No secrets amongst friends
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"I've met this great bloke, Neider. You'll like him. He's a friend of a friend of a friend."
Neider looked at Larry, listening to the words bounce around in his head, over and over until they sank away into the hub-hub of the Rose and Dog. He hated this pub. He hated all pubs now. What was wrong with saving a bit of cash and drinking at home? His fridge was full to bursting with lager. Plus you could hear the TV at home, and change the channels. He took a mouthful of bitter and thought about what Larry had just said.
"You've met someone? A lass?"
Larry laughed, rolling a fag with his yellow finger tips. The smell wafting across to Neider's nose. Neider hated cigarette smoke. He hated pubs.
"No, he's a bloke you fool, a man. He's a right laugh. Knows loads of fit birds too. Fucking hell you should see 'em. Like models or something."
"Fit? his he a pimp?"
Nieder watched the TV, high up in the corner of the room. Football and more football. What's the point? How many ways can a man kick a ball?
"What's this bloke called then?"
Larry lit his fag, blinking at the flame and the smoke. After a long hard tug and a strained face he coughed a name, surrounded by smoke.
"Driscoll? Almost as bad as my name. How did you meet him? A dating agency for puffs?"
They both laughed, making Neider feel more at home, at last.
"Fuck off, you're the willy wufter. I met him at a mate's house. He was selling some tapes, so was I. I swapped a couple of good 'uns too."
"Yeah, a few pornos from Serbia or something, and one of those Faces of Death films."
"Most of them are fake, Larry. I saw the real stuff once, but it made me sick. Stick to porn, and you'll get to heaven."
"They're not all fake though, the ones you had. What about that one with the Aztec lass stuck on that pole."
"Fake.I told you, fake."
He toyed with his glass, watching the black liquid stir and leap, as if trying to escape up the side. He saw a scene from one of his favourite films in the tiny black ocean. He would have to try and buy it again, order it from that shop on the highstreet with the funny name... A cloud of cheap smelling smoke invaded his thoughts. Neider glanced at Larry.
"Larry, shall we go and sit in the beer garden for a bit, while it's hot."
Larry checked his watch, and finished his pint in a few gulps.
"Just one more then. I'll get them in."
Too right, it's your round.
"I'll be in the garden then. Make mine a lager this time, something German."
Neider took a piss, glad that he had the cubicle to himself, and then ventured out into the sunlight. There were a few tables sat in the back garden of the pub, most of them empty. A few students had taken the farthest bench, looking out across the park. They looked like they needed the sun they were so pale. Maybe it was all that black clothing they wore, to tell us how bad a parents we were.
Hah, you can't blame me. Bring a twat like you into the world? No ta'.
He plonked himself down at the bench nearest to them and tried to listen in on their conversation. It sounded dull, or had they changed the topic so he couldn't hear them swear? He would rather get stung by a wasp than get into a converstaion with them. And he hated wasps.
Come on, Larry. Stop chatting with the fucking fat bastard bar maid will you.
Larry appeared then, as if by magic, sporting two bottles of Grolsch. Was Grolsch German? It sounded German enough.
"And for my next trick."
"The young Larry Mc Geeee."
The students laughed at something, and Neider blushed. Larry smiled and put the bottles down. They had already been opened, of course. He took his and tipped some into his mouth. Nice and expensive tasting, he decided. He had forgotten how much money you could make selling pirate porn. Business must be good.
"Is business good, Larry? You must be raking it in."
"Oh, yeah. I might buy a DVD player soon. One of those you can record on. That's the future.Pirate DVD porn. Easier to get through customs too. In fact, you don't even have to bring it in now; Internet's best for that now. Digitalise the entire thing and send it through a wire. Driscoll knows all about it. He's going to show me his set up later."He checked his watch again. "I'll have to go in ten minutes. He's expecting me at his place."
"All those fit birds eh. Does he have 'em in the house with him? Like a boudoir...no, what's it called. Like in Sinbad. A Harem."
"Nah, well. Sometimes maybe. I don't know do I. Never been to his place before have I. I bet it's nice though."
Neider walked home, feeling the weight of three pints in his guts sloshing around. Once he got home and locked himself in he got a bath and then sat around watching TV. War on the news and gossip on ITV. At least there was a good horror film on later: Night of the Eagle. Jason King before his sideburns and his gayboy flares. He always fancied the witch in that film, even if she did look a bit like Ian Carmicheal in a dress.
He took that image and had a snooze on the sofa with the TV still talking to itself. When he woke, from a dark dreamless place, it was close to midnight.
Neider had grown sick of hearing about Larry's new friend. He preferred to stare out onto the back garden, and the tennis courts, and the young ladies playing tennis on the crackly grey surface. No need to hear that name again, just listen to the springy whack of the ball on racket.
"Driscoll has a moped, Neider. It's electric blue and he takes it out once a month to the coast. Neider."
Don't have to take notice. Don't have to listen.
