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Short Fiction | Author Bio | Spanish Translation |

drawing by Terecita, age 9

      As far as it went wi me it wis aw her ain fuckin fault. The cunts at the hoaspital basically agreed wi ays n aw, no that they said as much in so many words, bit ah could tell they did inside. Ye ken how it is wi they cunts, they cannae jist come oot and say what's oan thir fuckin mind like that. Professional fuckin ettiquitte or whatever the fuck they call it. Well seein as ah'm no a fuckin Doaktir then, eh! Ah'd last aboot five fuckin minutes wi they cunts, me. Ah'll gie yis fuckin bedside manner, ya cunts.
       Bit it wis her ain fault because she kent that ah wanted tae stey in fir the fitba this Sunday; they hud the Hibs-Herts game live oan STV. She goes, - Lit's take the bairns doon tae that pub it Kingsknowe, the one ye kin sit ootside ay.
       - Cannae, eh, ah sais tae ur, - fitba's oan it three. Hibs fuckin Herts.
       - Wi dinnae huv tae stey long Malky, she sais, - it's a rerr day. It wid be good fir the bairns.
       So ah thinks tae masel, mibee no too bad an idea but. Ah mean, ah hud ma bevvy in the fridge fir the game, bit a few scoops beforehand would set ays up nicely fir the kickoaf. So ah sais, - Aye, awright then, but wir no steyin oot long mind, the fitba's oan at three so wi huv tae be back by then. So ah'm thinkin, lit hur git hur ain wey n it'll keep her fuckin trap shut for a bit.
       So wi gits oot, n it wis a rare day n aw. Wi heads along tae the fuckin pub n wi starts gittin a few peeves sunk back: her oan the voddy n hooches n me oan the pints ay Carlsberg. The bairns ur happy enough wi thir juice n crisps, even though ah hud tae batter him for pillin her hair whin the cheeky wee cunt thought ah wisnae lookin. Eh goat a shock awright whin ah gave um a fuckin wrap acroass the jaw. Ah sais, Aye, n dinnae fuckin well burst oot greetin like a wee lassie Jason, or yill fuckin well git another yin!
       Anywey, ah've goat an eye oan the fuckin cloak, fir the fitba likes, but she's flingin thum back like fuck n whin ah says it wis time tae drink up n move, she starts. - Kin we no jist stey fir one mair, she's gaun, n ah'm gaun, - Awright, bit jist a fuckin quick yin mind, then wi fuckin well Johnny Cash.
       So ah fling back ma pint but she's fuckin well strugglin. That's her aw ower: thinks she kin fuckin well take a peeve, but she cannae handle it when it comes tae the fuckin bigtime. Ah jist tells her, - C'moan. We need tae fuckin nash. So ah nod tae the bairns n thair comin doon the road wi me, n she's laggin behind, the fuckin fat cow thit she is. That wis the main reason that it wis her fault; too fuckin well fat, the doaktir said it; he fuckin well telt the cunt, fuck knows how many times, eh. Ah'm shoutin,
       - C'moan!
       Course, aw she kin dae is tae gie ays that fuckin look which gits ma fuckin goat.
       - Git movin, n dinnae well pit that fuckin face oan, ah telt the cunt.
       So wi gits intae Kingsknowe Station n ah goes, wi kin cut through here. She turns roond n starts walkin doon the platform tae that overheid bridge. Ah goes, - C'moan tae fuck ya radge, n jumps straight doon oantae the tracks, ken. She starts makin a fuckin exhibition ay hersel: gaun oan aboot the train comin, n ah should be able tae see that cause ay the people at the platform. - Aye, bit you're forgettin something, ah goes, ah used tae work for the railways. This wis before me n wee Tam Devlin goat the boot. The bevvy, ken? The cunts git as stroppy as fuck aboot that. Even a couple ay pints, that's you fuckin well snookered. N ah wisnae the fuckin worse, bit it wis scapegoatin, as the cunt fae the union pit it. No thit that did much fuckin good but, eh no.
       - Bit it's comin! she sais, thir aw waitin oan it! Ah deeks at the fuckin cloak at the station n goes, - it's no due fir another five minutes yit! Moan tae fuck! Ah takes wee Claire n lifts her doon oantae the track, n we go ower n ah lift her up ontae the platform at the other side. The laddie, that wee cunt Jason, he's ower like a shot n she finally waddles oaf the fuckin platform doon oantae the track. Fuckin embarrassment that fat cunt.
       So ah've goat the bairns up oantae the platform, then ah hears this tinny noise and the track under ma feet starts tae vibrate. It sounds like one ay they intercity non-stoapin joabs. Ah jist fuckin tipples: these cunts've been diverted tae here cause ay that flood damage oan the other line. Ah minded readin aboot that shite in the News. So ah'm up sharpish and ah'm sayin tae this fat cunt: - Gie's yir fuckin hand!
