April 18th, 2008
|accio_arse||09:34 am - BOOSHFIC: Howard Moon, Former Male Prostitute (2/3) (R)|
Title: Howard Moon, Former Male Prostitute Part 2/3 crossposted to BSH
Pairing: Howard/a lot of men, eventually Howard/Vince, also many other original characters
Rating: R, for theme not explicitness
Warnings: rent boys, implied het this part (very slight)
Disclaimer: I don’t own Howard Moon. However, he was a former male prostitute. So there!
Summary: Set in the days before the Boosh. Howard is eighteen and has ended up on the streets.
Part One - If only his first client hadn’t cried / Crossposted to BSH on LJ
Having to approach strange men every day had given Howard a new, forced sort of confidence.
So when he saw a girl sitting alone at a table at the Natural History Museum, absorbed in a book, he hardly hesitated before advancing with his tray. He felt incredibly suave and smooth as he walked up to her - but this was the new him, with possibilities around every corner.
“Anyone sitting here?”
She just shrugged.
To the new him, that was as good as an invitation. He sat down, unloading his soup and trying to exude whatever it was about him that made old men want to pay him to touch them. Perhaps the same thing would work on women as well. “What’s that you’re reading?”
She looked up through the top edge of her glasses. Her hair was dark, drawn severely to the back of her head and she wore a striking geometric necklace. Now that he was closer, Howard also noticed that she was a good few years older than him. He didn’t mind that, it gave her poise. In fact, she bore an uncanny resemblance to an older Claire Caldicot, the hopeless object of Howard’s schooldays. But he didn’t realise that. All he knew was that he wanted to impress her.
She flicked the book’s cover over at him. “Men of Action: The Role of the Hero in Greek myth and legend.”
“That’s like me!” said Howard, realising as the words left his mouth that it was rubbish. “I’m a man of action! I do great things, I accomplish tasks…” He felt her steady gaze and wilted. “That is, I’m going to… ”
She raised one eyebrow. “You’re going to decapitate a seven-headed monster with your sword, are you?”
“Clean out the king’s stables with a mighty river?”
“Or did you mean something else?”
“Probably something else,” conceded Howard, but thrilled all the same. Here they were, actually having a conversation. He wondered how long he could make it last.
“Yaaah,” she drawled, sounding very posh and Southern to Howard’s ears. “I don’t think so. What can you have done with your life? You’re just a little boy.”
The very night before, a man with a droopy moustache and a beige raincoat had told Howard that he was ‘sorry, too old’ right up to his face. And there’d been others who’d turned away without explanation. Howard had stumbled the frozen pavements until two am, cold and rejected. Just one single blow job, that was it. Just ten quid. To be ‘a little boy’ again felt surprisingly reassuring, and he almost thanked her before he realised she hadn’t meant it that way at all.
“No,” he declared, fiddling with a spoon. “It’s not like that at all. You don’t know a thing. I’m a deeply complicated person. I’ve so much depth you wouldn’t believe. You’d need a hundred Greek heroes with a hundred rivers each before they could wash away my mental shit away.”
Probably his worst chat up line, ever.
But she laughed, amused and staccato. And her name was Annette.
He’d considered sending himself a postcard – but that still wouldn’t solve the problem. That still left the utility bill, and the library wanted both as proof of residence before they’d let him join. The electric was on a meter, they had no phone, and nobody wrote to him here because nobody knew where he was. And Howard desperately wanted to borrow some books so he could read up on Greek myths and legends before he saw Annette again.
In the meantime, he bought three reference works from Hatchard’s, satisfyingly thick as they sat on the floor by the double bed. Steve lolled there most of the daytime, smoking and listening to music on his newly-bought stereo. It was good to have goals, Howard thought, it was far too easy just to drift about. Even if his current goal was only to get to the end of a verse translation of the Odyssey.
So far The Odyssey seemed to involve a boatload of ancient Greek soldiers sailing about the Aegean, stealing other people’s oxen, cutting the ‘choice parts’ off said oxen and then barbequing the bits as gifts to the gods, all in dactylic hexameter.
Howard stretched out his arms and put the book to the side. Perhaps he’d read more later. He looked over at his friend.
“You’d really like her, Steve. She knows all about ancient history. Philosopher kings. Sirens, voodoo and witches. She’s so inspiring. She goes into the past and milks it.”
