Here's Chapter four of Gravediggin' Under the Mancy Way. For those of you who have been wondering, the Mancy Way (pronounced Manky Way) is slang for the Mancunian Way, the dual carriageway which snakes through and over Manchester. So it's not 'Mansie', but Manky. I hope you enjoy reading. Thank you as always for taking the time to read and comment. Have a beautiful day all. Love&Inspiration, Vee X
Holidays in the sun
I see Spid sitting on the sofa on the walkway outside his front door as I reach the top of the stairway. As I approach him, a grin spreads over his face, his eyes screwing into wrinkles as he dangles a set of keys in front of me.
He puts them deep into his pocket.
-Front door, burglar alarm and bedroom. Burglar alarm! Ha! That, my friend, is the key to the kingdom of fucking liberation.
-Yeah, can you elaborate on that?
Spid stands up, taking a swig from his can of Special Brew and grinding his spliff end under his heel. I follow him inside.
-I’ve screwed her in more ways than one, Gaz, more ways than one.
He’s laughing, taking out the keys and admiring them, sunlight catching sharp, newly-filed steel edges and casting dots onto the walls like a mirrored disco ball. –Six quid it cost me to get these cut. Plus a tenner’s worth of the great Gardner’s crop Ah, but is it gonna be worth the price!
-That bird you left with last night? Sara?
-Sa-rah. Sarah, yeah. Got her fucked on skunk in order to pull off a brilliant manoeuvre. Robed the keys, got ‘em cut, back in bed before she woke up. Had a nice chat with Tania over fried breakfast and all. Should see the place: it’s a fockin gold mine. They’ve even got one of those coffee makers what froths the milk for you.
-Never been there myself.
-Tania’s parents are loaded, apparently. The dad’s a banker or accountant or fuck knows what, she didn’t say, just said he’s big in finance, fuck sake, banker wanker, and the mum’s a lawyer or barrister or something, in law. I dunno, but they’re all rich cunts in that house, right. Went into the bathroom and there’s this Tag Heuer watch on the sink. Left it, though, for future reference.
-It’d have been in me pocket and straight down the cash generator, no questions asked.
-Yeah, but use your brain, Gaz. I’ve got the keys and we’re gonna be looking at more than a fockin watch. It’s gonna be airline tickets and a holiday for us, courtesy of Rich Student Wankers, inc.
He’s talking at me like I’ve even got a passport. I’ve never had a passport. But Amsterdam don’t sound like a bad idea.
-My sentiments exactly. Just gotta find a time when they’re all out and we’re in there…did you go to that party then?
-Ended up gouching out in the attic through most of it. Aaron’s meant to be cooking a meal tonight; Stakki and Kiwi are down there…you got Tania’s phone number, then?
-Yeah, if she gave us the right number. Ain’t you got it?
-Have I fuck. What about signing on? If we fuck off, they’ll kick us off.
Spid gives me one of those looks like I’m stupid and he has a job putting up with me. I told you before, sometimes I think I’m an expert at mind reading, right: always thinking I know all the bad shit people are thinking about me. But I know Spid, and if he’s got something to say, he’ll come straight out with it.
-Fuck that. Fuck sake, Gaz, we’re going on holiday. Chill out.
-Students, right? Always down the pub. Give her a ring, see what they’re up to.
-Dunno, might look a bit sus.
-Not if you meet her after we done ‘em over.
-Come on. You gotta understand I have me principles.
I put a bit of filter onto my spoon, watching the liquid level sink just a touch as it’s absorbed into the filter.
-I’ll come with yer, chat bollocks with Tania. Go on, at least we’ll be sure they won’t come home if we’re meeting them. Give Sarah a ring.
-What if she wants me to stay over?
-You don’t want that. Jesus, this is too fockin complex. Got a pin? You want some of this with me?
-Don’t you want all of it?
-Did enough for both of us.
