Crack, Apple and Pop


by Saira Viola
art by Unitas

Chapter 13
(read chapters 1 thru 12)

The mournful lament of Dido coming out of the sound system was at odds with the rock and roll setting that greeted Scoot the next evening when he rolled up to Tony’s place. To get access to T’s flat you needed to be in-the-know and you needed to have the magic password for the day. Ordinarily, it would be random lines from any one of Bob Marley’s back catalogue of hits and there was nothing as surreal as watching a mishmash of grown men and women spewing out the lyrics to one of these tracks outside the sober-fronted Mews building. Scoot started singing, “Get me guava jelly for my rubber belly” to the beat of “One Love” into the door microphone.

Thereafter, he was greeted by a huge, swarthy black man of Caribbean origin, who was in truth an unwitting caricature of his own character. Grinning broadly at Scoot, he buzzed him into the flat. He was known simply as Godwin; nobody was actually sure of his last name, but that didn’t seem to matter much. Godwin often suffered bouts of epilepsy and was frequently seen hurtling away from A&E at St. Thomas’ hospital in Waterloo. It was quite common for him to be spotted in local streets with a cropped trouser leg or shorn off shirt after one of these “episodes.”

He told visitors to the flat and neighbours that he suffered from “electrical” fits. As Tony’s “maintenance man,” Godwin spent much of his day or at least three quarters of it anyway making and drinking soup. He had a liking for spicy meaty “caribou” soup, known as frou frou juice. It was particularly flavoursome and reminded him of sunnier days back home. If Godwin didn’t know you, however, or you failed to try the password for the day, access to the flat would be emphatically denied.

Lounging in soft leather chairs Scoot spied three famous actors and their “significant” others. He was always secretly impressed by the fact that people like them knew people like him. Everything equal in a drug den. Up close, all of the famous faces turned to red eye and sunken spirits. They belonged to the drug now. Scoot said his cheery hellos and then embarked on a long soliloquy about the good and the bad. The art fucks around him seemed to like this type of inane chatter. They could “relate,” “understand,” and “get connected” to this loquacious prattle. They welcomed “open” conversation and bought every single word. “It’s like if you do something bad to someone, it’s going to come back on you.”

Scoot felt justified and almost liberated by the power of his uncomplicated sentiments. Emilia, a young theatre actress, and understudy for a London Musical, nodded furiously in agreement whilst rolling a “spliff” and popping some veggie caps into her mouth.

She felt she understood the laws of the universe and the significance of “karmic” retribution. She had always been somewhat of a hippie anyway having been brought up in a liberal household while growing up in Brixton village. She loved the idea of ready packaged purity and swallowed some more veggie caps. No artificial flavours, no additives, and no MSG. She was grateful to Tony for selling them and she would definitely buy more. She especially liked her pink silk threaded friendship bracelet that you could choose with the Herbal Starter Pack.

Her sister Chloe had opted for eco-friendly green. You were not meant to remove the thread from your wrist once worn; it was meant to age naturally over a period and she thought that was super, super cool. Anyhow it was “bags” cheaper than Kabbalah as you didn’t have to part with 10 percent of your income to any central organization and it still made her feel good, strong, and wholesome.

Emilia didn’t want to feel like she had to pay too much to belong in her quest for spiritual satisfaction and the herbal capsule met all of her needs. As she got ready to leave, Darius entered the room.

Outside, the streetlights had been switched off and the pigeons were feasting on yesterday’s chicken, chips, and stale leftovers of rain-soaked lettuce and bits of onion. Scoot was easily annoyed by Darius but tolerated him anyway. Tony said he was “good” for business. He always spoke such bull crap it might be entertaining to hear him mouth off for a while, he thought abstractedly.

Darius seemed to have it all: a hardworking wife, lots of uber chic friends, and even two young children. Something was amiss, though; something had to be wrong. If all was chocolate and roses, what was Darius doing in a West London drug den at five o’clock on a Tuesday morning? Darius fooled himself into thinking he was there to observe, to enlighten, and to educate. He was going to use all of these urban misfits for his next “big” project, a movie he had in “development.” They would all serve their purpose in the end.

