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Freedom Fighters

So ah wis watchin’ hum fae the bar wan deed Wednesday night. He was hangin’ there like a big drip ay water about tae burst aw ower the flair. He kept starin’ at that phone. Poor wee cunt wis oot in the water at the end ay his rope. An thas why we wur in the Clachan. Jus me and the boy. Faither and son. Fuckin’ Flash Sr. tae Flash Jr., see if we cannae learn a wee somethin’ aboot somethin’.

Ah wheeled masel ower tae the wee table, clamped the old breaks on and sat the pints ah pish wahter doon.

“So,” ah says, suddenly realizin’ ah didnae know whit ah wis gonnae say. “How’d you eh, how’d you reckon yer exams went?”

“Fine. I think.”

“Aye?”

“Aye” he said.

We both sat there fir a second. He wis lookin’ at that phone. He wis wantin’ efter a text fae that wee bird whatshername. Kirsty ha hink. She’d geed him the elbow and he was feelin’ bluer than Eric Clapton’s back catalogue. Ah wis normally dishin’ oot elbows, but ah knew whit wan felt like. Hurts.

Ah looked him up and doon. His hair wis growin’ oot and he wis becomin’ less like every other cunt here every day. His mother said that that wis ma doin’. Nae doubt man. When she met me ah had hair doon tae ma arse and a beard tae ma tits. The wee cunt really reminded me a me when ah was like him.

“Ah know what it’s like son.” ah says efter a bit ay silence.

“Like what’s like?” he says.

“Tae feel like ye dinnae belong.”

He looked at us. Ah could see ah’d gone a bit deeper than ah’d been afore. He wis just sittin’ in thought. Ah saw ma angle and a fuckin’ went fir it.

“Ah wis an ootsider here. Ah still um. There are people in this village that willnae let me forget that. Ah came here in ‘78. 1970 fuckin’ 8. That’s a long time tae be stuck in a shit tip like this.”

He smiled. Cunt knew.

“Ah’m a Catholic hippy fae Glesga! They fuckin’ hated me. Bein’ a Catholic here back then wis like bein’ a Jew in a mosque. We’re talkin’ about Achna-fuckin’-fachel here son!” ah says.

He’d hurd the Catholic chat afore. He knew they didnae like us. Even taedae this village is big proddy country. There are mair blue noses here than on the Smurf’s Christmas album. But he wid nivir know whit it wis like tae be hated fir it. Hated fir somethin’ history lobbed intae circumstance.

“They used tae say that Achnafachel was “Fenian free since 1953”. ‘53 wis the year the quarry closed an all the Catholic laborers left. And then 25 peaceful years later there wis me: A big sexy Irishman wi long scraggly hair and a big daft beard here tae shag aw their birds!”

Ah shouldnae ah said that last part. Ah could feel um eyebawin’ me. Ah knew he knew ah knew which plant plots aw the auld hoors ah the village hid their backdoor keys unner. It was nae secret that the Grandmaster Flash wis known fir geein’ oot rides oan his Wheels ah Steel, know whit ahm sayin’ like?

“Anyway, so ah wis a big hairy hippy back then,” ah says, “ah wis a hippy efter the hippies cut their hair. See that shite oan the telly aboot the swingin’ sixties, that that wis aw the upper class like. In Glesga, the workin’ man’s toon, we didnae get the sixties until the seventies. So when aw the rich cunts fucked aff tae India, the poor boys fae the schemes came tae wee shite holes like this.”

He didnae say anythin’. He wis lookin’ at that fukin’ phone again, aw absent. Ah could tell he wis hardly listenin tae. Fuck it, ah thought, time tae break oot a wee yarn ah prolly shouldn’t tell um.

“I want tae tell ye aboot the first fight ah goat intae up here.”

He looked up at me. Ah had him. Every man, no matter how passive, loves tae hear aboot a good fight. It’s that primal instinct tapered wi a modern fear ay getting yer honds dirty.

“Ah’d settled in awright. Hud a joab diggin’ roads. Ah’d just started seein’ yer maw. It wis pure tranquil. But efter a couple weeks at the country manor it wis the auld firm. Now every cunt had crammed in here. Ah wis wi Billy Breeks and Tam Honds. Baith big Selic boys fae Glesga. But we tried no tae be oan that day. I mean, we couldnae pretend tae be Rangers boys. The amount of Tims turnin’ in their grave wid start a fuckin’ earthquake. But we tried tae seem like we didnae gee a fuck. Us lookin’ like Crosby, Stills an Nash they aw thought we wir too soft tae like the fitbaw…” ah says, wi a wee smile.

“We stood oot like a bunch ah dildos in a cake shoap. Dicks amongst fannies. Ah noticed Auld Ford wis eyein’ us up. This wis back when he wis called Suzuki. But then he goat pished and crashed his Suzuki. So he bought a Ford. This wis years afore the drink fucked him.”

Ah pointed up tae the auld hung shadow barely stable oan the end stool. Ford’s mechanism wis long fucked. Drooned. He wis just another wan ay Scotland’s purple-nosed alkie tramps destined tae die in a pile ay pish soaked cans ah super lager wan cold winter’s night. That’s whit happens when you’ve naint tae live fir but the drink.

  Changing with the times

“But him and the boys were starin’ us up an doon. As you know son, ah wis a fightin’ man back then. I’d fight cunts oan the way tae a fight. So these Highland bastards didnae frighten me. Ah’d seen ma reflections in the back ay blades son.”