-Nice one, cheers. Who’d ya get it off?
-Her gear’s shit, man.
-Nah, this stuff’s fockin dynamite. Same stuff as I had last week.
-I was asleep for ages after that.
-It’s good stuff. What you gonna do then? Give Sarah a ring, yeah?
-Right, you got some tens and I’ll go down the phonebox.
I chuck him my change bag and go back to trying to find a vein. It’s alright for Spid. Like I said, he never got into the shit like me. He’s been on and off for years, but he always stops for a while. Took him years to lose his fear of the needle. Took me a day. If it wasn’t for watching me doing it up like that for years he’d still be on the foil. Or still just smoking spliffs and drinking Special Brew, happy as Larry. Like, look at him now, off down the phonebox when I just offered him some of me brown, instead of doing it straight away. I’ll never be able to do that. When I’ve sorted myself out, I find some paper and sit at the table to doodle. Spid’s back in a few minutes, smiling.
-Right then, I’ll have a dig and we’re off.
-Careful with that shit, though, Spid, like I said, it’s fockin strong.
He finds a vein first try without even tying himself off. I watch him push home slowly, slowly, stopping half way and pulling the needle out. He puts his thumb over the little drop of blood and rubs at the mark before laying back into the sofa as it hits him.
-Ahhhhh. Dutch courage…just gizza few minutes and we’ll go…
It’s at least three hours before he moves from that spot, just smiling to himself and nodding on and off. His half-full pin’s still sitting in front of him with the cap off, on the glass-topped table amongst Special Brew cans, ashtrays, flecks of sticky bud, tobacco strands and crumpled Rizla. Thank fuck he only did half.
* * *
Spid pulls up outside the student house in Didsbury. The lights are all out except for the one in the hall.
-They’re definitely out. You wanna check, though?
-You knock. I’m not meant to know where she lives.
-Gaz, you’re a proper fockin div ‘ead. Fock sake, no one’s meant to recognise us. You’re not meant to know where she lives. You never cease to amaze me, seriously.
We’re wearing blue overalls, black builders’ hats and boots we picked up from the army surplus. So long as we look like professional furniture removal men, who’s gonna blink an eyelid? We both took out all our piercings, covered the mohie: could be anyone.
-Alright, Gaz, you go knock.
-Spid, you knock. If Tania answers the door, she’s gonna recognise me.
-Fock sake, Gaz. How many times I gotta tell you? Just say Is this Whalley Range? Like you’re looking for the right place, put on a scouse accent and we’ll come back another day. Go on, I gotta reverse the van up the driveway. Get out, open the fockin gates and knock.
Fuck sake. So I cross the road, prop open the double front gate with bricks and go knock on the door. There’s not a sound comes from inside, so I beckon Spid to back the van up. He nearly bangs into the tree on the corner of the hedge, but he gets it into position nicely and opens the back up, lowers the platform down and opens the front door. I’d be shitting my trousers by now if I wasn’t constipated. I hate this shit, but it’s gonna be worth it. If we make it. This is Stakki’s van, an old Luton he uses for furniture removals and whatever odd job he can find, and he’s lent it to Spid for the night. What story he’s told him I don’t know, but he’s got to get it back by midnight.
Spid’s always been up for a bit of the old class war. Robbing the rich just pays them insurance money, gives us what we could never have afforded and probably never will. We’ve never done violence, never robbed the elderly and always check they can afford it. So don’t diss us, cos you’ve no idea, have you? Spid’s in this to progress, not to fund a habit. He’s never had much of a habit like I said. See, that half full pin sitting on his table? He put on the lid, put it in the back of his sock drawer and that’s where it’ll probably stay til he feels like doing it. He should be careful doing that though, fuck knows what sort of little microbacteria build up in it, just sitting there, doing nothing.
The warning beeps of the alarm sound as Spid steps inside the carpeted hallway and he turns the key in the lock of a little white box, the lights changing from red to green as if giving us the all-clear.
