by Nevs Coleman

It’s So Funny.

(Note: Liberties were taken with that boring old ‘truth’ business in the telling of the story. Names were removed in order to make the innocent paranoid and the guilty uncomfortable.)

It’s So Funny….

You might wonder why we don’t talk anymore. I imagine I pop up on your ‘People You May Know’ section of Facebook. You certainly pop up on mine. But this is why I don’t ‘Add As Friend’

We were on shaky ground that night to start with. Sitting around the communal house, the gloom of a dreary Christmas to New Year’s limbo day with all the presents opened and the turkey throughly resented. Stoned, but bored The same old chat, the tired scams, Peter Pan pulls the ‘Let me use your phone quickly’ trick to sae his bill, she sits there and cackles as he watches Buffy and can’t stop staring at Alyson Hannigan. ‘She looks about like she’s THIRTEEN! Is THAT what you like?’ The other guy is grumpy. He can’t ditch the girl who hangs off him like a sloth. He wants to get away from her. in the end, he won’t. The next time I’ll see him, he’ll look like a shackled man who hopes the next life will be more than this. He’ll stare at his wife and two kids and wonder what happened.

We’re waiting on you. Again. we’re meant to be going to some party somewhere. We watch half a season of Buffy before you finally ring the doorbell and waddle in.

‘I got a gig tonight. Whose coming?’

‘Uh…what gig?’

‘Me..doing stand-up comedy!’

‘…..Really?’

‘Well, yeah, I’m a funny guy.’

‘When?’

‘Man….come on, it’s not that far away, and it’s free.’

‘How far?’

‘Just a couple of trains away!’

‘A couple of trains, right, I’m getting a book.’

‘There’s no time, C’mon, let’s go.’

Up the long steep hill in the pouring icy rain to the station in the dark, the platform slushy and the train is delayed. She’s the first to say it:

‘I”M FUCKING FREEZING!’

The rain is another 20 minutes away so we pile into the chip shop, we all order and wait. Theatrically, you slap yourself in the head and sigh

‘Oh MAN!’

I shake my head and whisper:

‘Oh, let me take a WILD guess..’

‘Guys, I totally forgot my wallet. Can you sub me on the chips.’

‘Oh Christ, alright, how much are you getting?’

‘Uh…..Two portions of chips, a steak & kidney pie, some mushy peas and a Coke’

‘Jesus fuck, man, I’m not paying for your heart attack!’

‘Aw, come ON, he’s cooked it now!’

‘How do you do this each time?’

‘Please…’

‘I look around, the rest of the gang are looking outside or at the magazines . Peter Pan appears to be utterly transfixed with the fridge. Mind you, He’s been tripping since Boxing Day. Christ knows what he’s actually seeing.

Fine.

‘Right then, I need this back sharpish, though.’

‘Oh sure, sure.’

‘And you still owe me £20 from Christmas Eve!’

‘Yeah, yeah, you bet.’

We scoff our food while waiting on the platform but of course, you’re as slow an eater as you are a walker, so when we get onto the packed train, your chips are stinking out the carriage. Naturally, you’re in hyper self promotion mode, so you try to draw some of the passengers into coming to the gig. You seem hurt and offended that they don’t want to talk to you while you’re bellowing with mushy pea sauce running down your face. You get silly at one guy who blanked you and shout:

‘Hey MAN! I FUCKED your MUM, MAN!’

“No you didn’t, you stupid cunt. My mum’s dead. the only woman you ever fucked is your sister.’

The whole train starts sniggering at this, and we’re looking away, biting our lips and trying to edge away from you without laughing. I’m gesturing at Peter Pan to go through to the next carriage and leave you to sort this out by yourself. Unfortunately, he’s still not come down and starts getting all loved up on me.

‘Yeah! YEAH! WICKED ONE!’

Apparently tonight will be spent mostly with my head in my hands. Then I remember your sister trauma.

‘WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY ABOUT MY SISTER, MAN?’ You’re in the guy’s face, spluttering spit and peas at him.

This is bad. You’re big but you’re wide and not much taller than me. You get out of breath walking to the fridge. This guy looks like a UFC Champion. I see him tense up his right arm and spring into the way:

‘Hold on, hold on-OOOFF!’

Right in the fucking ribs. In his defense, he apologizes immediately.

‘Oh FUCK, sorry mate, are you alright?’

‘Yes..fine…ow! hunched double, he beckons a hand to me to help me up.

