Monday, 23 July 2012

The Happy Valley

(Beware - some naughty words are used in this piece of writing)

We used to call it the happy valley. It was no happiness, not even a valley it was a shit stream, a few hills thrown up in the north west of Kent that led to a man and a woman one day saying, lets put a coach stop here, its about the right distance, a day ride from town, two days from dover, the best a man can get in the area. They threw it up in a week, or so they told us at school. Big old wooden shack and a shit load of horses that would whinny and neigh until some kindly rider would change his mare for a bigger beast that he might be seen far better riding to the capital of the world, or well, the capital of  England as it were at the time. I used to imagine the days they did that, the old roman road running through the centre of the town, a few shops or taverns opened up with drunken fieldworkers or maybe a smithy forge that belched black smoke and hot hazy air into the thoroughfare.

‘It’s cunting oregano’ Tanner bellowed at Gorb. His fat belly wobbled as he opened his throat across the flat at his skinny half naked roommate.
‘snot, snot, s da good stuff innit’
‘Gorb’ he said with softer intonation, ‘my dear fellow, the only thing you will get excited about through overuse with this particular packet of herb is a half decent puttanesca.’
‘Snot’ Gorb repeated standing up from the saggy, dirty grey sofa and stumbling towards Tanner, his hand outstretched in drunken hope his last hit of what had been a decent night was not the last ingredient in a pasta sauce. He pause before Tanner, splayed as usual in his armchair, fat belly protruding and resting atop the beer can and ashtray, a pile of ends and means with faint wisps of pungent narcotic aroma.
‘Prove it’ Gorb said, taken aback by his own ability to stand up to the larger man.
‘Prove what’ Taner took a slurp from the can and rested it bck on his belly. His shirt too small and his jeans too tight there was a crescent moon of hairy white flesh protruding beneath the slogan he had found so amusing in the back of the bargain basement store.
‘Jesus is a cunt’ it said, Gorb had laughed because it was offensive, Tanner liked the noition he was edgy, neither had the wherewithal to notice the stares of contempt from even the younger selves and teenage brats that scurried through the bars on Friday night. Small dark clothes things. Skinny boys in tight dark Jeans and girls of fifteen who thought nothing of dropping to their knees for a round of beers and entry to the latest club.
‘Prove you can make pastanesca’ Gorb spat the words out.
‘Puttanesca Gorb.’ Tanner sighed and moved the detritus from his distended belly, grabbing the small polythene bag as he rose from the chair. Two girls, Helen and soemthin elese, Gorb  couldn’t remember were asleep on the floor. Stoned as the good lord could make them Tanner chuckled and leaned over the one in just her jeans.
‘Lovely’ he rumbled.
‘Patasesca’ Gorb mangled the words again and Tanner breathed another sigh, levering himself from looking at the girl on the floor. He sniffed the air.
‘Vanilla’ he said’
Gorb jumped up and down and laughed, ‘pastanexa’ he muttered, the speed finally creeping into his system. He fell back on the sofa and looked up at the ceiling. The brown stain he had noticed earlier had grown a little bit. He blinked and watched it. The edges wobbled a little before his eyes. He blinked again but did not altar his gaze and the stain formed an image. The shades of brown moved as he sat their transfixed upon the sight., The faint aroma of frying garlic and the his of a pan of boiling water were the soundtrack, the very real popping and hissing of a man coming to life in the ceiling above. The muscles and limbs and hands and feet and shaded points where two eyes blinked open in the ceiling. Gorb stifled a yell. Tanner paused for a moment in the kitchenette part of their squalor. Gorb watched a shadowy hand reached down and then a leg start to inch off of the wall. Tanner walked into the main part of the flat to see the naked form of a man tumble from his ceiling onto the carpeted floor.
‘Gorb just sat and watched him.
Tanner, black t shirt, white writing emblazoned across his chest stood still, holding two plates of pasta, in each a fork sat at  a forty five degree angle o thte lip of the plate.
The naked man was about six feet tall, dark skinned and short hair. He was muscular but not aggressively so. Gorb looked at Tanner who shrugged who looked back at the man.
‘Nice cock’ said Tanner.
‘Thanks?’ the man said, a thick London accent and a sudden awareness of his nakedness.
‘You got any clothes I could borrow?’
‘Borrow or have?’ Tanner said, his arms getting weak from the mountains of spaghetti he held.
‘Well have really’ the man shrugged, obviously now wanting to clasp his hands over his groin but realizing to do so would be to draw attention to it even further.
Taner nodded to the closet set in the far wall next to the only window.
‘Left hand side, should be a pair of old jeans, before I entered my gourmand phase.’
The man walked to the cupboard and found the old pair he was referring to, slipping them on they were loose but easily secured with a belt that a nervous Gorb handed to him.
‘I’m Steve’ said the now clothed visitor.
‘Of course you are’ said Tanner, ‘wait here’, he turned and paced back to the kitchen, separating the pasta into three plates before returning and handing one to each of the men now stood. The jean clad man accepted it with thanks before they all sat down, he and Gorb on the dirty grey sofa, Tanner back in his leather chesterfield style armchair.
‘So’ Gorb said after a minute and a half of greedy slurping. The pasta was good even if Tanner said so himself. Chilli, garlic, capers and olives along side fresh tomatoes and a pinch of oregano.
‘So’ Tanner said, putting his fork back on the wide brimmed bowl and leaning forward. The stranger was finishing a mouthful.
‘I always forget, sorry’ he put the bowl on the floor and smiled at Tanner; ‘you have a few questions?’
‘Why do you always forget?’ Tanner asked.
‘That’s usually the first question’ the man sighed, ‘let me just give you the blow by blow. I’m thirty and a nuclear scientist. I don’t know what happened, I just know that at the moment it’s two thousand and three and I am only seventeen. I end up here, in this bedsit every time I fall, when I pick myself up from the floor it’s usually you cooking something. You’re a good cook and I always tell you to go into business. Gorb here is usually too scared to say anything for a while, but eventually he starts to chat.’
Gorb chirped from the corner of the sofa.
‘I am in Dartford in Kent, a train journey away from St Thomas’ hospital and one of the biggest cancer wards in Europe. There, in twenty three hours a doctor she has never seen will inject a woman called Penelope with a compound that doesn’t yet exist. I have to create that compound and deliver it before she dies.’ 

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