-Cheapskates. We’d never have got the code. Right: you take downstairs, I’ll go up. Big stuff, we work together. Make it quick, right.
There’s a Technics stereo system in the first room which I unplug and shove part by part into army bags, followed by an expensive-looking VCR. CDs and videos clatter into a binliner along with the remote controls and a multipack of batteries. Candlesticks and trinkets from the mantelpiece all go in, and that coffee table’s coming with me along with the conveniently light TV set. Even the rug looks nice, like one Aladdin would ride on, so I roll it up ready for a fuckin magic carpet ride back to base. Shame I can’t take it home with me, be nice to brighten the place up. It all goes straight in the van, even the sofa, cos me and Spid work out that since the label says ‘Liberty’ it’s begging to be free. Table lamps, books, a mobile phone.
The next downstairs room’s obviously a bloke’s room with its aftershave and dirty trainers smell, socks and clothes on the floor, posters of Cindy Crawford and Rachel from Friends plastered all over the walls. I shove a mini hi-fi complete with all the CDs in a in a bag and empty the wardrobe, shoes and all. There are several suits and a whole bunch of ties. Yeah looks like this one’s a proper smartarse. The shelf’s full of books on Law, and me and Spid just pick up the whole thing between us, carrying it to the van, books and all. What? You don’t think it’s right stealing books from law students? I can get a good price for these, and in a few years time, this bloke’ll be making more in an hour than I get to see in a month. Don’t worry about him. This experience will convince him he wants to continue his studies in Criminal Law and he’ll become one of the top prosecutors leading to more beds being filled in Strangeways than ever. Yeah, don’t worry about him. He’ll be out buying new clothes on his credit card tomorrow, just like Tania will.
Even the kitchen’s got a ghetto blaster, along with the cappuccino maker. It’s all coming, down to the last teaspoon and the salt shaker. The cooker’s electric, so no gas explosions here when it’s gone. We leave the gas hob. The whole of Manchester heard the explosion when one of the flats near Spid went up. The punks had a punx picnic to raise money for the old lady who got her flat exploded cos some cunt didn’t use their brain when they were robbing whatever gas-related stuff from the flat below. Before you ask, it wasn’t me. Thank fuck she wasn’t in when it happened. There it is, the Tag watch. This time it’s by the kitchen sink along with a pile of silver rings. Seems like whoever owns it doesn’t trust that it’s waterproof. It all goes in my pocket. When all the stuff’s in the van, we go back for the beds. Duvets, pillows, towels and linen, it’s all coming. Even the shampoo, so long as it’s unopened. The money posh cunts spend on toiletries is just stupid, and there’s people I’m sure who wouldn’t mind paying a fiver for a bottle of anti-wrinkle when it’s twenty quid in the shops. The last mattress wobbles and quivers as we chuck it on top of everything and Spid closes up the back of the van. On his way out, he jemmies the door to make it look authentic, then resets the alarm. Funny it didn’t go off, eh? Not that anyone takes any notice of alarms. The street’s silent but for the buzzing of a streetlight and the hum of traffic from the main road. And we’re gone.
Or are we? Soon as I’m sat in the van, a police car draws up, stopping directly opposite the driveway. I’m panicking now for real, bile rising up in me innards. I check the wing mirror for Spid, but I can’t see him. Jesus, I’m thinking. My heart’s racing: now I’m gonna be caught with a vanload of stuff and this is Stakki’s van, and fuck knows what Spid told him, but at least we changed the plates. Or will that make it worse? And Stakki will get implicated and I’ve got all me gear back home under the fuckin mattress- like that’s not the first place they’ll look- not that they know where I live- or do they? And now I’m looking at years in fuckin Strangeways. If Spid knows what’s good for him, he’ll have done a runner and I’m getting ready to open the van door and do one myself. The driver of the police car’s looking across towards me, but I hope to fuck the streetlight’s making the windscreen shine so she can’t see me…if she gets out, I’m doing a runner…shit, the position I’m in here they’ll not have a hard job catching me, but I’ll have a go. Shit…the police car revs its engine. What the fuck is all this about? It’s not like the alarm went off or nothing.
