Tossing the G string to one side Nigel selected a pair of skimpy gold coloured underpants with two eyes, a moulting black Mexican style moustache and a long pink plastic nose sewn onto the front of them.
“Tools of the trade,” he explained clutching his stomach.
“Aaah! My mouth opened and shut, opened again, shut. The action reminded me of a guppy I’d had as a kid, Did it all the time until my brother put our neighbours tomcat in the aquarium with it.
“I though you were a comedian.” I said inanely.
“No.” He snatched a white posing pouch out of his bag and used it wiped away the beads of perspiration that suddenly spouted from the pores on his forehead. Giving the now soggy pouch a sour look, he tossed it on the floor before adding. “Your boss said you were a bit wet round the ears. I didn’t believe it at the time.”
My hackles rose as he selected a threadbare off the shoulder fake leopard skin leotard, along with black ski mask.”
“Jason’s not my bloody boss.”
“No, not that twat.” He carefully laid a red trimmed black cape alongside the leopard spotted leotard.
“Herself, the blonde with the nice tits and a tongue that could peel a lemon, Sally.” He grimaced as another stomach spasm made his muscles contract. “She said you were too many sandwiches short of a picnic to be an investigator, but you were big enough to sort the local tough nuts when they got a bit out of order. “
Involuntarily I squared my shoulders until the sandwiches bit sunk in, but by then it was to late to say anything.
Dropping the oversize eye patch with a Jolly Roger printed on it that he was draping artistically over the long pink plastic nose, he grabbed his stomach with his right hand. After giving me a wild look, akin to panic, he retched, clamped his left hand over his mouth and with a muted wail of anguish stumbled through the curtain between the dressing room and the bog.
I was staring through the curtain at Nigel doing a break dance on the damp cracked tiles of the toilet floor when a voice close beside my ear said. “He’s got another ten minutes. Now they want another game of Bingo first.”
I clambered through into the toilet, managed to trap Nigel in his gyrations and felt his forehead. He was burning up with fever.
“I said, they want another game of Bingo first.” I felt this hot breath on my neck as he peered over my shoulder. “Bugger me, he’s at it again, tell…
“He needs a doctor, where’s your phone.” I snapped standing up sharply. It hurt my shoulder, but not as much as my shoulder hurt his nose.
“Yoofe maffe miffe noffe bleefe”
He wasn’t wrong, a cascade of bright red blood had spurted down the front of his shirt and painted surrealistic patterns on the faded check of his suit.
Served him right for breathing down my neck.(If I remember correctly, in the Dollywood version I actually beat him to death with the weighted end of a pool cue).
Ten minutes later, having called for an ambulance for Nigel, stopped the Manager’s ‘noffe’ from ‘bleefin’ I phoned our office to try and find out if Jason knew if Nigel had a Welsh agent and if so, how I could contact him or her that the only strip her artiste was going to do was out of his vomit stained clothes and into his pyjamas.
As it turned out I needed have rehearsed what I was going to say because all I got was Jason’s affected answer phone voice telling me that all PISSESS investigative operatives were out on assignation, and to call again later if you still need a DICK.
I was busy packing up Nigel’s gear, an ambulance had whisked him away in double quick time to whatever pain factory it came from, when a fairly tubby girl of around seventeen timidly stuck her head around the dressing room door and said. “’Me da wants to know when you’re going on, cos they’ve add free more games of Bingo free, and they want the turn.”
“There is no turn. He’s sick, gone. If he tries very hard, I’m sure your Da will remember helping to put him in the ambulance.” I smiled into her blank eyes. “I’m packing up his things, then I’m leaving.”
She wasn’t listening. “Where’s ‘is standin then?”
“There is no stand-in. Your dad will just have to cancel and give them some of their money back, that’s all.” Seemed simple to me, not to her.
“I’ll tell my Da”
I shrugged; She could do what she liked.
“He’ll have something to say I’m sure.”
“So have I” I said as I finally managed to force Nigel’s bag shut against the escapologist attempts of the long plastic nose. “Goodbye”.
I almost made it to the exit before I was ambushed by the bloody club manager, two formidable looking middle aged women and, surprise, surprise, my bloody brother Jason.
Virtually frogmarched into the man’s office, I was forced into a chair by the menacing proximity of a mighty bosom. Ignoring my contemptuous scowl Jason asked cryptically. “No job too small, a bro?”
”What are you talking about?” I had to ask although I doubted his answer would make any more sense that the question.
“Show must go on eh. Can’t let the side down.”
I was right. As my brother has the intellect of a roll of wallpaper I could be forgiven for still not being fully in the picture. I, it seemed, was the only person who wasn’t.
“She’s agreed to give you a bit extra time to get ready see.” She of the menacing bosom said as she snatched Nigel’s bag out of my hand and began rummaging through it.
