I'm lying on the beach in Florida thinking back a couple of weeks ago, and grateful that I'm wearing my baggy swimming shorts rather than my preferred Speedos.
"John, got a minute?"
Always a bad sign. "John, get in here NOW" means get ready with a defence, the customer don't like somefink. "John, got a job for you" means you'll get paid rather than laid off. But this? This means he wants something. It's Friday, I'm off next week. I can guess already. I want me holiday. It's only fair innit?
"'ave a seat son" It must be serious "Coffee?" Oh my God! The last time e offered to make me a cup of coffee was the interview 5 years ago. It's Lidl's bargain brand, not something to die for, but heh! this won't happen again until hell freezes over"
"Cheers Mike, white, three sugars". What? I 'ave a sweet tooth. "What's up?"
He waits until the coffee is made and delivered. "Got a job, has to start next week. I KNOW you've got next week off, I KNOW I shouldn't ask, but I also know you aren't going anywhere"
"I'm decorating my pad, busman's 'oliday aint it"
"Look John, I wouldn't ask but this is big. I'll pay you time and a half"
I sense a negotiating position and look blank, like the extra money means nuffin.
"Okay, okay, I'll pay you double time"
I smile, this is starting to look interesting.
"It's some photoshoot place, they just rung up like, no negotiating, just offered oodles of cash. Even paying you double I'm making a good profit"
That was a mistake. I sense room for more manoeuvre here.
"Why not get a couple of the young'uns to do it? They'd be cheaper and probably work harder"
"But not better. They stressed it has to be right! No mistakes, no rework. You can work whatever hours you like to get it done in the week. They've just got the contract with some new customer and the whole place has to be in the corporate colours by the time the executive team arrive to check out photo shoots. I need the best, a reliable pair of hands I can leave to get on with it. You're the best"
"You do a good job of buttering me up" I smiled "the trouble is" I lied "my old mum is coming to visit next weekend and I want the place to look sparkling"
"I thought your Mum died in a car crash two years ago. Didn't you take a week off for the funeral an'all?"
Damn he had a good memory. Brazen it out.
"Nah, that weren't me mum. But you can see I've got a problem"
"'ow about if Ned and Tim go round and do your gaff? I know they're young and inexperienced but they are keen. Be a good test for them to 'ave a job all to themselves"
Result! I looked doubtful and then nodded slowly.
"Okay, I suppose. I could take me week off a couple of weeks later"
"Great! I'll let 'm know you'll be there Monday morning after you've collected the paint. 'eres the order"
"I'll get it Saturday, then I can 'it the ground running first thing Monday morning"
"That's why you're the best, you go the extra mile my son"
He was already edging me to the door, my coffee half drunk, One crisis solved, next to deal with. Mike was a wheeler-dealer, he'd sell his sister to an arab for the right money, or his brother come to that. I really liked 'im.
"I'd 'ave done it for time and a half Mike, you must really want this contract"
"I'd 'ave paid you a bonus on top John, I DO really want this contract. It's not just the money they're paying for this one,.There's more to come out of this, I can feel it in me water"
Monday morning I arrive at 143 Gretsham Street. Photenterprise Inc. doesn't tell you much as a name. They do corporate photoshoot jobs (I looked them up over the weekend). A tall, leggy blond with no tits 'greeted' me. That is to say she barely looked up, waved a vague arm to towards the toilets.
"It's the third sink, it's dripping"
"I ain't the plumber darlin' guess again"
She looked up "Well what do you want" (subtext was "you 'orrible little oik, you're ruining my latte and croissant")
"I'm the tax inspector ain I? That's why me van parked outside says 'Decorator' on the side"
"Tax inspector? We aren't expecting you are we?" Tall, leggy, blond and thick. Some people just can't avoid meeting expectations.
"Nah luv. Only joking, I'm the decorator you booked for a rush job"
Her face cleared, she even managed a smile and ushered me into the boss's office. Clearly this really was a big deal if miss fancy pants could manage to totter from her reception desk all the way to an office that was as big as my flat! Nice arse though. In a skirt that my old Dad would have described as 'a belt' and I would call very satisfactory.
John the decorator, that's me. Also willing to fulfil all the expectations of the middle class by being a lusty, lustful, Neanderthal that you wouldn't leave your teenage daughters alone by the house swimming pool with. Said teenage daughters do (I can promise you) occasionally like 'a bit of rough' to season the boring list of hooray Henrys, chinless Clives, and boring Boris-s that they normal bed.
The boss looked a bit of a dragon. No sexism intended, if she was a bloke I might have said bastard. But, well, I guess you need to be to get to the top of even a littul tree, Mike certainly could be, no, usually was.
She looked up "You gay?"
