The Bears & The Maiden Fair

DrunkFansCAVENDISH_450x300(The following is a work of fiction, and if you’re an easily offended Sevconian it might be better to pass over this one entirely. The female narrator will be familiar to some of you already, from my earlier spoof piece, Fifty Shades of Blue.)

He stands and he watches me from the other side of the room, swaying from one side to the other like a buoy in choppy seas. He is completely jaked of course, as are the men he’s with. They’re all here, all four of them, and I am amazed. My research was sketchy, put together in one big hurry, and I hoped it wasn’t’ a mistake on my part.

Hell, what’s life without a little risk? It would be boring, right?

I had no need to be concerned. This has gone swimmingly.

The barman notices my empty glass, and he nods at it, asking if I want another. I tell him yeah, make it a double, and he goes away and gets it for me, coming back with it a moment later. He lays it on the scuffy wood and winks at me. He’s not bad looking, I suppose, better than most in here, but there will be a cold day in Hell before anyone in this filthy den gets to bed yours truly.

Nevertheless, he’s been perfectly charming and I can be too,

I flutter my eyelashes, thank him and he goes back along the bar with a spring in his step. I’ve always had this effect on men. It’s a very useful skill.

I sip my drink and I turn to watch him again, this hammered nimrod in a dark suit that looks in need of a right good clean, one flap of his pale blue shirt hanging out of his trousers, the rest of it a crumpled mess. His tie is loose, hanging down from his neck like a noose someone forget to tighten. He has a chubby round face with second day stubble already standing out on pale white cheeks. His eyes are gummy and have a dopey faraway look in them, especially when he glances over here at me, looking edible in this summer dress.

It’s a monstrosity to be honest, all red, white and blue flowers, junk-shop tat to be blunt, something I’d never have worn in a million years if I wasn’t on the job. This guy … he’s lapping it up though, which I suppose means I’ve chosen it wisely.

One of his mates starts up the songs now, those old battle tunes for which this dump is famous, the old war music. This Underclass Karaoke classic is called “The Sash My Father Wore”, one of those songs that always makes me smile. When these clowns were growing up the only thing most of their father’s ever wore were prison overalls. I know the type. My old man was one of them.

They belt out this number lustily, stamping the feet, clapping the hands, drinks forgotten for a moment, their whole world right here, right now, this song, this anthem of days gone by, when their culture reveled in glory.

They’re no barber shop quartet, but at least two of them can carry a tune, which is something I suppose. Listening to bigoted garbage is bad enough without listening to out of tune bigoted garbage.

All night long I’ve had looks, complimentary remarks and there’s even been the occasional attempt at making conversation. I have slotted right in here, a perfect stranger too. It was simple to do. This dress is part of it. Being able to mouth the right slogans and tapping my hands on the bar and moving my head in time with the music, that’s part of it as well.

What nailed it was when the TV above the snooker table showed the face of the new Celtic boss Ronny Deila, and I shouted that he was an ugly Norwegian fenian so-and-so. I got a lot of very approving nods and comments for that, and I was pleased as punch.

I was also lying through my pretty little teeth. When Delia was appointed manager STV Sport and other outlets played the same clip over and over again; the coach, back in his homeland, stripped down to his boxer shorts, doing push ups at the side of the park.

I don’t mind telling you, it got me hotter than a sauna on a summer’s day.

That guy could put me through some hard training any old time he felt like it.

These deadbeats aren’t to know that though. To them, I am one of their own, the kind of woman who thinks Fatty McCoist is still a dish, with his receding hairline, XXL tracksuit and more chins than a Chinese telephone book.

Across the bar, he slumps against the table, and some of the drinks on there spill a little, and he is mumbling apologies, his hands on the wood, in the pools of spilled booze, and he shakes them off and wipes the residue on his jacket. Filthy sod. It’s enough to give you the boak.

Nevertheless, I flash him a smile, the kind that could turn a better man than this is to quivering jelly, and the look on his face changes, going through a multi-level metamorphosis that’s not unlike watching those videos of the sky shot over 24 hours, played at high speed.

First the dopey look vanishes for a moment as he tunes fully into me, and my attention to him, and then he smiles, exposing at least a couple of rotted teeth, and it’s almost as if he tries to look sexy in the next moment, and I only stifle a laugh with supreme effort, before that look is gone too, and is replaced by one I’ve seen on every man who ever gave me a second glance (and that would be most of them) since I turned eighteen and started to realise what I had. It’s frank, hungry, an expression that can communicate better than words ever could every filthy thought that just bubbled up in this manky sod’s head.