‘Fuck, I’m really sorry, mate, I was aiming for that fucking arsehole and suddenly you were there.’

“No, I understand. (owww) Sorry about him, he’s….’

‘Is he a friend of yours?’

‘More like a pair of furry dice in your car that you bought once when you were drunk and never get round to taking off even though they get in your way all the time.’

‘Ha! Yeah, Getcha.’

‘I’ll try and keep him away from you.’

‘Cheers.’

‘Cheers.’

All the while this is happening, you’re barking at him like a mad hyena (while safely behind me and the others, of course.)

‘Hey man, what the FUCK! That’s my fucking HOMIE, MAN!’

I walk over to you, still holding my ribs.

‘You.’

‘Let me through, man, I’ll FUCK his ass UP!’

‘YOU. Shut up. you got in his face. you started this shit and now I might have a cracked rib, you fucking idiot. Just sit down, shut up. Finish your fucking chips and calm down.’

‘HE SAID SOME SHIT ABOUT MY SISTER, MAN-’

‘Yes, he did. Because you said some shit about his mum. You didn’t know she was dead and he didn’t know your sister is dead. So he isn’t actually talking about your real sister, is he?’

‘MY FUCKING SISTER, MAN!-

‘SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP!’

I say that perhaps a bit louder than I planned, because everyone backs off then. You finally get the idea that maybe you’re being an idiot.

The rest of the journey is incredibly long, silent and tense, only punctuated with you trying to start a joke and one of us frowning in your direction and shaking our head until you stop.

An ice age passes, and we’re there. There being the middle of nowhere. Peter Pan is now coming down off the rush of joy he had earlier and is practically catatonic, even the cold isn’t waking him up, so we’re essentially walking on either side of him and propping him up. I’m carrying him on one arm and trying to light a fag against the wind in the other.

“Right. Where do we go from here?’

‘Huh?’

‘This is your gig. How do we get there? Start leading us there. It’s COLD and this fucker is heavy, man.’

‘…….I don’t know?’

‘Pardon?’

‘I don’t know how to get there.’

‘………….’

‘Aw, don’t look at me like that, he rang me when i was stoned, I just agreed and-’

‘And now we’re here. Great. Okay, we’ll ask someone. What’s the name of the pub?’

‘Uh……’

“Uh?’

‘I don’t remember?’

‘Okay, okay. Right, he rang you on your mobile, right?’

‘Yep.’

‘Okay, so he should be in your phone memory? You saved the number?’

‘…No?’

“Are you doing this on purpose? Right, well, your phone should have a record of all the numbers that called you today, right? So just ring all the numbers on it til you find him and ask him what the name of the pub is.’

‘I can’t do that.’

‘Why, I pray ask, not?’

‘One, If i call him up and ask what pub I’m gigging at tonight, he’ll think I’m an idiot.’

‘….and the other?’

‘I don’t have any credit.’

‘Give. Me. Your. Phone.’

After another half hour of fiddling about, we get to the pub. I say ‘pub’. it looks much like a ramshackle barn where you might consider remaking The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As we walk in, half a dozen flatcap wearing men glare in our direction and pull on the leads of their psychotic looking whippets. One is gong mental at you and you start barking back at it. the owner boots the dog and bellows ‘NOW, Jeff. NOW’ The dog whimpers and curls up around the table leg.

‘SEE!’ You beam ‘Isn’t this place great? Let’s get a  drink.’

‘I’m dying for a piss. Get Peter Pan a glass of water.’

The less said about the toilet the better, but I did learn that wearing a scarf makes you gay, according to the men in their playing cards across the toilet bowl.

I come out and you’re at the bar on your own while the others are sat down trying to wake up Peter Pan. I decide to try to make the best of a shitty night.

‘It’s bloody weird in those bogs, innit? Here, what you drinking? I’ll get it.’

‘Er…it’s cool,I’m being sorted already”

‘Really? ‘

Barman walks over to us. He has one eye. Naturally.

‘What you having, mate? There’s your coke, fella.’

‘…..Guinness.’

Watching you, i see you desperately trying to hide the fact that you’re slipping a note out of your wallet. A fifty pound note. The barman looks at it and says:

“Can’t take that mate, Don’t have the change. Sunday night, innit?.’

You offer him a twenty instead. You are trying not to look at me as he goes off to get your change, muttering.

‘Oi!’

‘…What?’

‘You motherfucker!’

“Hey!’

‘I thought you forgot your wallet.’

