Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Throne Room

“And no wiping down there with me dressing gown,” Joyce shouts through the bathroom door. She pulls a face like screwed up divorce papers. “Not that you would o’course, darlin’ but we had this one bloke use the facilities yesterday. Pissed he was; couldn’t tell his arse from his elbow, never mind a dressing gown sleeve from a length o’bog roll. S’right innit Denny, love?” She peers down the ravine of her cleavage and retrieves a book of matches from her D cup.

“S’right,” says her son in a deep voice that’s been hauled up like a bucket from his beer gut. He’s wearing a pair of yellow Marigolds with black leather fingerless driving gloves over the top. Denny jerks the lead in his fist. The pit bull at his feet looks up at him then resumes licking its balls. “S’right,” he repeats, nodding then scratching his forehead.

“Y’all right in there, darlin’? Found the bog roll ‘ave ya?” says Joyce, pulling the hem of her red pencil skirt down towards her dimpled knees. “S’under the flamenco dancer’s dress. Don’t be shy, darlin’; she’s ‘ad more ‘ands up ‘er skirt than…”

“…you ‘ave ma,” says Denny, flicking his fingers. His face contorts in a silent fit of laughter.

“Oi!” says Joyce, pointing a three-inch acrylic finger nail at him, “can it!” She pulls a fag from her dishevelled blonde beehive and clasps it between glossy cerise lips. “Or I’ll can it for ya,” she adds, fag wobbling in her mouth.

Denny reaches a hand to the shepherd’s delight bruise on his left cheek, eye flinching. He smiles awkwardly at Joyce, a smile like someone’s added extra teeth to his mouth while he was sleeping and he’s only just noticed.

“If we’ve run out there’s a stash in the cupboard to ya left, darlin’; one with the fancy door knobs on.” Joyce pulls her vest top out the curled lip of her waistband and runs it round the brass letters on the bathroom door – ‘Throne Room.’ “They was made special them knobs, darlin.’ Can ya tell what they are? Hand-made by Denny ‘ere at the Day Care Centre he goes to of a Tuesday… though ‘e made a bit of a fist of ‘em, truth be told. Go on Denny, love, tell ‘er what they’re meant to be.”

Denny looks at the litter of toes huddled round the post of his flip-flops, face like an abandoned car with a ‘Police Aware’ notice stuck across the windscreen.
“The Queen’s conk,” he mumbles, jabbing at the dog with his foot. The pit bull removes his nose from his arsehole and nudges Denny’s ankle.

“S’right, one ‘as door ‘andles shaped like ‘er royal majesty’s conk,” says Joyce, clipped vowels tripping over themselves to get out her mouth. “That’s ‘ow la-de-da we is!” She attempts a curtsey on her six-inch heels, unlit fag still dangling from the corner of her mouth. “’A triumph over tastefulness’ me third ‘usband called ‘em… so ‘e didn’t last long; two week in fact cos I got ‘im annulled. Couldn’t get it up, see. S’right innit Denny, love?”

Denny jiggles the change in the pockets of his shorts then points towards the front door. The dog clambers to its feet and waddles after him down the hall.

“Ya nearly done in there, darlin’ only I needs to go meself...” Joyce pulls off a glass-encrusted clip earring and presses an ear to the door. “… what with it being me own friggin’ loo an’ that,” she adds under her breath. “‘ere, you ain’t shootin’ up in there are ya, darlin’?” She picks at the oak veneer door with her fingernail. “Cos if y’are that biscuit tin by the bog brush’s what we use for syringes.”

The toilet flushes. A young black woman in a canary yellow bikini appears in the doorway, legs encased in a large wire skirt. Joyce plumps up her breasts and steps to one side, wearing the group hug smile she uses on all her paying guests.

“Not photographing yaself on the bog was ya?” says Joyce, eyeing the camera hanging off the black woman’s slender wrist. “We ‘ad this bloke in ‘ere earlier what did that. Said it was for an art instalment or some such bollocks. Wouldn’t put it past ‘im neither, folk you get round Notting Hill these days!”

The young woman grins and bending her knees to accommodate the orange plumage of her headdress, limbos out the bathroom door. “We sees all sorts this time o’year,” says Joyce, following the hip-sway of the girl’s pert behind down the hallway and out the front door. “Yes, we sees life all right, don’t we Denny, love?”

At the garden gate, Denny holds out a meaty palm to the black woman. “S’a quid,” he says to her tits. The woman waves her boyfriend over who pulls a fiver out and passes it to Denny. Denny holds the crisp note up to the sun, eyes never leaving the woman’s tits. “S’it real?” The black guy explains he just got it out the cash-point. Denny nods and starts laboriously counting out change in twenty, ten and five pence pieces.

Joyce points at the handwritten sign hanging off her front gate and says to the man, “you wanna use the facilities too now, darlin’? S’nice an’ clean, ask ya lady friend. Do it up special for the carnival, don’t we Denny, love.” She looks at the black guy’s Bermuda shorts and tugs at her neckline. “Streets’d be runnin’ wi’ piss if it weren’t for us offering us loo to the public. So, ya comin’ in then or what?”

The man looks at the hard, brassy-haired woman stood next to her meat-head son with the pit bull growling at his feet and shakes his head. Pulling his girlfriend towards the sound of reggae music, he mutters, “Why would I want to pay them a pound when I’m shitting myself right here?!”

Melissa Mann

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