He steadies himself on the table again, getting more booze on his hands, and then, without even bothering to wipe it this time, he starts to stumble towards me. Yes, it’s what I’ve been shooting for here, all night long, but still … If I didn’t have a good reason for this …

I smooth down my dress, taking especial care to make sure I run my hands over my flat stomach and along my sides, highlighting my curves, and this has closed the deal, as I knew it would. This is too easy by far. Putty in my hands.

“Hey doll,” he says, the drunk Glaswegian’s customary greeting line par excellance. “Yeh awrite? Can I buy yeh a wee drink?”

I eye him coolly. “Vodka and lemonade, tall glass, lots of ice, mixed well,” I smile. “And if you’re very nice I might let you buy me another later.”

He nods, and grins, exposing those filthy teeth again, and he walks past me and to the bar.

I swallow hard. This is the tough bit, the bit where it gets dicey. Still, I’m holding good cards here and I can play even a bad hand very well when I have to. As he’s getting the drinks in I turn back to look across at the table where his mates are all gathered and when one glances over I flash him a smile that is 100% suggestion, 1000% come-on, 1000000% sex.

This guy puts his tumbler down on the table hard enough to make some of the liquid jump out, and he’s on his feet and coming over here with none of his dopey pal’s rolling, reeling style. This boy strides across the room and he puts his hand out, and I take it daintily, and he pulls me in close, and he kisses me on the side of the face.

“Hey,” he says, “You alright? Having a good night?”

I smile, affirming. “It’s been very nice, thank you,” I tell him.

“I saw you earlier,” he says, as though he could have missed me. “I wondered if you were in with somebody. Are you on your own?”

I nod, and I drop my eyes a little, as though embarrassed by this fact, a trick I saw a girlfriend of mine pull one night, to devastating effect. She went home with a stock broker at closing time, a guy who’d spent most of the night prior to that gesture necking a cute little blonde piece of stuff right out of Central Casting, and who he didn’t look at again afterwards. Awesome stuff. You just have to know how to play the game, which buttons to hit, and nailing any man is cake.

“Can I buy you a drink?” he asks, sounding a little awestruck. So am I, in a sense. How did I get so good at this stuff? Are you born with these skills, or do you actually learn them along the way, somehow? Can they be taught to just anyone? Maybe one day I’ll open a school. There has to be some money in that game …

I am about to tell him I have a drink on the way and his mate is back and he hands me the one he’s just bought for me with a look at his pal that I wish I could capture for posterity. Oh how easy this was, and I’m just getting started.

“Hey mate, whit’s the score?” asks the guy who’s just come back from the bar.

The guy who’s just come over gives me the eye, as though he’s sussed all this out and I smile sweetly at him and he gives his mate a hard stare instead.

“Should you not be going up the road? You’re wrecked.”

This swaying deadbeat gives his mate a look, and a wave of his hand, as if he’s an idiot yammering the worst kind of nonsense. Honestly, the contempt I feel for these guys is a fraction of the contempt many of them feel, deep down, for each other.

“Maybe you should go up the road,” he says. “Yer wife’ll wonder where yeh are.”

Ooooft. That was painful, and the expression on his face just then summed it up. He looked as if his mate had just slapped him! Too good!

“You bad boy,” I tell this married man, and I give him a smile that suggests it’s not a deal breaker, but might actually be a plus. He grins.

“You want to come and sit down?” he asks, and I turn to his chubby faced manky friend and then back to him again.

“Sounds like fun,” I tell him. And then, as we’re walking away, I turn to the guy who’s just bought me my drink and I say, “Well? Are you coming with us or not?”

Now they both look perplexed, and it’s just wonderful. I can almost hear brain cells scraping together, trying to generate enough heat for a thought.

It’s back to their table, and I am given a seat, and I realise with amusement that it’s the one fatty had earlier in the evening. He stumbles away to get another; I hear loud voices in the wee alcove beside us and I realise he’s taken someone else’s. He calls someone a very nasty four letter word and he returns a moment later clutching a stool, his face red, as if his blood is up or perhaps the exertion of walking a few feet has been too much for him.

I am gratified when he plants it beside me, jamming me between the two of them. I could not have planned this better if I tried, and for the next few minutes I make small talk with the charmer as his fat mate tries to butt in every so often. Then the charmer goes to the bathroom, and I turn around to fat boy again and I have him locked in the big baby blues, turning the heat up to a nine.

