Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel (Friday night. Your Love is King. Part 1.)
You are slumped over a table in The Commodore Club when you are shaken awake and you see a number of swirling Eusavios looking down at you.
You think he is going to be angry with you, at least one of him, because you are supposed to be meeting him this evening and you are supposed to be going to the Hot Top Bar and Grill where you will stun all the women with your dance floor moves and Eusavio will also be stunned by your moves and you will go up some notches in his estimation, from hopeless to practically worthless, and instead you are here, slumped, a drunken mess. But, and here a sunbeam breaks upon a plant that was literally about to die, Eusavio is not angry and instead he is asking you if you are ok and, because you have never had a friend who has looked out for you like this before, to prove that you are ok you decide you will do some exercise right there and then and you get down on the floor to do a press up but you find that you can’t so you decide that while you are down here you might as well sleep but you can’t sleep either so instead you do the only thing you can do, you form your body into a ball and you roll, roll, roll, roll the boat gently down the stream, and as you roll you take out first an elderly man carrying a tray of drinks and then a table holding a small coffin. The coffin holds a cat. This is one of the things the hotel does to bring in extra guests. Pet funerals. The coffin holding the cat bursts open and the cat, dead, lands on your head. It is a ginger cat so now you have kind of a ginger wig.
Its stiff legs point outwards like a now forgotten Edwardian hairstyle. Its head lies against your forehead. And you can all too easily imagine its blank dead eyes staring icily at its ‘mother’ collapsing to the floor in front of you.
It is not your finest moment.
You do not know if you have ever had a finest moment. Except once when you were five and at school you drew a picture of your mum and you took it home and she said it looked exactly like her and pinned it to the fridge. You were so proud that you couldn’t sleep and at two o’clock in the morning you went into the kitchen and sat in front of it, and fell asleep there, and didn’t wake up until your mum stepped over you the next morning asking if you’d fucking seen her fucking cigarettes you little shit.
You feel a heavy sensation in your stomach and you think you are going to be sick and you try to move your legs to get to the toilet because Simon, the barman, has told you that if you are sick one more time in The Commodore Club you will a) clean it up b) be barred for life, but your legs spin freely in the air and not being able to understand this you open your eyes and you find your face is next to Eusavio’s behind and you realise he has picked you up and he is carrying you over his shoulder and everyone in the bar is whooping and cheering and shouting out things like, ‘Go ride him cowboy,’ and ‘Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen,’ and you think you have never been so humiliated in your life but you know this is not true.
You have been humiliated many times.
More times than you care to remember.
As you are being carried over Eusavio’s shoulder you have a fantasy in which you and Eusavio are WW1 fighter pilots. Your plane has been shot down in the Gobi desert. In the fire of the crash you and Eusavio have become welded inseparably together. Your stomach is fixed to his shoulder. Your head hangs down near to his behind.
“Don’t worry,” he says jauntily. “I’ve been in worse scrapes.”
“You need to see it from my angle,” you say and you are pleased with your stiff upper lip British repartee.
It was this kind of thing which won us the war.
You spend many days in the desert. At first performing your ablutions is awkward. You soon, however, develop a system.
While Eusavio is able to wipe his own bum, you are not able to wipe yours.
Eusavio knows many excellent magic and card tricks. He entertains you with these on the long desert nights and you almost become glad you are stuck to him and you tell him this and he becomes embarrassed and tries to push you away.
After many days of travelling you come to the edge of the desert and you are saved. You are in the Port of Aden. You take a room in a flophouse filled with many unruly characters who seem always ready to fight with you because of your strange deformity.
“Have you never seen two World War I fighter pilots welded together before?” says Eusavio baring his teeth and clenching his fists.
He is quite magnificent in his fury and fixing a mirror to his bum you practice clenching you own teeth and speaking harsh combative words.
It is not quite the same.
It happens that there is a single berth on a steamer heading to Portsmouth. Throwing a rug over his shoulder, the shoulder you are attached to, in order to hide you, Eusavio books passage with the ship’s purser.
Your initial excitement fades when you realise you must spend the whole journey concealed beneath this blanket.
You have become used to wide desert vistas, the sprawl and bustle of a modern sea port.
Now you only have Eusavio’s arse for company.
You practice your patter on it, imagining the women who will await you at home, the war hero!, but in truth the arse is a dull foil.
It speaks hardly at all and when it does it is in almost unintelligible toots and trills.
England is much changed. Old houses are coming down, new ones going up. With so many strapping young men having not returned from the war, opportunities abound. Eusavio finds himself a job as a teller in a bank, you a night security guard. You are able to sleep while Eusavio takes and dispenses notes, Eusavio is able to sleep while you in your security hut keep a watchful eye on the gate.
Everyone is happy.
But it is when you are asleep that Eusavio meets and falls in love with another of the bank employees, Janine. After just a few dates, you under strict instructions to keep a low profile, he asks for her hand in marriage and although there is some resistance initially from her parents, no it is not typical for one man to have another fixed to his shoulders, you soon win them around with your quick wit and stunning moves upon the dance floor.
You are the best man at the wedding and are to accompany the couple on their honeymoon.
On their wedding night Eusavio fills your ears with hot wax and firmly affixes a blindfold over your eyes.
He can’t disguise the violent bucking, however, and his pleasure is your pleasure.
The years then pass. You yourself never marry but you are not unhappy. You watch Eusavio’s two children grow and prosper and when the time comes you both retire together on the same day, each receiving a similar fake gold watch, and take a small cottage in Hunstanton.
When the diagnosis comes it hits you all hard. You didn’t think Eusavio would be the first to go. Cancer. A particularly virulent strain that crushes him within three months.
The undertaker scratches his head and says it is not a typical coffin. You say you have not had a typical life. You give specifications.
The coffin is to be constructed around Eusavio’s body and he will be buried upright. A kind of trench will then be dug so you can breath and move your head.
Janine remains faithful, visiting the cemetery three times a day, bringing you food, and taking care of your needs.
“It’s what Eusavio would have wanted,” she says.
“Yes it is,” you say. “A true friend right until the end. Just what I always wanted but never thought I would have.”
And you are not unhappy in the graveyard.
You watch the seasons come and go, the mourners gather around other deaths.
But always there with you is Eusavio.
His body diminishing.
Part of the earth.
That same thing that happens to all of us.
And the point of it.