CHRIS KELSO IS A
I’m in hospital right now, but I remember…
…Walking around the corner and turning into my local pub – a run-down shite-hole called “The Wifebeater”. You get an eclectic bunch in here usually. I see Cleary, the local head banger sipping froth from his pint. He sees me and waves me over. Cleary is in an art-rock band called “Fuck Almighty”. They perform demonstrations and are fairly political – they’re also completely shite. That’s not the point though…apparently.
– Alright my old son – he says.
Cleary is a good 5 years my junior, it annoys me when he calls me “son”. He knows I’m a writer and likes to undermine me.
– Any gigs? – I ask disparagingly. His face drains of all colour.
– No. Nothing yet.
– Ach well, chin up.
Inside I’m smiling like a smug bastard. A cell phone glows through Cleary’s jeans. He excuses himself to take the call.
At that moment, Danny Mclean has arrived – a man of unwholesome proclivity – the local nutter. A pale fear overcomes me. The last time he was here he killed a man, a man called Archibald. They say Archibald’s head was so beaten up that it went completely black, septic black.
(The pretentious wanker in question..)
Anyway, McLean is pretty untouchable, seeing as how his wee brother is a copper. He’s a bald, squat specimen with no visibly obvious presence, but his reputation precedes him. His face is a map of scars, a series of fresh cuts overlapping on his left cheek. I turn to the counter and order a pint of Fosters, trying to ignore the mental cunt who’s just entered. That’s the thing about “The Wifebeater”, I only come here because I appear more intelligent and successful than the regular clientele, but when murderers and thugs start popping in for a swift-half it sets me on edge, makes me question my strategy. Cleary sits back down on the stool beside me, his ridiculous poodle haircut wilting at the fringe. He looks anguished.
– What’s the matter with your face? – I ask.
– That was my bloody guitarist ‘Roach’. He’s got meningitis. How typical is that?
– Bloody typical aye.
‘Roach’ is a stupid name for a guitarist.
– A week before the big gig at Spoons.
– Chin up, maybe mental Mclean will fill in for ye.
I don’t know why I said it.
I am prone to moments of reckless abandon when in the company of people I feel superior to.
– Here, I think he heard ye…
Christ, please don’t have let him hear me. I swivel on the stool and see him coming towards me.
– Alright big man – he says eyeing my profile up and down.
– You’re wee Chrissy Kelso, ain’t ye?
– Heard you were writing wee books n’ that…
– Well excuse me if ah don’t ask for yer autograph big man. Christ sake, ah could write a book if ah wanted to!
– Course you could, it’d probably be better than mine!
Self-deprecation is wasted on this head case. I adopt an apologetic tone.
– Look, Danny, I’m really…
– Yer really what? Really sorry? Ye fuckin should be wearing that scarf!
Everyone in the pub laughs on cue. Mclean grabs a fistful of my scarf and lasso’s me in until I’m inches from his gin soaked, scar ridden face.
– You no from Cumnock?
– Originally from Cumnock aye.
– Well then why the fuck are you comin into this pub dressed like a fuckin poofter?
I don’t know what to say. I am from Cumnock, but I’m keen to dispel that factoid around biographers and journalists.
I’m terrified of confrontation. Mental Mclean has illuminated something I’d previously failed to resolve in myself, an intrinsic flaw of the personality.
I really am a pretentious cunt to these people.
Danny untightens his grip on my scarf and with one swift motion tears it free of my neck. He wraps it round his head like Rambo’s bandana, limping his wrist and adopting a feminine accent (which I believe was meant to be an impression of me). My humiliation made complete when Danny decides to get out his cock and balls and proceed to dip them in my pint of Fosters.
I’m overwhelmed by a need to fight back, defend myself. It’s the Imperial Youth VS the Antiquated Brutish Old BASTARD…
I have the backing of some of the greatest young minds of our generation, of any generation!
I pick up my pint glass and toss the pissy beer over Danny Mclean’s hideous mug…
IMPERIAL YOUTHS ASSEMBLE!!!!
I am now in hospital…