The International Writers Magazine:Dreamscapes Fiction
Its Like This
Warner, esteemed actor of stage and screen sat in the deserted
bar at The Winchester as it neared closing time and nursed his
whisky. Up ahead, he saw the large figure of bouncer and general
help, Victor emptying the ashtrays.
He sank a little
more of his whisky and winced as it burned an oily hot trail down his
throat. Victor lumbered towards him, a soppy smile upon his face. "All
right Mr W?"
"Mind if I join you?"
"Be my guest" said Warner and he lit up two cigarettes, offering
one to Victor, who took it from him with a surprisingly gentle huge
After a moments communal smoke in silence, Victor leaned his bulky
frame closer across the table and began to speak. It was a conversation
Warner always welcomed; it was one of praise for his performance. "Saw
your film last night I did. A cracker. I enjoyed it. Didnt seem
fake like some films are. I can see the homework you put in ere
paid off. You looked like a real gangster, just like the Guvnor ere
Warner smiled at this. He had accepted the part of gangland boss instantly
without really knowing how to play it. He had never moved in such circles,
and frankly was rather glad he didnt have to. The director and
movie bosses advised him to come here and watch some real heavies, see
life at the sharp end, and despite a little early trepidation he agreed.
It was a valuable experience and one that Warner thought helped give
him a good performance. Now the film was out, Warner was ready to leave
these haunts for good, he was more than happy to do so as he felt he
had suffered these past months for his art. Suffered the loutish thugs
and infantile manners and the endless loud clubs that made up part of
Victors Guvnors empire. He closed his eyes and thought back
to the grotty dives, their walls slick with sweat from numerous heaving
bodies crazed by alcohol, drugs and tunes. He could see in his minds
eye now the night Victor showed him round one, how he looked out across
the balcony as the kaleidoscopic lights bounced off the thrusting thighs
on the dance floor of the so called ravers who were little
more than children, high as a kite and already sold to the Guvnors
Suddenly he realised that Vics large, poorly constructed face
was awaiting a reply; "Well thanks Vic, Im glad you enjoyed
the performance, like the sign in the gents I aim to please"
Victor laughed, it always unsettled Warner, it was a gurgling almost
babyish laugh, quite unlike what youd expect from a heavy whod
seen one too many prison cells. But then he always looked like an infant
trapped in a wrestlers body. Steinbecks Lenny made flesh.
Finally the laugh subsided and Victor spoke again. "You know what
I dont get?"
"Probably" Warner half joked as he took a drag.
"Well thats it innit? I mean here we are, you, an intellectual
and me, Im just a bouncer but we get on dont we?"
Warner stared ahead reflecting, "Yeah we do," he replied truthfully,
it wasnt really Victors fault he was a thug. Sure, he wasnt
exactly company he would usually call on, but he was ok.
"Thats what I thought. Its mad though innit? I mean,
Im only any good for lifting, shifting and beating up, and youre
an actor, you were in Oliver"
"No," he corrected, "I worked with Olivier"
"Yeah sure" Victor trundled on, "Anyway you came ere
and settled in, got on with the lads, the Guvnor, his wife, and me especially.
I think weve a real bond, dont matter what class we are
or any of that crap"
"Yeah I like you Vic, you helped with my role a great deal"
"Kind of you Mr W. But whod have thought it eh? Me and you
being pally like, I mean Im only good for hittin people
and youre an actor"
"Dont put yourself down Vic, youre a good lad, everyone
"Yeah, yeah, and you got on with everyone didnt you?"
He said stubbing his fag out.
"Yeah" Warner said, a little tired of Victor now. He rubbed
at his eyes and stared at his rapidly decreasing whisky.
"The Guv?" said Vic, his endless questioning continuing with
no clear end, as far as Warner could see. Still, not his fault, not
really, he cant help being at the bottom of the class system Warner
thought. His glass was now empty.
Warner sighed, he wanted another drink, time was nearing, where was
the barman? He leaned across the table eagerly at Victors large
frame "Yeah sure Vic, how about a drink?" Now get up and do
your job, pour me a drink, and shut up. He thought, though hed
never say, hed heard tales of what Victor would do to people who
crossed him, this was why the Guvnor employed him here. But he would
not shut up.
"His wife?" Victor replied.
Warner faced Victor, rapt. His bladder felt full, his face flushed.
It no longer mattered that the bar was due to close up, as time seemed
to slow down. This wasnt the drinks fault.
"Whyd you have to sleep with her? Cos now I have to
do the only thing Im good for and we were getting along so well"
And now time stopped. He felt dizzy and sweaty and sick. A thousand
tremors began to rumble through his head and he could hear them violently
swirl around his ears. The last thing Charles Warner remembered before
being led out into the cold, dark alleyway in the rain, was Victor's
mumbled "Sorry Its like this".
Mark Cunliffe March 2006
Two short stories by Mark Cunliffe
new fiction in Dreamscapes
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