"Driscoll took me out to see it in his garage, Neider. He's got a remote control plane too. Fully working. He's going to fly it for me tomorrow."
Just words, nothing but words that I don't have to listen to.
"I'll put the kettle on. Unless you want a lager?"
"Ooh, a lager please. Thanks."
"Righty-ho, just a tick."
Neider picked his way through a labyrinth of video tapes, created by Larry. Neider still hadn't found one that cried"Buy me, I'm great. Buy me."
But the careful purchasing of pirated porn was a skill Neider had honed to a fine instinct. He could determine real quality by title alone some days. Other times he only needed a few seconds or so of footage to make a decision.
But mostly, like today, he required a full and in depth investigation into the matter.
Neider watched the chubby blonde shake her breasts for the camera, as he passed Larry a cold can of middle priced lager.
"Got a crate of 'em off of the kid next door. He nicked 'em."
Larry ripped his can open and took a careful sip.
"Driscoll makes his own wine. He's got buckets of it in his garage. Tastes weird, but it gets you there. Powerful stuff."
Neider glanced at the TV screen, scowling as the naked woman began to groan for no discernable reason.
"I don't want this one either, Larry. I'm sick of blondes. Sick of bondage too."
He pushed eject on his control pad and the jiggling breasts were replaced by a horse race.
Driscoll won fifty quid on the horses, Neider.
"Try this one, Neider. It's not bad this."
He passed him another tape and he swapped it for the one dangling out of the VCR. He pressed play. After a bit of static a naked wet lady appeared, and zipped out of shot again. A splash of water followed. Neider checked the faces of the women as they slipped down the water slide, one by one, or two at a time.They were half decent, almost stunning some of them; probably worth buying for the faces and the novelty of the slide. If the porn didn't get you off then the faces could, sometimes.
It was always good to have a back up plan.
"Driscoll got me this one. Do you want it?"
"Nah, not my thing Larry. Got anymore?"
"At least watch the next bit. Forward it to the best bit. "
"Well. ok. But if it fucks my heads up..."
He speeded up the film, making the girls vanish quicker into the swimming pool. He chuckled, and so did Larry. They both sat there sipping cold lager, watching naked bodies slide and splash, slide and splash. Neider glanced over at Larry to strengthen his own amusement, finding it fun to see his little face screw up with mirth. Maybe it was the missing canine teeth that gave him such a comical face. Maybe it was the big nose, and the almost bald head with the long tufts of black at the sides.
You look like a fucking clown.
His laughter rose to a guffaw, causing him to spill a bit of his lager onto his slippers.
"I told you it was good this tape. Wait till you see the next bit."
The bright blue shaking of the swimming baths darkened, and a yellow title flashed by, too quick to read. Neider pressed play on his pad. He thought about rewinding to find the title, but decided it made no difference. The first scene was starting anyway. A close up of more water, dirty this time. The camera concentrated on the murky brown liquid for awhile, as it sloppped about catching a vague light. Then a blaring trumpet theme tune broke the silence and the camera shot back, revealing a canal side.
Neider took a big sip of lager, one eye on Larry, one on the film.
"I don't get it? Where's the sex, Larry? Oh, hang on, nice one."
A naked brunette on the canal side, staring at the water as she fondled herself. Then an arty shot of old warehouses on the other side of the canal, where naked figures stood in doorways. They stared at the lady as she stared back, and then they began to wave. Some of them were sporting erections.
Larry stirred on the sofa, changing positions.
The brunette was stepping down the muddy bank, slipping as she went, having nothing to hold on to. Neider could guess what was going to happen. He presumed the entire tape had something to do with water. The next scene would no doubt be in a bath. If there's any justice it would be the poor lass, who was now ankle deep in muddy water. He watched her buttocks trembling with cold and took another sip of lager. She sat down in the rusty looking canal and began to wash her swollen breasts.
"This is sick, Larry. Sick."
"It is isn't it. Driscoll makes a fortune selling 'em though. He's got a DVD that you can watch any region on. He's gonna' get me one if I can sell all these tapes for him."
"Do you want it then? You've seen all the best ones already."
Larry finished his lager and propped the empty up by the leg of the sofa. Then he burped. Neider was sure his black tufts of hair wiggled when he burped.
"I'll get you another can if you want."
Neider got up and went to the kitchen, listening to the comical trumpets as he opened the fridge. Sounds like a carry on film, he thought. Maybe he should buy it for a laugh. Something to watch once he'd had enough of porn. He took four cans of lager from the fridge and went back to watch the film. The lady was floating in the dirty water now, the trumpets louder and faster than ever. The men were stood on the canal side, watching her slowly sail away.
"Here have a couple Larry, keep you going. Good film this."
"Aw thanks Neider. I'll just drink one more and then I'll get off, save the other for later, at Driscoll's."
