It began with Martini’s. We were on the lakeside, soaking up the cold weather in our deckchairs. I had read somewhere that keeping yourself chilled can make you more sexually potent and I’m willing to try anything once.
I had my feet in the water, socks on, and a pair of green shorts Lance had lent me at short notice covering my waist, nothing else. We had been out here maybe ten minutes and already my nipples were rock solid, but I was determined to last out the hour, we had enough booze to make another dozen cocktails so I figured I wouldn’t feel the cold much longer anyway. We also had twice as many olives, but they were spoken for. I can’t stand olives- I’ll put them in my drink but I can’t eat the buggers, they gave my uncle cancer, goddamn brain cancer. Olives were all he ate, he must’ve worked through seven thousand jars by the time he was thirty, mass olive genocide, and the rotten little fucks got their revenge and gave him cancer.
Lance eats them like they’re taste orgasms though; he’ll put twenty in his drink, then eat two from the jar between sips and crunch up the whole bunch at the end like they won’t ever get him back for it. Which was what he was doing now. The bastard didn’t even look cold, he just munched those olives like one of those guinea pigs that’ll keep on eating until their stomachs burst. He got through the whole jar before we’d been out there a quarter of an hour, then he asked for my olive.
“You’re crazy,” I said “they won’t stand for it, they’re vengeful bastards. You’ll get the cancer one night, just suddenly smack and your brains’ll be mush.”
“You’re crazy,” said Lance. He’s someone you’d call well spoken. He has a really posh voice. Everyone thinks he’s gay.
“You’re crazy. You can’t get cancer off olives, it’s like your ear thing, you’re a hypochondriac.”
He took my olive.
“It’s alright for you, I’m autistic and my whole family’s diabetic, you can afford to be worried.”
“What are you doing?” I screamed “that’s my olive you evil fuck!”
He ate it.
“I think I might be dyslexic,” he added.
“I want my olive back!” you can’t enjoy a drink without the proper accessories; it’s like Christmas dinner with no stuffing and just a bloated, raw turkey on the table.
“Sorry, did you say something?”
I ignored him, you can’t talk to Lance when he’s thinking about something else, besides which, the bastard was out to get me today, he’d proved that with the olive.
I poured the rest of my drink into the lake. I’d let the olive float too long, the whole damn cocktail tasted like olives now. Lance didn’t notice. He’d taken some paper out from somewhere and was scribbling on it. I made myself another drink. I was still cold.
Lance looked up as I finished this drink, and handed me the sheet of paper.
“Gentlemen,” he said “we are through the looking glass.”
I looked at the paper. There was writing on it, and a picture of a goat in a cowboy hat.
“What is it?” I asked. I couldn’t be bothered to read it and he’d just taken my olive all over again so I wasn’t in the mood to do him any favours. When we went back in his house I was going to eat all the biscuits, I’d decided. Make the bastard suffer.
“We are going to kidnap Der Fuhrer. Put Hitler in your car and take him home with us.”
Looking at the sheet I could see it was a plan for doing just this. I knew what he meant. In the art block, there was that giant cardboard cut out of Hitler on the upper floor, up those spiral stairs. Just where he can look down on the table in the foyer and watch the kids do their pictures, right where the year sevens can give him the sweeping arm salute and all chant together “Heil!”
We went up there the next day. It was a good plan; bundle the cardboard bastard down the stairs and out the building before anyone realised their art coursework was gone. Take him home and leave him in the window staring out at the neighbours gardens. Crazy old Uncle Adolf. Those kids would never come asking for their ball back again. I hate kids who kick all their shit into your garden. I bury everything they send my way. Then I tell them my cat ate it. Fuck ‘em, mummy and daddy will buy them another.
It was about lunchtime when we went to take Hitler. No one was really around the art department; a couple of kids were goofing around the water fountain and a blonde girl was doing some work at the table below us, but that was it. Like we planned, this was an in-out operation, we wanted no witnesses. Lance had stressed this to me yesterday.
“No Raul, I’m being serious, they’re all crazy those art people,” he does art so he should know “they caught someone trying to steal some work before and they poured paint over them and feathered them.”
So we were being extra careful. Those art people probably were crazy. Lance did art and he ate olives all the time.
The plan was that I’d grab Hitler, then Lance would duck out the fire escape and check the coast was clear while I waited on the balcony. Then we’d both wander out and up to the car nonchalantly, bundle der Fuhrer in the back and drive off and no one would know a thing. If we saw any teachers or artists we were to run, every man for himself, and meet at the car later. Somehow, I’d got stuck with all the carrying.
Lance chased the kids off while I pretended to admire some artwork. It was hideous stuff. All blank faces and dark backgrounds, all the people in it looked the same. I began to wish I was drunk. For something like this it was practically required to have at least a pint of Rum in me. Otherwise it was just kind of dull.
Lance came back to me. The kids were gone. Downstairs, the girl carried on regardless. I couldn’t see her face but she had nice hair. I fell in love with her.