The policewoman looks away and the car moves off slowly down the street. I hear footsteps crunch on the gravel driveway and Spid gets into the van.
-Fock sake, thought you done a runner, Spid. Fockin hell, it’s a trap, they’re comin back for us with reinforcements.
Spid starts the engine and drives, not stopping to shut the gates behind him.
-Shut it will you, I watched them go: they turned left down Wilmslow Road. Now why would I do a runner and leave you with all the stuff, eh? Don’t you think I want any?
I laugh, still nervous as fuck and make two roll ups, lighting one and handing it to Spid before I light mine.
-Jesus, I was shitting myself.
-You and me both. Now let’s get this stuff stashed and get the van back to Stakki. As we reach Princess parkway, we’re pissing ourselves laughing, the streetlights flashing by in streaks of orange and the cold air rushing at as though the open windows. By the time we turn off into Hulme, we know we’ve made it.
* * *
It takes us a while to shift all the stuff into an empty place above Spid’s, but we’ve got help, a couple of the squatters from next door keen for a free couple of CD or warm, new duvet in exchange. We lock the place up and head for Aaron’s place.
Spid parks the van sideways round the back of Aaron’s and changes the plates. Techno’s blasting out of the house, the kitchen window wide open, Aaron standing with his back to the sink. I pull myself up on the ledge and climb in that way, shouting in his ear as I land inside, making him jump so he spills his drink.
-Fuck sake, it’s you, Gaz. Never heard of a door?
-Spid’s knocking on it now.
-Stakki let him in already. You wanna eat?
I shake my head and go through to the hall, where Stakki’s talking to Spid.
-Alright, Gary. Get a good price for the van, then?
-Five grand. Not bad for a heap of old scrap, eh?
Stakki jabs me in the ribs and holds his hands out to take his keys, shaking his head.
-I’ll trust you it’s round the back, then, unless you got the keys cut before you sold it.
-Come on, Staks, we’re not that bad.
As I’m speaking, a police van pulls up outside and my heart nearly stops. Here we go. Shit, I’m thinking to myself, fuckin pigs. What the fuck are we gonna do now?
-Quick, Spid, get the fock down the cellar. They’ve not seen us, have they?
Stakki’s looking at me like he wants to punch me as I leg it down the cellar steps, followed by Stakki’s shouting-
-I might have known, you bastards, what the fuck’ve you done now?
Me and Spid sit on the cellar steps to listen as there’s an almighty knock on the front door.
-A bit late in the evening for festivities, is it not?
Blunt, disconnected syllables, sounding read, rather than spoken. A male voice.
-Uh, how can I help you?
That’s Stakki now.
-There has been a complaint about excessive noise levels coming from the vicinity of this house. Do you live here?
-Nah, it’s my mate’s place. It’s his birthday.
-For two days? The party’s over now, so I’m asking you to turn the music off immediately, otherwise I will have no alternative…
-Right, I’ll do that straight away. I’m really sorry, yeah, I’ll just get them to turn it off.
-If you would.
-Yeah, g’night, thanks mate.
The front door’s closing and I see through the cellar window a middle aged, overweight policeman climb back into the van accompanied by a thinner version of himself. The music stops abruptly and after a while, they drive away.
-Gotta get out of here, I’m paranoid as fock, Spid, I’m not joking. Thought that was it.
-Oi you two you can come out now. Stakki shouts. –What the fuck are you two up to anyway? Spid, you told me you were helping someone move a piano, so what’s up with you?
-Just allergic to the boys in blue, they get near me and I break out in handcuffs, I joke.
