Monday, 1 November 2010
Ringy-ringy-ringy!Yello, President of the United States here.
Oh, hey, Joey, what’s up?
Oh, nothin’. I got a fuckin’ Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting later, but I might just blow it off.
Yeah.Yeah, well, it’s almost Christmas, and I still haven’t built a single snow fort.
Yeah.Yeah, ha ha ha ha ha! Ha, fuck ‘em, right?
Anyways, what can I do ya for?Uh-huh.
Uh-huh.Oh, the weather out there must be real nice right now.
Wow, yeah, seriously. All right, well, lemme just punch her name into the computer here, and…buh buh buh buh buh buh bah. Hm. Well, okay, Joey, your baby did not get to L.A., your information on that was correct. According to this, she instead went to Pulaski, Tennessee, of all places.
Uh-huh.Yeah, seriously. I mean, I can’t see anybody going there of their own free will, y’know? So yeah, it could be something fishy.
Well, with this program, I can’t tell you that, unfortunately. All I can tell you is where your baby went. You oughtta call Dave though, over at the Hoover Building.
Yeah.Yeah, no, I totally get that. Yeah.
All right, bro. Lemme know how it shakes out.
You’ve reached the Federal B of I. Dave speaking.
Oh, hey, Joey.
Huh. So she never got there.
Yeah.Well, yeah, of course. All right, let’s just punch her name into the computer here…hmmmm, hm, hm, hm. Hm. Okay, yeah, your baby is still alive, according to this. But see, with this program, that’s all I can say, y’know, I can’t tell you where your baby went, or—
Oh, you did? Oh, okay. What’s that guy up to?
Pssh, snow fort. What a dork.
Yeah, well, if she’s in Pulaski, you oughtta call up Steve. If he—
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I wouldn’t put it past him, y’know.
Yeah, no problemo, man. Good luck.
Ringy-ringy-ringy!Thank you for calling the Ku Klux Klan, where we’re dreaming of a white Christmas. This is Tandy, how may I direct your call?
One moment, sir, while I transfer you. Thank you for calling!
Steve Lieberman, Imperial Strength Wizard speaking. How may I—
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, Joey. Whoa. Let’s, uh, let’s calm down here.
Look, I don’t—
Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? You believe everything you hear?
Joey, can I talk now?
Look, man, I haven’t even talked to her in—
He said that, huh?
What! No, you don’t have to—
All right, all right, all right. We took her away, okay? There, I admit it. Happy now?
C’mon, man, no, don’t do that. Look, I’ll put her on the next train out.
Yes, I personally will see her to the station. You have my word.
All right, then, you have whatever of mine is worth anything, she’ll be on the very next train out.
All right, yes. Yes, I understand.
I’m leaving right now, okay? Your baby will be back by tonight.
Yeah, happy fuckin’ holidays to you, too. Sheesh.
Weasel Face – that’s what the kids at school used to call me. I was wearing the fur hat that Grandma had bought for me, feeling all proud and fashionable, my head covered in luxurious softness. And then Stevo Davis had to waste it all. I walked into class and he pointed right at me. “Look at her weasel face under that fur hat.” And it stuck. Just imagine how that makes a girl of eleven feel.
I’d come home crying every night after it started. My Mum would tell me not to listen, to tell them ‘sticks and stones’ and all that crap, but then it wasn’t her that was being called Weasel Face, was it? She even looked up weasel in the scraggy old Encyclopedia Britannica we had. “Look,” she said, “’a weasel is a long and slender predator...’ see, Joanne, they’re saying you’re slender, that’s nice. And here, see it says ‘a reputation for cleverness and guile’.” She stabbed a finger at the page, conveniently covering up the words ‘vermin’ and ‘sneak’ and ‘sly’ as well as the pinched and pointy little face of the mustela nivalis that graced the page.
I spent the rest of my last year in Primary School in sheer hell. My classmates would make little weasel faces and squeaky noises at me. Even my so-called friends decided that being associated with me was perhaps not the best idea. And it followed me to Secondary School. Got worse, in fact. The bullying became physical from the day Stevo Davis whacked me over the head with his Harry Potter book. What was the really thick one – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? That one. In hardback. I couldn’t stand that stupid wizard shit after that. Everyone took that as carte blanche to trip me up, punch me, pull my hair and scrawl ‘weasel face stinks of wee’ on my locker.
I left school at the first possible opportunity. A series of dead end jobs followed, but at least I was called Joanne, or Jo, or Miss Ryder. I might have been cleaning up other peoples’ shit, or serving it to them on a plate, but I was no longer Weasel Face.
I went back to college a couple of years ago, to study business administration. Fancy, eh? Got my first interview for a real job last week, at the age of 36. You know - a job where I could wear a proper suit and high heels and didn’t have to ask “Do you want fries with that?”
