Saira's Flash Fiction

The Day Trippers
Saira Viola

She had rose-pink cushiony lips. Hot talking banana shaped hips and a smile that shamed the sun’s orange heart. He wore a classic black Fedora hat perched over slicked back pompadour hair. Waltzing down the street on happy Fred Astaire dancing feet. Jazzed up in a honey- mouthed wool silk suit. His laugh so tender it made spring blossoms quiver. She packed a teal satin negligee— sheer thigh-high nylons clip-on suspenders and midnight panties for their naked rendezvous. He bought a vintage bottle of Dom Pérignon, a tub of medium-sized Vaseline and a chest of unanswered questions. In the lobby he took off his wedding ring carrying guilt and deception in a double-locked knapsack. There were bad stars above them sliding drunkenly across slanted skies. Glitter shit. She whizzed in like punk sauce. Triple wham! Butt-cheek slam. He glided towards her. Smooth operator. Never mind the bollox! They had no need for small talk. A push-up pull-down mattress and in the left drawer a copy of the Gideon bible and a motel directory. In the right drawer a mini freshen-up kit. Lemon-scented and a multi-purpose pack of toothpicks. His kidney shaped Crayola-coloured violet eyes red lined. Her big brown kitten- kohl eyes zipped with fever. They both wanted it. Sonic! Hot slaughter! Electric pleasure! Then when it was over and they said au revoir in suburban gridlock he moseyed on home. Drank a six-pack. Swing-beating to Coltrane all night long. Hiding from the day chasing hidden ants in strawberry milk. She play-acting her time away until the next mouthful of magic boom boom.

Image: Photograph by William Zuback. William Zuback.com

HOODOO3

 

Nikki was a five and dime hustler. She had a fake-bake glow, red fish lips, and the kind of hips that could straddle a 6-foot mobster on ice. Her dreams, stapled with twenty dollar bills and the cheap throwaway thrills a man gets when he feels lonely.

“So what’s it gonna be?”

“I don’t know; I’ve never done this before.”

“Twenty bucks buys you a blow job and a hundred takes you to heaven’s door.”

……..“Well I guess that’s the closest I’ll ever get to heaven’s door.” He had a low baritone voice gravelled with heat.

…….They left the curb and Nikki sat in the passenger seat flicking her fringe and blowing gum bubbles at the same time. She felt uneasy, like a scrap of animated moth dust about to get fried.

…….“Could I ask what kind of job you do, mister?” She twirled her thick, Fusilli shaped butter cream curls around her long fingers, the tips dipped in purple passion polish.

…….“You can ask.” His wild, unruly brows and v-shaped point in his hairline gave him a disturbed look. He was sloping forward in his seat and his small Smartie sized eyes were popping up, down, and all around her. They were a lurid mix of mildew green and taupe, reminding her of rotting pears.

…….Guys like these scared Nikki the most. They were closed and out of control. She’d been lucky so far, nothing serious, just a few bruises and a busted mouth.

…….“Just sayin’, it’s pretty late is all. Wondered if you worked crazy hours or something.”

…….“Yeah well, you don’t need to wonder about nuthin’. I’m payin’ for your time so your ass, and everythin’ above and below it is effectively mine, the minute the clock starts.” He leaned closer to her, staring at her thighs and her awkward blue stilettos. They were a couple of sizes too big, and she had stuffed them with paper. It didn’t show but her feet were hammered raw.

“You wanna smoke?”

…….“No, I’m good.” He lit up a cigarette and drew in deep, his eyes locked on her blouse. It was tightly cut and stressed the curve of her breasts, leaving a nipple imprint on the material, which turned him on. He started to sweat. And his voice tightened.

“We’ll pull up after the next lights.”

“Sure.”

…….Nikki could feel him undressing her – it made her sick, her stomach knotted like a Danish pastry. She reached down and fiddled with the strap of her shoe, revealing the tattoo on the nape of her neck, a rose with ballet slipper, pink petals trailing her shoulders. She looked up. They were in a deserted mall.

