This is part three of a fiction serial, in 1100 words.
Koz rolled out of bed, and lit a cigarette. The girl next to him was still sleeping, but he would wake her up soon, and throw her out. He could hear the others moving around; using the toilet, and talking downstairs in the kitchen. The smell of something cooking wafted up, and made him realise he was hungry. It was dark outside. Checking his watch, he saw it read 21:28, and he hadn’t eaten much since breakfast. He looked around at his room. A mattress on the floor, some clothes on hangers around the door handle, and three pairs of trainers lined up against the wall. Not much, for twenty-nine years, but he was sure his time would come. Eat first, then head off into the city as usual.
Candy doubled back on herself, and crossed Waterloo Bridge from the western side. Heading down into the pedestrian subways, she could see Clinton on his BMX bike, silhouetted against the opening in the distance. When she got closer, he grinned, wide lips opening as it he was about to laugh. “Wassup, fine lady?” His accent was contrived of course. She knew full well he was a local boy, but he liked to sound Jamaican, made him feel tough. She opened her hand, showing the phone. “An i-phone 8, Clinton, must be worth ten rocks”. He sucked his teeth, and grinned again. “Y’know how many of those phones I have, girl? I will give you five”. Candy moved her hand, as if to put the phone in her shoulder bag. “OK fine lady, six. But that’s it. Y’get me?” She handed him the phone, and put her hand up to his mouth. He started to spit out the wraps one at a time, until she had six in her palm.
Back at the squat, she gave two to Tash, who had only just woken up. They fired them up, and drifted away, both sitting on the floor.
Jack was settling down earlier these days. He waited until the last few commuters had walked past on their way to the station, then dragged both his black bin bags from behind the industrial waste skip. The dustmen never took away anything that wasn’t in the wheeled skip, so it had been a stroke of genius to stash his gear right behind it. The rubber mat had been a great find earlier that year. Rolled up behind the camping gear shop in Covent Garden, he had just strolled past and scooped it up. Much better than relying on old cardboard for a base to sleep on. His sleeping bag had seen better days, but was still serviceable. A quick check that everything was still there, and he walked off with the bags in the direction of The Strand. Once the small Travel Agent office had closed, he knew he would be alright to bed down in their doorway until the morning.
Koz ate three of the big Polish sausages, much to the annoyance of his house mates. But they didn’t say anything. Best not to cross Koz. Five of them shared the small two-bed house in Willesden, and Koz was the only one who had his own room. He had been in London for almost three years now. Lots of people from his home town in Poland had come there to work. But unlike the others, Koz had come there not to work. There was money to be made in England from doing nothing, Pavel had told him a long time ago. Pavel was Russian, and knew his stuff. It had been easier than he expected. Hassle the street kids for the money they had begged for. Steal the drugs off the junkies after they had bought them, even get a few girls working the streets for him. He told them he would protect them, a big lad like him, tough as they come. Finding some others to help him was even easier. Plenty of unemployed ex-army guys around from Eastern Europe, happy to think of themselves being in a gang, headed up by Koz. But nobody could ever say his surname right, ever. So he settled for the first three letters, KOZ, and used that as his name.
He looked around at the others, squashed into the small living room that doubled as a bedroom for two of them. “Come on guys, finish up now. Time to get going.”
Candy felt pretty good when she woke up. Tash was still out of it, so she checked there was nobody in the bathroom, and had a shallow bath, as there wasn’t much hot water left. She went over her make-up, and after rummaging through the bag of clothes she called ‘almost clean’, picked out a plain black skirt and white blouse. Adding some thick stockings that held up just over her knees, she admired the result in the broken half of the big mirror propped up against the wall in Tash’s room. She looked like a schoolgirl alright, but a raunchy schoolgirl. The desired effect. It was too cold to go without any coat all night, so she took the red anorak off the nail in the door. They shared that coat, so Tash wouldn’t care. Walking back over the bridge, she found a good spot to hang around on, just where Burleigh Street joined The Strand. She stuck one leg forward, so it could be seen outside the coat, then put on her best sexy pout, and waited.
Toby had worked late again. He didn’t mind, as it was good to be seen not to rush home. If you wanted to earn the big money, you had to stick it out, and be seen to be a grafter. He had pulled down over one seven five K last year, and was hoping to break the two hundred barrier for the first time, by next April. Leaving the entrance to his office, he knew there was no point trying to get a cab opposite the station. There was bound to be a big queue at the rank inside too, so he stepped out east along The Strand, reckoning he would do better on the one way system at Aldwych. Close to Burleigh Street, he spotted a girl leaning against the corner, by Barclay’s Bank. As he got closer, she stretched out a black-stockinged leg, and shot him a surly look; face down, but eyes looking right at him. He carried on walking for a few steps, then stopped. Smiling to himself, he turned around.
Toby liked them young and slutty.
To be continued…