The Pieman is in need of a decent four by four to fit his golf clubs in. He’s realised his current motor is somewhat inadequate. He’s partial to a weekend trip with some of his demographically-equal pals, down to his home county in the Home Counties, golfing in the privatised patches and cultivated lawns punched into the countryside for their pleasure. They’ll reflect on how good it is to get out of London, where they make their money but give little back, get away from the noise, the pollution, breathe some clean, fresh air. This is more like it, they’ll say. They don’t voice the unspoken thoughts. Away from the people, the immigrants, the poor, the protestors. Careful to avoid racial epithets, appearances have to be kept up. He saw them, the hippies, all camped out by St Paul’s and briefly wondered if some of his old school pals were down there. Good lads to go drinking with, by and large, he thinks with a grin on his chops. He remembers when one of them introduced his new bird, she was working as an ‘occupational therapist’. The Pieman had had a hard time getting his head round that one.
The Pieman phones his dealer, guy named Jerome, two nights before his trip, and stocks up on a few grams of good quality Charlie. Gotta be prepared. He tells his friends in the pub in Balham, the night prior to the trip, that there aren’t that many fit birds down in his home county in the Home Counties. They all moved to London, see, he says.
The Pieman is currently single.
He says he hasn’t got the time to be tied down by a bird. London is his oyster.
It’s the day of the trip down to his home county in the Home Counties, and he’s struggling to fit the golfing irons into the boot of his car. He feels embarrassed in front of his demographically equal pals, but manages to cram everything in, just. I’ll get hunting for a new four by four when I get back to The Smoke, he tells them. He’s got a conference in Leeds on Monday, so it’ll have to wait til mid-week, he notes to himself. Leeds has a few fit birds walking its streets, but he’s not keen on Northern monkeys, he says to his friends as they cram into the car. This is a lie. If a woman comes onto him, he’ll reciprocate.
London fades behind them as they race toward that bucolic dream of England’s past, a place in their heads that they hope to return to with a nice wholesome wife and well-fed children. One day. They don’t want to bring children up in the city, it’s too dangerous, they will say.
They are vampires.
They had discussed this many times in the pub, checking out the barmaids, before heading to upmarket strip joints, paying for bare flesh just as they pay for the dead flesh that crams their lunchtime baguettes. The Pieman’s favourite animal to dine on is the pig, nice gammon steaks, salty back-bacon, a good ham sarnie, thick pork sausages, a proper Melton Mowbray. He tries to buy from a good quality butcher, not for ethical reasons, but for the taste and the cultural kudos. Once he saw a millionaire Scotsman on Come Dine with Me buy pig trotters for one of his meals, and he had laughed.
After a brief stop at a service station for a piss, and a bacon sarnie accompanied with pitch black coffee from Costa (they all have banging hangovers from the booze and the inevitable breakout of the Charlie), they are off again, watching the landscape flatten out into the green farmland and relative natural beauty of Southern England, a kind of Daily Mail / hobbit’s view of the country that the Pieman finds endlessly cheering. His three companions have now started on the booze, rugby players some of them, drinking good whiskey out of the bottle, and Pieman himself takes a clandestine swig. The Filth don’t really bother people like us, he reasons to himself. The radio is on, Terry Wogan’s voice murmuring inoffensively, soothing background noise. What a legend, old Terry is, they say.
An angry honk startles him, as a battered green VW van nearly clips his wing mirror. A thickly muscled arm, with what looks like a deformed hand waves angrily out of the window followed by a stream of profanities. Pieman considers winding down his window and giving some verbal back, but decides against it after seeing the crudely daubed anarchist ‘A’ on the side of the van. Loud punk-ska is blaring out of the window. The van speeds off ahead. Pieman wonders where they’re off to.
‘Hippy tossers’ he shouts to his friends, who laugh and sip a bit more whiskey. One of them spills a bit down his rugby sweater.
They’re on the golf course, getting in an afternoon playing before hitting the boozer in the heritage city where they had all attended school, beneath ancient spires, on cobbled streets, far away from the madness of the city where they earn their cash. For now they swing golfing irons with glee, enjoying the peace that comes with private land. Nothing comes for free, muses Pieman, as he takes a languid swing. One of his companions, a feller named Dave, announces he needs a piss and wanders off in search of some bushes to provide him with cover.
