This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 1330 words.
Benny Goes Straight.
With his new haircut, and wearing a smart two-piece suit in electric blue, Benny looked the part. After years of being in trainers, the hard shiny shoes felt strange, but he had to admit that at long last, he had finally grown up. At least as far as looking grown up. Beverly sat next to him in the taxi. Too close to him as usual, but that was what she did. Her expensive professional hairdo was an improvement on the previous cheap one, though the new dark green dress was perhaps a little short, for a woman of forty-eight. But she did look good, he had to admit that. They were making the short journey to Holborn, to the office of a solicitor who was an expert in commercial law.
The last week had passed like a blur. Keith Hall had been good to his word, and had moved out on that Sunday morning, never to be seen again. Beverly was packing up the rest of his stuff before he had even closed the door. By Monday, it had been collected and put in storage, and she sent him a text with the address where it could be found. Linda had turned out to be very efficient indeed. All the DVD films, as well as the signed photos, and the plastic-sealed worn stockings, underwear, and tights, had been packed up, addressed, and posted. All in just two days. He had been generous, and given her two hundred, some of which she would give to Sylvia. That was more than she earned from the cafe and flower stall combined, in a week. The films had been better than expected too. They played well, and looked professional. Zafir had even included a ‘Menu’ option, with a choice of scene facility. The inserts on the DVD boxes even proclaimed, ‘A Fortune Films Production’. He had done that without being asked. A nice touch. Benny had moved a lot of stuff into Noddy’s flat on the Monday, and Beverly had celebrated by taking him upstairs early, and seemingly trying to kill him with her ardour.
The next morning, she took him out shopping for clothes and shoes, made him get a fashionable haircut, and a proper barber shave. When they got back, Noddy told them what he had been up to. “Fortune Films is a perfect name for us, Benny. I have registered it, and sorted out copyright protection on the names, films, photos, and website. I have also made sure that it is an Irish company, using a shell in Dublin; just a front and mail drop, run by a guy who specialises in such things. Did you know that’s how Amazon operates in Britain? That’s why they pay sod all tax. I have also applied in your name for a new social security card, and a fast-track passport, which will be required for I.D. I took a photo of you on the webcam, and you didn’t even notice. I have also engaged the services of a solicitor in London. He will act as the middle man, getting the paperwork from Ireland, and arranging the accounts through someone he knows. We don’t have any office or company in England, and all the site stuff is routed through Kiev. The Ukrainians are up to speed in the online porn market, and already have some great set-ups”.
Beverly was excited, and kept kissing Benny. Noddy acted as if he just didn’t notice, and carried on. “So, as of today, Fortune Films is a legitimate company, at least as far as the law is concerned. I have ordered lots of better computer stuff, and we can stop using stolen phone minutes and broadband allowances. By tomorrow, we will have state of the art phones with unlimited business contracts. You can leave that moody dongle in the laptop for your Nan though, she needs to be able to answer her forum fans. All the documents will be couriered over from Ireland, then you and Mum just have to go and sign them in the office at Holborn. You two will be the company directors, and will both have to sign any papers. Mum will be coming off benefits, by no longer claiming my carer allowance. All being well, we shouldn’t attract any undue attention, and I estimate that it will all cost us less than ten percent of the annual income. Better than the forty percent we would pay if we earned all this as a salary. Now we can just draw anything out of the bank, with no need to keep hitting the ATM machines. I can transfer money legally online, and change the payment options to direct debit, or bank transfer. No more Paypal commission, after next month. You and Mum will have company bank cards, and I have set up an account with a private cab firm too, to run you around anytime”.
When he stopped talking, Benny thought for a moment. “But what about Nan? She is the reason all this started. What does she get?” Noddy sighed. “Nan is part of the talent, not the business brain. She will get cash, and lots of it. But if she goes on the books, then she will lose her state pension just in income tax. Her income would be too large for her to continue to get any allowances based solely on her age. I will suggest a weekly payment, and she can pay Sophie out of that. I assure you it will be a lot, and your Nan will be happy. Mum will get some cash too, as well as being on the books as a company director. That way, her payments as Velma will disappear as ‘running costs’. By the time we deduct all the expenses to set up, the new equipment bought in the company name, and the supposedly legitimate expenses, I doubt we will show any profit for a couple of years, at least if the accountant does his sums right. And I reckon I will be able to siphon off a fair bit, before he sees the figures”. Benny nodded, and Beverly patted his hand. “Why don’t you pop round and tell your Nan, show her your new suit?”
Nan’s flat seemed quiet as he let himself in. It wasn’t even dark yet, but it seemed they might be out. Perhaps they had gone shopping, or up to the pub for an early drink. He could see the door to his room was wide open, and nobody was in there. He wandered in, expecting to see Sophie’s stuff in there. But it was much as he had left it, the bed still made, and not slept in. Other than her big suitcase standing at the end of the bed, there was no trace of an old woman occupying the room. Nan’s bedroom door was ajar, and he knocked on it softly, pushing it open just a little. On top of the bed, Nan and Sophie were lying wrapped in each other’s arms. Neither of them had a stitch of clothing on, and they appeared to be fast asleep. By the side of the bed, two pairs of velcro-fastening slippers were placed neatly, side by side. He stood taking in the scene for a second, and suddenly Nan opened one eye, making him jump out of his skin. She smiled at him, and raised a finger to her lips, indicating he should be quiet. Sophie groaned a little, and tightened the grip of her arms around Nan.
Nan spoke, in what was best described a a loud whisper. “Everything alright, Benny love?” He nodded, his mouth still open. It seemed those old girl/girl scenes from the sixties had not just been for show after all. “Close the door then love. Come back some other time”. He took two steps back, pulling the door slowly. Then Nan spoke again, just as it closed.
“By the way. Nice suit”.
To be continued…