London Short Fiction: An Extract From The Diary Of Kay Richardson, Actor

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Continuing our series of short fiction set in, or influenced by London. This week, Tom Mitchell offers something, well, a bit surreal.

An Extract from the Diary of Kay Richardson, Actor

Trauma. Pain. Distress.

It is now twenty past five, Friday evening. I am about to retire to my bedroom and sleep until I wake. I hope there come no dreams. Not even sexy ones.

For today was fashioned in the depths of hell by bad-boy Lucifer himself. I feel half a man. Reduced, Richardson-lite. Losing consciousness is the only escape.

Last night is to blame and last night was a crazy, bitchin’, hot shit type of night. One might even describe the evening as BONKERS. I wouldn’t. It is not a word a man such as myself should use. I am no ‘Dizzee Rascal’.

This velvet (sic.) Friday morning, I woke in an empty, mysterious flat. I wasn’t where I should have been – in Lee, SE London, in bed. The place was also fucking freezing. Unlike Lee. The room in which I regained consciousness held no furniture. An empty room. I had slept, curled, on the unforgiving carpet-less floor. Like a dog. A greyhound. Cold, white light flooded from the bare windows, encouraging my skull-pain. My mouth tasted of cigarettes, my shirt – speckled with sick and blood and black stuff. I was disturbed to find I wore no trousers. My pants, thankfully, were intact. Small mercies, Reader.

A quick recce of the flat revealed it to be wholly empty of life, save for me. A most troubling situation. A secondary recce (secce) revealed the flat empty too of my trousers. I stood in the small, white and DIRTY kitchen, drinking brown water from the tap when images of the night before flashed across my dulled mind.

Whap:

Trousers off, twirling trousers above my head. Shouting. Banks of faces watching blankly. Gay Tom, turning, telling: ‘it’s only quarter to eight, check yourself’. A bouncer approaching, mean-faced.

Later – walking London streets alone. Lost. A sudden compulsion to remove trousers again. For what reason, who knows or dare ask?

Much later — a dance-floor. Wearing trousers, but DIFFERENT trousers. Talking to a girl who thought me a girl. I’m not a girl.

Red vomit.

And so I left the flat. Thrust into an area of London unknown. Acton Town: wtf? Outside, in the suburban street, I stood paralysed by geography for six whole minutes, praying that someone I knew might materialise. Miracles happen – ask the Pope.

Six minutes later, I boarded a bus claiming to be heading towards Westminster. I hate public transport — to journey upon it is an admission of failure. My wallet contained only two pound eight three pence, however. I had no choice.

Before leaving the mysterious flat, I had searched through the myriad of Ikea cupboards in the bedroom for something in which to wrap my legs.

These wardrobes were full of frilly shirts (the flat of a dandy, perhaps) but as trouserless as my legs. I could only find cycling shorts. Having no alternative, I was forced to wear them. They were NEON GREEN. I see them now, Reader, in my memories. And I shudder.

I know not in whose flat I woke up. I sincerely hope I didn’t drink to such excess that I murdered its tenants. This is not a joke. I really hope I didn’t. There were slight traces of blood on upon my shirt. I may ring the Police to check that nobody was murdered last night in Acton Town, just to be sure. I’ll do it from a phone-box. Murder leads to short-term celebrity, but long-term unemployment.

The bus’s display hadn’t lied and after forty minutes of travel, the big red double-decker rolled past Trafalgar Square and I jumped out. Spanish tourists and pigeons and noise. Although conscious of wearing tight neon-green cycling shorts with a white dress shirt, suit jacket and EXPENSIVE SHOES, I was more conscious (monscious) of the hollow hunger pulling at my guts.

Solution: buying a MEATBALL sandwich from Pret and eating it over The Guardian outside the National Gallery like a sophisticate. London’s temperature was penguin-worryingly cold, but the pain of the hangover distracted my careless body for I worried not for my heat. In fact, all was going (relatively) fine.

Until, that is, I was approached.

“Kay? Kay Richardson?”

A punter wanting an autograph, I thought. Then I realised I wasn’t yet famous.

I looked up. It was my downstairs neighbour. The one with the explosive nose. She stared at my groin, the tightness of the Lycra giving the contours a pornographic tint.

“Hello,” I said and tried to subtlety position The Guardian over the delineations of my genitals. “What are you doing here?”

I even smiled.

“Taking my parents to the gallery,” she replied.

Two serious tweedy people to her left. A man shaking his head. A woman looking elsewhere.

“Well…have a nice visit,” I said, summoning as much enthusiasm as a Lycra-clad, hung-over actor in Trafalgar Square talking to his downstairs neighbour can.

They left. Downstairs neighbour said:

“He’s the one I was talking about.”

The father asked if I always wore such clothes, as they moved out of earshot. He asked if I were “one of those”.

I threw down The Guardian and finished my meatballs with a flourish.

It was a subdued train journey home to Outer Blackheath. Thankfully, the train carriage was empty. Nobody else had the opportunity to complain about my shorts.

I burnt them in the sink on returning home. It felt good and I felt potent.

Reader, read well, for there is a moral here. Red wine mixed with vodka and Kahlua in one glass makes for a PAINFUL (trouserless) evening.

My ‘phone does now hold one extra number, however: SONYA. Memory fails me, but I expect ‘SONYA’ was one hot lady. If only I could remember…

And so to bed.


Copyright, Tom Mitchell, 2013. Find him at ofwhich.tumblr.com and @tommycm. Image of Acton tower blocks by M@. 


Submissions for this column should be sent to fiction@londonist.com. Entries must be no more than 1,000 words, and must be set in London, or strongly inspired by the city. Full details here.

Previously in this series

  • Amelie: Narges Rashidi considers the interactions of three people on a District Line tube.
  • Old Nichol: Jill Fricker evokes the woes of the old East End.
  • Compatibility: Stephen Lynch conjures the awkwardness of flat hunting.
  • Two Four Eight: Lance V Ramsay envisions an Orwellian dystopia in the lingo of future London.
  • Shelter Drawings: Stuart Snelson’s tale of a mysterious Circle Line artist.
  • Harvest Festival: A spooky Halloween tale in the London suburbs by Helen Craig.
  • Jazz Code and the Tube: The ambivalence of dating, by Jenny Mackenzie.
  • Bishopsgate: Oliver Zarandi visits the site of a bomb.
  • A Free Man: Melanie White’s flash fiction piece considers a recently single guy at a bachelor party.
  • Tracks and Albums: Richard Lakin attracts the attentions of the British Transport Police.

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  • Ian Gibson

    That’s the most enjoyable short fiction so far. Really good. But a bus fare, MEATBALL sandwich and Guardian comes to more than £2.83, no?

  • toughy

    I enjoyed this ~ as I always enjoy your writing. I do worry about that guy, Kay, though! ;)