Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Turning Amateur

cafe of horlicks wind attempt

Turning Amateur

As hits on downwritefiction finally pass 10k, the proprietor summons his front of house staff. They assemble at a conference suite on the seventeenth floor of Sock Puppet House, expecting Lee to make an historic announcement. Peeled-back necks of vintage Champagne bottles stand erect in ice buckets. Sideboards belly dance with trays of canap├ęs, fancy cakes & Belgian liqueur chocolates. Hundreds of coloured balloons, tied in rude bouquets, waft gently in the breeze. Several windows have been left open. As the crowd of employees roll in, faint honks of traffic from the boulevard below can be heard above loud whispers and excited giggles. Suddenly Philip Lee appears in person, raises his hand and opens his gob,

Now hear this. Yr ironies be darned, I'm sick to death of the lot of you, bloody shower of frauds, pseudos & time wasters. You're all sacked. Pack yr shit & leave.

Gasps, sobs, shrieks & bellows rebound from his words. A bevvy of St John's Ambulance men ferry out the faint of heart. Staff members queueing to leap from the windows are ignored by snotty security guards too busy helping themselves from the buffet. Hardened Ehacks, huddled in corners, give head to vapour fags & gabble into Moby Dicks. Champagne is passed hand-to-mouth by stack-heeled receptionists and lowdown office pros, swigging straight from the bottle. Balloons burst spontaneously. The sweet sickly pong of high end vomit mingles with a sharp stench of acetone as bewildered executives neck vials of pink nail varnish remover.

Meanwhile Lee has left the building. Exiting via service lift and back door, the former CEO and proprietor is disguised as a municipal dog catcher. In green cap and overalls he carries lasso pole and gunny sack slung over his shoulder. The streets are hot tho' not bothered, lazy sirens of ambulance, fire & police have converged too late to offer much succour to the dead or shocked onlookers. Lee ducks into an underpass that takes him to the far side of Punchnose Lane. He disappears into the district of all night wedding parlours and oldman early morning diners.

What's it to be, fella?

Two hash brownies, scoup of beans and eggs over easy. Gimme a coffee, there, too, matey. Oh, and a hunk of apple pie with molten cheese food.

Coming right up, sir. Sit yourself down & take the weight off.

This is the Cafe of Horlicks Wind Attempt stuck in the year 1974, patronised by homeless schmucks that nurse empty tea mugs, smoke Old Holborn butts and scratch. Radio cackles, too faint to make out tune or word, just the hiss & fry of distant galaxies. Yesterday's newspapers are marked & folded, phelgm chawed, yawns let out raw. Unemployment is kept alive here & flaunted like leprosy, women who enter abandon all hope, naked lunch boys shiver in long white trench coats, the letters FBI stencilled on their backs.

Incessant whirrs of Horlicks machines emanate from behind the steaming counter. Lee swills coffee and wipes his mouth with the back of a filthy glove. He eats slow with fork & spoon, paying with luncheon vouchers and tipping the waiter with fake chocolate money. As he makes his move for the door, a rent boy, old before his time, rises in unison. The blue skinned boy opens his jaw but before speaking, drops to the floor like a broken scarecrow. Purple smoke emits from the pockets and cuffs of his trousers. Somewhere out of shot, a cinema audience writhes in toothache boredom.

Back on the street the chase proceeds. A huntman's horn blares out as Lee hails a passing taxi,

Follow that hearse!

His yellow cab, lasso pole sticking from passenger window and followed by a pack of red-tailed vixens, pulls into the grim afternoon traffic.