tagHumor & SatireWhen It Snows Ch. 01

When It Snows Ch. 01


The sudden cold snap at the beginning of March caught everyone on the hop, even though the Met Office had been forecasting snow for a week and were very specific in the detail of their forecast just the night before the snow came.

So I woke that morning to about two inches of very icy snow sitting on top of half an inch of solid ice from earlier rain falling onto frozen ground. It was very windy in sharp gusts and the tiny ice crystals of snow were blowing into drifts up to a foot deep. The Council had been sending gritting lorries up and down the Esplanade all night. I knew that for a fact, I saw them trundling by and spraying me with sharp rock crystals on my way home just after midnight from the Pizza Dreem shop in the High Street after an evening's casual temp work doing pizza deliveries for bang on the minimum wage.

I had to make my way back into the High Street again first thing in the morning to see if the Acme Placement Bureau could find me another couple of days' casual work this week, Harinder from the pizza shop had already said he didn't need me any more as his "sick dude was now okaydoky", as he put it.

The monthly mortgage and ground rent on my place were both due on Friday and I was more or less an Isaac short. Also, I had to walk down to the Bureau that morning even though the pavements down the streets were like sheets of glass.

My piece-of-shit 20-odd-year-old classic Jaguar XJ12 rust-bucket gas-gurgling excuse for a fucking motorcar packed up last week and I had no way of repairing it or of even getting it home from where I left it conked out miles away on the by-pass. I had asked my old mate Macleod to pick it up and take it to his shop a couple of days ago but he just laughed at me. One favour too many on my part I guess.

When I was a kid, fifty years ago now, my parents brought me, Barry Chamberlain, and my two older brothers and a sister down to this resort every single summer. There used to be a rather rundown holiday camp on the outskirts of the town and, although tacky as tuppence, it was perfect for young families who didn't have the resources for much else. Us kids were organised into various activities all day so we were knackered and slept like corpses by nightfall. There was entertainment and cheap booze laid on for the parents in the evening, with chalet patrols on hand to ensure the kids were safe asleep. We kids loved those visits to the seaside, our mums and dads loved it too, and the owners loved it most of all, so they could have their holidays in the Caribbean.

When I had kids of my own, two boys from my first marriage, we brought them down here regularly. Even brought my second wife and kid down too for a while when Katherine was a small girl, Shirley and I both sharing similar memories of our parents bringing us here when we were kids, although we never actually met each other back then.

So there I was, six years ago at the age of 52, with no family around (Shirley, the second missus had fucked off after an affair with her boss, my daughter thereafter wanted fuck-all to do with me and, of my first family, one boy had gone gas drilling to Canada, the other to Australia for aquatic research, the first missus? Fuck-knows or cares where she went).

Thus I decided to move to the resort that held such wonderful memories for me to live permanently. I didn't just go blind, I took out a 70% loan at stupid-fucking-percent interest for the 30-year lease of a small cafe with a two-bed apartment and a tiny studio flat above, pulled on a masculine pinnie and a chef's hat and thought I was set comfortably making all-day breakfasts and basic short order lunches for the rest of my natural fucking life.

Then shit happened. The recession meant that crowds of tourists stopped coming to the resort. My cafe was a bit off the beaten track so I stopped getting the overflow I used to get from the High Street and Esplanade trade. So subsequently I was forced to close up my lovely cafe and the larger of the two flats. I was still paying the swindling arsehole shyster bastards at the fucking bank for the exorbitant lease on the whole crap caboodle but at least I was able to sublease the shop and the main flat to a trader. He was a fucking great big guy called Donovan, selling customised printed tee-shirts on the Internet, so I was only left with the shithole studio flat which was almost impossibly squashed into the roof space. Still, I'll have the whole run of the place again at the end of the month when Donovan moves out to bigger premises. At least one company was thriving in the recession.

After about three months of absolutely fuck-all coming in after I closed the cafe, I was still having to pay the fucking bills, but I managed to get nearly two years of fractionally above minimum wage work in the packing department of a timber yard on the estuary next to the resort. Then, thanks to the downturn in the building industry, I got laid off by the six months ago, a full month before I automatically qualified for redundancy payment. The fucking cunts! Like I said, shit happens time after fucking time.

