February 14th, 2008
|accio_arse||08:41 am - Mistletoe Threeway part 3/8?|
Title: Mistletoe Threeway Part 3/8? crossposted to booshslashhaven
This part by: accio_arse, collaboration with easilyled
Characters: Howard, Vince, Dennis the Head Shaman, Lester Corncrake, other
Pairings: YES! Read and see!
Word Count: 4500
Rating: this part R, series (NC-17)
Summary: Howard and Vince continue to have misunderstandings. About sex, of course! And there’s rain, itching, small pink cars… ooh, whole piles of stuff!
“Hey, Howard, don’t bust my beeswax!”
Howard thumped his brown corduroy suitcase to the floor. “Why didn’t you tell me you were moving, Lester? I’d have helped!”
Lester tried to shrug, but as he was a disembodied head, the effect was more of a general wobble.
“Some really creepy guy with a skull on his face answered the door at your old place. He tried to get me to filth up his cradle!”
“Oh yeah… that’d be little Rich. Don’t worry, he only sucks souls on weekends. His main job’s in IT.“
Howard stuck his head around the door, taking in Lester’s new flat. “Um… isn’t it a little bit cramped?”
“Well, a head like me don’t need the same living space that a whole man would. All I need’s my jazz records,” Lester lifted his eyebrows towards his heaving shelves, “my trusty record player to play the records on - and of course my hatstand! Can’t forget my collection of all-purpose snoods! Snoods! For sleeping in, for keeping out cold weather, for tying up webbed ears – they’re all a head could ever want!” He cackled with laughter.
Howard looked at his large suitcase. He looked at the small room in front of him. The suitcase obviously wasn’t going to fit. It was less like a flat and more like a broom cupboard. “So where am I going to put this?”
“Well, I guess you’re gonna have to set it down outside.”
Howard looked nervously up and down the corridor. “And it’ll be safe out here?”
Lester shook with more laughter. “No, I guess not!”
Well. Howard supposed that he didn’t have much of a choice. It was either in here or on the street… or he could always make a phone call to Dennis. He still had Dennis’s card, surprisingly heavy in his pocket for such a small rectangle. But he wasn’t even going to consider that third option.
He hauled his suitcase up against the corridor wall – then stood a second, frowning. He shifted the case slightly, made another adjustment… and another. Finally the suitcase had been parked to his liking. Howard gave a little nod, as if such neat baggage arrangements would deter any pilfering. Then he closed the door and settled down into Lester’s new flat.
It was hard for a naturally awkward man like Howard to find a comfortable way to sit on the floor, especially when the area available was very small and practically L-shaped. But he tried, folding his legs into the shape of a Japanese fan and then cramping them around the side of the record player.
At least he’d now get a little R & R, and he certainly needed it. Lester had a fine collection of jazz records. What better way to spend an evening than to sit quietly, having a nice listen to some hot bebop?
But the floor was so uncomfortably hard. Lester seemed quite happy on his little cushion, nodding away to the beat, but Howard couldn’t get quite into his usual jazz trance. Instead of digging the funky patterns flying through the air in a kaleidoscope of beats, he found himself imagining a series of soft squishy sofas flying through the air in time to the music. They came towards him, berthing under his aching parts and giving wonderful relief.
Even that old wooden chair behind the counter at the Nabootique seemed like bliss now. Howard remembered the hours he’d sat at his post, suffering dutiful numb bum while Vince had been twirling away, trying on all the most ridiculous clothing, like an overgrown kitten with a tutu compulsion.
Howard swallowed back a sudden ache. He’d never work at the Nabootique again. Never get to complain about Vince’s lack of work ethic, his disdain of basic stocktaking principles or his relentless gadding about.
Huge chunks of his life that he’d spent moaning at Vince. He’d never thought he’d miss it so much.
He shifted uncomfortably, trying to find a better position on the hard floor. All day, he’d been trying to ignore the pain and the burning. Not to mention the blood. There’d been blood on the sheets last night after he’d been… deflowered. Today there’d been even more. Howard had been horrified to see it every time he’d gone to the loo.
And every time he took a step, the inside of him itched. It felt slack, and raw, and just wrong, in the place where Vince - no, the not Vince - had shoved up inside.
What if something serious had been damaged? The idea of showing it to anyone else made Howard shudder. He’d have to tell them what had happened. No - what he’d asked to happen. After all, he’d said yes. Demanded the knots were even tighter around his wrists. Wanted it even harder.
If only it really had been Vince last night. It would have all been so different.
At least, Howard hoped that it would be different. Perhaps sex was supposed to bleed and hurt. Perhaps it was always like this. Did everyone else knew that was what it was like – everyone in the world except Howard?
