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Pete Sortwell
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winwin.jpg
Art by Mike Kerins 2012

Win-Win

by Pete Sortwell

 

         I’m sat in this fucking probation waiting room again. I seem to spend half my life sat waiting for Judith.

“Just take a seat, Simon,” says the receptionist. “Judith will be out in a moment.” Fucking lying-bitch receptionist.

Every bloody week, it’s the same. Now I have to sit here next to this middle-aged, bald man who is trying to justify his sexual perversions.

“I swear she looked sixteen . . . .” he starts to say.

"Look, Noncey, I may look and smell like I ain’t washed in a week, but I am not one of your lot! If you don’t fuck off with your kiddie-fiddling bullshit, I am going to put my boot in your balls, CCTV, or not. OK?” I tell him, deciding not to beat around the bush.

"Err, err I was just . . .” he starts.

“Shuuut it,” I say, which he does.

We sit in relative silence until he starts sniffling, attracting the attention of the receptionist. The bitch gives me the evil eye, and picks up the phone. I’m a petty shoplifter, not a sexual deviant like him. He hurts kids and I’m the one judged for making him cry? I hate it here. Why should he get a chair, and a coffee, and the right to sit next to me? The only chair he should get is an electric one.

Hang on a minute! Where’s my fucking coffee?

Behind the door leading to the interview rooms, someone curses and it sounds as if they have dropped some files. “Oh damn, and blast!” The muffled voice is Judith. I prepare to stand and smile as she opens the door, holding a folder and loads of paperwork, all crumpled up. She doesn’t even look at me. "Brian, come through please,” she says, and old Noncey Bri stands up and greets her.

“Hang on. I had an appointment ten minutes ago,” I protest.

“Yes. Well. I am running behind, today. You will just have to wait,” she says.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” I say.

“I heard that, Simon,” Judith says with a tone I know so well.

“Well, I didn’t say it in sign language,” I say, in my pissed-off , stroke, sarky voice. I’ve been waiting to say that for ages and I feel quite proud of myself for slipping it in. Shame no one is around to hear it except for Noncey, and Judith, stroke, Judas.

“Anymore of your abusive behavior to me, the staff, or other clients, and I will have you removed from here and you will be breeched, Simon,” Judas tells me, no doubt making herself feel a little more powerful than she looks, walking off into the sunset with a Peado.

I opt for shaking my head and mouthing what she has just said by way of reply.

I am left for a few moments to regret not saving my great joke for when someone else was round to hear it, but I am not alone for long. A couple of young Chavs bowl in, throwing about the “in’ it, bruv, seen, seen’s.”

Those Chav twats are forever giving me shit. Those two poor excuses for tracksuit enthusiasts are from my estate and immediately they turn their attention disorders towards me.

“Si, Si, What up son?” The one with his own name tattooed on his arm says to me.

Son? I ain’t your fucking son, mate! I fingered your mum at school. “Hello, Mickey,” I say.

“What the Feds got you for this time? I know it ain’t no kiddie porn, you can’t afford a pooter, in’it, ha-ha,” he says, earning himself some knuckle love from his mate, Trevor. From what I can see, Trevor is lucky to even see me with the way his eyes point. He is ginger too and a future serial killer if ever I saw one.

“Nicking,” I say, keeping my eyes away from the evil ginger. It’s hard when you can’t tell where he is looking. I opt to stare at the wall.

“Seen, seen. What you get away with?” Mickey asks me.

“I dun’t wanna talk about it,” I say.

“Oh. My. Days,” Mickey says, forgetting he is not, and never has been, black. “You got busted nicking cheese again didn’t you? Oh, you retard! When will you learn, you fucking crack ’ed?”

“No, it wasn’t cheese, actually,” I lie.

Come on, Judith, you twat bag, don’t leave me sitting here. I wish I had a coffee so I could throw it all over my own knob to take the attention away from my nicking.

