Princess. H aye ca’d me Princess when he wanted something. Which wis affen enough. He nivver treated me like wan but. If yer wunnerin hoo he cam tae be ca’d H, I cun gie ye twae answers. Ye can make up yer ain mind fae that. The first wan, his sister telt me. She says it wis cus he had wannae they baby walker things ken, when he wis a toddler. An it wis jist when the Falklands war wis oan an he used tae batter aroon the hoose in it, so as they ca’d him H efter that Colonel H Jones, ken the wan whae died leadin his men ower the tap at Goose Green or wherever it wis. Other fowk say its cus he’s the hardest smack dealer on oor scheme. At seventeen. Somehing tae be prood of. An achievement ye micht say. That he’s no hud his face pushed in by the aulder lads. But that’s on account o’ H havin the reputation fer being a nutter. Nae feart o’ any bugger is H.
I prefer the first story, cus it mak’s him seem mair human like. Ken that wee bitty vulnerability – his childhood still somewhere in him. I need tae see that in him sometimes cus I see tae mich o’ the ither H. If I think aboot it, I dinna ken if I’ve iver seen H whit ye wid ca’ vulnerable – an I’ve kent him since I wis thirteen, an he wis comin up seventeen.
That’s no the hail truth, but. I kent him first when he wis jist turnin thirteen an I wis aboot nine. But I’ve niver telt no wan aboot that. I wis friendly wi his sister Shirley ken. We used tae play Cindy dolls an Take That records an that. An I wis aye roon their hoose, cus ma hoose wis fu’ o’ shoutin at that time. That wis afore ma auld man wis pit in the jail.
Anyways. Wan day I goes roon tae Shirley’s hoose an she’s no in.
‘Oot wi’ her ma,’ says H as he answers the door in his huge bare feet. They feet hus niver seen a toenail cut tae ma knowledge an he musta starterd growin theym lang afore that day. An I’m aboot tae tak ma eyes affae his feet an turn on ma toes an mak aff somewhere – nae hame, jist ony place oot the road fer a while – an H says,
‘Youse can come an play wi me if ye like.’
No ye micht say that even aged nine I shouldae kent better as that, but I wis jist dead chuffed that Shirley’s big brother said he wanted tae play wi me. I mean, big H. Playin wi me. That wid be sumhing tae tell them at school on Monday. If I went. So I followed H intae the hoose. Intae his bedroom, where I’d niver been afore. The wa’s wis covered in posters o wummin wi nae claes on. That took me back a wee bit tae start wi, but I wis kinda curious a’ the same, fer I didnae well ken whit grown wummin looked like wi’oot their claes on, an this wid be somehing else tae tell them at the school. But I wis a wee bit nervous a’ the same. An the room smelled. A kindae musty smell, wi smoke hinging heavy in the air so as you cud hardly see straight. They wummin wis a’ hazy like, on the wa’s. but I tried tae gang on as if I didnae notice nuthin, an brave as I cud be I says,
‘Whit are we gonnae play, H?’
H lit up this huge cigarette, wan wi nae filter like, twice the size o’ any ma dad iver smoked, an rolled up by hand an a’. Which I thocht wis pretty cool fer a lad o’ thirteen. Ma dad tried rollies wance an he couldnae even dae it. Wee bits of tobacco kept fa’in oot the sides o’ the ‘rizzla’ papers as ma ma said they wis ca’d. An she kept laughin at him. An that wis the first time I mind he hit her really hard. Broker her nose, jist cus she laughed at him nae bein able tae dae it. Well, H pu’d lang an hard on his toke an his eyes went sortae starey and I’m jist sittin there waitin an waitin and then he says in a kindae funny kindae voice,
‘We’s cun play doctors an nurses if ye want.’
