I couldn’t figure out how he was still alive.
Coffin-Nail liked his fags.
They didn’t like him.
Maybe it was because he kept setting fire to them.
He was a skeleton covered in parchment, his tattoos looking like signs on an ancient treasure map.
If I looked like him, I’d be careful with the fag ash.
He was so desiccated he looked flammable.
The coughing would begin, a rattling clatter like a bingo machine starting up in his chest.
‘And the next number is…’
‘…a lump of brown jelly with bits of black in it!’
He lit another fag.
“I didn’t always work here, Lucifer. I used to clear houses for the council years ago. Do odd jobs for ’em. Fixing stuff that those scum-arsed tenants used to break. They had no respect, those tenants.”
“I wouldn’t know about that, Coffin-Nail”
“Well take it from me. No respect. You’d be surprised what people leave behind when they do a midnight flit without paying the rent.
Photo albums, old books, ornaments and clothing. We used to chuck the lot. Smash it, and chuck it.”
“Wasn’t any of it worth keeping?”
“We were paid per house, Lucifer. If we fucked about taking every fucking vase and table we found to Hugh Fucking Scully then we’d get paid about a shilling a day! No, smash it and chuck it, that’s what we did.”
Coffin-Nail’s lips pulled back, showing his stained teeth. He looked like a cancerous Mr Ed.
I realised he was smiling.
I hadn’t seen that before.
I wished he’d stop.
“Here, Lucifer. Now you mention it, I did find summat worth keeping once.”
“Did you, Coffin-Nail? Well, tea break is over, so maybe…”
“I were clearing this house on my own one time. We usually worked in teams, but this day I was on my own. The tenant hadn’t left owt behind, except this big wardrobe. The wardrobe were worth fuck all, I’d smash that and chuck it, but it was what I found inside that were worth keeping…”
I was already late. I didn’t have time for this shit and his grinning was freaking me out. I decided to do one.
I couldn’t help it.
“What was in the wardrobe, Coffin-Nail?”
“It were a box, Lucifer. A big box. You’ll never guess what were inside.”
“No. I can’t possibly imagine.”
“I opened this box, and inside were this suit. It were a woman suit.”
“A woman’s suit?”
“No! A woman suit. Flesh coloured, with tits and a big hairy mott!”
“Fuck knows what anyone would want one of them for. There’s some perverted fuckers out there you know, Lucifer.”
“No shit, Coffin-Nail.”
“Anyhow, inside the box were these two wigs. A blonde one and a dark one. No joke shop shit, these wigs were top quality. Real human hair. They’ll have cost a packet, they will.
“Underneath them were these dildos. Three of ’em! Great big fuckers, n’all!”
“What could you possibly want with that lot, Coffin-Nail?”
“Well, I stuck then dildos in Dettol overnight, in the garage so the wife wouldn’t see ’em. Then I took the lot round to this birds house who I was knocking off. We had a right time with ’em, I can tell you.”
“I can imagine.”
I didn’t want to.
“What did you want the wigs for, Coffin-Nail?”
“Well, this bird I were knocking off were bald, so she gave the wigs a wash and she wore ’em, you see.”
“Of course. Why didn’t I guess. See you around, Coffin-Nail.”
“Yeah, see you, Lucifer.”