“Ah, Trev, this joker gets caught nicking cheese every other week,” Mickey needlessly tells Trevor, which prompts Trevor to talk to the poster to my far right. “You wanna buy some puff, grade A?”

 I look round to see if the poster is interested, then realize it is me he is talking to, rather than the poster or his own nose.

“Weed is much better than that shit you’re on,” he continues, regardless.

 I must be sat in his blind spot or something.

“We’re sat in probation with grasses everywhere,” I say, nodding at the receptionist, who is taking notes while trying to make it look like she is writing a really important date in the diary, or something. This is why she is a receptionist in a place that crap criminals are already in, rather than secret Sheila of the MI5.

“Ah, dese fools can’t touch a brudda,” Trevor tells me, and his nose, which brings on some brudda love in the form of some ‘street’ hand holding from Mickey.

“I’ll think about it,” I say. Then decide to wander outside for a quick butt rolly I made earlier.

Thankfully, the pair of nipples stay indoors and discuss ways to get crisis loans. “I told them I washed my money last week, bruv, in’it, got 60 quid, ha-ha,” I hear Mickey lying as I leave.

As I come back in, the bredjins have gone. For fuck’s sake, their appointments were before me, too.

I sit and wait for my son-of-a -bitch probation officer. After a half hour of trying to will Judith dead using only my mind, “Peter the Pervert” bounds in, wearing shorter than short shiny shorts and a puffer jacket.

“Christ, they’re all in today,” I say, hoping he’ll hear me, get offended, and start screaming and punching himself like he does. 

He doesn’t like being made fun of, or called Peter the Pervert, but how can someone be sensitive to jibes when they pull their socks up that far and wear Clarke’s shoes?

“I have an appointment with my offending rehabilitation assistant,” Peter says, all-matter-of-fact, to the reception lady.

“OK, Peter, I'll call Dave down now,” she says, with a smile she only extends for men in headbands, it seems.

“Thank you, Barbara,” Peter says, teaching me something new. After two months of coming here, I’ve learned her name. I promise myself an extra bag later to help me forget it again, just so I don’t slip and call her it. I don’t want to give her any idea that I might like her. I don’t. I fucking hate her. I hate them all.

“No problem, Peter. How is your mother?” Barbara, err-shit, I mean, nameless-woman-that-I-hate, asks.

“Fucking embarrassed, I should think,” I say, this time hitting the target just shy of bull’s-eye.

“Fuck off! Fuck off, Fuuuuck Offfff! Peter shouts at me, while rocking forwards and backwards in that off way that spakos do.

“Steady on, Petey. There’s no need to make a song and dance about things,” I say, impressing myself for the second time today.

It only annoys him further, and he starts to grind his teeth.  It’s loud enough to hear, but his mouth isn’t moving. He's staring at me too, like, well, like a madman. Peter is not really a pervert. He just looks like one from the way he dresses and the odd way he acts. That pretty much ticks the boxes in mine, and every other small-minded crim. We all need someone weaker, uglier and stranger to look down on.

Peter goes through to the consultant rooms. I’m still waiting.

Jed comes in, someone I know from the “wet zone,” which is basically a bus stop round the side of the pound shop on the edge of town where we're allowed to drink. He’s always there; he likes a good drink. Doesn’t touch the gear though, just his drink, and a Meth script from Boots once a morning.
“Perrrrrrrvvveeeerrrt!” Jed shouts out, like a boxing compere, as he spots Peter's back end going through the door.

“Fuck you boy, you fucking boy!” Peter shouts from the other side of the door as it clicks shut. There is then an almighty bang, bang, bang on the door followed by a deafening alarm. 

The sound scared the shit out of me—Jed and I cover our ears. Jed allows his left ear one more second of pain as he takes his finger out, to breathe on his fingernails and run them on his right tit, in celebration.

Smiling, he comes over, and sits next to me raising his eyes and putting fingers firmly in his ears. The alarm stops after two minutes and from the other side of the door, it sounds like Peter is fighting half of the probation service single handed.