Darius was the only black man in the room who appeared completely white. His speech was white, his mannerisms were white, and his clothes were a white parody of what a black pimp might wear circa 1978 in London’s Bedford Hill. Yes, it was probably an Oswald Boateng suit: trademark loud colours, clumsy tight fit, and experimental fabric. It was meant to be an example of revolutionary styling but lacked the exquisite tailoring of Italian design. Yes, you could really feel the “ghetto” in the fibres of an OB suit. Scoot much preferred the quiet understatement of a classic Canali any day. Scoot was watching Darius who then became very aware of how bizarre he looked in the presence of his Brit chic friends. Half of them lived in Clerkenwell alongside media luminaries and respected thespians. The rest seemed to permeate the other smart locations like Notting Hill Gate and further north Primrose Hill. Well, if it was good enough for Princess Sadie, it was good enough for him, Lysette, Amy, Gerry, and the like.

Darius was jacked up on “charlie” and seriously buzzed out. He was feeling the urge to talk. He wanted to let loose, to express himself. He started bellowing at the top of his voice (only it wasn’t that loud due to his exaggerated English demeanour). He began giggling helplessly at a hand trick he had perfected with a toy finger puppet, a freebie given to him with his petrol from his local filling station.

Scoot was not even slightly amused. He was, however, appalled at the slavish mediocrity of the man. Frankly, such lack of imagination was distasteful. Even so, he laughed really hard, which encouraged the rest of them in the room to laugh: bit players, part time somebodies, “trustafarians” affluent Jo’s and Josephina’s, ex—offenders, pretty dancers, hardened city rats, musicians, artists, and a whole line-up of mischief makers laughing like an affected chorus of damaged sea gulls smashed on ecstasy. It was an unsettling sight to behold and reminded Scoot of a scene in the movie Natural Born Killers.

He tried to get the images of Juliette Lewis out of his head. Suddenly, their unnerving cackle cut short by the sound of a loud buzzer. Godwin signalled to Tony that one of his friends had arrived. A young woman of around twenty-three came through; she was a recording artist and a bit of a computer geek. She had known Tony most of her life. She had fiery red, wavy hair and spoke with an authentic Jamaican accent. She wore a very short black skirt and white fishnet stockings with orange high-heeled shoes. She was tall, with an ample cleavage and had applied bits of fishnet to her torn, frayed tee shirt emblazoned with a picture of post-war revolutionary Zimbabwe. She never appeared in public without her impressive collection of headbands.

Today was no exception; she wore a bright turquoise towelling number appliquéd with colourful fake rhinestones. Tony had asked her to drop by to help him with some research on capsule making machines for his burgeoning health business.

Her name, Zhy, was also out of place on her milky white complexion and her clear set, green eyes. Zhy would often engage herself in conversations littered with common Jamaican Patois: the language of Black London. She would thank “Jah” for life, and the love she felt in her heart. She adored Snoop Dogg, an infamous American rap star known for his subversive song lyrics and his anti-establishment style.

She claimed that one day “real soon” she would get to meet Snoop Dogg as “Jah” decreed. Some people, on meeting Zhy for the first time, even a few of those in the room now, thought she was a “wigga,” an American term used to describe white people with culturally black or “nigga” like tendencies. In London, Zhy was considered by some to be a “Jafaikan,” ghetto slang for “fake Jamaican.”

Raised on a diet of black music, black food, with black friends and a largely black church community, as well as having black adoptive parents, Zhy felt completely disenfranchised from her white counterparts. She could not relate to white pop music like Busted or MacFly and had no respect for progressive rock or the Jonas Brothers. She came by to pick up a computer, so she could begin sourcing out potential capsule makers for the business. Tony filled her in with the specifics, removed twelve £50 notes from the inside of a Sly Stone record sleeve, and then she left.

Meanwhile, on the other side of London, not too far away, an armed gunman had found his way into the entrance of a Jeweller’s in Hatton Garden. It was small in comparison to the others dotted along the road but nonetheless housed an impressive line up of diamonds, watches, and gold. Bessie passed all of them by and headed straight for the safe. His head was throbbing; he felt nauseous and his breath was bitter from two days of not washing. He smelt like the inside of a public phone booth on the Old Kent Road: stale perspiration, old piss, and garlic. He was unaccustomed to such slovenliness but had been unable to get home for two days because of his stakeout of the store. He was going to throw up soon and that would make a lovely mess of things. The piercing sound of the shop alarm caught him off guard and reminded him of a screeching woman in the night.

