158. Night Shift


It is Friday afternoon, around two fifteen. Soulless Boss takes a call from the job scheduling team. They tell him that the schedule has been brought forward, all jobs that weren’t urgent are now shit hot.
“Fucking bastard bollocks,” says Soulless Boss.
He is stressed out. This sort of thing stresses him out.
He needs to put on a twelve hour night shift at short notice in the Readers Department to clear the stack of jobs that have been languishing there since Wednesday, ‘parked’ because of their schedule date.
Soulless Boss looks at his options.
Minty can’t do it. He’s going on a pilgrimage to Lourdes the next day to push wheelchairs around for a week. He’ll come back with a fucked back and an empty bank account thanks to all the donations he’ll be milked of, but he’ll feel like Jesus Loves Him and that’s all that matters.
Shaky Steve is covering days. Soulless Boss considers asking him to do a ‘througher’ – two shifts back to back – but last time someone did that they fell asleep at the wheel on their way home and woke up in A&E in a neck brace and the Factory had to pay for their car to be recovered from a farmer’s field somewhere outside Pontefract.
So Soulless Boss is left with just one option.
Disco Pops.
“Fucking bastard bollocks shit…” sighs Soulless Boss and picks up the phone.
Disco Pops has been covering the night shift all week and is possibly still in bed but Soulless Boss couldn’t care two fucks about that. He’s got a shift schedule to cover and that’s all he’s bothered about.
The phone rings.
Once…twice…thrice…
*click*
Hello, you’ve reached the Disco Pops residence, I’m getting my beauty sleep right now, but if you leave your name, number and vital statistics, ha ha, I’ll get right back to ya…
BEEP.
“Hello Disco Pops, this is Soulless Boss, I need you to work the night shift tonight, twelve hours, usual rate. I… I… (sound of grinding teeth) I really need your help, it would be a massive favour. Bye.”
Soulless Boss slams down the phone and rinses his mouth with cold coffee.
Disco Pops.
He’s been off the overtime roster for weeks because Soulless Boss had driven over to the factory one sunny Saturday afternoon to check on the overtime staff and caught Disco Pops laid on a grass verge in his Speedos, covered in coconut oil, radio playing reggae, when he should have been inside reading pass sheets from the print presses.
Soulless Boss’ phone rang.
It was Disco Pops.
“Yo, Soulless. I’ll work the shift.”
It looks like Disco Pops overtime ban has come to an end.

5.59pm, Friday night.
Disco Pops arrives at The Factory. He is carrying a black holdall. He is in his late forties with a deep mahogany tan and gelled hair. He is divorced but has found a new lease of life on the dance floors of Leeds, Batley, Pontefract and Castleford. He has two children and he sees them every second weekend.
This is not one of those weekends.
Disco Pops settles down to a night’s work. He checks the mountain of work that needs to be passed off before the shift is over. There are two big boxes. One labelled ‘To Read’ and one labelled ‘Read’. The ‘To Read’ box is bulging with work. The ‘Read’ box is empty.
Disco Pops makes a cup of tea and opens the Racing Post.

9.04pm, Friday Night.
Disco Pops wakes from a light snooze. He checks the clock. He picks up the phone and makes a call.
“Hello, is this Speedy Cabs? Yeah, I’d like a taxi at The Factory on Despair Street in twenty minutes. I’m going into town. About eight quid? Smashing. Cheers.”
He hangs up, fetches his holdall and heads to the toilets.
Fifteen minutes later Disco Pops emerges. He is wearing tight cream trousers and a black shirt, open to mid chest. His slip-on shoes have a high polish. A sharks tooth necklace nestles in the manly thatch of chest hair sprouting from his shirt. The air around him is a thick cloud of Old Spice.
A taxi honks it’s horn.
Disco Pops slips out of a fire escape and disappears into the night.