We are not the only ones sitting at this table of course. Two dead eyed boys sit across from us. They’ve been chatting about football all night, about McCoist and his inexplicable team selections, about their dreadful start to the season, about their chances of ever again being a major football club. When I’ve been tuned in, pretending to be listening to one or the other of the jokers on either side of me, I’ve had to keep from laughing a few times.

Challenging Celtic. Oh-ho-ho. They can barely challenge Hibs or Hearts, in the second tier. Who are they kidding except themselves?

One of them turns to look at me, as the fat boy goes to the bar, and I know just what to do with this clown. I look right at him, and he swallows hard as I blink, slowing that movement by half, and his mate stares at him, then at me, and I curl the left corner of my lips and drop my right eye in a naughty, wholly sexual, wink. It does the job.

They look at each other, laugh, and then lean across the table. One asks me if I’m game, and I giggle and tell him that I like to keep life interesting. I almost want to reverse Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s famous quote about not wanting to be interesting but good, but a joke that sophisticated would be wasted on these brain dead whelks.

The charmer comes back now, and he sits down, and he immediately notices the change of tone at this table. He sees that his other two mates are now in play, and there’s real tension, especially when fatty comes back and susses out the same.

I excuse myself, and I go to the ladies, and I have a pee and then wash my hands and fix my lipstick in the mirror. Leaving them all together at the table is a cheeky move, but a dangerous one cause they could just decide I’m having a laugh with them all and I could come back and be frozen out, but it’s a chance I have to take. I’ve got to push this on.

I come back out, and I can hear the raised voices before I get to the table. There’s a heated discussion going on, and I hear someone tell someone else that his wife has already left him twice because of his playing away, and that he ought to think of his kids.

That brings a series of sarcastic laughs from others around the table. One calls him “the father of the year” in a voice that drips irony like a poison and that unleashes a string of invective and a threat.

I breeze around the corner, and I do the only thing that will bring the table to heel. I put my hands on my shapely hips, I strike a haughty, but sexy, pose and I ask, in a loud voice that goes over the angry debate, “Which of you handsome men is going to buy me a drink?”

They all get up at the same time, almost knocking over the table. A pint tips, one of the two guys across the table gets soaked in it, and he goes, cursing, to the bathroom like a petulant child, glaring at his mates, at me, at everyone in the bar. Idiot. He better not screw this up.

The others ask me what I want and there’s a rush to get their hands in their pockets. The barman comes over to see what all the hassle is, and he spots the spilled drinks, the soaked table, and he goes away for a mop and something to clean the mess with, leaving two of them standing at the bar wondering when they’ll get served.

I want to scream right now. This is all going to pot. I look at the clock. Ten past eleven.

Fat man turns to me, and he shrugs, and his mate walks over, the charmer, and he puts an arm around my shoulder.

“You want to get out of here?” he asks.

This is an interesting moment, the moment where I could mess this up.

Alternatively, it’s the moment when I can push thing onto a whole different plain.

“Let’s have one more drink,” I tell him, and that seems good enough for this dopey sod, who hears in those words a promise I never made. It’s a character trait with these folk. They hear what they want to hear, and it doesn’t matter how disconnected from reality it is.

We go back to the table where the barman has finished cleaning up the mess and fatty hands me my drink, the second he’s paid for tonight, as though that gives him some kind of lead here. I thank him with a sweet smile and I watch in amusement as the guy with the soaked trousers comes back from the bathroom, his face still tripping him.

“Sorry about that,” I say to him, and the big baby blues blink at him and he nods, and shrugs.

The conversation quickly degenerates to the level of the gutter. I’m asked a series of filthy questions and all four of them are hanging on my every word. I answer them honestly. I’m an independent free thinking woman. I’ve enjoyed myself and I don’t apologise for that, and so I don’t have to gild the lily here to appeal to these deadbeats.

Finally one asks me whose house I am going back to and I slip them the suggestion I’ve been working up to all night long, that we all go to a hotel. After all, I say, we wouldn’t want wives getting upset.

I even have a hotel in mind, and I tell them this and all their eyes light up like slot machines about to pay-off. I give them the name, and it’s expensive, and they know it, and their faces all turn up in a scowl. “Come on, are you men or not?” I ask.

They all dig their wallets out, and start leafing through their remaining bank notes. They cobble together as much as they can between them, nearly cleaning them out. It’s so easy getting these people to part with money …

I nod. That should do nicely, I tell them, and at that I get to my feet. “Well let’s do it then,” I say and they are up as if the seats were spring-loaded.

