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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

Last Night Stand
by Michael Keenaghan

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Friday evening on the tube, and Rob was lucky enough to have grabbed a seat, gloating up at the poor bastards, mostly female, having to stand in the stinking heat, personal space a distant memory. Oh well. The Evening Standard boasted VIOLENT CRIME RATES SOAR: 'Criminals are ruling the streets'. Same old song. London a killing field of mayhem and abandon. And rightly so. People loved it, lapped it up, couldn't get enough. Rob was on a high, glad to be free of the office, the strait-laced nobodies he had to jostle with day in day out. He was looking forward to a bit of mayhem himself. Come the weekend it was time to roam, get inspired, create your own adventure. The city was his fucking oyster.

The train headed for New Cross Gate. Dereliction and squalor. A waste incinerator towering over, pumping out fresh cancer for the locals. So when he followed the Asian girl out of the station he knew what to expect. Rubbish-laden streets, crumbling shops, loitering blacks, pubs full of white trash, and paranoid rat-race skinflints returning home with tabloid slash rape 'n' pillage for comfort.

The girl moved with a confident stride, phone against ear, cigarette in hand, archetypal urban yuppie. Except Asian. And Asians were dark horses. For the most part, quiet, orderly people who conformed to the work ethic and worked their way up against the odds. Come nightfall however and they fucked their way through half the Kama Sutra. Giving vent and releasing the beast. Admirable in a way. Funny also. And this one looked a right goer.

She spent five minutes at a bus stop, trash blowing round her feet, too overdressed, too classy for all this shit. And sure enough, a Mercedes pulls up, driven by - listen to this - a white guy. She climbs in, pecks him on the cheek, and that's that, off into the twilight.

That left Rob pretty directionless. But on thinking, what would he have done anyway? Only followed her. After all, it was only a laugh, nothing serious. Just a game. The thrill of the chase. Aborted, however, in one fell swoop. Rejection in a way.

Rob decided upon a pub. Have a few beers then get the hell out of here. South of the river had been a bad idea. The pub was dingy, full of bum-students, white builders, white trash, laughing like life was one joke. Fair enough, but in a way this was hell and they didn't even know it. The end of the earth. Hit the backstreets and you were likely to get your face slashed for a fiver. Somebody needed to get strapped up and do the dirty work Chuck Norris-style. Fire randomly, kill every bastard on the street.

He drank the whisky chaser, listened to the jukebox. Girls singing about boys. Wanting to get fucked basically. He could picture the hot Asian babe with her man. Her white man. Bare white flesh beating onto brown, moans rising from the bed, a multicultural celebration, action for diversity, vibrancy, Blair's face leering over, a Joker grin, Lee Jasper, Ken Livingstone and Trevor Phillips by the sidelines, weighing up the pros and cons, taking notes. Old misery guts Darcus Howe playing devil's advocate, waving a condemning finger, blasting this blatant act of white aggression and imperialism, the ceaseless Nazism and superior attitudes endemic in the western world. Rob chuckled, his head full of nonsense. He cheered up and hit the road.

The train headed north. Out of the ghettos and back to the land of the living. The carriage near-empty, dead newspaper everywhere. He read the South London Press, browsing the scare stories. GUN CRIME EPIDEMIC / SUICIDE ON THE INCREASE / ASYLUM SEEKER PAEDOPHILE ON THE RUN. Muggings, rapes, kidnaps. London a city of the damned. A Clockwork Orange terrain of violence, brutality, hell on earth.

Rob felt proud to be a Londoner. A member of the chaos, somehow always breezing through it unscathed. As the train rattled through the estates of Bermondsey he knew he could never live anywhere else, despised those at the office that talked about moving further out, running to the hills, getting back to the village greens they came from. Wankers. London was a dark, eerie place full of terror, Dickensian cruelty and Jack the Ripper updates every day. Knock down and build over what you like, the myth lived on. The same tarts, same bodies under blankets, same squalor and neglect, gas lamps replaced by flashing dollar signs and consumerist gloss. Lots of crack crack crack to keep the poor in their place, sinking into their festering holes. Plenty of rich fuckers to rattle their jewellery and rub the salt in. Even Hollywood were buying in. Flocking in. This was the epicentre of the world. Rob read a tabloid, noticing how it followed the abduction and rape of a nine year old girl with the near naked come-to-me-daddy-and-fuck-me butt and tits of some gormless adolescent Corrie star.

