“So why do they call you Fib then?”
“Well” paused Fib, as if recalling it himself for the first time in a long spell. “Are you a fan of David Attenborough?”
“I guess so” Marcus replied, unconvincingly, “I mean, I guess everyone is right? He seems unimpeachable”.
“That’s the thing”, Fib shot back with a smile, “most people don’t know about the time he killed those teenagers drunk driving.”
“You what?” exclaimed Marcus, fighting back the jet of cider that had just involuntarily leapt into his nostrils.
“Yeah man” continued Fib, “it was when he was young and just starting out at the BBC. Our man Attenborough had a weakness for cooking sherry. It started when he was at boarding school and he and some of the other sixth form lads would break into the cafeteria after hours to snaffle pies and sing boozy rugby songs. Even after he had made his bones as a proper aristo, apparently the taste for it never left him”.
Marcus tilted his head and moved imperceptibly closer, warming to the intrigue.
“Anyway, so one day he’s on his way back from a shoot where he was stalking the local red breasted robin or some shit, it was still early in his career so he hadn’t been assigned a driver or anything. The shoot had gone well, they had some footage of the mating rituals which was going to make for some cracking television, so almost as soon as he had left the carpark he’s reached into the glove compartment to get some of that sweet, sweet, sickly sherry.”
Fib paused for a moment, as though gathering his thoughts, or deciding just how much embellishment with which to garner the telling before continuing, “it was dusk by the time they had finished the shoot- abandoned due to low light y’see- and this was back when country roads were really poorly lit. He’s about thirty minutes into his commute, and about two thirds of his way through the bottle already when he rounds a bend obscured by hedgerow.
Two local kids had also been out bird watching that day on the moors. Jenny Collins and her little brother Richie with the harelip. A day trip from the village for Richie’s birthday. Apparently Jenny was looking after him while their parents were being questioned by protective services for god knows what but I don’t know all the details.
He sees them then, but its too late, he’s going way too fast and his reaction times have been dulled by the liquor. The impact is pretty sickening”…
Marcus gasps but says nothing as he edges closer to the lip of the stairs where they had been sitting, silently imploring Fib to continue.
“They tumble over the bonnet of the motor, and all of a sudden the windscreen is obscured by a shattered mass of hair and blood as the collision throws cracks across the expanse of glass. Attenborough isn’t quite sure what has just happened as the bodies ragdoll in spastic arcs over the roof of the car and come to rest all spindled on the asphalt behind him. A stunned pause later and he slams on the brakes, fishtailing into a skid and coming to a panicked rest with his knuckles white around the rim of the wheel.
He gets out shakily, a pulse of adrenaline now suddenly sobering him up pretty double quick, and skirts the dented body of the motor to see what he’s left behind on the blacktop”.
Marcus’ pupils are pooling now, his jaw slightly agape as he conjures this unlikely image in his minds eye and hangs tight to Fib’s every utterance.
“All thoughts of the red breasted robin are gone now, as Davey boy gingerly advances towards the crumpled bodies of the pair, the contents of little Richie’s haversack splayed across the roadside, just as surely as the contents of his infant skull. It’s a fucking mess – Richie is clearly gone, but Jenny manages to rattle out a rasping moan as she raises a twitching hand in his direction, survival instinct compelling her body to respond even in the chaos of the impact.
And with that, old mate Attenborough leaps back in his motor and fucks off leaving her to bleed out in the evening light, already constructing some tale of a collision with a badger or something to explain the state of his motor as he winds his way back to London.
“Holy Shit” whispers Marcus, as he struggles to comprehend what he has just learned about a beloved national institution, “then what happened?”
Fib could barely conceal his grin as he responded, “…well, that’s when he went to his weekly meeting of Holocaust Deniers”.
“Oh you fucking arsehole!” spat Marcus, incredulous. “You really had me going then. Fucking David Attenborough, drunk driving Holocaust denier, yeah fucking good one.”
“Well now you know why they call me Fib” laughed Fib hoarsely as he drained the last of his can and reached to claim another from its sextet of plastic rings. “Come on, let’s go- he’ll be there soon, and I wanna get to him before the dregs”.
Marcus pulled the hood of his jacket over his closely cropped skull and rose unsteadily to follow Fib into the night, terribly uncertain about the state of his new companion.
The crowd were starting to filter in for their evening revelry as Fib and Marcus made their way down King Street past the crumbling art deco edifice of the abandoned HUB porno theatre.
“That place has been empty forever” mused Marcus, peering through the smudged glass of the double doors into the gloom of the empty foyer. “Absolutely prime real-estate too. Station adjacent, smack bang in the middle of gentrification country and yet it sits idle”.
