IT WIS CHRISTMAS
EVE n thi sleet wis comin doon steady. It wis exaclie four thurtysivin
when Jack Reagan, haudin thi boax tae ees chist wi baith hauns like it
hid some weight tae it, came walkin alang thi dock through thi stoory
darkness. Ih wis juist eezsel oan thi cobbled road leadin tae thi gatehoos.
As iwis, thi sudden rush iv dockers through thi gate tae thi pubs alang
thi road hid emptied thi place in a flash. As ih approached thi gate Jack
felt thi boax move a wee bit in ees hauns. Thi two security men eyed'm
- sumbdy leavin thi dock cairyin a boax juist hid tae be shady, aye? Thi
wee'er guy iv thi two took thi key frae thi gate, leavin it loaked.
Jack smiled it thi furst security guy, a scrawney fella whose thin mouser
made ees face look even mehrr gaunt.
Jack noddit it im, "how ye doin, Parkie?" - it wis a nickname
ih hid frae ees furst day oan thi dock cos aw thi guys knew him frae ees
days iv chasin weans aff thi trees in thi public park when ih wurkt fuhr
"Aye, Reagan, whit's in thi boax?" asked Parkie, "n thi
name's Mr Cowan tae you."
"Is it? Ah thoat it wis Park uhr somethin, naw? Anywi, Ah've got
that auld mad cat in thi boax, it's been hivin a go it some iv thi boays
in thi shed. Ah'm takin it tae thi vets tae get it pit doon."
"Aye, right," Wee Smiddy, thi other security guy, piped up,
"A container iv whisky gets drapped oan thi dock crackin open thi
doors and you've juist got a cat in thi boax? Puhl thi ithir wan, Reagan."
Jack tried tae look hurt, "whit dae ye mean? Ah'm deain mah civic
jooty here n youse waant tae cast aspersions oan mah good intentions?
If Ah tell ye it's that mad cat, it's a cat, awright? It took me ages
tae catch it an Ah'm no letting it go!
Wee Smiddy took a step taewards him.
"Naw," ih said, "it isnae awright! Open thi boax."
Thuhr wis a wee speck ih spit oan ees boatum lip.
Jack stood ihs grun, "Naw, Ah wulnae!"
"Open it Reagan, or ye'll be fuhr it!" said Parkie.
Jack stared it baithie
thum, "Perra basturts, so yeez uhr, yeez trust naebdae, neer yeez
Jack raised thi boax in front of him, wan end jammed tae ees chist thi
ithir end pintit it thi fizzers iv thi two guards. In wan swift go, Jack
raised thi lid iv thi boax.
Both guards let oot a yelp as thi cat sprang frae thi boax wi an angry
hissin snarl; claws splayed. It crashed oantae Wee Smiddy's shooder, its
back claws skelpin ees lug as it leaped ahint him an ran yowling back
alang thi dock.
Baithie thum turnt
thi colour iv biylt shite it thi sudden display of feline anger. Blood
dripped from Wee Smiddy's lug ontae ees white shirt coallar.
"Fuck!" said Parkie.
"Perra basturts, so yeez uhr!" repeated Jack. "Ah hufftie
go and catch that fuckin cat again noo!" Ih turned and trudged back
alang thi dock efter thi cat. Efter a few steps ih turnt back, "Uhr
yeez no gaunae gie me a haun?" ih askt
"Nup!" said baithie thum in unison.
It wis exaclie five
twintywan n thi sleet hid turnt tae big snawflakes when Jack came trudging
back tae thi gatehoos.
Parkie wis staunin it the door ih the gatehoos. "Awrite, Reagan,
did ye get it?" asked Parkie.
Jack stoapt n kid feel thi heat frae the paraffin fire inside. Ih wis
cauld noo n aw ih waantit wis tae get ooti there. "Aye, Ah goat it
nae thanks tae you two," ih said.
Wee Smiddy, staunin it the gate, squinted it Reagan wi a pained look.
"Wiv cloaked ye oot so ye cannae say yeed worked overtime,"
ih hissed an pointit, "oot thi wee door, you."
"Ye know, wee man," said Jack, "ye sound juist like that
mad cat, n yer wee puckert face looks like thi last view Ah goatie it
is it ran alang thi dock!"
"Fuck off!" said Wee Smiddy turning thi key in the loak. Thi
wee wicket door opent oot ontae the street.
Jack smirked is ih stept through. "See yeez," ih said whioot
"Merry Christmas tae ye, Reagan," Parkie shouted efter im.
Wee Smiddy dabbed ees ear wi a hankie n said nuthin.
Is Jack walked intae
thi heavy blur iv snaw ih heard thi dull thud iv thi wee door shut ahint
ihm. Is ih began tae trudge through thi thicknin snaw oan the pavement
taeward Betty's Bar ih felt thi quiet clink iv thi four boatles in thi
boax thit ih held tight tae ees chist. "Merry Christmas right annuf,"
ih thoat tae eezsel, "ya perra daft basturts!"