They took mam away. For a rest, they said, though I didn’t know what from – she never seemed to do any work that I could see, apart from ironing Little Billy’s shirts. He was fussy like that, said it was important to look good, and it impressed the social enough for them to say he could look after me while mam was gone. I had to iron his shirts then and that’s when things started to go wrong, when I left the iron on for too long.
“Moron!” The back of his hand hit my face and I fell over, catching my foot in the cable and pulling the iron down on top of me. I screamed as it landed on my arm, but Little Billy grabbed me and dragged me into the kitchen and made me stick my arm under the cold tap. Then he said I didn’t need to go to school no more in case the teachers saw how stupid I was and they took me away too.
And now mam was gone, uncle Kenny came round more often. Sometimes he stayed all night and I had to make breakfast for them both and I thought maybe he should just move in with us. Little Billy said I was thinking too much again and I should just do as I were told and shut up whining. And he went into the bathroom and came out all shiny-eyed just like mam did.
When uncle Kenny brought uncle Liam to meet me when Little Billy was out. I didn’t want to let them in, not when I was alone in the flat and Little Billy said not to answer the door to strangers. But uncle Kenny wasn’t a stranger, and they brought me chocolate cake and I ain’t never had chocolate cake before, so I let them in and gave them Little Billy’s beer. They left me sixty quid, so I stuffed thirty in the drawer by my bed and put the other thirty in the kitchen. Then I had a bath. After that, I got the iron out and started ironing Little Billy’s shirts again as I’d messed up so bad last time.
“Thirty quid?” Little Billy stomped across the room. “Thirty quid? Nobody screws with Billy Martin, least of all Kenny-fuckin’-Briggs.” He threw the ashtray at the wall and all the dog-ends landed on the carefully-ironed shirts, which were my fault really, as I should’ve put them away before he got back from the Rocket. I tried to clean up the mess, but Billy hit me again and said I obviously hadn’t been nice enough while he was out. I heard him swearing, then punch the wall in the bathroom and then it went quiet for a bit and he came out again, only this time, his eyes were so shiny I thought they’d bug right out of his head, and his nose was runnin’ with snot.
“Look at ya, little whore. Just like your mam, you are – can’t be nice enough to earn a decent livin’.”
I backed away. Little Billy was scarin’ me and I wanted to tell him about the rest of the money uncle Kenny had left but he wasn’t listening; he was muttering to himself about how he’d be better off without me and I could go and work the streets for all he cared.
There was spit coming out of his mouth and he didn’t look like Little Billy no more as he stumbled towards me, and I was really scared then as I’d never seen him so angry and I didn’t know what I was s’posed to have done anyway, so I shoved the ironing board at him and he fell over it and the hot iron landed smack on his face and there was a God-awful stink.
I wish I'd been a nice girl and then p'raps Little Billy would've been OK.