He opened his new can with a spurt of froth. Neider did the same as he tried to find what was going on with the tape. The naked men were watching a middle aged looking woman walking her dog by the canal. They were chest deep in the dark water, shivering. As the woman and the dog ambled past, they rose from the water, showing their blue erections.
"Do they fuck her?"
"I've never seen this bit; I think they must do. I know that later on they start to shag a farmer."
Later, Larry stuffed the rest of the tapes into his leather bag and pocketted the unopened can of lager. Then he rolled a fag for the walk to Driscoll's. Neider switched the tape off and slotted it into a cardboard box with his others. Another box filled. Soon be time to start selling them on again. Maybe Driscoll will want them, just to tape over.
"I'll have to pay you tomorrow, Larry. I get my giro in the morning. Come round about ten."
Larry lit his fag, and made for the front door.
"Alright. See ya' later then."
And he was gone.
Neider watched a bit of TV for awhile but soon found himself staring out of the window at the tennis courts. The light was failing and the players had put on their sweaters. Soon they were heading home and Neider went back to the fridge, deciding to heat up a bit of pizza while he drank a few cans. He watched the microwave oven turn the pizza and wondered about Driscoll. A friend of a friend of a friend, so Larry had said.
And why not? you met a lot of strange people when you sold pirate porn; he should know that, considering he used to do it himself, before the police raid, and the bullshit court case. He had lost all his stock in one go, hundreds of tapes that he had been collecting for thirty years.
Thirty fucking years.
All gone, except the ones he'd bought; a few Sid James films, Some Ealing stuff. Not much to show for thirty years of dedicated VHS support.
He missed his German zombie films, and his uncut slasher flicks from America. He often wondered what had happened to them after the court proceedings. No doubt they were scattered near and far, sitting on the shelves of coppers; who would probably just record You've Been Framed over them. Over his Spanish version of Animal farm, over his Russian rape collection. Thank god it was only fake rape. He wasn't into the real stuff, he preferred the British hardcore; you didn't have to read the bloody subtitles. Of course, you could buy most of what he'd had legitimately now. But where's the fun in that? Where's the bravado? No street cred whatsoever. They had come from miles around to see his collection. Weirdoes a lot of them. Paying weirdoes though. He had made enough cash for several weeks worth of prossies. Good ones too. Firm and tight. Not that he could do anything like that anymore.
Neider watched TV for a few hours, frowning at a new game show where the celebrity contestants had to spin on a roundabout. The winner was the last one to be sick. Seeing the blonde weather girl from BBC2 spewing up a fine spray of white made him want to puke too.The next contest was too have a tarantula crawl across their face,as a clown tickled their feet. He had to admit he found that quite funny though, especially when the fat Radio one DJ screamed sending the spider racing across his head. He flicked over when the credits came up and caught a few minutes of Screaming with Laughter, a hidden camera show. The skinny presenter with a fake beard stalked the woods by a school, wearing hairy rubber hands. In the studio the Headmaster chortled, red faced as the clips wound on showing the presenter donning a mask of a corpse, and crawling out of the undergrowth at nearby groups of school kids. Most of them ran screaming, especially once the rubber masked ghoul began to chase after them.
Neider was in hysterics. So were the kids, sat in the studio now, arms full of toys.
Once the Night of the Eagle came on he grabbed a few cans from the fridge and put his feet up on the gas fire. He had to wait ages for the Eagle to turn up though, and had to comfort himself with the sexy witch. Once Jason King had her in the study, alone, he urged him to fuck her, rape her. But he didn't. Why would he?
After the giant Eagle had hopped around a bit, and the witch was crushed under a smaller statue of the bird, he gave up and went upstairs to bed.
His dreams kept waking him in the dark. Each time he got up and peered out his window onto the black sea where the submerged tennis courts sat. Why didn't he take up tennis? get rid of his stomach and his fat face. He could see his face now, a pale facsimile frowning at him. It was saying 'the only reason you want to play tennis is so you can watch the ladies skirts fly up'. And it was right.
"Sod ya' then. Where's me lager."
He flicked the landing light on and crept downstairs, glancing at the framed pictures of grotty looking countryside. Larry had sold him them, tenner for the lot. Waste of bloody cash. As he looked for his half finished can in the gloom he decided he would buy some posters of topless women and cover the walls in them, top to bottom.
"Where's that bastard can gone?"
He put the light on and checked behind his armchair, and then behind the door. He even looked around the cardboard box of tapes. Nothing, must have drank it all. He waddled to the kitchen and the humming fridge. He was half way through his medium priced lager. Have to get that bloke to nick some more. Good stuff this. He tore the ring from another, savouring the wet sting of the cold metal on his palm. This would send him off to sleep for sure. Though maybe two would be better. He took a couple and went in to the lounge to watch some TV. Bound to be some saucy channel four film on, or a late night black and white. Yeah, that would be more like it. Alec Guiness perhaps, or Alistair Sims, or was it Sim? Something like that. He found the TV times and flicked through it. Colouful faces, all of them smiling, zipped past, merging with each other and the words. He had missed a good western on BBC1, and some comedy series he liked. It was modern, not as good as Porridge or Rising Damp, but it was alright for when you were blind tipsy. Maybe he ought to get his Porridge compilation tape out and give it a good watch, there was nothing on TV anyway. Nothing but constant news and educational programs.
