A Piece of Ass. Part 2. All the French Singers have bum post cards.
Corey consoled himself with the thought he would be going abroad. He had never been on an aeroplane although once for a birthday treat his parents had taken him to Stanstead AirportTM and let him look through the chain link fence. They had been there for a good two hours before the burly security guard had rocked up in a sleek 4x4 with flashing lights and a siren and told them it was a restricted area and if they didn’t move on he would have to take them down.
Corey’s dad called him a jerk under his breath and wanted to punch him but Corey’s mum said it wasn’t worth the effort and besides she’d had enough of watching other people fly off to places she would never go.
There was only so much envy she could handle.
Seven days before he was due at the card sharp school Corey ducked out of a lecture on How to Spot a Refugee and smashed a window on the town’s library and broke in. Despite a 24 hour charity whist drive and several elderly ladies chaining themselves to the books of Catherine Cookson in protest the library had had to close the previous year due to a lack of funding.
With his penlight carefully concealed in his hand Corey went up and down the aisles until he found the book the only decent book on the subject that hadn’t been stolen or given away to the Old People’s Home, Stanstead, from Cleaner to Canteen Manager, My Life as a Plane Spotter.
He slipped the book down the back of his trousers and made his way home.
In the petrol station storage area Corey built a conning tower out of sardine tins and eight rolls of sellotape. Old broken Moulinex mixers he had scavenged from the tip stood in for Boeings and he practised being an air traffic controller speaking instructions into a megaphone he had stolen from a construction site.
They were building a holding centre for refugee children. In the grounds was a huge slide. When all the necessary checks had been made children were told to climb up the slide and whoosh down.
There would be the back of a truck waiting for them.
The government paper had been called the ‘Making Deportation Fun!’ There hadn’t even been an uproar. This was how things were.
At night, when he closed his eyes, Corey thought of Switzerland. Lush green fields, crenellated chateaux, creamy chocolate and cowgirls with hair in plaits and loose morals.
Being so close to nature he thought one of these girls might give him a blow job. He was at that age now and he was aware of the club at school where some of the boys practiced on each other. He would’ve given it a go but it was 10p a session, for expenses, and he didn’t have a spare 10p.
And besides he didn’t like the taste of EVANS’ Mouthwash.
That’s what the expenses were for. His mum had told him it was made of chicken bums ground up and then rehydrated.
“And you wouldn’t want that in your mouth.”
And anyway, everyone knew.
Ever since that the National Football Team had appeared naked from behind in a promotional calendar and the New MoralityTM had got hold of it bums were taboo.
Poor dad. He was going to be the next Pele.
Now look at him.
They couldn’t even have round shaped objects in the flat.
That’s what crushed hope did to you.
So Corey consoled himself.
Although he was going away, the going away would be on a plane and he would be living in a beautiful verdant country.
Then on the morning before he was due to leave, at breakfast, half a sardine, his mother pushed a woollen thing towards him.
“I’ve picked apart your father’s Winter underpants,” she said. “And made you a hat. Sorry about the colour.”
Through the window of the petrol station Corey could see the changing of the armed guards at the former football pitch. A crane was being delivered to the refugee children holding centre building site. There was a tiny man just visible in the cab at the top, his long hair buffeted by the wind.
“It’ll be cold up North,” said his mum. “In Saltburn-by-the-Sea.”
“Where the Swiss Card Sharp Summer Camp and Academy is currently located” said his father.
He pulled his lips back to form a kind of grimace.
“A Swiss Card Sharp is a thing,” said his father. “Not a reference to a place. You knew that, didn’t you son?”
“Have another sardine,” said his mother. “There’re apparently seals in Saltburn. They’ll like you. All these sardines you’ve been devouring. Why, you’ll practically look like one!”
“Arf arf,” said his father, comically clapping his hands together.
But on his face was a look of utmost despair.
On the day he was to leave his mother dressed in a feather bower and a pair of enormous dark glasses. She thought she might pick up some fortune telling work on the train concourse from the families heading to the Southern Resorts or the business men in suits but a downbeaten man in a coolie hat took their ticket and said they were in the wrong place and that this was a restricted area.
Corey’s train was to leave from Platform 98.
They had to cross a bridge. And then another one. Then go over a cow field. Then ford a small stream.
The Northern Line had yet to be electrified and the waiting engine pumped thick smoke out into the misty morning.
“I got you this,” said Corey’s mother as she helped him up into the carriage and she passed him a toilet roll.
“It might look like a toilet roll,” she said, “but I’ve jazzed it up myself.”
Then she made some jazz hands.
For the previous eight nights she had sat up embellishing each of the sheets with a single inspirational phrase, Be the best you can be, Every journey begins with the first step, After darkness always comes the light.
“Every time I look at it I will think of you,” said Corey.
Then, although he said he wouldn’t, he started to cry, big tears formed in the corners of his eyes and rolled down his cheeks.
“My son,” said his mother. “Me and your father, we’re done. Now we’re depending on you. Be strong. You’re our only hope now.”
Although the seats were narrow and uncomfortable the rocking of the train carriage sent Corey to sleep. When he awoke he found an old man with wiry ginger hair sticking at ninety degrees out of each ear leaning over him and stroking his rubber mac in the area of the thigh.
When the old man saw Corey was awake he opened both wings of his jacket and gave a bow of his head.
Pinned to the inside lining of the jackets were postcards displaying the naked bums of French singers; Serge Gainsbourg, Sacha Distel, Charles Aznavour, Johnny Hallyday, Maurice Chevalier, Yves Montand, Alain Barrière, Philippe Clay.
“For you,” said the old man. “Very good price.”