Since then I had a total of four and a half days of work at minimum wage to my credit in six months. The debit side, which kept on happening, didn't bare fucking thinking about. At least I was able to bring home a spare pizza last night so I was able to have both supper and breakfast, which was a rarity of late.

Even my bloody cat eats better than me, and he's not even my fucking cat. He came with the flat and when I moved out into the vacate studio in the attic above, which I had previously used for storage, he moved up there with me. I think he was intimidated by the big guy covered in tattoos and metal studs who moved into the shop and flat. I don't blame the cat, Donovan frightened the bejesus out of me too. It may have been the balance of the original 144 tins of tuna that was left in storage in the studio flat after the cafe went tits up that determined the cat's residential status. The fussy fucker wouldn't touch normal cat food, the first time I tried him on a tin of Whiskas, actually the very first day I moved in and became aware of my fauna inheritance, the fat bastard piddled in the corner of the sitting room, hence his rechristened name, Piddles. At least he didn't shit indoors, just every fucking inch of my fucking alleyway.

Anyway, Karen, the supercilious cunt down at the placement bureau, had fuck-all for me as was per fucking usual and then she dropped the bombshell that the pizza guy was unlikely to pay the bureau until the end of this week, so I wouldn't subsequently get paid until the end of fucking next week, which meant rent wise I was basically fucked.

I tripped grumpily down their narrow stairs. The bureau was situated in offices above an estate agents. As I came out of the doorway with my mind really concentrated elsewhere, I stepped onto the icy fucking pavement and went arse over tit and down like a sack of spuds dropped off a delivery truck.

Oohff! I landed painfully on my thin bony arse and one of my not-so-funny-bone elbows, while my feet continued to describe a perfect arc and consequently the back of my head also struck the pavement with a resounding thud. I was carrying a haversack on one shoulder. It only carried my empty wallet, a much-used litre bottle refilled with tap water for refreshment and half a dozen fucking library books which I needed to return that very day to avoid the overdue fines that I couldn't afford to pay if I left them one more bloody day.

That damn heavy bag swung around and, like a cunt, it landed right on the tip of my fucking nose. Bastard thing! I was lying there, me, an old guy pushing 60 and every able-bodied younger bugger walking by ignoring me, or worse, taking the fucking piss. I could hear them, although not see anything, all I could see were stars. Even if there had been real stars in the sky I wouldn't've been able to see 'em, though, because my stupid woolly hat with ear flaps had somehow got pushed over my eyes, which were watering like fuck anyway.

"Are you alright?" asked a kindly, gentle sweet woman's voice.

I felt a warm hand grip one of mine comfortingly.

"Yeah, thanks," I mumbled as I tried to get back up, feet and knees ineffectively scrambling for traction on the ice until I could at least get on my knees and drag myself up by the crumbling brickwork between the doorway and display window of the estate agents. My threadbare sweatpants were very wet from the snow and ice.

When I finally got up, I pushed the hat off my milky grey eyes and was confronted by a pair of crystal clear brilliant blue eyes reminiscent of a Norwegian fjord bathed in mid-summer sunlight.

"You don't look too good, Baz," the lovely lady continued, an amused smile playing on the upturned edges of her full crimson lips.

"Oh fuck!" I said.

"Oh!" she briefly pouted, before returning to her amused smile, "Not quite the welcome I have become accustomed to receiving from younger men who have fallen prostrate at my delicate feet."

"I meant, 'Oh fuck!' meaning you were the last f-frigging person I expected to see here, Shirl," I muttered, trying to bite my tongue to avoid saying anything unredeemably offensive.

"Why so surprised to see me, honey? We both used to love coming here for days out and for our summer holidays," she said, "Remember? Back in the day?"

"Well that was a long fucking time ago." I had forgotten I was trying to moderate my frigging language.

"And I have regretted what happened to us everyday since we stopped coming here together," she reduced her voice to a whisper, "You know you were the only man I ever truly loved."

"Yeah, until you fucked me over by shagging your cheating fucking boss. He was the one who could afford to get you the kinda lawyers who took me to the fucking cleaners, while my own legal representative, who hadn't even started shaving yet, was happy to suck your brief's arse while selling me down the bastard river into white fucking slavery. They got out of me every fucking bit of shit I had, they were so thorough I can still smell that fucking enema."