"Yeah, go on then."
He dragged the cardboard box from under the TV and rifled through it. It must have found its way to the bottom because he kept finding the same tapes. Eventually he found the right one and slipped it in.
A few minutes of seeing Fletch and Godber chatting, with a captive audience squawking at them, and he was sound asleep in his armchair.
Larry never turned up for his money. Neider waited in until eleven thirty and then took a walk to the phone box on the corner. He slipped a twenty pence in and dialled Larry's number. It rang about nine times and then clicked.
He sounded tired.
"It's me, Neider. Don't you want your cash then?"
"Oh, shit I forgot about that. I told Driscoll you liked the tape. He's got another for you."
I haven't seen the other one yet.
"Oh yeah, bring it over then. I'll give it a browse."
"It's even better than the last one. More sex."
"Ok, good, that's what we like to see. I'll be in from after twelvish; gotta' cash me giro first."
"Ok. Oh, Driscoll gave me some of his home made wine too. I'll let you have some. Wait till you've had a bit; makes the porno seem more real. I think he puts Viagra in it to get you stirred up like."
He chuckled down the phone. It sounded plastic.
"Does he want some money for that as well? I'll be skint."
"Nah, he gave it to me for now't, he won't even know you've had some. It's good stuff. Better than ten percent easily."
"He's probably putting video head cleaner in it, Larry."
"Hope, so. I need my head cleaning."
More plastic chuckling.
"I'll see ya later then Larry. Bye."
He heard him rapping on the window as he watched the news.
"Just a minute."
He peered out through a gap in the drapes, just to check it wasn't the catalogue man, or the police again. Then he let Larry in. He smelt odd. Like flowers. His face was beaming like a flower too.
"Have you been rolling some funny cigs again? I told you it sends you mad."
"What? No, I've been over at Driscolls haven't I." He pushed past Neider, with his leather hold all, and vanished into the living room. Neider followed him closely.
"You smell like a pansy. He's not a gaylord is he?"
Larry dumped his bag down and unzipped his jacket. He never took it off. Not once.
"You're the pansy boy. It's just bloody incense, joss sticks and that. Driscoll likes to burn them at night, to keep the demons from smelling him."
He laughed, gawping at the TV.
"Demons? what is he a Jesus freak?"
"Nah, he just has a weird sense of humour."
Driscoll, Driscoll, Driscoll.
Neider went to the kitchen and came back with two cans of lager. Larry took one look and unzipped his black bag. He produced a white plastic bottle, the large kind that held orange juice. This one was full of yellow liquid.
"Get us a couple of mugs or something. It's good stuff is this."
Neider took the cans back and swapped them for two mugs. Larry came into the kitchen and poured out two measures. Neider noticed bits of what looked like wood in his share. They could have been insects though now he looked at them. Probably wouldn't kill him.
It tasted...like supermarket wine.
"Are you sure he makes this himself? tastes quite nice, for a girl's drink."
Larry looked at him wide eyed.
"Take it easy man, don't gulp it down or you'll be on the floor."
The fuck I will.
"Relax, Larry my friend. Where's that new porn tape?"
The King wore a mask as he wanked himself, legs spread, sat on his throne. Neider had never seen anything so funny. But he was proved wrong once he saw the blue semen spurt out across a white hanky, held by what was obviously some kind of court doctor.
"How the fuck do they do that? Blue spunk?"
Larry laughed. His face turning redder by the minute. The doctor was sniffing the King's semen, prodding it with an instrument.
"It's bloody food colouring I reckon, they shove it up his cock before hand. Daft isn't it."
Neider took another sip of wine, Driscolls home made wine. It must have been laced with Vodka for sure.
"Good stuff this wine though eh Larry. Have to make some myself."
Larry burst out laughing again, rocking on the sofa. The king was chasing maidens through a brick alley, his cock painted shiny silver. Neider watched, captivated as the alley let out on to what looked like the industrial scene from the other tape. No doubt the films were made back to back. He thought he recognised the doctor too, as one of the canal men.
"They must be made by the same people, Larry. You wouldn't think you'd find anything as daft as this coming from England."
Larry laughed out loud. The king was stabbing his silver cock into the maiden's backs, leaving red slits; or a least badly rendered slits, the best that you could do with fake blood and a bit of black ink. Still, the screams were authentic, and so were the looks in their eyes. Neider recognised one of the girls.
"That's the lass who was walking the dog in the other one, Larry. She's nice her."
"I'd definitely fuck her hard alright. Fuck her like a dog."