Choices. He rode the Northern Line. Where next? The tube filled up as it hit the West End. Party kids on the piss, but mostly tourists, American, Japanese, a lone Italian-looking girl with a rucksack giving him eye contact. A bit overweight, but there you go. He smiled and she smiled back, sultrily. He was onto something. He left it a few minutes just to be sure, but the looks continued so he went for the kill, switched onto friendly charming Robert, natural as hell. Ladies man Rob with a North London pad, lights down low, soft jazz, lovemaker of the early hours.

Are you sure you have somewhere to stay tonight?... a hostel?... a beautiful girl like you staying in a hostel?... I thought you were a model!... I could have sworn I've seen your face in Vogue... No, really, I'm not taking the piss... That's the nicest perfume I've ever smelt... It smells expensive... Your boyfriend's a very lucky man... You don't have a boyfriend?... God, are those Italian men even red blooded?... You're from Milan? See, I knew you were in fashion!... So you're a trainee nurse, ah, I knew you looked like the caring type... - Friendly, charming Rob, solo mover, anytime anywhere, effortless romeo - ...So in fact you haven't found a hostel yet and it's getting late... - It was obvious she needed a place to stay in exchange for a fuck, the way she kept pushing her fat tits against him, pretending it was the bump and grind of the tube. What a slag. Find some mug to pay her way, the same old routine right across Europe, line her pockets along the way. He wasn't stupid.

He told her he worked in the Square Mile, owned a pad in exclusive Hampstead. She lapped it up. Bums always did. Telling him she had some good Moroccan skunk for when they got to his place, Rob smiling, knowing he wasn't interested in dulling his senses, quite the opposite, knowing this girl had better like being fucked and abandoned in the woods, alone in the Blair Witchian forest, Hampstead Heath, a night-time play area for the capital's queers and deviants.

They talked about Camden Market, Soho, all the usual tourist shit. Rob became bored stiff as the chat veered onto drug laws and other studenty bollocks - who gave a fuck? Rob cut the crap and asked did she like porno and she said, I'm Italian, we have the best porno in the world, and Rob knew she had some meat and balls to her, gradually speaking in her ear about all the things he'd like to do to her, how he was going to fuck her so hard when he got her in, and she whispered she couldn't wait to have his big English cock pumping inside her (and he had to suppress a laugh as his parents were both Paddies). They got off at Hampstead, walked past all the stuck-up bars and restaurants, and she must have thought she was well onto something. Rob wanted to laugh out loud, ask himself why he'd never become an actor, how if he had he would have probably resurrected the BFI with his talents alone, unlike the old farts around here, slag luvvies and dried-up Shakespearo alcoholics that nobody in their right mind gave a fuck about. He told her who his neighbours were, Kate Winslet, Kiera Knightley, Jude Law, the slut almost wetting her pants. Funny. They took a 'short cut' to his imaginary pad. Headed down into the Heath.

Making their way through the trees, Rob wondered how many queers were watching from the wings. Needless to say, the woods felt eerie and ancient, vaguely evil, a full moon shining down, something to entice the nutters out in their droves. Rob could sense the presence of homos on the pull, lurking in the bushes, men tied to trees and willingly buggered in line, pissed upon, shat upon, degraded like the scum they were. He suggested they warm up, kissed her on the mouth. Besides, her talk was getting boring. He got her top off, worked on the leggings. Rob was simply engaging in a bit of man-to-woman sex for Kristsake. Innocent stuff. Kids' stuff. Sticking it in, hearing her gasp, and working fast, ramming like a hammer against an inflatable dummy. The bitch needed to go on a diet or she'd be a Mediterranean mama in no time, a wizened blob dressed in black, down on her knees in front of a crucifix no doubt. He grabbed her tits and pumped away as she cried for more. Man, this was what life was about. Surprises. Finding yourself in the middle of Hampstead Heath with a tourist begging you to come in her mouth. Filthy disgusting bitch. All that Catholic stuff fucked people up big time. She wants it in the mouth? No problem. Her hair was thick and bushy, unwashed from bumming from hostel to hostel, or some mugs' couch, or even bed. Smoking dope and being skint and sponging around the whole fucking world. Trainee nurse, my arse. What did she take him for, expecting to be whisked off to some plush pad in NW3? He grabbed her head roughly, ejaculated into her mouth.

