– I’m really sorry, said the paramedic.
– But there’s no blood, I said.
– No. No blood, said the paramedic. You might need to talk to the police.
He was just lying there, Martin, that pinkish froth at the corner of his mouth. Somebody shouted and I looked up. There were two girls over by the cake shop. The one with purple hair had her arms round the other one who was leaning on the wall, her forehead on her arm. I saw her body ripple and heard the bark as she spewed. Two or three others had gone on a way but had turned. I couldn’t make out what they shouted. When I looked back at Martin his eyelids fluttered and he seemed to be choking. I know enough about first aid to get him into recovery position so I rolled him over. He was a dead weight and that took two or three goes. I pulled his knee up and put the opposite arm down. This pinkish orangey liquid oozed through the froth on his lips.
The doorman said I shouldn’t have moved him.
– Too late, I said, and anyway he can’t swallow his tongue now. It wasn’t that was it? That wasn’t what did it.
– Martin. Martin, I said. I put my ear right next to his face. There was this faint gurgling noise. I lifted one eyelid. All I could see was the white of his eye. I got my phone but the bouncer said he’d already called 999. There was no blood. I don’t know why but I started talking to Martin then as if he was a cat or a baby.
– Come on lad you’ll be all right. I touched his head. There really was no blood. I started rubbing his shoulders. Gently, y’know.
The blue lights came just then, flashing blue lights that made everyone look pale. The two paramedics started dealing with Martin and I just stood and watched.
Then a couple of girls came prancing past. They were shrieking and one of them was twirling a pair of black knickers round her finger. A bloke about my age ran up to her, snatched the underwear and ran on a few yards. He began to pull them on and then another lad shouted Jaden. Jaden. The girls caught up with the lads and they all fell on the ground hooting with laughter.
– Typical Friday night Gladwin Square, said the bouncer.
That’s when I saw one paramedic look at his watch and mumble something to the other one. He looked towards me and shook his head. That’s when he told me.
No. I’ll be OK. I think. It’s just that, well, there isn’t any wound on his head. I’ve known him since we were kids in school. I could do with some water. I’m very thirsty.
Look I know it was eight when we got here because we heard the town hall clock. It was thronging in there. Baking. It seemed like there was a party because some people were dressed up as Elvis. We started out for the bar but someone spilt a drink and it went all over Martin.
– This is silly, said Martin. Let’s go somewhere else.
That’s when this girl moved in front of us. Her hair was white. No, not blonde. White. Like a cauliflower. And it was shaved on the sides but tied in a short pony tail thing.
– I know you, she screeched. You’re Lee Jackson.
Her eyes were all black. She was wired. Martin said his name was Martin Underwood which is right.
– No, she screeched. You’re that bastard that said all that about Lisa.
– I don’t know any Lisa. Martin was stunned. Tried to back away.
– Don’t you lie, she’s yelling now. Following him. Jabbing at him.
I said he really isn’t Lee and this bloke nudged me, shoved his face really close to mine. I could smell a grassy smell on him. Cut grass.
– You keep out of this buddy, he said. Von knows him.
He was dead pale. Really pale. And thin. A pink t-shirt with “I heart NY.” Yes pink. Shocking pink. Definitely. Not the kind of thing you forget. He had a peaked cap on. Blue and white check with ‘Superb’ on it. His pupils were really black. Dilated. And he was shaking. He was shaking like he was cold. But it was boiling in there. He had a long fringe flopping over his eyes. Bright red hair. No not ginger. Red like Liverpool. Well Martin grabs my sleeve and we started to make our way to the door. And the girl kept on don’t you walk away from me you bastard and that.
Anyway we got outside. Martin stopped just there and the girl ran at him and hit him on the side of the head. Well it looked like all the flesh and bone had disappeared from his legs and he fell into these chairs. I’m amazed there was no blood. He was like a puppet with its strings cut. The lad said fuckin ell Von. What you done?
Well I know now don’t I.
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