Not so far from heaven

Billy was listening to the Dolls when the others got home, his beanbag hauled next to the stereo. With eyes closed he might have been in a Manhattan bar, but instead he was stuck in a middle-class, no-class suburb, music mags and LPs spread around him like autumn leaves.

Mum popped her head in, satisfied herself he wasn’t high, waved and left, closing the door behind her. He took a bottle of bourbon from behind his Asterix comics. It looked like honey and tasted like floor polish.

The phone rang down the hall. His sister, Vicki, answered then yelled, ‘Oi, Numb-nuts. It’s for you. It’s a girl.’

Billy scrambled out, punched Vicki to get the phone from her and then shooed her away before talking.

‘Billy here.’

‘Hi, Billy. It’s Tara. We were talking at the record store the other day.’

Billy remembered. He was always giving his number to girls like her. They never called. ‘Tara. How’s it going?’

‘I was listening to that MC5 you told me about and I remembered your number.’

‘D’you like the track?’


‘I’ve got some new British stuff, I picked up. You wanna come over and listen?’ Billy glared at Vicki who was making faces.

‘Yeah,’ said Tara. ‘Sure.’

Ten minutes earlier he’d wished he were anywhere else.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (