"Amshterdam ish the washte dishposal capital of Europe," the Irishman said drunkenly before drawing on a monster spliff.
"Seems like paradise to us," Rich Hutson said. He took a draw on the same spliff.
Shit, this shit was potent.
He coughed out some smoke before passing it on to his friend Shaun Laymon. They'd come over for a weekend trip to see the sights and more importantly sample the nightlife. Or rather sample the booze, drugs and hookers.
"Ah but you shee," the Irishman gave them a cunning glance. "All thish shit. The drugsh, the boozshe, the hookersh. It's jusht the whashemacallit ... honey ... to draw in the shuckersh."
Laymon and Hutson had spent the first two nights getting completely wasted. Tonight they were trying to pluck up enough courage to cross number three off the list.
"Look at thish plaish," the Irishman said with an expansive sweep of his arm. Laymon caught the empty pint glass before it hit the floor. "Yoo got all theshe coffee — feckin' let'sh be honesht about it — dope shopsh and where are they?"
The Irishman fixed them with a mad eye. Hutson sincerely hoped he wasn't about to throw up.
"Right nexsht to the canalsh that'sh where. Now who thought that wash a good idea? One too many drinksh and ... shploosh..." The Irishman mimed a diving motion with his hand and nearly fell off his chair. " ... down in the drink wi' yer. More than a few poor pisshed shoulsh gone out tha' way I tell yer."
Laymon and Hutson watched the man's antics in good humour. There were some right characters in these little bars.
"And the shtairs in these buildings. You need fecking mountain'ing gear to ger up 'em. I tell yer, one too many drinksh, few too many puffsh and urk."
The Irishman twisted his head to mime his neck snapping.
Hutson could sympathise with that view. The stairs at the cheap dive they were staying at were fucking lethal.
"And don' ge' me shtarted on the feckin' tramsh! Or the feckin' bikesh. A poor idjit off hish head on boozshe and dope ain't got a feckin' prayer in thish city."
Hutson stepped off his chair. The toilets were calling and he needed to offload some pints.
"It'sh th' plan," The Irishman called drunkenly after him. "They draw in all th' idjits from acrossh Europe, get 'em so washted they can' stand up an' then get rid o' them."
When Hutson came back the Irishman was face down on the table and snoring loudly. He looked at Laymon.
"Right, let's do it."
Laymon's first exposure to Amsterdam's fabled red light district had been on the Friday afternoon when they'd arrived in the city. It had been a real eye opener. They'd turned down a street and suddenly found themselves staring at girl standing behind a glass door wearing nothing but her underwear and a smile.
At that time of day the red light district was heaving. What surprised Laymon were the people he saw walking along the canals and down the narrow streets. He expected the sadsacks with the librarian glasses and furtive gaits; he expected the seedy looking businessmen; he expected the groups of beered up lads. What he didn't expect were the number of seemingly respectable looking tourists. There were plenty of people walking round who wouldn't have looked out of place at a museum or art gallery. There were even guided tours.
The other surprise had been just how many of the girls had been jaw-droppingly beautiful. Even Hutson, who'd come to Amsterdam primarily for the drugs, had been impressed.
"Wow, fuck me, I might be tempted for that," he'd said on seeing a particularly hot blonde.
Obviously there had been exceptions.
"What do you think?" Laymon asked. He had a slight thing for oriental girls, but often wished they weren't quite so flat-chested. This particular girl had no problems at all in the breast department.
"Uh dude, you ... uh ... know she's a he right?"
"What, no way." Laymon looked at her more carefully. She looked perfectly fuckable to him. "How can you tell?"
Hutson pointed to his own throat where his Adam's apple bobbed up and down.
Laymon looked back ... and then quickly turned away, his face glowing as Hutson cracked up behind him.
There were all sorts of girls of all nationalities. Laymon and Hutson stopped in a street full of big-titted African girls. One of them, a regular big momma, tried to get their attention by tapping on the glass with a ring.
"Go on, ask her how much," Hutson nudged him.
