Greg Aries - Public Dick
I beat my alarm clock into silence, and tried to put together the pieces of the night before. With my head full of rocks, it wasn’t that easy. I felt like a deaf dumb blind kid with no hands and a rare wasting disease trying to assemble a badly made jigsaw puzzle in a hurricane on a sinking ship in the middle of the night while dancing a light Fandango. The last thing I could definitely remember was ordering my third shot of scotch at The Hill Park Tavern. Someone must have slipped me a Mickey Finn.
I took a shower and shaved my face and tongue. Recently, the mirror had started making me look old and downbeat. I told my reflection it was time to buy a new one, but it was too damn lazy to answer me. I decided I’d be better off getting a new reflection instead. I finished up and went back to the bedroom to throw a shirt on.
I nearly broke my neck on a half-drunk cup of Java I’d left on the shag-pile. Ever since Lily left, I’d let the place go to ruin. Clothes and magazines on every surface, overflowing ashtrays, balled up tissues, you name it. I tried to hire a cleaner, but the old maid took one look at the job and got the heebie jeebies. Hell, what was the world coming to? Even a Polish fishwife didn’t want anything to do with me.
I picked the cleanest shirt I could find and sprayed it with deodorant. The type of deodorant where the advert is filled with women who in real reality can’t really be real. More of the stuff went in my mouth than on the damn shirt. Coughing, I went downstairs, still buttoning my cuffs, smelling like a high school locker room.
There was nothing on the doormat. No junk, no bills, no package from de Souza. I guessed the mail company must have been on strike. No way could an item sent a week ago still not have gotten to my door. If it didn’t come by tomorrow, I’d get the suits involved. I didn’t usually do things by the book, but I was willing to make an exception in this case.
The kitchen was even worse than the bedroom. It was a graveyard for dead pizzas and microwave meals and empty bottles of scotch. My feet stuck to the floor as I went, and I had to work hard to maintain a forward motion. I understood how a bluebottle would feel, walking across a piece of flypaper with a hangover and a heavy pair of leather shoes. I was looking for the most recent takeout container. One without blue mould. In the end, I found it on top of the cooker.
City Charcoal Doner Special - the first little breadcrumb. The Doner Special was a meal for two at least. There was no way on God’s green earth I could have finished one on my own. Even if I did drop some on the way home. So, I wasn’t alone last night. Maybe I could go put the squeeze on those Turkish fellas. See if they could cough up something I could chew on. But they didn’t open until seven, so I decided to stop off at The Tavern.
As far as I could remember, the lovely Belinda was working there last night. And she usually did the Friday early too. As I was looking for my car keys, I let myself think about her. She was gorgeous and dangerous, all in the same breath. Yeah, she was trouble, alright. She was a trouble magnet. Trouble was drawn to her, like an impotent Chinaman to an ocean pie. Like a big fat lesbian to a barrel of dried up tiger cocks.
I couldn’t find my car keys. I turned the place inside out looking for them. I found plenty of stuff I didn’t want to find, but not the damn keys. In the end, I swore and gave up the search. The place actually looked a little tidier than when I’d started. I fished out my charcoal coloured trench coat and decided to take a ride on Shanks’ Pony. It was only raining slightly.
As I walked the city streets, my mood began to darken. The pollution, the back lanes full of garbage, all the burned out signs on Union Street. The hearts of a thousand citizens lay broken around me, and my heart started breaking too. Pieces of it fell from the arms of my trench coat and sprinkled on the dirty street. Before I knew it, I was stumbling though snowdrifts of broken heart, my mood as dark as the soul of a twisted mass murderer. In the nighttime. During a lunar eclipse.
I was lucky to get to The Tavern before the rain started for real. Belinda was there. Even though I couldn’t see her yet, I knew she was. I could tell her perfume a mile off. All spicy and dark. All sex and chocolate. I ordered a scotch and sat at the bar. The jukebox was playing a sailor’s song. The type of song that makes a man feel wistful. That makes him long for the lips of a lover who walked out on him years ago. A lover who ripped out his heart and made a dozen pain canapés from it. I lit a cigarette and put my collar up.
When Belinda came out from the back room, she was dressed to kill. All diamante and silver Lycra. She was a disco ball of hot desire. A black look crawled across her face like a giant beetle. She probably thought I hadn’t noticed, which I hadn’t, or at least that’s what I wanted her to think. Or did I? I couldn’t be certain.
‘You got some front showin’ yer face in ‘ere after last night,’ she said, licking those troublesome lips.
I knew she was bluffing. It was written all over her, like the words in a stick of seaside rock. Well, I wasn’t going to fall for it. I wasn’t going to take her out of her cellophane wrapper and slobber all over her in a penny arcade. The last thing I needed was tooth decay. I offered her a cigarette.
‘So,’ I said. ‘How about you enlighten me, sugar?’
‘Well ya got shitfaced didn’t ya?’
Answering a question with a question - I told you she was dangerous. I needed for her to spill the beans. The pounding head, the unexplained takeout, the missing car keys. In fact, I needed for her to spill the whole damn breakfast. Beans, egg, sausage, mushrooms, hash browns, black pudding, fried bread, toast, fried tomato, cup of Rosy or Java. The thought of all that food suddenly made my stomach roil.
I ordered a bag of Doritos, finished my scotch, and told her I’d be back later. I was on to her, and she knew it. As I was leaving, she called out after me, her voice like an angel playing a golden harp in a platinum rowing boat on a river of ambrosia with the sun setting pink in the backdrop.
‘Don’t ya want yer car keys? Denzil from City Charcoal dropped ‘em in last night. Said you was tryin’ to drive home and he had to razz ‘em off you. You owe him an apology an’ all. Threw half yer kebab in his face, he reckons.’
A likely story. I’d heard it all before. Too tidy, too convenient. The truth is never that simple. I’ll get to the bottom of it someday, you can bet your bottom dollar.
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