He would sort that out no problem. He moved deftly to his feet and disengaged it as if he were performing lifesaving surgery. His mother had always said that he had “beautiful hands.” He apparently took after his uncle Harry, a concert pianist. Once the deafening howl had stopped, he quickly gathered the haul into his arms and stuffed it into a plastic bag. He lit a cigarette and walked calmly into the cold night air. 


Chapter 14

It was a big night tonight: Tony’s birthday, which meant that everyone who was anyone and all the nobodies in between would be around. He would celebrate privately with members of his immediate family over the weekend. Nothing was planned as such, and business would have to be sorted out first before the fun could begin. Everyone knew, though, what the night would hold—lots of D& A (drugs and alcohol) and plenty of T& A (tits and arse). Scoot, Dipsy, La La, Jimmy Irish, Vinnie Diego, and Big Bernie were all seated with Tony in Gossips, a grungy rock and roll bar off Dean Street. It served as a makeshift office space for Tony where he could talk freely about his plans without any unwanted interference from the police or others. It was cold and damp inside with crates of beers stacked up in large columns to the left and right of the dimly lit room.

It looked like an underground cavern with small twisted passageways running from the centre. Streams of thin watery sunlight tried to break through the tiny slattern windows at the back of the club but lay trapped in diluted rays by the heavy wrought iron bars. The walls smeared with fresh tobacco stains and small, rounded wads of thick, sticky chewing gum flecked with gunk and sawdust. On the grey stone floor, cigarette butts and coasters lay strewn about, a grim reminder of the heaving sweat pit it had become at last night’s Libertines gig. The manager, Johnny Ashton, looked jittery and confused. Years of cocaine and heroin addiction had bloated his over-red face and left him scored with purple veins and premature lines. Not yet, thirty-two, he looked like a man of forty-five or older. Wearing a loose fitting, ACDC tee shirt and some crumpled black jeans, the ends frayed and layered in dust and filth, he moved sharply around the room scuffing his red Converse Trainers, another old school, retro throwback to his “wannabe” rock star existence.

Oasis were playing on the jukebox, Liam’s overstretched elasticized vocal blunting the thick furry air. Johnny didn’t want to see Tony right then. He owed him money, but he couldn’t exactly ignore him either. He fumbled around nervously with his lighter and took out a pack of Marlboro Reds. He was oblivious to everyone else seated at the small table. Everyone, that is, except “Big” Bernie, who glared at him menacingly. He tried to avert his gaze and walk out casually with a cursory nod, but then T motioned him over. Johnny was stumbling with his words.

“Hi T, whassup, man?”

“Listen I, er, got to go, go see Heather, but I’ll be back in like thirty minutes,” Tony pulled him closer and said,

“Yeah, that’s cool, Johnny. Take your time; take your time, ’cause I ain’t going no where. I’ll be here.” He leant back in his seat and the rest of the gang settled down to an afternoon’s drinking. Jimmy Irish changed the music and stuck a Big Youth song on. The lilting beat of the reggae dub was soothing away the uneasy tension between Tony and Johnny. As the group sat there laughing and joking they began discussing their next move.

“Big” Bernie as Don March had explained was actually three-foot-four inches tall with a Mohican haircut coloured blue and green, at only twenty- seven-years-old he was a Mensa maths genius who took care of all Tony’s outgoings, expenses, deposits, savings, and money draw-downs. By ensuring Tony had a number of legitimate investments including shares in a modelling agency, London record company, and two profitable hair salons it gave T and the crew a reliable front. It was “Big” Bernie’s job to satisfy the Tax and VAT people. Unfortunately, “Big” Bernie was also highly superstitious with a morbid fascination for the Occult and Voodoo. He had a seriously violent temper at times, was a killer shot at darts, and was having an obsessive relationship with a nineteen-year-old Australian underwear model and former boy band star. Bernie could also be highly neurotic and was, in short, a bundle of loaded dynamite. He insisted that they shouldn’t leave, without getting their money from Johnny.

