Andrew McCallum Crawford: Mac & Wills
Andrew McCallum Crawford
Mac and Wills were an odd couple. The oddest thing about them was that no one knew if they were actually a couple. It wasn’t just idle gossip – we had taken the debate to another level. Things had got serious. There was money involved. I had a list of names and numbers on the back page of my marks book.
Mac was the dominant partner. He was six foot four and looked like George Clooney before George Clooney did. He frequently made enigmatic references to films he had appeared in, but no one took him up on it – his bullshit was entertaining, and we didn’t want to spoil the illusion we were creating around ourselves. He had another habit. Whenever he came into the Astoria, he would throw his Russian hat, filofax, keys and Gitanes onto the table, narrowly missing the assorted glasses and bottles. Then he would crash down into a chair and redirect whatever conversation was in progress with the words ‘I hate…’. He hated lots of things – people not queuing properly for buses, the quality of the water in his flat, the guy who was fixing his car (he had a car!). In fact, Mac hated everything. I asked him one night, late, if he hated his friends, too. He looked at me drunkenly. ‘What friends?’ he said.
Wills kept himself to himself. He didn’t come out very often, but when he did he had the effect of killing the chat stone dead. He was usually pissed, in a Brideshead Revisited sort of way. We knew he was loaded. It was obvious – he never complained about money. One time we all trooped down the soup kitchen after falling out of a bar at 5am. We tucked into plates of meat broth and downed God knows how many bottles of Retsina, then sat back, smoking. We were skint, the lot of us. Someone shouted the bill. Each of us, in turn, confessed his penury, and looked at Wills . ‘Plebs,’ he said, and pulled two big blue notes out of his wallet.
I was the only one there when the punch was thrown. It was in the Astoria. Mac was sitting next to me at our usual table, and Wills was opposite him. I got up to use the phone. I didn’t see the punch landing, but I fucking heard it. It was like a large cabbage hitting a wet floor. Mac was sitting there, a Gitane jutting from his fingers. There was a fist-sized imprint of blood on his face, and a steady stream dripping off his bottom lip. The only thing moving was the smoke spiralling from the end of his cigarette. Wills wiped his hand on his trousers and walked out. I got a wad of napkins off the counter and put them on the table. Mac wiped his face. ‘I hate misunderstandings,’ he said.
Wills disappeared. The last thing we heard he was in Athens. We never did work out if he and Mac were a couple. Nobody cared. Not really. I shared out the money that had been punted, scoring the names off the list at the back of my book.
Andrew McCallum Crawford is a Scottish writer who lives in Greece. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in Lines Review, The Athens News, Junk Junction, Ink Sweat and Tears and McStorytellers. His first novel, Drive!, was published in 2010.