-Ha ha very funny, Stakki’s saying –I’m not too keen on them myself, but I don’t start shitting myself every time I see them. On second thoughts, don’t tell me what you’ve done, cos then I can’t be accused of being a grass when you two get clocked. Fuckin hell, you used my van to pick up a load of smack, didn’t you?
We say in unison. This is getting stupid. I don’t know what the fuck happened with Stakki: he’s usually a really chilled out bloke.
-Well, you better not have any on you, cos I’m not getting in shit if you used my van to pick it up.
-We didn’t, says Spid –and we left the gear back home.
-Jesus, Spid. You’re really fucking up, man.
Stakki’s face is getting redder by the second and his veins are standing up on his neck and forehead. I think to tell him to watch his blood pressure but change my mind. Instead, I sit down on the bottom stair to watch the show. I can’t be arsed to get involved in it.
-What’s your fockin problem, Stakki?
-My problem? No, Spid, what’s your problem? I fuckin hate smackheads. You used to be well cool before, but… I dunno, you’re just…
-Just what? A smackhead? I don’t even have a habit. You can’t group people, Stakki. What? I’m fuckin up cos I hate five O?
-No, Spid, I saw you. That wasn’t contempt. That wasn’t hatred: it was fear. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when you and Gary went scuttling down the cellar like a couple of fuckin rats. I can’t even trust you anymore. You’re just going down the same old road to hell with your fuckin mate.
He’s staring into my eyes now, a vision of ugly, vicious twattery, pure disgust showing on his face.
-‘Scuse me if I don’t exist, Stakki. What’s your fockin problem? I ask.
-I’ll tell you what your fockin problem is you stupid cunt: you’re an evil bastard.
-What? I don’t even know ya!
-Yeah, well I’ve known Spid for years and as soon as he meets you…
-I went to school with him-
-As soon as he starts hanging around with you he turns into some wannabe punk rock fuckin hero, I mean heroin, for fuck sake, it was you who introduced him to it, you bastard-
-I don’t do gear cos Gary tells me to, Stakki, I have my own mind-
-Yeah, right, so tell me the truth- it was Gary brought it, first time, you told me so-
-We took it together
-You wouldn’t have thought of that on your own-
-I’m not a kid. What the fuck?
-Right, so now you’re gonna tell me you can come off it just as easily as you went on it…
-I’m not fockin on it, I just use it sometimes
-That cunt’s on it alright! He’s pointing at me now, like a cartoon, looks like steam’s gonna come out of his ears at any second, shouting –enjoy your injections, Spid, you stupid bastard.
-I can stop whenever I want to. Just fock off will you, Stakki?
-No, I won’t fock off, sticking needles in your arms for fuck sake, and you don’t wanna stop do you, cos it’s so nice living in shit. You’ve forgotten who you are, you know that?
-Fock sake, Stakki, I’m up for a new flat, what you mean, living in shit? Fockin ask Kiwi about my new flat-
-What about you Gary? Got that central heating fixed yet? Or you too busy teaching my friend how to shoot heroin? I mean that’s the only thing you ever fix, ain’t it? Cos you’ll never fix your life.
Just now I see Kiwi walk into the hall, puzzled.
-Someone say my name? What’s goin on?
-Tell him about my flat, Kiwi!
Spid’s irate now, really getting in Stakki’s face and I swear they’re gonna fight at any minute. I honestly can’t be arsed with all this. It’s not like I’ve not heard it all before, just didn’t realise Stakki couldn’t stand the sight of me. His loss. Like I told him, he doesn’t know me. Just cos you’ve chatted with people now and again and greet them when you see them around doesn’t make you bosom buddies. But this, him going on with himself like this is totally out of the blue. Last person I’d expected to turn nasty.
-Chill out, you guys and come get some food. I heated you a plate up Staks and it’s gone cold already. Yeah, your flat’s gonna be wicked, Spid, petal.