Steve took a pull, holding the smoke in his lungs before he replied. His voice went all squeaky. “Yeah. She sounds nice. Lovely.”
“I’ve seen her every single day since we met. Can you believe that? Isn’t that incredible?”
“Only, Steve, when you meet her, I mean, she’s really going to like you, but what we do nights - would you not mention it? Please?” It wasn’t like he and Steve talked about it anyway, at least not in the flat, as if by mutual agreement. They hadn’t brought round any clients either, or at least not yet. But then, they’d been there two weeks. “I mean, I’ve hardly been working long, so it’s not like she needs to know. And it’s only temporary.” And he hadn’t been doing so much of it recently, either. Although not by choice, it was a kind of relief. “Besides, I’ve got so many other plans.”
Steve swivelled his head back. He looked at Howard from upside down from the edge of the bed. “Plans?”
But that was where Howard always faltered. He knew he was destined to do something, and it was going to be magnificent, but the rest of the details were as yet evading him.
Steve’s tiny ribcage went up and down. He started to gasp. “Are you going away? Howard? Are you? Are those your plans? Don’t be going away! The flat’s in your name! You can’t leave now!”
“Steve – calm down. It’s a panic attack.” This had happened once already, when Steve had done five or six hash pipes one after another on an empty stomach. “Calm down, slow breaths. Yes, that’s right. Breathe. Good.”
He took away Steve’s pipe and held it in the air, red-ended, but not taking any himself. The only time he’d tried it, he’d spent ten minutes not getting any hit and then an hour throwing up. Anyway, Steve didn’t seem to mind getting high on his own – the more gear for himself, he said. “Hold on, Steve - you can have it back in a minute. Don’t worry. And no, I’m not going anywhere. I promise.”
After Thursday, Howard knew it was all over.
He loved their flat, he really did. But at the same time, it was probably not the best place to bring someone like Annette. It was small, so small that the double bed jutted right onto the kitchenette lino, there were mouse droppings scattered on the painted-over window frames, and the communal bathroom was shared with three other floors.
No, better go somewhere else. So Howard arranged the first time the three of them should meet would be in town, and chose the film carefully, a nice culty director with great reviews. He sincerely hoped that she’d like it.
Just before they left, Steve got out a plastic bag, held it high by one corner, and began tipping a fine white powder down his throat. Howard had no idea what was going on at first - he had to ask. Then he was appalled.
“Relax, now! I’s always doing some whizz before I go out, isn’t it?”
“I’ve never seen you!”
“Well, I do. It keeps me sharp, see. Keeps me up so I can watch out for trouble.”
Howard clenched his fingers through his hair. “It’s just the movies! In the afternoon! It’s not a war zone over at the Odeon - you don’t need ammunition!”
“But I got to meet go this girl of yours, so same difference, I reckons.” Steve did his shoes up. “We going now? I’m ready. You ready?”
Howard was poised to sulk, even call the whole thing off. But after ten minutes walking side by side, curbing his strides to the smaller ones, he had to admit that Steve seemed unaffected.
“I does it all the time, I does. I told you so. See? And I only did a bit, because I knew you wouldn’t like it if I was right off me head.”
His childish voice hitched as he walked, panting slightly, his legs a blur as he pretended that he could keep up with Howard. Then he smiled an buoyant little smile. He had to crane his head right back to do it, the only way he could make eye contact right at the top of Howard’s six feet two.
“Okay, then,” muttered Howard. He wasn’t any less anxious, but now he also had the crazy urge to hug pick Steve up and give him a great big hug. Damn him for being so cute, and damn him for knowing it.
Annette was already outside the cinema, elegant in a long dark skirt and tailored coat. She looked understatedly wonderful. Howard’s spirits rose. This was going to go well.
But after a few minutes, Steve was already bored listening to the ‘adults’, as Howard tried to pretend to Annette that he was au fait with the cinematic traditions of film noir and European fairy tales. He began to jiggle up and down on his white Adidas, his little head a good two feet below the others
Steve was wearing one of his thickest gold curb chains around his neck, perhaps in honour of the occasion. As he bounced up and down it escaped from inside his brief little white vest, which in turn was working free from his tracksuit bottoms. Howard caught Annette’s eyes flicker downwards and froze. Steve’s bare shoulders, his fragile collar bone, his spindly little chest – how had he not noticed before how much frail childish body was on show? As for the gold chain – oh God – perhaps it was some commonly understood sign of underage prostitution he didn’t know about? Howard hunched his back, crippled by fear. But Annette appeared not to take any notice, and simply continued being politeness itself. Disturbingly so, in fact.
