washing cars killing rats and discarded men
The appointment was with Mr. Ronnie Freedman of Superior Used Cars. He had advertised for a book-keeper at the glamour rate of half-a-note an hour. The yard was in Sydenham, a boulevard throttled with traffic and carbon mist. Walled up on both sides by tanning houses and ruins.
There was an inner city stink. A poison. The lot held twenty gritted-up units, all well used.
Ronnie had an office in an aluminium shed by the back fence – we met at the door.
‘ Bloke got the counters job the other day.’ says Ronnie F. ‘ Sorry about that squire, but I can give yez a start detailing the used stuff with young David and Percy for five bob an hour for about five hours a day, plenty of work and you look like a big enough bloke so come over and I’ll introduce you to the lads in the shed, mind though you keep your back to the wall if you know what I mean, ok? ‘
Young David sauced me up straight away. A small man with electrocuted black hair and soft hands, he held onto the handshake, and he held a long gaze. Percy though grumbled away through the yard, complaining about his wife. His life.
Years later I saw photographs of Young David on the entrances of most of the strip clubs in Kings Cross, a come-on-in primer for every drunken and touring celebrant who thought that the money in his pocket was sufficient enough to feed the need in his trousers.
David and Sheree, David and Clarissa, David and Athol, David and the British Navy. The pics could all have been taken on the same day, he had the same smile in all of them. Hopeful and happy amongst the drunks and their leers.
We were sitting in the lunchroom, David and myself, exchanging the odd reminiscenses when the bag on the floor that held lunch gave a sudden heave and headed towards the door.
Poor Young David went the complete woman on me and stuffed a hand in his mouth to stifle a sob and then he grabbed me hard on the thigh. Me, I’m cool, just curious as to why lunch is leaving the room under its own power. Dave goes away with a gentle push, then he’s up on the table.
No help there.
The only way to end this mess is to get up and away from my new best mate , grab that axle leaning against the door, snatch up the mobile lunch-bag and drop it into the nearest 44 gall drum and beat the SHIT out of the rat that’s eating my peanut butter and raisin sandwiches.
Percy came by later and asked if I would run a rag over the Boss’s gold Bentley.
The Limo had been stuck away behind a wall of boxes in a large shed at the back of the yard for reasons unknown at the time and I must have done a fair job of it because when I finally decided to leave the yard after nine weeks Percy said I was a good for a re-hire anytime.
I can remember shaking hands with Young David on the way out; he had a look about him that I still can’t figure out, well maybe I can, but fuck – we got on ok.
It’s all in the understanding you see, and the keeping of unspoken things at arms length.
A couple of years later I read in the Telegraph that Dave had been tossed off a brothel roof in Surry Hills. They had published one of the old nightclub pics of him with the article, page 34.
Dead as the rat in the drum….. so why does my heart feel so bad.
He always fancied himself in the the social pages.