SON OF THE CHAV PRINCE
The Seven Sisters Road on a wet Thursday afternoon in June had too many memories for Justin Peacher-White. For a long moment he was once again sixteen-year-old Justin Macavoy, truant, delinquent and petty criminal. He felt again the seedy charm of a wild and uncontained street life: shoplifting, boozing and shagging any loose slapper who would open her legs to him. There had been quite a few of those. They had found him a cut above the usual street chav, cunning, fearless and a right laugh. The girls had liked that. They had called him ‘Animal’, not because of his hygiene but because of his sexual appetite.
Nathan had wanted to come with him. Although Justin appreciated the gesture, he’d said no, realizing this was something he had to do alone. He found the pub he was looking for, The Four Ways. It was a flashy sort of place. Big painted blackboards advertised High-Quality Bar Food, Drinking till 2:00am, Wide-Screen TV, and Beer Garden. The pub had been done up since he used to hang out in its car park and hustle for cigarettes and beer. A girl had given him his first blow job behind the wheelie bins when he was thirteen. Bad sex and the stink of rotting food were forever entangled in his mind. He couldn’t remember her name for the life of him, but he did remember it was a bloody awful blow job. He had long concluded that only men could give the necessary love and attention to a cock that made for brilliant oral sex. When Nathan had first done it to him, he had been transported to a new world, from which he never wanted to return.
Justin shut off the wipers and the engine, and listened to the rain drumming on the roof. He’d driven his old clunker, not the powerful new Jaguar he used when he went down to London to the offices of O’Brien Associates in Canary Wharf, the car he slipped, sleek and gleaming into its own special slot in the car park under Canada Square. He knew only too well what might happen if he were to leave that beauty unattended outside The Four Ways.
Justin reached over into the back seat to get the Armani rain jacket that had caught his fancy in Berlin. He pulled it over one of the tailored shirts from Jermyn Street his dad Matt ordered for his beloved adopted son, and the well-cut pleated trousers Justin himself had bought at a Brooks Brothers on Pennsylvania Avenue three weeks before. No one could possibly have recognised the former street urchin in the wealthy young executive that Fate and his own courage had made him.
Justin splashed through the puddles. The smoke-filled atmosphere reached out to greet him as he pulled open the door of the lounge. Inside was quite full. He knew he would attract attention, and he knew also to move with perfect confidence to the bar.
‘Lo mate,’ he saluted the barman. ‘Pint of Pride. Ave one for yusself too, OK? Got a light? Cheers.’
Calculating eyes were watching him. Was he one of the Met’s finest? Too young, obviously. Was he a City bloke after some tail? Quite possibly, as a couple of the women seemed to conclude. He noticed out of the corner of his eye a discreet competition to get near him at the bar.
He sipped the pint and tried not to reveal his opinion of it on his face. He smiled at the barman, a bloke in his thirties, shaven-headed with BNP neo-Nazi tattoos on his cheek.
‘I’m lookin for an old mate,’ Justin stated
The barman’s face closed down. He had concluded that Justin, young though he looked, was most likely with the police. ‘Oh yeah?’
‘Tommy Pullings – we called him Tosser or Pukey. Used to live on Roseveare Road. His dad was in ‘ere all the time, so wuz ee. Big in the dogs down in Stratford. Know anyfink about him?’
‘Nah, mate, nuffink.’
‘Really? Ah fuck. Look at that. Just dropped a fifty down the back of the bar. Well, mate, if you can find it you’re welcome to it, know what I mean? So … er, Tosser Pullings? Any ideas?’
The barman got shifty. ‘You wiv the cops?’
‘Me? Christ no. Not wiv the record I got, mate.’
‘So who are yuh then?’
‘Less juss say Tosser owes a friend of mine a lot of dosh, an’ ee doan seem keen to pay it.’
