"What ya havin'?" A voice bellowed across the pub. The source of the drunken cacophony groaned when the intended recipient failed to hear him and answer, and he put his hands to his mouth. "Oi, Adam. You deaf tosser, what ya havin'?" Two heads turned to look at the overweight man at the bar and he shrugged. "The Old Goat's off."
A tall, black-haired gentleman, dressed in a garish blue and white football shirt got up from the table and sauntered over, surveying the pictures on the pumps and muttering to himself.
"Yeah, fuckin' hurry up mate. Game's gonna kick off in an hour," the rotund man joked and Adam pointed to another beer being offered, before the two of them carried three drinks and a small assortment of bar snacks to the table containing a third gentleman.
Adam's two friends, looked very similar – overweight, shaved head and wearing bright football shirts but Adam turned to the gentleman who had bought his drink. "So, what's this march ya on, Carl?" Adam asked and drank a gulp of his beer.
"S'over Manchester way. It's tomorrow, you know the effin' Council have stopped some playgroups usin' the local 'alls 'cause they ain't got enough Darkies and Mussies using 'em. Some do-gooder from the Council came 'round and counted 'em. Said it twere'n't equal or owt. But they give all the 'all time to some filthy Mosque thing."
"Sounds fuckin' outrageous," the third member replied and Carl nodded.
"T'is. James. Ya know what we sayin'? This country is going to fuckin' dogs. All those ethnics comin' in, feckin' awful. Local branch wants a rally down there. Gonna tell those Council people where to fuck off 'cause good British, good white British people ain't standing for it, no more."
Adam bit his lip and nodded. "But ya ain't get arrested, right?"
Carl shrugged. "Dain't care if I do. Some fuckin' lefties'll be there, trying to 'cause shit, but last time we kicked their fuckin' 'eads before pigs turned up," Carl boasted drunkenly. "Fuckin' Communist cunts. Should fuck off back to Russia, dain't want 'em round 'ere." Adam took another gulp and Carl looked at him. "Ya gonna come? Can pick ya up on way through."
Adam stretched. "Rioting's not my thing," he said instantly. "I ain't forgiven ya yet for getting me nicked at Deepdale."
Carl pursed his lips together and sneered. "Twas fuckin' last year. And twas me who ended up in Court. Got banned for three effin' years, fuckin' judge, who does he think he is?"
"A judge," James teased.
"Yeah, and I bet he was a effin' Tangerine," he moaned, alleging that the Judge Malloy supported his team's bitter rivals. "Anyway, I got in the other week, banning order's means jack shit when ya buy tickets in cash."
"Ya get caught..." James muttered.
"I ain't gonna get caught," Carl interrupted. "And we ain't going rioting. Just a peaceful demo."
Adam sniggered and nursed his pint. "I'm movin' into my new gaff tomorrow. Gotta be out of my current place by Thursday 'cause got to give the keys back."
"Shit, yeah," Jamie muttered. "Repairs done?"
"Yeah. Been there today, all looks well nice. Two bedroom and massive lounge. Big telly and PlayStation gonna be sweet. All brand new."
"Some students, weren't it?"
Adam nodded. "Yeah, totally wrecked the place. It's taken three months to get it all sorted, landlord's paid a bloody fortune but it looks like the dog's whatnots."
Carl snorted. "Fuckin' students. I 'ate fuckin' students. Lazy, dirty, workshy bastards," he ranted as the young barmaid collected their empty glasses from the tables. Adam looked at her apologetically as she rolled her eyes and took the glasses, gently shaking her head as she went.
Carl took a handful of peanuts and threw a couple in the air, catching them with his mouth and nodding towards a teenager at the bar. "Ya wanna join us, love? For game?"
The girl shook her head and tugged her jumper down. "No," she replied derisively and Carl shrugged. "Waiting for someone."
"Fuckin' lesbian that one. Or a fuckin' student." His two companions looked at each other as he leant back in his chair "Waiting for her girlfriend the muff muncher, you'll see." Carl was almost disappointed when she embraced a tall man and they retired to another part of the pub. "Where's ya new lodges?"
Adam gave a vague description, moving his hands around wildly to illustrate the roads and he took a swig of his beer. "Love to see it. Ya going well," James told him.