…….“I come here sometimes when I need to be alone. I work over there.” He pointed to the Walgreens store, his hands were oversized, liver spotted brown and meaty  with chunky heavy fingers.

Great, just what I need, a fucking self-loathing mall clerk.

She nodded.

He scowled at her with a dead lust, the kind that feeds evil.

“Take off your shirt – do it slowly.”

“Sure.” She breezed, with gum in her teeth.

…….Nikki unbuttoned her blouse, tracing her open lips with her fingers, faking a smile. She was play-bunny cute. Just as she was about to reveal her breast, he leant forward and kissed her hard on the neck. It made her shudder. He tasted good, so good that Nikki felt bad. He pulled her by the hair and lifted her face to his, inches away, then locked his lips on hers spreading her legs wide with his hand. She gasped, the heat was intense. Torrid.  As they lay wrapped in each other’s orbit for what seemed like an age, Nikki opened her eyes to find that the man had vanished and in his place was a hybrid with hooves, a male torso, and a tail. She screamed and kicked him hard, “Jesus Christ – what is this – who are you? Get off of me, get off me now.” Terrified, she struck at him again and tried pulling away, her legs striking in all directions. He smirked, his lips stretching way past his nose like a fairground clown. Leaning back in his seat, “You’re only tripping. This will all be forgotten in ten minutes flat.”

“What, so now you talk, what are you? I mean Jesus Christ?”

“I’m just your imagination, I don’t exist.”

…….Nikki was flipping out. The car door was open, so she jumped free, hurriedly clipping the car park, her heels scraping the ground with a noisy clack. She dug her phone out of her purse and tried dialling 911 but the keys got jammed. The car lay still with the hoof hybrid still in it. Got to get out of here, Jesus was I tripping! I don’t know, like, I did take some blow earlier.

…….She checked her watch: it was almost five a.m. Ari her pimp would be calling soon. Maybe I should just wait until Ari calls. The car’s still there and no one’s come after me.

Then it started, a creeping asphyxiating feeling all over her body.

…….“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” Her mottled cries criss-crossing the pavements red with fear. She staggered to the ground, her head falling to one side and her body limp, she was sock puppet blue.

…….That night it rained for five hours straight, but the morning brought a freshness to the city that made it feel alive, and a deep yellow egg yolk coloured sun, surrounded by whipped cream cotton clouds. It was a seamless start to the day.

…….A little girl and her mother were shopping for groceries. While loading the SUV the child spied a plastic doll on the tarmac.

…….“Stop mommy, look – see look it’s a doll, mommy, a doll without a home.” In her hand a macabre looking toy with bright red lips and yellow stringy hair. It wore mini blue stilettos and a short tight skirt, and on its Barbie style body, had an intricately designed rose tattoo stencilled across its shoulders.

 “Oh Catherine, it’s cute but it’s not ours. She doesn’t belong to us.”

…….“Please mom please, can I take her home?” The little girl handed the doll to her mother.

…….“I don’t know sweetie, she looks awful messed up, – those clothes and that strange tattoo…” She looked at it disapprovingly.

“I’ll change her outfit when I get back and make her pretty again.”

…….“Well okay, but no tattoos and short skirts for you, Catherine, nothing good ever comes out of short skirts and tattoos!”

…….The child took the doll from her mother, and placed it beside her on the back seat. It was going to be a long ride home.

 

