string of battleship grey sausages slapped lazily
against the shop window as the cowboy burst into Anderson's
the Butchers, fingers a-blazing.
'Pcheeew! Hit the floor, varmints.'
queue of regulars sighed in unison and continued their
babble. Only Jessie Kelso turned to greet the intruder.
'Hello, Clint. How ye getting oan son?'
his ten years seniority, Jessie couldn't help feeling
Clint was still a wee laddie. He'd trailed round Leith
for as long as she could remember, but his prairie
lifestyle had received a huge boost when those nice
theatre types decided to cast him in their radical
drama featuring real homeless people for the Edinburgh
Festival a few years ago.
eyed her suspiciously, his finger still cocked. 'Got
any vodka?' he drawled.
young man stepped out from the queue and drew a freshly
packed pork sausage from the packet in his hand.
Clint, draw, ya lily liver!'
spun quickly to face the challenger, but before he
could unleash his best gunshot sound effect, Jessie
Kelso stepped between the two, momentarily abandoning
her Farmfoods bags by the counter.
it oot, the pair o ye!' She turned to rebuke the younger
man, still clutching the sausage firmly between his
thumb and forefinger. 'Honestly, Davie, ye should
ken better than ti rile Clint like that. And Clint,
cowboy attempted to spit viciously on the floor but
found his mouth dry and so made do with exaggeratedly
wiping his lips with the back of his ripped sleeve.
did ya here what the varmint called me?' he snarled.
dis it maitter hoo they caw ye, as lang as they dinna
caw ye too late fur yer denner,' counseled Jessie.
two men looked at her blankly as the other customers
adapted similarly puzzled expressions. No tumbleweed
rolled but there was a distinct whistling of wind
and a faint distant peeling of a solitary church bell,
followed by a chorus of 'What?'
picked up her bags and shuffled out the shop. 'Naebody
kens whit ah'm on aboot these days. I gie up,' she
mumbled to herself as she trudged down the road.
was always 12 o'clock on Great Junction Street. The
old co-op store clock had stalled at noon many many
moons ago. No-one knew why.
Jessie reached Taylor Gardens, she sank into a bench
facing the clock tower atop her favourite brick wall
lovingly carved with co-operative mottos. The interlocking
hands beneath the Union is Strength legend stirred
memories of her old Polish lover, Lech Lutha, the
"bleach man" with his mangled fingers dangling from
his one good arm who clunked his bottles round Leith
in a customised wheelbarrow.
had jumped ship with a monkey after the war, never
to return to Gdansk. Shortly after gaining employment
filling up the bottles of bleach in a store on Bangor
Road, he had to let his monkey loose after it wrecked
his room in the Sailors' Home outside the dock gates.
It was later fished from the Water of Leith after
its desperate attempt to swim upstream to Bonnington.
recalled their first meeting when Lech chapped on
her door to tempt her with his wares. Jessie had asked
him if the bleach was any good and Lech wiggled his
stump and fingers, saying, 'Vot do you sink?'
gid times,' she thought. 'Gid times.'
week: A'body needs gid neighbours