A Corrupting Influence Part II

By Laszlo Dumitrescu.

Now I am a member of the club, I send driver to Southsea to fetch a case of vodka. We drink shots, and because he is a special friend I make Sir Philip drink his shot through the eye. He scream ‘bloody hell,’ and ‘Christ, you fucker.’ Police commissioner John Griffiths and I both slap our thighs in laughter.

The hotel owner, the ventilation mogul and the portable toilet magnate then leave to go see women. I expect they will have to pay for it, which is lucky, because I notice lots of prostitutes around Albert Road. You can get with an attractive English girl who cannot afford to pay for university. I wonder, if you go with enough of them, does the University name a building after you? It is something I will have to look into.

Sir Philip closes the door and plays some funny old jazz music. We smoke cigar while leaning backwards in the old chairs. The atmosphere is not to my tastes. I would sooner be watching football or having an arm wrestling contest. They are more honest ways of showing who is stronger.

In the centre of a conversation about cricket, I say to Sir Philip Turnbull, I may go home, and he say, back to Bucharest? While I would like to say yes, I say no, to my Southsea cottage. The top cop say, would I like some cocaine? I rub my eyes and say, if I had known I could have bring some of the finest stuff. I am curious where he buy it, and he say it come from the cupboard in the police station. We make a handshake and he goes to get the party supplies.

Later on, Lord Quaker tells me that he is also a big import/export guy in the UK and across Europe. I know what they are like. They are shrewd bastards and they have a heart like a metal shipping container. I must make friends with him.

Lord Quaker talk very fast, and he move like his arms and head are controlled by strings, and his read nose it bob closer to me than is comfortable. He passes me the mirror. I take some of the powder up my nose. I ask which school he went to and remember not to send my children there. I get up and look out of the window at the very bottom of the English island.

It is a twinkling night on the harbour, where my boat, Georges Popescu sleeps, safe from English criminals, for I have retained Steve and his friend the other sailor as security guards, making sure they do not venture below deck. I left them with a box of cigarettes and sausage rolls from Greggs to keep them going all day and all night.

The catering staff go home to houses full of water rats owned by Lord Quaker, who talks about his property empire for the last hour. I am relieved when he stop talking to make a phone call. He invites his girlfriend come to meet us in a very polite but very insistent way, with a lot of stammering and hesitation in his voice.

He is old man, his nose is red and it often drip, but Chantelle is very young French slut with a bob haircut and a freckle on the part of the back that I would like to rub with the stubble on my chin. When she enter the room in her sparkling green dress with long sleeve and a neck that does not show any of her small, pointy tits, she make the whole operation seem much more classy, a casino of a possibility. I think we have met before somewhere, last year, in the marina of Monte Carlo, perhaps. She have the same pointy tits, the same movie starlet ass, the same cold little nose that I have seen my reflection in, at the party of a Russian. My brothers in Bucharest tell me that I have a natural instinct for corruption. I say no, I just hang around the harbours.

I go outside to the road of big white King George houses and make toe tips through the car park to the shining sign of the Chop Suey restaurant, which I am told is the Chinatown of Pompey. Chantelle is speaking French on the phone. She shivers a little in her sexy green dress, and she is smoking.
« Et moi ? Le bateau ne quitte pas jusqu’au matin. »

Subtitle: And me? The boat does not leave until the morning.

When she is done on the phone I pretend I am laughing at very funny joke told by her boyfriend. And the cow ate the pussycat! I giggle, and hold my sides which are splitting. Chantelle does not recognise me and try to say hello. Her mind must have been too deep into the roulette table that is her life. She brushes past me and I return upstairs.

Chantelle sit next to Quaker and rub his back. He has a pain in his chest and his face is even more red. Chantelle slaps him and a giant burp comes out that makes the tablecloth and curtains ripple.

‘England!’ the others shout. Griffiths pours more vodka shots with a shaking hand.

Quaker is still rubbing his chest and gargling.

‘You were eating too fast,’ Chantelle says to him.

I think it is perhaps the worm that he swallow from the vodka.

I have produced a digital camera from my pocket.

‘The man’s a genius,’ Gubbins says. ‘Where does he get all his equipment, Romania?!’

Even the others do not laugh at this long-haired socialist sea creature. I give Sir Philip the camera and pose in front of the cabinet which contains the Pompey royal crest, for a photo with scruffy Fred Gubbins. I am watching Chantelle, who is rubbing Lord Quaker’s heart while looking at our photo pose, trying to hide her boredom.

Council Leader Gubbins is so drunk he uses me as a lamp post to lean on for the photo. While he is off balance I put my bicep round his head and the photo is taken by Sir Philip on my £2,000 Nikon Reflex D750, a birthday present from Camelia that I always like to carry for occasions like this.

‘Want me to take another, what?!’ Sir Philip ask.

I take the camera from him with my strong grip, and see a beautiful photo of myself wearing a tight white Prada shirt and Chelsea FC tie, hair shaved at the sides, sunglasses and suntan, making the pose that I make in nightclubs with my brothers. Fred Gubbins has a red face like I am squeezing all of the corruption out of him.

I leave the party then, quickly, and say that I have a business breakfast at 6 a.m. The men all admire my work ethic and wish me good night. They will soon collapse and have to be woken by the maids.

I go straight to bed and sleep for twelve hours, until the early afternoon. When Camelia wake me, the sun is shining over Southsea Common. She ask me how I feel after a night of hard English business dinner. I tell her I am feeling like Portsmouth is my lobster. I have already crack the claws, and now all I need is to suck it dry.

Photography by Moshe Tasky