Marco returned and placed a beer in front of me. He began to tell me about something funny that happened while he was waiting in line, but I tuned him out. At the table beside ours was a group of teenage boys deep in conversation. A shaggy-haired boy spoke to the group as he licked the side of his cigarette. He broke the cigarette open and spilled the tobacco onto a rolling paper that already had a bit of hash sitting on it. He mixed the tobacco and the hash together, kneading it like dough, then he rolled the paper into a joint, pinched the ends, put it to his mouth, lit it, and passed it to his friends. I watched as each friend in turn smoked, and the scent of the hash began to drift over the crowd of people. It tickled my nose. They smoked and drank, passing the joint around in the open. I looked at other tables and noticed other people rolling splifs or smoking and passing a splif from mouth to mouth laughing without worry or care.
“Hey, are you even listening to me?” Marco broke my trance.
I snapped my eyes back to him. “Huh? Yes. You, you said that—“
“Oi! Oi! I fought we might find ye ‘ere.” A voice shouted in our direction. I turned around to see three guys walking toward us.
“You muthufuckers!” Marco said springing up and throwing his arms down like he was poising to fight. “Can’t hide from yo’ shit anywhere.”
“It’s no’ reely hidin’ now es it, if-in ye ‘ere every day?” said a tall dark-haired man.
He was handsome with olive skin. His hair was medium length with loose curls that hung in his face. He shook the hair from his dark brown eyes with a quick toss of his head. Dark circles were beginning to form under his eyes but they were faint. He was unshaven and looked a bit unwashed. He wore a simple black t-shirt, blue jeans, and black boots. He flashed a crooked open smile and slid into the space beside me. He pressed the outside of his thigh against mine with a familiarity that we didn’t have. I looked to Marco for the introduction.
The other two guys sat on Marco’s side.
“Annabelle,” Marco said, “These are my friends,” he addressed the two young men that sat beside him, “Jon and Canada Mike.”
“Hey,” they both said.
“Jon’s visiting, but Mike lives here. Annabelle just moved here, too.”
“Oh really?” Asked Canada Mike. He was a tall thin guy with wavy hair that he pulled back in a ponytail. He looked a bit like Marco’s Shakespeare-reciting student Petr. He was much cleaner than the guy sitting next to me.
“Where did you come from?” Canada Mike asked.
“Um, Germany was my last place.” I said before taking a sip of my beer.
“Cool.” He said.
“Why’d the fuck ye wantta live ‘ere?” The guy next to me laughed his question. “Oi? Aint ye goin ta tell ‘er where I’m from or wot my name es?”
Marco looked at him for a moment then he picked up his drink and looked over the rim of his glass at the guy. “She don’t need to know yo shit.”
“Ye ‘ear! Hah!” He slapped his knee. “She don’t need to know my shite. Oh, sheet, I bloody fuckin mean.” He began to laugh and threw his head back. “My shh-it.” He said copying an American accent. He laughed to himself and pulled out a cigarette. “Well luv,” he said looking at me. He put the cigarette between his lips and it danced as he spoke. “I tell ye.” He lit his cigarette. Then blew out the smoke over his shoulder so as not to blow it in my face. “I’m from England.”
“The shitty part.” Marco said.
“The shit’y part!” He burst out laughing and stood up. Reaching across the table he grasped Marco’s shoulder. Marco broke his grim demeanor and started laughing his full hearty laugh. The other two joined in.
“I fuckin’ luv ya.” The English kid snorted.
“This is Ian.” Said Marco.
“Pleasure to meet you.” He said taking my hand and bending forward to kiss my knuckles.
“Oh right, the pisser.” I said remembering the guy’s name from Marco’s story the night before.
“Wot? The pisser? Wot fuckin bollocks ye been yammerin on about to ‘er? I never piss myself.” He placed his hand to his chest like he was swearing on a Bible. He sulked and looked aghast toward Marco who just sucked his top teeth at Ian. Ian looked into my eyes with earnest sincerity. I didn’t believe him.
“Well it was you or Francisco, right?” I said back to Ian.
“Ah, ye told ‘er that story? Did ye ‘ear ‘bout the waitress? Gruesome bloody sight. It was a right proper slayin, nearly cut the fuckin cunt’s bleedin ‘ead right off, I tell ye.” He sat back down.
“Ya. Ya. I told her. You smell like shit.” Marco took a drink as Ian laughed into his own beer. “Don’t you ever bathe?”
“Ony on Sunday’s. God’s day.” He said crossing himself and then he pressed his hands together in prayer.
“Aren’t your parents coming to visit soon?” Marco asked.
Ian nodded then flashed a smile toward me. He inhaled deeply on his cigarette all the while keeping his focus on me.
“Well you need to take care of yourself or they are gonna grab your ass and take you back to England cause you look like a fuckin junkie,” Marco said. “You should at least cut your hair. Jesus you look nasty. And stop starin’ at her like that. She ain’t interested in your shit.”
Ian giggled and took a huge swallow of his beer, almost emptying the pint. “Fuckin riot. If-in me maw and Da take me back, I’ll jus’ be a junkie there, it don’t make no difference now does eet?” He looked at me, and again placed his hand in earnest to his chest, “If-in I did the junk that ees, which I don’t.” He sniffed at the air. “I smells ‘ash. Anyone ‘oldin?”
Everyone at the table shook their heads no. “Bugger. I’d reely like ta be stoned right now. Jus’ outta me fuckin ‘ead. Sittin ‘ere on a brilliant day like today, jus’ drinkin a pivo an’ smokin a littel hash.”
“Well nobody’s fuckin holdin ‘cept these kids at the next table, so unless you wanna ask them punks to give your broke ass some hash for free, I think your shit is fucked. End of story. You better just shut up about it.” Said Marco.
Marco took a drink and winked to Ian who snickered.
Ian was an energy force, boisterous, dirty and overtly flirtatious. He had an obnoxious charm that got under your skin a little like ringworm. Not a bad skin rash, but hard to get rid of, and a little embarrassing because you feel like people will think you’re dirty, but nothing life threatening.
“Is it legal to smoke here? Cause everyone seems to be smoking in the public park like it’s okay.” I asked
“Nope.” Said Marco. “I wouldn’t say it was legal.”
“So why’s everyone so nonchalant about smoking out here in public?” I asked.
“Cause it don’t fuckin matt’er.” Said Ian taking a drink of his beer. “It’say joke reely you know sayin’ somefink is illegal when no one gives a fuck. You can walk frough this park at anytime an’ have some geezer offer you drogy. It’s all shite though. All the drugs ‘ere are absolute shite. I should go back ta England an’ get some decent junk.” He looked back to me. “Eefn I did that shite, but I don’t.”
“It’s tolerated.” Said Canada Mike.
“Yep, everyone’s tryin to be a fuckin dealer.” Marco yawned.
“Oi, right, right? Yor flatmates. Fuckin schtupid, those fuckin daff birds. Schtupid cunts. Wot shite — no wonder they ‘ad to go back. They were so shit’y at sellin drugs they ‘ad ta go back ta get a proper education. ‘Ow’dja let ‘em live wit you?”
“They paid their bills ‘til you got there, hanging around and pushin’ all your bad shit and moochin’ off ‘em an’ shit.” Said Marco.
“You talking about the girls from your apartment?” I asked.
“True aye.” Said Ian. “I’m feelin a bit chill. I say we all ‘ead to Feste’s fe a few drinks.”