If you're looking for chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Bing Crosby and carol singers, or a nice big Christmas pud, see left, you've come to the wrong place. Oh, that one's deep-fried and covered in Class-A, B and C drugs in case you were wondering. Nope, at Pusher we've prepared a slightly less classic offering in the form of a traditional Scottish Manky Christmas. The characters from this short originally featured in a story commissioned by Keith Rawson for CRIMEFACTORY - this is Davie, and his 'Uncle' Barry's first outing since then. It's a few months hence, but neither are any wiser ...
The Gift of Family (a Christmas story)
by Tony Black
Wey eys sitting there, wi them big starey een ay his it’s as if the cunt’s efter a square go. Ah’m watching him, rolling they eyeballs up n doon, behind they big, daft beer-boatil glesses ay his n ah’m thinking ah’m gonnae panel the cunt afore this day’s oot. Ah mean, ah ken it’s Christmas n aw that, n ah ken eys ma uncle, well that’s whit ma maw cries him - Uncle Barry - but ah mean first n foremost eys a bawjaws. A big dingy cunt ay a bawjaws inawtae. Miracle eys been allowed oot the pound fir Christmas - ah didnae see that coming ah’m telling ye.
Ah mean, armed robbery is a serious caper, fukn proper serious if ye ask me. But then the cunt’s goat this wee condition . . . Well, that’s whit he cries it. Eys wee condition. Eys fukn scripto, that’s whit ah cry it. Uncle ma baws inawtae. Ma fukn pure baws ey is. Ah caught a sketch ay him rubbing ma maw’s erse earlier, Christmas day inawtae, aye is it. Thaire ey wis wi the big woodin spoon in eys mitt, slapping it aff her erse cheeks n saying ey wis gaunae gie her a richt guid Christmas stuffin, so ey wis. Ah didnae like that, ah mean, it’s no nice tae hear some auld jakey cunt talk tae yer maw like it’s an episode ay Jeremy fukn Kyle. Surein it’s no. Just ootay order that. The manky auld cunt can cairy oan how ey likes in eys ain hoose but no in mines - n it is ma hoose, ah mean, wey ah see it ah’m the man ay the hoose onyweys.
‘So, ah says tae the lassie gies two ay they big yins, wans wi the bows n aw that, n she gauns someone’s gonnae be lucky this Christmas . . .’ he leans ower n plants a big mit oan ma maw’s leg - wan wi the stookie fae her fall oan the ice - n ey goes, ‘lucky this Christmas, eh hen . . . She kent awright, eh? The lassie kent so she did.’
Ma maw’s smiling like she’s just dropped a bag ay eccies n ah’m thinking tae myself: it’s just a box ay fukn crackers, nae sad wee cow in RS McColl’s is gonnae be saying fukn hee-haw aboot a box ay fukn crackers when they’ve goat them piled up tae the fukn ceiling n she’s selling twinty boxes a day!
The cunt’s basking in it though, pure reeling back n smiling like a lord oan the end ay eys tin ay Cally Special. Thinks eys it cos he bought a box ay cheap wee crackers full ay pishy jokes n nithin else but wee plastic spinning toaps n crappy wee fake ’taches n tiny packs ay cerds made ay paper. Ah wouldnae mind - ah really wouldnae, ah mean it’s Christmas day n aw that - but ah bought the fukn nosh n nae cunt’s said hee-haw aboot that yit.
‘They’re a lovely wee addition tae the hoose,’ says ma maw. ‘A lovely wee treat.’
The fuk’s she oan? Wee treat. Ah’m pure reeling noo, seriously ready tae lamp the cunt fir that. Ah mean, eys at it. Kens whit he’s at inaw. N ah dae as well . . . Ah mean, if ey wisnae ma uncle - n ah ken eys no ma real uncle - ah’d hae the cunt rummilt oot the back fir a closer look at ma bits and maybes an intro tae ma claw hammer if ey wisnae careful.
‘You’ll have tae pull a cracker wi yer Uncle Barry later, son,’ goes ma maw.