It wasn’t until they’d got their tickets, and Steve had headed off to the queue for a Coke, that she finally rounded on Howard.
“That’s your flatmate?” Howard saw her arch into the attack and prepared himself. “That child?”
“No, really. He’s a lot older than he looks.”
“What, older than eleven? Twelve?”
“No, I told you. He just looks young. Actually, he’s fourteen.” As soon as Howard saw the horrified look on her face, he knew he should have said something a lot older.
“My God! Howard! How does that work? You’re a twenty six year old man, and living with a fourteen year old child?”
That had been one of Howard’s more successful ploys - adding eight years to his age. He’d suspected that Annette was quite a bit older, so he’d planned it so she would tell her age first. That way he could say he was exactly the same, and she couldn’t claim he was too young for her. It didn’t seem like such a good idea right now.
“What about his parents? Do they know? I can see by your expression they don’t. He’s a runaway, Howard. You’re living with a runaway, and his parents must be worried sick.” She leaned over and hissed in his face, “What the hell do you think you’re playing at?” It was the first time he’d ever heard her swear.
Steve came back, carrying not just the Coke he’d gone for, but a dangerously full box of popcorn and some bulging pic-n-mix. “You lot not getting anything? You’re mad, you are. You got to get your eats in at the flicks.” He checked his edibles. “Hey, Howard. Can I’ve another fiver? Forgot the ice cream, didn’t I.”
Howard handed it over, then cringed as he felt Annette’s eyes on the transaction. He always paid for everything when he and Steve went out, it didn’t mean a thing. It was just a reflex kind of action, being taller and so probably reminding Steve of an adult. It wasn’t like he was really Steve’s keeper or anything. But Howard’s heart began thumping, and even though he knew it was Steve who actually paid all the rent, a horrible, telltale red grew all across his face.
The ice cream was obtained and devoured with relish. Then Steve started work on the rest of his haul.
Politely, he offered Annette some fizzy cherries first. She waved them aside with the back of her hand, crouching down so that her face was more at his level. “No, thank you, Steve. So, how did you two meet?”
“I came up to him, like.” Steve stuffed a fistful of popcorn into his mouth. Annette waited patiently while he chewed. “Mmm-hmmm. I came up to Howard, see, and asked him to get me a flat.” There were bits of popcorn between Steve’s teeth as he grinned.
“And where were you sleeping before?”
“Didn’t have a place. Got kicked out.”
“From your parents’ house?”
“No, from Uncle Trevor’s. I liked it there. But then Uncle Trevor met Sal, and I was out. Though he didn’t know, but I still kept my stuff in binbags round his back. I’s clever like that.”
“Your Uncle Trevor - is he in contact with your parents? Have you let him know where you moved to?”
Howard was guessing that ‘Uncle’ Trevor was no kind of uncle at all, and that they were moving towards territory he didn’t want to enter.
But luckily, Steve was now busy with his sweets. He got two milk teeth and wedged them down over his own upper and lower ones, a tricky procedure that prevented him from talking for a while. Then, when he had his new, sweetie teeth firmly in place, he pulled back his lips to show them off. This made him drool from the corners of his mouth.
Howard saw Annette twitch her mouth in distaste and felt a bit sick. Steve was his mate. He was the one he shared cheesey beany crispy toast with in the afternoon, a dish they’d invented together, all on their own. Steve was the one who’d been there waiting in the flat, no questions asked, the night Howard been cornered and robbed. No damage done, but Howard had shaken like water with every step he’d run all the way home. How could she attack Steve like this? “Come on, what’s with all the questions? Give the lad a break!”
But Annette turned towards Howard as if he were a backward child. “Excuse me. Howard, I just was in the middle of a conversation wit– no! Don’t! Don’t touch me!”
Howard recoiled, aghast. Oh God, why had he done that? Grabbed at Annette’s hand, completely out of the blue, when he’d never even dared touch her before?
