That’s entertainment…..

This is a story I wrote in response to something that really happened……unfortunately

That’s Entertainment

“and all we have now, are our thoughts of yesterday, la la la la, la la la la la la la”

Marie grinned madly as the song finished, and David smiled back at her as he strummed the last chord on the guitar.
Basil rushed up to them, in his dusty tailcoat and battered top hat with swan-feathers in the band.
“Oh darlings, that was wonderful” He turned to the rest of the room “don’t you think so?”
Turning back to David and Marie, he hugged them,
“Such a pity you have to go now though, after such a wonderful song”.
Marie hugged Basil back. “Afraid we do though, David has work tomorrow. But it’s been lovely, hope the rest of your birthday goes as well”.

Marie and David walked down to Euston in the warm evening air, and ended up catching the bus back with another friend of Basil’s who they had bumped into at the bus stop. Finally all three piled off the bus, laughing, at the junction. Basil’s friend headed off towards Stoke Newington.

“What’s the time” said David.
“Why?” answered Marie.
“Because I’m starving and the noodle bar’s still open.”
“You are such a pig, you had about fifteen helpings at the party…”
“But I’m soooo hungry…”
“You always are….oh, go on then!”

They spent half an hour there giggling, spooning noodles into each other’s mouths and drinking Chinese beer until they realized that the place was closing and that the staff were giving them distinctly frigid looks. They paid up and turned out of the door towards home.
“Oh damn” muttered Marie, fishing in her handbag, “I’m going to have to get some fags, I think I left mine somewhere..”
“Who’s silly now then? I know, what about getting a bottle of that fizzy Chardonnay you like at the same time?”
“You’ll never get to work tomorrow….”
“Hell, you only live once! It’s your fault we’ve to go to the shop anyway……”

They carried on mildly bickering into the shop door, picking up their wine, and up to the till. The young guy behind the counter looked at them, amused.
“Never seen you looking quite like that before…don’t teach like that do you?”
Marie laughed, she had almost forgotten the outfit she was wearing. Maybe that explained the chilly looks in the noodle bar.
“It was for a friend’s birthday party, we were doing a song by a band called Strawberry Switchblade, they dress up like this, and they used to be his favourite band”
The guy smiled back “Don’t think that they were too big in Turkey. Like the corset though.”
“Don’t think we’ll be off to work tomorrow dressed like this though,” chipped in David, “a little impractical I think”.

David picked up the carrier bag with the wine, and his guitar in the other hand, Marie following behind. There was a bicycle lying right across the doorway of the shop.
“Bloody silly place to put a bike” said David. With the guitar in one hand, and the wine in the other, there wasn’t a lot he could do, and Marie, he knew quite well, couldn’t bend at all with that corset on. He nudged the bike slightly to the right with his right foot, so that Marie could pass.

As they came out of the door, Marie whispered “Don’t think you should have done that”
“Why not? Was a silly place to put a bike”
“Why not? Because a nineteen foot rasta will come round the corner and kick your head in for touching his bike”
“ Ha bloody ha, very funny! Take this a minute, will you?” he passed her the carrier bag with the wine in it and fixed the strap back on the guitar so he could put it on his shoulder. “Need to find my keys, yours are probably at the bottom of your bloody handbag.”

They rounded the corner into the little alleyway that was the shortcut to their house. David was still fiddling in the pockets of his leather jacket for his keys.

“So you know where yours are then?” teased Marie.

Suddenly Marie was thrown aside as something approached them from behind, the force of the blow pushing her into the road, and David being thrown forwards and away from her. Everything span into confusion, David was flying forwards into the brick wall at the end of the ginnel, guitar flying across the pavement. Suddenly a bicycle flew into the edge of her vision, clattering across the pavement, the rider descended upon the prone David. Marie was now running forwards, but her legs couldn’t carry her fast enough, her heels impeding her progress, everything was going too slowly, too fast for her to keep up.

She saw the man’s fists raining down on David’s head, and heard the babbling stream of vitriol from his mouth. The voice was rasping and unceasing………
“Not from round ‘ere are you? Gotta learn respec’ if you wanna live ‘ere mate, respec’, man, you touch my bike man, you better go back to where you come from fuckin’ weirdo, no-one disses me an my bike man, you gotta learn, I is gonna teach you a lesson man, you gonna get out of here you freak cos I is gonna learn you…….”
As the words came from his mouth the punches came from his fists, David had struggled up from the floor, but then was drowned in a sea of blows, falling, falling to the floor again…..he was trying to speak….”Look mate, I…..” but was silenced again and again by the hailing raining fists……..

“Stop it!” Screamed Marie, she had now reached David and all she could see was a sea of blood as the man came for him over and over again
“Get out of it you tart your man deserve a beatin’, him have to learn respec’, if yous live in Hackney you gonna lean respec ‘…….The incessant diatribe went on and on, harsh, grating, monotone, a violent rap of senseless rubbish. He looked at Marie as he said this but the hand was on autopilot, punching, punching. His eyes were dark, dark with a crazed look, his gold front tooth shone under the streetlight as he spat his poisoned words, and his goatee gave him a diabolical air Marie could hear herself screaming, words were coming out of her mouth but she had no idea if they were making sense, the man was so big, she was so small, David wasn’t much taller, but this man was about six foot five, and on he went….and on…..

She had the bottle of wine, could she swing it, would she knock him out with one blow? He was so tall, he was moving too much, would he kill both of them. If she could get her phone out of her bag? He would just destroy the phone. He was going to kill David, she was sure now, she was powerless, powerless, standing there, watching the destruction of the man she loved, she could see him almost drowning in his own blood his blue eyes looking up at the crazy raining blows on him, the crazy man smiling as he tried to kill her lover…..

David was still trying to speak, the man still chanting ‘get back where you come from’, every time he heard David’s soft Lancashire accent filtering through the blood…..then she saw David falling, falling, as a boot crashed into his head…..The boot was grinding David’s head into the pavement, what could she do, how could she stop this maniac, David was going to die, the man was laughing now, laughing, frenzied, as he kicked, and ground, and kicked, and ground.

Then he moved downwards to his bike, and grabbed the heavy metal D lock from it, still kicking, still grinding. Marie could take no more, David really was going to die, maybe they would both have to die, she stumbled forwards and grabbed the lock from the man as hard as she could. He turned, faced her shocked, the mouth still ranting hatred as he did so. Marie stood shocked with the lock. “He might not be from round here, but I am,” she screamed “So fuck off”. This is it she thought, he’ll kill me now. The mouth stopped moving, the lock was wrenched back. Marie shut her eyes and waited to die. Then silence. She heard the hiss of a bicycle’s wheels, and all was silence.

She knelt down on the floor to David, picking up his bleeding head and laying it in her lap. He was conscious, but barely. Suddenly all was activity, a man ran forward, a flat window flew open, a girl ran to her…….

Marie felt distanced from everything, the sudden buzz around her like a masquerade, people saying things and doing things while she could only gaze on as if in a bubble. Above her head drifted the one sound she could identify……

The plaintive tones of Paul Weller floating out into the night sky
“ A police car and a screaming siren, a pneumatic drill and ripped up concrete, a baby wailing and stray dog howling, the screech of brakes and lamplights blinking – That’s entertainment, that’s…”

Marie could feel David’s blood running over her knees as she cradled his mangled head in her hands, sea his blue blue eyes looking up at her through a carmine sea, her once-white skirt dripping scarlet.

That’s entertainment…..for some people. A Saturday night punch-up for some, a life held in balance for others. Then, finally, the wail of sirens.


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