‘Aye, aye,’ ah goes, ‘later oan eh.’ Ah’m thinking later oan I’ll be doon The Ship wi Reidy n Tambo fir the traditional seasonal bevvie or two, maybes a guid bucket. Only cracker I’ll be pullin is that wee barmaid wi the rack oan it like she’s taken twa cruise missiles in the back.
‘Here, did ah tell ye oor Davie goat the denners in fir Christmas day, Barry . . .’ ma maw’s nearly dropped the inch ay fag-ash she’s been haudin oantae for the last five minutes as she leans over to illustrate her point wi a flourish ay Berkeley Superking n a thud ay stookie oan floorboard.
‘Watch yerself there, darlin,’ goes Barry, acting all concerned like, ken daen the Dochtir Kildare bit, ‘Ye’ll be daen yerself an injury so ye will.’ Like he’d gie two fuks. Long as eys goat eys bits under the table n a guid feed oot ay us afore eys wee Christmas outing’s over n they’ve hoyed him back doon tae Kilmarnock n the grey walls.
‘You sit yerself doon, hen,’ he goes now. ‘Ah’ll take care ay the place while you’ve goat that stookie oan yer fit.’
The fuk ey will. Tell ye this much if ey thinks eys ruling the roost these few days, eys another thing coming. Fukn surein ey has. Christmas runs oan rails in this hoose. Thir’s the Bond movie. Few bevvies wi the boys in the efternoon n then thir’s the big feed - paid fir by my gainful employment at the Roads Department, it has tae be said - n then thir’s The Ship at night. If Uncle Barry - an eys no ma real fukn uncle either - thinks eys gonnae be dictating the running order ay things in ma hoose, eys in fir a fukn shock. Surein ey is.
‘She’s no fukn incapable,’ ah goes. Ma voice is a wee bit raised, n ah’ve kindae surprised myself. But ah’m no really gien two fuks, cos this bawjaws is askin fir it noo.
Ma maw’s turned roond in her seat, the ash gauns oan the flair. ‘Thir’s no need fir that kindae language,’ she gauns.
‘Aye, it’s Christmas fir fuksake,’ gauns Barry. Ey kens right away eys made a cunt ay himself but he’s no goat the marbles tae claw it back, just sits there wi a big glaikit glower oan eys coupon. Ah swear tae fuk ah’m fir sparking the cunt oot thaire n then. Onybody else would be leyin intae him but ah’ve goat the tag tae think aboot. Mind you, it’s that cunt’s fault ah’ve goat the tag at aw. Ah mean, thir’s nae getting away fae the facts, it wis his idea tae stand ower the Scotbet, so it wis. Dragged me intae it so ey did.
Ma mither’s up rubbing the fag-ash intae the cairpet wi the sole ay her baffies. ‘Look whit ye’ve made me dae,’ she goes, pitting the beady eye oan eys.
‘Ah made ye dae?’
Barry’s oot eys seat noo, haudin her erm in his one haun n pointing at the stookie oan her fit wi the other, ‘Come oan, Ina, sit yerself doon, hen. Ye’ll have an awfay busy time ay it later wi the Christmas denner tae dae, n wi the grandwean running aboot.’
Ma maw smiles at the mention ay the grandwean. Fukn unreal. The wee cunt isnae even oor Andy’s - ah ken that Karen burd ay his has been puttin it aboot aw ower the toon. She was gien line-ups oot the back ay the The Ship when she was fifteen that yin. Dirty wee hingoot. Hud mair cocks than jeelie pieces, n that’s gospel, come fae the horses mooths that. Gen up. Well, twa fingers ah can report onyroads. See, thirs a difference between tittle-tattle n facts. N facts are facts. But ah’m saying nothing here the day. Twa fingers might make a Kit-Kat but ah’m haudin oot fir sumthin mair substantial . . . N ah’m no talking aboot ma Christmas denner.
‘Aw, the wee yin’s a treasure sure ey is,’ says ma maw.
Ah feel ma heid gaun, shaking fae side tae side n ah’m tempted. Pure tempted so ah am, tae dispossess her ay the illusion but ah’m trying tae be the bigger person, likes they say.
‘Aye, but it’s the big feed they’re coming roond fir,’ ah goes, ‘the wan ah splashed oot oan.’ Ma fukn joab oan the Roads peyed fir that.