The glitzy eye of the capital dimmed by savage wage cuts,  job losses,  unlicensed pawn shops, rampant racism ,and those over fed piggy bankers.5am: Underneath Waterloo Station . It stunk of skunk- sick man’s urine and a hungry bull mastiff. Empty cans of Stella -KFC chicken boxes ,and orphaned ,pound store socks lay strewn across the mouth of the underpass. Sitting on a crinkled grocery bag : Dutchie a streaky- haired  scrawny seventeen year old stretched her arms out. Stage school flunkey, and forgotten acting ingénue. Now part -time flower arranger and full time coke addict. Defiant in charity couture. Underneath a beige rain mac she was trussed up in a lime green spandex leotard -red polyester micro mini ,and sheer stockings mottled with runs. A pair of three inch black pleather kitten heels, swaddled in a fleece -lined navy hoodie neatly bundled by her side. Sodium street lights colouring her elfin shaped face. Her heavy lidded violet eyes flashing violently as a lanky, pony- tailed rake about nineteen, slumped in front of her. Scruffy genteel in bleached  baggy -denim a porkpie hat ,and drab- green Adidas sweatshirt. On his feet scuffed, branded trainers splattered with months of missed opportunities, bad luck ,and hard nosed rejection. Ichabod Funk (Ich). Homeless -music school drop out spliff -social poet ,and street- scammer . Ichabod trotted around selling stolen shit, useless intel ,and mobile phone sims. With his  big expectant eyes and child -like view of the world he was waiting for a miracle or something close. His shattered suburban dream of becoming ‘someone’, shredded in the excrement of social cleansing. Still strictly small -time he had stumbled on a Baudelairean hangout The Horseshoe a few miles away in Portobello Road . His pinched nasal voice overridden by a see- saw lilt .

‘We gotta go. C’mon.’ Dutchie looking at him sourly.

‘It took me five hours to get this space.’ She spoke in a muted winter -weary tone as if the frost -tipped tongue of December were licking her fingers raw.

‘I have a place for us to go. C’mon.’ Ich gathering up the rain stained lightweight duvet -sample sized toiletries and a half drunk bottle of mineral water. Everything they owned housed in disposable plastic bags they lugged around town. They left behind their cardboard sheets and Milky Way wrappers . Most of their time was spent stalking shop doorways and empty benches for places to rest. Blocked by an ugly slew of spiked barriers. A sharp reminder of their homeless status. Erected steel fangs positioned over warm air vents to stop them snatching even a few minutes of snooze time. Dutchie attacked by a nest of erratic cocaine -sprayed thoughts. Hate festering in the bowels of her mind as she watched sparkly party -goers slink by: Pretty long haired bitches with your bottled tans talking- titties singing asses and fake eyelashes -judging me with pouty lip disgust I had a life too once upon a time and who are you to judge if I shove my fist in your satin -glossed mouth ? Are you gonna scream and shout? Sometimes I can’t change my tampon for days. Sometimes I wipe the dried blood off with my little finger . And all I can eat is stale cheeseburgers -micro flipped for a minute  . Will I wake up dead ? Just another statistic in an unmarked grave .You look at me like I’m a slimy -back -sliding spider -struggling to climb outta a sink hole. I got big dreams -just ask the angels. Ask them if I’d be forgiven for stabbing you in the throat. If I could wash my fingers in warm peachy soap .And  not the public scum -furred toilets where that pimpled -chin sex perv’ with lice in his beard- masturbates in front of me while I’m trying to take a dump. Guardian reader! With  your patronising smirk . You make me puke offering me free lattes ,in your ethnic -free -trade hempy skirt. I’m just a way for you to bag likes and shares as you take another pic for your growing twitter feed. Here’s one for your Majesty ! So beloved of gushy American tourists and  the English middle classes . Why am I the outsider ? And why are you ENTITLED to shit on me and plant your royal arse on acres of land without worrying about paying the tax man ? The poisoned  parasitic slurp of  the English Monarchy fucks us all. What kind of sicko world is this where hordes of people stand in line to catch a glimpse of your smug little face  and grovel at your feet begging to shake your grasping white- gloved hand as if you were Jesus Christ?

Dutchie’s intestines angry . Her sore swollen stomach weeping. She stumbled and shuffled her way out of the hallowed sleep- spot tugging Ich’s sleeve as he carted their belongings on his back.

‘They treat us worse than strays. Lost puppies and cutesy kitties can get a pat on the head and a warm fucking bed for the night.’

‘Don’t worry. We’re gonna be fine. We’re going to The Horseshoe. I’ve met someone he’s gonna help us out.’

‘Who?’

