(copied directly from file in progress so excuse typos/mistakes!!)
The night air was chilly and there was a dusting of frost glowing silver on the pavement as Rita Fraser walked along the Gallowgate with her hands tucked into her brand new rabbit fur muff. She’d bought the muff with her first week’s wages at Lewis’s on Argyll Street, fit to burst with excitement at being able to own an item so unimaginably luxurious. It was the sort of thing Audrey Hepburn would wear, she’d pleaded to her mother who’d given her a clout around the ears when Rita admitted that she’d spent her first week and didn’t have any left over for her keep.
‘I said I’ll gie ye double next week!’ she’d shrieked, slamming the door of the bedroom she shared with her three younger sisters behind her.
‘Well you’re no’ eating any of our food you never paid for!’ her mother hollered through the door. ‘You can just chew on your bloody muff!’
At that, Rita had got the giggles and had staggered to the floor, helpless with laughter, at the picture of the family tucking into roast beef and her sitting there with only her precious muff on the plate. The three wee girls were all crowded onto Nan’s bed, playing with paper dolls they’d cut out of newspaper.
‘Do you want to play?’ Nan asked, as Rita made a face at herself in the cracked mirror and wished she’d had enough for a new bottle of foundation. She’d just have to pinch her cheeks and make do, she’d decided. It was dark enough in the Barrowlands Ballroom nobody would see her face anyway, and everyone knew that men were a lot more concerned with what they could feel in the darkness than what they could see in the light.
‘Maybe later, pet,’ she’d promised Nan. ‘I’ll help you cut out some new dressed for them.’
Her hands would be freezing now in pathetic wee gloves, she thought triumphantly as the man touched her elbow to steer her past the drunk pissing outside The Drum pub. So take that, you auld bitch.
‘I don’t want to take you out your way,’ she said primly as they turned on to the High Street. ‘If you could just see me as far as the bus station.’
‘I wouldn’t hear of it,’ the man replied, and Rita felt a little flush of pleasure. He was tall and thin with a pointy chin and prominent Adam’s Apple, but he had led her firmly round the dancefloor with strong hands, and he was well spoken. Refined, you know? she pictured telling her pal Bridie the next morning as they tidied the shop floor ready for opening. I like a man that sounds clever.
Bridie would roll her eyes and tell her she’d be better of finding a man that sounded like he had a job, but Bridie had married Tam the day she left school, and now at twenty had her third wean on the way — Rita was sworn to secrecy about that as their boss was already reluctant to take on a married woman, but Tam tended to drink his wages away before he got home so someone needed to be earning. Bridie knew nothing about holding out for the sort of romance you saw at the pictures. The midwife who’d attended her second birth had flung Tam down the stairs after he barged in the bedroom in the middle of it all to demand his tea. He’d broken a wrist and Bridie had been run ragged looking after him while her sister took care of the baby.
‘I wouldn’t have you on a bus on your ain at this time of night,’ the man continued. ‘Especially not with a madman on the loose.’
‘Oh I don’t believe in all that,’ Rita scoffed. ‘It’s been months since that woman in Bridgeton was murdered. The papers are just making out there’s a boogeyman to put the wind up folk.’
‘What about the nurse last year?’ the man asked. ‘They’ve never solved that one either.’
‘Well if he’s killing one a year he’s a right lazy madman,’ Rita laughed as the approached St Enoch’s Square. ‘He’s as bad as Santa. And he’s done his quota for 1969, so I’m safe until Hogmanay at least.’
‘The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.’