Your little mincing haiku that the cat
brings home on Tuesday nights, how could they start
to show how these two bruisers drinking at
the Grotto looked or smelled? You tell me art
should show, not tell, fine, but you tell me that.
It was a summer night, the kind of thing
with rays and balm and stuff, add red to taste,
and there was one stool left. Without looking
to left or right I took it. Shame to waste
an empty space. Chuck Berry's 'Ding-a-Ling'
bawled from the juke box. Jim behind the bar
turned it down. "C'mon lads, that's enough.
Six times tonight!" "Aw Jesus that's no fair.
That wis ma twenty P! I'd like to stuff
his effin juke box up his effin ar-
se", this from the one beside me, on the right.
He wanted some response. I offered, "Aye",
which marked me down as friend. The neon light
picked out each sweaty pore. "I don't know why
he doesn't like us". "No", I said, and might
have moved but there was nowhere else to go.
"Me an MaBrither here, we're frae Forehill".
Was this an explanation? Best to show
bland understanding. "Forehill, aye". "I'm Bill.
MaBrither's mental. Canny speak right". "Oh".
I'd measured up the distance to the door.
Thought I could make it if I had to. Just
as well to have plan B. Says Billy, "So 're
we aa agreed?" I'm thinking, here, I must
have missed a couple of steps. Says Billy, "You're
aa right. Ye local?" "Aye" "Ye workin?" "Naw"
"Me neither. Me an MaBrither's oan the dole"
"Aye, me an aa" I lied. I couldn't say
I'm Studying Physics. That would blow a hole
straight through my credibility as a baa-
heid (ball-head, for the English - does it grate?)
"MaBrither's mental. Canny work, but see
if Ah wis in a fight an gettin bate
he'd huv the basturt. Zat no right pal? Me
n MaBrithers gettin they tattoos, ken, hate
on wan haun, love on the ither, Christ knows why
but that's the wey they dae it". Not a lot
left in my glass, and after that I'll try
to slide away unscathed. But Billy got
in first with "Get the man a pint". Seems my
presence as a listener is required.
"Huv you got a Philosophy? Here's mine"
(I'm glad he's going to answer first. I'm tired
of arguing Popper versus Wittgenstein
besides I doubt if Billy's all that fired
up about the Vienna School). "Ah say
this. If someone's goanny chib ye, weel,
ye've hud it coming, but anither day
ye'll chib them back wi knobs on. right?" I feel
he's needing reassurance - "Aye, OK".