The barman’s face lightened. Shopping Tosser to debt collectors was a very different proposition from shopping him to the Metropolitan Police. ‘Ee’s in ere sometimes. ‘Is Dad’s in the nick for assault, but ee still lives wiv his mum. This time of day ee’ll be in the bookies dahn the road. Doan tell ‘im I sent you, will ya?’
‘Me, mate? Nah, not a dickie.’ Justin beamed at the two young and over-made-up women who had appeared at his elbow. ‘Mornin’ ladies. Two of whatever these gorgeous girls want to drink.’ He put a twenty on the bar, and took his leave.
Fucking hell, he thought. Was it the culmination of my fifteen-year-old ambition to get inside the doors to this crud-hole? Thank God for Nathan. What he saved me from!
Justin splashed back to his car, then drove south towards the Holloway Road. He parked (illegally) outside a big branch of a national bookmaker’s. He tried to peer through the windows, but they were steamed up. Leaving the car, he pushed inside and looked around. There was Tommy, his mouth hanging open, watching the 2 o’clock from Beverley. He ripped up his tickets with a curse when his horse came in last.
Justin eased in beside him. ‘Morning Pukey. How’s tricks?’
‘Who the fuck … ‘ang on, fuck me, I knows you, dunn I. Iss Justin Macavoy. Ain’t seen you in years, mate. Last I heard you’d been fostered out to some queer blokes in Highgate. Watchu doin now, mate?’
‘Looking for stuff, Tosser. An’ you’re gonna help me.’
‘I says, as also does this picture of the queen.’
‘Hey, thass generous, mate. Watchu want then?’
Justin guided his old street buddy outside to his car. Tosser smelt a bit of damp and unwashed clothes. His eyes were vacant and his teeth were a mess. He had tattooed obscenities on his hands. This piece of shit was once the nearest thing I had to a friend, Justin reminded himself. Bloody hell!
‘OK, Tosser, the thing is this. Remember Jade Gardiner?’
Tommy sniggered. ‘Oh yeah. Doan we all. We both shagged her when we wuz teens, ‘cept she said you knocked her up. Wuz there a kid?’
‘Yes there was,’ grimaced Justin, ‘and thass what I wanna find out about. Where is she, Tosser?’
‘No fuckin’ idea, mate. She disappeared when she wuz – what – sixteen. Ran away, so far as I know.’
‘What about the kid?’
‘No idea at all, Animal. No idea at all.’
‘Who might know?’
‘Her mum might, she still lives off Holloway Road. She wuz Jade’s only family. Or you could ask some of her friends. There wuz Sammy Jo and Pearl, they wuz the closest.’
‘Any idea where they are?’
‘Same place. Holloway Prison. Sammy Jo had a kid and did away wiv it. Pearl knifed her boyfriend. They won’t be going far for the next six years, mate.’ Tommy laughed unpleasantly. ‘So what you doin’, Animal? Business looks good, whatever it is. Like the cloves, mate. You bin abroad or sumfink?’
‘Yeah, to a different world, mate. Can I give you a lift anywhere?’
‘Justin Macavoy! Whatchu doin round here?’
‘Hullo, Mrs Gardiner.’
‘Well you gotta nerve, I ave to say.’
‘Iss about Jade.’
‘You’re six years too late, young man. She had your kid and now she’s gone off, I doan know where.’
‘Was it my kid, Mrs Gardiner?’
The middle aged woman sized the young man up. ‘You dun well for yourself, I see. There’s a smell of money about you, big money.’
‘And all legal, Mrs Gardiner.’ Justin looked round. The flat was clean and tidy. Mrs Gardiner had been alright, he remembered. Her only weakness was a misplaced trust in her daughter’s honesty and chastity. There were still pictures of Jade in school uniform on the TV set.
The woman sighed. ‘She wuz a good girl, Justin, at least till she got into them drugs. Then she wuz dreadful. Couldn’t leave me purse round the place. Always out after heroin, and them men she tried to bring back here. I wouldn’t have it. Then she up and left wiv the baby … your kid.’
