie was pointing.
Three policemen were coming in, sure thing the firework had attracted them. They were a new Community Foot Patrol, a rare sight here, and always in threes.
-‘Crazy bastards.’- someone yelled.
-‘Why can’t they just leave us alone!’- Jimi protested.
-‘Shall I get rid of them then?’- said Macker.
-‘You are a magician after all. Bet you can make them disappear.’- said Steamer.
-‘No no, Macker.’- said Janie, wagging a finger. –‘You’re already in shit with them.. Your hands are bleeding you know. And you’re sick.’-
Macker pecked her ceremoniously on her very sooty cheek, and bowed with bruised dignity to lift a bit of concrete.
Then he vaulted back, onto the burnt out car, hammering the roof, holding up a hand and roaring hoarsely.
-‘Come here. Come here. Come here. Roll up back here. Come here all you wonderful yunkers of the Mart Street Warrior CLAN….’-
The police were hanging back, and feigning unconcern.
-‘I am here to astound! I am here to amaze!
My last historical wowing today will be a disappearing trick. I’m going to make…er..
One moment please, just a minute, silence please…
Is that a horse’s diarrhea I smell? Jimi. Phew that sure smells bad.
Is there a goddarn sick horse in the house?
Ah do believe there’s uh sumthin rotten in this heea awditawrium.’-
There was puzzled laughter.
-‘Naw Naw’- he shouted. His voice going. –’That ain’t no horse ah smell.. What ah smell is them thaar PIGS!’-
His arm flashed out pointing. The crowd of kids turned to face them. The policemen looked shocked and guilty.
-‘That sure is a shameful thing to see. Them thaar pigs coming in here. Wha only last night they bashed in poor Davie Driscoll’s teeth.’-
Macker glanced down at Jimi, Janie, Steamer, Pato and the rest. His face was white and strained.
-‘Do I hear Pigs Out. Come on everybody now.. Pigs out.. clap clap clap.. Hear us shout… clap clap clap..’-
A few, then everybody else took up the chant. The older cop was talking to his radio, and another, a young country recruit, went beetroot red.
And the kids were edging forward, laughing and jeering, diving to grab missed candy.
And as the cops backed off they moved in faster.
Next thing they were abandoning all dignity and running out the gate, with a hail of hard boiled sweets flying after them.
A low ragged cheering broke out and echoed round the festive flats.
Macker was kneeling on the roof of the burnt out car. –‘This was a mistake.‘- he thought, trying to shake his head clear, now they would get him for sure. Then he pulled out his knife.
-‘I’ll be off then. ‘- he said. –‘Hey Janie me ole partner, give us me bag.’-
He was sawing a length off the rope, so as the children couldn’t leap off the balconies. Then he handed the good end to the first boy in line, who was waiting to fly, like Spiderman.
But at that moment a plump middle aged woman marched down from one of the stairwells, with a chair leg in her hand, and followed by a reluctant man.
It was Jaqueline Muranne, red faced and furious, and she was making straight for the car where he had performed
-‘Hey Macker watch your back!’- It was Johnner Brennan.
-‘Get out!’- she yelled, approaching –‘Get out of these flats! Macker Mucdunna you’re a living disgrace. You filthy bleeding criminal. Out! Now! There’s respectable people living here.’-
The children were running back. A new drama!
-‘Get out you dirty rat! I seen what you done. Them coppers come in here only doing their job. Look at that car, someone worked hard for that car. Get out you little rat corrupting our kids.’-
She was banging the chair leg on the roof, as the crowd gathered in, fascinated. Jackie paused for breath.
-‘Come on you.’- The man indicated. –‘You know you’re barred out of here.’-
-‘Em ei conversing ‘. Macker tried his posh accent. –‘With a Representer of Mart Street Pool?’-
-‘Shut up you skinny pig you, or God forgive me I’ll lather you. You dirty….’-
Then Jimi acted, fast and sure at last. He swung up on the roof and stood in front of Macker.
-‘Now listen here. We invited our friend here to do his show.’- he shouted. Waving and nodding his gang towards Jaqueline. –‘We had nothing to do with burning that car. Anyone who touches this man will answer to the Mart Street CLAN!’-
-‘Get out you filthy scum.’– There was no stopping her now. –‘I pity the poor woman after rearing the likes of you you… ‘-
Macker’s control broke, and he shouted back at her, spit flying.
