“This place smells of old piss, I love it.”
Charity shopping with a homeless bloke in heels. I was initially here to see if any of my donations had made it into the window, I’ve since been joined by Shaine: a hefty creature of both (or neither) sexes. He’d recently been sacked by his baby and won’t cease gushing about it.
“Just the other morning,” he sniffed, “she awoke and fell madly out of love with me. The betch then kicked me-the-fuck-out of her home! Now I haven’t got one.” He lacquered some thick lipstick onto his dry mouth. “I’m over it now,” he lied, “but at the time I felt like Sylvia Plath on a comedown.”
Fresh threads should soothe his severed heart. This place had everything you would and wouldn’t want on your body. Shaine minced around the store like a bloated inflatable doll, caressing every fabric and weave with his inky fingers. He threw on a silky vintage kimono.
“Harro!” He bowed.
“Yeah, you can’t really say that mate.”
“I can’t really what?”
A slutty fur coat then caught his eye. “Crumbs, look at this monstrosity!” It was as long as him. “Let’s try it on for a laugh!” He tried it on. There were no laughs. I forced out a chuckle because I’m generous. “I actually kind of like it,” he said. “I mean, I was trying it on for guffaws and to enjoy some premium fun with you but I’m like seriously thinking I’d wear this!” He clocked the price tag. “Oh my dear lord…”
Nobody in here much appreciated his cathedral-sized personality. A tattooed mother in supermarket clothes drank him in and coughed up some tar. She was treating her son to the Eddie Murphy boxset that I’d donated. The little guy was feverishly yelping and laughing in his pram. He won’t be laughing later.
I had a few quid to spill so I went browsing the bundle of former Christmas gifts donated by ungrateful fathers and shrugging granddaughters. Celeb cookbooks, footballing gaffe DVD’s, board games and an entire shelf’s worth of hardbacks by David Jason. I don’t want to read about Del Boy’s career, no! Anything I wanted I already owned. I then stumbled across the definitive kitsch knick-knack: a crab telephone in primary red plucked from the 60’s. I almost shit misen – £5 yes please! I dusted him off and he was coming home.
Down yonder was Shaine. He stood before a wall of ladies footwear inhaling the time-honoured leather. I showed him my inspired find.
“I love it!” He caressed the claw receiver. “…I NEED it. Can I have it?”
“Probably works better in a home Shaine.”
“Hold the phone!” He quacked, ignoring my shit comment. “What are THOSE?!!”
He’d seen some cork heels and gone into a dream.
With eyes like moons he kicked off his shoes and peeled off his damp sock. Wiping the black bits off his foot he squished his swollen toes into the wee heels; it was like forcing a bunch of bananas into an arse (probably). Veins throbbed in his temples and spit gathered in the corner of his lips. He looked up at me with painful tears in his eyes.
“I feel like Lana Del Rey! They’re perfect.”
Shoreditch was still sneezing outside so I wasted more of my precious life in here. It really did smell of old piss. A medley of brass Buddha busts sat beside a marble Hitler. I’d have bought the dusty little fascist if this crab phone wasn’t already mine. Buying both would’ve been overkill. Flicking through the vinyl was an edible young female with her friend. I’d seen her earlier in Bleach. She picked up Freddie Starr’s novelty record ‘After the Laughter’ and beamed. Clearly she was excellent and I decided I loved her dearly. Shaine’s iris’s were also tethered to her.
“You just don’t get cheekbones that high in any other part of London,” he said, applying another layer of sangria lipstick. “I’m gonna go say ‘hey’.” He picked up a fork scooping the scum from neath his nails then strode over.
“You got the time?” he asked her.
“Nah mate.” she said.
The conversation had already thrown itself down the stairs so he half-curtseyed and dripped back to me.
He blinked. “It was horrible over there. I played everything out in my head just before and she was loving it. Even got a cheeky kiss from her.”
“A kiss?! You’re ill.”
He held up his jittery middle finger in front of his face and pressed it into his cheek. “I just need some fucking love,” he flipped, “some love!” It left an imprint on his skin.
“Come on anyway,” he spat, “let’s just pay for these GOD-AWFUL heels and scram.”
“You said they were perfect!”
“They’re cork heels mate. Cork! Tacky shit, much like your little crab phone…“
“But they make you look like Del Rey.”
“I look more like Del BOY!”
The sweet taste of a liquorice Rizla should quash his frown so I rolled us a cigarette. He plonked his goods onto the cash desk. “How much in total?” he asked.
“Just whatever you can afford sweetheart,” the wintery woman wheezed.
He exhaled and reached into his front pockets. Nothing. He then dug deeper, fracking the depths of his back pockets. Time stopped. The sweet old lady held out her paw until it began to quiver. Shaine gifted her with all he had and apologised. We left her with a small pile of seashells sitting in her palm and no more words were ever said.
I handed Shaine a fag. His eyes began filling with water.
“Have you always used these long liquorice Rizla’s?” he asked.
“I have, yeah.”
No longer could he smoke these things. He couldn’t smoke them, he explained, as his beloved baby of yore would always tell him how adorable he looked when he did. He handed it back and crumpled onto the mattress outside. He remains there to this day, patiently waiting for somebody to dust him off and take him home.