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?