That’s shut the perra them up. Ma maw’s eased herself back doon in her seat, picked up her yellae snowball again. Uncle Barry’s pit oot her Berkeley in the ashtray n sterted oan a wee rollie fir himself. Tight cunt rolls them in eys fukn pocket, thin as bus-tickets inawtae.
He sterts up as he lights the wee match ay a fag. ‘Aye, ah hear ye went doon tae Iceland fir the denner, Davie . . .’
Ah can tell by the tone ay his voice eys trying tae get oan ma tits aboot sumthin. ‘Aye, n whit’s wrang wi that?’
‘No sure ah agree wi that, son.’
Ah’m tempted tae ask whae ey thinks eys calling son, but ah let that go by. Bigger fish tae fry likesay. ‘N how’s that, eh?’
He leans forward, eys round gut spills ower the toap ay his belt as ey startes tae speak. ‘They run that lassie oot ay thaire like a fukn pigmy!’ Eys pointing in the air wi the tip ay eys rollie n baith me n ma mither are looking at each other like we’re totally scoobied. Cos we are.
‘The fuk ye oan aboot?’ ah goes.
Ma maw’s squinting at eys. Ah ken she’s no happy wi me swearing but I’ll pack it in when the bairn’s roond. Ah mean, ah ken it’s no Andy’s, but it’s still a bairn n ye dinnae want it picking up bad habits n aw that: wi that hingoot ay a mother it’ll have it hard enough oan the bad habits front ah’m thinking.
Barry’s pinned back eys chops, still pointing at eys. ‘Oot ay Iceland!’
‘Eh?’ the pair ay us are still lost. ‘You oan aboot ye daft cunt?’
He squeezes the wee bus-ticket rollie between eys thumb n forefinger n now eys pointing it at me like a fukn dart. ‘Yon Kerry lassie, aff the telly ads . . . They pure fukn ditched her fir fukaw.’ Eys big berry-rid cheeks flair up, pure bellin so ey is, like eys aboot tae fukn burst ower the room n spray us aw wi clarty cherry juice. ‘It wis the power ay the media done fir her!’
Ah looks at ma maw an she’s no as scoobied now, sitting there nodding away like wan ay they dugs ye used tae see in the back ay car windaes. Me, ah’m just heyin nane ay it.
‘Whit the fuk’s that goat tae do wi me spending ma hard-earned in thaire?’ Ah says, thinking: they dinnae pey me £3.50-an-hoor oan the Roads fir nuthin.
Barry pushes they big beer-boatil glesses ay his aff eys shiny nose, eys sweating like a fukn paedo at scout camp noo. Still pointing that fukn rollie at me. Ah’m no liking that, no wan wee bit. Ah’m tempted tae take it aff him n stamp it oot just fir the sake ay it. But it’s Christmas day likesay, n it’s ma maw’s cairpet. Ah want the cunt tae hang himself onyroads n the wey eys gaun it’ll no be long.
‘It wis the power ay the media done fir that lassie, n she’d weans tae feed . . .’ ey goes.
‘Aye, but whit’s that goat tae dae wi me, ya dingy tube?’
Eys oot eys chair noo, n eys pit the fag in eys mooth, clamped it thaire, it hangs like a white maggot aff eys lower lip n dances every time ey speaks, ‘Ah wouldnae be daen ma shoapin in thaire efter whit happened tae that lassie . . . A gid wee number she hud, oan the telly, n likely takin hame a fair few frozen denners fir they weans n the power ay the media done fir her!’
Ah sits back n starts tae slap ma haun aff the arm ay the chair. Ma mither’s still nodding away like this is some kind ay big revelation that Uncle Barry - n eys no ma uncle, fukn surein eys no - has unearthed. It’s like she thinks eys some kind ay fukn crusader, some kind ay campaigning politician oot tae wake the working classes up fae their slumber, like we’ve aw been asleep tae this injustice regarding poor Kerry aff the telly. Eys gaun fir it inawtae, thinks eys Tommy fukn Sheridan firing folk up aboot the Poll Tax in the eighties. Ah’m heyin nane ay it. ‘Away tae fuk, man . . . Yer just narked cos ah peyed fir the denner oot ma hard-earned n you’re daen fukn hee-haw up in Killie jail apert fae riding the erse aff wee bum boeys!’
