This is a piece that appeared earlier this week in the Cockney Kung Fu mailer that myself and Nick Prolix put out. we are having a lot of fun with it and I highly recommend signing up at www.tinyletter.com/cockneykungfu
I’ve been playing around with short stories about the background players in the main Cockney Kung Fu strip that is appearing in the awesome Comics anthology. Hope you enjoy this one? Let me know. it’s a bit bleak!
The story of Sidney Small.
‘I am the observer of the rotting of my own morals.
I watch like a voyeur on the terrible things that I do.
I am detached and revel in the dirt and the seediness.’
(The Diary of Sidney Small 16th December 1973).
Sidney walked down the stinking alley like it was his second home. A bowler hat on his head and a rain soaked beige raincoat made him look like every other male visitor to porn alley in Soho. ‘You’re not a handsome man so try to dress smartly’ his wife Ellen had told him again and again. But his wife should be the last thing in his mind this evening.
It was raining and the water was dripping off his thick round glasses. He took them off every so often to clean them. His eyes bared like a newborns he squinted out at the passers by, ever on the look out in case he was ripped off or keeping them sharpened for a girl he hadn’t met. Sidney had a chubby and jowelly face with a small hitler like moustache. In the office he was catcalled with ‘Don’t tell them your name Pyke’ or ‘Morning Captain Mainwearing.’ He just ignored them.
He knew that nights like this were his revenge, his secret. He would find a girl, a pice of fuck meat and show them what he was worth. He’d take it out on her like he would on those slags in his office if he got half a chance. This was his place, this was where they would never see him. This was the place that he is anonymous. This is the rush he feels, the danger and the sex. Nobody really knew him, nobody really knew the energy that rushed through his body and his loins. This is where he came to feel most alive. Where time stopped and he didn’t have to worry about the morning accounts meeting or getting a report done at the last minute. He loved Soho at night.
That’s not to say that he didn’t feel ‘guilty afterwards’ he convinced himself. As he walked away from the alleyway or basement or porn cinema and the ache had subsided he knew he ought to feel more. The fact is that over the last few years this had become easier. He knew where to go and what to say and how much to haggle.
So here he was on this cold December evening. He’d told Ellen that he was at the Airfix Club again and that it would go on a bit later as it was their Christmas Drink. She’d just ‘OK dear, have fun’, and kissed him on the cheek as he left that morning. Without a flash of guilt he left the house and walked to Southfields Underground Station to head into the office with all the other sheep. ‘It’s good to have a plan, she falls for it every time’ he told himself.
The clock had moved slowly around to 5pm and as soon as it hit the hour he collected up his typing, tidied his desk and made for the tube. As he was crammed into a smoke filled tube carriage he could feel the need rising. That feeling in his stomach that he had to quench. He knew that the only thing that would do it is shooting his muck into one of those painted whores in Soho. His face reddened as he rode the tube the few stops to Tottenham Court Road, his anticipation rising. He didn’t care if anyone noticed his ruddy face, he didn’t know these people and he didn’t care to know them.
Sidney doubled his pace through the cold early evening and took a short cut round Soho Square and finally into Wardour Street. He tutted as he walked past an arcade machine bar and at the over the hill gay men looking to pick up rent boys. ‘Perverts!’ He told himself. He convinced himself that these were the real villains, the real sex offenders, not him, not Sidney Small.
He manoeuvred around the Greek and Jamaican drugs dealers as they ignored him. Then he finally walked into Berwick Street. The stall holders were clearing up and the stink of brown and dirty fruit and veg and soggy cardboard hung in the air. Sidney preferred the street when it was quieter and when the workers of the day had disappeared. It allowed for him to walk about amongst the transient streets trash unnoticed and unbothered.
It was dark now and cold as hell. Sidney could see his hot breath in the air as he walked. He was out of breath through the pace he had been walking and his excitement. ‘Don’t have a heart attack, that’d be difficult to explain to Ellen’ he thought. The bright lights of Porn Alley stung his eyes as he approached and he paused to clean the rain and condensation as he ducked under the lip of an empty market stall. He could hear the music drifting up from his familiar street. Tacky rock music played loudly and was designed to get the hearts racing of the men looking to spend money in the peep shows and grotmag shops.
So down the familiar path this power addict again walked. Junkie men with pock marked faces and dark eyes stood in the doorways with their slags next to them. The women spoke with that strange combination of cockney and fake french in some ridiculous attempt at making them both more sexy and just a tiny bit sophisticated. Sidney, as usual, said nothing about this fakery and continued on with his smutty quest.
‘What you looking for? Girl?’ A Greek man stepped out of the shadows. His hair was greased up like a teddy boy. He stank of cheap cologne and was wearing a wide collared shirt and waistcoat. Sidney recognised him as one of the local pimps.
Sidney uttered a nervous ‘Yes’. His eyes were darting about, looking for trouble approaching.
‘We got this lovely lady. Straight from the streets of Paris’.
As this wide boy gestured a girl toppled over from the other side of the alley. Clearly unacquainted with how you walk in heels and obviously not from France she looked up at Sidney with bloodshot eyes and not a trace of the European exotic. She was young, maybe sixteen at the oldest. She had put on make-up like it was a new concept to her and was trying to use it to look older. One look would convince you that she’d be dead in a bin shoot in a few years with a needle hanging out of her arm.
‘Alright Mister?’ She said, sounding like she was straight off the streets of the Elephant and Castle or East Lane market.
‘Ha,ha, ha,’ laughed the Greek, ‘You gotta forgive my Parisian friend, she’s picked up the old cockney quite quickly’. He was fooling no one and knew it.
Sidney grunted. He looked the girl up and down like she was hanging on a hook in a shop. His top lip was sweating grease onto his moustache ‘How much?’ His heart was racing and he could feel his erection beginning.
‘Well you see, we haven’t been able yet to purchase a hotel suite for mademoiselle yet tonight so you might have to go locally for a cuddle’, conned the Greek.
‘Acceptable’, pompously uttered Sidney. He knew what he wanted, it wouldn’t take long and he couldn’t afford to pay for a hotel room anyway.
The Greek pimp looked up and down the alley cautiously, ‘five then, quick...’
Sidney already had the money in his pocket. He’d had to steal it from the petty cash at work in case Ellen had spotted it missing. He handed it to the Greek and in the next motion grabbed the arm of the girl and pulled her away up the alley. He knew where he was going.
‘You’re a bit keen ain’t ya’, said the girl and Sidney noticed then that she was more than a little drunk.
The pair walked to the end of Porn Alley and were about to turn right to find a quiet corner when an older prostitute put her head out of a doorway.
‘You OK darling?’ The older woman asked.
‘Yeah, fanks Peggy, jus’ business, be back in a mo’
‘Don’t let him hurt ya honey or he’ll have me to deal with.’ The older whore was looking at the girl but pointing at Sidney.
Sidney said nothing. He ignored this empty threat from another piece of street trash. He would be hurting this girl. And he’d be enjoying it.
To be continued.