The King vanished and another scene started. The doctor was in his laboratory, mixing his blue potions and making victorious faces over petri dishes and test tubes. Wild saxophone Jazz was playing over the entire scene, to enhance the fury of the doctors search; whatever he was searching for. To Neider it looked like he was trying to clone the King from his blue semen. He couldn't make out any of the speech however due to the music.
"I wish it had subtitles. What's he up to?"
"He's wanking look."
Indeed now he was, furiously working away at his thick member, aiming it at what looked like a clear plastic Kidney dish. It wasn't long before he was jettisoning several streaks of dark yellow come. Neider couldn't look at it for long.
"Aw, man. It looks like fucking lung tar or something. Fucking hell man."
Larry was still laughing, his face like a pointy strawberry twitching with mirth.
"It's stopped now, Neider. You can look again."
Neider looked. The doctor hadn't stopped, he was now spurting green spunk across the yellow.
"YOU FUCKER, LARRY."
Larry exploded with laughter, and soon Neider had to give in and join him. He had to admit he was excited by the tape and the wine. In fact he could feel himself stiffening beneath his baggy cardigan. He was tempted to nip off to the toilet, but then Larry would know what he was up to. He finished his wine and watched the doctor stirring his semen in with the kings, making a colourful and sticky mess of it in a dish. Then the film cut to a sex scene between two teenage girls dressed in bikinis. They appeared to be on a grassy verge of a roadside. Cars were streaming past them, as if unaware of the lesbians. Neider thought it unlikely that it was a real scene. He could see a feint blue line around the girls hair, suggesting tampering. But the two girls were soon elsewhere, in a grey place that looked half demolished. Something was watching the girls through long dark grass, making sloshing sounds. No doubt it was getting excited by the girls fore play; the deep kissing, the reaching caresses. The thing encircled the lesbians, its grunting clearly that of a man's. And then once its mumblings had reached a climax, it appeared.
"What's that, Neider? A Crocodile or something?"
It was fake whatever it was, being pulled by a thin wire across the rubble to the fondling teens. They spotted the green model and squealed, just running away from its snapping jaws. The camera shot into the wide roaring mouth of the thing and red words drooled down the screen."Death beast orgy number one." Did they have to suggest that there would be a sequel so soon? Or was it a prequel? Neider just hoped that Larry would be offering some more wine soon. He rose carefully from his chair, his head spinning the room, like in a car chase from some old film.
"Shall I put the kettle on , Larry?"
Larry looked at him, and seemed to take ages for the penny to drop.
"Aren't we going to finish off the wine first?"
"Oh, of course, silly me. I'll just get it." He staggered to the kitchen door, hearing the jaunty theme tune from the TV - was it a piccolo - turn to screams. The plastic bottle was on top of the fridge. He hooked a finger under the hollow handle and carried it back to Larry, who was laughing again, slapping his skinny thighs.
"Gis yer cup then."
"Nice one, make it a full un, Neider old fellow."
"Don't mind if I do Colonel Mustard sir, Captain, old fellow sir. Don't mind if I do."
He filled Larry's mug and then danced the half full bottle across the room to his chair. He was more drunk than he first thought, because a spin became a tumble sending him flying into his seat. He swore and laughed, noticing that he hadn't spilled a drop of the wine. Larry chuckled at him and then began to slurp his own drink, staring at the TV screen.
"I nearly fucking went through the window that time, Larry. I haven't been this sloshed since I were twenty one. I feel bloody great."
He glimpsed the plastic jaws in the dark of a cellar, clamping down on naked flesh.
Larry raised his mug.
"Thanks to you Driscoll, and your amazing wine."
Neider filled his mug, sure that he could feel a tingling in his hands. Maybe he could feel it all over, he wasn't certain.
"Yeah, thank you oh amazing Driscoll, for your taste in porn and your skill with the wine. Gropes and grapes aplenty all round."
"Yeah, Grapes and gropes."
A beeping filled the room. Neider didn't know the name of the tune but he had heard it on an advert. He watched Larry rifling through his coat pockets as if he were trying to catch an itch. He had a pained expression on his little face too, and that worsened the illusion.
"Scratch it, Larry. Scratch it. Is it Bach or Handel in you armpits?"
No, it's bloody Driscoll isn't it.
Larry pulled his mobile out and scrutinised it, before silencing the looped concerto. Then he listened to a faint buzz of a voice as Neider drank more wine.
"Yeah...yeah...nah, Driscoll. Mebbe. Yeah...nice one."
Get round here right now and scrub my naked backside.
"Yeah, ok Driscoll. Nice one, nice one. seeya. Bye."
Shall I suck you off now or later, Mr Driscoll.One bag or two?
"Have you got that cash now, Neider. Driscoll wants some readies, quick. Another order or something."
Oh, two bags full sir.
Neider put his mug down on the floor by his foot.
"Ok, just let me find me wallet."
