'Long Lying Idle' by Peter Burns
The first slug of whisky always burns Davie McLean’s throat, but it fairly wakes him up. He doesn’t care how rough the day becomes now, he knows the whisky will keep getting smoother.
Placing the bottle back in his bedside cabinet, Davie feels invigorated enough to venture out of bed and forth into the wider household.
Stalking the hallway, Davie’s senses, by no means fully functioning yet, strain in their information gathering. No sound from the
television, and the dissipating scent of toast confirms that the kids have left for school and Mary has long been toiling her trade.
hoose is quiet, peaceful and mine.
Dressed and breakfasted, Davie decides the course of the day by opening a window and sticking his head out to gauge the atmospheric conditions. No moisture on
skin, but a sulky overcast sky suggests caution should be taken via outer garments.
ah’ll wear ma thick overcoat that’s goat especially deep pockets. Sorted!
Davie walks briskly from the tenement door and, crossing the road, pulls up his overcoat’s collar more as a do not disturb sign than an act of insulation.
Aw Christ, Senga Henderson. Every bloody mornin’! How the hell does she
dae it? Neighbour- radar? detectin’
‘Mornin’, Senga. Sorry, I
cannae stop tae talk, I need tae be somewhere. ’
‘That you aff-
tae sign oan?’
‘Aye, Senga, aye, that’s it.’
wummin! How is it she thinks aw I’ve goat important tae dae is sign oan?
Davie leaves the tarmac for a dirt track, leading to the river and solitude. A short distance off he sees the tall crane, long lying idle. Davie remembers well the day they both stopped working. But now the crane’s considered an object of local importance.
Stopping at the bottom of the crane he takes out his whisky bottle and swings his arm up towards the jib, before delivering the bottle’s goods to his opened mouth.
‘Here’s to you, Dad, Billy, n’ all ma mates who worked here all those years.’
Negotiating scattered glass and rusting twisted metal, Davie enters the old factory through a hole in a wall. Following this wall to a corner, he takes from the inside pocket of his overcoat a single red rose and stands it upright.
‘Here’s tae you, wee Davie,’ he says taking another slug.‘Happy birthday, son.
Ah’m sorry I didnae understand whit you were goin’ through. Too wrapped up in ma ain troubles, I suppose. And I know now that when I heard you were takin’ that stuff I reacted badly, n’then ignored ye. But, ye see, I had nae experience of that kinda thing. Christ, who had? But I understand it better now, son. I can see where ye were at. ’
Davie McLean takes another long pull from the bottle until
it’s only air he’s sucking to stifle his sobs.