scared to death……

He lived across the road from Ty.  I think he lived with his parents or at least his mum.  They owned a stall in Petticoat Lane.  Bill ran it.  Somehow Ty hooked up with him, maybe at the local, I don’t know.  Bill sometimes gave Ty a few hours on the stall so he made a couple of quid now and then.  Sometimes, we saw a lot of Bill, other times we hardly saw him for weeks.  Bill was a loner.  As far as I know he did not have a girlfriend.  I did not particularly like him.  He had a really hard edge to him and when he drank, he could turn really mean.  He never did me any favours so I had nothing beholdin to him.  Ty talked about him having gangster ties.  True or not, I will never know, although I certainly would never have put it past him.  He might have been a little younger than me which put him somewhere in his 20’s, just where I don’t know.  His hard edge was made more obvious by the couple of old deep scars on his face.  He certainly was not ugly in appearance.  He was tall with a rockstar-like body.  He had mid length dirty blonde hair.  His speech had a very slight odd twinge to it, like perhaps he has suffered an injury to his speech box at one time.  I also got the impression that he had suffered one too many blows to his head in his life.  He was imposing, but to me he had an air of some brain damage to him.  I was not attracted to him in any way, shape or form!

I remember one evening when the 3 of us had spent some hours at the local (before both of them were barred).  The drink flowed and really it was not an unpleasant evening.  Neither guy ended up nasty, more a little on the mellow, silly side.  We walked home and Bill came into xxx with us.  I guess we drank a little more (Bill always had reddies for the off license, because Ty and increasingly me as well, did not).  I was not dizzy drunk, just a little buzzed.  Anyway, at about 1am, leaving the guys to their ramblings, I went to bed and fell asleep.  I was awoken some time later by a very sweet Ty, who recounted some story of how Bill had lost his keys and it was too late for him to knock anyone up to let him into his place.  Ty asked if Bill could crash with us.  I nodded ok, I guess.  Now it was the winter of early 1975.  xxx had absolutely no central heating, save for the heat of the gas cooker (as long as we had kept the meter filled) and a coal fire if we had the time or money for coal or wood to light it).  So to put it mildly (xcuse the pun), the house was very, very cold.  I know that in my xxx days I often went to bed with socks and pants and my dressing gown over my nighty, as well as a hot water bottle!  Ty and I slept in a double bed in the 3rd floor.  This room was originally the living/sitting room that I had sat in back in 1970, when I first laid eyes on the wondrous Ty.

Back to Bill… he asked if it was alright if he slept in our bed with us, because it was so bleedin cold!!  I must have been nuts, but with assurances that there would be no funny business, I guess I must have agreed.  There absolutely was no funny business.  I moved to the far end of the bed, Ty lay beside me, and Bill took the other end.  It must have been bloody cold for 2 guys to fall asleep beside each other!  So Jimmy was not completely a monster.  He did however become one the night before I was expecting the arrival of my dear friend Di from Toronto.

Di had arranged her vacation time to spend 2 weeks in London.  I was totally ambivalent about the whole thing.  On one hand I was dying to see my good bud again and show her the sights of London.  On the other hand, I was very reticent about her seeing the nasty side of my boyfriend and wondering why I would stay with this unemployed, mentally unstable, alcoholic guy.  As she had been my best friend for years, and I had come and gone back to London, always with the target of being with my impossible love, I had confided in her the shortcomings of the love of my life.  I was anxious to clean up a room for Di to stay in.  I had managed to get a week of work at JJ, and I wanted my good friend to have a great experience in my favourite city.

Unfortunately for me, halfway through the evening, Ty came home soused with his equally drunk bud, Bill  I think we shot the breeze for a bit, although I was probably a little bitchy, as I had so much to do.  Perhaps, I even suggested to Bill that he leave so I could continue in my impossible quest.  However, tonight drunk Bill was not in a good mood.  In fact he was downright nasty.  Ty was reasonably behaved, but non committal to my pleas to help me tidy.

The next thing I remember, Bill turned like a vicious snake!  He went into a horrible rage and smashed the bottle of beer that he was drinking into the wall.  He was left holding the jagged edge of the top half of his bottle.  Before I could think, he had approached us menacingly pointing the jagged edges toward us.  We slowly moved back until we were in the proverbial corner.  He pushed his new found weapon onto Ty’s throat, right at his adam’s apple and kept it hovering there.  We were at this time huddled together in the far corner of the kitchen.  Ty started to sweet-talk him gently.  I apologized for what might have been the last straw on Jimmy’s back.  He was yelling ‘am I not good enough for you, not good enough, eh?  I remember thinking that I had obviously pushed some bad buttons in my attempt to make him leave.  I am not a mean person, by any stretch, but I knew that he must have perceived some major insult.  Then again, who knows, it might have had nothing to do with me at all.  I don’t know how long Tony and I were trapped in that corner.  I do know that at any minute Bill might have struck, because he was not an emotionally stable man.  I talked gently, Ty spoke conciliatory words for what seems like hours.  I know it wasn’t hours, it could have been half an hour, and when you are in fear of your of your life… time goes slowly…

Gradually Bill inched the broken bottle away from Ty’s throat.  Somewhere in that half hour or so, Bill finally put the bottle down and we were all nervously chatting and even jesting (while quaking in our boots).  Bill might even have apologized at some point, but when Ty finally gently ushered him downstairs and out of the front door, I could at last take a deep breath.  I think the 2 of us were in a modicum of shock for the rest of that night.  Needless to say, I did not get anymore tidying done that night, and after cleaning up the shattered glass and the beer off the floor, and picking up chairs and whatever else Bill had turfed to the ground in his frenzy of rage, we went to bed.  Poor Di I thought, poor me….  (as far as Ty, the line ‘that’s another fine mess you’ve got me into’ came to mind).  I have such a big day tomorrow.  As I remember I was supposed to go into work for the rest of the week, but the next morning I had to go to the closest phone box and call in sick.pete

I remember that Ty did go to Heathrow that afternoon to meet Di and bring her to xxx as he had originally planned.  I think that I must have continued on with my cleaning and tidying quest for her arrival.  One indication of the toll that that extremely stressful evening had taken on my body and soul was that for 2 days straight I had a ghastly bout of abdominal cramps and diarrhoea.


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