-See, you heard her. Why are you going on with yourself about Gary?
-What the fuck’s going on, boys? Behave now, come on, we’re all friends here.
I’m biting my nails now, getting the anxiety creeping through me. I’m really not for this shit. Thought we were gonna just drop the van off and chill for a bit.
-I’m an evil cunt, Kiwi, right, remember that, an evil fucker, I say.
-Leave it out, Stakki, Gary’s my mate, right.
-Nah, Kiwi, he’s human trash.
-Oh, just fuck off, will you, Stakki.
Kiwi comes and sits down next to me, puts her arm around me. Her body’s warm through the little orange vest top she’s wearing and she smells of patchouli oil. I lean into her and put my head on her shoulder. I love that girl. Love that girl since the first moment I laid eyes on her. Now she’s kissing me on the cheek and whispering in my ear, asking me if I’m alright. God, it feels good, and I make a conscious decision to stop fucking about like a teenager and just tell her how I feel. I’ve not even told Spid. She’s holding me tight and shouting at her brother
-What the fuck has Gary done to offend you so badly?
-What the fuck hasn’t he done?
-What the fuck hasn’t he done, Spid’s mimicking now, shaking his head from side to side, -Christ, Stakki, can you tell us all where all this is leading?
-I can tell you where all this is leading you, you poor, sad, pathetic bastard. You’ve not grown up at all, have you? It’s all a fuckin big laugh, ain’t it? Ooh, ain’t we big, ooh, ain’t we cool, punk rock. Real punks don’t use heroin, you sad losers. God you’re such a hard bastard, eh, Spid? But you’re gonna end up dead, and I hope that hit you love so much is worth it. Just don’t expect me to come to your funeral. And as for that piece of shit; Kiwi, I don’t wanna see you anywhere near him ever again, alright?
Kiwi laughs in bewilderment and I can see she’s totally incredulous.
-What? Who the fuck are you to tell me who I can and can’t see? Look, Stakki, you’re just coming down off those pills, come and eat, everything will look different tomorrow, trust me. Just come and eat.
-Yeah, pills, why’s that so fuckin alright? Eh? You never hear of people dying off pills? Cos they do. Wanker.
-Yeah, yeah, Spid, whatever. I can’t be bothered arguing any more. I’m worried about you is all. Selfish cunt.
-So it’s all Gary’s fault, right?
Kiwi’s kissing my ear now, fuck knows how she can stand it, cos I can’t stand the smell of myself. A bath would be heaven. She kisses my cheek again, then raises her eyes to her brother.
-I’m serious Kiwi, stop fuckin about. He’s bad news. Gary, this is the last thing I’m gonna say to you. You’re such a fuck up. You fuckin stink. Your ribs are showing through your clothes. Your skin’s a fuckin disaster. You’re covered in festering needle marks and bruises from head to toe. You leave your putrid needles in the bathroom wherever you go…just get the fuck out and get yourself into a rehab or go overdose yourself or something before you drag everyone else to hell with you.
-Yeah, well, at least I don’t pretend to be mates with someone I can’t stand.
Immediately, I think of Stan. But that’s different. Tania. No, I like Tania. Spid keeps shouting, so angry that the spit-spray’s flying from his mouth, clouds of miniscule droplets highlighted in the hall lamp. And Stakki, shouting back, face flame-red:
-YOU’RE DYING, GARY, YOU’RE GONNA DIE SOON, DON’T FUCKIN FORGET THAT YOU FUCKIN CUNT!
I get up from the stairs, Kiwi’s hand stretching out to me as I go, touching my fingers, following as I walk straight past Stakki, open the front door and spit in his face as I walk out into the cold night air.
-Gary, come back!
I ignore her and just keep on walking.
The sky’s thrown an orange-purple blanket over the stars and I’m turning the corner, breaking into a run, an overwhelming feeling of utter nothingness welling up behind my eyes.
© Vee 1993-2012