This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 1260 words.
Not long after he had turned eighteen, Nan decided it was time to show Benny one of her videos. Because she didn’t have a television, she knocked next door, and asked to borrow the set owned by Mr O’Brien. He hardly watched it anymore, as his cataracts were getting bad. As well as that, he had emphysema, so just sat all day staring into space, inhaling oxygen from a tube connected to some cylinders. He only removed the mask to take puffs on his cigarettes, ignoring the warnings that they could ignite the gas, and blow up his flat. Nan got him bits of shopping when she was out and about, so he was happy to oblige. Benny wheeled it in, as it was screwed to a stand with tiny black rollers at the bottom. Nan told him where the old VHS player was, stored in box on top of a chest of drawers in her bedroom, and he connected it up with a dusty scart lead he found with it.
Nan handed him the film she had chosen, and sat back smiling on the sofa, patting the cushion next to her, indicating where he should sit. As the static crackled on screen, she folded her arms and smiled. “One of my favourites. I was good in this one, if I say so myself”. The film certainly had pretensions. It began with the title ‘Miss Baxter’s Finishing School For Girls: A Tony Cooper Production’, followed by a cast list, and credits for director and cameraman. Unsurprisingly, both were Tony Cooper. The action started with a woman, obviously Nan, in a shabby school classroom set. She was dressed as a teacher, wearing a ridiculously old-fashioned outfit, complete with a mortar board hat. Benny turned to her. “I didn’t see your name, Nan. Didn’t you get a mention?” Nan grinned. “I was ‘Betty Baxter’ in this one, love. Lilian Thwaite is hardly the sort of name for this type of film, and besides, nobody uses their real name”.
Benny watched as the clunky action unfolded. Three other women entered, all dressed in what were meant to be schoolgirl outfits, leaving little to the imagination of the viewer. It didn’t help that two were at least the same age as Nan, and the blonde looked much older than her supposed teacher. Nan’s character told the girls off for doing something wrong, and said they needed to be punished. That took the form of Nan pulling off most of their clothes, as she snogged them, and fondled their bits. When they were left wearing next to nothing, Nan produced a small cane, and pretended to cane them on their behinds. But it was pretty obvious she wasn’t really hitting them, despite their screams and tears. The second sequence involved them turning on Nan, stripping her off, and having their way with her. It faded out just before the action got too blue.
Benny was relieved when it was over, and grateful it had only lasted for twenty minutes. Watching a soft-porn film with your Nan was an unusual experience, to say the least, but when she was starring in it, naked apart from stockings and suspenders, ‘uncomfortable’ was the word that came to mind. He didn’t really know what to say when she asked him, “So, what did you think of it?” Benny thought for a while before answering. “You were great, Nan. Not so sure about the other girls though, their acting was crap”. Nan seemed pleased. “In all fairness, acting ability didn’t count for much in Tony’s films. Long legs or big tits were the main talents he was looking for”. Benny ejected the cassette, and unplugged the television. He would have quite liked to have hung onto it for a while, and watched ‘University Challenge’ that evening. See how many questions he got right. But Nan wouldn’t have that, so he wheeled it back next door, and thanked Mr O’Brien.
When he got back, he headed for his bedroom, but Nan wanted to talk to him. “Now you are old enough, I can tell you something you need to know, Benny love. One of the reasons I showed you that film was because of Tony Cooper. He was your grandfather, though he never knew. We got carried away after filming one afternoon, and Mark was the result. I had known Tony since my teens. He started as a photographer, then moved on to making videos. He had a lot of respect in that industry”. Benny pondered the concept of having respect for someone who was average at photographing girls in the all-together, then went on to make crap films like that one. But he let that slide. “So, where is he now, Nan?” She grinned. “Long dead love, and good riddance to be honest. But I thought you should know”.
In his room, stretched out on the old candlewick bedspread, Benny contemplated his pedigree. A Nan who had been a porn actress of sorts, and a granddad who worked in the same grubby industry. His dad had been a failed actor, drunkard, and all-round nasty bastard, and his long-suffering mum had cleared off to the other side of the world, leaving her first born to be raised by her mother-in-law. Not exactly the best start in life.
It was amazing he had got this far.
When the phone started ringing, he leapt off armchair, moving fast to get to it. But Nan beat him to it. No matter how many times he asked her not to, she always answered it instead of letting it ring. Still, it was her flat after all, and her phone. She put her hand over the mouthpiece. “It’s for you. Some foreign bloke. He sounds grumpy”. His heart sank when he heard Hamza’s voice. Despite his London accent, he did also sound foreign, something you couldn’t quite put your finger on. “I have heard from Omar. He hasn’t got the money. So I am going to come round and collect it in person, and I will be taking back the keys to the shop too. You had better be in”. Benny tried to sound casual. “Hasn’t got the money? I sent it, so I had better go and check with the Post Office, and call you back. No need to take the keys back, Hamza, it’s just been quiet at the market. Things will pick up”. Hamza wasn’t having any of it. “I will be there in thirty minutes. You had better be there, and have the money and keys”.
Nan wasn’t as silly as she sometimes looked. She quizzed Benny about the phone call, and he broke down and told her the truth. “How much are you in for, love?” She sounded kind, not in the least annoyed. Benny shrugged. “He might settle for two hundred, Nan. But he wants the keys too”. She stood up, reaching over for her cigarettes. “Leave this Hamza to me love. I will sort him out. Put the keys on the coffee table, and make yourself scarce. I will tell him something, don’t worry. And never mind about the shop, something will turn up”.
Benny left her the keys, and gave her a hug before going out. He had an idea where to hide for the rest of the day, but not a clue what he was going to do for money now.
It had taken no time at all for him to go bust.
To be continued…