International Writers Magazine: Grab the Teddy
if you stand by the thing for a while, and wait and wait and wait
for loads of people to use it, and loads of people dont get
any prizes, you can go in and get the prize, because the machine
has more money than the actual toy is worth. I saw it on a show
about how to wins things from people. Great show.
But I have just
put money in, and the claw grasped at the teddys head and then
just came back up again. It had it and then it was gone. I shouldve
waited for more people. Come to think about it I am nervous. I told
Cathy that I wasnt this morning but the more I think about it,
I am. Its probably because I am thinking about it. Brighton Pier
smells of Doughnuts, a bit like the cinema foyer smells of popcorn and
shoe polish. It is funny that places smell of the things they sell.
Does a bookshop smell of books? Some do. Others smell like clean.
Oh right, there he is. I can tell even though he has his back to be
because he is wearing that massive leather jacket with that band on
the back that he likes. Its not a picture of the band, but their
name in funny writing. It is good that it doesnt scare me to see
his back again; I dont think I am scared of him anymore. I used
to be really scared, but if I were still having nightmares I wouldnt
have come. Cathy said she thought it was a good idea, and I think she
was right. He has a woman with him who is quite young. Oh no, she is
with someone else. Maybe its that man. Richard looks lonely no matter
who he is with. He did bring someone. They would have sent someone with
him, they said they would.
"Alright Matt" He is much closer now. In fact, he's right
up close and staring into the glass at the claw that is now just sliding
around all on its own without me doing anything. He was with the man.
I can tell now because the man is standing behind Richard ready to pounce
if anything goes wrong. This all feels a bit over the top.
"Alright Richard." I went quiet for a second, and then said
"my old chum". He laughed, because he always though I spoke
funny. He stares at the claw and at the toys all squashes together desperate
to be chosen. He breathes out, and his breath smells like sick and cigarettes.
Then he opens his arms, and I give him a hug but I hold my belly back.
We had to go to the pub, because Richard wanted to have some alcohol.
He told me that he had not been allowed alcohol for a while, but then
they let him drink it again because the doctor said so. I laughed and
said it was like Holly Brooke. Then Richard looked at the salt for ages
before he put his head in his hands. I looked at the man, who shrugged
and put his hand on Richards back. He l looked up again after a while.
"Sorry. I just find it hard". He puts his head back in his
hands and I look at the man again but this time I shrug. The man laughs
and then says:
"Richard. Dont be a wimp" I thought that was weird because
Richard is definitely not a wimp. Richard looks up again and sips his
"Sorry" Richard says again. Thats the most times I have
ever heard Richard say sorry. It felt weird. I told Richard that I was
living on my own now, in my own place. He asked me if it was any good
and I told it was ok. I told him about Cathy, and the rest of them.
Richard has a similar team except all of his are men. I asked him where
he was living and he said it was at the same place in Surry. I asked
him if it was anything like Holly Brooke and he said:
"No, absolutely not."
I finished my coke, and asked Richard if it was all right if I went
and got some crisps. He said it was fine, so I asked him if he wanted
anything from the bar. He said no, so I didnt have to take any
money from him. At the bar I saw all the bottles along the back shelf
and next to them were the crisps. I looked at all the flavours, and
it reminded me of the last time I was a bar with Richard.
We had been bowling and there was a bar in the bowling alley. Me and
Richard had gone bowling, but Richard had bought along the other girl
who lived at Holly Brooke with us. She was called Lilly and even though
her and Richard were a couple who spent all their time kissing in the
front room, whenever he left the room to have a cigarette she looked
like she wanted to cry. I had just bought a coke and some crisps and
I came back to sit at our table, and they were there kissing. I just
said what Cathy had told me to say:
"You shouldnt do that in a public place." Richard pulled
away and said sorry. We talked for a little while, and Richard made
lots of jokes but Cathy did not laugh at any of them. They made her
look nervous. When Richard got up to go to the toilet, Lilly told me
that she wanted to run away.
I didnt really know what to say. She asked me if I would go with
her and I said no. Then Richard came back and told another joke about
a black man and an octopus.
After we had been bowling we were waiting at the bus stop, and Richard
said he would really like to go and see the new James Bond film because
he liked James bond. He asked Lilly if she wanted to go and she said
no. Then Lilly asked me if I liked James Bond and I said I didnt
because I hadnt seen any. If I hadnt seen any I couldnt
like them. Richard said it didnt matter and he would go on his
own. The bus took ages and we had nothing else to talk about.
Its funny to think I am doing pretty much exactly the same thing
again three years later, only this time we are not bowling and Lilly
is not here. Richard finished his drink and looked at his watch and
said it was nearly time for him to go. I said that before he goes I
wanted to show him a secret that very few other people knew about. When
the man Richard was with heard what I said he asked very quickly what
I had meant and I told him not to worry.
So we waited and waited for ages, as people came and put loads and loads
of money into the machine. Time after time people came with their boyfriends
and girlfriends, and left without a thing. Richards man had gone
off to get doughnuts, so I thought this might be a nice time to say
what I wanted to say.
"Richard" I said. And then I told him that the way he behaved
was not always very nice, and he should really think about it before
he does something like that again. He said that even if he wanted to,
he would not be able to. He doesnt feel that bothered any more.
I think that was his funny way of saying sorry.
After 7 people had missed we approached the machine and won a prize
first time. We both laughed with our faces against the glass as the
toy dropped into the hole. It was an alien and Richard hugged me too
quickly for me to pull away.
© Luke Gittos 2008.
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