Is that what Vince had meant? Last night, it had sounded like a typical Vince-like boast, “I’ll try to make it good.” He’d even got angry, snapped at Vince and told him off. Really, Vince must have been trying to warn him. Protect him, even.
So why didn’t Vince understand now? Last night, Howard had been tied up, anally thumb-stabbed and then had a cock pushed down his throat. Did Vince think he’d do that with just anyone? Let anyone do that to him, anyone at all, and any time they wanted? That he hadn’t thought it was Vince?
As if on cue, Howard’s arse throbbed, as if to tell him how squalid and soiled he was - just another notch on the bedpost of a perverted virgin-obsessed shaman.
He couldn’t stand it any more. Howard got up, deciding to go check on his suitcase, to stretch his legs – anything to give him something to do.
The corridor was empty. Howard’s suitcase was gone.
Running up and down the corridor, Howard didn’t know which way to turn, where he should be looking first. “No! No! Oh my God! All my stuff! My jazz bookmarks! That one with Dizzy - where his cheeks actually explode all over a small child! That bookmark was an one-off!”
A couple of heads began to pop out of doorways.
“And my polo necks! All gone! I had polo necks in eight shades of nutmeg! A whole octave of jazz browns! I’ll never own that many again! Noooo!” Howard stretched his arms wide at the neighbours. “Have you seen a suitcase? This big and a in an angry beige – here just here a moment ago? It was full of jazz!”
The neighbours shook their heads cautiously, not really wanting to get involved with a red-faced man who shouted and kept brown bags full of jazz.
Just as Howard began to hyperventilate, Lester appeared out in the corridor. He was mounted on a dinky little car with pink wheels, which whined as they spun of their own accord.
“Hey Howard – what ya worrying about?”
“My… suitcase!” panted Howard.
“Oh, is that all? The folks who took it are long gone.”
Howard turned disbelievingly to Lester, noticing his miniature form of transport for the first time. “What…?”
“Oh yeah! I heard them. Draggin’ your case all the way downstairs. Bumpety bumpety bump! Didn’t you hear it?”
“What? Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Well slap me, Charlie! Thought you’d be glad to get rid of it! Wasn’t the thing too big for the room anyhow?”
Howard took in a pained breath. “Yes! It was! But everything I owned was in that one bag!”
“Was it, Howard? Well, sorry to hear about that.”
A terrible thought struck Howard. “My money! All my savings too! I’d stashed the notes inside my Gogol!”
“In your goggles? Why d’you put them there?”
“No! Gogol! It’s intense Russian literature!” Howard grabbed his hair in both hands. “Oh no! Even the classics are against me!”
“Howard – now, I know you’re upset, but you’re making no kinda sense.”
“I stuffed the notes in a book and put them in the middle of my case!”
Or Howard had decided that after he’d been mugged by a sweet little seven year old girl on the way there. She’d first asked him to fetch her ball back, then when he was distracted, headbutted him in the balls. While he’d been laid out on the pavement she’d lifted his trumpet, his thermos flask, and his favourite tweedy scarf - although after inspection of his tartan-covered flask, she’d thrown it back on his prone body.
Lester tilted his head. “Well, seems that weren’t such a good idea.”
“No,” said Howard, looking up and down the empty corridor. “You’re right. Not such a good idea at all.”
Several hours later, Howard had calmed down enough to think about dinner.
Lester creased his eyes in amusement, as if it were the funniest thing possible. “Eating? Skidildeedoo! Why, I don’t need that kinda thing any more! Think about it, son! I ain’t got a belly!”
Howard was astounded. “But I’d been going to your old place every day to feed you!”
“Shucks, Howard - and don’t take this the wrong way, it’s been mighty good of you and all – but I’ve been collecting the runoff into little plastic bags and throwing them in the garbage.”
“Oh yeah! It runs right through my neck like feeding time at the whorehouse. But you seemed so happy feeding me, with all your soups and rices and little lentil goulashes. I didn’t want to hurt you by telling you to stop.”
Howard had a picture of what the ‘runoff’ might entail. He felt a bit queasy, although his stomach still rumbled. “But what about me? I still need to eat.”
“You go on ahead, Howard. There’s a little fried chicken bar around the corner. They do great saucy wings.”
Howard stood up. Then he remembered. “Oh. Lester you wouldn’t lend me some money, would you?”
“Sure thing, Howard. In that jar over there. That’s where I keep the beer tokens.”
Howard looked deep into the jar. He counted once, then counted again, just to make sure. “Lester, I know you’re putting me up already - thanks for that. It’s good of you. But I need to borrow quite a bit more than this. Just for a while, until I get a new job.”