-‘She’s dead, she’s dead, my mama’s dead. You can keep your coppers and your stick, and shove them up your big fat arse hole!’-
Jaqueline went to throw the chair leg. But Steamer caught her arm and it fell, then Johnner and Boiler were pushing her back, remonstrating.
Nothing had happened, the children were disappointed.
-‘I’m gone out of here.’– Macker vaulted down –‘Janie, …me bag?’-
-‘Where will you go? Where do you live?’- Janie had put her arm round him.
He shrugged, not having an answer, put his other arm round Jimi, and the three of them had a huggie.
-‘Good luck and goodbye, for now.’-
–‘Gotta get together.’- He winked and disappeared.
Up the steps and out the big back gate. No cops. He was gone like a shot, straight down the hill to the city. The children and the gang saw him go, Jimi and Janie shouted and waved.
But they didn’t separate, twining together for a lingering kiss..
–‘Janie’s got a boyfriend. Janie’s got a boyfriend..‘- A little kid chimed in.
I knew already I was in no condition for running, so I slowed to a jog, stopped a minute, and continued at a slow walk. Down a street of old buildings, mostly squatted by the local illegal CoOp Pools. Then the city center. Empty office blocks, all glass and big ‘TO LET’ signs. Guards and dogs inside. Shops, banks and insurance companies. Mostly closed.
My head was away with it, flashing back to my childhood. Busking with my dad, Patcheen, kipping in hedges, wandering country roads together in summer.
I crossed an intersection, there were bicycles, adapted CO2-free ammonia vans, horses, carts, and barrows. Secretaries and pale office people who were scurrying for their lunch. They were large people, well fed and confident in their smart clothes. Jackie was right about one thing. I was totally dirty.
Patcheen taught me the trumpet and songs, and my first magic tricks. Before I even learned to read and write. I learned mad poetry, clips of ballads, and bits of jokes, all jumbled in the back of my little head.
There was a rumble of thunder, not more rain, I thought! And now I felt queasy, my stomach heaved and my eyes streamed. I was focusing on an empty flat I knew, in Little Agnes Street, which had a loose side window and a quiet back room..
I walked by a fancy restaurant, then past the line of beggars and junkies, and over the river.
A violent man, my dad was gentle with me, but finally he had been installed in the alcoholic unit of the Mental Asylum.
But yes. He was a diver all right…
I joined a flock of pedestrians who were surging at the lights, went past a hotel and the Fun Palace, where the machines flashed and beckoned. Cold sweat trickled down my neck, as I ambled zombie-wise past bus queues and more Occupations..
There were three cops now… I turned sharply into a side street, dodging a horse and cart, as my thoughts turned by themselves, to Damien and Tessa, my brother and sister.
It had been left up to me to take care of them, in that high squatted flat. They were big kids, Damien would be twelve now, and Tessa, she might be thirteen. Our dad had come less and less often to visit us.
And now he was dead. But I couldn’t think about that..
I was walking through a deserted carpark, then past the occupied bicycle factory.
A strange girl Tessa, she wasn’t resentful like my brother Damien, just weird, a bit like Patcheen… My father dead… But where was Tessa now?
I could picture my sister through my tears.
I was wishing I’d never struck her.
-‘Shit shit shit.’- I muttered. Kicking viciously at a Coke can, which flew under a lorry and was squashed flat.
They had come with the police, and broken the door to get us out. I shinnied down the back drain pipe and abandoned them, something that still bothered me now.
I pictured Tessa again, calling me plaintively from the high window. Then her face was blurring, into a more terrible memory, of a younger Tessa, calling, and shaking our mother Katy, in her bed in the flat, she would never never wake up again.
-‘I’m sick, I’m just sick, nearly there.’-
I shook my head fiercely.. I was dazed, I was a sitting duck. There was a cop car now!
I turned quickly into a candle-lit shop. It was chancy here, on the edge of a Free Pools area. I peered about the shop, the electricity was off. glossary ‘Pools’
-‘Could I have a bottle of water please?’-
-‘Sorry son.’- the shopkeeper said. –‘We don’t serve travellers here.’-
I stared for a moment into her heavy lined face. Imagining my mother’s face instead. She had been genuinely sick, no one had realized that she was seriously ill.