"It's work," Adam replied non-specifically. "Got pay rise with that promotion. It's 'ard work but I can afford bigger than a tiny flat now."
The three men remained in the pub all afternoon, watching the football on the "big screen" before falling out of the pub and looking up at the November sky; it was threatening to rain and Adam pulled his coat tighter. "Let's see ya new place," James asked and Adam checked his pockets for the keys.
"Yeah OK. It's only a ten minute walk," Adam told them and strode confidently down the road in the twilight. "Opposite direction to you two cunts though."
James snorted. "Teri be glad of that. Says you two always swear and stuff when ya come 'round."
Carl grunted and held his hands out. "Ya gotta sort that bitch out Jamie. She'll be stopping ya playing football soon."
"Yeah," Adam agreed. "Since the wedding she's been running ya life."
James shook his head. "Nah," he dismissively said. "And ya two singletons, ya wouldn't know would ya?"
"She's bad news for ya," Carl told him and James puffed up. "She ain't giving ya shit."
"Just 'cos ya ain't getting any at the mo, don't reckon I ain't getting any."
Carl raised his eyebrows. "Ya married mate, ya ain't getting owt either." He jabbed his finger into the chest of his friend and Adam patted him on the shoulder.
"You did say that last week in pub," Adam said with a grin. "Said you hadn't had any for months."
"Well it's the baby," James replied. "She is too tired."
"Always a fuckin' excuse with birds. Bang out of order." James snorted and went to reply when a loud noise descended upon them. There was a siren as a fire engine, followed by a second shot past them. "Bet it is a student set fire to a tree or owt. I fuckin' hate students. Nasty, dirty little fuckers," Carl ranted. "Best thing could 'appen to this town is if those two Universities burn down." James laughed and Carl looked at him seriously. "With all the fuckin' students inside."
Carl vaguely checked over his shoulder and sneered, walking out in the middle of the road to get to a traffic island as there was a loud car horn and the screeching of car tyres as brakes were hastily applied. The drunken Carl leapt out of the way as the battered vehicle missed him by inches and he gripped the bollard. "You OK?" James called out and Carl nodded, his ashen face shocked.
"You," he bellowed as the car door opened. "What the fuck were you doing?"
Carl wiped his reddening face, his shoulders slanted back and expression sparkling with anger. His eyes nearly popped out of his sockets when a black girl, dressed in garish clothes got out and gripped her car. "Me?" She shouted. "You stepped out into the road. You trying to get yourself killed?"
Carl's face burned a deeper red. "Me? Listen Thicklips, this is my fuckin' country and you come over here and ya think ya can drive like shit. Well fuck you. You should have ya license taken off you, filthy Wog."
The girl stared at him open mouthed and Carl started walking towards her. "Get away from me," she shrieked and looked at Adam and James watching the scene unfold. "Stop him."
"Carl," James called. "Don't start owt?"
"What's he doing? Get away from me?"
Carl opened his arms out and glared at her. "Or what? Come on then, nigger? You want to kill me, come on then. Should string you up." He reached a couple of yards from the car and the girl jumped back into her vehicle, turning the key in the ignition as fast as she could.
"Mate," Adam called but Carl was focused on the car, throwing his hands against the back window and hitting it hard.
"You ain't even said sorry, fuckin' cunt." The girl's Ford Fiesta refused to start first time and Carl pushed his hand through his jacket and smacked the back passenger window to a cracking sound. "Fuckin' go home, ya nasty nigger cunt," he yelled. The car fired itself into life and the girl dropped the clutch and the tyres span, just as Carl punched a dent in the side and then kicked it as it snaked off down the road. "Fuckin' dirty whore." He turned to see his two companions, watching him in shock. "Did you see that?" He shouted in annoyance. "The effin' cheek of it."
"Yeah," Adam muttered and spoke to James under his breath. "He must be having a really shit day."
James shook his head. "Prob'ly," he drunkenly muttered. "He gonna get 'imself locked up soon." Adam quietly agreed and they crossed the road to join their drunken friend. Adam guided them, in silence, down the road and around the corner into a small cul-de-sac.
"This road is proper quiet, no students or kids or owt 'round here."
Carl grinned. "Fuckin' 'oped not. That flat ya in now, students fuckin' everywhere."
