This is the twenty-eighth part of a fiction serial, in 765 words.
With no more work at the Lexham house, Billy had to go back to his door-knocking. He had to go further afield to find work, as far east as Castle Acre, and south to Downham Market too. When that dried up, he tried going further west into Lincolnshire, across to Spalding and Stamford. The jobs were not regular though, and running the old Land Rover around cost money in petrol and maintenance. After counting up all his remaining cash one night, he wandered over to talk to Oliver.
“Reckon I will have to go and find Mitzi, go along with her idea of working in the chicken factory this coming winter, then the funfair during the season. You gonna be all right here, Oliver? You could come along you know, I’m sure Jed will find something for you”. Oliver was rolling a cigarette, and didn’t reply until he had finished. “Don’t you worry about old Oliver now, son. You’re young, and got to make your way in the world. I know someone in Castle Rising who can fit a tow bar on that new car of yours. He owes me a favour, and I’m calling it in. No cost to you, boy”.
There was talk that Oliver was rich, but if that was true, Billy had never seen any evidence of it. He did have a cash box that he kept under the sink in his caravan, and wore the key on a leather lace around his neck. Maybe he was right? He had to make his on way in the world. Oliver must be over seventy, and hopefully had enough put away to get by. He shrugged. “Okay then, Oliver. If he can fit the towbar, I best be on my way to Gloucester when it’s done”.
With the towbar fitted and the caravan hooked up, the farewell was not an emotional affair. Billy shuffled his feet. “I’ll see you then, Oliver”. Oliver just smiled. “You take care boy, and watch out for those fairground people. Them’s not always straight”.
It was a long drive to Gloucester, but Billy had towed a caravan before, and had a good idea where to find Mitzi and the winter camp of the fairground. She was delighted to see him, and got her stuff from old Valeria’s caravan, moving in immediately. “We can drive to the chicken factory in your new car tomorrow, Billy love. They are sure to take us on, depend on us they do, for the Christmas rush. Them’s only pay weekly though, so I hope you’ve got enough to get by”.
Two days later, Billy was working ten hours a day, six days a week. His job was to hook supposedly unconscious chickens onto a plucking machine, before their naked bodies had their throats cut when passing under some razor-sharp blades. He didn’t care that many of them were still wide awake. They were only chickens, after all. Mitzi was on the packing team, so he only saw her before and after work. They had chicken for dinner every single night, eating birds rejected by the factory, and dumped in big containers out back. Everyone took one, sometimes two.
Billy didn’t mind. Eating meat seven days a week free of charge was not to be sniffed at.
The winter was harsh, but the pay was good. They had gas for cooking and light, fuel for the fire, and plenty of beer money. On their Sundays off, Billy sometimes took Mitzi for a drive. They went to Tewkesbury, over the Malvern Hills, and even into the Wye Valley. Mitzi loved her days out, and she would bring a picnic, and some cider. Despite the winter weather, they could often eat outside, sitting by the car on an old travel rug. Alhough Billy hated the factory and the boring, repetitive work, he knew it made sense to earn regular money before next spring. They put away as much as they could, ready for the Easter start to the fairground season.
Mitzi was acting superior though. “I told Jed I don’t want you on the dodgems, too much flirting with them young girls. He reckons you can run the big wheel, and I can take the money in the ticket box. That way, we would be like a couple, you know. Running the big wheel, with you putting them in the cars, and me taking the money”. As she was talking that night, Mitzi was slowly undressing. Billy looked at her in the light from the gas mantle, her body rippling.
“Sounds good to me, Mitzi love”.