"Nah, course I'm bleedin' not" Nuffin against gays you understand. Some of my best friends are gay. No, really! My cousin is; he's okay. He taught me a lot about dressin' better and stuff; and he's good to 'ave around with girls, they feel safer with 'im along. I'm just sayin'; that's the way it is. But I'M not one okay? I just like me hair well-groomed, I like cravats, always have; and I like to smell nice. Why the 'ell not?
She looked down again "Pity"
That kind of threw me. But, takes all sorts.
"Yes Miss Bridger?" A slim girl appeared, not in 'igh 'eels, in Gucci loafers, stretch jeans and an untucked shirt with one too few buttons undone at the top. Enough to give you an idea wivvout the full view. Nice view, what I could see though.
"This is Sam, she'll be your Girl Friday while you are here. You want coffee? Sam will get it, Sam will ask you what you want from the sandwich van. And if you end up working late (and I hope you do), she'll get you something; we have accounts with Yo Sushi, oh and I think a Pizza place" she looked at me "You look more of a Pizza bloke". She pronounced bloke in a mock East End accent.
Now, as it 'appens I do like a pizza, but I weren't gonna be talked down to by this posh slapper. I just stared at her, straight into her eyes, even ignored her artificially enhanced boobs (with difficulty) until she looked away. Just like a dog, stare 'em out. Later I found me self thinking of her as a dog again, on all fours with me pumping 'er like a good 'un. Like I say, I'm a red-blooded male. If it walks and wears a skirt I'll give it a go.
Sam was really Samantha (course she was) and doing work experience, so, what? 15, 16? Nah, I'm not a cradle snatching pervert, so definitely off the menu. Still, nice eye candy even if it wasn't for touching.
We talked about the job, boss-bitch was obviously shitting herself; it had to be complete by next Monday. Bloody 'ell this was gonna be 'ard work. Not difficult, just painting all the walls in this specific tint of mauve that the customer liked. I could do it asleep. Might 'ave to to get it done on time. Hence the 'elp to keep me at it.
Three photo shoot rooms, four offices, long corridor and reception; plus toilets and a couple of other undefined rooms.
"It'll need two coats to hide the beige" I said. I was pretty sure this wasn't true, but always good to get the customer expecting the worst in case it was.
"You'd better get started then!" she barked.
"Alright Luv, keep yur knickers on!" I replied, knowing now I'd 'ave to be really obnoxious before she'd dare get rid of me. I wouldn't normally talk to a customer like that, but she was asking for it. Respect should be two ways, I was a professional at me job.
I opted to start on an empty office. I figured boss-bitch could move in there while I did her (did her office I mean!). See, like I said, professional, whatever the customer is like; an' I didn't know if this contract was payable on successful, on-time, completion. I figured not, Mike was too canny for that, but boss-bitch might have his number; I reckoned they could be evenly matched.
So I've just layed out the dust sheets and started to paint when blow me! A posh bird (you could tell by the way she walked) in a lacy wrap and little else walked down the corridor! I nearly fell off me stepstool! Sam came back with me coffee; first of many.
"Did you see that?" I said
Five girls in bikinis went back the other way!
"Look!" Apparently my face looked like a cross between the cat that got the cream and a cat waking up inside a kennel. Wow! Brilliant! Oh! Shit! But brilliant! You'll cock this up you spanner!
She was giggling now. "You do know what this place is don't you?"
"What's that? Oh, no, it's a photographic agency, They've just got the contract to do the next El Bamba catalogue. El Bamba? I bet your girlfriend has one of their catalogues, and I bet you've drooled over the pictures"
Cheeky cow! Probably true, but still, cheeky cow! By now she was well-nigh peeing herself she was laughing so much, At this precise moment Tiff, that's Tiffany really, came in.
"Hello? Just seeing if there's anything you need. You seem to have a good audience?"
"I was just explaining what you do here. John thought we might be a brothel" said Sam, between gulps of air.
I was redder than, than a very red thing and still getting more embarrassed. Why hadn't Mike told me? Apparently I found out later, he didn't know either. Blokes eh? Fick as bricks!
After she went. I said something like how people were friendly here.
"No, she's checking up on you. That's big sis. She wants to make sure I'm okay"
Oh, so, not so much interested in me having everything I need, more making sure I'm not taking everything I want, like an underage nymphette. Still, nice that she cares.
The day carried on with pretty girls wandering up and down the corridor. Word got around about there being a man in the building and most started wearing a bath robe from the changing rooms to the photo shoot rooms. There was another man, Michael the photographer, but he was as bent as a paperclip so no-one took any notice. I liked Michael straight away, we talked cameras and got on well. People noticed and made those gossipy assumptions people do and suddenly I was the gay painter who had known Michael since school! By Tuesday the girls were back wandering around in clothes that your granny would say you'd catch cold in in the Sahara. I decided to leave the gossip as it was for now; it kept the view more scenic if you get me drift.