I walked into that interview nervous as hell, but optimistic. Until I saw the interviewer. He was fatter, balder, redder in the face than he’d been at school, but I knew him. I forgot to breathe for a few seconds.
“Miss Ryder?” He stood up. “Nice to meet you. Please sit down.” He hadn’t recognised me. Stevo Davis, my tormentor for over seven years, hadn’t recognised me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Instead, I bigged myself up and gave my all at that interview. Davis stood up again at the end of the interview and shook my hand. “Thanks, Joanne, we’ll be in touch.”
And he had been. So, today, I’d put on my new suit, and the fancy red high heels I’d bought. I looked like an export sales co-ordinator for a building fixings company, and I felt like an export sales co-ordinator for a building fixings company. Davis met me at Reception. “I’ll take you in, introduce you to the guys, Joanne, and then leave you with the Sales Manager to show you the ropes.” He steamed through a set of swing doors, stomach first and took me over to an empty desk – all neatly laid out with computer, pens, stapler, sellotape – all the stuff a proper person with a proper job might need – and clapped. Like the complete prick he was. “Guys,” he said. “I’d like you to meet our new export sales co-ordinator, Joanne Ryder. But you can call her Weasel Face.”
You know the rest, I’ve told you this three times already, and the other officer at least four times. I picked up the scissors from my nice neat desk and stabbed old Stevo in the throat. I think it’s too late though, don’t you? They’ll call me Weasel Face at that job forever now, won’t they?
Shite, but the boy has about as much nous as a cauliflower, but isn’t quite as good looking. His maw thinks the wee fannybaws is a genius. No point in mentioning that the only way he’s going to pass an exam is if it goes in his digestive system at one end and out at the other. It’s always “My Damian’s gonnae make it big one day – ah know it.” Aye, right. The only way her precious Damian is gonnae make it big is by continuing to stuff his greedy fat face with burger and chips.
But needs must. I’m too old now to go breaking into places. Arthritis in my knees and bursitis in my elbows. Squeezing through windows is no longer an option - not that it really ever was. I always relied on the boys to do the donkey work. Kept me away from the polis an’ all. They never suspected me, and my boys never gave me up. And now I’m even less likely to be helping the polis with their enquiries. They’re more likely to help me over the road.
Sadly, the boys are long gone – one got a twenty-stretch in the Bar-L, and the other fell out of a windae in my flat, twenty storeys up, when he was pished. Well, that was the official conclusion anyway. I’m good at acting distraught, so I am.
Out of the goodness of ma heart, I took on his son Damian. I knew it was a mistake though. And, as if to prove just what a useless wee nyaff he is, he’d just turned up at my door with a bloody great painting.
“What the fuck have I always told you, Damian? Pick up the small stuff – money, jewellery, laptops an’ that, and get tae fuck out again.”
“But...this is worth a fortune.”
“And when did you get a job with the Antiques fucking Roadshow?”
“I remember the knob fae school. Some Italian wank. Salvator Darling or something. Did pictures of clocks meltin’ an’ elephants an’ shit. “
“How we gonnae get rid of it? It’s no’ like we can just take it down to Cash Converters, is it?”
Damian shrugged. “Mibbees we could sell it down the pub?”
“Fucksake Damian. It’s not one o’ they velvet Elvises, or a photo of a couple of lions shaggin’. Nobody down The Horse is gonnae want this pile of shite.” I looked at the picture more closely. “They’re all off their heads on drink or drugs as it is. This stuff would give anybody nightmares. Naw. You’ve got tae dump it.”
“Dump it? It’s worth a mint, but.”
“All the more reason tae dump it then. The polis will be all over this one like flies round shite. What else did you get?”
Damian dug in his pockets and pulled out a handful of notes. “Some cash and a couple of diamond rings. An’ one o’ they computer things without a keyboard.”
“Gie’s the cash and get the other stuff over to Big Frankie tomorrow. And get rid of that fuckin’ picture.”
As Damian handed me the cash, the doorbell rang. I tucked the money into my cardigan pocket and hobbled over to answer it. Fucksake. Plod. “Hello, officers, can I help you?”
“We’re looking for Damian McKee.”
“Ma grandson? Aye, he’s here, come away in.”
I followed the two polis into the living room where Damian was standing with the painting in his hands, looking guilty. “Ma wee grandson just brought me this picture round, officers. Said he got it at a car boot sale, but it’s no’ ma taste. I prefer wee kittens playin’ with wool and that.”
“Fucksake, ya old cow. Whit the fuck are ye sayin’?”
One of the polis got out his handcuffs. “Now, now, son. That’s no way to talk to your grandmother, is it.”
I put a hand to my chest as though my heart was going pitter pat. “He’ll be the death of me yet, officers. He’s always been a worry that one.”
As they huckled him out of the door, I fingered the notes in my pocket. How the fuck was I going to manage on my pension?