Ah could see ah hud the boy’s attention noo. Pure engaged. When Davy Flash spins a yarn the fuckin’ world gets wrapped up in it!

“So we were bangin’ back the pints. Whisky chasers. None ay that poof juice you loat drink the day. Booze was broon. We were startin’ tae make a racket when Ford tries tae squeeze past us. Ah let um through. He’s pure towerin’ ower me. ‘Cheers sweetheart’ he says. Fuckin’ sweetheart!? Ah square up tae um. Puffin’ ma chest oot an goin’ intae Jack Russell mode. ‘What you gonna do ya weegie cunt?’ he says.”

“Ah almost loast it! Ah was aboot tae burst ma pint glass ower his heed. But Tam swoops in, knowin’ me too well. He says sorry, he’s new tae the area, had a few drinks. Aw that bullshit ye tell someone tae make thum fuck aff feelin’ like a winner. Ford grunts and fucks aff. Tam whispers tae me, ‘We’ll get the cunt soon.’”

“The game wis 0-0. Terrible. Baith teams knocked lumps oota each other. Aw the while ah’d bitten a whole in ma tongue listenin’ tae they proddy fucks singin’ The Sash, callin’ us fuckin’ tatty niggers, Taigs, fenians, bead rattlers. Ah’d heard it aw son, but the tone ay that sectarian filth in this pub oan that day shocked me. Ah wis aboot tae fuckin’ explode. These Highland bastards hated the Irish mare than Thatcher ever could. An ah’d chosen tae fuckin’ live here!?”

“Anyway, last minute ay the game, we get a penalty! Stonewaller. Pub goes fuckin’ mental! Huns are ragin’! Boaby Lennox steps up. The telly’s silent man. The Clachan’s silent. Me, Tam and Billy Breeks rush up tae the telly, bumpin’ intae cunts, and causin’ a fuckin’ scene.“

Ah took a big gulp ah ma beer. The boy’s oan the edge ay his fuckin’ seat. Ah take ma time. Ah wis feelin’ a bit pished. The Bob Marley ah’d smoked in the hoose was takin’ me deep. Ah took a second tae get ma words thegither.

“Just as Lennox’s steppin’ back, ah here a voice behind me. ‘Here you ya big hairy poof! You’re not a fuckin’ window! Move or ah’ll burst ye!’. Ah looked at Tam. He looked at me. Ah took a quick glance in the reflection ay ma glass. Ah saw big Ford stonin’ right behind me. Ah finished ma beer an took a deep breath.”

“Right then ah spun roon in a Davy fuckin’ Flash and smashed ma foreheed intae his nose! Bam, ya bastard! Blood burst everywhere! Me, Tam and Billy set aboot kickin’ his cunt inside oot! A fuckin’ brawl starts! Beer in the air! Lassies screamin’! Every cunt’s throwin’ punches! But we were just layin’ boys oot! Us standin’ there in oor waistcoats an flares wi flowers in oor hair, beatin’ the shite oota these big fuckin’ country boys!! Stonin’ up fir ourselves and geein’ the finger tae the man! Fuckin’ freedom fighters son! Up the RA!” ah shouted, almost jumpin’ oot ma wheelchair.

“That’ll do Flash,” said Donny Dribble behind the bar. Aye, aye, ya Hun cunt. Ah wis pantin’. The old adrenaline wis kickin’ back in efter thirty years!

The wee man was smilin’, shakin’ his heed. I gave hum a big grin. Ah felt like ah’d pulled that rope right in. Ah just looked at um, hinkin’.

Efter a moment ay us wrapped up in thought aboot somethin’ tae dae wi somethin’ ah’d said, he goes

“Did Lennox score the penalty?”

“Whit dae you think!?!”

We baith started laughin’. Ah looked aroon the wee shit pit at the miserable specimens that patronised ma hard urned leisure time. Ah wished he hudnae hud tae grow up here. A goldfish ainly grows as big as the bowl ye keep the cunt in. Ah hoped fir his sake that that doesnae apply tae Catholics. The funny faded and we sunk intae that silence again.

“What was the point of that story da?”

Ah thought about it. Ah thought back tae where ah wis then an where ah am noo. Ah wasnae happy then and ahm no happy noo. Ah still hate this fuckin’ place as much as ah did oan that day. Nothin’s changed. Ma guts a bit bigger. Ma liver’s a bit pinker. Ma lung’s a bit blacker. Ah’m two feet shorter, and fuck ton wiser, pushin’ these fuckin’ wheels tae the same shite bar that ah’ve been goin’ tae fir thirty-odd year, still ridin’ the same auld hoors, still lyin’ tae the mother ah ma kids every fuckin’ day. Ahm no happy. And neither’s he. Ah thought a little harder and tried tae come up wi a moral. But there wasnae wan. ‘Don’t be me’. That wis as gud as ah could come up wi. But that’s shite.

“Ah dunno” ah said, starin’ at the empty glasses oan the table. Ah looked at the wee boy that sat across fae his da, wantin’ answers tae the questions the old boy’d nivir known tae ask himself.

“Another roond Donny!” ah shouted, vacantly, tae anyone that’d listen.

Ross Gardiner is a Scottish writer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him here: @rossgardinerman

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