captain gonzo wrote:It's funny sometimes how you end up in places you never expect to be. For me this place happened to be Altrincham. After years in big port towns: drinking, fighting and fucking I'd landed in the last place I had available. I was sitting in a bar working my way through a cocktail menu; from Old Fashioneds and Mint Juleps to Martinis and Margaritas. Only last week was I partying in New Orleans, living on a merchant ship and having the time of my life.
"Fuckin' 'ell man I'm wasted!"
Tom was my shipmate. A man who loved women but couldn't get them so settled for a bottle instead. Sometimes he got lucky; usually he couldn't see them at the time or remember them the next day. A good drinking partner for all occasions.
"You're always wasted; you should learn to drink properly."
I was polishing off another shot of Turkey 101, something I have taken a liking to after many years in the States. Not as characteristic as a good scotch but cheap, plentiful and powerful.
"Get another beer and another shot for me would yer? I'm goin' for a piss."
The bar was so jammed full of people I decided to go onto the harbour nearby while he got the drinks. No one cared out here. I walked passed the bouncers and started towards the harbour when some stupid yank tried to walk straight through me only to fall over. Being the typical English gentleman I offered a hand to help him up, live and let live no need for bother.
"Watch it mate. Here let me give yer a hand."
This did not go down well, apparently he felt somewhat aggrieved by his own idiocy.
"Fucking bastard, who do you think you are?"
"Come on mate you just shunted me? I'm trying to let it go and give ya a hand up here."
"I can get myself up fucking limey prick."
I decided to let it go and walk by but it seemed my luck wasn't in that day.
"Where the fuck do you think you%u2019re going dickhead?"
"For a leak...why you wanna come hold it for me?"
The next thing I know some 5 foot and a fag end yank comes bowling towards me arms flailing. All I did was kick the little cunt in the face to get rid of him and all of a sudden he's got a knife trying to stab me. I swiftly floored him with a solid punch and proceeded to beat the living crap out of him for the displeasure he caused me. I end up getting dragged off by some cops and letting off with a warning because it was "aggravated" I claimed self defence and they tell me to get on my boat and fuck off. The company I'm working for suddenly decide sailors and fighting don't go together and kick me off at Plymouth.
A few phone-calls later and I'd landed a sofa spot with an old mate, Tim, who'd moved to Altrincham for some reason. Then I'm sitting in this shitty dead bar drinking third rate cocktails and watching a bunch of toffs swill shit wine and act like they know about its bouquet.
Time for another drink I thought:
"Oi! Mate! I'm running on empty 'ere!"
The bartender sidled out of his little hidey hole long enough to serve me, looking like I'd somehow put him out by asking.
"What's it going to be this time?"
"Make it a Beer and double bourbon."
He reached straight for the well bourbon, beam white.
"Whoa! Hold up a sec, Makers Mark not Beam."
He looked annoyed as he had to walk all of three feet to the other bottle. The other guy had been far better, mixing with gusto and grace, free pouring and making a show of what he had to do. This guy was dead to the world of drinking and should have been working in some dead pan chain pub. I drank the beer, chased up with the shot and left without paying. I wasn't coming back here anyway.
It was warm and breezy outside. I had to cup my cigarette to light it. I headed back towards Tim's place. It was strange to be walking through this semi urban part of town. Old timers were polishing their big cars, gardeners mowing thick green lawns topless in the hot sun. I took a shortcut through a park to the right where some kids were playing football. It had been along time since I'd been somewhere so dead. I had to get out of here soon; I loved Tim, great mate but I'd seen more life in a morgue than around here. I pulled out my phone and flicked through my contacts. His name sat there on the screen as I considered whether to call or not;hell you only live once right?
"Yo, Rick Nozka here what's up?"
"Rick, its Malc; Malc Arkwright. How's it goin?"
He seemed to be a little taken aback by the sound of my voice.
"Malc, shittin' 'ell man. Thought you were in America shagging the yank birds."
"Trip got cut a little short, bit of a problem with the locals and I'm off the ship. Yer know what these foreigners are like, little bit of punch and brawl and it's the end of the world. Listen I need a favour and I have an opportunity but it needs two of us."
"What's up? If you need cash I can lend a hand."
"It's not cash, that's one thing I'm ok with. I need to get moving, I'm stuck out in the sticks and I've seen an opportunity in London. There's a bar for sale, needs renovating but with us two on the job it shouldn't take long to get it up and running. I've got the funds and need a partner."
"You are aware that running a bar is not just a part time opportunity right Malc? I mean you sure this is a good idea?"
"Its golden mate. Don't worry about it, we can at least go check it out."
"Ok but I'll have to make a couple of stops heading down there. Where are you? I'll come pick yer up on the way."
"I'm in Altrincham, at Tim's. Don't be long its too quiet here."
"I'll head out of Liverpool in a couple of hours, wait at Tim's. Lets see what fun we can have this time. We are the lads eh mucker?"
"Right on Rick. See you laters matey."
As they always say, its not what you know it's who you know, and I knew the guy up for anything who was going to help me out of this mess. I knew Tim wouldn't get back before I left but I was treading on his toes anyway. I left him a bottle of Johnnie walker black, his favourite, and a note saying thanks before I jumped into Rick's car and pointed it south.
"Where to driver?"
"First things, lets get rid of this rust-bucket I've had the displeasure of driving and get something more suitable for proper road thrashing, then there's a few of stops, Manchester, Stoke and Birmingham. How much cash you got?"
"I got my redundancy from that building job, my inheritance money, the money from my house when I sold it and all the savings while I've been off at sea. So over all about five hundred k's. You sell this and head to the car dealer down the road and I'll buy the new wheels and drive; you drive like a girl anyway."
"Wanker! You're back from there two minutes and you're abusing me already, never fuckin' change do yer?"
"You love it!"
"Don't you know it?"
We arrived at the dealers and part exchanged his worn out old Beamer for a nice shiny black convertible Audi TT. This baby could fl, 3.2 litres of pure global warming on each stroke of that loud brash engline. Foot to the floor and avoiding all speed traps we headed to stoke. Back to the place I was born and raised. Rick rang up the old crew. While in Rome chill with the Romans as he put it. It had been too long since the old gang tore the town up.
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