The others agreed. Scoot said nothing, but Jimmy Irish, a former welterweight boxer and one of Tony’s muscle men, piped up: “That tosser’s taking the piss. He ’asn’t paid for over seven weeks now.” Jimmy Irish was a tall, striking man with a mop of dark hair and a taut, strong physique. He looked like Monty Clift on a bad day.

“We can’t let ’im take liberties like that, Ton. It’s fuckin’ serious.”

“Don’t worry about it. Stay cool, he’ll pay,” drawled Vinnie, a Spanish-born record producer with a sculpted, bronze torso and the face of a young Louis Prima; he was a beautiful cultural stereotype of a Latin dream. After a stint as an international DJ, and several small film roles, he was now managing T’s record business. Scoot changed the conversation to the elusive search for the capsule maker. He was, in truth, uncomfortable with such heavy talk and not usually around for the blood and boom.

The plan was, of course, to have their own capsule Plant, and Distribution network. They were latching onto the dearth of new age philosophies and natural ways to get high. They already had a willing and gullible market through Tony’s drug clientele, plus streams of punters who wanted some of that “feel good” vibe.

All they needed to do now was soup up their operation to satisfy demand. Zhy’s research efforts had only turned up small mobile capsule makers for home and personal use. They had then looked into the possibility of buying a large industrial-sized machine but found that most of the suppliers were based in India or China.

“What I really want,” began Tony,

“is the Caps-Dynomore.”

“Yeah, it’s really high tech, state of the art, bro,” enthused Dipsy.

“Yeah, amazing capabilities,” joined in La La.

“Yeah, top of the range, man,” confirmed Jimmy Irish.

“It makes nine thousand capsules a minute,” stated Bernie.

“Fuck, man, nine thousand. Every part of fuckin’ London could be high and France and Italy and fuckin’ Berlin, Prague, everywhere could get caps, caps overload, man!” beamed Tony.

“Yeah, you could go on QVC and sell it to the people. Legal highs, legal highs, touch the sky with legal highs” slurred Vinny. His voice smooth like brandy butter.

“How much is it?” enquired T.

Bernie got out his portable mini Vaio and started opening files and looking intently at a very long balance sheet.

“The damage on that particular model is a cool £245,000.”

Vinnie whistled and Dipsy started swearing:

“Fuck, fuck, ’ow much? £245,000 are you sure?”

Bernie ignored them and carried on jotting down figures using a small handheld calculator. The others kept on talking while Bernie continued to work.

“What we could do is move the bizzo to a ware’ouse, you know, a lock up in Kent or somefing,” volunteered Dipsy.

“Yeah, maybe,” replied T.

Bernie was still crunching numbers and made some more rapid computations. Then, with a loud sigh, he put his pen down:

“It’s not gonna be possible at that price,” he said ruefully.

Once they’d factored in the shipping, packaging, and import costs, they were looking at serious money, not to mention the fact that customs and excise might find it a tad unusual to see a super-sized industrial capsule making machine being wheeled into the country.

“The import tax on such a colossal machine will kill the deal,” explained Scoot.

“He’s right,” agreed Bernie.

Darius walked in. He had done his “work” for the day and had managed to screw up two routine bail applications and failed to save a suspected illegal immigrant from Deportation. He was a useless “brief” and unaccustomed to winning anyway.

“Hey, bro, Scooter, all right, chaps.” He nodded to the rest of the gang then, pulled up a chair sat down and helped himself to a beer.

“Big night tonight, bro?” He smiled, looking up at Tony.

“Yeah, man, gonna be wicked tonight, y’ar know.”

“Darius, you know how we can get this capsule maker for cheap?” asked T.

“I’ve actually got some friends who might be interested if you cut them in on the deal. They’re rich Indians into import, export. They have some resort centres and hotels in Goa and Mumbai Let me ask them.”

“That sounds good.”

“Yeah, but we need to move quickly, otherwise business will turn cold,” added Bernie. Scoot thought this was just another example of trite gabble from Darius who was always making huge promises and never following through with any of them. He was quietly irritated and knew that the only reason Darius was even there was to score free cocaine and booze all night. He stood up and got some beers for the others.