‘You’ll see.’ They trudged through a maze of jagged back streets and alley ways. Half moon, sweat circles dampening Dutchie’s underarms. Pinging the elastic on her leotard she tried to air her unwashed body.

‘Do you think we’ll always be living like this? I feel worse than yesterday. Like my soul’s choking.’  Ich drumming to his own beat marched on without listening. Dutchie morose, continued jabbering Her voice getting louder and more desperate .

‘How long before we get there ?’ Ich just shrugged his shoulders and kept going. Dutchie straggling behind him.  It was always the same. Whenever they found a deserted place to camp out, they’d have to move. Like a never ending story with no final chapter in sight. But it was that long, twisted chain of tension she hated the most. She always had to be ready . Always worried something was going to blow up.

Sometimes Dutchie thought about life before her mother died. She would close her eyes and let her mother’s voice float inside her. It reminded her of a four leaf clover  , a tiny square snatch  of blue sky . Ice cream Sundays. Mostly it reminded her of a way out. But that feeling didn’t last long and her daily tableau of survival  always brought her back to the moment.

6.am the skies were reddening like a Boschian /Hirst mash up. They were still a few minutes away . Passing a passel of unknown arty types ,noodling around on the edge of insanity ,and a slouch of elderly junkies clumped together for their grave -yard fix. Dutchie saw one of them toying  with a switchblade. She hurried after Ich. Finally they arrived outside a narrow ,nondescript building with a U shaped doorway. Ich led them inside. The bar was empty save for some sorry slacks at the back, a thin- boned Chinese barman  ,and a corner table flanked by three refrigerator sized black- suited baldies. Behind them sat a small, slithery looking man: Zipmouth. Dapperly dressed in a custom made navy checked wool suit, and cream button down shirt. He had a shock of cinema- bouffant silver curls, framing huge walnut -sized black eyes. De-rigeur Grand Cayman tan setting off a strong hawk nose thick mutton chop sideburns ,and a misshapen zip -stitched gash – mouth. It was the kind of visceral Freddy Krueger moment that stretched from your eyes and stayed in your stomach for weeks. On his lap a  slim beach-bunny blonde. Even sitting she was a good head taller than him. His voice activated by a mechanised electro throat -back . A hand held battery powered device used by people who’d lost their voice box. He pushed the blonde aside and ordered Dutchie and Ich closer. An American – accented tinny robotic voice slicing the air:

‘Come. Here. Let. Me . See. You.’ Ich dropped the bags. Folding his palm around Dutchie’s frail petal thin  wrist. They walked gingerly towards the table. The three heavies stepping aside.

‘I’ll . Get. Straight. To. The . Point. I can see you’re in need.’ Dutchie wincing. A sharp intake of breath. She tried her best not to stare at Zipmouth’s lopsided jaw. But she seemed fascinated by it. Ich squeezed her hand and she changed her focus. Concentrating on Zipmouth’s eyes. Snappy-  black  -hard and bright . As he leant forward she noticed a floppy wattled strip of skin dangling from his chin. It reminded her a little of shop- worn cut -price Christmas turkey.

‘Ichabod . Does. Me favours from time to time. Tomorrow my crew are int- ter -cepting an electronic cash transfer from WongaWonga Bank. We need you to create a diversion inside. We have  clothes and disguises. You’ll be given details tomorrow and paid after the job. Any questions?’ Neither of them felt they had the right to ask any questions.

‘Good. Here have a little fun on me.’ He handed Ich half a dozen red disc shaped  pills stamped with a skull and crossbones. Ich popped one straight away . Dutchie  slipped a couple in her pocket  for later. Zipmouth ended the conversation casually.