‘Where did she go, Mrs Gardiner?’
‘I’ve seen neither sight nor sound of her in five years. No birthday cards, nuffin. Even me fortieth she forgot.’
‘No clue as to where she went?’
‘None at all.’
‘Well, thanks for your help.’
‘You going after her, Justin?’
‘Yes, I think I am.’
A tear appeared in her eye, ‘Then let me know, won’t you, if you find the baby at least. He was a sweet little boy. Looked juss like you, too.’
Danny pedalled vigorously up the long drive of Haddesley Hall. There was a slight downwards slope to the level of the lake, so he got up speed for the climb to the big porch in front of the door. With a scrape of rubber on gravel he slid to a stop, then pulled off his helmet and looked around. Shrugging, he propped his bike against one of the massive stucco pillars. The bell-pull produced a distant clang in the depths of the house. Suddenly nervous, Danny ran his fingers through his hair.
Gus had wanted Danny to come around to the Hall ‘and hang’, as he had said with his shy grin. Danny was not too sure about the offer but, when he told his boss, Nathan had laughed and said that Uncle Phil was a star, and Danny shouldn’t let his nerves put him off from meeting the aristocracy.
No butler answered the door, but instead a tall, harassed-looking woman with flyaway hair. She gave Danny a vague smile that reminded him of Gus. This must be Lady Underwood.
‘Er … hello, I’m Danny Hackness. Come to see Gus, I mean Augustus.’
She gave a bigger and more focussed smile. ‘Come in, Danny. It’s alright, we always call him Gus. Though he tried to get us to call him … what was it?’
‘Yes, that’s right. Gussie. But we would not collaborate.’
Danny gave a little laugh and entered Haddesley Hall. He was in a big entry way, with black-and-white tiles and a grand stone staircase going up to the next floor. There were blank-eyed busts sitting on pedestals and painted landscapes hanging on the plastered walls.
‘Now, Danny,’ said Lady Underwood, ‘if you go up the stairs and follow the passage on the left, Gus’s room is on the right at the end. The last door. You’ll be staying for lunch, I hope? Excellent.’ There was an assumption, quite unspoken, that Danny would be going along with her suggestions.
Danny trotted up the stairs and along the tall, wide passage that opened off the stair well. Portraits of Underwoods past hung along either side. He stopped at a collection of smaller modern canvases of Underwood children. One was of what must have been the whole group of three of them, with a very young Gus peering through his blond fringe and already looking lost. Danny smiled to see a fine watercolour of Nathan in his younger teens alongside pictures of his cousins.
Danny found the last door and knocked at the heavy mahogany. There was no reply so he took a risk and went in.
Gus, wearing only his briefs, was lying on a modern three-quarter bed, peering at a book. He sat up, astonished, and looked at his watch. ‘Danny. Oh! It’s later than I thought it was. Sorry.’ He indicated his undressed state, but did not immediately move to change it or try to cover himself with his hands.
Gus did not appear to be at all body-shy, which, strangely, did not surprise Danny. What did surprise him, though, was that his mind decided of its own accord to check out his friend’s body. Gus was a well-built boy, with creamy flesh and enough muscle tone to show off serious biceps and a definite six pack – the effect of mandatory school sport, Danny concluded. Gus had long, elegant legs, which accounted for his height. His nipples were pink, as were his faint aureoles. There was practically no hair on his body.
Gus noticed Danny looking at the pronounced bulge in his briefs. That finally did make him blush and get up in search of clothes.
Gus’s reaction was nothing to the flare of red that suddenly suffused Danny’s face. What was he doing? He was checking out another boy, and he had never done that before in his life! Not only that, he was also getting an erection. His mind was undeniably assessing Gus’s genital equipment, and not for mere curiosity’s sake. There was a flicker of sexual tension in the air. Although Danny was hard put to say where it was coming from, it was focussed on Gus and had been growing now for several days.