Corey had heard of things like this at school. One boy had been expelled for having a grainy photocopy of Eric Cantona’s buttocks he had obtained while on a strictly supervised holiday in Normandy.
Now he was working under curfew at a chicken plant.
And it didn’t make any sense.
One time, this boy, naked in the boys’ changing room after PE had placed his bum on Jarvis’s head and farted and no one had batted an eyelid.
But everyone knew Jarvis had issues. The previous year his parents had sold his left lung on the black market. You could still see the scars. Those doctors must have been butchers.
“I don’t want you blasted a#~¥s!” said Corey to the old man.
Then he stormed off indignantly to the toilet, spending the rest of the journey locked in there, ignoring the ever increasingly loud knocks at the door and the curses of an angry crowd.
This was him now.
He would be resolute.
The northern town was a desolate place. Outside the station was a boardwalk from which the sand crept painfully down to a tumbling sea. On poles, dotted along the seafront, were a series of signs. No Ball Games! No Swimming! Beware Seals! And then the one displaying a huge A crossed through with a thick line and with a circle around it.
Everyone knew what this meant without having to spell it out.
In fact, it was illegal to spell it out.
Just a few weeks after New MoralityTM a French company had shipped over a consignment of risqué bathing trunks through customs in a container marked up as soft cheese.
The first of the trunks had been spotted on a beach in Scarborough. Police had been called. Shots fired. And the wearing of the trunks, now a former person, had been carried off the beach under armed guard and covered with two tarpaulins.
Although a strict no press embargo had been enforced word had got out.
The trunks had started to change hands for exorbitant prices.
It was said there was a beach in the Northern Highlands where it was possible to wear them unobstructed but that was the Scottish for you.
For years they had been agitating to go their own way.
And there was apparently a place in The Capital City with private changing facilities and a blacked out access tunnel leading to a ‘Dark Room’.
A Nobel Prize winning scientist had been engaged to prove beyond doubt that is was not possible even to see the nose on your face.
The thrill was just to be out in public in the bathers.
To feel the air against your buttocks.
The cord between your bum crack.
The sign with the huge A on it.
Crossed out and with a circle around it.
With three hours before the scheduled Introductory Meet and Greet Corey wandered along the front.
Just past a souvenir shop, Delicious Gifts, brightly coloured plastic spades and buckets tumbling out on to the pavement, half-deflated inflatable crocodiles and turtles rope-tied to its weathered frontage, was a rotating papier-mâché baby, its puffy arms and legs folded towards its torso, its large head clumsily painted with large blue eyes and red lips.
Intrigued Corey looked up and above a dark doorway was a crackling and fizzing neon sign, some of the letters on a wonk, but still spelling out; The Foetus Museum.
Entry, so a placard screwed into the wall claimed, was 25p but 7p less for concessions.
Being under 18 and ‘a student’ Corey was a concession.
Opening the bag of change given to his parents by EVANS and then passed on to him, for expenses, he fished out the necessary coins, clunked them into the honesty box and went inside.
Threadbare carpet, the sound of the distant sea funnelled, the smell of rot.
There was a staircase that creaked and then one huge room with a stencilled sign above its door:
Teratology: the study of human deformity
Corey sucked in his cheeks.
He had never seen anything like it.
Floating creatures with two heads, or with no arms or legs, or with greatly enlarged heads that dwarfed the bodies below them, loomed at him out of the gloom.
He would have liked to take a closer look but in front of each of these ‘special’ exhibits was an elderly person wearing an ‘I’m a volunteer’ badge.
They glowered at him; warned him to be careful with his rucksack, not to get too close, to touch the glass, to try to put his finger in the preserving liquid.
Then a klaxon sounded and an announcement was made over a staticky intercom system that it was half day closing and could all visitors leave via the gift shop, they would be grateful for any purchases or donations, the museum ran on charity, volunteers were always welcome.
“Or why not treat yourself or a family member or a loved one, or a friend!, to our latest product, the Saltburn-by-the-Sea Town Pass. Not only does it give unlimited yearly access to The Foetus Museum but also to our wonderful Aquarium, check it out on the mount!
“As a Saltburn-by-the-Sea Town Pass holder you will also be entitled to a discount on the Nuclear Power Station tour. Feel the heat and enter at your own peril! Rad suits not included.
“Saltburn-by-the-Sea Town Passes are available now at your earliest convenience in the gift shop. Please indulge. You won’t regret.”
The gift shop was on the rooftop. It was set up like a maze and Corey found himself going past the same foetus key rings, postcards, pencil ends, snow globes, brochures, books, before he came to the cash desk manned by an elderly lady wearing a see-through plastic mac and with her hair in rollers.
Behind her stood the fire escape stairs, winding their way back down to the seafront.
“So you’re a runaway, are you?”
Corey looked out past the woman, out at the rolling sea where the seals lived, and imagined that he was.
He could get a boat. Start out afresh somewhere else, in another country.
Foreign languages were banned but sometimes at night he had made up his own foreign languages in his head, dazzling himself with his love talk.
So why not?
Then he remembered his parents.
They were relying on him.
“I’m here for the Swiss Card Sharp Summer Camp and Academy,” he said and the woman had looked at his cumbersome hands skeptically, said ‘oh dear, oh dear’ and had handed him a card.
We’ve got a slot for everyone!
Come over and chance your luck!
“When it all goes wrong come and find me,” she said. “That EVANS, you know he’s an arse? A real bumming buttocky arse.”
And with that Corey went down the fire escape stairs and onto the front.
It was a blustery day.
His hair streamed behind him like a banner.
Le noyé assassiné by Philippe Clay - https://youtu.be/lZ_NgSs7gtY