A Piece of Ass. Part 6. Grapefruit Moon. Part 1.
Poulton-le-Fylde was a place of gilded palaces of commerce, monuments to men who had died many years ago, electric trams, street-lamps that in other towns might have been turned off to save electricity, green taxis driven furiously by men with beards, crowds of people who looked like they wanted to be moving faster than they were, brothels, saunas, tanning shops, nail bars, fast food restaurants with various noun and adjective combinations before the word ‘chicken’.
It was EVANS’ heartland, his alma mater, the place from which he sprang and it was impossible to turn a corner, take a side street, without being confronted by large neon tubes spelling out his name.
EVANS SAUNA, EVANS TOYS, EVANS PHARMACY.
Corey had booked himself in at The Moon Hotel where each of the rooms was named after a phase of the moon.
His was Waning Gibbous and after his sleepless night where every few minutes he had been disturbed by the elevated tram rattling his window, by the calls of the call-girls circling the street down below, by the drunken football songs sung by drunken yobs, when he was asked which room he was in by the staff member at breakfast he had accidentally called it wanking gibbous and been given a stern warning.
“We are not that kind of hotel.”
On the reception desk, checking in, there had been the ubiquitous A sign with the A crossed out and along with his keycard he had been given both a shower cap and an ‘A’-cap.
“That’s both ends covered,” he had said and the elderly receptionist hadn’t even twitched his Hitler moustache.
It was that kind of place.
Before retiring the night before he had gone to the top floor of the hotel where The Moon Bar was situated.
The barman wore a spacesuit and every single customer he greeted with the same line, “This place, huh, it has no atmosphere.”
Taking his drink Corey had gone over to the juke box where he had flicked through the records, Moon River, Moondance, Blue Moon, To the Moon and Back, Fly Me to the Moon, Bad Moon Rising, Man on the Moon, Walking on the Moon, New Moon on Monday, before settling on Grapefruit Moon by Tom Waits and then he had gone to the centre of the dance floor where he had put his arms out, imagined Eli within them, and slowly rotated until the song came to an end.
After breakfast Corey took the Northern Tram out to ‘Acme Traction Machines. For all your traction needs’.
The building had two fat chimneys, wide metal gates, a uniformed security guard sat in a hut.
Every Tuesday, the former fat man had said, you’ll see. The sign is just a front. Isn’t that a kick in the ass? Right in EVANS’ heartland, and he the chief backer of New Morality.
Then he had given Corey the password.
But if they ask you where you got it, don’t let the cat out of the bag. I’m personal non grata. Those post cards of mine. Everyone of them. A fake.
Not genuine Gallic singers’ arses, ‘cuse my French.
Some of them weren’t even arses.
A couple of oranges in a soft light.
You see where I’m going with this?
These guys, the ones you’ll be mixing with, they’re top bananas and they don’t take too kindly to fake bums.
There’s people that done less worse than me ended up at the bottom of a lake in concrete freakin’ shoes if you know what I mean?
So watch your back is what I’m saying.
You hear what I’m saying?
Watch your back.
And you ass.
You hear me?
There was a café opposite, Groucho’s, where all staff wore horn-rimmed glasses, fake bushy eyebrows, a bulbous nose, a luxuriant moustache. And sticking out of their mouths, each and every one of them, was a fat cigar.
And this was the thing.
Every customer was given the same get up on entrance and because everyone looked the same, the wrong staff were always taking the wrong orders to the wrong tables which resulted in many hilarious scenes reminiscent of one of the Marx Brothers’ best movies.
Corey took a table next to the window and looked out.
He didn’t have to wait long.
Within ten minutes of him sitting down a shifty looking man in a Homburg hat pulled down low over his eyes arrived at Acme Traction Machines, exchanged words with the guard, and went inside.
Five minutes after that, same kind of guy, same kind of hat.
Arrive. Password. In.
It was easy.
It was time.
Corey paid his bill, for someone else’s food, and crossed the road.
People must have been arriving well before Corey started watching from Groucho’s because the place was rammed.
There was a wooden booth, hatch open, off to one side, a queue snaking towards it, and a stage. It was before this that most bodies were packed.
The voice, made metallic by a megaphone, boomed out, echoing from the vaulted ceiling high above.
An impression of Rudolf Nureyev’s a— taken from a banquette in the upper stalls of the Kirov Theatre circa 1953. Who will start the bidding at 56p?
There was a shifting in the pressed bodies, one card was held up, then another. Then another.
The tension in the air, Corey thought, was like at Ginny’s Palace when a whole load of copper coins were about to drop and a crowd had gathered around one of the slots.
The voice of the man on the stage was reaching a crescendo and then SOLD! boomed out and the crowd was parting for a little man in thick glasses that failed to hide the haunted eyes of an addict.
A bit of a strange one this.
Handed out to the Wehrmacht, 1935 – 1945, to those soldiers unable to take food orally.
‘To be taken 4 times daily after defecation’
Let’s start our bidding at 12p. Come on. 12p. Any takers?
After half an hour Corey had got the system.
Items were taken to the booth over on one side, given a lot number and then, some time later, they would appear up on the stage for bidding.
But Corey had a plan.
There was something he had to do first.
Grapefruit Moon part 2 - https://www.abctales.com/story/drewgummerson/piece-ass-part-7-grapefruit-moon-part-2