He sat at the back of the cafe, egg dripping from his stained spoon, greased mobile clenched in his hand.
‘Na, fuck off, I ain’t doin that.’
He laid his mobile down and bit hard into the two slices of toast wedged together with plastic egg, yolk squirting out of the sides and landing on the front cover of the Sun which read:
‘This country’s gone loony’.
He was six foot and overweight, and he ignored the trainee who was looking bored and staring out of the window at two teenage girls who were laughing at something.
The plumber looked at his trainee and followed the line of his eyes.
‘Fuckin slags,’ he said.
‘Why d’you ave to say that Arry? They ain’t’.
‘Look at them. Arses hanging out, beer bellies, dear oh dear, whatever appened to decency, they look like a couple of scrubbers.’
‘They’s just young women, Arry.’
‘Na. you wanna get yourself a nice girl, Mick.’
Mick stirred his cold tea with disinterest and yawned while Harry flicked open The Sun.
‘Now look at that,’ he said.
‘What’s the difference?’
‘Between them girls there and them out there?’
‘They’re fuckin models you prat. Class paper this’, Harry said, leafing through its pages. ‘Ere, these geezers go out for a Ruby right, get slaughtered and one of em moons the waiter. Is mate bites his arse and gets his false teeth stuck up is crack. Fucking classic.’
Soon, they left, and headed to the first job.
Mick was pale skinned and in the sunshine looked like a blank sheet ready to be imprinted by Harry. He wore a look of permanent dissatisfaction and looked too clean for the van which was strewn with litter. Here and there were signs that he was trying to blend in with Harry. His trousers were overly dirty and he had a large rip in his T shirt that looked manufactured. He was unshaven and the resulting effect of this was a small wispy beard.
Harry didn’t stop talking all the way to the job and Mick stared from time to time at Harry’s hands, which were covered in tattoos.
‘So what we doing Arry?’ he said.
‘Blocked drain in Wandsworth.’
‘It’s always blocked drains or toilets.’
‘No it ain’t, two fucking minutes on the job and he thinks he knows it all. Mick I’ve seen things I could put in a novel doing this game, it’d be a bestseller I can tell ya.’
‘I know all sorts, all fucking sorts.’
‘I tell ya, one night I ad to fix some loos in a nightclub in London. The ladies toilets were overflowing with piss and water, like a fucking swimming pool they were.’
‘An why was that?’
‘OK. I goes in there and wade through it all in me wellies.’
‘I can tell right away it’s this one loo, bunged up it was, something terrible.’
‘So what d’you do?’
‘I fuckin fixed it you burke.’
‘Na, I mean-.’
‘I know what you mean Mick. I get me old plunger out but nothing’s appening, know what I’m saying?’
‘So I rod down, deep down in there and in this job me old son you gotta get your ands dirty, that’s what I always say to the fucking smartarses who mouth off about ow much plumbers charge. Ow much fu-cking plumbers charge! You stick your arms in someone else’s shit every day and you’d fucking charge, you cunt.’
‘So what appened?’
‘I tell you my old lady as two washing machines, cause we’re posh. If I stuck me workclothes in the one she washes the kids’ clothes in they’d be covered in shit, know what I’m saying?’
‘What d’you find in the toilet?’
‘I stick me arm in and fish out a pair of knickers.’
‘Yeah, some old tart had crapped erself an flushed them down the loo.’
‘Ah that’s fuckin disgusting.’
‘All part of the job me old man. Get out of the way you cunt.’
Harry leant out of the window and spat a large gob of phlegm that looked like a piece of potato. It arced and landed on the offending driver’s windscreen.
‘Yeah well I don’t plan on doing this for long,’ Mick said.
‘Oh yeah, what you got planned, running for parliament?’
‘No need for that.’
‘I tell you me old son, I seen some things. You learn a lot about human nature on this job and you get an insight into crime.’
‘You know how many wallets I’ve fished out of loos?’
‘Undreds, fucking undreds mate. Pickpockets steal em, knick the contents an flush em.’
‘Fuckin stupid if you ask me.’
‘Well I ain’t askin you, I’m telling ya. This is like sociology this job, you see what people are made of, what they’re about and it ain’t just the low lifes, it’s the posh ones too.’
‘You charge em more?’
‘Course I fuckin charge em more, the cunts. They look down their noses at people like us and we go into their ouses and fix their shit for em. Tell you what Mick, I was called to this job once in Amstead, big fuckin gaff, massive and the loos were all flooded and I took one look at the slag who opened the door and I knew.’
‘It was er.’
‘What was er?’
‘I’ll tell ya. She ad guilt written all over er face. You see, I know ow loos work and what goes where and I know when someone’s lyin, I’ve heard all the lies under the sun and it’s made me a bit of a psychologist see.’
‘So what appened on this job?’
‘What appened was all the loos were bunged up with condoms, undreds of the fuckers.’
‘The lady she’s wafting around in a negligee, showing a bit ere and there if you know what I mean.’
‘Good looker she was, but a slag. Anyway, when I tell er about the condoms, she starts adjusting er belt and flashes er gash at me, just a little glimpse and then she looks me right in the eye and says, don’t tell my husband.’