Some time passes. Pieman begins to wonder Dave has gone while he puffs on a cigarette. I’m off to find Dave, he announces to his remaining two companions. They shrug an OK at him.
Pieman walks across the deserted, cultivated grass. He notices a species of bird that he cannot identify fly overheard. Good to see some nature, he grins to himself, other than fucking city pigeons. He’ll have time to learn about all that stuff when he’s moved out of the city and settled with a nice wholesome wife in a place like this. They can take long walks through Autumnal woods out in the countryside. He might keep a flat up in London, for business. A kid at school had known a lot about nature and birds (the flying ones), and had the piss taken out of him endlessly for it.
He reaches the patch of scrub and bush that Dave had designated as the pissing point. The earth is soaked a deep claret. Pieman gasps as he sets eyes on Dave’s corpse, facedown in his own piss and blood, the back of his head caved in like a cracked boiled egg, grey brain mush visible, a stained golf club lying by his side with a small paper note sellotaped to it, emblazoned with the legend:
Pieman vomits his bacon sarnie, hot black coffee and whiskey onto the pristine cultivated green. This is probably in violation of some of the club’s laws, he thinks, ridiculously. He wipes the rancid drool from his chin and runs back to his other two companions, Chris and Steve. His eyes widen in terror as he sees their prone forms lying facedown, identical injuries to Dave’s, again a golf club soiled with their blood, shards of skull and brain matter, and now a note that reads, simply:
Pieman has no pork-products left in him to vomit, instead spewing grey-green bile, voiding his stomach contents until there is nothing left. He panics, begins to hyperventilate, and runs on wobbly legs back to his car, that he will need soon to replace with a decent four by four, in which to adequately fit his golfing equipment. He had been looking forward to the boozing session and the Charlie tonight in the heritage city. No chance now.
He reaches the car park, which is now deserted save for his vehicle and the battered VW van that had cut him up on the motorway hours previously. He notes his tyres are slashed.
Pigman sits, leaning forward on the bonnet of the Pieman’s car, propping himself up with a golf club that glints in the late afternoon light. He is smoking a rollup without a filter and swigging from a can of Scrumpy Jack that he holds tightly in his trotter. He wears a T-shirt with the slogan ‘Do They Owe Us A Living?’ daubed across it. A green army jacket with a number of patches sewn crudely to it, showing off the names of bands the Pieman is unfamiliar with. Choking Victim. Citizen Fish. Autonomads. A small badge pointing out the evils of Tesco clings limpet like to the coat. Pieman feels his own attire, a navy Lacoste zip neck knit jumper and golfing shoes, being regarded with mockery. Strangely, he notes that Pigman and himself both wear straight dark denim Levi jeans. Pigman, however, has a pair of vegetarian mock-DM’s obscuring his hind-trotters.
‘Now’, says Pigman, ‘you’ve seen what I think of parasites and vampires like you and your so-called friends.’
Pieman nods in silent assent. Pieman swears he recognises the porcine voice addressing him.
‘And you’re probably thinking why you haven’t gone the same way.’ Pigman drags deeply on the dirty wrap of tobacco in his trotter before flicking it to the gravelled carpark floor, coughing slightly.
‘I…’ begins the Pieman, but he doesn’t know what to say. He feels he’s going to receive one of the verbal attacks he has been subject to from his old school colleagues. Asked to justify his inflated wage, how people like him merely treat the world as a playground, the sexism that plagues his sentences, the coke and the strip clubs.
Pigman says none of this.
‘You, me, we’re both from the same place you know. Geographically at least. Went to the same school even.’
Pieman realises he does recognise him.
‘But there we pretty much parted ways…Maybe we’ll catch up in London some time.’ He grins, exposing his boar tusks.
With that, Pigman leaps off the bonnet of the car, revealing the words PARASITE and VAMPIRE daubed in black paint across Pieman’s windscreen. He throws his empty can of Scrumpy toward Pieman, climbs into his van, starts the engine. Some loud dub-punk blares out of the window. He drives off, destination unknown.
The Pieman is left alone, gravel crunching under his feet and stares at his wrecked car, the black paint running slightly distorting the criticisms he’s heard a thousand times. He pulls out his smartphone and phones the relevant services. If he had a bird, he would have called her first, he thinks.
At least now he as a good excuse to get a car big enough to hold all his golfing gear.
The insurance should cover it, no probs