“Get off me, you cuuuuunts! Peter’s muffled voice, screams, and a dozen “calm downs” follow this.

“Fucking hell, hold his legs he’s just kneed me!” someone shouts. After a few more bangs, the noise stops as Peter is dragged off.

“Sad, really, when you think about it, isn’t it?” Jed says, with a smile.

“Ha-ha. Yeah, but fucking funny,” I say.

“Yeah.” Jed chuckles.

I decide to try my luck and ask Jed for a smoke. “You got any smokes, Jed?” I ask.

“Yea, here ya’r.” Jed opens a twenty pack of Taylor mades.

“Tar, mate,” I say, as I take one.

I know what the plan for the rest of the day is. It’s clearly giro day for Jed, and if I can't manipulate him into giving me some of his giro money, I'll take it when he’s not looking or too pissed to fight me off. I mean—he's a mate, I suppose—but who cares about that, when it comes to free money? It’d mean I won’t have to nick cheese, whole racks of batteries, or nick A–Zs out of Waterstone’s and sell them to the corner shops. The bottom line is, he’s got it and I want it. This means I’ll get it.

We head outside as I ask him what his plans are for the day.

“Well,” he muses. “Could get pissed, I suppose?” Like this was never not going to happen, anyway. “You fancy it, Si?”

“Gotta do some graft first, mate,” I say, pulling on the first of many of Jed’s Lamberts.

“Oh, you ain’t, are you?” He whines. “I ain’t coming with you again. I got coming here for 3 months as a reward last time.”

“I gotta, mate. I'll be sick, else,” I say, laying it on thick.

I’m angling for half his Meth. He gets double, if not more what he needs, to keep the Wolf from the door every day. He normally swaps it for a drink or some blueys, but today he is the king in the king-for-a-day, cunt-for-a -fortnight giro cycle.

“I suppose I could give you my excess, if you sort us a Frosty shat in the week.”

“Oh, that’s a lovely offer, mate, are you sure? I’d still need to get a few bits for the voddy, but not a lot,” I say.

“Don’t worry about that. I'll get you drink,” he offers, kindly. Mug. “Just return the favor,” he says, adding a condition I have no intention of keeping.

“Yea, course, mate. Course,” I assure Jed, in my best sincere voice.

We flick the fags over the edge of the rail, bouncing them off the nearest car bonnet, and go back inside just as Noncey is being shown out by Judith.

I don’t sit down, expecting her to call me through, but she turns on her heels and heads back towards the door.

“Hey! Ain’t we having this fucking appointment?” I shout, after her.

‘Simon, that’s three people you have verbally abused since being here. I’m going to ask you to leave and mark you down as a breach for non-attendance,” she says.

“Huh?” I say. “You mean I don’t have to come?”

“I’m not seeing you today, no,” she says.

And it’s for verbal abuse?” I ask, hoping.

“Yes.”

“Oh. Well I might as well make it worth it, then. . . . You fucking shit-cunt-ugly- fuck! Ya saggy-titted bitch!” I shout, as she walks through the door.

I turn to Jed and shrug with a smile. “Right, I’m off down Tesco. I’ll meet you back here in an hour,” I say.

As I’m walking towards town, I feel like a winner. I’ve not had to sit with that bitch and I’ve got a free day on the wreck, out of Jed.

Mind you, Judith is no doubt thinking the same, she has got out of sitting in a room with my smelly arse and she has got to punish me for it, too. 

A real win-win situation.

 

 

After spending his childhood lying to his mother about eating all the crisps, Pete now lives with his wife and on top of lying about eating all the crisps, he has put his habit of fibbing to good use and started writing fiction. Enjoying success in the short story world, Pete’s first short story was published by Bykerbooks in March 2011. Later the same year, he was a runner up in the Lightship publishing flash fiction competition. Not content with short stories, Pete also jointly started a blog called Close to the Bone, which in the first year, got thirty thousand views and made no money whatsoever. His debut novel, So Low, So High, is completed and looking for a home.'

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