They went down to the screening, and it didn’t get much better. In the corridor, Steve discovered a cardboard promotional cut-out and launched himself at it like a hurricane, clinging and trying to spin it around. It was just mucking about, and usually Howard would have been right in there too. Not so now, with Annette looking on. Howard wished he could stop it all, tear the cardboard away from Steve, remove him from the centre of Annette’s disapproval. But that would only make things worse. Steve would just play-fight back, jumping on Howard and grabbing all over.
So all Howard did was stand, helpless and miserable. Eventually, Steve, after many a disdainful glance at Howard, decided it was time to lose interest. The three of them moved on.
Finally, they got to their seats. Howard made sure to sit firmly between them - at least he could do that. Then, in the flickering light of forthcoming attractions, Steve pulled out a bag and started to tip it towards his mouth. In horror, Howard recognised it as containing the white powder from earlier.
He shoved his hand around Steve’s ear. “No! Put that away!”
“Bloody fuck off, Howard! You nearly made me spill my whizz!”
“Just do it later? Just not in front of her. Please?”
“Her, is it? You’ve gone all boring. Why’d you have to go all boring?”
“Come on, Steve!”
“No, fuck this. Fuck it all. I’m off.”
And Howard didn’t even try to argue, just watched in the darkness as Steve picked up his jacket and left.
After a few moments, Annette leant over. “Why did he take his coat to go to the loo? Is he alright?”
“Mmm,” replied Howard, non-committally.
But twenty minutes on, when Steve still hadn’t returned, and even though he knew it was a lost cause, Howard found himself being obliged by Annette into making one half of a search party.
First she made him check the men’s toilets, and stood outside until he’d done it. Twice, once on each floor. Then he had to wait beside her as she asked the door staff. Yes, they’d seen a young boy in a vest and tracksuit bottoms leaving half an hour ago - they’d wondered what he was doing out all on his own.
Outside it was bright and sunny, still the middle of the afternoon, with hundreds of people rushing by. Even Annette had to admit there wasn’t much hope, not now, not if Steve didn’t want to be found. Nonetheless, she still made them both walk around for another half an hour, scanning streets and looking in the shops and cafés.
“He’s probably just gone home,” offered Howard.
“Did he say that’s what he was going to do?”
“I just don’t get you! Why aren’t you more worried, Howard! I mean, he’s only thirteen!”
“As if that makes a difference! Is it too early to call the police yet?”
“No! Don’t! I mean… I really don’t think he’d like that.”
She looked at Howard out of the corner of her eye, then glanced quickly away. “He seems very attached to you. I noticed that. You give him money. And your flat only has one bedroom, only one bed. Steve let it slip. So where do you sleep? In the bed?”
“And where does Steve sleep?”
Too late, Howard realised he should have pretended they were cousins or something. Related. But they looked nothing like each other, there was the problem of the accents. Besides, Annette would never believe it now, not when he hadn’t mentioned it before. “Well… he’s my mate. We’re best mates.”
She turned round to face him. “That’s the thing – I believe you, Howard! But you have to see that he’s so young. He should be safe in school, not hanging out in the middle of London! And I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but there are men who are into young boys, who prey on them, who come into London to search them out. There was an article on it in The Guardian last week.”
“Oh. Really? I didn’t get around to reading that one yet.”
She looked at him. He was shuffling even more than usual, and flushing, high on his cheekbones and blotchy across his neck. She shook her head. “I like you Howard, I do. But, suddenly, I feel that I know nothing about you. For instance, you told me that you’re on a year out. From what? Doing what?”
One of Annette’s friends was in India, travelling ‘on his year out’. Annette had talked about it, and seemed to approve. So Howard had borrowed the idea for himself.
Annette saw from Howard’s panicked face that she wasn’t going to get a reply. “You see? I have absolutely no idea! I mean, do you even like me? Why do you keep chasing after me?”
“I do like you! I think you’re amazing!”
Annette gave a kind of snort. “You do? Amazing?”
Howard hoped she wasn’t going to burst into tears. She looked as though she might.
“How would I have known? I mean, you obviously don’t fancy me.”
Howard’s heart leapt with sudden inspiration. “You want me to kiss you? I will! I mean, we can kiss right now - if you want to, that is!”
“Oh, Howard!” She looked at him in disbelief, lifting her palms upwards and dropping them again. “God, what an idiot I’ve been. You’re not twenty six, are you? No. It’s obvious that you’re not. What are you, twenty two?”