As we walk out of the door one of them pipes up with “Here we go, here we go, here we go …” and one of the others joins in.

Original. If you’re five.

We catch a taxi and there’s a brief bit of bickering over who gets to sit beside me, and I finally end up on one of the seats nearest the driver’s window, the ones that face the long back seat, where three of them sit glumly stuck together. The guy on the seat next to me is fatty, and he spends the journey in a drunken stupor, picking his nose and his wiping the residue on the window. Filthy pig.

We arrive at the hotel and I am mortified as the guy who was charming me earlier pulls out their reeking wad of money and stands there trying not to look like a tube as he counts it out for the guy behind the counter, who takes it with a grimace and hands him a key. He nods and then we all head in the direction of the lifts, with people staring at us the whole way.

Thank God I’m not from here. I’d never live it down if someone who knew me saw me now.

We get to the room, and I want nothing more than to take a shower, but I can’t do that right now. Instead I make sure they are all comfortable sitting there and I tell them I’m going to the bar for a bottle of whiskey. They are all agreeable, until I ask which of them is paying, and there is much grumbling as they dig out their wallets again.

With the money in hand, I head down and I purchase something reasonably decent and I head back upstairs. I pass the bottle to one of the guys. For the next ten minutes they all sit getting drunk and I tease them a little by kicking off my shoes, then taking off my tights and then, finally, I take my panties off and I throw them in fatty’s face.

That is a dangerous moment for me, because he leaps to his feet and tries to grab me, but I deftly skip back and I let him have a burst of anger.

“I decide when and who gets to touch me, alright?” I shout. “Not you, you filthy swine!” That’s the cue for the rest of them, and they start to push him and jostle him and he’s throwing a punch at his mate, and I head into the toilet, and I slam the door.

I am laughing hard as I dig out the mobile phone and make a call to Teddy Munro.

“Get yourself over here,” I say. “It’s kicking off. I’ll chill them out and we can start.”

I go back into a room which is bedlam. Two of them are punching the bejesus out of fatty, and the last guy is holding his face as one of them has clearly gubbed him.

“Guys!” I say, “Let’s all relax, okay?”

Everyone looks at me, and it’s clear that the mood in this room is now very ugly. Well, that goes with the guest list I suppose. I take my handbag now, and I look through it for the packet of cigarettes in there and I find them at once. They are not ordinary fags, of course, they are special these, they are joints made with only the finest stuff on the market.

This gets their interest, and a few minutes later we’re all sitting on the bed passing them around.

I know my limits when it comes to alcohol, and I also know how much of this stuff to start smoking before it has an effect, but these simple sods don’t, and it’s not long before they are all going from being pleasantly squiffed to being out of their heads. They’ve been drinking all day, and mixing this stuff with that is potent, and effective.

By the time the room door is chapped these guys are all incapable of resistance.

Munro walks in and the four of them stare at him dumbly as he starts setting up his gear on the table by the window. A couple of them ask who he is and I smile sweetly and pour more booze. These guys are all utterly smashed.

By the time Munro is finished they are all dozing.

“What do you need?” I ask.

“Check their pockets. One of them must have it,” he says.

“You’re sure they did this today?” I ask.

“100%,” he tells me and I go through their pockets, giving him the wallets. He’s got the third open when he smiles at me. “Bingo,” he says, and he holds up a business card with some scribbled words on the back of it.

He gets to work immediately, sitting in front of his twin laptops and logging into their newly minted website using the access code this security unconscious sod was carrying around in his pocket. Once inside, Munro swaps code from that website to the one he has set up on the other laptop, and then he tries a wee experiment. He logs out on one machine, and types the URL for their website. It comes up, but before it does it smartly redirects the user to his own site.

“Perfect,” he tells me. “They log into our site, but the data recorder on the other site still notes them as having logged in there. They make their pledges on our site, and give their money to that, but the receipt for it still comes from their own. It’ll note the money as credited to that account … but the money will be in the one we set up instead. It’s beautiful.”

“And they’ll never be able to trace this …?” I ask, somewhat worriedly.

He shakes his head. “In 24 hours there’ll be nothing left to trace. The programme code is written to close down our site when the countdown ends. Nobody’s ever going to know who did this, or find out where the money really went.” He looks at the four sleeping numpties. “These four, they’ll be the obvious guilty parties. The rest of their support will blame them for this. Some of them, that won’t be hard to believe.”

