We ran and ran until our legs would carry us no more – our pursuers had stopped chasing us a mile back – but we were running for the joy of it. We were gasping and panting for breath as we laughed uncontrollably. I thought I might asphyxiate from laughter. I tried to speak to Belle, but could only muster some wheezy vowel sounds. He was on the ground now in paroxysms of mirth.
“I think the whole pub was chasing us!” I exclaimed - once I’d caught my breath.
“It might have been something that I said,” replied Belle.
We went into convulsions of laughter once more; he laughed the way I imagine coyotes laugh with sniggers and whimpers and howls. It was typical of Belle that after a few drinks his impulse control completely deserted him. We were on a pub crawl down Leith Walk and went into the Central on a dare. It was the roughest pub on the Walk in those days. I would never have gone in there normally, but Belle urged me on. The place was mobbed, but Belle managed to grab a tiny space on a bench next to this middle aged bird, to tell the truth she was quite tasty. She and Belle were soon wrapped in conversation, her husband who was sat next to her kept a leery eye on proceedings. Then it happened – I knew it would. Belle had to push things too far.
“You make a handsome couple” he said.
“Thank you” she replied flush of face.
“Any chance of a wee kiss?” he enquired lecherously.
“Oh, no” she answered shyly.
“Just a wee peck maybe?” he insisted gently.
“Oh, alright then” she puckered her lips.
“Oh, no you hen – I mean yer man” the company went quiet and her man glowered at Belle. We split laughing and I broke into a run with Belle trailing behind. Sure enough a crowd of tough looking radges followed us from the pub.
“Do you all want a kiss?” taunted Belle as I dragged him away.
“You have to stop antagonising the heterosexual community Belle – before you get your head kicked in” I warned him.
“You know the difference between straight and queer Angel?” he asked.
“Enlighten me Belle.”
“Six pints of lager.”
“I only drink special.” I quipped.
“Maybe you never gave lager a chance.”
That last comment hung in the air between us and we let it die there. We were headed back to my place and a fridge full of beer when Belle suggested we make a detour.
“Let’s go wind up Buddha. I could use a line of speed.”
“Okay, but go easy on him. He’s a good mate of mine.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” replied Belle; “I’m a perfect gentleman around your friends.”
I rolled my eyes, but said nothing. Belle seemed contemptuous of anything straight and his behaviour around my hetro friends was often a bone of contention between us. We arrived at Buddha’s place and made our way up the three flights to his flat. Buddha seemed glad to see me, but was a little more reserved toward Belle.
“Come in lads and take a pew. Anyone fancy a cup o’ chai?”
Once the tea ceremonial was dispensed with Buddha set about sorting out three generous lines. He assured us that this gear was the bee’s knees and that we’d be flying in no time at all.
“Ye’ll be rabbitin’ awe night wi this stuff – guaranteed.”
“You only serve the best Buddha,” replied Belle; “That’s why you’re my favourite pusher.”
Belle had that glint in his eyes. He was out to provoke Buddha who bristled at the word ‘pusher’.
“I’m nae pusher – get that straight. I never pushed anything on anybody in my life. My clientele don’t need pushin’ they jump o’ their own accord. I’m a dealer and a bloody good wan. I deal in entertainment of the highest quality and have never had any complaints. My deals are spot on and my gear is clean, never trod on. People are never pushed in my direction – in fact I never heard of anyone being pushed into takin’ drugs – it’s always been on a strictly voluntary basis. Take yer average junkie – naebody forces them into it. Yer junkie gets up every morning and decides that today he’ll be a junkie an’ he’ll be a fuckin’ junkie til he changes his mind. That’s what separates the casual user from the addict – greed and will power. Naebody makes them junkies – they jump o’ their own accord.”
I agreed wholeheartedly with what Buddha said; though I thought there was a certain irony in his saying it. Buddha had been doing speed for ten years or more and as far as I knew he did it every day. We snorted our lines and snorted some more; sure enough we were talking and philosophising into the small hours and beyond the dawn.
“You like it then?” asked Buddha.
“Aye we like it alright – its rocket fuel.” I replied.
“I could do you a lay on” he offered.
“I don’t know...”
“Take a couple of ounces – pay me next week – ye can flog it at a tidy profit and still have a bit for yersels.”
And so I left Buddha’s with two ounces of pure amphetamine sulphate and an ounce of sticky black hash in my pocket. Had I been pushed into it? No, I think I jumped, with a little persuasion.
“Well, where are we goin’ now?” enquired Belle.
“Back to my place,” I replied, “I just want to put my feet up and relax.”
“Let’s go for a drink,” suggested Belle.
“It’s six in the morning Belle.”
“I know a place that opens at six”
“I suppose I could use a couple of bloody Marys to settle my stomach.”
“Fuck that – I’m buying you six pints of lager!”