Their talk gradually drifted away from the logistics of the capsule maker to the hot summer night ahead. Outside, the sun was setting like a huge orange flame caressing the horizon, and all around them the heave of rush hour, distant shouts, police sirens, car alarms, doors banging, buskers singing Bob Dylan tunes, weary half smiles, and a hundred yesterdays drowned in a sea of noise like hordes of geese clinking to the shore line. Johnny came back biting his lip.

“Tony, over ’ere, man. I’m gonna ’ave to run the boss’s credit card on the till and get you the cash that way.”

“Whatever man. I just need the money. It’s been about seven or eight weeks now.”

“Yeah, I get it, man. Fuck, I hope I’m not busted over this. It’s not authorized.”

“Neither is taking four ounces of ‘C’ and not payin’ for it,” added Bernie sharply.

“Yeah, an’ I hooked you up with Cameron for your disco biscuits,” warned T.

“I’m grateful, Tony; it’s just that I don’t wanna lose this gig. I’m trusted here.”

“Look, just swipe the card, open the till, give me my cash, an’ we’ll be on our way.”

“Yeah, yeah, okay.” Johnny did as he was told and handed over £4000. He put the amount down as “sundries” on the till slip and sloped back to a corner of the bar.

The rest of their business would just have to wait. It was T’s birthday and they were gonna let rip.


Chapter 15

Ever wonder why drug dealers, politicians, models, the super rich, the super bad, the fame whores, the great, the greedy, and the Godless all end up at the same party? They all want to get high; twist the melon. That’s why Tony always had the “best backstage pass” to the most exclusive, most happening, most coked up parties in town. He also had at least half the door and bar staff at these glitzy venues on his payroll. All rock and gravy, if they weren’t there, the gig would be a blow out.

First stop: China Whites. Tony and the guys were ushered through the back entrance. Outside, the line snaked around the corner for at least half a mile. It was a mixed crowd: there were the “do-anythings” for fame brigade, usually twenty-something or younger. They had trademarked, clipped Essex accents with wealthy Jewish or South African parents and tended to have big hair and even bigger attitudes. They all seemed like sisters of Danni Behr with the usual French Manicure and pot roast hue. Then there were the “has beens” out for a laugh and a shag. Clothes too tight, make up too bright, Caprice-style hair extensions, wearing horrible pointy shoes with Cruella de Ville heels.

No “Sandersons” or “Louboutins” here, just “Faith” and “LK Bennett.” What was it with that tired, old, Sex and The City look that women over a certain age love to ape? It was like an enforced uniform courtesy of Marie Claire’s fashion team. Fact: Puffball skirts and pointy vamp shoes look awkward and clownish on anyone without SJP’s, lean trim torso, or the curvaceous femininity of Kim Cattrall.

Jostling alongside these groups of over eager club “chicks” were the “fellas” of the night, either aging lotharios from the music biz well past their sell-by date, now donning nervous eye twitches and “coke bloat” stomachs, or the usual city boys: Traders, Investment Bankers, Account Executives, they had Florida tans, shiny hair, and snappy let’s-get-high suits on. Close by, a peculiar breed of straight hairdresser, complete with gold wristwatches and boy band hair teased and gelled into easy lay creations. Also in line: super toned, fit, gay, boy toys under twenty-five wearing low-waisted jeans and tight-fitted tees with crass slogans. Some of the crowd brandished neon-coloured VIP wristbands and others had enough cash to try and bribe the bouncers to get in.

This was all theatre, of course, just hype, for the real “stars” of the night were already ensconced in the hip VIP enclosure downing bottles of Roderer Cristal and sipping on chocolate martinis. Tony found himself seated next to a member of the Saudi Royal family and a well-known soap actress. Jimmy Irish was wedged between a provincial “wag” and a London rap artist. Bernie and his boy toy lover, Christian, were holed up in a private booth. Scoot and Darius were busy chatting up a couple of “Page 3” models and Dipsy, La La, and Vinnie were getting friendly with the cast and crew of a reality TV show.

