Ely Percy’s first publication was a letter-cum-poem in Big! magazine in 1994. Since then, they’ve released a memoir Cracked (JKP, 2002), graduated with distinction from Glasgow University’s MPhil in Creative Writing (2004) and contributed over fifty short stories to literary journals (e.g. New Writing Scotland, Scotsman Orange and Edinburgh Review). Percy’s debut novel Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz was published in March 2019 by Knight Errant Press. Their second novel Duck Feet (Monstrous Regiment) is due for publication in summer 2020 - Hero is an extract from this. t: @decenthumanbean

Wully McCoy’s a hero. Some lassie in his Craft An Daft class went an chopped her finger aff by accident the other day an it wis cause ae Wully that she managed tae get it sewed back on: whilst evrubdy else in the room wis staunin sayin, Ay look at aw the blood, ecsetra ecsetra, Wully grabbed the finger an run alang tae the canteen an pit it in a cup ae ice.

Thir’s gaunnae be a big assembly fur him themorra mornin: he’s meant tae be gettin some kinna medal aff the heidy. It wis in the Paisley Express whit happent an Wully got his photie took on the front page wi his airm roon the lassie who wis haudin up her bandaged haun; the headline wis a cracker, it said:



Suddenly aw the teachers are bein nice tae Wully. Even oor Maths teacher, Mr Bueller, who’s been sayin fur ages that he’s gonna get him moved doon tae the Foundy class, has been sookin up his arse. Yesterday durin first period he let him gie oot aw the compasses, an he never even said anythin when Wully did his usual, Mr Bueller can-ah-borrow-a-ruler, comment that always sends the class intae hysterics.

Billy son, said Mr Bueller, jist as we wur aw gaun oot the class (ah don’t think ah’ve actually ever heard Bueller cawin him anythin other than MR MCCOY or YOU BOY), Can you wait behind fur a minute. Ah few folk sniggert cause naebdy caws him Billy an certainly no, BILLY SON. Ah walked dead slow doon the corridor tae English so’s ah could earywig whit wis gaun on an ah think maist other folk had the same idea. Widy say widy say, shoutet Chris Duffy when Wully come oot the class. Wully rolt his eyes an said, He wantet tae tell me how proud he wis o me fur been a good samaritan.


The assembly wis at ten a’clock this mornin an the whole ae the school even the cleaners an the dinner wummin wur there; Wully looked dead awkward specially since his ma an his da an nearly aw his family wur there, an his auld man wis wearin a suit instead ae his usual Rangers top an tracky troosers. It wis funny seein aw the McCoys in the wan room, aw dressed up lik they wur gaun tae court or somethin. Jist as they wur aboot tae sit doon, Wully’s ma tried tae spit clean the side ae his mooth an his face wis an absolute picture.

Yi could well tell Wully didnae want tae be there. He kept shiftin aboot in his seat an lookin doon at his finger nails. Ah think he wida went up though tae get the medal (even jist fur his family’s sake) if it hadnae been fur Duffy an Mickey O’Rourke an aw that crowd pure shoutin things.

Here comes the hero, shoutet Chris Duffy, he’s a mooth an a half an yi can never tell whether or no he’s bein sarky. Heh Wully see if ah cut ma baith hauns aff, he said, D’yi hink yi could keep them in yir freezer till after the exams. Ho Wully, shoutet Mickey O’Rourke, Ma cat’s got it’s foot stuck in the wheelie bin want tae come an rescue it fur us. Wully tolt the two ae them tae bolt. Watch it ya pair a mongs, he said, Or ah’ll stick yous in a wheelie bin. Chris Ross an Chris Russell startet sayin things lik, Gaunnae gies yir autograph, an, Want tae sign ma pencil case. It wis a pure sin fur him an ah wisnae really that surprised when he said, Sack this, an walked oot the assembly hall.


It’s two days till exam leave an hardly any ae ma pals wur in the day, cause Yvonne had the flu an Clicky wis at the dentist, an Charlene’s ma didnae think thir wis any point in sendin her when she could be at home babysittin her wee sister. It endet up it wis jist me an Cantsmell an Wully McCoy that wis in Maths fifth period an Bueller never even turnt up tae take the class.

Heh Kirsty, said Wully, D’yi want tae jist dog it this efternoon. Ah got pure shivers up ma back when he said it cause ah’d never skipped school in ma puff. Yi want tae, he said. Aw ah dunno, ah said. C’moan it’s only Maths live dangerously. Whit happens if we get caught. Who’s gaunnae catch us. Bueller, ah said, Whit if he comes back. Nae chance, he said, Ah seen him doon the Piccolo Mondo at lunch time wi that fat cow fae French. Whit if he dis though, ah said, Or whit if Cantsmell grasses on us. Aye right an he’d be brave him widint he, said Wully. Whit if he dis though, ah said, Knowin ma luck ah’d get pure suspendet or expelt or somethin. Ma life startet flashin before ma eyes when ah said that: pure kicked ootae Renfra high then ma ma flingin me oot the hoose on ma sixteenth birthday; then ah end up in a tenement full a dampness next door tae junkies in Moorpark Square, an daein some reject college course at Can’t Reid Don’t Kerr that’s full ae neds that are no auld enough tae even leave school yet.