The idea is stone brilliant of course. Munro’s been working on it for a while now, since reading about the fans groups who set up an account similar to this to collect season ticket money earlier this year. That scheme was a failure. This one was supposed to be collecting money to purchase shares, as part of a fan’s led takeover bid. Ha! I can’t even imagine what kind of mess that would be, but I only have to look at these four, out of their skulls, to get an inkling of the chaos and the shambles it’d be.

This is the latest hair-brained scheme hatched by former players and directors who’s motivation seemed to be based on little more than getting their names back in the papers.

“And the money …” I start, worried about that, this final aspect.

“Every penny will go exactly where I said it would,” he tells me. “I have the list of all the small businesses that lost out in the liquidation of the OldCo. They are all coded in. When the website closes the account closes with it and every one of those businesses will get a wee cheque in the mail, from the organisation calling itself the UFH Charity Fund.”

“UFH?” I ask him, and he sniggers.

“The old Unseen Fenian Hand,” he says with a grin. “It’s behind every conspiracy that’s done them over these last few years. Didn’t you know that?”

We both laugh.

He has something in his bag, and he takes it out and he walks across to where the TV and the DVD player are. He opens up the DVD case he’s holding and slips it into the player, messes about with the remote control and puts it on the bed. He switches the TV on.

“The Treble DVD. A personal favourite of mine. I put it onto repeat. Nice wee surprise for them when they wake up in the morning.”

He packs up all his stuff and we walk to the door. He turns to me, with a smile.

“So you did alright. How many of the boxes did you tick?” He’s grinning again, that way he does, that way that always makes me want to jump him. If I wasn’t a classy girl he’d be getting it right here, before we leave this room.

“Let’s see,” I tell him. “I wore the right colours …” I point to my dress.

“It’s very … nice,” he says with a laugh.

“Piss off,” I tell him.

“What else?”

“Oh I said the right words. I even shouted at Deila on the telly!”

He tuts now. “That’s you banned from The Tolbooth.”

“Never happen,” I tell him. “And I also hummed their tunes.”

He feigns shock and outrage. “So the Unholy Trinity …”

“Say the right things, sing the right things, fly the right colours … and you too can pull the wool over the eyes of the average bitter bigot…” I say, quoting, almost verbatim, an article from one of the Internet Bampots.

“Nice one,” he says. “Did you get them arguing with each other?”

“Just like Whyte, Green and all the guys who came after them. Wee bit of divide and conquer. Smile at one, wink at another, get each thinking they’re special … rip out the rug from under the lot of them. I learned from the best,” I say and he laughs again.

We walk to the lift and go down in it still smiling from ear to ear. As we step out into the lobby he’s whistling a tune. It takes me a moment to work out what it is. It’s from Game of Thrones, the TV show. I laugh again. “Cheeky sod,” I tell him.

“The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” he says. “All except for that ugly bloody dress.”

Aye. I have to admit he’s got a point there. Needs must though.

I couldn’t very well pull this off in my brand new Celtic away top, could I?

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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

6 thoughts on “The Bears & The Maiden Fair

  • 7 July, 2014 at 6:09 pm
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    There was no need to inform us that this was a work of fiction,James.It soon became apparent to me when they started sniffing round the female narrator.Had the object of their desires in the story been a goat,you may well have had us all believing that it was a true story.HH

  • 7 July, 2014 at 10:42 pm
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    James, big fan of yours (as you will know from past comment),however did not enjoy this and not one of your best.

    Perhaps being a non fiction lover ( as opposed to any type of fiction) was always the definer as it were.

    Feel I missed out on this one but look forward to getting back to reading ehat you fo best.

    YNWA

  • 7 July, 2014 at 10:48 pm
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    You know what I’m like mate, I like to mess with different styles here. This is actually gonna be the last fictional post I put up on here.

    I wrote it in response to one of those “critics” yesterday, the one who’s happy to push the “our club never died” line whilst conveniently forgetting thousands of small business that got screwed.

    It cheeses me off.

  • 12 July, 2014 at 11:24 am
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    James.

    A good piece of fiction that just like their assertion about their club being one and the same one post- Liquidation.

    ps: You didn’t did you

  • 12 July, 2014 at 11:39 pm
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    Agree with Jimmy Mac, James…normally your stuff is brilliant and I love it….but this was crap……….

  • 13 July, 2014 at 12:54 am
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    Lol who says I can’t handle constructive criticism?

    🙂

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