“Nice of her in the circs”, my brother agreed, moving round to try and get a peek into the bag.
“Not much choice, considering.” Club manager, still dabbing, without success with a wet sponge at the bloodstains on his suit.
“Ruin her do if all she gets tonight is the bingo”. Second matron, less imposing frontage but with arms like a prop forward.
“Oh I’m sure she’ll get a bit more than that” menacing bosom gave a dirty sounding laugh as she held up a skimpy black leather posing pouch with an embroidered red Indian face, sporting a sown on bedraggled orange feather and an obscene brown floppy rubber tongue.
I hadn’t seen that when I’d looked in his bag.
Grinning, she waggled the thing in front of my face and grinned at me and it crossed my mind that she had quite a pleasant face in a threatening sort of way. “That should give her something to think about, shouldn’t it my handsome.” she said puckering her lips suggestively.
“Now ladies, children present.” Club Manager
Braving a buffeting from reinforced 48” chest, I eased myself out of the chair. “Would someone care to tell me what the fu…,” whoops children present, “what everybody is talking about?”
“Its Muriel’s 18th birthday treat see, Bingo, then the stripper. We all work in the tyre factory, clubbed together see, be a girls night out for all of us. “ She of the forearms added, strong valleys accent coming through, which explained the bad case of dress sense. “ Been looking forward to the stripper see, Muriel didn’t talk about anything else all day at work other than the stripper, see.”
I shrugged sympathetically. “Sorry, I can see how disappointing it must be for her, but its really not my fault. A case of force majeure.”
“False what?” Jason asked screwing is nose up which was his version of looking superior.
“Be a case of fuckin murder if someone don’t do the turn.” Club manager.
I thought of reminding him that there was a child present, but thought better of it. “Force majeure. It means circumstances beyond ones control.” I explained to my dim witted brother.
“I knew that.” He answered, resisted the urge to make some inane comment like ‘just checking’ turned to the two women, manager and daughter, gave them his best used car salesman’s smile. “ Don’t worry” he said soothingly, “Jet will do it.”
‘Do what?’ I was about to ask, then it dawned. “No I won’t” I said vehemently. No way. No…sodding…way. Subject closed”
Jason suddenly lurched sideways as somebody behind him pushed him hard out of the way.
“Yes… you…sodding… will.” Sally said, “and that’s final.”
It turned out Jason was as unprepared as I was for Sally’s sudden and unexpected appearance. Last he’d heard was that she was still in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Ireland</st1:country-region> with my car and a <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Dublin</st1:place></st1:city> bookie.
Nor did we have anytime to find out why or when she had come back because she disappeared at the same speed she’d appeared, this time with one arm linked to menacing bosom and the other to prop forward forearms.
The agonised squeal of a microphone suffering severe feedback had the effect of pushing all thoughts of my brothers detestable woman out of my mind.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen” squeal, squeal, unconvincing laugh from the club manager, “Sorry, I mean just ladies.” Long drawn out howl as he tried to unclip the mike from its stand.
The floor began to vibrate as the women in the auditorium began to stamp their feet. It reminded me of the sound the Zulus had made bashing spears against their shields in the film of the same name. It also sounded just as terrifying.
(In the Gollywood version they had a Kazoo band and half a dozen cheerleaders. When the French epic directed by Maurice Capricious graces the silver screen I imagine there will be some middle-aged to ancient geezer playing an accordion, backed up by half a dozen women in regional costume doing a clog dance.)
Sound of amplified throat clearing, then. “Sorry you had to wait so long, but unfortunately,” the stamping grew loud enough to frighten the Zulu’s, “your Artiste for this evening ‘Naughty Nigel’ has been taken sick; in fact they’ve taken him to the hospital”.
Stunned silence followed by shrieks of anger interspersed with death threats.
Definite panic in his voice as he said between squeals of feedback. “But…but, so you won’t be disappointed, after a high speed dash and at great expense the management…”, voice drowned out by very loud catcalls “…by one of his very satisfied customers…”
Loud thud, which sounded as though he’d dropped the mike, followed by an amplified woman’s voice “That’s true girls, very satisfied.”
From behind the curtain a woman in the audience screamed “Let’s get a look at ‘im then”, whilst Jason, staring at me suspiciously, asked “What’s she mean Bro, very satisfied?”
I had no idea what his bloody woman meant, nor did I have time to work it out. The club manager came back on after, I imagine, wrestling the mike from Sally.
“All the way from Measlyg we have… we have…?” Mumble of Sally’s voice, “…Macho Mike”, horrendous howl of feedback, “…the Magnificent.”
My mouth fell open in horror as pushing me through the threadbare curtain onto the stage, my shit of a brother said gleefully, “Go for it Bro… ‘Macho’”.
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