378-published by The Common Breath-October 2020



He bangs his fist on the door and whispers 378, don’t forget…378.

A teenage boy finally answers. He rolls his eyes and tuts. ‘Sake Da, rattlin’ on the door at this time. Wit is it?’

He bodychecks the boy as he breenges into the living room. Av worked it oot.

‘Worked oot wit?’

Thirs 378 flats in the three blocks. 378 verandas tae choose fae…and they pick mine. Here’s yir early mornin’ alarm call. Forget aboot a snooze button. Can a interest thim in a wee saucer of Vortex? Naw…they urnae faw’in fir it. Coo coo fuckin coo. How’d they no bugger off and scrounge in sumdys garden instead.  I’ll tell yae how…cos they prefer peckin’ away at ma fuckin’ brain. Peck peck peck.

The boy momentarily covers his face with both hands. ‘Naw. Jeeso. No this again, Da. A wish you’d gies peace about the doos.’

Peace? That’s wit am after. Paradin’ up n doon ma bedroom fir hours every day tryin’ to block the bastards oot. The carpet is threadbare. Doos are related tae Doves, did yae know that? Peace Dove? That’ll be fuckin right. Here…how yae no ready for school?

‘You asked me that last week Da…it’s July, the summer holidays?’

Aw aye, a forgot. Anyhow, mon gie yir Da a cuddle.

The boy looks like he’s been told to do the Gay Gordons with the girl with the warty hands in front of the whole school. ‘That’ll be right, yir reekin’ a whisky.’

He cocks his head back. I beg yir pudding. I’d a couple afore bed tae help me sleep…but naw…coo coo fuckin coo. Am demented. They won’t swally the disinfectant.

‘Am goin back tae bed Da.’

Wait son. A had a brainwave. Mibbe wannae yir pals could lend me a slug gun. That’d get the job done. Know wit a mean?

‘Sake Da, ma mates don’t have sluggies. And you gony take oot every doo in Glesga wi a slug gun? Yir bein silly.’

Am desperate son. Am no sleepin.

‘Me neither. Yae did this last week anaw. Showed up at seven rattlin’ on about doos.’

Less ae yir cheek smart-arse. You tell me how to sort it then.

‘Simple. Attach a mesh net across the veranda.’

He jiggles the coins in his pockets. Aye…yir right son. Yir a wee genius. A chip off the auld block. Yae get yir brains fae yir auld man. It cannae be yir Ma, cos she married me.

The boy’s eyes dart from his Da to the door and back.

Right. Am gony get meshed up in Crocket’s the Ironmonger. Time’s it, son?

‘Half seven.’

Magic. A don’t need tae head yet. Get dressed n al take yae fir a Fryin Scotsman.

‘Da…I’ve told you this three times… am…gon…back…tae…bed.’

He frowns at the boy. Fair enough. Project Mesh eh. We’ll sort the bastards oot. Me n you…the Gillespie boys. We can sort anythin’ out wen wi put oor mind tae it, kint wi son? We’re do’ers you n me.

At the door, he stretches to rub the boy’s hair. The boy recoils.

Well. Hiv a good kip son.

The boy’s hands rest on the lock and handle as he watches him heading down the path pointing an imaginary gun skywards while shouting, ‘pum…pum…pum.’

‘Aaww Da,’ he whispers.