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Robert Knox

Modern Girl

EDDIE COOPER
RIP

Of course it was in the pub. That’s where I found out. First time I’d been in there in months. Just sat down with a pint when one of the old regulars told me.

Eddie Cooper was dead. I couldn’t even look at the pint.

Next thing I knew I was in the park with no memory of how I got there. There was a new emotion surging through my body. A single tear came and went. Dried by an uncommon sunshine.

Eddie Cooper was dead.

In life Eddie Cooper had been a legend. Every one knew him and respected him. Every one bought him drink.

For Eddie had once shagged Sheena Easton.

It was years ago. In between her dumping her husband and moving to America. Before she was a big star. Even then she still kept in touch with him.
He would get Air Mail every birthday and Christmas.

There was one time, years ago, she flew in from LA to do a gig at Glasgow Green. It must have been jet lag or something. Anyway, she started talking like a real a fanny. Her vowels were all over the place. The crowd took offence and some even began throwing bottled abuse at her.

Understandably she needed a shoulder to cry on.

Up to that point Eddie had his doubters. Some unable to get their head around the fact that Eddie had had Sheena. But sure enough when the chips were down and she needed a friend. Who else could she turn to?

He even brought her to the pub. I’ll never forget it. She had on sunglasses and a battered, borrowed baseball cap but you could still tell who it was. At first no one went near them then after about half an hour people started drifting over and inviting themselves into the company. Before long the whole pub was surrounding them. We even got her singing. That 9 to 5 one. She wouldn’t do anymore. Said that was her favourite.

They walked off into the night hand in hand and his reputation was cemented forever.

 

A few hours before the big send off. Before the End of Eddie.

There are around one hundred people squashed into a snug that was built for half as many.
That was a result of the early hour.
It was the only form of watering hole open and word soon got about.
Eddie’s friends came from all over.
Whether they knew him or not.

Eddie would have appreciated that.

Louise, Eddie’s girlfriend was taking it bad:
Wrinkles burrowed deep into her brow.
Black, excess luggage bags hung heavy under her sunken, empty eyes.
Her cheeks had all but caved in.

And now, on top of all that, Eddie was dead.

How would she cope?

Eddie’s brother, Michael had everything under control. He had arranged travel, there and back for every one. Organised the seating order for the after party. He was actually handing out tickets with seat numbers on them.
He wanted it to go as smooth as possible.
He wanted it to be over.
He hated every fucking one of them.
Parasites.

His young sister Jenna was genuinely upset. She was also pissed. At half past ten in the morning. She was heaped in a crumpled mess centre stage in the ladies toilet. A flock of old aunts and assorted distant relatives cluck around her. It does no good. She is out of her mind on Gin and Grief tonic.

His uncle Steven was there, in the snug, wheelchair-bound and assisted by a team of paramedics. A drip going in one arm, the tubing head aloft by a harassed undergraduate. Blood and some thick green matter oozing from the tube in his other arm. Bagged and tagged it is then left on the bar.

Unattended.

His ex-wife was washing her hair that day.

There were no children.

 

 

The procession snakes along the road.
It is raining. Of course it had to rain. Perfect weather for a funeral.

It is strange being in the car behind Eddie. The way people try to ignore it. No one in the street will look directly at us. They catch sight of Eddie, happy in his box and quickly divert their gaze.
Avoiding the inevitable.
The other road users are courteous to a fault.
Some one has got to die before you can make a right turn.

We make it to the cemetery in good time. Once we are in the grounds emotion takes over. Your mind switches to autopilot and you react in slow motion. You want to get through it with dignity.

The hearse stalls.

And will not restart.

We have around half a mile to go and it’s not looking good. The red-faced hears driver is out of the vehicle. He had the bonnet up and stands looking at the engine while scratching his chin.

Our driver kills the engine and goes to assist. Soon there are four black-clad figures surrounding the uncooperative funeral car.

The stationery line of cars hold over one hundred people. We have painters, joiners, welders, brickies, bingo callers, shop assistants, cleaners and kitchen porters.

Not one mechanic.

Some one had to take charge.

I go to see what I can do.

So we end up, one person from the first four cars, pushing Eddie to his final resting place.

