“It’s the youth of today, no respect. We used to respect our elders y’know, we looked after them. If you saw an old lady crossing the road or an old gent struggling with his bags you helped. Didn’t you, Doreen?”
Doreen nodded and sank her teeth into her slice of lemon drizzle cake, tongue flicking at stray crumbs as they sought to escape down her chin.
“Now though, they’re all little vandals and thugs, they only look up from their phones to rob you or swear. Terrible how it is these days, just terrible. My Marvin tells me all about it, he’s a policeman you know,” Doreen nodded again, she knew, Mable told her at least three times every time they met.
“He says that just last week he found a young man with all his bits cut out, oh terrible it was, they hadn’t just stabbed him, they’d done all sorts of horrible things to him. I blame the internet. And the fact that they don’t beat them at school any more, not like in our day.”
An eyebrow went up and more cake went in.
“My Marvin says it was a gangland killing, drugs or some such, that heroin or marijuana. They’re all doing it these days he says, barely even know where they are from dawn to dusk.”
Doreen had met ‘Her Marvin.’ He worked at a desk filing reports about stolen cars and struggling to pass his annual physicals despite being a big fat fella with bad feet. He did read the Daily Mail a lot though and that was enough for incisive policing as far as his mother was concerned.
“So, do they know who did it then?”
“Did what dear?” Mable, rant completed, had already moved on to shoveling her own cake into her mouth, dribbling tea as she washed it down.
“Killed him, that poor young man, the gangland killing…?”
“Oh that, no, no idea. My Marvin says they should just go out and arrest one of them, bound to be one of them he says. All political correctness now though, isn’t it? That’s why they treat him so badly you know, because he stands up to them he does, not like the rest of them, scared to lift a finger they are.”
‘Them.’ Marvin was a big fan of ‘them,’ a phrase he used with a perpetual nod and wink and which seldom seemed to mean anything much. ‘They’ could be black people, foreigners, Gypsies, homosexuals, teenagers, Scots, anyone really as long as they didn’t argue back too much when he arrested them. Doreen nodded sympathetically nonetheless, quietly happy that she hadn’t had any children of her own just in case they’d turned out like young Marvin. Mable was her best friend though, there was no point undermining her pride in the idiot boy turned idiot man.
“Well, here’s hoping they get their man then, no way for a person to go is that, all cut up and dumped in a car park.”
Mable was back digging into her cake, barely registering Doreen’s words, which was fortunate as she’d said more than she meant to.
“And what about that young man you were telling me about last week? That poor chap who lost his liver by the alms houses?”
It took a while for Mable to circle her mind around to the question, she was good at following a thought when it was her own but lousy when it came to input from the outside world. Especially when there was cake.
“Oh I don’t know dear, I haven’t heard anything. Probably drugs though you know, terrible what they’ll do to you.”
And impressive, it wasn’t often that you heard about cannabis surgically removing someone’s liver.
“Yes, probably. It’s a terrible world.”
“Oh yes, a terrible world. Would you mind if I tried a bite of your cake Doreen?”
“Of course not dear, help yourself.”
Smiling she slid the plate across the table, half of her slice still untouched.
“In fact I really must be off; I’ve an appointment with a doctor. Nothing serious but at our age you do need to keep an eye on things don’t you?”
Mable was too busy shifting onto her second dessert to pay much attention but she did manage a smile and a nod as Doreen helped herself to her feet and, with a grunt, lifted her overfull handbag from the back of her chair. Tactfully ignoring the sloshing sound of the jars inside.
She was out of the door and half way down the street before Mable, briefly satiated and thinking comparatively clearly paused to wonder to herself how her friend had known about the body being found in the car park. She didn’t recall mentioning that little detail, or even hearing it from her boy. It wasn’t a question that hung in the air for long though, her Marvin had left her half a key of uncut Cocaine that she had to package up before the bingo on Saturday. He was a good boy like that, he looked after his old mum, bit of a bastard otherwise mind.
Be sure to check out my new book No Cure for Shell Shock.
more on Image Curve by DYLAN ORCHARD
photograph by Matt Popovich