The woods were strangely silent. No distant cries or moans. No rustling in the bushes or footsteps on the leaves. No life. He zipped up. She was perched on a log, smiling up at him. She was practically naked, pushing her breasts out, trying to impress him. The silence was deafening. He wondered if the whole gay cruising around there was just a myth, a pisstake against an easy target. She started talking, something about going at it again, but he wasn't listening. Besides, the sight of her now repulsed him. He turned his back and took his piss, steam rising in the air. A wave of anger seemed to surge in him. He felt like turning round, grabbing her neck with both hands and killing her, following the bizarre tradition that leaves women in shallow graves. It felt logical, the most sane conclusion. Because, where else was it going? It was over. Dead.

She was still waffling on, sad cheap porno talk, and he turned, noticing how alien her face looked. The game was over. There was nothing more to achieve, and what he had now seemed pointless. You liked that, didn't you, she said. Yeah, he answered mechanically, hearing the coldness of his own voice. He felt like walking off, no goodbyes, disappearing into the black. After all, that was the intention. Fuck then leave the whore stranded. Get back to the road, alone, then cab it back to Archway, maybe have a nightcap, then get to bed. Let's have some weed and you can fuck me again, she said, then we go to your place. But of course she'd follow him, tag along like a shadow. He wanted her off his back. Yes, you can fuck me hard again. He felt vaguely sick. Then something happened. Some base instinct. He sprang and belted her in the face. She fell backwards, screaming like a pig. They struggled, she got away. He chased her through the trees, a beast after its kill. Her cries were deafening. The sensation consumed him. He felt like howling at the fucking moon. He reached her, got her down, tore in. Once more she got away, but he was spent now, breathless, watching the girl disappear, a frightened animal scrambling into the dark.

Back at base he nicked her rucksack - why not? - got to the edge of the Heath, back through the finely tended streets to the buzz of the High Street, and stood waiting for a taxi. What happened back there now seemed surreal, laughable almost. He chuckled to himself as he climbed into the cab. Ironically, the driver drove right around the Heath. Pitch black woods full of nothingness. It was hard to imagine there was anybody really in there. Queers cruising, a naked girl wandering. It wasn't true. It was the stuff of myth, fantasy. Too much booze. On his street he threw the rucksack into a skip (minus the contents of the purse, of course, which covered the fare nicely). Probably done her a favour. Taught her a lesson not to trust strangers. He smiled. Life was good.

Saturday morning. Rob made coffee, prepared to read the tabloids. A story on the radio had made him rush out and buy the lot, all reporting variations of the same story. He felt healthy and alive, smiling as he made himself comfortable. STAR AND BOYFRIEND INJURED IN HORRIFIC ATTACK. And the coffee was just right, a Central American blend that didn't come cheap. He imagined dark slaves working their backs off under the sun, shackled and chained, whips lashing down, master and slave, order and control for quality and luxury across the breakfast tables of the Western globe. The world could be a cruel place and Rob was glad to be on the good side of it, to appreciate the goods others laboured so hard for. But that was what life was about. Everyone mucking in, doing their bit, including him, ensuring the world went round. Picking beans was the primitive equivalent to selling loans, houses, shares. It was all relative. All just as important. He laughed. Maybe he was turning socialist. He poured the blend from the jar and arranged the table for his reading. STAR ATTACKED BY ROLEX MUGGERS. The tv was on in the background, some Saturday kids' trash, a boy-girl band running through the usual dance routine. Adults pretending to be squeaky-clean adolescents while prickteasing with low-cut tops, visible g-strings and virgin sex. Rob wanted to pollute this charade of innocence with anal sex and cocksucking, imagined an orgy live on air, parents rushing to cover their children's eyes, the presenters on acid, a Manson takeover, Fearne Cotton screaming out the scrawlings of the Marquis de Sade as every girlband boyband queerband fucked and buggered each other to the popsteady beat.