He said nothing.
“You’re twenty two?”
“Yes. No… I’m twenty… I’m not…I’m eighteen. Eighteen. Sorry. I’m eighteen. I’m really sorry.”
“You see! How can I trust you when it’s going to be like this?”
Howard grew indignant. “You can! Of course you can trust me!”
“You say that, but what does it really mean?” She went over to a bench, sat down, and put her head in her hands. She made a sad, choking noise. “It’s my own fault, really.”
“No!” protested Howard, unclear what she was talking about, but hating her to be so upset.
With a sigh, she smoothed her hair away from her face. She sat back up. “No, it’s true. Why do you think I’ve had so much time to be with you? It’s so hard, all this running around, filling out forms. The interviews, the rejections. I suppose I just wanted an escape. But you try looking for work with one degree in Ancient History and a masters in Conservation Studies.” Her fingers found another falling strand of hair and deftly tucked it back. “I have to leave London by the end of the week, anyway. My friend Sue wants me off her floor.” She saw his devastated face. “I’m so sorry, Howard. That’s why I never had you round. She wouldn’t allow it. I was too embarrassed to say.”
“You could find a job! Stay, please, stay!”
“Oh, receptionist, sales assistant, working in a restaurant – but I might as well do that back home. No, I want to do conservation, it’s what I’m trained for. And for that, there’s only so many jobs about, and everyone’s in there for life. I thought if I went around, made some contacts – and I did manage to get a few leads. It’s not all been a waste. The Trust has one programme and there’s a museum in Oxford with the curator about to go on maternity leave…”
Howard thought of his own nebulous plans, the way his life was going, and was once again impressed by her drive.
“No. It’s over, Howard. We shouldn’t see each other any more.”
“But I love you!”
Annette closed her eyes briefly. “No you don’t. You hardly know me. I’m sorry, really I am. You’re funny, and sweet, Howard. Really, I was flattered. I liked you, very much… if I ever knew you.”
There was silence between them.
“You’ll meet someone your own age one day, just wait - you’ll see,” she said gently, standing up. “No, don’t follow me.”
“No, I don’t see! No, don’t go! Please, don’t go!”
“Just promise, as soon as you get word about Steve, you’ll leave a message. You have to let me know. No - we’re still over, you understand.”
And she wouldn’t accept any of his pleading, his arguments, or try to soothe his anguish.
Howard began thinking quickly. If she left now - that was it, for good. He didn’t have her address, they’d always met up by prior arrangement, and if there’d been any need to make a change, he’d stood in evil-smelling phone boxes and left a message on her friend’s answerphone. She never contacted him. So Howard now found an old receipt, desperately wrote down the address of his Clerkenwell flat, and pushed it into her unwilling hand. It was the very first time he’d given someone his new address.
Then he sat and watched her go. Her back had a distinctive sway, tall and slender, her head was slightly awkward, and every now and then as she moved into the distance, her hand reached up to her face.
He wanted someone to shout at, and by rights, that person should be Steve.
But when he arrived back, the flat was empty. With a growing feeling of dread, Howard ran around, checking the bathroom, the staircase, even the tiny back yard. Perhaps Annette had been right. Perhaps Steve really was gone, and not just sulking. Really missing, somewhere out there upon the streets.
He tried to calm himself. It’s not like Steve’s not used to it, he told himself. I mean, Steve was out there most nights anyway. Somehow, that didn’t seem to help. This time he’d made Steve do it. This time it was all his fault.
In a frenzy, Howard started tossing stuff around – clothes, shoes, CDs, trying to get any sort of a idea of where Steve could have gone. There - he’d found something. On the bottom of Steve’s stash tin, in badly-formed letters, scratched by hand - GERWYN. Who or what was Gerwyn?
There was nothing else.
Just in case Steve showed up, Howard made himself wait in the flat for as long as he could bear it. Then, round about the time Steve sometimes went out to work, he walked into town.
Some of the other boys used to hang together, waiting for business while passing fags amongst themselves. Mostly, Howard tried to avoid these lot - they terrified him, even the young ones. Perhaps especially the young ones.
Tonight he steeled himself, and asked around.
“Who’s that? Dunno what you’re talking about.”
“No.” And so on, and so on.
At the fifth clump, he got lucky.
“No, I know him, the little Welsh one!”