Outside still in the queue were Mandy and Eva, they had been waiting in the cold for over twenty minutes. They were tired and impatient. Finally, they got to the entrance, only to be told by the Resident Door Gestapo that the club was “full, their names weren’t on the list and they couldn’t come in.” The Door Gestapo took their jobs very seriously indeed. They tended to be surly faced minder men sporting the same po-faced scowl, black knee length Crombie coats, and the collective brainpower of a toddler of three. It was a crushing blow to Eva and Mandy, who had been looking forward to this night all week. As they turned and walked away, Eva heard her name being called. She looked up to find Nathan, a friend of Richard’s, smiling at her from inside the club.

He pushed aside the door goon and escorted her and her friend through. Eva felt really cool. It was notoriously difficult to get into China Whites, which boasted one of the biggest celebrity drop-bys in London. But even here, the celebrities were on a sliding scale and you certainly wouldn’t find the likes of a Tom Cruise or Beyoncé Knowles slumming it at “Whites.” No, they’d probably be partying in Lake Como or somewhere equally lush. Still, sports personalities and television actors were commonplace and Eva thought what fun it would be if she could bag a footballer for the night.

On the other side of London, Boujis on the Fulham Road was getting ready to welcome a dazzling array of assorted Royalty, Trustafarians, Throne Rangers, Models, Pop Tarts, and Dot com billionaires. Boujis was awash for the main part, however, with quiet old money. It had a pedigree and refinement that was hard to match in the rest of London. Nestled in between the innocuous Money Exchange shop and the cheap telephone place on the Fulham Road, you’d never dream it was such a favourite haunt for the Chelsea smart set.

Still, it was only a stone’s throw from Kensington Palace and just minutes away from the fashionable SW1 and SW3 areas. After a sess’ at Boujis, you could always nip down to the Kings Road and get a lovely fry up at five or six in the morning. It was safe, convenient, and deliciously up market.          Richard sat back on an Arne Jacobson-inspired egg chair smoking a Cohiba cigar. It was still a bit of a novelty to smoke cigars in England but he had acquired a taste for them while working in New York and partying in Havana.

He found them extremely satisfying and the drag gave him an enjoyable buzz. One of his wealthier clients, a British Muscovite and heir to a plastics company, had brought him to Boujis. He was impressed with the “we’re too rich to give a fuck” vibe and the uber cool décor inside. He ordered a Jack and coke and took a long swig from the glass. Refreshing and sharp, it stung his palette into play. He had a look around the club. A famous “celeb” pop tart was holding court at the bar. She had climbed her way through the charts screwing various A and R men and even some women. Still going strong, without any musical ability to speak of, she was propped up beside her influential gay music maestro who gave her credibility and validation. Richard thought her swollen hamster cheeks were a definite “Botox” giveaway. Talent by association made him nauseous.

He noticed several rich Asians, probably from India or Pakistan. Ever since the English Football Manager had confessed to bedding an exotic beauty of Bangladeshi origin, it had been quite en vogue to have a South East Asian girlfriend. Generally, though, Richard didn’t stray too far from his own type. He wasn’t racist but didn’t like working too hard to get laid. You knew where you were with a proper English “slapper,” a night’s worth of drinks and fifty quid for their cab ride home the next morning: sorted. Even posh “totty” like those in tonight could be persuaded to give it up; you just needed a little bit of charm and a big fat wallet. Those foreign types, different ball game altogether. It was all in the chase with them. They wanted you to prove your worth. A tall, Padama Lakshmi look-a-like caught his eye, but she was already taken.

As he scoured the room for other hopefuls, a brunette brushed past him. Fuckalicous, thought Richard. She had a raw, untamed, dirty sensuality that oozed from her “Porn Star” curves: Big boobs, tiny waist, and a tight toned tummy with a firm, round arse all silhouetted through her black silk satin dress. He sidled up to her and introduced himself, trying hard not to stare. It was always the same robotic speech:

“My name’s Richard. I’m a lawyer.”

“Oh very impressive” she smirked with a rolling eye motion that said the exact opposite.”

“I’m Odette and I’m a surgeon.”

Richard was lost for words and very annoyed. How was he going to shag her now?

“I’m sorry, you seem a little, how can I put this, surprised, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I thought you were a Russian model or something.”