       Well, ah grabs her mit, but the fuckin speed oan this inter-city joab; ah mean these cunts seem like thir gaunny rip the whole flickin station apart the speed they go through it at, an wi her bein that fuckin hefty, well, ah managed tae sort ay half git her up oantae the platform and she's screamin aboot the bairns and ah'm sayin the fuckin bairns ur awright, fuckin move, but the fuckin train comes along and it fuckin well hits her, n ah jist feels this force, pillin her, wrenchin her right ootay ma fuckin grip.
       Well ah fuckin well jist aboot shat masel, ah'm fuckin well tellin yis. Whin ah looks up ah'm half expectin her tae be in fuckin Aberdeen or somewhere like that, ken, bit she's only a few feet away fae ays further doon the platform n she's lookin up at ays n shoutin: - You, ya fuckin stupit cunt, at me, in front ay every cunt in the station, eh. So ah'm tellin her tae shut her fuckin mooth or she'll git ma fuckin boot in it and tae git up oaf her fat erse n git a fuckin bend oan n wee Claire's laughin n ah looks at Jason and he's jist standin thaire frozen tae the fuckin spot, eh, so ah'm aboot tae lamp the wee cunt whin ah look doon at her n ah realise that she's goat nae fuckin legs; it's like the fuckin train hud jist clean whipped thum oaf, n she's tryin tae come taewards ays crawlin along the fuckin platform, pillin hersel wi her hands and thirs this trail ay blood comin fae her.
       The radgest thing aboot it aw is that ah looks doon the platform n ah sees the fuckin legs, jist sort ay severed fae her boady. At the thigh likes, eh, the baith ay thum. So ah shouts at the wee cunt: - Jason! Dinnae jist fuckin stand thair, pick up yir Ma's legs! Git a hud ay thum! Ah wis thinkin thit ye could git thum tae the hoaspital n git thum stitched back oan. The wee bastard jist starts greetin, right oot ay fuckin control. Some cunt's shoutin tae git an ambulance, n she's lyin on the groond cursin n ah'm thinkin aboot the fuckin fitba, kick oaf in ten fuckin minutes time. But then ah gits tae thinkin thit the ambulance'll maist likely huv tae go past oor bit oan its wey up tae the hoaspital n ah could bail oot n catch up wi her back up thair, eftir the game likes. So ah starts gaun, - Too right mate. A fuckin ambulance then, eh.
       Wee Claire's went ower tae her Ma's legs n she's picked thum up, gathered thum in her airms and she's running taewards ays, n ah lits that sneaky wee cunt Jason huv it, right acroas the fuckin jaw n eh fuckin well felt that yin cause that stoaps ehs greetin right away. - You fuckin well should've goat they legs ya daft wee cunt, fuckin leavin it up tae yir wee sister! She's only a bairn! How auld ur ye? Eight! Fuckin well act it!
       This auld cunt's doon at her side hudin her hand and sayin, - Yir awright, it'll be fine, the ambulance is on its wey, try tae be still, n aw that shite. Another guy says tae me, - My god, this is terrible. Ah jist goes, - Fuckin well surein it is, probably missed the first two goals, eh. This nondy cunt comes up tae ays n sais, - I know you must be under terrible stress but it'll be okay. She's hanging in there. Try to comfort the children. Ah jist goes, - Aye, right ye are.
       So ah sais tae the bairns, jist as the ambulance comes, -Yir Ma's gaun tae the hoaspital fir a bit, but thir's nowt wrong wi her.
       - She's loast her legs, wee Claire goes.
       - Aye, ah ken that, but thir's nowt wrong wi her, no really. Ah mean, aye, fir anybody else, anybody ordinary likesay you or me, it wid be bad tae huv nae legs. But no fir yir Ma cause she's that fat she widnae be able tae git roond oan her legs that much longer anywey, ken?
       - Will Ma die? Jason asks.
       - Ah dinnae ken. Ah'm no a fuckin Doaktir, um ah? Dinnae ask such daft questions Jason. What a laddie for fuckin questions. See if she does, n ah'm no sayin thit she will, but see if she does, jist sayin, right? Jist supposin thit she wis tae die, n this is jist sayin mind . . .
       - Like pretend, wee Claire goes. Mair brains thin her fuckin Ma, that yin.
       - That's right hen, jist pretend. So if she wis tae die, n mind, wir only sayin wis, it's up tae youse tae be good n no tae gie me a hard time, cause ye ken what ah'm like when ah start gittin a hard time. Ah'm no sayin thit ah'm wrong n ah'm no sayin thit ah'm right; aw ah'm sayin is dinnae youse be giein ays a hard time at a time like this. Or yis git this, right? ah goes, clenchin ma mit n shakin it at the wee cunts.
