Friday, 11 May 2012

New Mystic(3)

Meeting Dave Ashton at Ashton’s local – the Black Dog in Levenshulme had seemed like a good idea at the time. Paul had felt reluctant to engage with Ashton but knew he had to if he was ever going to help Ruth get out of prison and clear her name. Ashton was playing pool by himself when Paul arrived, so Paul put down a fifty pence piece on the cushion of the pool table to indicate his desire to play the next match. - So it’s Mister Whitely isn’t it? - Yeah that’s me. - And you want to talk to me about -? Paul glanced around the pool room which was virtually empty apart from a couple of young men deep in conversation in the corner near the door. - Scram you too, snarled Ashton. They looked up in surprise but quickly headed off. - You’ve been asking questions about me and I don’t like it. - I’m trying to get to the bottom of why Ruth Stern has been arrested. - Oh that Jewish scrubber. Paul tensed up and hearing Ruth so described, - Don’t speak of her like that, he said in a quiet voice. - Don’t you tell me what to do, sneered Ashton, making a move towards Paul. Paul stood his ground but a noise to his left distracted him momentarily and Ashton wacked him with his pool cue. That was a poor start to an eve poorer and one sided fight that ended with Paul lying on the floor bleeding. He had sustained quite a beating. His nose was broken and bleeding, a tooth felt loose and by his difficulty in breathing he must have several cracked ribs. The carpet he was lying on was grubby and if he could have smelt it none too fresh. A boot thudded into his guts. ‘Here we go again’. His body assumed a foetal position with his arms wrapped around himself protectively. - We’ve called the police, called out the landlord who had been very absent up until now. Ashton grunted and barged past the landlord out into the street. - You OK mister? Dumb question, Paul groaned. - Call an ambulance! Ten minutes later Paul was been examined in A and E by a familiar nurse. - Not you again Mister Whitely…. This time we are going to have to keep you in. That nose will need surgery…. You are lucky it’s not worse. Coming around from the anaesthetics was not a good experience even though Martha was at his bedside. - Oh Paul…poor you….whatever happened? - Gob be’ up. - Got beat up, Paul nodded, by whom? - Athton - Ashton? My god…. Anybody see it? - Na….na one willin’ to say. - He can’t get away with this. - He wonk. Martha stroked his face tenderly or rather the unbandaged part of it, - You rest now sweetheart. I’ll come by later. Paul tried to nod his head but groaned at the pain involved. There was a real camaraderie among the four men in the recovery ward. They were all much relived to have come through their surgery, seemingly OK and they were bound together by their mutual suffering. This was expressed in a certain amount of banter and an openness to one another that is rare among English men, pretty made easier by the fact that they would soon go their separate ways to other wards or home. Paul enjoyed their presence as he was unable to listen to the music brought in by Martha, nor was he able to concentrate on his Guardian newspaper. It took a few days for Paul to finds his mind was working well enough to grapple with questions around the murders connected with Ruth. He was not good company to be with in this time during which he stayed at Martha’s flat and pushed her tolerance of him to the limit. After a week he knew he had to get back to his own place and get back to work. His nose was still sore, as were his strapped up ribs, he was still on painkillers but it was time to move again. First stop Fuel cafĂ© for a meeting with Micky Flynn and the Fuel regulars.