‘You remember? The pub we talked about. The Glue Pot, on London Road.’
‘I don’t go there,’ slurred Ivy.
‘I know you don’t go there. Why don’t you go there?’
‘Cos . . .’
‘Please. I need more. Why not, Ivy?’
Erika held up yet another twenty. Ivy attempted to focus, and then grabbed it, tucking it under the waistband of her grotty jeans.
‘So, what you wanna talk about?’
‘The Glue Pot.’
‘Bad stuff there. Bad man . . . bad . . .’ said Ivy, shaking her head.
‘There’s a bad man?’
‘Yeah . . .’ Ivy’s eyes were now rolling in her head and she seemed to be seeing things – things that weren’t in the bar. Her head snapped to one side.
‘Ivy. The bad man. What’s his name?’
‘He’s bad, I tell you, love . . .’
‘Did you hear about the girl who died, Andrea?’ Erika pulled out her phone and found the picture of Andrea. ‘This is her, Ivy. Her name was Andrea. She was beautiful, with dark hair. Do you think Andrea knew this bad man?’
Ivy managed to focus on the phone picture for a moment. ‘Yeah, she was beautiful.’
‘You saw her?’
‘You saw this girl, a few times, in The Glue Pot?’ said Erika, holding the phone up to Ivy.
‘I was beautiful once . . .’ Ivy’s eyes rolled in her head and she started to slide off the barstool.
‘Come on, Ivy. Stay with me,’ said Erika, grabbing her and righting her on the stool. ‘Please look at this picture once more.’
Ivy stared at it. ‘The bad ones are always the worst, but the best, too. You let them do anything to you, even if it hurts, even if you don’t want to . . .’
Erika looked over at the bar and could see that the large girl with the pierced lip wasn’t buying any drinks. She was talking to a group of men, and they kept looking at Erika and Ivy.
‘Ivy, this is important. Are you talking about Andrea? Did she meet with this bad man at The Glue Pot? He had dark hair. Please. I need anything, a name . . .’
Ivy drooled, and blew out a bubble of saliva, which popped. She rolled her tongue over her chin and Erika caught sight of her rotten teeth.
‘I saw her, with him and some blonde bitch. Stupid girls, they both got in too deep with him.’ said Ivy.
‘What? Ivy? A dark man and a blonde woman?’
‘Is this an official visit?’ asked a voice. Erika looked up to see a large bear of a man with wispy strawberry-blond hair.
‘I didn’t invite her,’ said Ivy, adding, ‘she’s a fucking pig.’
‘No, it’s not an official visit,’ said Erika.
‘Then I’d like you to go,’ the man said, his voice menacingly calm and quiet.
‘Ivy, if you think of anything, see anything, here’s my number.’ Erika pulled out a pen and scrap of paper from her leather jacket, scribbled down her mobile number, and tucked the scrap of paper into the pocket of Ivy’s jeans. The man hooked his hand under Erika’s arm. ‘Excuse me,’ she said, ‘what do you think you’re doing? Who do you think you are?’
‘The landlord. Everyone here is invited, and I’m giving away complimentary drinks. You are not invited, and therefore I have to tell you to leave or I’m breaking the law.’
‘I said I wasn’t here on an official visit, but my visit could become official at any moment,’ said Erika.
‘This is a wake,’ said the man, matter-of-factly. ‘And we have a no-pigs door policy.’
‘What did you just call me?’ asked Erika, trying to remain calm. A short guy with strange gnomic features joined them.
‘Did you know my muvver?’ he asked accusingly.
‘Your mother?’ asked Erika.
‘Yeah, that’s what I said. My muvver, Pearl.’
‘Who are you?’
‘Don’t fucking ask me who I am at my own fucking muvver’s wake! Who the fuck are you?’
‘So this is your mother Pearl’s wake, is it?’ asked Erika.
‘Yeah, and what you gonna fucking do about it?’
Erika looked around the room; people were starting to take notice.
‘Cool it, Michael,’ said the landlord.
‘I don’t like her attitude, stuck up lanky bitch,’ said Michael, looking her up and down.
‘You need to calm down, sir,’ said Erika.
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