“Uh….I thought I did?’

‘Then why?…Oh you absolute cunt. Fuck it. Just buy my pint then.’

‘I NEED this money.’

‘So you’re not buying the others a drink either?’

‘…….No?’

‘There’s your Guinness, mate. £3.90.’

It’s about half a pint of Guinness. the rest is pure head.

‘Could you top that up a bit please, mate?’

‘Nah, barrel’s nearly run out, innit?’

We’re sat there waiting for the show to open or at least anyone who doesn’t look like they might have a meat locker full of dead hitchhikers somewhere to show up, freezing and miserable. A weasel faced man with a dead beaver for a haircut and a ferret for a moustache in a black sweater full of holes and piss stains on his jeans scampers over. You say hello to him and try and scuttle off.

“Hello ladies and gents. Here for the show?’

“Er, yeah? is it still on? There’s barely anyone here.’

‘Oh, there should be. Don’t worry, i’ll refund you if we have to pull the show.’

…….

Penny drops.

‘Refund?’

‘Yeah, it’s £5 to get in.’

‘…..For how many acts?’

‘Oh, at least six.

We all look at each other while Weasel Boy looms with his hand out.

She looks at me and then at Peter Pan, who is out cold.

‘Well, we’ve come this far, and we can’t exactly leave with him lying there.’

‘Right, Right. £5 each, guys.’

‘Ta muchly’, smiles the weasel boy, who stuffs the notes into his back pocket as he disappears through the sequined curtains. Note to self. nothing good happens behind sequined curtains.

I remember my ribs as you walk back to us, but say nothing.

‘Thought it was a free gig?’ she says.

‘Oh, to be fair, he couldn’t remember the name of the pub, It’s too much to ask that he’d remember little details like if the show costs any money.’

“Uh, didn’t I say it was £5? I’m sure I did, you guys! Stop moaning.’

‘Man, this better be all out funny. This better be Richard Pryor off his face on crack bouncing off Bill Hicks good.’

Weasel Boy reappears.

‘LAAAADIES AND GENTS! The show is about to start.’

At which Peter Pan springs up like he’s seen a ghost, looks around, and promptly throws up.

As fair a critique of the night as any, I thought.

We shuffle through to find the rest of the audience. or a casting call for Mad Max Meets Last Of The Summer Wine. Junkies, piss stained pensioners, hookers, bikers and what seems to be some kind of hen party of transexuals who are so twatted on the poppers they’re sniffing in the corner they seem to think they’re in Blackpool, watching Peter Kay.  A murmur goes up as we find some seats and try not to sit on any of the chewing gum left on the chairs.

The show is…Oh, I’ll spare you, the readers. What did you do to me that I’d make you suffer like I did? I was introduced to the idea that it’s okay to tell racist or sexist jokes if you replace ‘black/blonde/Irish/Polish/etc’ with the words ‘sexist’ or ‘racist’, though. Of particular note was when you abandoned your set to launch into a diatribe about the man on the train and that you were going to ‘fuck his shit up’ if you saw him again. A unique attempt at being ‘funny’. I thought.

And so, finally, the show ended, At least there was nothing else to go wrong as we waited outside for you, right?

Until we saw your mate’s car pull up outside the pub, and you say ‘See you guys!’ and start to get in.

That was it.

‘OI!’

‘Huh? What’s up?’

‘Are you just going, then?’

‘Well, duh, the gig’s finished.’

‘Right. And we’re carrying Peter Pan home, are we? While you get in a bloody CAR?’

‘Well, there’s no room in the back. I need to stretch out my bad leg.’

‘Look, it’s bad enough that you drag us out here into the set of Deliverance, blag the money for your dinner off me, get me smacked because you were being a twat, don’t tell us we have to pay to see you fuck up your own gig or even offer to buy us a drink when you’re loaded and you know we’re all skint, but now you’re going to dump Peter Pan on us? He lives ten minutes from you.’

‘FUCK you man! I’m STRESSED. I have PROBLEMS!’ you shout, smacking the side of your mate’s car.

We stare at each other for a minute. A billion comebacks run through my mind, but I let them go.

‘You’d better go then, hadn’t you? We need to find the station before the last train goes. You’re holding us up.’

We pick up Peter Pan and go in silence while you drive off.

We saw each other a couple of times after that. Until I found out you tried to fuck my ex-girlfriend the day after we broke up.

That’s why I don’t ‘Add As Friend.’

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