Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Taken to the Cleaners

I should have known things were going too Goddamn well.

Last night, round about seven, there was a knock on my door. I go answer and there stands this incredibly beautiful woman; mid-twenties, brown hair, dressed in a somewhat revealing top and a short, floppy skirt. “I’m sorry to disturb you,” she says in this lovely, cultured voice, “but are you SJ Smith, the writer?”

I get this huge, puffed up sensation in my ego. “Yes. Yes, I am,” I tell her, with what hopefully comes off as a seductive grin.

“Oh my God.” She goes all coy, puts a hand over her mouth. “I hope you don’t think I’m acting weird, but I wondered if you’d mind signing this for me?” She pulls a well-thumbed copy of House of Fox from her bag. “It’s, like, my favourite book ever.”

Somebody has actually read my novel. I can scarcely believe it. “Of course I’ll sign it,” I tell her. “Come on in while I find a pen.”

Feeling like the cat that got the cream, I lead her into the kitchen, where she makes herself at home, taking a seat on a tall stool and crossing her lovely, tanned legs. My eyes are almost out on stalks, but I attempt to play it cool. “Can I get you something to drink?”

“Sure. I’ll have whatever you’re having.” She gazes at me and licks her lips.

So I hand her a can of Lidl own brand lager, which she opens and sups without a moment’s hesitation. My God, she may be my dream woman; drop dead gorgeous and a cheap date. I rattle around in the drawer and locate a pen. “Who shall I make it out to?” I ask, opening the book at the title page.

“To your biggest fan.” She slides off the stool and slinks round the counter to stand right in front of me. The scent of her perfume sends my head giddy. “Close your eyes,” she commands.

I do as she says. Next thing, her hands are adroitly undoing my belt, and off come my trousers. Then my underpants slide down my legs, and I’m thinking I’m the luckiest guy in the world right about now.

“Open your eyes.” I look up, and she’s pointing a gun in my face. “Now sit down, and no sudden moves.”

Oh, for fuck’s sake. She handcuffs me to a stool, then paces up and down the kitchen. She’s twirling my underpants around her finger and talking into a cell phone. “Yes, I’ve got them in my hand,” she’s saying. “It was just as easy as you said it would be. He’s clearly an idiot. He actually believed I’d read his crappy book.”

“You rotten cow bag.” I can see this now for what it is; she isn’t my biggest fan at all. This was nothing more than a duplicitous ruse, played out to get her hands on my prototype self-cleaning underpants.

The front door opens and closes, and two guys let themselves into my house. The first is a bruiser; built like a brick shithouse with a scowl that would wilt lettuce. The second is a little more refined; expensive clothes, salt and pepper hair and a huge, gold sovereign ring. I recognise him immediately; he’s none other than Sebastian Minky, boss of the Minky Brothers Corporation, the biggest washing power manufacturers this side of the border.

“Now,” he says, getting right in my face. “What’s all this bullshit I’m hearing about self-cleaning underpants?”

The bruiser goes off and wrecks my underpant research laboratory, smashing up my equipment, trashing my notes and deleting everything from my hard drives. Meanwhile, Minky spells out to me in no uncertain terms that my career as an underwear maker is over. “Be a good boy, and we won’t have to visit you again. Next time, the damage will be far more serious. Understand?” He slaps me lightly on the cheek, tucks my prototype Perma-Pants into his pocket, then the three of them take their leave.

Damn. First the monkeys, now the Minkys. Why does my life have to be so complicated?

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