Sid McAdam

by Edward Wilkinson Latham

The Anchor 3:42 pm

Sid looked at his watch. He had been in the boozer since eleven, warbling like a budgie on sleeping pills to the songs on the jukebox. He shuffled around with a double Bells whiskey in one hand and a roll-up fastened to his narrow yellow lips. His hair was thinning and slicked back and the six remaining teeth in his pointy-head head protruded like pieces of discarded chewing gum, stained ochre with nicotine. He gulped down another whiskey and put the glass back on the bar. He picked up his feet and waltzed around the tables, scanning for women, any woman to dance with. If you caught his eye, even by accident he’d have you, willing or not. Drag you round that wet torn carpeted pub floor like you were a side of beef, whilst he mumbled in your ear with a voice that sounded like he gargled with crushed glass. His old loafers slid across the carpet as if it was an ice rink, his sheepskin coat following behind, taking out an empty pint and a choking ashtray in the process.

By four o’clock Sid had blown all his money. Every week it was the same and now he drunkenly patrolled the bar, fishing for unfinished drinks. He saw a half drunk gin and tonic and a mouthful of Guinness on a table beside the dartboard. Downing the flat gin and tonic he spied a woman around the corner of the bar talking to someone out of view. He knew her straight away. It was Maisey. She had grown so much. Sid tried to calculate how many years. A long time evidently, but it seemed like yesterday since he had held her in his arms. She looked so beautiful, grown woman now. He walked forward a few steps, looking around to who she was talking to. He was a tattooed and bald with earrings and gold rings on both hands. Sid stared at Maisey, remembering the eighteen months with her mother and how he had been there when she got back from the hospital after the birth of Maisey. Their time had been cut short by the re-appearance of Maisey's father out on parole. He moved closer, only a few steps away now. The large bald man turned around and stared at Sid for a few seconds.

“What’s your problem granddad?”

Maisey turned around glancing at Sid before turning back to light her cigarette. Her long nails were decorated with white polish and small rhinestones. She looked at him again, straight into his eyes for a second. Sid was overcome with memories and emotions.

“Fuck off you pervert. You giving me the creeps”, said Maisey in husky and hard voice.

“Maisey”, uttered Sid softly and he moved to touch her. His arm was caught with a meaty fist belonging to the bald man. He gripped Sid’s arm and getting up, guided Sid through the bar like he was carrying a dead dog. Sid tried to speak as his legs hit against the tables and chairs.

“Maisey,” he cried.

He sat on the cracked pavement, studying the rip in his coat and trying to move his twisted arm underneath the thick sheepskin. Perhaps it wasn’t Maisey. He felt sober now after hitting his head. He rolled a cigarette, still confused and feeling a bit dizzy from blacking out. He decided he deserved a drink and lighting his cigarette, he tried to get to his feet. Wheezing and coughing he laid one hand on the pub wall and slowly unfolded from the waist up. He stumbled down the street making his way home determined to find the only picture he had of him holding Maisey when she was a baby. He was holding Maisey in his arms. He was going to get the picture and go back into that pub and show her.

His body was calling out for a drink. Instead of turning left at the lights, he carried across the road to the off license to get a can for the road. If he didn’t get a drink he felt that his body would turn against him, consumed by some gruesome detoxification of exorcist proportions. He staggered into the off license, despite still owing Mr. Patel a tenner.

“Alright Mr. Patel? Sid mumbled, feeling sorry for himself.

“Hello”, replied the shopkeeper suspiciously.

“Just gonna grab myself a can of your finest, Sid uttered”.

“You owe me ten pounds Mr. Miller”.

“I haven’t forgotten the cockle, my dear Eastern fried, said Sid pausing as if delivering a speech. “You have the cock what?”

“Cockle. Cockle and hen, ten”, Sid explained.

“Good I think you hoped I would forget. I remember. All up here”, said My Patel, pointing to his turban. Sid wasn’t sure what he met and after a second or two of thought he decided to dismiss it.

“Alright but this is the last time, hear me!” Mr. Patel waggled his finger at Stan, giving a small grin. “Tar”, uttered Sid meekly, exhausted with his pathetic theatrics. He smiled at the shopkeeper, revealing his yellow cheddar like teeth.

“I’m going to see my daughter,” said Sid.

Mr. Patel’s faced frowned and contorted slightly at the sight of Sid’s teeth and turned away to utter something to his wife who sat out of sight on a small plastic stool behind the counter between yesterday’s newspapers and a new delivery of canned bitter. As Sid was about to pull the ring of the can of beer, he heard Mr. Patel talking to someone. He swung round.

“What you say?”

“I was talking to my wife. She is sitting here”.

“Well just you be careful, right”, uttered Sid, regaining some decorum, now he had what he wanted. Mimicking Mr. Patel wagging his finger Stan he walked to the door before suddenly reminding himself about Maisey and the photograph. The shop door was suddenly opened and Sid’s arm was swept away from him and slammed against the wall. The force knocked Sid over and two masked youths hurried in, blurring past Sid who lay slumped against the bags of crisps clutching his arm. He looked at the two figures leaning across the counter, shouting and grabbing a frightened Mr. Patel by the beard, pulling him down on to the selection of stake confectionery in front of the counter. Sid started to crawl the final few yards to the door, as he heard Mrs. Patel scream, briefly loud then quickly muffled, then quiet all together. Sid reached for the door handle but was nowhere near and fell back on the cold linoleum floor. He looked back at the counter, seeing the two youths coming towards him, their sneakers squeaking on the floor. He felt his lower jaw snap up into the top, the sharp flash of pain shooting like a diamond to the top of his head. Blurred flashes of light passed in front of him as his limp body was pushed out of the shop by the youths, trying to get Sid’s body out of their way. The door was slammed one final time against the wall, shattering window, and covering Stan in shards of glass. The door then swung back on final time, banging against Sid’s head and sandwiching it to the doorframe. Stan’s left eye opened and he could see figure upside down walking towards him. The world was totally silent. Someone dragged him out onto the pavement and turned him over. Looking up he saw the bald headed man with the earrings who had been talking to Maisey. He crouched over Sid trying to talk to him. Beside the man was a woman, but all Stan could see was a pair of white high-healed stilettos. Around her ankles were a gold ankle bracelet and a small tattoo of cherry. As he was rolled onto his back he saw that it was Maisey. She looked down at Sid and then tugged on the bald man’s coat collar and gestured with her head that they should go. The face of another man darted in front of Sid’s vision.

Edward Wilkinson-Latham ©