The coffee boat wasn’t a boat. It was a small building which sat harbour side and sold fast food. From Thursday through to Sunday it was bouncing from around midnight.
“Have you soup?”
The woman flicked her cigarette over his head, “Aye.”
“What kind is it?”
“Have you no been here before?”
He shook his head, “No.”
“What kind do you want?”
“Aye, it’s leek.”
He took his soup and the queue moved forward. He wondered what the tittering was. Once he saw the colour and tasted it he knew.
“That’s no leek!”
A voice from the crowd shouted, “It doesn’t matter, it all tastes the fucking same!”
The woman behind the counter laughed, “See, he’s been here before!”
“Where are you from?”
He looked around and saw a girl eating a cheese burger.”
“I’m from here, I stay down the Manse.”
“How have you never been here before?”
“This is my first night in the clubs, we ended up in The Junction so I thought I would do what everyone else was doing.”
“The Junction is a bit quiet for me, I was in Strands. There’s more of a choice of arsehole in there.
…You’re probably wise not to eat anything if you haven’t had a gutful of drink. I don’t think any of us could handle the food when sober. Oh, I’m Sarah.”
He threw his carton away and held out his hand, “Michael.”
“Did you come out yourself?”
“No I was with two workmates, they’ve found company. I feel sorry for those lassies, they’ll probably catch something.”
“I’m the same. I’ve been deserted.”
“That’s not good them leaving you alone.”
“They didn’t I got fed up watching them eat the faces off of the guys that they’re with. Silly cows will be in love by tomorrow.”
She pointed along the road, “I’m going this way.”
It was the opposite direction but he wondered if he was feeling gallant or just hopefully horny.
“I’ll walk you home if you want?”
“But it’s out your way.”
“I don’t mind and I would rather make sure that you get there safely.”
Sarah eyed him up and down, “Are you a freak?”
Michael laughed, “Maybe but I’m harmless.”
She thought for a second, “OK but you’re only walking me home, you’re no getting your hole, understand?”
He was glad of the dark as she couldn’t see him blush. He held up his hands and the best that he could come up with was, “Of course.”
She offered him her cheeseburger, “Want a bit?”
“Go on, You need to try it.”
He leaned forward and took a bite.
“That’s not bad.”
“I slag off the place but it does the best burgers. I still reckon the vodka helps though.”
“I’m a whisky man.”
“Is that not just for coffin dodgers?”
“Maybe but I don’t care, I like it.”
“How come this is your first night in the clubs? What age are you, twelve?”
“He laughed, “No I’m twenty. I drink in the Cross Keys, in Newton Road.”
“I know it…It’s an old man’s pub!”
“That’s where I got the taste for whisky.”
“What the hell do you drink in there for?”
“I play darts. But you’re right, I wanted to try and find some company under fifty.”
“Female or male?”
“I’m not bothered.”
“What, you swing both ways?”
He felt the heat in his face again, “…No! God no! I don’t mean that, I mean I was just looking for people more my age. I thought I might find some of my old school mates, I’ve not seen any of them for a few years.”
“Are you any good, at the darts that is?”
“Well they’ve let me drink in there since I was fifteen, as long as I played for them.”
“Where do you work?”
“The airport, I clean the planes out at night. It’s four nights on and four off, this is my weekend off. That’s another reason I don’t go to the clubs.
What about you?”
“I keep the books for a plumbing firm, it’s pretty boring but I’ve been there since I left school, it’s been three years now.”
“Do you want to do anything else?”
“I’ve not really thought about it but probably no. You get a job you stick with it. Ambition isn’t in my pay bracket or on my few qualifications. You?”
“Same. The money’s not bad and getting four days off is good and there is fuck all else I could apply for, so I suppose I’m happy for now.”
They walked in silence for a few minutes, she finished off her burger and he tried to look cool looking around himself.
“What about music Michael, what do you like?”
He enjoyed hearing her say his name, “I’m a bit of a dinosaur, I like 70’s Glam. And it’s brilliant that Lennon is back but I suppose it’s rock music more than anything, ‘Stones’, ‘ACDC’, ‘Deep Purple’. I just bought ‘Rainbow’s’ ‘Down To Earth’ and it’s brilliant, not one bad song. What about you?”
She began to giggle, “I like ‘The Police’.”
“Not my favourite but whatever floats your boat.”
She stopped walking and stood in front of him, “…Okay I say that to sound cool. I actually prefer ABBA!”
“I think everyone likes a bit of ABBA…At a wedding I might add but fair play to you, most wouldn’t admit it.”
He was surprised when she hooked her arm through his.
“Why are you walking me home?”
“I’m a bit old fashioned.”
“Fuck, so this is you escorting me?”
He laughed, “Not really, it’s just not the safest time walking alone at night.”
“If you are a freak, I’ll kick the shit out of you!”
He looked at her, “I’m quite sure you could! Maybe you should’ve walked me home.”
“Aye, maybe I should have. I’ve got to admit, it does make you feel a bit scared when they announce in the disco that no-one should walk by themselves. They’ve been doing that for a while now”
He nodded, “I know. It’s really fucked up. I didn’t know they did that, it was my mates who explained. When that was said I felt that most girls were looking at us and thinking, is it him? Then you get the arsehole guys who start walking around being deliberately weird…Wankers. It fucks with everyone.”
“Do you think they’ll catch him?”
“I’m sure they will but when is another matter. I honestly don’t think that any women around here has anything to worry about though.”
“How come, have you got your darts with you?”
He laughed, “No. I don’t take them out with me. I wouldn’t want to blunt them in some fuckers head!”
“So why are you so certain that we’ve nothing to worry about?”
“It’s mainly hookers. It always is. Sad really. Terrible life and terrible death. And I don’t see many out in the streets around here and not only that, Newcastle is miles away.”
“I know but they think the sick fuck is a lorry driver.”
“That’s another reason not to worry, not many lorries come down this way, it’s all residential. But in saying that, you really shouldn’t be walking home yourself.”
“I’m not, I’m with a dart playing Grouse drinking Bi!”
He nudged her, “Come on! That’s enough of that!! I don’t only drink Grouse!”
She pointed to a house on the corner. An estate was parked in the driveway, “That’s me. I see mum and dad’s in.”
He knew why she had said this.
“It’s been nice talking to you Sarah.”
“And you. And thank you for getting me home safely.”
He hated this, he didn’t know what to do so as always he chose to do nothing.
She leaned forward and kissed him.
“If I came into the pub on Thursday, would I put you off?”
She stared at him, “Fuckin’ hell! Do you want me to come into the pub?”
“Jesus Christ no!!”
She pulled away.
He reached out and held her arms, “No! Fuck no! I didn’t mean it that way. They would eat us alive, those bastards are still evolving. They are just trying to get their heads around bottled beer. And anyway, I’m off all of next week so how about we go somewhere that cheese and onion crisps aren’t considered exotic?”
He was happy to see her smile come back.
“Okay, where and when?”
“Monday, say seven, how about the Chinese across from The Coffee Boat?”
He grinned when she didn’t hesitate to say, ‘Okay.’
Michael was happy to lean forward for a kiss this time. She stopped him,“If you stand me up I’ll borrow his hammer.”
Image – Pixabay