"Honey, I was acting on legal advice," she said calmly and soothingly, "Henry was just making sure I got everything I was entitled to."

"Well I hope the pair of you are very fucking happy!" I bit off at that point, looking around for my wayward fucking haversack.

As I picked it up, a stream of fucking tap water poured out of the bottom of the fucking thing and froze solid the moment it hit the fucking pavement.


I wrenched open the toggles and pulled out the four-fifths empty water bottle, the cap having gone completely fucking AWOL. Then I pulled out the first library book. It was like a bath sponge, water running out the bottom corner in a continuous stream of freezing saline water.

"Double fucking fuck!!!"

No way those fucking library books were going back today or any day soon with no heating at the flat since the gas was cut off by the fuckers at the gas company. I felt feint all of a sudden. My wet fingers were freezing cold from the wind chill factor. I hadn't been eating much lately, just the slice of pizza this morning and a couple of slices late last night. The day before that, me and Piddles shared a can of tuna, which pissed him off no end. He definitely had sharing issues, especially where I was concerned. I guess I had the same sharing issues with Shirley, six years previously.

I felt a drip of moisture on the end of my nose. Just this last couple of winters I had noticed that my nose just ran like a bastard all the time when it was cold, another sign of old age, I guess. I always remember my old grandfather continually putting a soiled damp checkered hanky to his nose when he walked me to church on a winter Sunday morning. With the state of my laundry I didn't have the luxury of a neatly-folded handkerchief, so I wiped the back of my hand along my nose and noticed it was blood that was flowing, not runny snot. I must've started a fucking nose bleed when I banged my fucking nose with my fucking bag. Sweet fuck!

I think Shirley must've thought I was going to fall over again. I wasn't conscious of swaying but in hindsight I guess I must've been. She tucked her arm around me and pulled me onto the middle of the pavement where the estate agency had thoughtfully tossed down some welcome grit and my worn-out trainer soles miraculously found some modicum of grip.

"Come on, hon," Shirley urged, "Let's get you back to your car and get you home and cleaned up. I'll even put a cold compress on that swan's egg that's popped up on the back of your head for you, and clean up your poor nose. Where's your car, honey?"

"On the sodding bypass," I said without thinking, "Piece of shit folded on me last week and I had to leave the bastard behind," I looked her fully in the eye, snarling, "Shit things like something I consider an important part of my life, just giving up on me, happens all the soddin' time, you know."

"Honey," she looked at me with those big baby blues and even I had to look away again, ashamed at the level of my bitter vindictiveness. I was still in pain and it had nothing to do with my head, nose or the stabbing pain in my sore arse cheeks. I was feeling agonising pains in my heart and soul.

An ex-wife can do that to you, even after six years.

"My car's in the estate agents' car park," Shirley said, pulling me to the covered alleyway between the estate agents and the boarded-up shop that used to be "George's Greengrocers", well it was until the new convenience store two blocks up took away all his trade. As Shirley guided me through the alleyway, mercifully clear of snow, she fumbled in her handbag and extracted her car keys. We emerged into the low spring sunlight, she clicked the button and the lights on a brand-new Mercedes convertible flashed its "welcome home, honey" signal.

'Fucking shit bollocks!' was the thought instantly groaning through my foggy head.

This shit was not at all supposed to be how this should have happened. I had dreamt of this scene hundreds of times, ever since Shirley fucking-well dumped me six years ago. In my fantasy it was her new fancy fucker husband who was the one who was supposed to be on his uppers, as all his investments went down the shitter with the economy; while she was supposed to be the poor fucking hard-done-by waif and stray that I picked up from her cardboard box alleyway home in my smart Mercedes or Jag or Aston DB-what-fucking-ever, apologetic that I could only drop her off at the Seaman's Mission or the Salvation Army centre because my new squeeze, a Russian/Swedish/French/Californian model currently on photo-shoot assignment in the Caribbean for next year's Pirelli Calendar, might hear of my good deed and get completely the wrong idea.

That was the dream, I had rehearsed it over and over, night after fucking night. This wasn't a dream, it was a fucking nightmare.

