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Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls

Robert Rankin

For my very good friend Jonathan Crawford,

whose postcards are always from

The Edge and sometimes even beyond.

In the Future There Will Be Nothing

But the Past

There’s a Chef and His Name Is Dave

There’s a frog in the Kenwood blender.

There’s a cat in the microwave.

There’s a mouse in the waste disposal.

There’s a chef and his name is Dave.

There’s a cockroach that lives in the pâté,

And the salt is an earwig’s grave.

There are droppings all over the butter.

There’s a chef and his name is Dave.

There’s a nasty fungus under the stove,

Where the creepy crawlies wave.

And squeezing his spot in the beef hot-pot

There’s a chef and his name is Dave.

There’s a man from the Health Department

And he’s just been sick in the sink,

And the Watermans Arts Centre kitchen

Will be closed for a while, I think.

1

“She does what?” John Omally looked up from his pint and down at Small Dave.

“Reads your knob,” said the wee man. “It’s a bit like Palmistry, where they read the lines on your hand. Except this is called Penistry and they can tell your fortune by looking at your knob.”

It was spring and it was Tuesday. It was lunchtime. They were in the Flying Swan.

“I don’t believe it,” said John. “Someone’s been winding you up, Dave.”

“They have not. I overheard two policemen talking about it while I was locked in the suitcase.”

“Excuse me, Dave,” said Soap Distant, newly returned from a journey to the centre of the Earth. “But why were you locked in a suitcase?”

“There was some unpleasantness. I don’t wish to discuss it.”

“Small Dave was sacked from his job as chef at the Arts Centre,” said Omally.

“What Arts Centre?”

“The one they built on the site of the old gasworks.”

“Oh,” said Soap. “So why did they sack you, Dave?”

“I was unfairly dismissed.”

“The manager gave Dave his cards and Dave bit the end off the manager’s knob.”

“It was an accident. I slipped on some mouse poo, and anyway he hit me with a frying pan.”

“I thought that was in self-defence, because you came at him with the meat cleaver.”

“I just happened to be holding the cleaver at the time.”

“You bit off the end of his knob,” said Soap. “That is disgusting.”

“It was an accident. I slipped, he hit me on the back of the head, I fell forward and my teeth kind of clenched.”

Soap’s teeth kind of clenched and so did Omally’s.

“So what happened to the manager?” Soap asked.

“He’s recovering in Brentford Cottage Hospital. The surgeon sewed the end back on. It’s no big deal. Mind you” – Small Dave smirked wickedly – “from what I heard he’s going to sue the surgeon.”

“I know I’m going to hate myself for asking,” said Soap, “but why is he going to sue the surgeon?”

“Well,” said Dave. “What with all the blood and it being an emergency operation and everything, it was the kind of mistake anyone could make. Especially if you’re Mr Fowler.”

“What, fumble-fingers Fowler? He’s not still in practice, is he? I thought he was struck off years ago.”

“He probably will be this time. He sewed the manager’s knob end on upside down.”

“I think I’ll go for a walk,” said Soap. “I feel a little queasy.”

“I’ll come with you,” said Dave.

“I’ll stay here,” said Soap.

“Just one thing, Dave,” said Omally. “Why exactly were you locked in a suitcase?”

“Because I escaped from the police cell. I squeezed through the bars. They caught me again and locked me in a suitcase and that’s when I overheard them talking about the Penistry. The policemen were having a good old laugh about the manager’s future prospects being cut short.”

“I still think it’s a wind-up,” said John, applying himself to his pint.

“You should sue the police, Dave,” said Soap. “Locking you in a suitcase must be against the Geneva Convention, or something.”

“I think I’ll pass on that. There was some further unpleasantness after I made my escape from the suitcase. I put a bit more work Fowler’s way. But the Penist said that I’d have happy times ahead.”

“Hold on,” said Omally. “You mean to say that you actually went to see this woman?”

“I had a consultation, yes.”

“And she gave you a—”

“Reading. She gave me a reading. She was a very nice woman. Warm hands, she had. She said she saw a long and happy future stretching out in front of me.”

“It is a wind-up,” said Soap. “It’s just an excuse for a lot of cheap knob gags.”

“It is not a wind-up.” Small Dave gnashed his teeth.

Soap and John took a step back apiece.

“It is not a wind-up. She said she saw me galloping to glory and I’m sure she would have told me a lot more if she’d been able to make herself heard above all the noise.”

“You ask him, John,” said Soap. “I don’t like to.”

Omally shrugged. “What noise, Dave?” he asked.

“The noise the policemen were making, shouting through the loudhailers. All that ‘Come out with your hands up’ stuff. And the helicopter circling overhead.”

“The helicopter,” said Soap.

“The helicopter. I had to take my leave at the hurry-up and it’s hard to run with your trousers round your ankles.”

“So you ended up back in the suitcase?”

“I did not. I shinned over her back wall and holed up on the allotments. I’ve spent the last week in John’s hut.”

My hut?”

“Living on nothing but John’s spuds.”

My spuds?”

“And his spud gin.”

My spud gin?”

“And his nudie books.”

“I don’t have any nudie books.”

“You don’t now. I used them for kindling. It gets bloody cold on that allotment at night.”

“My hut, my spuds, my gin—”

“And your nudie books.”

“I do not read nudie books!”

“Nobody reads nudie books,” said Small Dave.

“I’ve had enough,” said Soap. “I’m off.”

“I’ll come with you,” said Dave.

“You bloody won’t. No offence, Dave, but I find all this kind of talk most upsetting. Penistry and nudie books and knob ends getting bitten off. It leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.”

Small Dave looked at John.

And John looked at Small Dave.

Soap looked at the two of them looking, so to speak.

“What?” said Soap.

“Nothing,” said Small Dave. “But if you’re leaving do you mind if I use you for cover? You could smuggle me out under that big black coat of yours.”

“Use me for cover? I don’t understand.”

“I think the police probably followed me here. They’ll have the place surrounded. Probably.”

Soap let out a plaintive groan. Omally slipped over to the front window and took a peep out. “He’s right,” he said, “there’s police cars everywhere and a couple of marksmen on top of the nearest flatblock. I think it might be better if you just went out with your hands up, Dave.”

“No way,” said Small Dave. “They’re not taking me alive. Top of the world, ma.” And with that he drew from his trouser pocket—

—a pistol.

Now, it had been a quiet Tuesday lunchtime in the Swan. Very quiet. There had just been the three of them. And Neville, of course. Neville the part-time barman. But Neville hadn’t been listening to the conversation. He had been quietly polishing glasses up at the public bar end of the counter.

     

 

2011 - 2018