‘See you kids tomorrow. Sharkie has everything you need.’ Sharkie  a paunchy  pigeon- nosed lummox ,dressed in a velour jogging suit escorted them out. He trashed their belongings in a nearby dumpster and handed them a shiny new case of  mixed  apparel . Dutchie secretly wondering if  they had gotten her size right. Sharkie chauffeured them to a discreet, gated apartment in Central London. They entered the lux hideout with a mixture of awe and excitement. Sharkie left them  a few minutes later, with instructions to be up before noon. On the table in the main room a bouquet of assorted fresh flowers gift wrapped candies and a generous basket of seasonal fruit. A state of the art high -res plasma screen hung on the wall in isolated glory and underneath a built -in desk and  fully stocked mini bar . Dutchie was the first to speak.  Squealing like a hopped up hamster . Clapping her hands over her mouth in disbelief:

‘What the fuck is going on ? This is like some Bond bollocks or some other freaky shit. Who WAZ that guy? Did you see his mouth? Jeezus . Really fucking freaky. And how the fuck did you do this?’ She waltzed around from room to room dazed by nouveau comforts. Periodically erupting into fits of giggles. A small kitchenette stuffed with snacks, pre -packed meats soft drinks, and vegetables proved too much of a temptation. Dutchie helped herself to fun -sized chocolate bars and potato chips throwing off her plastic heels. In between mouthfuls she fumbled around for the little red pills and swallowed them . Washing them down with a can of Red Bull . Then she plonked herself onto the bed. A queen sized -double -deluxe pine fold up. She felt the pristine line between her thumb and forefinger and buried her face into the soft covers. Plumping the pillows and bouncing up and down on the mattress. Ich was quiet- almost sullen. He sat down cross- legged on the floor . Just staring weirdly at nothing. Dutchie made a beeline for the bathroom. Hurriedly she stripped off and filled the tub with lavender scented foam. Frothing around in complimentary bubbles. A three second grin breaking into an impromptu rendition of the Clash version of the classic Bank robber. Performing to an invisible audience. She grabbed the shower head using it as a makeshift mic, radiating liquid joy as she lathered up.

‘Ma daddy was a bank robber who never hurt nobody. He just loved to live that way and he loved to steal your money.Ahhhhhhh.’In the lounge Ich  pulled out two more pills and popped them down his throat . Then he  lit a cigarette and took a deep drag.

‘Ugh.’ Two splutters later he snuffed it out with the ball of his thumb .

On the other side of London Zipmouth: Fixer , trafficker and organ harvester was briefing his small clique of cutthroat body snatchers. Getting them ready to prowl the city looking for fresh blood . Paid to maim and on occasion kill potential “donors”, for a myriad of medical procedures. Of course you couldn’t just pop body organs out .Zipmouth’s recruits had a tried and tested method involving one whack to the head and a potentially fatal dose of morphine or fentanyl.  Earlier that week he had already met with a high ranking administrator at an exclusive  London hospital and had created a stack of forged consent release forms, and death certificates to validate donation. He had a select, medical team ,private ambulance, and a dozen ,obscenely rich patients on standby. Transplant tourism once, a thriving black market economy limited to China, India, and West Africa had gone global. The spike in world diseases meant there was now an unprecedented demand for replacement body parts. Zipmouth liked to squeeze as much as he could out of a deal. Hearts, lungs ,and livers were all hot properties but kidneys were the most prized on the black market. Zipmouth could get as much as eighty thousand pounds for just one, on black market rates. He preferred harvesting kidneys as they were generally easy to remove without too many complications. He attempted a smile . His liver -spotted blue -veined hand clicking the electro larynx .

‘Thank . God. For . Heart disease high blood pressure and diabetes.’

Ten am : At the apartment. Ich and Dutchie were lost in eternal

slumber. Their bodies entwined. Their faces inches apart. Dutchie’s freshly washed locks threaded with the golden rays of morning sun. Her lips half parted like a tulip in bloom. A look of utter relief on her face.

 

By Saira Viola
Illustration Nick Victor

wasteland


This Business is Killing Me

ACT ONE

FADE IN:
INT DALSTON GRITTY GARAGE LOCKUP. NIGHT
There are grubby stains on the walls, dust and debris, sealed boxes, cobwebs on the ceiling, disused broken furniture, a large stash of unopened radio equipment, a locked safety deposit box, an assortment of weapons including a Heckler and Koch 9mm. And an array of vacuum packed dildos, life sized inflatable rubber dolls and dozens of multi coloured rabbit vibrators.

