Jeremy Clarke

Low life | 23 July 2015

It looks broken, and he's always losing it. But when he asks for it back, sane men agree

Low life | 23 July 2015
Text settings

‘I’ve lost my phone,’ yells Trev. We’re in a club. He’s come charging on to the dance floor to tell me. He’s always forgetting where he’s left his phone and getting in a state. Trev’s phone is old and crap and the screen is the most shattered screen I’ve seen on a phone that still works. Everyone knows Trev’s crap phone. People pinch it for a laugh just to wind him up, then give it back. It’s value to an opportunist thief is less than zero. He generally loses his phone two or three times of an evening. ‘Where did you have it last?’ I shout back. It’s an obvious question, but not one that has occurred to him, apparently. The pertinacity of it stuns him momentarily. He turns his head aside to ponder, an oasis of concentrated thinking amid the hectic dancing.

Suddenly the lights come on in Trev’s brain. He has remembered where he las left his phone. Mentally he leaps on to his horse, the horse rears twice, he fires his pistol into the air then gallops off in all directions. ‘Bogs!’ he shouts. ‘Bogs! Come on.’ Trev is one of those practical people who will always help you look for things, and he quite reasonably expects you to do the same for him. As we push through the crowd to the gentleman’s lavatory on the far side, he tells me that his phone has a new cover featuring wallet-style pockets for credit and debit cards. Unfortunately and uncharacteristically, Trev is using these bourgeois little appurtenances tonight for exactly this purpose. In other words, if his phone is lost or stolen he’s had it — though he uses a much stronger term than that.

Without breaking stride, Trev bashes open the gent’s outer door with a stiff arm and palm and marches in. For a big club it’s a small toilet. Three urinals, a tiny hand wash basin and just a single cubicle with a busted lock for taking drugs in. There’s nobody at the urinals, but we hear the cubicle toilet flushing and a bloke emerges examining a battered old phone encased in a black faux leather cover. In particular he is examining the handy little slots from which the top of Trev’s debit card is visible. Trev is visibly, massively, relieved. Disaster has been averted. ‘Oh, thanks bud!’ says Trev, truly grateful, holding out his hand.

With preternatural calmness the guy assesses Trev through hardening piggy eyes. He’s about 35, tanned, tattooed, bald. Five feet nine or ten. Short-sleeved shirt with button-down collar, three quarter-length cargo trousers, classic white Puma trainers. Solid forearms. Thick neck. Heavy, independent hands. Probably not a Christian. Certainly not a gentleman.

He looks at me, writes me off as negligible, then he looks back at Trev. ‘That’s mine, mate,’ Trev says, maintaining reasonableness. ‘I left it in there five minutes ago. My name is — and it’s right there on the bank card. Have a look.’ The bloke glances cursorily down at the visible top of the bank card but doesn’t take it out to check the name. Instead he snaps the cover shut and shoves the phone into the back pocket of his cargo pants. Then he walks up to Trev, fronts him, puts his face in Trev’s, and says, with breathtaking aplomb, ‘Finders keepers, fatso. Your move.’

The guy is a super middleweight to light heavyweight. Trev is five inches taller and a heavyweight, to say the least. The guy must be pretty handy to fancy himself against Trev. And if he does Trev, it is more than likely that he will keep up the good work and go on to do me. But Trev’s appearance is deceptive. Six months ago he was indeed fat. But he’s put in a lot of patios since and is now solid again. The guy, I am confident, has made a silly mistake and I am sanguine about the outcome.

It takes about a quarter of a second for these thoughts to pass through my brain. Before they are finished, Trev has sunk his teeth into the tip of the guy’s nose and is chewing on it. The guy is screaming, his knees are buckling. Then Trev places a hand on each of the guy’s shoulders and pushes him far enough away to lamp him on the jaw and twice more on the side of the head as he goes down. Then he stands on the guy’s neck while I take the phone out of his pocket. The guy is lying on his side, holding his nose with both bloody hands and whimpering.

‘You’ve got blood on your shirt,’ I warn Trev as we now head for the club’s exit. He squints down at his shirt front then gives me this goofy, slightly mad look of triumph. ‘Who’s the Daddy?’ he says.