“Sure thing, Howard. How much?”
“Well – I’ve just lost all my stuff, and I need new clothes for interviews and the like. There’s a total of two Euros and seven cents here in the jar. So - a hundred Euros more? Would that be okay?”
Lester seemed to find this more hilarious than anything Howard had said so far that evening. “Well - if you can find any more money than that hereabouts, you’re welcome to have it. Did you think the vinyl record mending business was a sure fire money spinner? Why d’you think I’m living in a broom closet? Everyone’s onto iPods and Down Roads and iPegging nowadays.”
“Ah.” Howard saw his immediate future. He was going to be a lot hungrier.
“But don’t you fret. As the wise grasshopper said when faced by the lawnmower of destiny – lose your body, free your mind.”
Howard twitched his face. His moustache bristled. “I see. And how does that apply to my situation, exactly?”
“No, Howard. You don’t get it yet. There’s something even better than money. And I’m gonna give it to you.”
“It isn’t another one of your stories about ancient jazz wisdom? Because I think I’ve already had all of those, thanks.”
“No, Howard. The gift is music. Choose any record. It’s yours.”
Howard paused, hardly believing his ears. “What? Really?”
“Any record? At all? You mean it?”
A second ago, Howard had owned precisely nothing. Well, apart from a borrowed two Euro seven cents, if you wanted to be pedantic. Now he was about to possess an LP out of Lester Corncrakes’s legendary private collection.
He started to rummage through the shelves, flipping the sleeves over in excitement. It only took him a half a minute to find what he was looking for.
“This one.” Howard voice was shaking a little with emotion. “Thanks for this, Lester.”
“Sure. No problem. Wanna play it now?”
Howard took his new disc out of the cover using the very tips of his fingers, scared that he might drop it. Gently, he removed the dust sleeve and set the needle on the record. Then he sat back, reverently.
The sound of ‘Some Kind of Haze’ by the JuJu Bead Orchestra trickled through the air.
Howard thought that deities probably listened to this very music. That made sense. It was that primal. They probably lounged about in the sky on their big jazzy clouds every night, rattling their halos to the beat. They would drift off to celestial sleep during the forty minute horn breaks.
The slap bass line kicked in, and Howard’s heart rose along with the sound. He smiled at Lester. Lester smiled back.
This is mine, thought Howard. I may not have much, but I have this.
When Howard woke up, the first thing he realised was how much he really needed to pee. The second thing he discovered was that there was no bathroom in Lester’s flat. He hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since yesterday lunchtime – that must be why he hadn’t noticed.
Lester was still snoozing on his pillow as Howard crawled out. He left the door carefully ajar so that he could get back in later.
Howard’s footsteps rang out in the corridor. It was quiet and eerie. He spotted a small window at the end of the hallway, misted up with morning dew, and went over to peer through. There was a park right beside the block of flats, with some trees and a bit of grass.
Howard frowned. A park – great. So this was what it had come to. He was about to relieve himself against shrubbery, like an animal.
When Howard came back from his ablutions, Lester had woken up.
“Listen, Howard. You can’t stay here tonight.”
Howard was aghast. “Why not?”
“Now, I’ll be glad to have you in, any other time. And I’ll leave you my spare keys, and you can stay here all day when I’m at work. But tonight you have to be gone by seven pm. I have… an appointment. Yeah, that’s right. A business meeting.” Lester looked shifty.
“Business? And they’re coming here, to this flat, at night? But how will they fit? There isn’t a chair for them to sit on. There isn’t even room for a chair!”
“Oh, that don’t matter. He’ll fit in fine. He’s just a head like me… Oops.”
“Forget I said anything. He doesn’t want his wife to know.”
“No! It’s not – is it? That pink freak of a shaman? The one who came to my birthday party and crashed the DJ booth? With the tentacles and the obscene bell end forehead and the bizarre Fleetwood Mac obsession?” And, Howard added, silently, the one who was seen later on waving his pink alien penis in the air and doing obscene things with it and with you, behind my very own birthday bouncy castle.
“Yeah,” admitted Lester. “He’s been coming round. You know, just now and again.”
“What the hell for?”
“Come on, Howard. Don’t make me have to spell it out for you.”
“No! You don’t mean…”
“Well. We’re two consenting adults.”
“No! You’re kidding me! You don’t have to do it, Lester. You can say no!”
Lester was taken aback for a second. Then he smiled, almost bashfully. “I’d rather say do it some more… and a little bit to the left.”
But Howard was almost talking to himself. “You think it’s going to be okay, but it’s not, it hurts! And it’s even worse afterwards. Everyone hates you and says it’s all your fault. And the blood…”
“Howard? What’re you on about?”
