An extract from ‘The Blue Ruin Cafe’ by Rachel Trezise

In the lead up to xx minifest we shall be posting teaser extracts of writing from our artists so that you can see how great they are and remember to buy tickets. First up we have an extract from ‘The Blue Ruin Cafe’ by Rachel Trezise:
‘Mammy was doing her moustache again, the smell of the beeswax strong, steam curling off the pot. She was fierce obsessed with hair removal; it was the second time in a week. The counter at the front of the café had turned messy with her things, the gummy tubs of wax mixed up with the dusty sweet jars, the wooden spatulas sprouting from the cup meant for coffee stirrers. ‘With a bit of luck you won’t need to do this,’ she said as she spread the golden solution over her top lip. She checked her reflection in the mirrored Coca-Cola sign hung on the tongue-and-groove, pressing a strip of gauze onto her mouth before the liquid hardened. ‘See me, I’m Sicilian. Covered in hair I don’t want, like the Turks, the Greek. But you’re Irish, Majella, and that’s as Caucasian as it gets. It only takes two generations to assimilate. That’s what your old Nonno told me when you were born. “You’re Irish now, Bonfilia. An Irish bambina to prove it.” She pointed the spatula at me. ‘But you didn’t turn me blonde now, did ye?’
            My Nonno was sitting at the back of the room, at the booth nearest the window. He got up at four o’clock every morning, dressed in his Y-fronts and an inside-out woollen cardigan, and went and sat there in the cafe. He’d stay put until eight in the evening, eating malted biscuits and smelling of pee, the way that ninety-year-olds do. Sometimes he acted the maggot; shouting at people who weren’t there, throwing his arms about in a rage. Mammy said he was reliving his days in the Italian Navy, fighting the Spanish Civil War. He didn’t pay any attention to us because in his loo-la head we weren’t born yet. We didn’t pay much attention to him either, which is why we failed to notice he’d suffered his second stroke a week ago.
            ‘Youch,’ Mammy squealed, pulling the gauze from her lip. And at the same time there was another sound, a brazen clanging from the door chime. A fierce tall feller with yellow hair like Shaggy out of Scooby-Doo was standing in the gangway, his Barbour jacket dripping, a soggy cardboard folder under his arm. ‘Bout ye?’ Mammy said, eyeing him suspiciously as she wiped a gobbet of blood from her mouth.’
from ‘The Blue Ruin Cafe’ (c) Rachel Trezise
Rachel will be appearing at the Cardiff Literary Salon session of xx in Chapter Theatre, Sat 27 October 2012, 7.30pm, £4. See our full programme:
Rachel Trezise was born in the Rhondda Valley in 1978. Her debut novel In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl won the Orange Futures Award in 2001. Her debut collection of short stories Fresh Apples won the inaugural Dylan Thomas Prize in 2006. Her debut non-fiction work Dial M for Merthyr won the Max Boyce Prize in 2010. Her current novel is Sixteen Shades of Crazy. Her first theatre play Tonypandemonium will be staged by National Theatre Wales in 2013. Her second collection of stories Cosmic Latte will be published by Parthian in 2013.

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