Neider didn't see Larry for another two days. He rang his number, and knocked on his door, but he either wasn't answering or he was dead. At least he had left the bottle of Driscoll home brew behind, so the time had little effect on him. The new tape he slotted in to the last available gap in the carboard box and forgot about, preferring a bit of reality for once; served up by the portly faces of daytime TV presenters and quiz show hosts. Any other time was spent watching the tennis courts, wondering if he should buy a raquet. How much would it cost him? What were the rules?
Occasionaly he also wondered where Driscoll might live.
The wine ran out on midnight of the second day, as Christopher Plummer stalked the streets dressed as Santa, a pistol in his hand. Neider stared at the remaining two inches of amber in his mug and smiled. It was good stuff alright, no denying that. But once it ran out, it was worse than cold Turkey. But he had the lager in the fridge, didn't he? Yeah, he still had the lager. Maybe he would go and see the kid next door and order another crate. Just hope that his skinny wife wasn't there too, with her fat screaming baby.
He chucked back the last of the wine and got up. He had to use the toilet again; and not in the bloody kitchen sink either.
The room seemed to want to keep him there, judging by how hard it was to find the door to the hallway. It swayed out of reach a couple of times, as if wanting him to use the window instead, and he had to slide against the wall to trap it.
"Haha, got yer now Mr door. keep still."
Which way did it open again? He pulled and the door tried to topple him as it swung towards, and away from him. He eventually clambered out into the hallway, and sat at the foot of the stairs.
A pale face was peering in at him through the frosted glass of his front door.
It stared awhile, it's dirty eyes flicking around like blue bottles trapped in a jam jar, and then it sank away into the dark. Neider was about to call out in anger when a single giant eye, as wide as a saucer, pressed itself to the glass, staring at him.
He'd had enough of this.
"Who the fuck do you think you are? eh? FUCK OFF! Go on, PISS OFF!"
A familiar laugh murmured beyond the eye, sending Neider on to his wobbly feet to reach for the latch. Cold night air drifted through as Larry stepped in off the front step, clutching a video camera. An expensive looking video camera.
"Where the fuck have you been hiding then, eh? Fucking Timbuck fucking too? I was knocking on your bloody door for two fucking hours yesterday."
Larry smirked, and put the camera to his eye again. A tiny red light came on and flashed.
"I've been at Driscoll's. He's given me this camera look, it's worth two hundred brand new. He's had it awhile though."
"Oh, fucking come in and put your arse down. I'm just off for a tom tit."
He climbed the stairs like a tired dog on all fours and did his buisness. By the time he made it back down he had almost forgotten about Larry.
"What yeh been doing at bloody Driscoll's for two days? He's not asked you to marry him as he? Where's me mug gone now?"
Larry had dropped his leather hold-all on the sofa and was putting his camera on top of it, smiling as he did so.
"I've just been getting pissed and that. He had a barbecue and a booze up, and then we just watched loads of his films. Don't think I've slept in two days. That fucking wine keeps you up."
It certainly does.
Larry unzipped his bag and produced another bottle of what looked like wine. He handed it to Neider, who grabbed it and held it like a baby in his arms. He rocked it from side to side watching it slop about, memerised by its gurgling, and almost fell over.
"Is it alright if I kip on your sofa tonight?"
"Of course. Shall I pour us out a couple of snifters of Driscoll? I've got a pizza in the freezer."
"Too right, Neider. Pizza and plonk will do me."
Neider filled a couple of mugs and just about managed to slip the pizza in the oven without falling over. Getting the topped up mugs to the living room was no easier. Larry was smiling at his camera, fiddling with it.
"How does it work then? Is it digitalised?"
Larry took his mug, spilling a bit on his thumb, which he sucked clean.
"You just plug it into your TV or video and it shows it on your telly. Hang on and I'll show yeh."
Neider retreated to his chair and watched Larry produce a thin black cable from his jacket pocket. He plugged it in to his camera's backside and then attached the other to the rear of the video. He rested the device on the top of the video and pushed a button.
"Look, there's your house. I was practicising outside for a laugh. Driscoll's going to teach me how to use it. A lot of it's automatic though. "
Neider watched his living room curtains glowing on the TV. He could hear cars passing by on the road, and a faint muttering that must be Larry. he couldn't make out what he was saying.
"I'll be able to make my own films now. Porn and that. Maybe we could get that lass next door to strip off and that, eh."
He left the camera running as he returned to the sofa and his drink. Soon the TV screen was full of a bleary shape that Neider recognised all too well. God he was fat. The interchange at the front door took place again and he saw his own pale, sagging face. It wasn't his face at all though, it was the face of a dead twin brother. The tape ended before he could become too dismal.
"Is that the end of the tape? Can I have a go with it? I can tape them lasses in the tennis courts. Has it got one of them zooming lenses?"
He wanted to get up and play with it but his head was tingling, as were his hands and feet. He wondered if he was about to dissolve, and then laughed at the idea; he was never more solid.
Larry got up with a creak of leather and retreived his pride and joy.
"Can you put it somewhere safe for now? until morning? "
"Sure, stick it where ever you like, so to speak."
