Spud stirred restlessly in his bed. It wasn’t the first Christmas Eve he had spent in a hostel. It seemed crazy, but that damn street light just outside his window was brighter than usual. The wee parcel that had been brought in by a stranger and left at the front door for him was lying on his bed and growing more irresistible by the minute. Long, rectangular. Could be a nice syringe and needle set, maybe even with some decent-quality smack in with it. Oblivion would be just the ticket, man. He got a warm glow just thinking about the rush it used to give him back in the old days. He ripped it open. A box, with lights spelling LOVE, £2.99 at Primark, he had seen it in the shop window a couple of days previously. Nice. He found a key taped to the side, with a label: GF8WPD. He pulled on his trousers and a thin jacket.
– You can’t get back in tonight, Spud, warned the night-shift guy on the door.
– Disnae matter, he muttered.
It was a long walk up Ferry Road, the early Christmas morning traffic now thinned down to taxis. The same Primark box was in the window of GF8WPD. He let himself in. Danny Boy was playing, on a loop: the glens, the glens are calling… She was expecting him. She had played it as he packed his bags all those months ago. He was leaving because he was frightened of her goodness, and she seemed sweetly to understand and accept that he needed to go. That, and he couldn’t face the consequences of something he had done.
He sat down gently on the bed beside her. Black. He wasn’t quite sure which of the African countries she was from. Actually, it was complicated. But she had shown she knew how to put an awful past behind her, and invest in a better life in a decent country, through hard work and family love and loyalty. She stirred and opened her eyes.
– Spud. You’ve come. Turn that bloody song off. Then kiss me. See in the corner over there? He’s going to need his daddy.