       So by the time the ambulance boys manage tae lug her intae the fuckin van, wi her fuckin weight, the game'll huv already sterted. Ah takes the legs oaf the bairn n goes tae lob them in the back wi her, but this ambulance boy takes them n wraps them in polythene n ice. We gets in n the back wi her n the boy thit's drivin's waistin nae time. Whin wir near our bit n ah sais, - Ah'll jist bail oot it the roundabout ahead mate.
       - Eh, the boy goes.
       - Jist lit ays oaf here, ah sais.
       - Wir no stoapin here mate, we're no stoapin until we git tae the hoaspital. Nae time tae lose. You'll need tae register your wife and look after the kids here.
       - Aye right, ah goes, but ah wis still thinkin ahead, - Is thir a telly oan the wards mate? Bound tae be bit, eh.
       This cunt jist looks at ays aw funny like n then goes, - Aye, thirs a telly.
       A fuckin wide cunt. Anywey, she's goat that oxygen mask ower her face n the guy's gaun oan tae her aboot tae try no tae talk n ah'm thinkin: some fuckin chance, ah've been tryin tae git her no tae talk fir fuckin years, eh. Hearin her n aw: gaun oan tae me like it's ma fuckin fault. It wis her wantin mair fuckin drink as usual, pished up cow. Ah telt her, if ye spent as much time lookin eftir the fuckin bairns as ye did oan the fuckin pish, then they might no be so far behind at the school, especially that wee cunt Jason. Ah turns tae him n goes, - Aye, n dinnae think thit you're jist gaunny doss oaf the school, jist because yir fuckin Ma might be in dock fir a few weeks. You'd better fuckin well shape up son, ah'm tellin ye.
       Sometimes ah think tae masel that ah'm giein the wee cunt too much ay a hard time. Bit then ah go: naw, cause ah goat it aw, the very fuckin same treatment fae ma auld man n it did me nae fuckin herm at aw. Cruel tae be kind, like they say. N ah'm livin proof thit it's the best wey. Ah mean, ye nivir see me in any fuckin bother wi the polis, no since way back. Learnt ma fuckin lesson: ah keep ma nose clean n ah gie they cunts a wide berth. Aw ah ask ootay life is a few bevvies, the fitba n the occasional ride.
       That makes ays think bit: what's it gaunny be like ridin her if she's no goat any fuckin legs . . . So we gits up the casualty n this doaktir cunt's gaun oan aboot me bein in shock n ah'm thinkin aboot the fitba n if these cunts've scored awready ah'll be in fuckin shock awright. Ah turns tae the boy n goes, - Hi mate, ken me n her, ken like whin wir the gither?
       Cunt wisnae gittin ma drift.
       - Ken in bed likes? The cunt nods. - See if she's no goat any fuckin legs, will ah still be able tae cowp it likes?
       - Sorry? this cunt goes.
       Thick as fuck. A fuckin doaktir this is n aw. Thought ye hud tae huv fuckin brains tae dae that joab. - Ah'm talkin aboot oor sex life, ah tell um.
       - Well, assuming your wife survives, your sex life should be normal, the cunt says, lookin at ays like ah wis some kind ay radge.
       - Well, ah goes, - that's ah bit ay fuckin good news, cause it wisnae fuckin well normal before! No unless ye call a ride every three fuckin months or something like that normal, n that's no what ah fuckin well call normal.
       So thair ah wis, tryin tae watch the fuckin game oan the waitin room telly. Nae bevvy or nowt, n aw they radges hasslin ays wi forms n questions n the fuckin bairns playin up gaun oan aboot 'is she awright', n 'when ur wi gaun hame' n aw that shite. Ah fuckin well warned the wee cunts aboot nippin ma heid n aw: see whin ah git youse hame, ah telt them.
       Tell yis one thing fir nowt though, whin she's oot ay that hoaspital, see if she cannae dae things aroond the hoose, ah'm fuckin offski. Too fuckin right ya cunt. Lookin eftir a fat cunt wi nae fuckin legs! That will be fuckin shinin bright! It wis her ain fault as well, the fuckin fat cunt. Fuckin things up fir me like that. No thit the game wis anything tae write hame aboot mind you, another fuckin nil-nil draw but, eh.
 © 1996 Irvine Welsh

Author Bio | Spanish Translation |

This electronic version of "A Fault on the Line" is published by The Barcelona Review by arrangement with the author.

This excerpt may not be archived or distributed further without the author's express permission.

"A Fault on the Line" was first published in the anthology New Scottish Writing (Edited: Harry Ritchie) by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, ISBN 0 7475 2824 1. It was published in the United States in Oct. 1997 by Arcade Pub under the title Acid Plaid: New Scottish Writing.

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