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I never wanted to start working for Gerry Broker. It was all sort of out of my control. The fucker used to pull at my long ginger hair when we were kids, and call me all sorts of names. Molly couldn’t stand him either. When we were together she used to say
-He’s a bad bloke, Gerry Broker is, she said. -Stay clear of him. But I’d no choice. Broker basically seized his Dad’s double glazing business in Blackpool soon after he left school. He tried to sound like a flash cunt and describe himself as European Sales Manager, but he was just a door to door salesman. So was I. And, him being a natural bully, he was very good at it. Me being a bit limp tongued, I was pretty bad. The thing is, I wasn’t actually working for Broker. Well I was…technically. But I was more just watching: documenting. We didn’t have a camera, no… nor me or Niall, we were too poor for that. But we took note of how Broker behaved. I suppose this is the documentation of that. Of what Broker taught me. You might think it’s silly really, to work for a man you hate, just to observe him for all his wrongs. But it made sense. Molly loved documentaries after all. It seemed like the only way I could have her back… to make one of my own.
I was telling her about my dreams. Quirky little fucked up ones they were, at the time. I told Mol what happened in ‘em. I said -Am falling, hurtling, down to the floor from some tummy turning height. Then I’m in a room fulla tickin clocks and my teeth are all falling out on the floor. Really fucked. Molly’d shake us awake and she’d say I’d be like crying almost. Not for want of dreaming again, I can tell ya that much. Sketched me right out. Had them plaguing me in the odd hours for weeks on end. Until I took Mol over Blackpool tower. She was going on about how the glass at the top, the walk of faith she says it’s called, can take a weight of summit like fifty tonnes. She says it was on Louis Theroux the other week.
- I fuckin hate Louis Theroux. I say, trying to move the conversation away from documentaries.
- You don’t even know who he is, Jon. He’s an interesting man. I’d never been into these documentaries. Looking at everything through a magnifying glass, you miss the bigger picture,I reckon.
- Jonny, she says. – I can’t be doing this no more. At first I thought she meant the height of it, what with us bein’ near 150 metres up in clouds.
- Let’s geddown then, shall we? I say, putting my arm round her flat shoulders, ushering her to the exit. She brushes me off and says:
- That’s not what I mean, Jonny. We’re goin’ nowhere. Time we went our separate ways, she says. After two years of picking her up from work and going to the cinema each Wednesday, and driving up the coast, or going to see her folks, she pisses all over us. That really gave my heart a kick in the balls. I couldn’t tell what bought it on. I had thoughts of asking Mol to become Mrs. Jonny Hopping. Just as well I didn’t ask. Proper tit I’d have looked when she’d have said no. I looked down at my feet so’s she can’t see me weeping like an open wound, forgettin we’re on the glass floor, right at the top. My bowels slackened at the sight of all the lego-men below — the ittiness of everything. Nigh on shat my pants at the very top. Now that wouldn’t have been the ideal way to go about winning her love back. She nestled her precious head in my chest for a few seconds, and then left. I can still feel that impression on my heart now. I rang Niall and he came down to the pier and we skittered skimming stones across the flat grey water for a while, supping at Special Brew and acting like neither of us had feelings. He’d just told us that his Dad’s window tinting company had gone under.
- We’re fucked, he said. – There’s no decent work for boys like us, Jonny. Dad says he’s sorted us somethin’ though. With Broker.
- Fuck that, I said. That’s not for me, Ni. Broker’s a fat bastard. And he’s always had it in for me.
- He’s not the same as when we were boys, Jon. He’s a grown bloke, he’s done us a good turn. And so that’s when I thought it. If I had to work for this balding cocky bastard then I’d at least be in it to fuck him up somehow. Even if all that meant was jotting down how much of a twat he was in this little notebook. I felt like a soldier that didn’t shoot his gun on the job. A real thrill. A conscientious objector to door to door sales techniques.
Broker’s techniques were quite somethin. When me and Niall went over for our first day with him, he showed us some real dark stuff. I’d forgotten how unpleasant time spent in his company was. He had a really fucking annoying way of describing any conversation as though it happened back to back. “Then he turned round to me and says” forming the beginning of almost all of his anecdotes.
- Then he turned round to me and says ‘you’re the best salesman I ever dealt with Gerry.’ And he’s right, Broker said, choking on his laugh which crawled up his thick neck and barked out. When I thought about it, I completely understood if most of his conversations did happen back-to-back. After all, Broker had a nose like a huge glowing red chili and an uneven peppering of stubble across his cheeks. You could tell he was a flash cunt right away, even if you didn’t see him rock up in his soft-top Saab, but from his Clooney-grey hair that must work its charms on his victims. You couldn’t help but think he’d be driving something shitey like a Rover if his locks were Jon Snow-white. He had a fancy-as-fuck watch shackled around his wrist as well. A white metal thing with a face almost as big as his own. And he wore it like a second cock. I never asked him the time, even if I really needed to know, just so he couldn’t get the satisfaction of swishing it in front of my face.
- How’s the Mrs, Jonny? he said soon after we arrived and suffered his crippling handshake. When he spoke his tongue slithered along his cheek before saying what he wanted to. He spoke too fast and huffed at the slightest of inconveniences. Asking this question seemed an inconvenience, and was followed by a long, wheezy huff.
- Fine, I said. Then he showed us his twisted mind. He knocked on a door and said – This is the shoes-off method. Me and Niall stood there behind him, a bit confused by that. You could already smell his bullshit blowing in the winter breeze. A bingo-winged lady answered, wearing a pinkish smock, with bulging electric blue varicose veins. Broker said – Good afternoon, lovey, how are you? before she could respond he started to unlace his shimmering black shoes and had them off pretty quick, and offered himself in. In an instant I was drinking her cold tea and sat on her damp sofa with Niall beside me. Broker was performing his set from a clicky-combination type briefcase by the fireplace, and the lady sunk into her own swathes of yellow fat in the armchair by the front windows. I didn’t realise quite how large the lady was until we got in her living room. She needed a zimmerframe to get around. But despite asking us in for a drink and sounding very interested in Broker’s double glazing special offers, she soon backed away from any purchase.
- I’m sorry Mr. Broker, I’ve listened to what you’re offering but it just isn’t for me. I suppose I invited you in because I’m just lonely. My husband passed away a few months back, she said. I looked at Niall and he looked spaced out by the whole situation. It made the whole thing proper thorny. But Broker will never give up on a sale.
- What if I can offer you a third off our fitting fees? surely that’ll swing you, lovey? he said. I didn’t know there even was a fitting fee.
- No, no, Mr. Broker, she said, her swollen face dropping into a look of discomfort. – My husband wouldn’t be so happy at me spending money I don’t be needing to, she said. I was fascinated. Broker turned around and, almost hyperventilating, let out a sort of roar. You could tell he wanted to remind her that her husband is dead. Proper fucking psycho. Then he turned back all professional and said:
- May I ask how your husband died? I am very sorry for your loss, lovey.
- He fell and broke his neck… the C7, the bone at the bottom of his neck. The doc’s said it would have been almost instant, mind. So I can take something from that, she said looking out of her netted curtains.
- Goodness, Broker said. He was quiet for a sec, and then followed up with – What a jazzy way to go — the C7. Well, I’ll be blown. It’s been a pleasure, lovey. Now take a card. Broker threw one of his business cards down on the brown carpet, snapped up his briefcase and left. Brash cunt. If I was the fly on the wall, she was the elephant in the room. Proper obese and having none of it and crying now. Made the rest of the day proper tetchy.