Book 2, Just Another Day
Livy Tinsley, 1975
Every day she takes a morning bath, she wets her hair, wraps a towel around her as she headed for the bedroom chair, It’s just another day. – Paul McCartney, Wings
8 years later, the 70s drug culture had made it’s way into the mainstream and Livy, having bided her time in the normal workings of school, and life as a teenager and, having tapped the strength her mother never had, she’d avoided most of the traps of adolescence, promiscuous sex, drugs, smoking, drinking. Her mother never did any of these things, she just kept quiet, not strong, just abstinent, shivering. Livy’d avoided it all consciously, making choices, but she’d not defused the bomb. ‘Just another day’ she’d think remembering the song by the same name from her, now mythical, Paul. A few more days and I’ll be gone, gone from here. The here that will never be anywhere except here. The here that crushes but never produces diamonds, just the pressure to leave, to squeeze me out of the way, in time to avoid the speeding Lorry with my name on it.
She’d not closed herself so much to not enjoy platonic intimacy, mind to mind, eye burning into eye. Make love to me with your mind she’d think. Reach above your crotch and make love to me, make love to me with your soul. I want to know it.
Physical intimacy hadn’t happened. Not because girls her age weren’t doing it, but because she saw men as weak, lecherous and sometimes vulturous and didn’t want to need them. To other girls in her world they were just the other, north and south, magnets, easily defined as not female, male, the other half in the equation, the equation that makes 1+1 equal 2. Clear, Concise, Pithy to them, not her.
Her father was a weak alcoholic who condescended regularly to her mother and would write her off with a creative compound profanity. She never witnessed respectful intimacy between her parents and only knew them to be intimate when dad was drunk. Mum didn’t seem to like this.
Her application for college would be her ticket out:
“Thank you for this Livy,” Mrs Brompton said.
“No, thank you Mrs Brompton. If you hadn’t alerted me to this, I would’ve never known what was possible.”
“I’m just an English teacher Livy. I know when someone has potential in my subject.”
“It’s more than that Mrs Brompton. In my world things don’t happen like this.”
“The world’s changing sweetie,” she replied, “and I believe fate will smile on you. I’ve alerted Professor Thornton to your arrival. Now just follow his lead.”
“I wish you could come with me.”
“This is as far as I can go at this point. The rest is up to you. Oxford is waiting”
Hours later, upon entering their street, Trudy declared:
“Let’s celebrate Livy!”
“We’ll go to the Tower!”
“All right love, but we’ll keep it short and we’ll keep it cool.”
Livy worried for Trudy. Trudy liked the Tower in a different way than she. The Tower was “it” to Trudy; to Livy it was a place to blow off a little steam and then get back to things. The night life could swallow you.
The Tower Disco, throbbing. The throb of it. The bass and the lights, speakers to the ceilings, speakers like their own futuristic city, alternately blowing you away, then sucking you back in, with some Captain Fantastic DJ with the fucked up Elton John-esque sequined son of Liberace thing happening like Saturday-Night-Fever-in-training, screaming things like “Oh Baby” and “Swing that thing.”
Livy and Trudy had come here a couple of times. Doormen didn’t care about age. “The more birds the better, gives the lads summat to stay for” the bartender from Blackpool would tell them.
Post-modern lautrecean moulin rouge Livy thought. City life on coke.
“You birds up for a toot,” some guy who looked like Barry Gibb shouted in the faces of the girls.
“A toot?” Trudy yelled back.
“Come on little girl, cocaine, a bit of the white stuff.”
“Not me thanks.” Trudy said.
The ticking stopped in Livy and there was a pause, “I’m in.” she yelled to Barry.
“Right then, let’s go love.”
And he pulled her toward the “gents.” Livy didn’t flinch and flew behind him through the door and past the faces of the rooms’ inhabitants, some clamoring to fix themselves and others just smiling like henchmen. Trudy protested all the way to the door until Livy turned to her and said, “Sod it Trudy. I’m in for it. Don’t make a meal of it lovey. You coming or not?”
Trudy grabbed her hand and the three went through the door together. Inside they found an empty stall and “Barry” chopped the white rock into small even lines. The girls watched as if witnessing a master potter. The room was red. The stalls were black. The smell of all of the piss that hadn’t made it into the toilets mixed with cheap cologne and cigarettes was everywhere and in their noses but the girls had had a couple of drinks and their sense of smell and other things were dim. That was initially to be all, two drinks, but here they were mesmerized by the razor blade craftsman chopping rock. He rolled a pound note and handed it to Livy.