Larry took his boots off and lay back on the sofa as Neider flicked through the TV channels for a program he was sure was on. It was just starting; the main characters telling jokes as their names floated before them. The theme tune was a mere tinkling of piano keys in the background that Neider always tried to memorise.
"Do you ever watch this, Larry? It's ok."
The story tonight seemed to be about a fat woman who was stuck in a revolving door. Her legs resembled lumpy tights pulled over many pairs of trousers, which they probably were. She was clearly not as fat as she was made out to be. None of them were what they appered to be. Steve the gay guy was just pretending to fancy Bill, so he could use his telephone. Bill was really a woman wearing a beard and was actually a criminal on the run from FBI agent Clipper; who wasn't a real FBI agent at all but a mad man who lived in the basement of the apartment block with a cat, who maybe could or couldn't talk.
Larry was sound asleep, judging by the things he was mumbling to himself. He would miss all the fun then.
The fat woman was stuck in the revolving door to stop Bill from escaping; for she was the real FBI agent. Bill had to climb down the fire escape but tripped over the cat and landed in Steve's convertible, where Steve was making love to his girlfiend. All hell broke loose as Clipper came looking for his cat and found Steve strangling his girlfriend, who he claimed was a mad woman who had tried to bite his lips off. The ploy worked until Clipper arrested the woman and took her to his basement for interrogation. Steve had to get her back somehow but he couldn't get into the apartment due to the fat woman, who he poured his cola onto to stop her screaming. Meanwhile Clipper the fake FBI agent was listening to his cats suggestions for interrogation techniques.
Neider saw none of this however, for he had fallen asleep.
He dreamt that Larry was chasing him around a small brick building; or was he chasing Larry?
When he woke it was neither.
Larry had gone. Neider checked the house but found nothing but a comb he had lost weeks ago. He also found Larry's camera in the kitchen. No doubt he would come back for it later. He was probably at the shops or something. He slipped his hand through the plastic strap and gently caressed the buttons. It seemed straight forward enough; no more complicatd than a video recorder. Time to test it out then. He watched through the view finder as he walked to the back room and parted the curtains. Beyond the tiny garden and the cross hatching of the fence, a game was in action. They were just tiny white figures though, leaping around in a fish bowl; until he found the zoom buttons.
"Oh, yes. Who needs to join the club when you have one of these."
The two women served and returned, leapt and fell, grunted and groaned for a good half hour before the camera began to rewind the tape.
"Only half an hour of tape? That's no good."
He carried it to the living room as it continued to whirr, looking for the lead. He was sure he saw it on the floor somewhere by the sofa. There it was, just sticking its silver head out. It took another few minutes for the camera to finish rewinding, no doubt due to failing batteries; but it gave him a chance to figure out how it plugged into the video. Finally he was pushing play and sitting back to watch.
That doesn't look much like a tennis court.
But of course it didn't; he had forgotten about the bit Larry had filmed outside the house. It was dark enough to be his street at night anyway, but no, the dark vanished as the camera twisted around and concentrated on a broken window. Where did that old building come from. Still he knew it from somewhere.
Oh, you idiot, Larry. You've only taped over one of Driscoll's porn films haven't you.
Oh well, your'e loss, my gain.
He saw no reason why he couldn't make a copy; it was playing through his video anyway. He rummaged around for a blank tape and slotted it in to his machine. As soon as he could he pressed record and sat back to watch.
It was the same people from the other two tapes. The doctor was again naked in the industrial wasteland, stepping over broken glass and piles of grey breeze blocks. He was heading slowly towards a crooked building that sat on the edge of the canal, drooping a thick black pipe into the muddy water like an Elephants trunk. The camera flicked from the mans face to the pipe and back again, as in the background a dense wail had begun in the soundtrack. It increased in force as the man neared the concrete platform by the buildings black door.
A woman was then seen peering through a dusty window next to the door. She looked almost amused by the naked man, who was approaching the door now, reaching out with his white hand.
Then Neider saw the mans back, or what was left of it.
It was just a glimpse but he saw it all; the yellow flaps of flesh around the hole, the scarlet mush where the spine sat like an insect with its pale legs impaling the dried gore. The blackened clots dangling and swinging with the mans movements, and the dripping trails down the his buttocks.
It was the best special effects he had seen. Almost real in fact. As was the look of horror on the woman's face as the door opened and the man went inside to her.
Another scene began immedietly, somewhere else in the compound. A man with long yellow hair had his fist in another man, making Neider cringe. It wasn't the first time he had seen it done but it always got to him. The next act was no easier to watch, as the blonde man began to writhe his arm harder, stirring and ramming until the recipient barked with pain. Next door, in another glassless chamber filled with broken desks, a woman stroked the head of the man feeding on her groin. She was another actor - if that's what you could call them - from the other films. He was pretty certain that she had been the woman walking her dog by the canal.