“Trust me. Lester. You don’t want to do it. I know what it’s like.”
“What what’s like?”
“What have we been talking about? Sex!”
Lester laughed. “Come on! Howard! You’re the most famous virgin in all of Dalston town!”
“How do I know? Everyone does! Ten minutes after your birthday party, the news was all around like stink on knees!”
Howard chewed his bottom lip. He didn’t want to go into too much detail. “No… I’ve had sex all right.”
“Yeah, right! I believe you. You’re like a cold sore in a drought.”
“I have done it! With a real other person, too!”
Lester cackled insanely, so hard that his grey felt hat fell onto the LP player and started to spin round. “Okay – prove it! So what’s it like?”
“No! I… don’t want to say.”
“Go on, Howard. Try me.”
Howard took a deep breath. He closed his eyes, remembering. “Okay. So this is how it goes. First they tear up some glitter fabric, so they can tie you up with it, by your wrists, and pretty tight. Then they use their thumb. It hurts - really hurts. They sort of screw the thumb around…” Howard winced. He decided he should skip forward a bit. “Oh, and there’s the part when they hit you.” He touched the bruise high on his cheek, from when he’d been slapped hard and ordered to start sucking cock. His face felt more stiff and swollen all the time. “See this bruise here on my face? There - that proves it! How did I get that unless I’ve had sex!”
“Come on, Howard! The same way you did last week - by walking into a door!”
Howard looked crestfallen. “Oh. But what about the rest of it?”
Lester shook his head, so his whole person had to swing from side to side. “Thumbs and glitter? Whatever. It don’t sound like any whoopie I’ve ever made. Did you eat a lot of cheese before going to bed or something?”
“No! No! I didn’t dream it!”
“Whatever you say. Anyway. I’ll need you out before my tentacled love baby comes round tonight. Okay? You can hang out here all day tomorrow, when I’m at work – so that’s not so bad, right? Just don’t come back round till after ten tomorrow morning. “
“Thanks,” muttered Howard, taking the spare keys.
“Tony’s great! He got me this rinky-dink little buggy!” said Lester, getting into his little pink four-wheeler and revving it up. “It’s powered by Shaman Juice – two thousand miles the teaspoon!” He zoomed out to the hall and started doing wheelies.
Howard followed Lester out and stood there, listless, as the pink cart raced round and round his sandals. He wondered if he’d ever be enthusiastic as that about anything, ever again.
Howard spent that morning trying to look for work.
First he said goodbye to his one single possession, ‘Some Kind of Haze’, stroking the album cover, putting it back on the shelf beside Lester’s other jazz LPs and giving it a little wave goodbye. Then he locked up the tiny flat and went out.
It was raining.
Howard remembered he didn’t own any clothes now, apart from the ones he stood up in. He had a pair of Jesus sandals with thick brown socks, some mega jumbo relaxed-fit cords, a thin polo neck in muffin beige, a short-sleeved shirt with a green bamboo design, and on top of it all, his dark overcoat and hat.
He had a feeling he’d be wearing these clothes for quite a while. Time to get a job.
By midday, his cords were rain-soaked to the knee and his coat was soaked all the way through. As for his sandals, he could hardly walk in them, they were such a floppy wet mess. He’d been turned down by five bookshops, a bakery, two pubs, and a florist’s. Not to mention the curt, “No, thank you,” he’d got at a specialist bra emporium for the larger lady. He thought he might have been pushing his luck at the last shop, but he was starting to get a bit desperate.
On the plus side, an old lady had mistaken him for a tramp and pressed a kindly five Euro note into his hand.
At least he now had enough for a hot lunch.
“Hey there? Lester Corncrake’s Vinyl Mending, Rare Jazz LP Finder and Pole Dancing Service?”
“Hi Lester! It’s Vince. Thought I’d phone to ask if you’d seen Howard. We had a bit of a fight and he’s legged it without telling me where he’s off to. You know what he’s like.”
Lester began to laugh down the phone. “Oh, hi Vince. Sure, I know where Howard is.”
“What’s so funny, then?”
“It’s Howard! He says he’s been having sex! Can you believe it?”
“Hmmm,” replied Vince, noncommittally.
“Apparently some girl beat him up and Howard thinks that’s sex now! Ah, you gotta love him.”
“How Howard doing, then?”
“Got a black eye the size of a saucepan! She must have walloped him real good!”
“Listen, Lester. Any chance of putting him on the phone?”
“No can do.”
“Well, how about later?”
“No, he’s out all tonight as well.”