“I’m Latvian or something,” retorted Odette. She loathed men like this.

Richard rarely got close to women. He was a fuck-and-go type of man but he was genuinely overwhelmed by Odette’s quick wit and “come screw me” look. He made a mental note never to judge a book by its cover a clichéd saying he swore not to use again. He wanted Odette now, right there in the club more than a fantasy screw with Jordan a glamour model he always had a secret “thing” for. He wanted to feel how wet she was, how tight, and slip his hand through that silk dress.

Odette, meanwhile, had other plans and Richard played no part in them. She had seen an Indian businessman whom she met earlier and with whom she wanted to reconnect. He was good looking and funny with a great body and strong, powerful hands. Anyway, how could she ever date a man like Richard? He was so painfully transparent. Then there were those unsightly skin tags visible for all to see. It was a curious pet hate of hers. As a qualified surgeon, she would always recommend removal. Skin tags and warts were unnecessary and she felt unable to forgive such a flaw. Scars, crooked teeth, big noses, pockmarks, and blemishes were all preferable to visible skin tags. She felt horribly shallow but chose to be truthful.

“I’m afraid I’m not looking for any type of relationship, so excuse me, if you will, er, nice to have met you.” Richard, unabashed and buoyed on by the throbbing Jay Z rap tune, continued with his hackneyed sales patter and all the while he wanted to tongue that bitch. He looked pathetic to her and irritated the hell out of her. The skin tags on his upper left eyelid and to the right side of his neck were getting more and more prominent. Odette felt an incredible urge to lance them off without aesthetic. She bit her lip slowly and remained calm however.

“Really sweet of you, Richard, but I’m just not interested, you know. I’m just here to enjoy myself with friends. Please excuse me.”

With that, she flounced off into the private area of the club, wiggling to the sound of over-dubbed Dr. Dre. Richard hot- footed it behind her, collapsing in a nervous heap on a plush velvet armchair. Ulrich Solinsky, his client, was snogging some twenty-something double barrelled named society princess. He waited until they stopped.

“Ritchie Ritch.”

He saw him staring at Odette, who turned away from him immediately.

“She’s definitely out of your league, Ritch. I’ll fix you up with someone else who’s just as lush but not so fucking clever. The girl I have in mind was even chosen for a shoot in “Horse and Hound” and she was “papped” at Tatler’s Little Black Book Party. She’s super hot and super cool.” Ulrich spoke with an edgy chic, trying to mock the “wide boy” Cockney English accent. This style of talking had now left the confines of leafy Sloane Square and filtered down to the Home Counties. Richard thought it was messed up. Why would someone who’d benefited from a seriously expensive private education pretend to be an East End urchin? Ulrich continued with his drunken talk, his arm around the pretty, angel-faced girl. His hand, now resting on her thigh:

“Richie, baby, come on, ask Tasha, sweetheart. Natasha, isn’t Kamilla great? She’s lovely, right?”

Natasha smiled and in between snoggs slurred, “Yeah, man, she’s like really, really hot.”

Richard feigned fake interest but demanded Odette’s phone number, as it was Ulrich’s party he was bound to have her contact information. Ulrich got out his Blackberry and read out her numbers.

“Don’t fucking embarrass me, slick dick.” He carried on kissing Tasha, sliding his hand up her skirt, then motioned Richard over.

“Got some killer Charlie, man. Let’s go.”

They left the club and the girl. Then they moved to the back of the Fulham Road where Ulrich’s car was parked. They sat in the privacy of his XK8 Jag and both snorted several lines. As the orgasmic rush of the drug hit, they collapsed into an ice Elysium. This stuff was off the hook. The streetlights were casting an intrusive white glare into the front mirror of the car. Richard ducked down, shielding his face from the unwanted strobes. They snorted some more. Richard became energized, upbeat, and scathingly witty, as if he had just taken a shot of purity. His mood switched; he started to talk animatedly about nothing, making it all sound unbelievable and spectacular.

He was in a coke dream now, where he was better than anyone, better than everyone. He was “God” supreme; that’s what Coke did for him, that’s how it made him feel like he had divine grace. He watched Odette out of the corner of his eye and wondered how many men she’d pleasured.


by Saira Viola