“The operation begins.” Lance’s voice in my ear. I’m terrible at small talk, it makes it difficult approaching girls. How could I open conversation with her? With that story about my shit that wouldn’t flush down the toilet? I had to cut it up with a knife in the end, a big fucking hunting knife to fit it down. If only I was drunk, this would be so much easier.
“I’ll check outside, you stay here. If they get you; name, rank and serial number, nothing more.” He ran off in a crouch, fingers held up in a gun shape, ready to take on any arty fuck.
What am I talking about? It would be easier if SHE was drunk. Paralytic. Alone in a dark room somewhere, just barricade the door and nobody’s any the wiser. When you’re horny, your conscience takes a back seat. With a personality like mine, it takes up permanent residence there.
The girl looked up briefly, just flicking her hair or something. Dog shit! I knew her! We’d slept together once. She’d refused to take her bra off the whole time. I’d wondered why but hadn’t wanted to stop and ask. She was crazy.
Sitting below me like that, I realised I could see down her low cut top. A bit of flesh is all it takes, I’m a horny bastard. The view was great. I thought about just quickly knocking one out, I was that horny dammit. I didn’t care I was in the art block, I’ve done it weirder places before. On a train once, with a door I had to hold closed with one hand. This lifestyle leads to an awful lot of jacking off. However I decided against it this time. No mind Lance might be back any minute, he jerks in the school toilets every lunchtime. But there was always the worry a caretaker or some stranger might come round the corner at any moment and see me standing there, one arm wrapped round Hitler, the other beating away like it’s the rapture. There’s no way out of something like that. What would my parents say? What would my Jewish cousins say?
I tried to concentrate on something else instead. The blood was building up in my ears, I could feel it. If I don’t clean my ears every three hours, the blood starts to swell up there. I hadn’t cleaned them in maybe five hours and it was building up strong. If I didn’t get a cotton bud in them soon blood would start leaking out my nose. I had buds in my car. Where was that bastard Lance? Had he run off? Had he done a deal with the enemy? Were they in fact creeping up behind me now, ready to feather me? He was an art student after all, wasn’t he? Just like the crazy girl below. SHIT! They were all in on it. I clutched Hitler tighter. Maybe I should just make a run for it?
Lance came running back in, still crouched.
“Where have you been you bastard?”
“It’s alright for you, I’m autistic, don’t press me so hard,” he said.
“Where have you been you scum sucker?”
“Mr Reshad was waiting outside,” he always had an excuse “I had to wait until he went away.”
“Why didn’t you get rid of him?”
“I did. I told him I saw some year sevens messing around putting poo on his car.”
“Good job” I said. “There’ll be a medal in this for you, or at least a drink.”
We ran to the fire escape. No-one was watching, we could move as fast as we liked. There it was, just down a flight of metal steps and a five minute walk and we were in the clear. Hitler would be ours. Or mine at least. I was carrying him, I should get to keep him. As long as he cleaned up after himself.
Lance shuffled down the steps first, ready for trouble. I followed, ready for a drink. Not that I would get one, and my ears were a more pressing problem anyway.
We reached the bottom. The coast was clear. Then, from behind me I heard running. Someone was running at us! Possibly lots of someones. The art crowd!
I turned on Lance.
“You bastard! You set me up! You’ve always wanted to see me feathered!”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I can hear them running!” I shouted.
Lance listened for a moment. Then he started running.
“Come back here you evil fuck!” I howled. The bastard had left me to carry Hitler and had taken off on his own. I couldn’t run that fast, my ears were swimming with blood. I had no balance. The running was closer now. Still I tried to escape. This was faster than I’d run when those damn swans had tried to eat us at the lake that time.
We’d been out on Lance’s driveway beside the lake again, with some Cinzano this time, and some mushrooms. His driveway opens right onto the lake, literally. It’s useful for launching boats or sitting there and drinking, but it’s a real fucking problem. One time Lance drove home from a party with his head full of acid and shot right off the end. Didn’t even slow down. He told his parents it rolled in during the night. The car was completely wrecked.
We were sitting there like usual when Charles came burning over in his 5 door saloon in a righteous racial rage. He lives maybe five minutes from Lance so he was still mad. I knew he would be. He only ever comes over when he’s angry.
“Is that a Negro pulling up in your driveway Lance?” I asked.
“Stop being so politically correct,” said Lance “Call him a nigger.”
Charles hopped out and ran over to us, waving some fucking thing in my face and shouting a lot.
“Easy man, easy,” I said “that’s the way to scare the white man. He sees a big Negro guy like you running at him shouting like a maniac his natural instinct is to run, to head for the hills. Now what do you want?”
“Do you,” he said, forcing each word out “know what those fucking dogs have done?”
“What, what have they done?” Lance ignored us to the side. He was eating olives again.
“The new stamps, the fucking” he took a deep breath as he nearly exploded “Christmas stamps. Look at them!”