He flares right the fuk up, sticks oot eys chest n gauns fir eys. Ah have tae say, ah didnae think ey could move like that. Ah have tae say, eys goat some fair shift tae him. Ma mither oan the other hand isnae so quick aff the mark - but she’s goat her fit in a stookie right enough - and as she’s getting oot her seat her big, white stookie catches the bold Barry, clang oan the knee.
‘Jesus Christ!’ he screams oot. Eys eyes widen n then tighten n ey reaches doon tae grab the shooting pain in eys knee. It’s an awkward move, his big fat erse throwing his wan firmly-planted foot aff balance as he hops ower tae the telly n puts a haun oot tae steady himself. The telly canae take eys weight but. The stand topples. Then Barry topples. The fat bastard falls oan the flair in front ay me. Eys swallayed eys fag n the burn ay it’s goat him spewing n screaming n generally making a bellend ay himself, but thair’s nothing new there, ah’m thinking.
Ah get oot ma chair, ‘Thair’s that fukn telly doing fir us again, Barry . . . Power ay the media likesay. Power ay the media.’
Eys reaching oot, trying tae grab ma leg or ma ankle or something but ah’m too fast fir him. Even wi the hefty tag oan eys, ah’m still jinxing roon the flair n oot eys reach.
‘Ya dirty wee cunt ye,’ eys gaun. Ma mither’s doon oan her knees noo, trying tae calm him doon wi a pat oan the heid. ‘N you can fuk off inaw . . . Eys your boey. Can ye no control him?’
Ma mither’s trying tae calm him, patting him oan the heid but eys dealt another clatter fae the stookie as ey turns roond tae bawl her oot. ‘Ah’d have been better steying in the fukn jail fir Christmas,’ ey gauns.
Ah sees a chance tae wind the cunt up. ‘Aye but, the Porridge Christmas Special wouldnae be the same, Barry!’
‘Shut it you!’ ey goes. ‘Shut yer fukn hole!’
Ah’m laughing n pointing at the perra them oan the flair when the door gauns. Ah can see wee Rab Hainey n eys missus fae across the road, eys goat a boatil in eys haun n she’s scratching the back ay her napper like she’s just been dealt a clout fir back-chating him. N ey would n aw, well kent fir it so ey is. Poor cow must ay ran ootay cupboard doors tae walk intae by now.
‘That’s the neighbours coming roond, Maw,’ ah goes.
‘Oh, no . . .’ she tries tae get a deck oot the windae but when she pulls herself aff the ground the telly cable catches roond her big stookie. The cable’s aw hooked up wi the Christmas tree lights n next thing the tree’s oan the deck inawtae.
‘Oh fuk tae fuk!’ ah goes as the tree crashes doon oan the perra them.
Barry rolls ontae eys back, hauding eys knee again n moaning towards the ceiling. ‘Ah’m goanae fukn kill you, laddie . . . See you Davie, ya dirty fukn wee . . .’
Ah cannae stop the laughing now. Ah’m bent double at the sight ay this perra roasters rolling aboot oan the cairpet. ‘Whit, ah’m daen nowt!’ Ah pit’s a haun oan the wall - ah needs tae steady myself - and leans in as the the doorbell gauns again.
Ma maw shouts oot. ‘Get rid ay them!’
Ah’m aboot tae make ma excuses n leave fir a few bevvies wi the boeys at The Ship when the backdoor’s flung open n ma brar Andy stomps in wi the wean n eys tert wife. The wean’s hauding ontae the dug. It’s ower excited tae be aff the lead n it delves intae the carnage oan the flair n sterts licking at Barry’s face. The dug’s pushed away n moves south, finds a point ay interest in Barry’s free leg, which he mounts and sterts shaggin in eys usual fashion.
‘The fuk’s that dug daen in here?’ gauns Barry.
The dug’s up oan eys back legs, its big red boaby’s up like wan ay the Christmas decorations, it’s like a plastic Santa, sack inawtae, poking intae Barry’s thigh. ‘Get it aff! . . . Get it aff me!’