MEL
What the fuck’s that?
(A monster sized purple rubber cock swings from a hook and smacks him in the chops. He ducks out of the way.)

MICKEY
Sorry boss that’s stock for the city boys’ corporate jamboree, you know their annual bonking fest.
(Grins, rolls his eyes.)

MEL
(Starts poking around in boxes and undoing packets removes some of the merchandise and inspects bits and pieces. Holds up a pack of circular discs.)
Not exactly Hugh Heffner is it Mickey? Bloody yellow butt plugs! All this tack feels like I’m in a Taiwanese brothel sadly without any of the talent. Get rid of this shit now!

MICKEY
Yes, boss.
(Starts packing the sex toys in boxes and crates and moves them to the far end of the lock up there is an old chair in the middle of the garage.)

MEL
(Turns to Tezza.)
Bring the lady in but before you do stick that on.
(He shoves a Ronald McDonald Halloween mask in his hand.)
And make sure she’s covered up before she sets foot in ‘ere. Mickey you got a choice of Michael Meyers, or our very own face of modern protest Guy Fawkes.

MICKEY
Decisions, decisions do I opt for our beloved antihero Mr. Fawkes or a psychopathic murderer idolized by slash artists and serial killers worldwide? Hmm, gotta be gunpowder Guy.

MEL
Just stick the bloody thing on.
By the way the company that makes those masks shift about 100,000 a year a little rebellion can fetch a tasty profit can’t it eh?
(He walks over to the chair with a smug look on his face.)

(Tezza returns, his arm on Avery’s shoulder, dragging her forward, she has a Bride of Chucky mask on. It conceals her entire face ,although there is a space for her mouth. She wears a no frills simple business suit with black stilettos and a blue printed blouse. Her hands are tied with duct tape. Tezza places her on the chair. She is nervous and agitated. There is a thin line of perspiration across her forehead.)

MEL
Ah, look who it is. The amazin’ audacious one and only star reporter Avery!
Have I got a scoop for you! Talk of the tabloids you’ll be if this hits the streets.
(Turns to Tezza)
If you’ll do the honours !
The recording’s on that little handheld over there.
(Tezza picks up the mobile and gives it to Mel.)
Now fellas, step outside so Avery and I can get properly acquainted.
(Tezza and Mickey leave. Mel draws up another chair so he is face to face with her.)

MEL
Ahh Avery, I’ll be honest with ya. I’m sick to death of playing this game. Sick of the long nights the lying, cheating and hypocrisy. You got supersized authorized corruption with the wanker bankers, sex scandals in Whitehall, power players peddling scum and then there’s the loneliness. In my line of business, you can’t trust no one.

AVERY
You think you’ll get away with this?

MEL
Already have. You’re a clever girl Avery, you know I’ve got more fixers in my back pocket than you’ve had hot dinners. Now I’ve brought you here to give you some good old fashioned advice.

AVERY
(Defiant but quiet.) You’re a nobody. Just a sleazy well-oiled con artist.

MEL
(Shaking his head rolling his eyes.) Hmmm, I do take umbrage at your crass, caricatured depiction of me as some kind of bob a job villain. Don’t be fooled by what you see darlin’. I’m the genuine article.

AVERY
Everyone’s gonna be looking for me.

MEL
Course they are. You’re top of the list after the Kardashian’s arse, a viral video of a kitten playing with a ball of string, a love rat celeb who’s been bagging rent boys, and your favourite soap star confessing to a crack habit. You might get a mention in the local gazette. But you created this culture of titty gossip masquerading as news. Everyone knows you’re just a number, a bit of filler squashed in between adverts for haemorrhoid cream and car insurance.

AVERY
Fuck you!

MEL
No Avery Fuck you! Stick to the script. Sure you’re familiar with it: the five Ws and H. The cardinal rules of investigative reporting: Who What Why When Where and How. But seems, you prefer the Mata Hari school of intel gathering don’t you eh?
(He runs his fingers through his hair and sidles up to her only inches away, kneels and slides his hands across her legs. She kicks his hand away and tries to push her chair back.)