"Yeah," Adam muttered and looked up to see a small crowd of people at the end of the road. "What the... ?" Concerned, he ran down it, to see not one, but two fire engines next to his new house.
"What's going on?" He called out and pushed past a small throng of people.
A fireman put his arm out as he reached the penultimate house. "No further please, sir?"
"What's going on?"
"Number 24, sir. It looks like a chip pan left unattended."
Adam stared open-mouthed. "But I am number 22," he muttered and the fireman shrugged.
"I'm sorry. It did spread, sir. But we stopped it before it did too much damage."
"Shit," Adam swore, sobering up quickly. "I better ring my landlord."
"Sarah, how are you love?" The slight girl was hugged by her mother and she tucked her brown hair behind her ears.
"I'm fine," the girl replied and smiled at her mother fussing over her clothes.
"It's not warm enough to just wear a T-Shirt you know. It's November, and you are not eating enough, I can tell. Look at the state of you. You need to get a proper Sunday roast inside of you."
"Mum, I am fine," Sarah barked in an exasperated voice. "And it is fine, honestly. I only had to drive a mile to get here, even if the ring road was chocca."
"But if you break down..."
"If I break down, I could trek," Sarah teased. "Through the snow and ice that we don't have, and struggle through the Arctic Winds Lancaster is not famous for, to a phone box and call the AA. Or I could just use my mobile. Or walk home. Or even scrounge a lift of a passing malevolent being..."
Anne Dayton scowled at her daughter's witticisms. "Yes OK. But you should have a coat at least."
"I'm twenty-three not three," Sarah moaned and walked into the large lounge containing her father and brother. "Happy birthday, Liam," she cooed at her sixteen year old brother," and passed the teenager a small gift-wrapped present and card. "Sorry about the wrapping, Tabitha's been in hospital."
Her father looked up. "How is she?"
"Ahh she's fine now. Just quite a lot of sickness so she was dehydrated. Doctor said baby is OK and they discharged her yesterday but it was a bit mean to ask her to do wrapping after all she went through. Especially after she did my marking. And I can't wrap presents."
Her brother surveyed the poorly wrapped gift and scowled at it. "You've covered it in sellotape.
"Yeah, I know. How else do you get paper stuck on to things?"
He sighed and tried to peel away at the red paper and then looked back at her. "No seriously, ya covered it in tape. There's no way into it."
They laughed at his confused face and Sarah sighed, pointing at his garish red shirt. "Who the fuck got you that disgusting thing?"
"Oi," called a fatherly voice. "Don't use that language." Sarah muttered an apology and then looked expectantly at her brother, expecting an answer to her question. "Olivia," the female voice of Anne Dayton said from behind them and Sarah screwed up her face.
"It better be for a bet, bro. It's proper disgusting." Sarah sat down on the couch and looked at her mother. "And what've I gotta do to get a drink 'round here?"
Anne sighed. "Tea or coffee?"
"White wine, please."
"Oh you noticed," Sarah replied with a smirk. "That big blue thing outside your house, there was me thinking it would just blend in and you wouldn't notice."
"Don't be facetious," her mother warned and Sarah grinned.
"Why not; always been told to do what I do best," she said with a gleam in her eye. "I can have one."
"You can have a small one," her mother told her. "When we get the Fish 'n' Chips."
"I could have two and walk back."
"Not without a coat," her mother snapped. "Now, tea or coffee?"
Sarah sighed and asked for a cup of tea, and then turned back her brother, still unable to get into the present and was resorting to using the tip on a discarded ballpoint pen to get some leverage on the tape. She looked at his shirt, it was bright red with a dragon on the front and flames at the hem; it was as garish as a Hawaiian shirt but considerably more tasteless in her opinion. "So why has Olivia got you dressed up as a muppet?"
"Oh leave him alone," her father told her. "And I have a bone to pick with you, missy. What was wrong with Alicia?"
Sarah hummed. "Alicia, Alicia," she muttered as she though and pursed her lips. "Oh the girl who wanted to live with us?"
"Yes her. You know that I now have every single flat, house and room rented out bar one."
Sarah squirmed. "Yeah, well. She wasn't right."
"Cause she wouldn't have fit in. We didn't feel comfortable."
