A Piece of Ass. Part 1
Back then, this time that I’m thinking of, Corey’s mother read fortunes in a small tattered tent on the sea front next to the little kids sand pit. The sand pit had been closed down the previous year after a little kid with a harelip had fallen and then suffocated in the sand. When the kid’s parents had come to grieve, plant a commemorative cactus and take shiva, they were Jewish this kid’s parents, Corey’s mother believing they were waiting for one of her fortunes had flown out of the tent and said by way of an introduction that she saw a bright future.
It took 6 of the philosophers, thin wiry men with freckles and thick shoes, to pull them off. The philosophers didn’t mind. They were glad to be done with the jeering.
They had been there that whole Summer Season between four and six which were usually peak fortune telling times, housewives with a brace of unwanted kids on their laps, businessmen who thought there was more to life, even the good looking guys from the beach volleyball teams who used to go on to be ass models. Their question was, What are we going to do now asses are banned?
That year the philosophers had a new teacher. He had once been a fierce Jesuit but then he had lost his faith and now he was merely fierce. His line was radical philosophy, to challenge weak thinking, superstition, mumbo-jumbo. Hence the picketing of the fortune teller.
“But why me?” wailed Corey’s mother that night. She had fought back and still had the skin of the Jewish woman’s fat neck under her nails.
As if she didn’t feel guilty enough already.
“Can’t you see it in your crystal ball?” Corey asked and he wasn’t being the wise guy. Whenever he wanted to know anything he always got his mother to take out her crystal ball, it was their thing, but that night his mother had slammed the pan of SpaghettiOs against the hob and told him to wait until his father got home.
“Jeez,” Corey said. “We both know that ain’t going to be any time soon.”
Back then Corey’s father was out six nights a week at !!!Moustaches!!!. On the seventh night he volunteered at a soup kitchen to atone for his sins.
“What about our sins?” his mother would cry and she would beat herself with a wooden spoon. But still, he didn’t have it so bad. Other boys didn’t have proper homes.
One boy at school lived in an abandoned air conditioning unit. Another in a tree house. Some of the boys were jealous of him, tree houses being cool, until he slipped from a high branch taking a shit and now had an iron lung. He pushed this around the school on a trolley and was often late for lessons. He was falling further and further behind in his studies. And he struggled some days to climb up to his treehouse. He had once admitted to Corey, just for an easy life, he had taken to sleeping in a drainage ditch.
“At least I’ve got a roof over my head,” thought Corey. “At least my parents have got jobs.”
And this, this is what I’m telling you, is the story.
One morning three boys dressed in tights and mini skirts from the lefty Art College out on a transsexual awareness day had stolen Corey’s mother’s advertising board. At least two of the boys had never wanted to go to the Art College anyway and the third only wanted to surf. He worked seven nights a week at Acme Chips and Fish saving money for a trip to Big Sur.
It was his idea to use the advertising board as a body board.
By the time Corey’s mother saw them they had stripped to their pants and then they were at the far end of the beach.
Then they were in the sea.
“I wasn’t going to go in the friggin’ sea after them,” she said to Corey’s father later that evening.
This was during a blazing row. Pots had been tossed to the floor. Corey’s dad had beaten himself with his mum’s wooden spoon. Then he had taken a series of bills in red envelopes and pasted them to the window.
“My fake ermine robe would have soaked up the water like a friggin sponge. And I know we can’t afford another one [advertising board]. At least I’ve still got my tent.”
The next day was the day of the huge storm.
As Corey’s mother stood outside the tent, her crystal ball held aloft, trying to the job of her advertising board, a strong gust of wind got in the tent and lifted it like a balloon.
Even the Climate Change Deniers couldn’t help. They’d been out petitioning on the sea front that day.
A couple of them had grabbed onto the bottom of the tent had been swept off too.
“Deny that,” said Corey’s dad later but his face was grim.
He knew what no tent meant.
“At least you’ve still got your job,” said Corey’s mum.
This was a sore point. After his football carrier had gone to the skids Corey’s dad had hit the doldrums. There was drink, other women and then he had got a job at Consenting Adults. Most of the time he tended the desk, or replenished the stocks, genuine 1930s merkins, cock rings used during the Indian Raj, snippets of hair cut from Errol Flynn’s butt crack, sold in little presentation bottles with a fondling cloth.
Consenting Adults was listed in the Green Pages as a retail establishment but for £5 couples who had completed the obligatory questionnaire could take Corey’s father into the back room and do with him as they wished.
Some dressed him in flimsy pyjamas and then cut them into squares, while he was still wearing them. Others would make him wear a nappy and crawl on all fours or use him as a love seat, heavy petting across his sagging back. Corey’s mother said it was degrading but his father said 5 cold hard bucks was never degrading when it could buy him half a pint of whiskey. Corey’s mother told him to shove it up his ass (this was before asses were banned you understand?), and he had replied that he had, or rather someone had, and worse, and then he had cried and Corey’s mother had said it was her or Consenting Adults and that was when he’d got the job at !!!Moustaches!!!
It was supposed to be a stop-gap. They had been twelve years ago.
I started out as the door opener, he liked to say. And look at me now. Waiting tables. Mister Success.
Even his moustache looked sad these days. Once its ends had curled up like a smile.
Now it had cut it down to a small square.
