Written as part of a project on transgressive stories. This is he first story in what, I expect, will be a very drawn out collection.
The dusty cuckoo clock on the kitchen wall chimed the hour unevenly and Harry awoke with a jump. Casting his gaze about him, he realised that he was still in his scuffed armchair. The sun had set, but the TV filled the room with white-blue light as the soap operas paraded before him. Stretching his arms above his head, Harry felt the bones in his neck and shoulders crack beneath his sandpaper skin. The floor of the room was littered with newspapers and half drunk cups of builders’ tea, but he barely noticed them as he walked in his heavy boots to the closet. Sliding between the broken chest of drawers and the peeling wallpaper, Harry withdrew his frayed smoking jacket and shrugged it over his bony frame. Between the six pockets Harry’s hands came out with £4.60, a cigarette butt, a ball of twine, and his rusty front-door key.
Harry grinned. This was quite a find. Pacing to the front door, he carefully placed the money into the breast pocket which he knew was still intact. As he moved he could feel pennies in the seams of the jacket and wondered, if he were to rip the coat open, whether he might be able to afford another. Not worth the risk though, he thought as he stepped out into the chill October air and turned the key in the lock.
Fifty-eight years Harry had lived in this house. He was born in the back bedroom to a tiny, waifish seventeen-year-old brunette who hadn’t waited around long enough to hear his first words. He didn’t resent her that; it was a tough world, and his aunt – whose house it had been – was nice enough, and deaf by the time he become an intolerable young layabout. She’d left him the house, which had only caused him slight pangs of guilt over the ways he had used and abused her hospitality.
As he walked past number 74 he saw the curtain twitch back into place, hiding Mrs Olsen’s face. The two had a kind of silent pact; Harry pretended not to notice how she avoided but watched him, and if ever they did bump into each other, Mrs Olsen pretended Harry hadn’t groped her at the back of The Gardener’s Arms on New Year’s Eve 2006.
Passing the newsagent’s on the corner, Harry peered through the window to see if the Indian family who owned the establishment might have left their young daughter in charge again. Almost twenty, the girl was beautiful, shy and always kept her eyes downcast. It wasn’t that Harry planned to approach her, but he didn’t want to miss a chance to enjoy the view of her lightly blushing cheeks. But in her place sat her papery grandmother, counting coins in half-time.
Harry pressed his palm against the glass door of his local fish and chip shop and entered, hearing the bell ring to announce his arrival. Behind the counter Andrew was serving a young man with a very young boy. Both father and son wore Nike trainers and had their hair shaved close to their skulls. They exchanged rough and fraternal words with Andrew who smiled down at the little boy, passing him a lollipop from behind the counter. Father and son thanked Andrew in their own ineloquent ways and left the shop.
Andrew was childless, in his forties, living with a punk girl whose tongue ring Harry found mesmerising. The pair had taken over the fish and chip shop from a Chinese family about five years earlier and during that time Harry had come to consider the exchange one of the best events of his life.
“Hello Harry. How’s tricks?”
Harry stepped closer to the counter. “Oh you know; nothing to complain about.”
“How’s the lady?”
Andrew shrugged. “She’s all right. Annoyed with Geoff for refusing to pierce her nipples.”
Harry felt his eyebrows rise, but tried to suppress any other signs of shock.
“Anyway Harry, give me a minute to restock the paper bags and I’ll come and serve you. Usual, yeah?”
With that Andrew disappeared into the back room of the shop. Harry looked out of the large window at the street, but all seemed quiet tonight. He grinned to himself and glanced up at the ceiling.
Tiled with large plastic squares, the ceiling caught the grime of the deep frier and of the hundreds of customers Andrew received each day. A yellowish residue caught between the cracks in the tiles and held suspended in tiny, set droplets. The once white roof was now cream at it’s cleanest, and dark grey where the cleaners had neglected it completely.
Harry felt his dick harden in his trousers as his eyes skimmed over the tacky eighties decor, and he imagined running his fingertips over the crusty grime of the interior. Unable to explain it himself, he felt his mind click into sync with the cogs of his arousal. The sight of that barely noticed ceiling and the smell of chips and fish frying deep in oil came together to assault his senses and he couldn’t help slipping his hand down to feel the rigid shape of himself through his worn jeans. Fondling his penis with deft fingers, he gazed adoringly and unashamedly at the overhang, daydreaming the feel and taste of the crusted grime beneath his tongue.
It didn’t take long, no more than a few moments, as he thrust his hips against his cupped hand, fucking the stiff material of his jeans, before he gulped, letting out a low, carnal grunt, and felt his cock soak the inside of his trousers with semen.
After taking one more longing look up at the ceiling, Harry readjusted his jacket in a bid to hide the growing, wet darkness at the crotch of his jeans, and just managed to pull his face back into a cordial expression before Andrew reappeared, wearing a knowing smile and holding a stack of paper bags in his hands. Setting them down behind the counter, he prepared Harry’s food with automatic hands. It was all part of the routine, the parts they played to be amicable neighbours.
Harry handed over his found gold and Andrew passed the bag across the counter.
“Enjoy,” Andrew winked, and with that Harry left the shop, satisfied and hungry.