No wig, no gig.

“You’re telling me, when you went to church as a kid, you never got an orange with a candle stuck in it?”

“An orange?”

“Christmas orange.”

“At Christmas?”

“Uh huh. With a candle.”

“Don’t think I ever went to church as a kid.”

“Hmm. Well, you got this orange, okay, with a candle stuck in it…”

 

It was getting late. If he wasn’t careful they would still be sorting out his make up when Wayne arrived. They had to focus. Angie had folded and packed his outfits – the one piece, the two-piece, the zoot suit, the red suit. She was fussing with the ziggy wig, but she was rattling on about oranges or some shit. Jesus! Now she was chopping out more lines on the kitchen top.

“That doesn’t grow on trees,” he said.

She hoovered a line and offered the rolled twenty.

Dave sucked up the remainder. He arched, shimmied, sort of roared, “Raaah!” His arse peached, or so he fancied, yeah, she saw it, too because she reached out and grabbed herself a handful, squeezing a cheek, a bit too vigorously. Well, how could she resist?

“Careful of the goods, love!”

“Fruits of the forest, Dave.”

He snorted the gear down into his throat, saying quickly, aha, aha. He ran his hands over his bald head. Aha.

“You bet.”

He grabbed at his crotch and pulled the 1972 face, practiced. The room rounded on him and he threw his head this way, a hip that way, thrusted against the formica top, grinded it. Coughed. Gagged a little.

She laughed. Red lips all over the kitchen.

“You are the queen bitch,” he said. She pouted, quite the slut, and said, “Believe, babe. Believe.” The universe shifted a little and it seemed as if they were the only two people in the world. Penn Beacon at least. Angie and Dave. Dave and Angie.

 

Five minutes later, strapped into the passenger side of the Apewagon, Wayne’s Fiesta, a can of brew in his lap, his make-up, the bag of wigs and the outfits on the backseat. He sucked on a lent fag, Dave breathed out for the first time all week.

“Alright?” said Wayne.

… The blurred sights, the bright lights, raced by. The allotment, ad hoc collection of damp board. Flags flew from sheds – Union Jack, George cross, Rainbow. A in a circle. A horse face flashed at the fence. They shushed through Minton. The kids pulling wheelies outside the Viking Centre, the cheap booze shop, the towerblock, and flashes –zip, zip, zip – of the dead docks, the last few cranes, holding up the moon, down the far end of the snide side streets. Aye, rock and roll had saved his soul. After a fashion.

It was the young ones that had to watch out. The old folk were fucked, anyway. We have our memories, they said. But the way Dave saw it memories didn’t count for much. Shit, it made it worse if anything. Knowing that there had been a better time. Everyone gets sold down the river. Nearly everyone. His old man had been Dave, too. Davey. Dead five years this March. Still dead. Asbestos. Thirty dirties a day don’t do many favours either way. Davey Jones had been a street sweeper when teenage Maureen Turner – Moe – sashayed into his life. Inchmerry through to Commercial. These streets were Davey’s. Everyone knew Davey and Davey knew everyone. He was the eyes of the neighbourhood; in the same way that the bobby and the milkman and the postie were. 1969, wow, It must have been a different world.

“Aye, hunky dory, man.” He ran his fingers over his pate and the rush melted through to his shoulders. “You ever had an orange with a candle stuck in it?”

 

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