"Which way, hon?" she asked at the car park exit.

"Left .... Right ... Left again at the bottom, third shop along ... Yeah this is it ... 'to-a-T-Shirts.com', this is my stop. Just drop me off, you can leave me here. Goodbye, Shirley, nice seein' you again, have a nice life."

I was remembering how cold the flat was, the gas had been turned off by the gas company armed with a court order last week. I didn't know how long the electric would last, I was also three months behind on that, so it was only a matter of time. It was working OK when I warmed up the pizza in the microwave for breakfast but that was a couple of hours ago. It could be off already.

Then there was also the smell. I ran out of kitty litter, ooh, I guess a month ago and had to break up a few lumps and rake over a corner of that disgusting dirt box with a fork for Piddles this morning. He gave me a dirty look before fussing around to do his usual business. That cat fucking hates me, but so what, the feeling's fucking mutual.

I did have half a dozen pairs of rinsed out underpants hanging up in the tiny bathroom, I hadn't had any loose change for the launderette in the parade for the last couple of weeks, not did I have any soap powder or even a bar of soap. Last night when I looked they were stiff, frozen solid, but this morning at least one pair felt almost dry. It was very stained but at least it smelt more of Head'n'Shoulders than my arse, which was a vast improvement.

I know I've got a hairy arse, but at least lately it's been flake-free.

Then there was the matter of the galley kitchen sink, it was full of every single plate and spoon I possessed. I even had to wash up a plate this morning for my pizza; had to use the shampoo for that too, no more fairy liquid. In fact, I hardly ever buy fairy fucking liquid, I can't afford that shit.

"I want to look at that head of yours, sweetheart," said Shirley. "Don't worry, I expect your place is a tip," Shirley chuckled good-naturally, "You guys!"

I took a few sneaky looks at her while we walked up the stairs.

I was 58 and she was two years older than me, but there was no way in hell she looked 60. In anyone's currency she was 45 tops. She always looked after herself, down the gym a couple of times a week, running at weekends. Damn, I even used to run with her back in the day when I gave a fuck.

I remembered we used to shower together afterwards and make sweet love in the afterglow of the exercise. A long time ago it was now.

Shirley always dressed nice too, like the beautifully-tailored blue jacket and skirt and white blouse under her warm woollen top coat and scarf that adorned her adorable body now. She had her hair coiffured regularly, always made herself up to look effortlessly pretty glamorous. Well, she didn't have do it from a standing start like other women, she was already way prettier than average to begin with.

She worked as a personal assistant to a high-profile businessman so she always needed to look the part. How she ended up married to a deadbeat like me is a mystery, both to me and everyone of my acquaintance.

Even my own two near-teenage boys gave me high fives with a chorus of "Way to go, Dad", the first time I brought them over from their Mum's to meet and greet my then intended, a quarter of a century ago now.

I just don't understand woman at all. I know Henry had money and power and all that fucking crap, but at the end of the day he was a short, bald, fat old guy with nothing appealing about him that I could see, other than enormous personal wealth and power, a nice car and able to take his girlfriends to really fucking nice places.

I wondered where the fuck Henry was right now? Probably having a nice warm lie-in in the penthouse suite at the Grand Hotel, while his current missus, my fucking ex-, was helping me get my poor broken body up my rickety old iron outside staircase, covered in shitty seagull droppings, leading up to my own personal attic hideaway from hell.

Inside, I swear that little fucking flat is fully five degrees lower than it is on the outside, except in summer when it is at least ten degrees higher indoors under that stifling roof space. We entered the single room, straight from the front door, the combined stench of cat shit, cat urine and general damp, neglect and mildew hit me like a solid noxious wall, offending the senses like I imagine a Turkish urinal would, and I was fucking-well used to the fucking smell, so what Shirley must think ...

"Oh, you've got a pussy cat!" she said and, before I could stop her, she gathered the flea-infested bundle of sinew, teeth and deadly fucking claw in her arms.

I cringed, waiting for the the fur and skin to fly, the screams, the blood, the mayhem, and eventual swingeing lawsuits, inevitable consequences once Henry got the fucking plastic surgery bills.

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bySpencerfiction© 8 comments/ 15681 views/ 13 favorites

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