Her father and landlord sighed. "You can't keep rejecting everyone. That's the fifth one. And you know in the contract you only have a veto for the first two months. It's been since Mary left in August. You can't keep the room open for her until she returns."
"Yeah I know, Dad. But she wasn't right. She just was creepy. And all churchy."
"Yes, and you would do well to visit the church a bit more often, young lady. There is nothing wrong with being a god-fearing member of Society. If you want to live with two other people then live in a three-bedroom house not a four."
Sarah sighed. "We like our house, it's the right size, the garden isn't overlooked. It's just that you haven't found someone appropriate."
He raised his hand over his receding hairline and shook his head. "Well any other house I'd be putting people in it. I run thirty properties and it's only your bloody house that I have trouble with."
Sarah licked her lips and batted her eyelids. "Yeah, I know Dad. But it's three girls on their own. We're vulnerable and we want to feel OK in our own home."
There was a loud swear word uttered as Liam's hand slipped and he poked the pen into his palm. A trickle of blood ran down his hand and he looked at Sarah. "Did you really need to use all this bloody tape?"
Sarah ignored him and turned back to her father who shook his head. "That's why I am being lenient with ya and because it's my property, but I need to get someone in. You can't look for another Mary. Now I 'aven't been forcing anyone onto you but if you don't like the people I have found then you need to be looking for yourself. I need that room filled to get one-hundred percent occupancy."
Sarah sighed. Her mother passed her a cup of tea and she looked at her son, passing him a pair of scissors as he swore at the small package. "Did you say Tabitha was out of hospital?"
Sarah smiled. "Yeah, yesterday. Doctors reckon she'll be fine, and she's off work for another week. But she is due to go onto maternity soon."
"And that's another thing. How did that happen?" Her father demanded.
Sarah cocked her head to one side. "Would you like me to draw you a diagram?" Sarah pulled out her hands, inserting her middle finger into a hole made by her thumb and forefinger in her other hand and looking at her father with a silly grin.
There was muted laughter as her father shook his head at the giggling daughter. "You know what I mean. Your house is immoral. Mary arrested last year for indecency. Natasha..."
"Natalie," Sarah interrupted. "You keep calling her Natasha, it's Natalie."
"Well her, and tell her she owes me for November." Sarah grunted and fished in her handbag, passing a cheque over to her father.
"She said sorry, work were late paying her."
He grunted and looked at her. "As I was saying, Mary getting cautioned, Natalie going naked in those art classes. Not to mention Tabitha, single girl gets knocked up on a one-night stand. You said she was single and not interested in setting down with a guy."
"She's not," Sarah said tersely. "But that night she wanted it. She is an adult now, she had her 21st Birthday a few months ago. Her choice. But, because she is pregnant, she is very vulnerable which is why we don't want anyone moving in. They have to be sound"
"It's her culture," her father replied sharply. "Programmed to have kids every fifteen minutes. I'm not havin' a rented house full of kids."
Sarah uncrossed her arms and gestured towards her father. "What are you on about? She was born in Wolverhampton. There might be bugger all to do there but having kids is not a cultural thing."
"She's ... ya know," her father squirmed.
"Black," Sarah finished for him with a fierce scowl.
"And it'll be the state that pays for it. She'll claim no end of benefits, you'll see," he ranted.
" ... and breathe," Sarah said with a frown. "See you have been reading the Daily Mail again." She turned to her mother. "I thought the Doctor told him to avoid it along with coffee and alcohol 'cause of his blood pressure. It'll do him no good." Her father went to reply when Sarah interrupted him. "Remember, it's the paper that supported Hitler."
"You keep saying that," he moaned. "And it's better that that left-wing rubbish you read," he told her and Sarah sighed.
"The Independent. Yeah, really left-wing. You should see our staff room at work, full of Trots all pouring over the Indy," she said with a scowl. "We sing the Communist Worker's Song before we start work in the morning, bow down towards Russia. And we got a grant from our Labour Council to do it and fly the Red Flag."
The middle-aged man shook his head and went to reply when there was a cry from the corner of the sofa. "Ah-ha," Liam called out and he prised open the small gift his sister had bought him. "A digital camera," he said loudly and put his arms out to hug his sister. "Ahh wow!"
"Get away from me," Sarah cried. "You'll get blood on my T-Shirt."