Well me an Shirly an the Cindy dolls used tae play hospitals and that. Bandages and fake blood and that, but I didnae think that wis whit H meant. An even then, I kent he wid be the doctor an I widnae. So I didnae answer straight away, jist sat lookin at him sittin there inhalin that smelly smoke. An I suppose I must huv been starin at him though I wis thinkin aboot ma dad an ma mum’s battered face wi black eyes like a panda at the zoo, an the blood and gaein tae visit her in the hospital wi a big plaster ower her nose. An ma dad bringin her flooers an makin her promise no tae say nuhing aboot it. An H must huv thocht I wis starin at him cus he says,
‘D’ye wantae try this?’
An I didnae really, but I’ve niver hud wan before an just at that minute I did kindae want tae try. Tae see whit a’ the fuss wis aboot. So I took it from him, that big fat cigarette thing and I puffed away at it till iverything went hazy fer a bit.
An efter that, the idea o’ doctors an nurses seemed like a kindae guid wan. H says,
‘Noo, I’m the doctor and you’ve gottae dae as I say. Lie doon on the bed the noo.’
So I lays doon on the bed. An I wis quite gratefu’ cus the room wis kindae spinnin noo an they wummin wi nae claes wis beginning tae dance back and foreward in a sick makin kindae way.
H stubs oot his fag and then he rubs his hands the gather an says,
‘Dinnae wantae bother ye wi ma cauld hands.’
I giggled. I dinnae ken why but I just giggled as I lays there, and when he says,
‘Please lift up yer top, Mrs.’
I jist did it. I niver thocht, I jist did it.
Anyways, next thing I ken he’s feelin aroon me tits, or where ma tits micht be in a few years time. He presses doon an a’ that, an I didnae mind but I didnae really want him tae, either.
‘That seems a’ richt,’ he says, still playin the doctor like. An then he moves his hands doon tae ma jeans an says,
‘Ye’ll need tae tak these aff. I wantae examine ye properly.
An by noo I wanted tae say ‘Dinnae’ but the words wouldnae come oot. So I jist lay there, bein the patient like, an believing that as long as he wis playin doctor I wid be a’ richt. So I’m layin there an H pulls aff me jeans an he stops fer a minute an looks at ma knickers. An he presses his hands roon the tappae theym, jist like ther real doctor does when ye huv a belly ache. An then he says tae me,
‘Noo, I’m just gonnae tak aff yer knickers an gie ye a real check, okay?’
Well he wisnae expecting me tae say ‘no’ I cud tell but I squirmed a bit an said
‘Whit if yer mum comes hame?’
‘Ach, dinnae worry,’ he says, still in his kindae doctor voice. An the next thing I ken is H’s got his hands doon ma knickers pullin theym affae ma feet as I lay there like a statue on the bed.
‘Ah,’ he says, ‘No hair yet.’
‘Is that bad?’ I says. Some o’ they wummin niver hud hair. But some o’ them did.
‘No,’ H says. ‘No bad. It jist means ye cannae huv a baby yet. But I’ll need tae dae a check jist tae see when ye will be able tae huv a baby. Okay Mrs?’
An this time he didnae wait fer me tae gie him an anser. An there’s me lyin there, pretendin this isnae happenin tae me, like ye dae at the dentist, thinkin o’ anything else but where ye are. An efter a bit H says
‘Boy, you’re tight. You’re no gonna huv a baby fer a while.’
Well somehoo that wis it all over and I pulled on ma knickers an ma jeans an tucked in ma top an then I felt sick an I says tae H I felt sick and he says it wis cus of the joint and I’d be awricht soon, but maybe’s I’d better gang hame an no to tell anyone aboot it. An I kent I wisnae gaein tae be telling aboot it at the school neither. Or even tell Shirley, cus I felt I’d done sumhing wrang in letting him play doctors wi me. But part of me wunnered if I felt is wis wrang cus I kindae liked it, and I didnae hink I should huv.