AVERY
Get off me.

MEL
(Gets up and circles around her. Laughs viciously.)
Relax sweetheart you don’t do it for me.
Now back to your little tease and tell game.

AVERY
I don’t know what you’re talking about

MEL
Well, let’s see if this little reminder sparks off any fond memories shall we?

(He props the hand held device on a worm eaten, wooden table close by and hits play. There is grainy footage of Avery having sex with a balding blubber gut middle aged infamous property baron. We hear sex groans and an audible conversation.)

MEL
And you sealed the deal with your legs open wide. Classy ain’t ya?

AVERY
You’ve got it wrong. You’re distorting the truth.

MEL
The truth? A double dealing meth addict has more honesty than a scheming little news slut like you.
(Shaking his head.)
And you know what follows next?
(He walks up to her, removes her mask and whispers.)
You’re just as crooked as me.

(Crimson faced with sweat trails on her nose, Avery looks on weepy eyed blinking underneath the harsh lights at the sex toys, boxes and crates, packaging and dust on the floor. He watches a spider crawl through the debris. It stops and slides over Mel’s right foot, he lets it linger over his shoe then smushes it to a cruddy pulp.)

MEL
What do you know about the truth? That’s not news reporting that’s bribery and blackmail. My sources tell me that you tapped this poor sod for hundreds and thousands for a full six months after your illicit tryst threatening to tell his wife, employees and the titty rags. What a gal! I mean you’re a real piece of work. But sadly your role in this particular news drama is coming to a close.
(Mel pulls out his phone and dials Tezza.)
Yeah bring the cameras set it all up shots from every angle.
(Mickey and Tezza enter the lockup armed with cameras and more audio equipment.)

MICKEY
(Starts shooting pics from all angles. Moves over to Avery.)
Smile for your close up darlin’.
(He puts her mask back after he’s taken the photograph.)

MEL
Scoop before the truth. Avery, you’re such a disappointment.
(Mel coughs his facial muscles tightening.)
You want us to think you’re watching from the side lines an innocent bystander to the system but the truth is you are the fucking system. You’re the one doing all the shady shit. Squeeze the sleaze Avery .(Turns to Tezza and Mickey )
This isn’t a David Bailey shoot fellas hurry it up.
(Tezza and Mickey stop shutter snapping.)
Mickey take her upstairs – side entrance and wait for my call. Should be an hour at the most. Tezza you’re with me. Think it over Avery you wanna be the double wrapped pre packed salami in the sandwich or something better.
You decide.

FADE OUT
End of Act One

.

ACT TWO

FADE IN:
INT. THE FOLD CLUB. CLERKENWELL. LATE EVENING
An exclusive private fundraiser: Glitzy glamour chicks mix with Mel, Nick, and rival mobster crew. There is a hip DJ at the back of the club. Scantily clad women are dancing with topless men in gilded cages. There are people lounging around taking drugs, drinking, laughing at the stylish, fully stocked bar to the left, and standing over a life sized lacquered sculpture of Nikki Minaji’s arse made of elephant dung. Random couples and same sex couples are flirting, kissing and messing about. A distinguished old school gangster gestures Nick over

DRUMMOND
(Nattily dressed he has a cigar in one hand, a slinky dressed runway model perched on his knee ,and a glass of whiskey by his side.)
Good to see you son. Everything’s gonna be fine.

NICK
(Half smiles.) Hope so. Looks like you got your hands full.

DRUMMOND
I don’t have to tell you how the charms of a beautiful woman can tame the beast within us Nick eh?
(He winks and takes a sip of his drink.)

NICK
Indeed. Enjoy. Have you seen Avery?

DRUMMOND
That journo? No.

NICK
I was banking on her being here when all this plays out.

DRUMMOND
Trust me when the shit hits everyone’s gonna want a front row seat but there’s enough paparazzi outside and squealers inside to let the whole fucking world know.
(Gets up and whispers something in Nick’s ear, and places a tiny sealed package into Nick’s inside pocket.)