“Here you go love.”
“What do I do?”
“Like a straw love,” he said, motioning to put it to her nose.
The light flickered and Livy and Trudy both looked to the ceiling.
“Here’s to it,” she said and snorted one of three, feeling it burn high in her nose and then begin to cool and drip into her throat. She felt like a rabbit and wiggled her nose, “Blimey!,” she said and handed the rolled note to Trudy. Trudy followed suit and smiled.
“Oh my,” she said, “that’s delightful.”
Barry smiled and looked both the girls up and down and then pulled a joint from his pocket and lit it. The smell of it was foreign and drowned out the smell of the piss for a moment. Trudy felt sick but curious and extremely enthusiastic.
“This’ll take the edge off of that girls,” he said handing the joint to Livy.
Livy put her lips to it and the smoke got in her eyes as she sucked on it and breathed it in. Her lungs burned and she began coughing as her eyes started to water.
“Good one love,” Barry said, taking it away from her and handing it to Trudy. Trudy drew on it deeply and didn’t cough. She held it in like he had, then let it out slowly. She still felt queasy but the coke and the pot were beginning to mask it. She felt like doing some more. Barry chopped some more and they cleaned it off the back of the W.C. Barry started to think he might be getting some rumpy tonight.
“Let’s dance,” Trudy exclaimed, in an exaggerated and high-pitched falsetto. The three exited the stall and headed back to the dance floor.
Three songs had played when Livy first opened her eyes. Ball spinning overhead like a fly’s eye refracting beams of light shot from behind the DJ. The constant thump, better, the throb, pounding into and through her body, she was lost, drunk, high, swirling like a dervish and gone. People around her disappeared as themselves and became a sort of extension of the storm that she was the eye of. They were moving slowly away from her center becoming less what they were and more like ghosts, apparitions, and poltergeists. She opened her eyes as the music slowed to the end of the song. Their faces stared back at her, hollowed out, gaping mouths, dark and toothless. She couldn’t see Trudy nor Barry until she heard a familiar giggleshreek that made her turn toward the wall wherefrom people were emerging through passages of yellow light. Trudy was smiling on her way into the loo with Barry. She looked more beautiful at that moment than Livy ever remembered seeing her. Another song started. Livy started to dance unaccompanied, trying to break back into the space she’d been in a minute before but her storm was played out and she felt tired. Better get Trudy and go.
She slalomed across the floor, suddenly very weary of the place, and the faces. As she reached the door she felt the pressure of a hand across her chest. Looking down no one was there. Stopkeepmoving she thought. She took a few more steps like one might if walking on broken glass, wanting to get past it but almost paralyzed by thought of slipping in it. From one of the stalls came the sound of Barry’s voice, “bluh-dee hell” as he tried to catch Trudy on her way down to the floor. Her head hit the side of the stall, her body twisted and slid down until her head found its way free and hit the floor like a pumpkin, shattering her cheekbone. Her eyes were closed tightly in a grimace, then they loosened. She lay still. Barry reached down as best he could, around the side of the toilet. Livy covered the last ten feet in what seemed like one great stride and she was on the floor and pulling at Trudy, trying to get her into an open space on the floor. Air she needs air. She pulled Trudy’s head into her lap. “Trudy love, wake up lovey!” Her voice began to break as a knowing came over her, immediately followed by a disbelieving. The two went to war; the knowing could see it was over but the disbelief had to try. She screamed for help and started doing her best to give CPR. Trudy’s nose had flattened against her face, the bridge having given way, and she was like a limp kitten in Livy’s arms. Barry’s voice saying that someone had given them powdered bleach made her want to kill him.
“She’s dead,” the girl next to her said in her ear, removing her hand from Trudy’s heart.
“Oh God no. Not my Trudy… not my Trudy… oh my lovey… my little girl,” Livy said, rocking back and forth, holding on to her until one of the big doormen came in and made her let go.
“The paramedics’ll be here in a minute love. You’ve got to let her go now.”
“You can’t have her. I won’t let you… that’s my girl… that’s my Trudy.”
The Tower had gone silent except for the rain beating on the windowsill at the far end of the bathroom.