I kept fair clear o’ H fer a good couple of years after that. Shirley niver understood why I stopped pallin aroon wi her an I hink she wis fair upset fer a while. But I couldnae gane near her hoose and it wis easier jist tae pal wi other fowk. An I niver seen H again, not till I wis aboot thirteen. That wis the time ma tits did start tae grow an I hud plenty o’ hair between ma legs. An ma dad says I wis pretty well developed fer a thirteen year auld. An ma mum telt him he’d better no think like that or she’d huv him up fer molestation. An it wis disgustin tae think things like that aboot yer ain docther, and he says he wis jist sayin, no thinking anything.
An she says that wis hum a’ ower, niver hinking. An he says if he did think anyhin it wid be her fault cus she niver did nuhin. An she says why wid she wantae dae anyhin wi hum an laughed, sarcastic like. Till he hit her again. An this time there wis nae hospitals an nae flooers but the blood an the bruises wis still there. So as I thocht it wis best fer me tae keep ootae their ways. An I started hinging roon the Italian chippie. An that wis when H started takin an interest in me again.
He wis sixteen then, an ridin a motorbike an he a’ready hud a reputation fer a hard man, an a ‘junkie’ and a ‘dealer’ roon oor scheme. An he moved ootae his hoose intae a squat an he hud a tele an a video an a’ they hings. An he comes up tae me wan day when I wis jist standin outside the Italian chippie an he says,
‘Wantae come an play doctor wi me again?’
An noo I wis thirteen, I got a beamer an said nuhing. An he ruffled ma hair an says he wis only jokin, but did I want tae gang back tae his hoose an watch some tell or sumhing? Cus I wis welcome. An I wisnae welcome anywhere else by then an it wis cauld outside the chippie when ye’ve no even any money fer a poke o’ chips, so I went back wi him, oan the back o’ his bike, which wis fair exciting. An we watched the tele and he gave me a joint all of ma own, an this time I wisnae sick because I didnae really swallow it that much. An he gave me some cider too. I liked that.
An when ma dad went intae the jail ‘on remand’ an ma mum wis aye oot or greetin, I started gaein roon tae H’s flat a’ the time. An soon he says I cud be his girlfriend if I liked. An I’d niver hud a boyfriend, nor hud any o’ ma pals at school so I says yes, I wid be his girlfriend. An he said that wis great an he gies me a big joint and a wet kiss, ken the kind where his tongue gaes richt in yer mooth an jiggles aroon a lot. An he says,
‘D’ye still huv teddy bears oan yer knickers?’
An I says, ‘No,’ and he says
‘I dinnae believe ye, I wantae see them.’
And I wis wearin a skirt cus I’d jist come frae school, an he pit his hand up ma skirt an felt me knickers an he pit his hand between ma legs an says,
‘I bet yer no sae tight noo eh?’
Then he says did I wantae ‘dae it’ wi him an if I wis his girlfriend I oughtae.
An I didnae ken if I wanted tae or not, but I didnae wantae get him angry cus I’d heard he wid be worse than ma dad when he wis in a rage. So I says,
‘Yes,’ and then, well, ye ken whit the rest is aboot. I dinnae want tae talk aboot it. But I kindae liked it and I kindae didnae like it, a’ at the same time.
Anyways, H then said that I wis his girlfriend fer real noo an I’d better no huv it away wi’ no wan else or he’d do me and he’d do theym. An I didnae wantae dae it wi’ anywan else anyways. But I thocht I didnae mind daein it wi H. Well, no that much.
An efter that, I spent a lot o’ time wi H, and I kindae felt proud that I wis his girlfriend. An I wid be there when people cam tae dae deals wi him and he wid cut coke and bag smack an gie me a wee taste noo an again. An it got so as I thocht I wis happy. I mean he niver said he loved me or nuhing but well, a hard man cannae say that eh no? but he wid ca’ me princess whenever he wanted me tae dae sumhing I didnae want tae dae. An then I did it fer him cus he’s ca’d me princess an that made me feel special.