Luckily it was all down hill.

Eventually we get him in the ground.

And he leaves us there. Soaked and sad.

 

 

Tradition takes us back to the pub. We get to use the lounge this time.

There is a buffet but only the fat people eat.

Michael has everything under control. All are in the correct seat and all have had their complimentary first drink. He is fussing over every one. Putting on a good show.

The day wears on and the drink flows as freely as the tears. Before long Louise and Jenna are sitting next to each other. Jenna had drunk herself sober. Louise has drunk herself drunk and is complimenting the deceased. Such a great guy! Such a loss!

Jenna is furious. All this from a tramp who knew him for six months.

He was her brother for fucksake.

A lifetime.

His lifetime.

She leaves Louise to wallow in her sorrow and makes her way to the bar.

The part-time bar tender is pissed off. He hates these shifts. Wakes! No chance of any action at a fucking funeral. A woman approaches his bar. Slightly unsteady on her feet and not bad looking for an older bird. She suits black. He turns on the charm. She switches it off and demands a serious drink.

Displeased with her attitude he decides to give her something that will knock her on her arse. He pours a shot of every spirit he has available behind the bar into a stainless steel container. Then he notices a bag sitting at the end of the bar. Figures it’s a form of Aftershock, thick green stuff. He bites the bag open and adds a generous measure. Mixes it all together and presents her with a glass and a smile. She accepts the glass: ignores the smile and moves off.

Louise shouts across the room. Demanding attention. She rants about love, death and the meaning of life. She is collectively ignored.

Jenna raises her glass and has a long pull at the house speciality.

Sweat breaks out on her upper lip. Her mouth is on fire and her eyes water. Her legs go into an uncontrollable twitch and she has to sit down. She all but collapses into the nearest seat and takes a deep breath.

Then she takes another mouthful from her glass.

No one saw the limo pull up.
They were all too busy celebrating the life and times of Eddie Cooper the only way they knew how. Drinking and crying. Some had left the wake early, notably Michael. Most had stayed on.

It’s what Eddie would have wanted.

The chauffeur opened the back door and a slight figure emerged. Head to toe in black including a veil, which hid her face. She moved towards the pub, alone, took a deep breath and pushed on the door.

No one noticed her entrance.

She made for the bar, lifted her veil and ordered a drink. Something strong.

She got the same treatment as Jenna.

The only empty seat was next to Uncle Steven. The paramedics were drunk.

It’s what Eddie would have wanted.

Uncle Steven, freed from the attentions of the paramedics, has struck up a conversation with the mysterious stranger. He’s found out her name and the fact that she was close to Eddie years ago. He fancies his chances.

The paramedics are having a heated debate. They all want to move on somewhere else but one of them has to stay with Steven. It’s in the contract.

The slight stranger returns to the bar and orders a drink for her and one for Steven. As she turns from the bar she slams straight into Jenna, who is returning from the ladies. The drinks go everywhere.

The stranger awaits an apology. She doesn’t get one. Jenna is enraged and goes off into a rant. All of a sudden the stranger is a stupid cow.

The stranger pushes past Jenna, heading for the toilet to clean herself up.

Jenna is having none of it and demands to know who the fuck she thinks she is.

She reveals herself as Sheena Easton – Recording Artist.

On hearing this Jenna slaps her full in the face. Sheena reels backwards and thumps against the bar. She recovers quickly and throws herself at Jenna.

Both women end up rolling about the floor: pulling and scratching and punching.

Sheena was actually heard to say that you can take the lassie out of Bellshill – but you can’t take Bellshill out of the lassie.

That was just before she sunk her Hollywood teeth into Jenna’s arm.

The barman was the first to react, after taking photos on his mobile phone: He moved in and pulled the women apart. Soon others helped. After a struggle the women were separated and held at opposite ends of the small room. Blood was seeping from Jenna’s arm and Sheena’s face was bruised and swollen.

The emergency services were called. First the police then an ambulance. Jenna went off for tetanus while Sheena was detained for questioning.

Eventually it was settled out of court.

Jenna refused to press charges.

Sheena paid her a couple of grand and flew back Stateside, vowing never to return to Scotland again.

The nation heaved a sigh of relief.