Ah watch Andy try tae wrestle the dug away, but it’s a strong wee staffie n eys nae joy. His tert wife stauns thaire, rolling her een in that glaiket face ay hers that she’s goat covered in orange slap: makes her look like a fukn basketball, well, her knickers bounce up n doon like wan onyroads.
The wean sterts tae greet.
Ma mither sterts n aw. ‘Oh come here, pet . . . Come tae yer Nan, darlin.’
Ah can hear the front door gaun, the chain rattles at the side. It’s wee Rab n eys missus. He stauns there holding oot a boatil ay Blue Nun n the look oan eys coupon is worth boatilin itself.
‘Awrite, Rab,’ ah gauns.
Eys missus is still scratching the back ay her napper. She drops her haun when she sees the dug’s boaby n then their bairn sterts pointing at it, a big grin right across her wee face. ‘That’s whit ah want!’ she gauns.
The daft cow slaps her daughter’s haun doon, ‘Y’were told, ye’ll wait until yer eighteen!’
Ah says, ‘Ah think it’s sixteen, love.’
Ah dinnae realise we’re talking at cross-purposes until Rab pits eys size-tens right in the picture. ‘She’s talking aboot the dug, she wants a dug when she’s older.’
‘Oh right . . .’ Ah shrugs, tries a smile but it’s nae use.
Andy get’s the lead oan the dug but it’s still ower excited, cocking a leg and pishing oan the cairpet. Ma mither’s livid, sterts spewing at him. ‘Ah telt you no tae bring that fukn beast roond here!’
‘Ah’m sorry, Maw,’ ey gauns. ‘Ah’d nae choice, eyd demolish the place if we left him alane.’
The dug’s still pishing, spraying a wide yellae ark intae the mantelpiece that sterts splashin Uncle Barry’s bare leg. ‘That cunt ay a dug’s pishing oan me!’ ey goes.
The lights stert tae flicker. The wans oan the ceiling at first. ‘Oh aye,’ ah goes. ‘Blackoot oan the wey . . .‘
‘The weather’s no been that bad,’ gauns Rab.
‘It’s the fukn dug pishing oan the fire!’ gauns Barry.
Andy finally clues himself up n yanks the dug away fae the fire, cracks a haun aff its erse. Ey disnae like that. Fukn surein ey disnae, ey thinks it’s Barry that’s dealt the blow mind you. Turns tail n gauns fir the cunt’s throat. There’s a yelp, a kindae dug noise, but it’s fae Barry this time n the whole room turns tae see the dug latching oantae eys throat. Ah’m sure there’s another yelp but it kindae gets drowned oot n then the lights gaun oot n aw we can hear is Barry greetin n moaning fir help.
‘Get the cunt aff me! . . . Get it aff me!’
There’s a rustle ay boadies in the semi-darkness - the only light is fae the Christmas tree but that’s soon oot, n in no time at all we’re in a total blackout - as folk make their way to Barry’s aid.
Ah’m thinking aboot the state the place, Christmas day inawtae, n how will ah get the Bond movie oan the telly now. Of course, whether or no the fukn thing’ll be working is another question awthegither. Ah’m no ower happy aboot this, Christmas just isnae Christmas without the Bond movie likesay. Ah’m battering this thought aboot inside ma heid as ah stert tae put oan ma parka - it’s just aboot time tae head doon The Ship onywey - might have tae grab the Bond movie roond at Tambo’s.
As ah open the front door an oblong ay light aff the street illuminates ma maw’s face, she’s looking at me like ah’ve done aw this, like it’s aw ma fault. But ah’m heyin nane ay it. Wey ah see it, Uncle Barry wis ootay order fae the off. Ah kent ey wis steamed-up aboot me getting the tag when he goat put away but that’s the wey ay the world. Cannae blame me fir that. N ye just dinnae come roond tae another man’s hoose at Christmas carrying that kindae baggage. Ey wis at it, surein ey wis. Ah could hardly miss the evils ey wis gien me fae they big beer-boatil magnifying glesses ay his. Naw, cunt goat his n that’s that. Enday story.