Monday evening and the Sloans put on the Burberries and the Chelsea set put on their faux furs and went. When the office closed, I moved into reception. Here I would give it two coats, maybe three. Depth of colour see? Gives an air of quality. And reception is the one place that can only be done out of hours. Businesses, without exception, don't like reception to be messy. It's that first impression you see. Like I say, I'm a professional.
Boss-bitch came out of her office at 8pm and saw we were still there, went back in and then : "I've ordered you a couple of pizzas" This time I didn't bridle. That was nice of her. Maybe she's more posh-boss I thought. "Will you two be okay working late?"
I tried a reassuring smile "We'll be fine".
I realised immediately the smile probably looked like a leer and she'd read it as "yeah darlin' I'll be up little Sam as soon as you leave the building".
I reconsidered "Actually there's no reason for you to stay Sam, I won't be here much longer, hour maybe, two hours tops. You can go 'ome if you like; unless you want that pizza?"
Posh boss-bitch (PBB for short) visibly relaxed and they left together. An' I got on with the painting. I finished late and decided to come in early, it was good working in the quiet without the distraction of having a hard-on between your legs you could tie a paint brush to and do the ceiling. Not that the ceilings were part of the contract.
Tuesday I was in early and had another office done before the troops arrived and started distracting me with tits, arse and legs up to their arm pits. Sam, Tiff and posh, bimbo receptionist moved PBB's stuff into one of the empty offices and I started on her's. I made sure I did a good job there; keep the boss sweet. Sure enough another pizza on offer that evening. Geez, I'll be the size of a tank I thought; but I coped. Another coat on the reception. The colour was growing on me.
I decided to get in early, the girls didn't arrive till around 10 so I could make a good start on the changing room. It was really just a room with only one window (covered over) and some tables, a mirror and lockers. I moved the lockers into the middle and was painting away, didn't notice the time until this bird flew in effin' and blindin' in a really posh accent. Like, imagine the Queen if Prince Phillip dropped a corgi on her foot.
"Oh, fucking hell, I'm so bloody late. I am really fucked, this frigging bra will not undo!"
"Eh?" I thought and looked round the lockers. Sure enough, she's standing there with her arse barely covered by some lacey knickers and struggling with her bra strap. She sees me and I expect a scream; but no, I'm the gay painter ain' I?
"Oh, John, can you undo this for me? There's a dear".
I unclip her bra and before I'm back at me paintin' she has her tits out and is sprayin' fake tan on the, very small, part that has clearly not seen the sun this year. Apparently the next shots are to emphasis the sexy panties so nothin' else is to be worn so as not to distract.
"Got news for you" I thought "half your readership is unlikely to drag their eyes low enough to see the panties. Oh, 'allo. Maybe I'm wrong" I realise these knickers really don't hide much physical detail.
She goes, I paint, and the 5 bikini-girls from Monday come in and start getting changed for a new shoot. I cough, polite like, and one looks round at me, smiles, asks how I'm getting' on and then they carry on as if I'm not there! Not just getting changed, oh no. They are pulling off clothes and putting on clothes as they talk.
"So did he?"
"And was he good"
"Well, you were right about that tongue, he was really good, I felt cleaned out inside and very, very, VERY, satisfied"
"I hope you rewarded him"
"He's been after my arse for weeks, so I let him"
"All the way in?"
"Yes, it was tight at first, and a bit weird, because I haven't let a boy do it that way since I was thirteen. But it was kind of fun, and he was SOOOO grateful. He rubbed me afterwards too, really gently, ooooo it was nice!"
"You had anal at thirteen?"
"Yes, girls boarding school, only boy for miles was the groundsman's son, we all lusted after him. We were all terrified of getting pregnant, so he got to do us up the arse. He was 16, got caught with Malinda Van Outrei who looked 16 but was really 12. Young offenders institute and sex register. Still, he didn't blab, and he must have some great memories"
I couldn't listen anymore and went for a jimmy riddle. Did I mention that this office had just the one toilet? All the staff are girls see? I went in and locked the door and a girl came in next door. I had to wait until she went I didn't want 'er to 'ear me. But I 'eard 'er alright. I heard the skirt being pulled up, the knickers pulled down, the arse cheeks hitting the seat and the pee cascading into the toilet. I even 'eard the sigh of relief. I wanted, desparately, to see who it was; but two reasons why I couldn't look. One it would have been rude, and two, and much more importantly, the tree-trunk between me legs was making it impossible for me to pee me-self and it was very uncomfortable!