I walked in off the hot street for a cold beer.
I knew they sold cold beer. The sign, written in faded chalk, said “COLD BEER”.
It also said, “WORK WEAR WELCOME”. I wasn’t wearing work wear, but it was good to know.
It was dark inside the pub. I stood in the doorway and allowed my eyes to adjust to the gloom, to the sour beer smell, to The Eagles on the jukebox.
Dull shapes moved slowly in the perpetual twilight.
Gradually the dull shapes turned into people, and some were actually wearing work wear. The advertising was obviously effective. Other people looked like they’d never done a day’s work in their lives.
I say I wasn’t wearing work wear, but that’s not strictly true, as I was on my way home from work and I had been wearing the same clothes that day.
My clothes didn’t count. Grimy overalls, scuffed rigger boots and jeans thick with plaster dust constitute work wear.
My clothing was conspicuously clean and fresh.
I walked to the bar, ignoring a few side on glances, and ordered one of those famous cold beers. Like I said, the advertising was effective.
Someone further down the bar called out:
“Aye up, our kid!”
It was my brother, Devil.
I wasn’t really surprised to see him there as it was his kind of pub.
He used to work at the same factory as me, but he jacked it in and tried being a barfly instead.
It was a career change that suited him, perhaps a little to well.
He moved down the bar and sat on the stool next to me. He was grinning from ear to ear, looking like he didn’t have a care in the world.
It made me think about quitting my job and becoming barfly too.
I said, “Now then Devil. Keeping busy?”
“This and that, Luci. This and that.” He caught the bartender’s attention. “Deano! Get my brother a beer, will you?”
Devil talked to Deano like he was a friend. Deano didn’t look like he was friends with anyone.
Deano dumped my beer in front of me. He said, “You’re too late, Devil.”
Devil winked. “Better get me one then, Deano!”
Deano glowered, and slouched back to the pump.
I said, “So what are you so happy about, Devil? Been getting your end away?”
“Ha! Just the opposite, our kid! I’ve got shut of that crazy cunt, Scarlet!”
“Scarlet? I don’t know a Scarlet…”
“What? Come, on, man! Scarlet! That mad bird I’ve been banging!”
I shook my head. “Nope. You’ve not told me about her. Remember, I’ve not seen you in a few months.”
“Shit, I could have sworn I told you about her…”
An old man with no teeth nursing a half of mild leaned across to me. “He’s told every other bastard in this place about her!” he cackled.
Deano came back with a beer. He dead eyed me. “That’ll be four sixty.”
I looked at Devil.
Devil looked preoccupied.
I paid for the beer.
Devil sprang back to life. “Anyhow, this Scarlet lass. I started seeing her a few months back. Can’t remember where I met her, it just sort of happened. She’s a bit posh but lives in a block of flats. I don’t know how that works, but that’s how it is. Bit of a student type. Really dramatic about everything, you know? Anyhow, I starts seeing her. We go out for summat to eat, like for a pizza or something, and she’d say, “Devil, oh Devil, I’m not wearing any panties!” and I’d think, ‘fucking hell! Randy bitch!’ and I’d take a look under the table, and I wouldn’t want mi dinner anymore.”
“Why didn’t you want your dinner anymore?”
“Coz of her fanny, that’s why. See, Scarlet’s a ging, so she’s got ginger eyebrows and ginger eyelashes and ginger hair and ginger pubes…”
“I get the picture.”
“Right, well, she doesn’t like the ginger pubes so she always shaves the lot off, which is all right, you know? But what’s not alright is that her fanny is bright red and she has this one massive big flap.”
I snorted, and beer came out of my nose.
“Don’t laugh, y’bastard!” laughed Devil. “It was horrible! Flapping around down their while I’m trying to tuck into my pepperoni! It put me right off!”
I composed myself, wiped beer from my nose onto the beer towel. Deano looked disgusted, but I didn’t care.
“Two more beers, Deano. One massive big flap and a bright red fanny, Devil? That sounds bleak.”
“Bleak it was, our kid. Bleak it was.”
“I’m interested, just how big was this massive big flap? I mean, compared to normal flaps, that is.”
Devil took a drink. “Ok. Do you remember when we used to queue for the school bus?”
“Yeah, I remember.”
“Right, well you’ll remember that on Tuesdays the Special Bus would go past at twenty five past eight and everyone in the school queue would go quiet and look away?”
“And do you remember why everyone would go quiet and look away?”
“Yeah, because there was a that old bloke on the Special Bus with no teeth and a red face who would always lick the window and he had a massive tongue… oh fucking hell no…”
Devil nodded, drank his beer.
I shook my head in stunned silence.
The old man leaned across to me again. “Disgusting, isn’t it?”
“Fuck off, Tommy!” yelled Devil. “You’re not much better looking than he was, than that fanny was!”
Tommy went back to his beer.
“Any road,” continued Devil, keeping one eye on old Tommy, “I tried to break up with Scarlet. I really tried! I was really put off because of the… you know…”
“Massive big flap?”
