mardi 14 avril 2009

The Poor List Ch. 6 - 'Proletarian shopper'

He threw the door open and stood in the pub’s doorway, goods under his arm cigarette in mouth. His face registered a ‘Where the fuck am I again?’ look, then he smiled a massive grin. The noisy interior was crammed. He leered jauntily at two young women he half knew. They sneered back. The pub was built into the slope and as people walked by outside all you could see were their legs. It was the type of pub regulars would hammer on the windows to get in of a morning. Danny Quinn wasn’t a drinker but a regular anyway and this morning he had less time than usual. He glanced around trying to spot someone. Barefoot Karl over in the corner, Hitch, Dover, Trist. They’d do. He sauntered over. Barefoof Karl and the people at his table nodded obliquely to the looming figure. He had to shout over the music and the TV. Hands shook fingers pointed.
“Course they’re fucking nicked”, he said to someone next to barefoot Karl “I can get rid of the tags, obviously. Fifteen. Tenner then. Here you go.”
Business was brisk. He moved quickly from table to table with the bag of clothes and other sundries, (unisex sport’s wear, DVD’s, perfume and console games) and took some more orders. By the time the landlord noticed, he’d got through practically all the stuff.
“You again? Fuck off out of it,” the landlord shouted, shook a bony fist and moving quickly, raised the partition. Quinn took a gulp of Triste’s lager and had eeled his way back out onto the dusty main street. He dodged smoothly but obtrusively through the cut price crowd up the main route to the weekend’s hq.
They were filling in slips and drinking tea from plastic cups. Danny sighed royally and sat beside them, on a stool nailed to the floor. He squinted under a bright light.
“Fucking hate horses.”
“Where the fuck have you been?” Coily asked Quinn.
“Yeah Danny you took your time.”
“Fuck off dossers,” Danny said smiling and rubbing his head. “Did you flog all yours?”
“Nah. The underwear thing. I told you it wouldn’t work. Got shut of the trainers though.”
“Cool. Another run and we should have enough,” said Danny and rasped his head again. “Keep the frills for your sicko life Lumpy eh. Where next? We haven’t done the Castle for a while. ”
“Keep your voice down Danny for fuck’s sake,” Lump said.
“Get us a tea Coily.”
Spearman’s betting shop was tucked in between a charity shop and the Wild Rover pub all under the car park next to the Abbey House tower block which was why it was always dark when you looked out of the window. Before, too, I guess. The place was half full. Occasionally, from the speaker system around the walls, over the top of low level murmur, a loud Hampshire accented voice gave out clues and figures. The clientele was all male and there was an atmosphere of near reverential silence as horses were paraded on the screens for the Chepstow twelve fifteen. The majority of the people listening were from the sharp end of the way things were, though, Coily thought. Apart from the odd copper. Which was why Lump’s advice was well placed.
“Look at all these fucking numbers and shit. What the fuck?” Danny said and frowned at the Racing Post pages pinned to the wall. “Why call a horse ‘Biter arse’?” Danny said as he checked his mobile.
He sipped his tea and glanced at the three women clerks behind the plastic screen at counter as they dealt with a pre-race rush of five or six shambling men.
“It says ‘Bitter Harvest’. Twenty to one. Might have a throw at them odds.”
“Wever. Lumpy, Shaz and your slag are meeting us down the precinct in twenty minutes. We’ll do Scars and the Slipped Disc and that Superdrug. Reminds me you ave got in touch with Posh Dave?”
“Don’t worry. Is sorted.”
The commentators’ up market voices, consoling and posh, droned on.
“She’s too up market for you Dannyboy,” Coily said and put a brown cup on the chest high table in front of Danny.
“Fuck and off Coily you goat fucker.” Coil laughed silently as mad as a cat’s yawn and extended his middle finger from a grubby fist towards Danny and turned to the sodden race build-up on the high screens.
Adrian Haze who had for years answered to ‘Lump’ from family, friends and enemies stared glumly at a work poster. He was a worried man. A smiling family stood against a blue background reaching out towards a woman in a suit smiling behind a desk, a man, also smiling, in a white laboratory coat with a clip board peered at a desecrated test tube and a young black girl in a fork lift truck smiled and gave the thumbs up sign as she shifted a pallet pile of apples from invisible origin to invisible destination and behind them other officials and workers all smiling and beckoning, all in a happy circle radiate hope and confidence. The design had been amended in blue biro. Pert breasts had been drawn on the female characters as well as some of the male ones. A crudely scrawled elephantine penis coiled its way from the wielder-father in the middle of the scene and behind the suited woman who had had her eyes and mouth artistically drawn over into smudgy ecstasy. In a bubble extending from her mouth, the artist had written, “Anytime big boy”. A similar more untidily executed bubble from the technician’s slightly agape, mouth exclaimed “Me next.” The “going forward” part of the poster’s slogan had been modified to read “going down”. There was an email address of sexual content, mirror image swastikas and ‘AWA’ scrawled on the technician’s coat.
“You ever wonder though”, Lump said into the rising volume of shouts and pleas as the race gained momentum, “What it’d be like to, like, have proper jobs?” The clipped accent intoned position and countdown.
Danny looked at Lump who looked at Coil who looked at Danny and then at Lump.
They stayed for two more races, which they came out of just above even.
They counted up. Bitter Harvest was paraded round the pen. The Hampshire voice was now quite post-coitial and some of the men left screwing up their betting slips in disgust.
“Come on,” Coil said finishing his tea, “stuff won’t nick itself.” Outside, Danny took a biological event in the doorway right opposite Spearman’s betting office. Once leaving the doorway step, the stream of cooling yellow water picked up dust, chocolate wrapping and, for a short distance, a small tin can, as it flowed its way, with seeming purpose, to the centre of town.