10.21pm, Friday Night.
Disco Pops is spotted prowling the bars of Leeds by two workmates, Flint and Hugs. He is seen holding two large rainbow coloured drinks, and approaches women seemingly at random, offering them one of the drinks. Time and again he is told to Fuck Off but eventually his courtship offering is accepted by a woman called Pam from Sheffield who is on the Hen Do of her eldest daughter from her first marriage.
She tells Disco Pops all about her life over the massive cocktail. Disco Pops is all ears.
Flint and Hugs are pissing themselves laughing at Disco Pops’ antics, but soon get bored and piss off round the corner for a kebab and a fight.

11.17pm, Friday Night.
Shopfloor Sharon is on a night out with her sister-in-law and her friends and is bored shitless. They are in a notoriously shabby and depressing wine bar in a notoriously shabby and depressing shopping center that resembles the one from Dawn of the Dead.
She notices Disco Pops in a murky corner with a bottle of nasty looking fizz and two glasses. He is probing Sheffield Pam’s throat with his tongue and is trying to get his hand up her skirt. Sheffield Pam is feebly trying to fight him off. Soon after she slaps Disco Pops and staggers from the wine bar. Undeterred, Disco Pops finishes off the fizz by himself and leaves the bar, heading for a night club.
Shopfloor Sharon is approached by a bloke called Kevin who says he’s a fireman. She can tell he’s not because he’s got arms like pipe cleaners and mild asthma but she plays along, and soon after they nip outside to smoke fags and indulge in a bit of light fingering in the doorway of Clinton’s Cards.

12.39am, Saturday Morning.
There is quite a commotion on the dance floor of Club Mydia, cheering and clapping. Dogsbody and Sasquatch are glumly propping up the bar after being knocked back by dozens of women that night and are considering going for a curry. They decide to wander over and see what’s happening. They see Disco Pops doing the Cossack dance to Rasputin by Boney M while the crowd goes wild. Dogsbody and Sasquatch are pretty impressed and consider joining in, but neither of them can dance to save their lives so they call it a day and naff off to the Medina Balti house for a Vindaloo and a moan.

2.07am, Saturday Morning.
It’s chucking out time at Club Mydia. The pavement is littered with party casualties eating greasy food or kissing greasy mouths or sobbing on a friend’s shoulder, lads squaring up while girlfriends scream LEAVE IT GARY, girls flashing their tits to try flag down taxis and a skinny lad from Rotherham staggering around droning, “Where’s our Terry? Has anyone seen our Terry?”
Shopfloor Sharon is waiting for a taxi with Fake Fireman Kevin when she spies Disco Pops skillfully navigating his way through the crowds clutching the arm of Sheffield Pam. She seems to have changed her mind about Disco Pops after seeing his impressive Cossack dance and now she’s all over him, rubbing his cock through his tight cream pants and repeatedly asking him, “D’yer luv me, eh? D’yer? D’yer luv me, then? I fuckin’ luv you. Me husband were a bastard, etc…”
A taxi pulls up for the tit flashing girls and Disco Pops points out that one tit flashing girl has dropped her handbag. She turns around and quick as a flash Disco Pops bundles Sheffield Pam into the cab and is away into the night with his paramour. Shopfloor Sharon feels a grudging admiration for Disco Pops. A taxi pulls up and she gets in with Fake Fireman Kevin, and they go back to her house for unsatisfying sex, an eventual marriage engagement followed by a bitter, acrimonious break up.

2.33am Saturday Morning.
Cyclops is slouched in the dark outside The Factory, having the fifteenth crafty fag of his shift. His print press has been halted for two hours as he waits for a reader to pass off the sheet he has put on the top of the ‘To Read’ box.
A taxi pulls up and Disco Pops stumbles out, helping Sheffield Pam as she clumsily pulls her skirt back down over her chunky thighs. Her face is flushed and she is rubbing herself against Disco Pops like a randy dog as he pays the taxi fare. Cyclops grins and hides the coal of his fag so as not to be seen.
He watches as Disco Pops leads Sheffield Pam through the fire escape and closes the door.
Cyclops hurries around the building and peeps through a grimy window. Pops has a knackered radio playing music full belt and he staggers around the room clutching Sheffield Pam, half dancing, half holding each other up. She is indicating to Disco Pops that she wants him to fuck her, right there on the floor, but Disco Pops has a better idea. He disappears for awhile, leaving Sheffield Pam to strut defiantly around the room to Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.
Disco Pops returns with the plump leather cushions off the couch in the executive boardroom and carries them into a store cupboard, beckoning Sheffield Pam to follow. She giggles coquettishly and follows. The door closes. Cyclops laughs to himself, stubs out his cig and goes for a massive dump for half an hour.