‘She was screwing someone else.’
‘Course she fucking was. Er old man’s doddering about in the next room writing a cheque and e’s a bout a undred and she’s not bad as I said.’
‘Did she what?’
‘Fuck off. I’m a appily married man.’
‘So what did you do?’
‘I fu-cking overcharged em so much it paid for me missus’s Range Rover.’
‘Look at that.’
Mick was staring at some scantily dressed women who were walking across the road.
Harry took one look at them and said, ‘You’d catch something nasty off them.’
‘Ow d’you know?’
‘I fuckin know me old son.’
‘I think they’re tasty.’
‘You wouldn’t know tasty if it sucked your knob.’
‘Why’s it always loos?’
‘It ain’t, there’s sinks and boilers , cockstops and drains, external soil pipes with shit running down em and all sorts of pipe work. Son, you’re in the right game. Fuck off you wanker!’
This last comment was aimed at a man who was loitering in front of Harry’s van.
He put two fingers up at Harry who hurled his half-drunk can of Red Bull at him, spraying him with its contents.
‘That’s a waste,’ Mick said.
‘I ate fuckin cunts like that. Where was I? You see, this is an old trade and what you want, Mick, is a trade. We’s got words that go back to Chaucer.’
‘Chaucer, ain’t you never eard of im?’
‘E wrote plays. There’s something we call a bastard in this game and it was used in is day, fourteenth century.’
‘The cunts in Europe want us to change our terms cause they ain’t fuckin politically correct. They say they demean women.’
‘Why do they say that?’
‘Cause they want to get rid of our Englishness.’ He tapped the George flag that was stuck to the roof of his van. ‘Still flyin.’
‘Ever seen something really gruesome?’
‘Oh yeah. I could be a copper I could with what I’ve seen, and they need fellas like me.’
‘Cause I can tell if a crime’s been committed.’
‘What crimes you seen?’
‘Mainly theft. But I tell you it’s only a matter of time.’
He pulled over and parked outside a large white house.
‘This it?’ Mick said.
‘I seen tampons, sanitary towels, rags, and clothes stuck where they shouldn’t be, but one time I ad me and down a drain and I felt all this hair.’
‘Hair me old son.’
‘What was it?’
‘I tell ya Mick I thought it was a fuckin ead. I was pullin on it wondering what state of decay it would be in.’
‘Was it an ead Arry?’
‘The ouse belonged to some pop star, e ad this long air see?’
‘E’d been washing is air and it ad all gone down the plug ole and accumulated into this big thick ball, I fished it out and it was huge.’
Mick was laughing when they got out of the van.
A pile of puke was hardening in the morning sun and two empty beer bottles were propped against the gate to the house.
‘This shouldn’t take long,’ Harry said.
He rang and they were admitted by a maid in a starched white uniform.
‘Typical, she never even offered us a cup of tea,’ Harry said as he assembled his rods.
‘Ere give us a hand.’
He prodded for an hour or so and the water level didn’t drop.
The owner came out, a man in a pinstripe suit looking sweaty. He offered them tea and the maid brought it to them on a tray.
‘That’s better,’ Harry said.
Mick looked down at the drain.
‘We get in.’
He donned his Wellingtons and water proofs and stood waist high in the water. He reached a hand down into it.
‘There’s something in the way there. I can feel it.’
He fetched the jet hose from the van and started up the pump and after an hour the water had dropped.
Harry stood in it again while Mick watched.
‘I tell you, this job shows you a lot Mick,’ he said. ‘You see what people really get up to.’
Harry reached his hand down into the water and started to pull on something.
‘There are a lot of crazy fuckers in London and a lot of crime. This is a tough fucker I tell you, ere it goes, it’s coming, fuck me!’
Harry stood with a head in his hand.
The flesh of the neck had sealed off and was a whitish blue and the discoloration of the face was so grotesque Mick started to retch.
Harry stood there staring at it.
‘Call the fucking police.’
He placed it on the ground and clambered out of the water.
The head lay like a rotten wound in the sun.
Soon the stench of it overpowered the smell of excrement and stagnant water.
Mick stood at the edge of the garden looking away.
‘I told you this job was full of surprises,’ Harry said.
The police took a while arriving and when the owner saw what had been blocking up his drain he vomited on the flagstones in the yard.
He sprayed remnants of food and bile everywhere and the sharp smell rose into the air and foundered on the rank aroma of decay.
When the police arrived Harry said, ‘Let me do the talking’.
Richard Godwin is the author of crime novels Mr. Glamour and Apostle Rising and is a widely published crime and horror writer. Mr. Glamour is his second novel and was published in paperback in April 2012 by Black Jackal Books. It is available online at Amazon and at all good retailers. Mr.Glamour is Hannibal Lecter in Gucci. The novel is about a glamorous world obsessed with designer labels with a predator in its midst and has received great reviews. Apostle Rising, in which a serial killer crucifies politicians, is available everywhere books are sold. It is also available for the first time as an E-Book with some juicy extras, an excerpt from Mr. Glamour and four deliciously dark Noir stories, like the finest handmade chocolate.
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He is an active member of the CWA and HWA.