Claire felt the eyes watching her again. She had noticed it before but it seemed like it was becoming more regular these days. Maybe she was just imaging it. She glanced over her shoulder, half of her wanting to see a familiar face, the other half dreading who or what she may see. Nobody was there, nobody unusual anyway. The gang of kids were standing outside of Booze Buster but then again, they always were. Wearing their mismatched tracksuits and their baseball caps perched precariously on top of their heads. Who ever told them that green and purple go well together? Then she remembered something her dad used to say – ‘If his brains were dynamite, he wouldn’t have enough to blow his cap off on a windy day.’ She laughed to herself. I wish he could see this bunch.
She hadn’t seen her father for a number of years now, not since she got married. She quickened the pace. Not that they had even registered her presence. Too much dope.
The eyes were still there, watching. She flicked her hair back and smiled. Boredom was beginning to play tricks with her mind. She walked back towards Booze Buster. The Brady Bunch begrudgingly moved out of the way, dragging their feet as if they were wearing diving boots. Claire picked a couple bottles of white.
It’s a nice day. I could fancy a glass by the pool.
Elvis and myself had just got to school, St Christopher’s RC Primary. We walked past the army of mothers dropping their precious kids of at the gates and took up position in the yard. Elvis had just got a new pack of Top Trumps and we called Bumper over for a game. We sat, cross legged on the concrete as Elvis dealt the cards. Just then there was a commotion at the gate. Fighting his way through the crowd was an unkempt, bearded man pushing a wheelbarrow.
“Now behave yourselves,” he said as he tipped his children out of the barrow. Seemingly unfazed by the experience, the brother and sister waved cheerfully and chomped into the pease pudding stotties that their father had made for lunch.
“Who’s that?” asked Bumper.
“The scruffy bloke is Albert Davison,” replied Elvis, “the local rag and bone man.”
“The chubby lad,” I added,” is his son Kevin Davison. To be avoided at all costs. My Mam says he’s evil.”
“He looks a bit strange but he hardly seems dangerous.”
It didn’t take long for Bumper to regret these words.
It took me a while to find Elvis. Looking through the phone book for Paul Morris brought up nothing. It was only when I was flicking through the paper and stumbled upon an advert for Costello’s Computer Repairs. It was worth a go.
I found the shop on the outskirts of town. All the units either side were boarded up and this appeared to be the only one with any signs of life. When I walked in Elvis didn’t even look up.
“With you in a minute.” Bits of computers lay about all over the place in some sort of organised chaos. Posters on the wall advertised Frogger and the VIC 20.
“Isn’t it about time you modernised?” I asked.
“You what?” the thick rimmed spectacles peered up over the VDU screen. Elvis had filled out a bit since school but was pretty much identical to how I remembered him. His shoulders were slightly hunched which made him look a little smaller than his six feet two inches. He had been this height since he was fifteen making him stand out from the crowd.
“Bloody Hell, Pete I haven’t seen you in years.” A big grin spread across Elvis’ face.
“Still wearing the Elvis specs I see.” The thick lenses and black frames were exactly as I remembered.
“No, these are just safety glasses.” He took them off and I realised it was possibly the first time I had seen him without glasses. His eyes looked uncannily small and squinted. He then proceeded to replace his glasses with something equally thick and cumbersome held together with an Elastoplast. The old Elvis was back.
“Where have you been,” Elvis moved from behind the computer, still carrying a slight limp from the accident, “and more importantly, what brings you back?”
“Thought I’d look up a few of the lads, maybe organise a bit of a school reunion.” I reached over to shake his hand.
“Count me out, I hated school and so did you as far as I can remember. What makes you want to meet up with all those twats?” Elvis concentrated back on the shell of a PC he was working on.
“It’s been fifteen years now, Elvis. Water under the bridge as they say. Let bygones be bygones.”
“Yeah, well they can stay gone as far as I am concerned. I just want to keep my head down and get on with my work.”
“You seem to be doing all right for yourself, your own shop and all that.” I looked round at the banks of computers and monitors lined up against the walls.
“If it was my own shop. Everybody seems to want a piece of it. I’m struggling to keep my head above water.”
“Sorry to hear it. If there’s anything I can do?”
“Yeah, p p p piss off with your stupid ideas about school reunions for a start. While you walked away from all that shit I’ve been up to my eyes in it for years.”
“It was just an idea …”
I didn’t really know what to do next. Elvis had been pleased to see me but I seemed to have touched on a raw nerve. He came out from behind the computer and drew up a swivel chair for me to sit on.
“I’m sorry, mate. Been under a lot of pressure recently, you know how it is.” He flicked the switch on the kettle and sat down beside me. “How do you fancy coming over for a bite to eat tonight? Marie will be made up to see you again.”
“Things can’t be all that bad. Is she still as fit as she used to be?”
“Careful, that’s my wife you’re talking about.” Elvis pretended to be hurt.
“It’s just a bit of a shock. How long have been seeing her?”
“Since the thirty first of January nineteen eighty seven.”
“That’s a bit precise.”
“Yeah, our first date was Elvis Costello’s gig with the Confederates at the City Hall.” Elvis pointed at the tour poster on the wall.
“You certainly know how to treat a woman,” I said as Elvis passed me a mug of coffee.
“Luckily she’s into the same music. We’ve seen every gig he’s done in the north east. Our honeymoon was in Dublin in eighty eight. He did a gig with Christie Moore it was fantastic.”
“What, the gig or the honeymoon?” We both laughed and Elvis was a lot more relaxed now.
“We’ve got a little lad now as well, although he’s not so little anymore, he’s nearly twelve.”
“Let’s guess, you’ve called him Elvis?”
“Not quite, he’s called Declan. Anyway is 7.30 alright for you tonight?”
“Yeah great. Where are you living now?”
“Forest Court. Number 125. Your trip might be worthwhile.” Elvis grinned. ”I think I might have something you may be interested in.”
“I’m intrigued. See you then.”
“Sorry to have bitten your head off earlier. It’s really good to see you again, mate. I’ve missed you.” Elvis gave me a strong bear hug that took me a little by surprise.
“It’s good to be back. See you tonight, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
It was good to see Elvis again and I was looking forward to seeing Marie and little Declan. The thought of a miniature version of Elvis made me chuckle. “And I don’t care how many gigs you’ve seen, none of them will beat eighty one with the Attractions.”
“Can’t argue with that, ” agreed Elvis. “See you tonight, mate.”
Another installment to follow same time next week.
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