Gus was talking. ‘I’d better go and have a shower, Danny. I have been lazy this morning. I won’t be long.’ He disappeared out into the passage carrying a towel and a pile of clean clothes.
Danny took a few deep breaths. There was a computer running in the room, with a Word file on the flat screen. He studiously ignored it. A couple of moth-eaten, stuffed ferrets gambolled together on a mantelpiece in a macabre pantomime of playfulness. There were family photos on the walls, as well as some old landscapes.
A bookcase was full to bursting, with more books in piles on the floor. He scanned the titles. A lot of them were nineteenth-century fiction, and many of the rest were biology and anthropology. But there were one or two less innocent works. A large volume of art photography featuring many Mapplethorpe male nudes appeared to be well used. When Danny surreptitiously scouted in his own favourite hiding place, he discovered some gay-porn titles concealed down the back.
One romance about two sixteen-year-old boys gripped him as soon as he opened it. He couldn’t put it down. He skipped to the graphic descriptions of anal sex, and almost before he knew it felt an uncomfortable and treacherous reaction in his underpants. Hearing Gus returning, he wrenched his attention away and jammed the book back in its place.
Gus threw his wet towel on to the carpet. He was dressed but still barefoot, his hair wet and tousled. Danny finally admitted to himself that he found this boy seriously cute.
They smiled shyly at each other. Gus sat in a chair and picked up his hair drier. Danny found his friend’s feet fascinating. They were beautiful, with perfectly formed pinkish toes, quite hairless, like a smaller boy’s. Danny desperately wanted to touch them. Gus was watching him intently.
‘Would you like to take your shoes and socks off … er, to get comfortable?’ Gus asked.
‘Oh! Yes! Sure.’ And Danny divested himself, with Gus looking on closely.
When he had finished his hair, Gus sat next to Danny on the bed. ‘So what are we going to do today?’
‘I dunno,’ Danny shrugged. ‘Maybe we could talk for a bit and then look round the house. There must be a lot to see.’
Gus’s foot was right next to his. With a sense of inexorable inevitability and a tension he had never felt before, Danny moved his own right foot against Gus’s left and rubbed against its warmth and smoothness. He gave a sigh and heard Gus make a similar noise. Unable to stop himself, he lifted the sole of his foot and rubbed it lightly along Gus’s instep. Neither dared say a word. Danny snaked his hand round his friend’s waist, pulling him close, before pushing a hand up into his clothes and running it along the taut skin of his back.
Gus turned toward Danny with an incredulous look on his face. ‘What are you doing?’ he breathed.
Danny was trembling. ‘I don’t really know, but whatever it is, I want to. Gus, can I feel your … thing?’
Gus nodded but said nothing. Danny touched the front of Gus’s trousers, which were tented out. Danny ran his hand along the concealed shape within to a gasp from Gus. Then he unzipped and pushed inside, finding a damp warmth and texture in his hand that desperately excited him. He fondled and stroked Gus’s most intimate parts, his friend responding with gasps and moans. Danny’s breath too was coming in gasps by then. This was the most sexual excitement he had ever felt.
Making a strange sound, Gus pulled off his top and turned full into Danny’s face. Danny knew what was coming next. He did not try to prevent the wet, open mouth from closing on his.
All at once Danny broke off and removed his clothes in two economical motions. He pressed on Gus, who was struggling out of his own clothes. Then there came a long period of squirming, groaning and grappling. Danny’s nose was full of the smells of shampoo and soap still lingering from Gus’s shower. Where did I learn to do this? he was asking himself through a sexual delirium. Gus was moaning and shifting under him, overusing the word ‘fuck’. It seemed to go on forever, and Danny did things and experienced things he would never have thought possible a week before. It ended as it was destined to.
Afterwards, Danny stared unbelieving at the male member before his eyes. It was slick with his saliva and still pulsing small emissions of semen on to its head. What in God’s name had he just done?