Wully talked me intae doggin it wi him cause ah wis pure bored an like he said it wis only Maths (an Bueller wisnae even in) an then RE an we’d a substitute teacher fur that anyway.

Moan wull gi doon tae Renfra, he said, We can sit in the Robbie park tae the bell goes. It felt dead risque an dead excitin sneakin ootae school wi him, specially when ah needet the toilet right at the last minute an Mrs Auldhill wis in there cleanin oot the sanny bins. Whit yi up tae the day Kirsty, she said. Ah pure jumped when she said it an ah wis dyin tae spill the beans tae her but ah wis feart she might grass us in so ah jist said, Nothin, ah said, Jist doon daein a pee; ma voice went pure high pitched when ah said it an she looked at me pure funny so ah jist went in an did ma business an then made a sharp exit.


Ah wis pure shittin ma knickers walkin oot that gate; ah jist kept expectin a big mad haun tae clamp itsel oantae ma shoulders an then weehk me doon tae Geggy’s office. You awright, said Wully as we wur walkin doon Hainin Road. Aye fine. D’you no hate school sometimes, he said, (ah thought it wis a bit ae a bizarre thing fur Wully tae say since he’s always doggin it) Ah mean ah know yir smart an yi get good marks an that an aw the teachers like yi an stuff but –

Ah hate PE, ah said. Ah don’t know why ah said ah hate it cause ah don’t really, ah jist hate Miss Gillis cause she’s a cow. Naw she’s awright man, said Wully, She’s aboot the only teacher in that school by the way that’s no a two faced mong. Yi think so. Ah know so. See when we startet first year, he said, See nearly every teacher in that high school soon’s they realised who ma faimly wur an who ah wis cousins wi they startet talkin tae me different. Widyi mean different. Widyou hink. We baith shut up fur a few minutes an then we crossed the road at the Robbie Park an went up an sat on the swings. Different as in talkin tae yi lik yir a piece a shite, said Wully, Jist cause yir da’s been in the jail an aw yir uncle’s’ve been in the jail an hauf yir faimly’s been in the jail, he said, It’s same whenever folk fun oot ah’m a McCoy they either want tae square up tae us or avoid us lik the plague. Ah didnae know whit tae say so ah never said anythin. Anen aw this hero shite ever since ah went an hingied Linsey Jackson’s fingers, he said, Suddenly aw the wans that widnae pish on me are lik how yi doin William where yi gaun William need a haun tae wipe yir arse there William. Ah didnae mean tae but ah startet laughin at that; he didnae say anythin aboot it though so he either wisnae bothert or hadnae noticed. See that Miss Gillis, he said, She wis the only wan that never changed taewards me. Whit aboot me, ah said, D’yi think ah’ve changed. You’re different Kirsty, he said. Ah still don’t know whit he meant by that. He said, See Miss Gillis know the only hing she said tae us efterwards talkin aboot me pure sprintin doon the canteen wi Linsey’s finger. Whit. Wully McCoy seef ah knew yi could run lik that ah’d’ve pit yi in the relay team.

We sat there fur aboot an oor after that; jist talkin an stuff an ah wis tellin Wully aboot this film ah saw aboot this guy that saved a wee lassie’s life an then later on he kidnapped sumdy else. He couldnae handle bein a hero, ah said, So whit he did wis he committet a crime tae balance himsel oot. Aye right yi are man Kirsty, said Wully, Ah’ll jist go rob a bank go hijack a mad aeroplane or some’hin jist so’s everyhin goes back tae normal. Yeah, ah said, We should both hijack an aeroplane an kidnap Bueller an fly him tae outer Mongolia or somethin an leave him there. You’re pure evil man pure schitzoid, he said, Ah thought you wur a nice lassie anaw. Shut it HERO, ah said.


We’d jist come oot the Robbie Park an we wur staunin talkin at the traffic lights when this mad car come flyin doon Paisley Road. Ah didnae even see it at first cause ah’d ma back tae it but Wully did an he jist pure ran ontae the road an pushed this wee first year boy oot the way.

Ah had tae phone an ambulance an ah wis pure shakin; the driver didnae even stop. The polis came an everythin an they asked me fur ah statement an ah wis aboot tae tell them whit happent when Wully buttet in an said, This wee guy saved ma life. Ah wis like WHIT, ah thought he’d got a concussion or somethin cause he’d a scrape on the side ae his heid an his mooth wis bleedin, but then he winked at me an the polis said, Is this true, so ah said, Aye ah think so ah didnae really see it.

The wee boy Wully saved didnae say anythin tae correct him; ah think he wis in shock; it endet up he’d broke his collar bone in two places when he hit the ground. See this wee guy, Wully said tae the polis an the folk that wur staunin roon aboot, He’s a hero by the way. ●