Rob smirked as the music faded and the sycophancy began, a number flashing up urging viewers to leave texts for their beloved idols. Rob imagined a good old fashioned phone-in, saw himself sucking up helium and getting through to the cretins, a mad demented Satan child live on air with Tourrette's Syndrome. Fuck that, he'd phone the studio with a death threat: I want to see some rape on air or a child dies! Top that. His sense of humour was sharp and wicked. Contemporary. Even more, cutting edge, pushing the boundaries. You had to laugh, had to. Britain was a nation of sensational brainwash. If it wasn't terrorism then it was Rohypnol-crack-crystal meth on the rise. Your friendly neighbour could be the next Fred West, GP the next Shipman, kid's teacher the next Gary fucking Glitter. You had to laugh, see through all that media shit, government-spin bollocks. If not, you were fucked. Recently, only up the road, a man was chopped up and left in bin bags by the side of the street. Only noticed when a tramp went looking for scraps. Editors must have creamed their pants over that one. IT COULD BE YOU... NEXT IN LINE... TO DIE. Anything to lower morale, keep everyone down, pawns with their hands up to the kings for help. The nation kept in control and policed by the bailed muggers and loose schizos keeping the hype alive.

But there was something special about a celebrity getting mugged. Like it was a master flaw. Their fantasy world cracked open, the ugly vermin of the real world seeping in like disease, the play of a natural justice that insists upon a share of the shit for all. You had to laugh, the rich and famous of Kensington and Chelsea had it good for years, feeling safe and cushy and protected when all it took was a couple of NWA to cruise in, grab their share, and bang, back to Shepherd's Bush, Kensal Green, Harlesden. Just a few minutes' drive to shake their sense of security forever. Up go the white shutters, palaces turned into prisons. With so many big names getting targeted now, getting a taste of the ghetto, it made you wonder how long the press could hold out before screaming out the n-word instead of endlessly complaining about petty milk bottle-thieving white hoodies.

STAR IN VICIOUS KNIFE ATTACK. 'The celebrity is today in shock after being mugged by a gang of up to TWELVE teenagers. Her hero boyfriend, who jumped to her rescue, was punched, kicked and stabbed up to EIGHTEEN times.' Rob could imagine the scene all too well. Black faces gatecrashing her white world, rampaging in, demanding their cut of the cake. Direct action for fair economic distribution across the social spectrum. Rich white man steps in to play superman, racist-slavedriving-niggerwhipping honky, so they show him a trick or two from the estates of Stonebridge-Stockwell-Stratford, the daddy's girl screaming her coked-out head off, the blacks filtering into the dark, back to their spunk-shit-crackhead stinking stairwells, walkways and broken down lifts. Street danger kicking against the glitz, dragging the illusion to hell.

Rob remembered the night he'd posted a parcel through a minor tv star-cum-FHM slag's letterbox. At the time she lived fairly local. Must have got the hell out of there sharpish. Private and Confidential. Stinking human excrement. Probably a weeks' worth. A true smear campaign. He would have loved to have seen her face.

STAR IN NIGHTMARE ROLEX ORDEAL. The star, described as 'hysterical', was taken to hospital and SEDATED. Spokesperson says she will be taking time off to recover after this unfortunate horrendous incident. Rob started thinking about gifts and cards. Something to bring her back from the depressive dead. Back to the ranks of her true platform as a tit-thrusting blonde-bombshell no-talent slut. He continued reading, drinking coffee, enjoying the morning.

And the morning went well. But by the afternoon, Rob's day had flipped. Fatally. It was when he decided upon a leisurely pint that he noticed the disappearance of his wallet. That meant something. It meant only one person had it. The girl from last night. Suddenly it wasn't funny anymore. She had his address, his identity. If she contacted the police he was in serious shit.