I let slip a little sob, as I left the shop without replying.
I was remembering how once I had joined in mocking my mother..
Very near now to Little Agnes Street, except that the rain was heavier, dripping inside of my clothes.
But I only had to get there. There had been running water in the flat, a good mattress. I would rest up and heal and get clean. Maybe I would go down the country. Yes, with the Pools, and work on the farms.
I had to get out of the city. It was hot summer coming after all.
Now I was finally going to throw up, no no.
My head was zooming on that loose side window, that sunny room. I just had to banish that guilt and despair, that conspired to destroy me.
And I saw at last that it was real and right.
I understood my dad’s message now. Patcheen diving for us, from the prison roof, into an imaginary ocean.
-‘So I’m an orphan now.’- I thought.
I had come at last to the corner, and turned into Little Agnes Street.
And I stopped there, groaned and opened my blurred eyes wide. Then closed them tight, as if to blot out what I saw.
The street was full of people, with banners hung across. There were children, dogs and reporters, milling and hanging out. Music was playing thinly through loud speakers, a street theater group was swinging into action, blocking the road.
A police riot van stood in the middle of it all. With ‘CO2-free NH3 Community Police Transport’ printed in green on the side. There’d be plainclothes police just itching to pounce! I’d have to turn back and really force myself now.
I turned to leave, feeling my stomach rise and my vision going, and next thing I was doubled at the corner, puking a vile yellow mix of whiskey and chips. As I retched I listened to a speaker, coming, it seemed, from some faraway compartment in my head…
-‘We have taken over these five good houses to live and work in, and to stop the stupid demolition plans of the Regensea Insurance Company, who abandoned these properties they had bought to speculate. They had bet on getting big profits by pushing up house prices and milking us dry.’-…...[ref.25.squatting.p455]
I spat, grunted and spat again, concentrating just on breathing. I lurched to some granite steps and sat, with my head between my knees. My eyes were pouring, rain was dripping from my sopping hair.
–‘Just a few minutes.’- But I was keeling on the step. –‘A few minutes rest, and I’m off.’-
-‘Hey you, young fella.’- I heard it but I really couldn’t get going. –‘Hey young fella. Are you all right?’-
Someone had come down the steps and sat beside me. An arm went round my shoulders, a hand uncovered my eyes, peered in through my tangled mane.
It was a young woman, with short red hair and big blue eyes.
-‘Jayzus.’- she said. –‘It’s Macker Mucdunna. What the hell happened to you?’-
–‘I’m sick.’– I whispered and coughed, I didn’t recognize her. –‘I’m sick and I’m on the run.’-
I let my head flop down in shame, choking back my nausea.
She squatted in front of me, blocking me from view, and glancing back at the police getting out of their van, just a few meters away.
-‘I w-wanted to kip in one of them gaffs.’- I explained.
-‘You’re okay Macker.’- she whispered back. -‘Come on inside quick. Them cops can’t touch you inside, and you’re in no fit state to be running.’-
I couldn’t reply, for the unexpected sympathy had dissolved me in choking sobs. I tried to rise.
She embraced and heaved me up, and I sniffed her gorgeous salty smell, as she half dragged me up the door steps.
I stumbled but she held me tight. Then I was peering through my stringy hair, into a dark passage, leading to a luminous green light.
The door clicked shut behind us.
I was safe.
-‘My name is Maxie Moon. You’re welcome here.’-
NEXT EPISODE HERE Serial of ‘The Free’. Ch 13/14. Maxie in the Ragwort Free
- Serial of The Free, Ch 10. Horny, Bossy and Wild (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)
- Serial The Free, Ch 9 Sliding Thru Walls (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)
- Serial of the Free: Ch 8. Christo joins the Anarchists (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)
- serial ‘The Free’ chs. 5 and 6, ‘Barney the Play-Worker’ and ‘Testerical Morons” (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)
- Serialization of’The Free’. sisters.. Ch4 Wonderful Maggie (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)
- Serialization of ‘The Free’.. Ch 1..Smashing my Aquarium- (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)