Typical. Vince had spent ages working himself up to make this call, and now Howard wasn’t even there. “Well, when you see him, tell him that it’s… Even though he… “ He made a noise of frustration.
“Is Howard really out all of tonight? It doesn’t sound like him at all.”
“Sure I’m sure! He won’t be back till late tomorrow morning. Probably off to his lady friend getting the other eye blacked up! Am I right?”
Suspicion curled at Vince’s heart. “Really? You think that’s where he’ll be?”
Lester cackled. “Oh, sure! He’s had a taste of that good ol’ stuff, and he’s off straight back for more!”
“Listen, Lester. Don’t say anything to Howard. Yeah - don’t tell him I called at all. You do that?”
“No, Lester – you promise?”
“Sheesh. Okay, then. I promise. See ya later, Vince! Byeeee!”
“Yeah, bye.” Vince put the receiver down.
He bit on the end of his thumbnail.
Funny – in loads of ways, sharing a bedroom with Howard had annoyed the hell out of him. Every night, Howard made those little grunting noises as he took off his hideous muddy brown trousers and shirts. Then folded them into neat little piles. It always drove Vince crazy. Not to mention alphabeticsing every single one of his mouldy old timewarped possessions. And Howard shrieked regularly during nightmares, waking Vince up when he really needed his beauty sleep.
Vince checked his pocket mirror again. Yeah, dark rings beneath his eyes. Three hours, that’s all he’d got last night. What a shocker. But he couldn’t help it. The room had seemed so wrong and empty without Howard.
Funny. You’d never think you’d miss that sort of thing, would you?
But he did.
By four am in the morning, Howard was in the dark, sitting under a piece of cardboard box and looking at the Nabootique. At the moment, the building was just a solid outline of black, but every now and then somebody would get up and put on a light.
At one fifty eight, the light had turned on in the upstairs living room. Howard knew Vince, and how he got up to watch cartoons when he was a bit upset and couldn’t sleep. He was probably up watching Colobus the Crab, the Animated Adventures.
Then at three forty one the light had gone off and remained that way ever since. Howard supposed that he might as well stay here for all of the night. It wasn’t like he had anything better to do.
That afternoon, the rain had stopped and the sun had thankfully come out. Howard had gone into the little park by Lester’s, hidden behind a bush, and taken most of his clothes off. He’d wrung as much wet out of them as he could, dancing in the cold, and put them back on, wrinkled and crushed.
Then he’d gone to find as many shops as possible with hot-air blowers at their entrance, and stood there for as long as he thought he could possibly get away with. He looked a little bedraggled now, but at least he was drier.
It was a mild night for a January, and Howard was sitting on top of four large cardboard boxes, and using an extra-thick one as a kind of makeshift poncho, but he was still shivering until his bones clinked. If his clothes had been wet as well, he thought he might not have made it through the night.
Howard’s attention was fixed so hard on the shop across the road that he didn’t notice a shadow in the distance. Just a few feet above street level, a carpet was hovering, watching Howard as he watched the Nabootique. And on that carpet sat a bald-pated man, with a sword deep beneath his great, brooding robes.
Just before dawn, the heavens opened once again. This time the rain tore even more fiercely down, ripping through Howard’s clothes, whipping at his coat and battering his hat across his skull, as if hating him with all its fury.
Howard abandoned his wet and useless boxes and ran to a doorway. Even there, the wind whipped his face like ice. Howard shrank down, wishing that the day would come soon.
A long, dark shape fell across Howard’s field of vision. The storm seemed cut through in its wake, folding round to fall helplessly to the side.
“Pluto’s nipples!” came a growl. The voice was deep and horribly familiar to Howard. “I forgot the headlights.”
There was a click. Two cones of light flared up the street, with two red lights glowing at the rear. In between was the outline of a flying carpet and the silhouette of a man cross-legged in the middle, stiff-backed and completely unaffected by the storm.
Howard pushed himself further back into the doorway.
He recognised that deep growl. It had been at the edge of Vince’s voice the whole time he’d loomed over him, while tying him to the bed, while hitting him, while pushing up his legs… no, that hadn’t been Vince!
And afterwards, the man who hadn’t been Vince had wiped Howard’s blood off his cock, and then sat on the edge of Vince’s bed calmly eating popcorn. The way he’d been sitting - elbows out, chest wide and with his chin jutting high – the same way the man on the flying carpet was sitting right now.
A pair of albino eyes shone through the dark. “Ah, Howard! Come now! I wish to talk!”
An arm extended from a bulky robe, through the rain and out towards Howard.
Howard felt emotion thumping through his legs, urging him to life. He took a step forward, lifting his hand, feeling the rain pelt his fingers and stretching out with all his might.