He shoved whatever it was he was holding at me. It was a book of stamps. The first set had some guy I’d never seen before grinning on them. The second set had a couple of black guys on them.
“What-what what’s the problem?” I sometimes stutter when I’m confused or faced with an angry hulking Negro man ready to break something. It’s almost a disability. If I ate olives I’d worry it was a brain tumour.
“All the first class ones show some nice, smiling white person,” he said “all the second class ones show these two black guys. They’re saying black people are second class citizens!”
“You’re crazy,” I said “have something to drink. Lance, give him some mushrooms.”
Lance turned to me.
“My head’s filling up with stuff” he said.
“You’re crazy.” I handed Charles the mushrooms myself. He chomped some down. He was crazy alright. We’d burn the first class stamps later.
A half hour passed and Lance started to giggle at every little thing that happened. Then Charles did too, his body rocking back and forth, crotch thrusting forward like he always does when he has hysterics. They tried to talk to each other. Through the giggles I heard occasional shrieked nonsense. Then more giggles. The evil bastards must be putting it on I thought, I wasn’t feeling anything, just drunk. They always did this, the evil fuckers, like with those hallucinations they said they had. I’d never seen anything like that, even when I’d taken more than them. Perhaps the whole mushroom culture was just made up by those sadistic anal retentives in offices everywhere, looking for a way to get at me. Perhaps they were the same people who made the olives. Then it came to me in a flash.
“Nesquick!” I cried “They’re the bastards!”
Lance and Charles giggled again. I wasn’t getting through to them.
“You’re wrecked!” managed Charles through his high pitched giggling.
“You fuck! I’m not even feeling anything!” I rounded on Lance “those olives are turning your brain to mush!”
I grabbed the jar off him and threw the olives out onto the lake. They floated.
“What- what- what” Lance tried to talk through his giggles, then gave up.
“You’re crazy!” said Charles “the swans’ll eat them!”
Swans? I looked out onto the lake. There they were, just in front of me. How could I not have seen them? I hadn’t drank that much. They were eating the olives.
“So what?” I said “let them die, they shouldn’t eat food we throw in anyway.”
“They’ll want more” said Charles. He’d calmed down a bit.
He was right, they’d finished the ones I’d thrown and were looking for more. I could see the hunger in their eyes. One waddled up onto the drive.
“RUN!” I screamed.
The three of us leapt to our feet and took off towards Lance’s house. They were swarming the drive, there were no more olives so they were coming for us.
“They’re right behind us!”
“Swans! They had razor teeth” I added. Keep them afraid, they’d only slow down if they thought they were normal swans and we’d be done for.
“They’re getting closer!”
“Run you fuckers run!”
“Take that you bastards!” Charles threw the stamp books behind him.
“That’ll slow them down!”
We nearly didn’t make it. They were hot for our blood and just behind us when we got in the door. We spent the rest of the day in the house. I vowed to set them on fire if they ever returned. They never did.
“I bet you all eat olives!” I screamed over my shoulder at the art crowd. The footsteps began to slow. I’d got the bastards there! I kept running, darting past Kraz as I went. The footsteps slowed even more. I’d escaped the fuckers!
To be sure I ran round the lunch hall once, throw them off the sent. I got to the car a couple of minutes later. Lance was already there.
“You left me you bastard!”
“mi mi mimi meh meh meh” said Lance, imitating my whining.
“I could’ve been feathered you cunt!”
“Raul don’t get so worked up!” he said “I thought you were in front of me, that’s all.”
We were silent. I loaded Hitler in the car. He wouldn’t fit in the boot. I had to put the back seats down to get him in.
“Have you seen that graffiti at Torre station?” asked Lance.
“What is it?”
“It says,” he giggled a little “Steff wears no pants ever.”
I laughed too. What the hell, it was funny. I wondered if it was the Steff we knew.
Two kids passed on the other side of the road from the year below. They looked quite chavvy. They saw us. One said something to the other and they laughed. Lance saw them.
“YA FACE!” he shouted at them. They carried on walking, expressions of disdain on their faces.
“Steff wears no pants ever!” I shouted as they passed.
“Ya mum’s on drugs!” Lance did his best chav voice.
They carried on walking, as people always do. I didn’t care though, we could tell ourselves we blew some minds there. We got in the car. Lance leaned forward with his devilish grin.
“Let’s burn rubber baby!” he said.
I agreed. We took off out of there at speed, heading for Lance’s, where we could get a Martini and something to eat. On the way we passed the two chavs.
“ELTON RULES” shrieked Lance as we passed them.
“FREAK OUT SQUARES!” I yelled. They tried to ignore us. That was good enough reaction for me. I took a cotton bud from the ashtray and stuck it in my ear; the blood receded into my brain once more. Then, cleaning out my other ear as we went, I turned onto the Newton road and headed for home.
This is an original Hashmark short story written by Raul Bloodworth in early 2006