When he began throwing plates against his kitchen wall at home and his chest constricted he realised he was maybe having a panic attack. He had to get a grip. This was the stuff of women's magazines. But if he was arrested his career, his life, was finished. Her face must have been black and blue. And she could cry rape for fucksake...

He watched tv, had to relax. Realised she must have pinched it from his jacket as he took a piss, stuffed it with her clothes, returned to the scene not so bad off after all. Therefore he was fucked. He flicked the channels until he thought he'd have an epileptic seizure. He felt like doing an Elvis. Worse. A fucking Cobain. No, this was silly, he had to get his head together, think straight, get a grip. He took his prick out, mechanically wanking to a Destiny's Child video. Commercially viable lightened skin and Caucasianised features that instead of inducing a hard-on made him imagine their jet black brothers. Butt-fucking gangbangers in US prisons, glorifying in their jail culture, goldtoothed crack-eyed panthers swinging their arms and rapping murderous white hate.

Any minute now, the police were going to come barging in to read him his rights. And sure enough, it happened with a knock. But it wasn't police. No sooner had he turned the Yale, his head full of alibis, when the leather-jacketed posse crashed in full steam ahead. Like rape. Forced entry. They beat the living shit out of him. Then dragged him to his feet. Rob could hear the sound of his flat being unceremoniously trashed.

Some youngblood, wild-eyed and dancing round like lunatic, had a pistol that the others - Soprano types - kept telling him to put away. But this motherfucker has to pay! he insisted. He will, in time, they said, now be professional. Rob envisaged the classic torture scenario. In a warehouse, strapped to a chair, one ear missing. They manhandled him out to the hall - where were neighbours when you needed them? the police? Nowhere. The digs still raining in, the mouthy young wop cunt promising he was going to fuck and kill his mother and force his father to watch, then he was going to skin his father alive and piss over his dead body (bullshit because they were both dead years ago), and he could feel his body being punched and kicked along the hall to the sounds and strains of the neighbourhood: the chaos of youth, drunken yelling and ornaments crashing, dad laying into mum, blows accepted without complaint, silent tears, and in the morning never a word, no acknowledgment of the terror, the violence inflicted on the sane and sober, dad reading the News of the World, served up a fry like a lord. And no justice. Not even a fucking hangover. Then mass.

They picked him up - the robbing bastard - and threw him down the stairs. He landed in twisted heap, beyond pain now, into nightmare territory. He saw his father enter his bedroom, a dark silhouette against the light, his mother sobbing in the next room, the smell of brandy and fags poisoning the air, a zombie coming in from the cold, breath hot and rancid, the odour of primitive man, and the fucker was crouching over him with a cigarette, sadistic eyes, easing red hot coal against skin, smirking before snorting up snot, spitting in his face, slime in the eyes, his father a dark spectre with no face, calloused bricklaying hands guiding his to the stiffened cock; and he flashed to his first messy fuck, the fourteen year-old school slag measuring his cock for gossip with her common Irish pig and nigger mates, making a bloody mockery of him, marking him a maggot-dicked one out of ten, he pictured himself strangling the bitch until her face turned blue and her eyes popped out, puking green vomit, saw himself fucking her demon-ridden body like a maniac, video nasty ghoul, smashing her head on a stone floor as he rammed it in, dick like a giant sharpened tool, a monster rapist frothing for flesh and guts and blood, heaving and battering with Freddie fists until she was a heap of mush.

Take this ya robbing fuck. Somebody booted him in the face. Hard skull-splitting force. Get this piece of shit out to the van fellas. He could see lights. Sunday mass. Communion and blessing to absolve all sins. Redemption for the contrite to follow in the way of the Lord, for ever and ever, Amen. But it had been no use. There was daylight, then darkness. Life then death. He felt like a corpse entering the back of a hearse. Get in there ya robbing motherfucker, the pain hasn't even begun yet. They revved up the engine, hit the road. Rob knew he was on his way to hell.

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