“Yeah, that. But I’d have a few beers, then she’d ring me, begging for a fucking, and before I knew where I was I’d be round there banging her! You know what my problem is, Luci? I’m weak, that’s what it is. Just plain weak…”
I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “Yeah, you’re really fucking weak, mate.” It didn’t help.
“It wasn’t just the massive big flap though. She was really kinky! You know what she had me do? She had me tie her up with nowt on and put tape over her mouth, sling her in the boot of my Ford Fiesta then drive around for miles and miles before pulling into a lay-by, open the boot, roll her over and bang her right there, in the boot, in a lay-by in the middle of fucking nowhere! If that’s not fucking kinky then I don’t know what is!”
I said, “Yeah, that’s pretty kinky.”
“And then this other time she phoned me and says for me to come over to pick her up. I got to her flat and she’s waiting in the lobby, wearing this mad robe. You know, like a king’s? All red with this big furry trim! So she gets i the car and tells me to drive. We go out into the countryside, miles from anywhere, and she tells me to pull over by this gate. I stops the car and she suddenly leaps out of the car and throws off this robe! Underneath she’s got nowt on! Totally in the nuddy! And she goes belting off across this field, waving her arms about screaming ‘Rape! Rape!’ ”
“Fucking hell! That’s mental!”
“I know! I had to go after her to try shut her up! I was bloody knackered by the time I caught up with her!”
“What did you do?”
“I gave her a slap then bummed her in the woods.”
“Yeah, I wasn’t proud.”
I ordered two more beers. It looked like I was paying.
I said, “So how did you get rid of her then?”
“Well, last night, enough was enough. She wanted to try that trick again with the daft robe and the rape fantasy thing. It’s just not my cup of tea. Honest. So off we go to the arse end of nowhere in my Fiesta, but this time she’s in the boot. I mean, I ask you. What kind of lass likes to be driven round in the boot of twelve year old Fiesta? So off we go to the woods and out she leaps and goes scampering off into the woods, and I noticed that she’s got a really red arse.”
“A red arse? What, like sore or something?”
“Nah, just bright fucking red! You know how her fanny is bright red, well, so’s her arse. So she’s running off into the woods with naff all on and her bright red arse wobbling about like fucking baboon’s, and I thought, ‘Fuck that for a game of soldiers’ so I chucked her daft cape over a fence, put the old Fiesta in gear and fucked off.”
I was shocked. “You left her?? You just drove off and left her? A girl on her own in the fucking nude in the back of beyond and you drove off and left her?”
“I chucked her daft robe on the fence, mate. She wouldn’t technically be nudey if she had that.”
“That’s not the point! If she goes and get’s raped and killed then you look like the prime fucking suspect! What if she dies of hypothermia or something? Or falls and breaks her leg? Jesus Christ, didn’t you think it through? Why didn’t you just phone her and tell her ‘Sorry love, you’re chucked’ rather than leaving her for the badgers??”
Tommy leaned over again. “That’s just what I said to him, kid. The foxes and rats will be gnawing that poor girl now…”
“Rather them than me, Tommy,” Devil said into his glass. “They’ve got enough to feed ’em for a week just with that massive big flap.”
I shook my head. I felt like I should do something, alert the police. What if she was injured out there, lost and alone in the woods?
Then Devil’s phone started ringing.
He checked it.
“Shit. It’s her.”
A said, “What, her…as in, her?”
“Yeah. It’s ‘The Flap’.”
“Well at least she’s not dead…”
Devil took the call. I tried not to listen, but I couldn’t help it.
“Oh, hi babe! Listen I’m sorry…. yeah… yeah? You liked it? It actually turned you on? What’s that? You’re doing what right now? You dirty little… Ok. Yeah, ok. I’ll be right over.”
I looked down. Devil was absent mindedly rubbing his hard on through his pants. I looked away.
Old Tommy sipped gently at his half. “Some people,” he mumbled, “have no moral fibre.”
I said, “Tommy, I’ve noticed that you’ve been topping up your glass from the drip tray. You’re in no position to judge, mate.”
I saw Devil heading for the door.
“Where the fuck are you going, mate? I guess she’s not dead then!”
Devil looked sheepish. “Nah, man. She fucking loved it, the crazy bitch. A van driver picked her up and offered to take her to the coppers, but she ended up wanking him off in a truck stop, you know, as a thank you. She wants me to go over and fuck her, then drive her across to Doncaster.”
“Why, what’s at Doncaster?”
“Nothing, that’s why she wants me to kick her out of the car there.”
Devil disappeared, and a minute later I heard a shitty little car speed out of the car park before fading into the muffled rumble of the afternoon traffic.
I ordered another beer, and when it came I slid it across to Tommy.
“Have a pint of moral fibre on me, Tommy.”
I walked out into the shimmering heat of a dusty Friday afternoon, and headed for home.
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