Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel. (Tuesday morning. Before you awake. A bum history.)
When you are fourteen your best friend is Peter. He is on the football team and he lives just with his mother who is an alcoholic. He also had a little sister once but she died and there is still a room in the house with all her things in it. Sometimes you will sneak in there when you are visiting and lie quite still on what was once her bed. You are her. This is your family.
You imagine your first prom, your first date, having your first period. You feel the blood running down the inside of your leg. This is what birth should feel like.
One day you and Peter become blood brothers. Cutting your palms and then pressing your hands together you pledge that you will always look out for each other.
“And we will never dismiss the other’s ideas out of hand,” says Peter.
“No way!” you say. You slap your thigh in joy. “No way will we do that. Any idea you have I’m there for you all the way. Whatever it is. You just name it.”
And you imagine yourselves stealing Peter’s mother’s credit card and travelling to Paris overnight on the bus you have seen advertised in the window of the travel agent’s at the bus station. You will go to a smoky bar in Pigalle and the French girls will go crazy for Peter’s long muscular thighs. I got these thighs from playing in an English football team, he will say and the girls will rub his thighs and they will tell him they have always dreamt of such English thighs but there will be one other girl who is not so much into thighs. This girl will attend the Sorbonne which is otherwise known as the University of Paris and dates from the twelfth century and she will play the violin and have dextrous fingers and she will look into your eyes and she will tell you that they are the wisest eyes she has ever seen. What these little old eyes? you will say modesty although you have always believed you had great eyes, not piercing exactly but with the potential to pierce if it was ever needed in a sticky situation and she will say, yes those piercing eyes, and later in a hotel room with an iron bed and an irascible concierge downstairs, after you have smoked one and a half Gitane cigarettes each, you will remove her tiny French panties with your teeth and these panties are so fine you could floss with them and you do!, you floss with the French girl’s panties.
“Oh yes!”, you say, “Oh yes!”, and you are imagining an actual pair of panties between your teeth and your teeth on this occasion don’t have little pieces of cornflake stuck in them or the ends of plastic pens which you chew when you are nervous, which is most of the time, when Peter brings you out of your fantasy by jabbing you in the side with one of his muscular footballer’s fingers and reveals to you how you will seal your union now that you are inseparable blood brothers.
“Doctors,” he says. “And. Nurses,” he says. “To. The. Next. Level,” he says.
And you have never heard him speak like this where each word is an actual sentence and you are worried already the disappointment of this game, if it is a game, is going to be like the last Christmas when your mum promised you you could have whatever you wanted and then she gave you £10 to go down to the local Mace shop. It being Christmas morning the Mace was closed but you could hear the owner and his family out back, laughing, the sound of Christmas carols being sung, the heady pop of crackers and it was joyful and your heart broke. And you sat on the ground and you put your head in your hands and said that at least it couldn’t get any worse Charlie Brown (who was something of a hero of yours) but then the door of the Mace shop opened and the owner appeared holding a broom which he used to shoo you off his doorstep and onto the road and he told you to clear off, clear off, clear off like it was a kind of a game but it wasn’t. But then he saw the £10 note in your hand and you were hopeful again and you thought he would let you into the shop after all and you could buy yourself anything, a packet of biscuits, a stapler, a set of three colourful
Sellotapes but then he took the £10 note from your hand and said he would put it towards what your whore of a mother owed him for her cigarettes and for breaking one of his windows when she was high from glue-sniffing and out of control which was most of the time and then he shut the door and you could still hear the carols and the laughter and the crack of the crackers and you wept for your soul even though you were not sure that you had one.
Or deserved one.
But this day you are still hopeful and you tell yourself that maybe it will be that Peter’s alcoholic mother will appear dressed as a nurse, in fact isn’t she actually a nurse?, and she will peel off her uniform all in one go and she will be wearing panties with a zip and you will upzip them with your teeth and you will put your willy inside her but you won’t cum because you know cum can make babies but maybe you will cum on your hand and she will lick it off your hand and let it kind of drip from her lips as she tells you she has a real thing for teenage boys and Peter will tell you he knows it’s wrong but he has a real thing for watching his friends screw his alcoholic mother but then Peter falls to the floor and makes wide sweeping gestures under the bed, laughing and shaking really quickly, until he stands up again, a white coat and some misshapen object in his hand.
“So where’s your mum?” you say, “Isn’t she coming?” and you describe with your hands what you hope is a nurse’s uniform and Peter grins and tells you she won’t be back for hours and then he helps you into the white coat and sticks the misshapen object on the front of it which you now see is a badge cut from cardboard and on it is a single spidery word written in Tippex and this word is “Proctologist.”