3.13am Saturday Morning.
A taxi pulls up outside The Factory. The fire escape door opens once again and Sheffield Pam staggers out, a big sleepy grin on her face. Disco Pops is reassuring her that he loves her, that he’ll phone her, that he doesn’t think she’s easy for fucking him on the floor of a cupboard in a factory on their first date.
He slips the cabby a tenner towards the fare and reads out a Sheffield address, written on a time docket in scarlet lipstick. The fare will finally come to £112 and Sheffield Pam will never hear from Disco Pops again. Secretly she is glad of this. It isn’t Sheffield Pam’s finest hour and she never tells another soul about what happened to her that night.
Disco Pops puts the cushions back in the executive board room, leaving a foul stain on the leather that results in the sacking of a cleaner and an order being placed for slug pellets for the executive board room.
Disco Pops goes to the toilet. He changes out of his night club clobber and washes the worst of the Old Spice from his neck and the worst of Sheffield Pam from his cock. He puts on his work clothes.
He goes back to sit at his desk and yawns. He glances at the ‘To Read’ box and realises the job on the top is for a the print press. He signs it without looking at it, shuffles out to the machine and drops it on the desk.
“You’re good to go,” he mutters to Cyclops.
Cyclops smirks and opens his mouth to say something witty but he can’t think of anything. Three hours later, whilst driving home, he thinks, “I should have said, ‘I bet that’s what you told her after you fucked her’.” Cyclops spends the rest of the drive home laughing loudly to himself.
Disco Pops, meanwhile, is feeling peckish. He orders a pizza. It is delivered to the fire exit door. He eats the pizza, then he falls asleep.

5.39am Saturday Morning.
Disco Pops is woken by a printer coming in and slamming another job to pass off onto his desk.
He feels pretty groggy so he makes a coffee. On the way back from the kettle he notices the ‘To Read’ box. It is still bulging with work. The ‘Read’ box is still empty. Disco Pops shrugs, and picks up all the jobs from one box and dumps them straight into the other box.
Then, while sipping his coffee, he begins to read the sheet the printer has brought in.

5.56am Saturday Morning
The door to the readers room flies open and Soulless Boss rushes in. He looks terrible. He hasn’t slept all night, worrying that Disco Pops won’t get all the work finished in time.
Disco Pops looks up.
“Morning, Soulless. Bit early for you, isn’t it?”
Soulless Boss blinks. He sees the ‘To Read’ box is empty. He sees the ‘Read’ box is full. He hears the print presses chattering happily. He sees Disco Pops finishing the only job in the room.
Soulless Boss does something he doesn’t often do. He smiles.
“Been busy, Disco Pops?”
Disco Pops shrugs. “Aye, been a busy night, but nowt I can’t handle.” He signs the sheet. “I’ll pass this to the press lads and then I’ll be off. I’m ready for some kip. I’m knackered.”
Soulless Boss shakes his head. “no. You leave it to me, Disco Pops. I’ll finish up here. And thanks. You really got me out of the shit last night.”
Disco Pops shrugs. “It was my pleasure. Any time.”
He leaves, and Soulless Boss picks up the job from the desk.
There’s something underneath.
A pair of mucky knickers, and the smell of Old Spice.

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One Response to 158. Night Shift

  1. Julie Lees says:

    Sounds like much of the workforce of the 1970s.

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