“Didn’t think he was called Steve…”
No, you’re thinking of Gav.”
“Fuckin’ no way!”
“Anyway, haven’t seen him. Not for weeks. Why d’you want to know?”
“Thanks,” said Howard, and sped away, aware of five pairs of eyes itching the back of his shoulders.
The area they all worked in wasn’t very big. When Howard had walked it twice, asking at random to start with, and just looking the next, he noticed he was gathering curious stares, especially from those he’d asked the first time around. He began to feel very conspicuous and very cowardly.
Suddenly a police car went by. It flashed its lights, then turned on its sirens. It blared. Howard jumped into a shop and wedged himself behind a display of Scottish tartans, right at the back.
That was something he hadn’t thought of before - what if Steve had been picked up by the police? They’d never really bothered Howard. He’d just pretended to be walking along like a casual member of the public, and that had seemed to do the job. Presumably it wasn’t so easy to fake if you were only four feet something and out on your own on a schoolnight.
Howard started to shake. What if he lost him? He might never see his Steve, ever again. Or what if Steve had been picked up, and told the police about Howard? The police might tell his parents in turn. And his parents would find out that Howard had been doing men for money. Howard crammed his knuckles in his mouth and bit down hard.
“Excuse me, sir?” It was a female shop assistant, dressed head to toe in tartan – tartan shoes, tartan waistcoat, tartan beret. White shirt with monstrous shoulder pads underneath. “Do you wish to make a purchase, sir?”
No, he didn’t. He just wanted to be out of there, and for this all to have never happened.
Two days later, Howard awoke to a voice coming from above. “Aw now, where’s the toast? You’ve eaten all the toast!”
He rubbed at his eyes. “That you? Steve?”
“Forgot to get the bread in? There’s a twat for you.” It was definitely Steve, his voice sing-song light.
“Sorry, I forgot. I’ll get some now…” Howard struggled to sit up, pushing back the covers. Too late, he remembered he was supposed to be the one doing the telling off, not the other way round - but it was Steve! Back again and sat on the end of the bed. Howard frowned. There were little jagged cuts all across the side of the little chirpy face. Steve’s left eye was bruised and puffy too.
“I’m hungry now, see. Been sat here, watching you snore.”
“Fuck! Steve! What the hell happened?”
Steve just shrugged.
“Where d’you go? I looked everywhere for you! For days! I was everywhere!”
“Yeah, okay. Don’t go on about it, like. So, you going to get the bread in? Are you?”
Howard scratched his scalp, trying to clear his brain. “Why do I have to get it? Haven’t you got any money left?”
Steve shrugged once more. He winced. Then he slowly moved his shoulder downwards. “Nah. Not really. Not on me. Not right now.” He made big, sad eyes, the ones he knew worked so well on Howard. “So are you going to get the bread in? Are you? Only say if you’re not. Cos then I’ll be hungry, see. So very hungry.”
“Christ!” Howard fished out his brown, lace-up shoes, always neatly stored underneath the bed. He shoved them on. “If you insist!”
There was no point in making toast for a sleeping child - but Howard did it anyway. Eight whole slices of it, slathered in marg, and stacked up high on a slightly cracked plate.
As expected, no interest from Steve. Not a hope.
After a while Howard picked up the plate. He waved it about a bit, hoping that the rich, warm smell would bring revival. He swirled it under Steve’s nose. Picked up one slice and went, “Mmmm.”
Still nothing. Steve was face down on the bed, drooling, and as good as dead.
He’d found Steve sprawled like that when he’d had returned from the shops. The slamming of the doors hadn’t awoken him then, and it didn’t seem like anything else was going to wake him for the foreseeable future.
Howard lifted one corner of the duvet. He grunted. It was as he thought. Steve was still fully dressed. Even had his trainers on. Carefully, Howard took them off and arranged them tidily underneath the bed, the way he did for his own.
That was when he noticed that the pillow under Steve’s face had become spotted with blood. It had pushed into the cuts on his cheek and reopened them. Howard stopped mid-stride as he noticed. Then, walking backwards, he took a seat on the one hard dining chair in the flat. His hand went mechanically to his mouth as he began to work his way through the toast on his lap, his eyes on the young little bundle in the bed.
And he began to think.
Part Three to follow (the bit with Vince and Fossil in it - finally!)