Goat an invite fae the boy up the stair. A wee pairty he wis huvin fur his birthday, an he wondered if Ah fancied comin up fur a couple o beers. At first Ah thought, Christ, a room fu o folk Ah dinnae ken, drinkin, gettin pished, mibbie talkin aboot fitba or politics or that. Ah cannae be daein wi aw that cairry oan.
Bit then Ah thought, och, Cammy’s a nice guy, he’ll huv decent pals shairly, Ah’ll go up fur a couple o beers an wish him a happy birthday. Efter aw, he did take care o Baxter when Ah wis away wi work an ma folks couldnae take him cos they wur oan hoalidy. Then Ah thought, Ah ken, Ah’ll take Baxter up wi me. Cammy’ll be chuffed tae see him, an if his pals turn oot tae be bellends, Ah kin make the excuse thit Ah need tae walk the dug.
So, oan the night, Ah hung fire till aboot 9 then pit oan a decent shirt an brushed ma hair in case thur wis gonnae be ony tidy burds up there. Then I gave Baxter a quick brush tae, pit oan his lead, turned oaff the tunes an heided up the stair.
‘Awrite, man,’ Ah said as Cammy opened the door. ‘Room fur anither six legs?’
He laughed awkwardly then crouched doon tae clap the dug. ‘Hullo, Baxter, how’s ma wee pal?’ Baxter licked his face, his waggin tail batterin oaff ma leg.
‘M’on in,’ Cammy said, standin up. Baxter leadin, we followed him intae his livin room.
‘Hiya,’ Ah said.
Noo, Ah’m no the kinda guy ye wid describe as a hard basturt. Bit nor um Ah the kind ye wid describe as a soft cunt. Bit Ah cannae lie, Ah wis haudin back tears. Nivur once cried at Bambi, yit here Ah wis, fightin tae keep ma eyes dry.
‘Hiya,’ said the boy.
‘This is ma cousin, George,’ Cammy said. ‘George, this is Jake fae doon the stair. George stood up an we shook hands. ‘Guid tae meet ye,’ Ah said. Baxter went ower fur a sniff an a clap.
‘Nice dug,’ said George.
‘Aye, he’s a guid dug is oor Baxter, aren’t ye, pal?’ Ah looked at Cammy. He did one o thae big Adam’s aipple swallows, while George sat back doon an swigged a Coors Light. Ah looked aroond the room again, while Baxter went for anither sniff o George.
Eleven fuckin chairs Cammy hud pit oot, plus one big yilla beanbag. Nixt tae the windae wis a table wi snacks oan it, bit no jist hula-hoops or that. Thur wurr olives, Twiglets, sliced honeydew melon, Parma ham, different types o sandwiches cut aw neatly, marshmallows, rocky road, custard creams.
Ah looked back at Cammy, who wis standin awkwardly at the livin room door, like he wis waitin tae enter an exam hall.
‘Whit happened?’ Ah said.
‘Bad timin,’ he shrugs. ‘It wis Rangers Celtic the day, 5-a-cloack kick-off . . . an Ah dinnae huv Sky telly.’
The room went a wee bit blurry till Ah sorted masel oot by pretendin tae scratch ma eye.
‘Bit this is Kirkcaldy,’ Ah said.
George chuckled. ‘It wis a rearranged fixture,’ he said. ‘Suhin tae dae wi a cup game earlier in the season.’
‘Huv a seat,’ said Cammy. ‘Whit kin Ah git ye tae drink? Beer? Wine? A wee voddie? Ah’ve goat plenty tae choose fae.’
Ah’m no shair if it wis whit he’d jist said or the wey he’d said it, bit Ah couldnae haud back ony longer. The tears rolled; aw the empty chairs became a full-oan blur. Ah wanted tae hug the poor cunt, tell him ivryhin wis gonnae be okay, an thit his pals wurr arseholes o the highest order.
‘You okay?’ said Cammy, followed by anither big Adam’s aipple swallow. Baxter came an sat by my side. Ah gave his ears a ruffle.
‘No really,’ Ah said. ‘No really.’
A.G. Kayman is fae a wee place in the East o Scotland, bit he likes tae shift himsel aboot fairly regularly. He writes exclusively in Scots, wi a central-tae-east-coast-lilt, bit is also fluent in Weegie an Dundonian. He hinks the world is cuckoo an thit the only wey tae deal wi it is tae pit finger tae keyboard, whether thur urr billions o readers or nane. He also likes American fitba an chutney.