“Proctology,” he says all gleeful, “is the study of the anus and the rectum.”
So this is it, your life in a nutshell. You weren’t even reaching for the stars, an alcoholic elderly woman desperate for affection didn’t seem too much to hope for but instead you get this, Peter undressing in front of you, folding his clothes into a neat pile like a soldier might, or a suicide about to launch himself over the edge of a cliff.
And you are thinking how you can make your excuses and go, although you have nowhere to go where you are admired like this, when on his hands and knees now Peter looks up at you through his spread legs.
“Doctor, no time to scrub up. This is an emergency! Only you, the most talented proctologist in Europe, can save me!”
What would Jesus do? is the question you ask yourself. What would Jesus do?
It is not your fantasy but is it Christian to deny someone else their fantasy? There may be a time when you are standing outside the gates of heaven and Saint Peter says, Did you do all that you could? Did the life you led make any difference to anyone?
So you put on the voice of a 1950s B-Movie actor.
“Well, Mr Bumster, it looks like the snake from the lake has indeed entered you from behind and I’m afraid we’ll have to operate sooner rather than later.”
But Peter tells you to hold your horses Mr. Doctor sir and still looking at you from between his legs, he orders you to get the doll in the red dress from his dead sister’s room and you do, you bring it to him, this doll, and with a few deft tugs Peter removes its mouth from its head and tells you to fix the mouth over his bumhole and you do this too and so now his bumhole looks like a bumhole with two rows of little tiny teeth around it.
“The snake has gone too deep inside,” he says. “You must feed it or it will eat me inside out!”
“But feed it with what?” you say horrified and this time you are not acting because you are horrified. Are you on Candid Camera? Peter’s bumhole at least has a disguise but you…
“You’re the most famous proctologist in the Northern hemisphere,” says Peter. “Use your goddam imagination. I’m counting on you blood brother! To put it simply I love you.”
And you have never been loved before and your heart fills with joy and you leap up in exactly the kind of way you imagine a top proctologist would jump up, dignified but real fast and assertive, and you search the house from high to low and, returning bountiful, you feed the monster snake first a carrot and then a slender tv remote and then a key ring on which you believe are Peter’s mother’s car keys. One by one they disappear between the tiny teeth and you weep at the beauty of it. For those in need, here you are, bringing succour.
Afterwards you sit cross-legged face to face and Peter, satiated, his face beatific like Christ come down from the cross, tells you to bare your soul.
“Blood brother. What is in you?” he says, “I want to know. What is your heart’s desire?”
And now it seems it is to be your turn. Time to reveal the dark heart of your passion.
And this is it. A precocious reader for many years right then you are passionate about Albert Camus, the French writer and philosopher. You go on and on. You have never had chance to talk about Albert Camus with anyone before and you are so full of Camus it pours out from you in the same way an accordion player squeezes his box and music comes out. You are not able to stop yourself. You move on from Albert Camus and his existentialism to Jean Paul Sartre. The left bank of Paris. Simon de Beauvoir. You are intoxicated with your own self. You say how you want to study philosophy at university, are dispassionate about material things. Life is the freedom to make choices, you say.
It is only when you stop that Peter strikes the floor and jumps up, the little tiny teeth falling from his bumhole. If these teeth had eyes you feel they would be staring at you accusingly.
“Philosophy!” he shouts and balls his hand into a fist. He is still naked. His balls are level with your nose and they seem to have formed a kind of a fist too. A pair of small angry fists, dangling and ready to punch. “I am to be a great footballer,” he says. “One day I will walk on water with my footballing skills. These thighs are my goldmine. Like Pele’s thighs. Like Michel Platini’s thighs. Camus probably didn’t even have thighs and that is why he will always be worthless.”
And you are heartsick. For you philosophy is the most natural of excitements. And besides Camus was a footballer. He played in goal in his youth for Algeria. He did have thighs! And you describe Camus’ thighs in the air. As big and strong as the thighs that hold up the Eiffel Tower. But Peter’s ears are closed to all supplications. Tears stream down his face as he hops from foot to foot, as he rips the badge off your coat, as he strips the coat off your body, as first the tv remote then the carrot and then the keys make their reappearance from his bum, landing near the teeth on the carpet, a triptych of angry accusers. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
“You did this,” he screams, “you did this, the blasted proctologist was in!, well I fucking wish he wasn’t,” and still naked he does a crude mime across the floor. It might be Plato, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche but you know in your heart of hearts it is Camus himself, Camus standing in for you, limp-wristed, effete, crawling out of Peter’s life forever, a broken and beaten man.