It was getting late. I’d been collecting wood out on the ridge, and the rain was just coming on as I built a fire in the hearth. That’s when I heard the knock on the door. It was rare I’d have visitors, so I figured it must be Davey before I answered. I still picked up a pan just in case. Davey would laugh at me as soon as he saw it, and take the rip. But he didn’t. He just stood there, soaked to the skin, and said, “The cops are after me. We’ve got to run!”
I left Grace as the streets were starting to wake up and checked over my pockets as I walked. So that’s it then – a fiver and a shake of change. Just shy of eight quid. To go how far – 400 miles? Not bloody likely. I couldn’t think who else I could call on, and Davey said we needed to hit the road as early as we could, so it would have to do. A car pulled up beside me.
The window came down. “Could we have a word?” Four uniformed officers crammed in a patrol car. Two thugs with moustaches up front, two women in back. They didn’t leap out the car at me, they just looked at each other conspiratorially.
The guy behind the wheel looked me up and down. “Where’ve you been?”
“Sorry?” What on earth was he on about?
“You will be.” He glanced at his colleagues, then turned to strike me down with his eyes. “Where. Have. You. Been?”
“To see my friend.” I answered like an infant.
“Are you sure?” said the copper, and the the two WPCs smirked in the back.
I just stood there, stuck on a pin.
“We’ve had reports that a fellow meeting your description has been seen loitering outside the infant school.” A sickening grin spread under his moustache and the women in the back burst into giggles.
I was trying to figure if these were people in stolen uniforms, but that would be even more far fetched than my current situation. I’d seen the pictures of strikers getting truncheoned at Orgreave, and I knew what the police were capable of. If they put me in the car – what would happen to me then?!
“Was that you, watching the little boys and girls”
My knees started to go.
He turned to the others. “Shall we take him in?” The women in back had their hands at their mouths and we’re shaking their heads as if to say, ‘I am sorry, but it’s too funny’. The cop in the passenger seat threw his head back and laughed.
The driver turned back to me with a deadpan face. He stared for several seconds. “Go on. Fuck off.”
I backed off, but my boots seemed glued. They all watched me blankly as I picked up my feet. I picked up pace and started towards home, trying to make sense of what just happened and feeling a little sick. But then I realised the joke was on them – Davey was still free.
He came in and shook off his jacket. The rain and the leather, the zips and the studs landed heavy on the bare floorboards. He sat by the fire and I hung the kettle to boil. I sat opposite him in the fireglow. “What happened?”
“I firebombed a bank,” he began.
“Holy fuck. What – with petrol bombs?! Why?!”
“You know how they are – propping up apartheid. They made some statement how the protests won’t affect their investments in South Africa, so I thought it would be nice to show them how it can affect them.”
“Bloody Nora. When was this?!” I threw him a tea towel.
“The other night,” he said, towelling his hair. His blonde spikes were matted to his head. “The cops raided last night. They got Watson and Carla. I managed to get out the bathroom window.”
“They got Carla?! She threw bombs?!” So – where are they?”
“The cops have them,” he said.
We sat in silence; watched the flames lick at the kettle.
I poured the tea and put more wood on the fire. “There’s no milk, I’m afraid.”
Davey perched up and put his hands on his knees, then lifted his hands and rubbed the damp from them. He got up and stood in front of the hearth. The steam began to curl aglow from his jeans.
“Have you anything to eat?” he said, “I haven’t eaten since yesterday.”
I looked to the table, where there was still bread and hummous I’d made that morning. “That’s about it, if you want it.”
“You’re a bloody star, Fran!” he beamed, rubbing his hands together. His eyes followed me getting the plates and cleaning a knife. “How come you’re living like this? I mean, you haven’t got a fridge or nothing – not even a light bulb!”
“It was when I got Watson my job at the printers. It started happening then. I started getting headaches and that. I now hear lightbulbs like they’re ringing. I hear electric static off anything that plugs in. Electric bar fires make me almost pass out. It eventually got to the stage where I couldn’t cope, so I quit the job. I wanted out fast and they needed someone to replace me straight away. That’s how I got Watson the job. I found this place and started squatting here. It had been lying empty for ten years. It’s a bit primitive, I know – but I’ve got running water.”
“That’s mental, Fran,” he said. “This is good stuff, by the way.”
“My boss offered me good money to stay, but I just had to go. I suppose they’ll be in a bit of a fix when Watson doesn’t show up.” I looked at Davey apologetically.