NICK
Thanks.
(He moves through the crowd and spies Mel at the front of the gallery. As he makes his way towards him he bumps into a close friend of his Matt.)

MATT
We made it. Here’s to us. Matt raises his glass.

NICK
A rough night. And a real bonding experience. You never know how far you’ll go until you get there right?

MATT
Right. To friendship.
(He hugs him and moves to the front of the gallery.)

NICK
(Makes his way towards Mel who is standing behind a roped red VIP cordon staring at a huge pair of sculpted gold lips .Mel’s spongy frame throws shadows across the line.)
Mel. Glad you could come.

MEL
(Mel stares him up and down twice contemptuously.)
Wouldn’t have missed this for all the stripper Thursdays at Stringies.

NICK
Yeah. Gonna be a big show.

MEL
See you’re getting cosy with big D.

NICK
We had a little bizzo.

MEL
Good for you. Know ‘is nickname is Freddy Krueger right? Don’t wanna see ‘im on a dark night. Been meaning to ask you got insurance?

NICK
What?

MEL
Life Insurance. (Mel rubs his nose.)

NICK
Don’t need it. I’m fully comp.

MEL
(Pulls Nick close to him palsy walsy style grabbing him by the neck his breath on his ear.)
Careful Nick. No one sells me out. You’re only here because of me. You got food in your belly because of me and you’d do well to remember that.

NICK
(Wrenching himself free. Nick through gritted teeth.)
It’s been terrific Mel. Just terrific.

(He saunters past hot tranny diva Mimi, who causes an eruption of stares and wolf whistles. Seductively dressed in a silver stretch caddy gown and glitter pumps she trips. Nick catches her in his arms. By her side a long haired ,honey hued skinny man with Jesus locks and a benign smile.)

NICK
(Winks at Mimi.) Glad you could make it. Have you seen Avery today?

MIMI
No, I haven’t. She’s working a big story. Said she’d be here though.

NICK
Okay thanks. I’ll keep an eye out.
(Reaches for his phone and dials Avery leaving a voice mail.)

RAOUL (Waiter)
(An athletic built waiter with a Marbella tan and slicked back hair sails past Nick ,combing the gallery for Mel.
Finally, he tracks him down. They exchange a look of action.)

MEL
Do it now.

RAOUL
(Nods.)
Done

(Nick heads for the exit, a pack of smokes in his hand. Outside he finds Matt puffing on a joint. Inside a show biz personality is addressing the crowd in a loud theatrical voice.)

SHOWBIZ LADY
I want to thank you all for…

EXTERIOR. OUTSIDE. FOLD GALLERY
Nick and Matt are standing on the steps of the gallery. Hanging outside of the passenger side of a vintage merc’ a masked shooter wielding a semi automatic. He was popping people off like fairground candy. Bang! Bullets spray the pavement Matt and some other onlookers duck. Mat looks down sees blood streaming towards him. Nick has been shot in the stomach. Matt Rushes to his side. And tries to stem the flow of blood with a Kleenex from his pocket . It becomes saturated .Hurriedly Matt removes his jacket and rests Nick’s head on it gently. Grabs his phone and dials emergency services

MATT
Hello hello? My friend’s been shot. There’s blood everywhere.
(Starts sobbing.)
Hello? The Fold Gallery Clerkenwell. Please Hurry.
(Matt clicks off.)
Nick’s blood is all over his hands and trousers inking them red.
(Sobbing.)
Stay with me Nick… Stay. Please. Stay.

NICK
(Eyes half open half closed, breathless incoherent.)
I hear my nose singing… And it’s the same song but it feels different now … I wanted to be the man to push the button… thought I owned it. Thought I was on my way but I’m the one who got played. Mel’s always two steps ahead. Doesn’t matter if I had a hundred tomorrows left or lived a thousand times before. Truth is I fucked up.
Got gold in one hand and mud in the other. In the end it’s the same for all of us.
We go out the same way we came in alone.

FADE OUT
End of Act Two

By Saira Viola
Illustration: UNITAS