Yeah, it was her; her dog is in the backgound, whimpering.
He checked to see that his video was still taping and fished around by his chair for the half empty mug of wine. He hooked it and took a big sip as the woman carried the slobbering head to the blonde haired man, who ripped his hand out from his partners buttocks.
Neider understood instantly that he wasn't wearing a tight red glove, but a perfectly rendered bloody version of one. It was possibly the most disgusting thing he had seen in thirty odd years of collecting porn and banned films. Whoever made these films was either...
The man was licking his red fingers.
Either a madman...
He was now letting the woman lick his palm clean.
Either a fucking madman or a...
The severed head began to suck the man's bloody thumb.
A madman or a fucking genius.
He left the film running, and the video recording, as he went to toilet and then popped out for some milk. The young woman behind the counter took his money as he wondered if she would make a good porn star. He wondered this same thought for everyone else he saw as he stepped out of the shop and headed for the phone booth. He had to ring Larry. Tell him about the camera.
He tapped out Larry's number and waited. It rang just once and Larry said Neider's name.
"Yeah, It's me, Larry. Did you mean to leave your camera at my place? You left it at my place you see."
"Of course I meant to leave it. You wanted to take a look at what it could do didn't you. Did it impress you?"
"Yeah, It's bloody good gear that. Very useful. I might have to borrow it again, once you've had a good go on it."
"Yeah? good one. Good that you approved. Listen, I'll be round in a few minutes. I'm at Driscoll's. I told him all about you and he wants to see you in action. Mind if he comes round for a bit. You'll really like him."
Neider had feared this. This was a pivotal moment. Another pivotal moment, like losing all his tapes.
"Sure, he can come round for a bit. Sure. I'll get the kettle on now shall I?"
"Yeah, you put the kettle on now and we'll be over by the time it's ready to pour. Bye."
The camera was rewinding by the time he got back, the telly full of static. He unplugged the camera and laid it on the sofa as it still whirred. Then he stopped his video recorder and rewound some of it.
Once he was satisfied, he sat back and pressed play.
Something was lurking in the canal again, stalking through the water, treading on the muddy bank. It's green claws were visible at the bottom of the screen from time to time as it dragged itself along, towards a naked man in the water. He was facing away from the camera, his pale skinny back to the beast. He was doing something to himself under the brown water, making soft splashing noises. No wonder, for laid across either dirty slope of the bank were the entire cast.
Larry's camera clicked on the sofa; the tape fully rewound. He thought he heard another click but it must have been the camera switching off to save energy; he didn't care, the film was coming to a crescendo.
All the naked bodies of all the actors and actresses were splayed out, perfectly naked for the man to excite himself over. He spotted the blonde man with his slighlty red hand, his hair clogged with mud and leaves. He saw the lady who had been walking her dog too, half in and half out of the water, her mouth a gaping hole that flopped and closed. He also witnessed the doctor, his empty back now full of mud and twigs, his eyes blinking as he watched the beast approach the man in the water. The man must have know what was happening for he quickened his hand to be in time for it, and called out in pleasure, or pain as the camera was on him.
Brown splashing ensued, stirred by white limbs. The fake looking snout of the beast clamped shut repeatedly on the mans back and then after a few moments the blood began to explode in to the white industrial air, like a one colour firework display. The slimy eyes of the pale audience took in no joy and no pity from what it saw, or didn't see. They just slowly began to slip their way back into the canal, one by one, limb by white limb until the banks were again empty slopes of wet dirt and grass.
The final scene, before Neider realised he was no longer alone, was the face of Larry, in complete and overwhelming ecstacy, as he flopped out of the jaws of the beast and joined his new friends, below, in the thick and dirty canal water.
"Hello, Neider. Did you like my performance then? I thought it was quite good for a beginner."
What the fuck?
He was stood in the doorway, something low down behind him on the ground. His bag?
"How did you get in, Larry? What's going on? Tell me what the hell is going on."
"Like I said, I brought Driscoll to see you. He wants to see you perform for him too, once you've been taken there, to his place. Driscoll's place."
"But I can't believe this, Larry. I can't."
Larry stepped aside, to retrieve his camera. His bag was moving in the hallway, dragging itself into the living room. Neider felt his entire body begin to tingle as the fake crocodile looked at him with painted yellow eyes, and bared its simple teeth.
Larry had his camera up to his eye again, and he was pressing a button.
"We'll just see how well you practise first; see if the camera likes you."
The crocodile had pulled its papery body through the living room door now and was sliding towards Neider's ankles. He backed away, feeling a mass of tingling that was tugging at his flesh, trying to take him somewhere. He slumped into his chair, barely feeling it, and swore he could smell the dank and oily water of some vast and living canal.
Larry zoomed in on the scene, his mouth a wet smile. He put his hand out, notifying the beast and its widening jaws.
"Neider, meet my mate Driscoll. Driscoll, meet Neider. Right, action."
Get used to it? No, you never get used to it.