‘There are murderers amongst us.’
So he said, and he ought to have known, my old schoolmate. How we were still friendly after forty years I wasn’t sure. There’d be no falling out now. If life hadn’t, death would divide us. He’d been given six months and was soon hospitalised, where I had leave to attend him whenever, being also his barber, able to provide one mercy the nurses didn’t. And he had leave to be attended because he was a judge.
Or the judge, to me, and rarely Ron or Ronnie or Ronald. We were born in ’56, alongside rock-and-roll, but that didn’t matter to him. He took more than me from school. Throughout we got our hair cut at Maurice’s. Number three back and sides, six up top, nowt on it, cheers. No hippies there. His salon was all incongruous leather and chrome like an American car - the black glamour of that, and of the men waiting and speaking freely over us barely teens.
‘I’d shag a hole in the ground.’
Maurice had had a half day Wednesday, as did I. It wasn’t even 11.30 when I shut up shop and walked the ten minutes to the hospital. The judge’s ward was hushed in the heat of July forenoon, blinds down and fluorescents off, with only the lights of monitors and angle poise lamps islanding the beds in the bays.
‘He’s had a wakeful night,’ the sister ...
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