“Milk, man!” Said Enrique at me while he stood outside his office door. He clapped his hands when he said it. I shrugged. “Da milk!” I knew what he was alluding to. Milk fridge needed filling.
“Where in my job description does it say I have to fill the milk everyday?” I asked. Enrique held a finger up and then spun on his heels to go back in his office. “Don’t bother,” I said, my bluff had failed. That’s pretty much all my job description said and I knew it and so slowly, to show I was nobody’s slave, I filled the milk fridge. What I didn’t do was rotate the stock. There were going to be some pretty swollen cartons of milk at the back for some sap.
I was letting things slip around the shop, I can be honest about that, but my mind was totally preoccupied with my new writing career that I’d begun the previous day. I was super happy about how the pilot for my new show had gone but I need a series. About six shows is what I need and so I had a note pad ready on the counter to write down ideas. That made the day go a lot quicker or it had until Enrique got me over the milk. Hector wouldn’t give a shit about milk.
I’d had a corking idea for the second episode. The first episode was mainly exposition but I hadn’t fully explained Steve McArmstrong who seemed out of place – it was strange that some guy as great as he would work in a shop – he could literally work in a bank if he wanted to – and I am all about believability so I’d come up with the idea that Steve was working in a shop mainly because he was writing a comedy show set in a shop. So it was like research. Stephen King’s protagonists are often writers. Write about what you know and so it made sense that Steve McArmstrong would be writing about a shop. The characters in Steve’s book are: Gonzales Rodrigo, the boss. Loosely based on Hector, Steve’s boss. Gonzales is a real no nonsense hard-ass. Then there’s Grace: She’s the woman who works in the shop. She’s often in trouble and finally there’s Clint DuBois: The main character. He’s the guy who works in the shop. He’s also a writer although he’s also like all of The A-Team. He’s writing a drama set in a shop. That’s why he’s there. The characters in Clint’s show are as of yet unnamed.
Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about although it was giving me a headache. My notepad looked like one of those things from the doctors where you can diagnose yourself. With boxes and choices leading off them to different boxes which choices to different choices leading off that. It was like pointing a video-camera at a mirror but clever. I was very pleased at how clever I was being. I could see Jonathon Ross handing me my British comedy award. He wouldn’t even make a quip about me, he’d just gasp, ‘wow!’ and everybody would stand and clap, apart from Paul Merton who only laughs at his own stuff.
That would happen if I didn’t have to restock the milk like an idiot.
“Do you know any bands?” Asked Paula.
“Do I know any bands?” I asked as some cartons of milk fell over. I cursed God.
“Anybody in a band?” She asked from behind me. I was kneeling on the floor. My cousin’s in a band.
“What for, why?” I asked. I hate that, personally, you ask a simple question and get two back.
“It’s my brother’s birthday tonight and the band we had lined up died of AIDS.” Lucky she said how they died because I’d completely forgotten Paula’s brother was as gay as a bee and I, hell, I could have sent my cousin there!
“How is Barry?” I asked her. I didn’t care. In my head I was giving Mary and Grace and the unnamed girl gay brothers. Paula was talking. I let her finish. “No, sorry, don’t know any bands,” I told her. I know Bobby, he plays acoustic guitar. Fuck it though, I’d have to talk to him and, ah, it would be a massive saga.
“Well, if you think of anybody phone me, yeah? I’m leaving at lunchtime to get it all ready.”
Yeah, yeah, I told her while thinking, I’ll suddenly remember I know a gay friendly band!
In the afternoon after Paula had left to get the venue ready a guy came in who looked like a rockstar. White vest, tattoos, chains and shit. I looked at him and thought, nah! You know? Too good to be true. I left my notepad and watched him move around the shop. He brought a box instant Nescafe Latte to the counter. I stared and smiled. The last person I’d thought was a rock star turned out to be a blind man so I studied this guy hard. I’d have to ask him outright to avoid a big fuck-up.
“Recognize me, do ya?” He asked smiling.
“I think so. You’re…” Didn’t want to embarrass the guy by getting it wrong. The more I looked though the more I recognised him. But I left my ‘you’re’ hanging there so he would step in.
He did. He took a step back from the counter, framed his face with his hands and said, “Eh?”
My face was non-committal although it looked like it had nearly got it.
“The Gay Slayer? Eh?” The man said.
“Of course!” I lied. I’d never seen his band play. Didn’t really know much about the real Slayer, let alone the gay one. Heavy Metal from the 70s, I thought. Gays love that shit. “You’re not looking for work, are you?” I asked him and that was it. He seemed very very pleased. I guessed being in a tribute band wasn’t that lucrative. I told him where I wanted him to go and at what time and immediately after he left I phoned Paula who couldn’t thank me enough.
She phoned me later that night but all I could hear was screams and shouting and it sounded like they were having a marvellous time. Until I saw the news about the escaped mental patient and his literal nickname.