So wance we’d been gaein oot aboot six months or that, he started getting funny, sayin as I wis sleeping wi other guys an if he caught me he’d do me and theym. Noo I thocht this wis jist cus he wis daein too many drugs. Cus I kent that cud mak ye paranoid. An though I didnae ken which bein paranoid wis, I wis sure that H wis it.
Which brings us tae the nicht. When he ca’d me princess. He wis wantin me tae gang an get a carry oot. An I didnae wnatae gang cus I wis watching sumhing on the tele or sumhing. An he got fair annoyed an ca’d me a slag an said I’d best get oot an bring him a carry oot and some chips back or he’d slice ma tits aff an stick them up ma fanny. An I said I didnae huv any money an he said I’d better gang oot an earn it then like the hoor I wis, and tae nae come back till I’d got his stuff.
So I went oot. An I went doon the Italian chippie where we didnae usually gang any mair, cause I didnae want him chasin after me and I didnae know whit I wis gonnae dae. I started hinking maybe’s I shoud get away from H cus he wis beginnin tae be frightenin and I didnae like it.
An in the chip shop wis Davie. Whae’s dad ran the chippie. That same Davie as wis in ma class at the school He wis a pure funny guy wis Davie. Bit quiet and didnae mix wi the rougher lads, but he wis a laugh a’ the same. An I says hello tae him and cud he let me huv some chips an I’d pay him back on Monday? An he says he wisnae s’posed tae an if his dad caught him there’d be trouble. For Davie’s dad wis frae Rome an they’re supposed tae huv richt tempers on them.
But he give me some chips anyways and I says did he huv anything tae drink, like Special Brew or that? An he says he cud get some cans and he’d come roon the back and share ane wi’ me if I liked. An I said aye, but I wis gonnae run aff wi’ them back tae H. Cus I’d forgotten aboot him frightenin me by noo and jist thocht how pleased he’d be when I come back with chips and Brew.
So Davie gets the cans an the chips an he takes aff his apron an he comes roon the side o’ me. An we’re jist talking, ken. Talkin aboot nuhing really, an the next hing I ken is H’s in the café an he’s got a knife an he’s waving it aboot an ca’in me a slag an a hoor an Davie an eytie bastard an I dinnae ken whit else. An Davie’s tryin tae reason wi’ him and H says he’s gonnae cut him, an Davie says his dad’s oot the back an H hud better watch hisself. An H kindae jumps at Davie an then everythins going slow an fast at the same time, in an oot o’ focus like a’ they naked wummin the first time I played with H, and there’s blood a’ over an there’s Davie lying on the flair and there’s H wi’ eyes like pinholes, reachin in the till an still ca’in me a slag. An I’m cryin that I’m no wan an I cun see Davie’s blood a’ower the flair an I dinnae ken whit tae dae. So when H runs oot, I runs oot efter hum, cus I dinnae ken whit else tae dae. An next hing I ken is the polis is chapping He’s door and we’re aff in a van doon the nick tae be charged wi murder. But I didnae murder anywan. I’m only jist fowrteen but. An I’m a princess. H said so.
The Stabbin o’ Riozzio is included along with other stories in Scots dialect in her collection Voices in ma heid
Cally Phillips writes in Scots but more usually in English. She has 20 years experience in dramatic writing with many stage and screen credits. Her first novel The Threads of Time was published in 2003 and reissued as an ebook in 2012. Her second novel Another World is Possible (2007) which started off as an online serial blog novel, is now the backbone of a trilogy (in four parts) which will be published in 2013. Her third novel Brand Loyalty was published in 2010 and is now also available as an ebook. Her other ebook publications include A Week With No Labels is crossover drama/fiction, charting the journey of a fictional drama group; a collection of short ‘flexible plays’ on a Fairtrade theme ‘5 Fairplay dramas’, the stageplay Chasing Waves (2004) and two short story collections wrttien in Scots ‘Voices in ma Heid’ and ‘It Wisnae Me’ both available as ebooks.