Sarah sipped at her tea and her mother touched her on the knee. "How was Parents' Evening, love."
"Ahh fine. One parent thought I was pushing their son too hard by insisting that he can read and write at the age of nine. And another thought I was holding them back by not teaching them Quantum Mechanics, but apart from that, OK."
Her mother smiled. "I told you, you'd be OK."
"It's very different doing it on your own. Scared me a bit, but the early parents were fine. All the kids said that they liked Miss Dayton apparently apart from Luke who thinks I am scary."
"You are scary," Liam teased as he poured over the hand-held device and Sarah finished her tea. "I would hate to be taught by you."
"I don't mind teaching you dress sense," Sarah replied instantly. "God, there were geeks at Uni who wouldn't be seen dead in that."
Liam sighed. "I like it. Olivia bought it for me."
"Well she is just making sure that no other girl wants you," Sarah spluttered and looked across at her mother. "Now are we going to get Birthday Fish 'n' Chips or what?"
"Yeah, sure," her father replied and reached up for his wallet on the fireplace next to his chair. He stretched and heard a ringing sound. "Oh, it's my 'phone, one moment," he muttered and located the device. "George Dayton," he abruptly answered the ringing mobile 'phone. "On fire. OK I'll be with you shortly."
"Hiya," Sarah called out the moment she closed the front door to their terraced house. "How's the patient?"
"I'm fine," a pregnant girl muttered from the sofa. "Liam like his camera?"
"Oh yeah," Sarah replied airily as Sarah sauntered into the lounge. "One of Dad's houses is on fire, so we had Fish 'n' Chips and ... er ... that was it really. Dad wants us to take anyone but I told him, no."
The pregnant girl looked up in surprise as Sarah closed the door. Their front room was lit only be a couple of wall lights, the flickering of the fire and a slight crack in the curtains. The threadbare two-people couch underneath the window was occupied by Tabitha who sat up as Sarah came into the room and flicked off the television. "Just crap on," she muttered.
Sarah looked at the pregnant girl. At five foot ten inches tall, she was a couple of inches taller than her but Tabitha was much bigger, even after considering the pregnancy bump. Sarah was slight and thin whereas Tabitha was well built and almost stocky.
Sarah envied her house mate, and although her own breasts were not small, Tabitha's large bosom had grown immensely during her pregnancy to now be a 38F. Tabitha patted the chair next to her. "What happens if your Dad does decide to put someone in here?"
Sarah took a deep breath. "Oh I don't know. It would be good if we could find someone. Failing that, we will just have to muddle through." Sarah kicked off her shoes and socks and looked up at the pregnant girl on the couch as she slid her jeans and panties down to her ankles. "Mean, they will get a proper shock if he picks anyone, won't they?"
The naked Tabitha smirked. "Yeah. That girl he sent 'round a couple of days ago. She was awful. Could tell she wouldn't want to live with naturists."
Sarah smiled as she removed her top and sat down next to Tabitha. "Before I get comfortable, do you need a drink?" Tabitha pointed at a full glass of water on the table and Sarah smiled. "Good, listening to the Doctor. Yeah, Dad asked me about her. But she wouldn't have coped with us, let alone Nat."
"Well she is as much exhibitionist as she is naturist. She would have loved to make her feel uncomfortable if she started preaching. You know that."
"Dad mentioned that. Nat's art modelling and stuff, says our house is immoral."
Tabitha smiled. "It is immoral."
Sarah giggled and allowed Tabitha to get herself comfortable by leaning back and putting her legs across hers. She glanced down at her stubble gracing her pubis and Tabitha looked pleadingly at the young teacher. "You couldn't tomorrow, you know."
Sarah smiled and nodded. "Yeah. I think I can," she said with a grin.
"Yeah, 'cause it's a service the nurses don't offer," Tabitha complained. "And I do like it nice and smooth."
"Sure," Sarah said and then looked at the television. "Anyway, where is this film you promised me?"
Tabitha picked up the two remote controls and turned the television back on, before flicking the DVD player into life.
"Saturday nights are just awesome," she announced and ran her hands along the legs and thigh of the black girl as the DVD span up.
"I've put something saucy in. That OK?" Tabitha offered and Sarah nodded knowing exactly what Tabitha meant.