Two weeks before a new manager had started at the restaurant. A former Marine, prior to opening each evening he instigated what he called Boot Camp.
A haunted look in his eyes Corey’s dad would describe it as a figgin’ crazy circus gone wrong.
Waiters would have slalom at speed between the empty tables, five plates stacked in each hand and the chefs juggle knives usually meant for cutting the livers from deadly blowfish.
It was worse for the dishwashers and kitchen porters. They had to strip down to a kind of underwear that only covered their butts and dick-slap each other until the last one had begged for submission. It wouldn’t have been so bad except, Dwayne, he was the Marine, had set up a live feed on the internet.
Footfall in the restaurant was up and rumour had it that he was going to get all the staff to do the dick-slapping live for the diners.
What about those who haven’t got dicks? This was from Fanny. She was one of the female waiters. She didn’t take shit from anyone. She had once beaten a complaining diner with a lobster claw.
Don’t worry, said Dwayne, we’ll get you dicks.
Things were coming to a head.
To round off Boot Camp each day Dwayne did what he called his ‘How High?’ competition.
He would cry out, ‘How High?’, and all the staff, lined up, would have to jump into the air. The one that jumped the highest got an extra 1% of that evening’s tip share minus tax and administration costs.
The previous week, Maurice, the sommelier, wife had left him for a junior car salesmen and taken his two kids. Then the bailiffs had turned up. It turned out she hadn’t been paying the mortgage with the money he’d been giving her but instead spending it on vitamin supplements for her toy boy. Now Maurice was going to lose the house. He was desperate for money.
When Dwayne shouted out ‘How High?’ Maurice had climbed up on one of the adult-sized high chairs designed for overweight babies and leapt. Everyone heard the snap of his ankles.
“Don’t worry,” said Dwayne. “We’ll get you a wheelchair for the service. A&E is open 24 hours. I’ll push you there myself later. Or get someone else to do it.”
That’s when Corey’s dad had stepped up.
He knew what it was like to be humiliated.
One time at Consenting Adults he had been forced to eat porridge made from urine. It wasn’t that it even tasted bad. It was the principle of it.
“Come on Maurice,” he said, and lifted him up over his shoulder. Once outside he put him down again and called Andy from the grocer’s who did taxiing on the evenings. He wasn’t as strong as he once was.
The queue at A&E was eight hours long. When he got back to !!!Moustaches!!! Dwayne was waiting for him. He said he would never work in the waiting industry again. Then he had asked for Corey’s dad’s apron and notepad and pens.
These things didn’t grow on trees.
Two months later when EVANS came for his annual visit Corey’s parents ushered him out of the room.
They tried to keep things from him but he knew his mum and dad weren’t working and besides it was him who went to the food bank with his dad.
All they’d eaten for seven weeks were tins of sardines. His mum said things would be better next year. She had cleared a patch of ground on the petrol station forecourt and had planted some seeds. When they grew or sprouted, whatever it was they did, she was vague in the technicalities of horticulture, she was going to use them to make bread.
Outside, EVANS’ driver was leaning against the car. The car had EVANS’ big orange face plastered all over it. He looked like a pumpkin that had been polished up and put up for sale in some department store. When the driver saw Corey he took out his willy and asked him if he’d like to fondle it for 5p. Corey said no and went down to his cave but once there he’d regretted it because he thought of all the things he might buy with 5p; a gobstopper, a single sock from a charity shop, last week’s Saturday supplement, a thimbleful of Coke.
The corner shop had started selling soft drinks by the thimbleful. Some kids would save up all week and then would keep the sugary drink in their mouth for hours.
It was a new thing.
The art of not swallowing.
Some kids were worshipped for it.
Corey’s dad had told him about skateboarders and he imagined this to be a modern equivalent.
When his parents called him EVANS and his car and his driver had gone.
“I’ve made you your favourite meal,” said his mother and his father pushed a plate with one sardine on it towards him.
His least favourite meal was two sardines.
“We think it’s a wonderful opportunity,” said his father. On his face was the look he had when talking about having a whiskey bottle up his ass. Or when he actually had it up his ass.
He was in pain.
“It’s this or skid row,” said his mother.
“WhatdoIhavetodo?” said Corey.
He had always dreamt of being a hero but the kids at school called him condom, or rubber for short.
This was because of his uniform, an acrylic jumper with numerous Velcro straps and a rubber mac he told his mum he had found behind the cistern in the cinema toilets during a midnight viewing of Citizen Kane. But he liked it. It made him feel like someone. Someone powerful.
One day a old woman would be in need and he would be there to help her with his plastic mac and Velcro straps. She would be out in a heavy storm without a hat, for example, and would need some kind of waterproof covering and to be lashed to a lamppost.
These Velcro straps are as strong as iron!
Then what would they say?
“Sit yourself down kid,” said his dad while his mother stifled a sob.
Then they explained.
In short EVANS owned a string of Casinos. The croupiers in them were all teenage boys. The boys were trained at EVANS’ own Swiss Card Sharp Summer Camp and Academy.
“The thing is buster,” said his father. “You’re going.”
Then he handed him a pack of cards.
“Now get practising. All of our futures depend on it.
Fun, Fun, Fun by The Beach Boys: https://youtu.be/vS5ttqc8iDw