“Will you go back if they ask you to step in?” He ripped a chunk of bread off the loaf.
“I can’t. Even if they knew how to find me. I’m kinda stuck being nature boy for the time being.” I looked down into my tea clasped in my hands.
“And you have this whole house to yourself?” he said, casting his eyes around.
“Ha! Who else would want to live like this?” The tea was too hot. I blew on it. “I mean, you’re welcome to stay, if you want.”
“No, Fran. Thanks all the same. I’ve got to get away. The cops will come here eventually.”
“So where are we going?”
“You mean it? You’ll come?! Ah, way to go, Fran! I’ve got an aunt down in Truro. I went there as a kid. She’ll see us right.”
“Does she know you’re coming?”
“Hell, Fran. I don’t even know if she’s still alive!”
Davey slept in his wet clothes on the couch in front of the hearth. At dawn, I brewed up some tea and cooked some porridge on the fire, then I went to see if I could find a coin or two to help us on our way.
I figured Grace might help us out some. She was always careful with money and was one of the few folk I knew well enough to ask. I threw some stones at her window and she opened the door in just her knickers and a Banshees t-shirt, shielding her eyes from the low morning sun.
“What the fuck are you doing waking me at this hour?” She didn’t even look at me, just turned around and walked into the kitchen. I studied her legs as I followed her, as Souixsie’s stark black and white eyes glared back at me from between her shoulders.
She weighed the kettle and lit a match under it. “Will coffee do?”
“I can’t stay.” I said.
She turned to me and propped the heels of her hands on the sink. “What’s going on?”
“It’s Davey. The cops are after him.”
Grace said nothing, just looked at me.
“They set fire to a bank. The cops got Watson and Carla.”
“Carla?!” I thought Grace was gonna throw something at me. Her eyes cut me through with blame. “Where is she?”
“I dunno. I suppose they’ll have been charged by now, so they’ll be at the cop shop or – I dunno – where do they take women?”
“Fuck. She could be anywhere.” Grace ran her hand into her crow nest hair.
“Davey’s hitching down to Cornwall and wants me to go with him.”
“Is he insane?! The cops are after him and he’s going to stand on the edge of the motorway with his thumb out?!”
“Aye, I’d not really thought of that…”
“Were all those years in Borstal not enough for him? Is he so keen to go back?! He’s eighteen now. He’ll go to prison.”
She was right. I must have looked a bit foolish, looking at the floor. At her bare feet. At her toenails painted black.
“You’ll be needing some brass, I suppose.” Her coat hung on a chair at the table. She reached in a pocket and found a note. “I’m afraid this is all I’ve got till I get to the bank,” she said, stuffing the fiver in my hand, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
I looked down at the only five pound note in the world. “I don’t know what I’m doing – but who else has he got?”
“I know – but arson! And if you get caught, it’s aiding and abetting. You’ve got to look after yourself too.”
“Aye, you may be right – ”
“I know I’m right!”
” – but what else can I do? He’s my mate. Besides,” I tucked the fiver in my pocket, “I’ve never been to Cornwall.”
Stopped by the cops.
Davey had left his jacket in a heap by the door. It was still heavy with rain. He cursed, then dragged it on and we started out the door.
Hitchhiking. Woodsmoke smell. What have you guys been up to?
Do we really need a moon?
A balmy night in June?
Don’tcha think it could be soon?
Oh, my dear, why wait?
All we really needs a sigh
A little kiss before goodbye
But you never even try
To make me swoon
Do we really need a dream?
A played out movie scene?
All I’m looking for’s a gleam
Of love in your eye
And I’ll be yours
And you’ll be mine
Do we really need a moon?
All we need is just a sigh
No sorry little tear
No sad little sigh
No tear stained kiss
No breath caught wave goodbye
One torn up little ticket
One seat spare on the train
One unsmoked cigarette
One stepped on in the rain
No warming last embrace
No dying ember glow
No final cup of coffee
No lipstick trace to show
One fool stood on a platform
One wet February day
One sad sorry story
One day you went away
You say come play
Now don’t say
Baby I love you
Darling why would you
Do that to us
No strings is the thing
So honey believe me
If you wanna see me
Don’t make a fuss
Quit making claims
Anchors and chains
To keep me
Let’s play a modern romance
Don’t sweat it
Just take a chance
The modern way
But don’t say I love you
And I won’t tell
How I need you so much
I need your kiss
How I need to feel your touch