“Too many spermy ghosts” shot back Fib without skipping a beat. “Place is absolutely riddled with them”.
“Is this another bullshit story?” mused Marcus, sceptical.
“More a theory” replied Fib. “Basically I maintain the reason it’s sat empty for so many years is cos of the number of tuggers who died in there. Think about it. You’d have to be a pretty committed onanist to frequent such an establishment. I mean, I know shit was different in the seventies but the location isn’t exactly discreet. I reckon most people are content to bash one out over the sink when that monkey climbs their back, but this place”, he paused “this…palace – well it’s the kind of establishment that attracts an entirely different calloused breed. These cats loved a tug. Oblivious to their surroundings, you can just see them there with their pants drooping forlorn around their ankles as they strangled it. Bloodshot eyes rivetted to the monster cinema-sized cocks thrusting and spunking away up there in film grain technicolour. Oblivious to the other tuggers, oblivious to the long-suffering staff at the popcorn counter, oblivious to the growing erraticism of their heart beat…until it was too late. Tugged to death, their pale corpses sitting undiscovered in the flicker of the ‘rhythm’ flicks, until the lights went up and the spell was broken. Their pale cum face expressions locked eternally in rictus marble.
You think these cats went to heaven? Nah mate- they’re cursed to forever flit through the halls of this accursed place as lonely ghosts. Lonely, spermy ghosts.
That’s why they can’t sell the place. Bit hard to set up a frou frou juice bar or yoga studio with a bunch of tug poltergeists fouling up the atmosphere.”
“You’re fucked ay” laughed Marcus, “but you might be right. What time time did Gavin say he’d be there?”
“Seven” replied Fib, “but you gotta remember he operates on ‘Gavin time’ which means anywhere from 7.30 to next Tuesday. I fucking hope he hasn’t been waylaid again”.
Fib felt that familiar tightness in his chest and raft of butterflies in his stomach that always beset him when he knew a rendezvous with Gavin was near. Like the worst possible iteration of the Pavlovian phenomenon, it would start almost as soon as he withdrew his money from the teller machine, or had it handed to him by some similarly twitching co-conspirator. It was the opposite of withdrawal. Anticipation. Anticipation writ physical until his stomach performed such flips that an ebbing tide of bile would lick at his tonsils. He prayed Gavin would be on time, even as he knew in his bones that he wouldn’t be.
The dull weight of the ciders they had sunk on the stairs was doing little to quell the bad adrenalin that surged through him as they made their way down the laneway past the church into the back streets of Stanmore. Fib was walking double time now, Marcus dutifully matching his pace as he followed, unaccustomed to the ritual with which Fib was so desperately aquatinted.
“Fuck me, you’re on time” exclaimed Fib with no lack of genuine enthusiasm as he ducked into the lot to find Gavin pacing back and forth in the yellow light of the stairwell.
“What do you mean, I’m always on time. In fact, I’ve been here for ages. Molly wanted me out of the house for a bit. She keeps running the taps bull bore so that ASIO can’t hear our conversations. Imagine that, some cunt from ASIO jotting down all of her inanities. That’d be a shit of a job.
“Ahh, she’s alright” lied Fib, “she just needs to get out more. Y’know, smell the roses and whatnot.”
Anything would smell better than that apartment, thought Fib, but this he kept to himself.
“It’s good gear” offered Gavin, as though he had to formulate some semblance of a sales pitch even in this most absolute of seller’s markets.
“Yeah sweet” replied Fib absent-mindedly as he reached around to retrieve Marcus’ contribution and began flattening the notes into a fan. “I might hit you up again tomorrow so keep your phone connected”.
A furtive handshake followed as it always did, and with that Fib was absolutely bursting to peel out for home. Of course, he knew the drill. Gavin demanded his pleasantries, as so dutifully he engaged in the one parts banter, two parts small talk that made up their excruciating repartee. The latest drama with Molly, Gavin’s band ‘Wet Hessian’ and their never-ending travails, the latest outrages foisted upon them by the incumbent liberal party. Fib was only half listening, his guts churning like a washing machine now as he fumbled for an out.
“You coming to the gig tomorrow”? fished Gavin, all rehearsed nonchalance “we have a new song that’s so sick..”
“Yeah man absolutely, wouldn’t miss it” interrupted Fib, knowing full well that he probably wouldnt.
“Alright sweet, I’ll seeya then”.
And with that, mercifully Gavin checked his pockets twice and then seemingly satisfied, turned to depart. Fib clutched Marcus by the left cuff and spun him around in his renewed insistence to get back to the flat.
“Alright man, let’s hit up the chemist”.