The girl had big tits, but that was pretty much the par for the rest of her body. Her thighs looked like they could crack nuts. Grim, Laymon thought, how did they ever get any business? Then he saw a stag party throw an unwilling groom-to-be through the entrance two doors down.
"Go on," Hutson nudged again.
"You must be fucking joking," Laymon replied. He was scared if he opened the door she'd yank him inside and he'd never get out again.
A camera flash went off next to them and was immediately followed by a scream of abuse. A glass door slammed open. They watched as a sheet-white Japanese tourist hared off down the street with a big black woman in hot pursuit. She was yelling insults and waving a long steel dildo like a club.
"Love this city," Hutson said as they both cracked up.
The red light district after midnight on a Sunday night was a different place to the red light district of a Friday afternoon. The tourists, and the crowds, had gone. The only people Hutson saw either tried to sell him drugs, were so wasted they could barely walk or wore the furtive looks of punters in a frantic inner battle with either their morality or cowardice.
Hutson wondered if they'd left it too late.
It was closing time, even for the red light district. Most of the doorways were curtained up, the lights switched off. The few girls remaining had a 'last chicken in the shop' feel about them.
There were still some good ones left though.
"She's not bad," Hutson said as they looked down some steps to where an elegant brunette lounged in a chair.
"Yeah," Laymon replied.
They stood at the top of the steps for a few moments, an awkward silence between them, both waiting for the other to do something. Finally they moved on.
They found a blonde with the pumped up lips and breasts of a porn star. She sat on a chair and looked thoroughly bored.
"Imagine those lips wrapped around your cock," Hutson said.
"Or those breasts in your face," Laymon said.
There was another awkward pause.
"You gonna?" Laymon asked.
Neither made a move.
"Let's check out the others," Hutson said, "we can always come back."
They moved on.
They found a girl they hadn't seen before in a small courtyard away from the main thoroughfares. She was in the corner, her glass door at the top of a small flight of steps. The lamp above her door shone with a green light rather than the UV blue of the other doors. It gave her long, silky blonde hair a greenish tinge. She was the only girl still working in the courtyard and her body looked good enough from a distance for them to climb the stairs for a closer look.
She looked even better close up. Coils of green metal, exotic jewellery, looped around the toned limbs of a dancer. She wore a gauzy white blouse over her plain white underwear but it hid nothing, only added soft focus to the flesh beneath. Her breasts weren't as large as the porn star blonde's they'd seen earlier, but her features seemed softer and more natural. Her face had high cheekbones and combined with the aloof way she held herself gave her an almost aristocratic bearing.
There was something about this girl the others didn't seem to have. The brunette had flashed them a forced come-hither smile while the blonde hadn't even acknowledged they were there. This girl neither ignored them nor tried to beckon them on. She watched them with a haughty indifference as if daring them to find the courage to approach her.
There was another awkward pause, each waiting to see if the other would do anything first.
They moved on.
They found their way back to the porn star blonde, stood outside the door for a few awkward moments and then moved on.
Hutson stopped Laymon after they walked around the corner. It was approaching three in the morning. The number of open windows was vastly outnumbered by the number of curtained off ones. If they didn't do anything soon they'd miss their chance.
"We split up," he said. "That way neither of us will know for sure if the other did or didn't do it."
"Meet back at the bar in an hour?" Laymon suggested.
"Yeah, see you then."
Now should he or shouldn't he, Laymon thought?
He had the euros. All he needed to do was knock on the door.
The prospect terrified him, but it was the pleasurable terror of a roller-coaster or horror movie. Mixed in was the excitement of what would happen once he crossed the threshold into the room.
Laymon leant against the railings by the canal feeling raging hormones mix with the drugs and alcohol surging through him. Beneath him the canal was pitch-black and silent. His mind wandered as he remembered the Irishman and he pictured old decomposed skeletons hiding down there in the dark depths.
There was still the stigma. Paying for it was like admitting you couldn't pick up girls normally.
He suspected Hutson had suggested they split up for his benefit. His friend was better looking than him and had more success with the girls. Hutson was just here for the drugs. Laymon reckoned he was already heading back to the bar to wait while his friend 'sorted himself out'.
.... There is more of this story ...