I hadn’t seen Gertrude all week despite running past her house three times. I decided not to ‘menace’ her as the graffiti on her wall was bad enough. I hoped she’d come in today.
“Hope Gertrude comes in today!” I told Enrique this morning. He was reading The Racing Post. He nodded but didn’t seem to be paying much attention. I thought he was looking at horse pictures and thinking about horses but he folded the paper and put it under his arm and came over.
“I’ve been thinin’ about what chu say,” said Enrique. “Chor plan.”
“I went past her house a couple of times, running. No sign of family whatsoever,” I did a smug face. “Just her car.” Enrique nodded. “It’s a fucking big house,” I added. It is a fucking big house. Even if most of the contents are shit there has to be a few valuable bits. And the house itself must be worth loads but I’d probably live in it.
“So here is what I think,” said Enrique, he looked out of the window. “I think that I should become a, er, a friend of Gertrude and then… she alone… she die, old woman, and I think I can have her house and tings.”
I scratched my head just above my ear.
“Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do, right?” Maybe I was misunderstanding Enrique’s shit English.
“I think that I will do it,” said Enrique. He was staring out of the window. I studied his profile. It had a moustache on it.
“What do you mean exactly?” I asked Enrique. There were lines crossed somewhere.
“Look at that mulaka!” Said Enrique. He was looking at Marcel in the car park. Marcel had dropped a bag of coal and it had burst.
“But what do you mean? I mean… What do you mean?” I said those last four words as one.
“S’cool, man.” Said Enrique but I don’t know what he was thinking about. He took one last look at Marcel, shook his head then turned, hit me with his paper and said, “work!”
I still thought maybe I’d misunderstood and he was just telling me my plan rather than stealing it. Then at about 11am Gertrude the Whore came in. I became very nervous when I saw her and I wasn’t expecting that.
“Morning!” I said as she passed the counter. She didn’t say anything. Next minute, as if by magic, the fucking greasy shopkeeper appeared. The cat food is near his door. Without thinking, there was no time to think, I left the counter and headed over. Enrique saw me coming and made sure he got to Gertude first. Oh you fucking bastard, I thought.
“Good morning to you!” I heard Enrique say before he looked over his shoulder at the oncoming me.
“I’ve already said that,” I told him. “Excuse me, may I help you with your cat-food like I did last time?” I asked, even though I couldn’t see her through Enrique.
“S’okay, s’okay,” said Enrique shifting sideways in the aisle so his back blocked my path. “I got it,” he said waving dismissively over his shoulder. He looked to see if I was still there. “Customer!” He said pointing to the counter, his eyes wide. I looked and there was a fucking customer at the counter. I sighed and headed back.
“What?” I asked the customer. The customer had a massive head. They said something about some magazine they’d ordered. One of those ones with model parts. That meant I’d have to look under the counter and take my eyes off Enrique. Gertrude was too far up the aisle for me to see her but judging by Enrique’s back they were talking. I sighed and felt under the counter but I couldn’t feel it so I sighed louder and then looked under the counter. There was only one magazine with a model part on it. I brought it out. “This it?” I asked holding it up to the big headed man.
“That’s it,” he replied. “What’s the damage?”
I sighed, he must’ve fucking bought them before, you don’t just buy one part of The Ark Royal or whatever the fuck it was. He should know the price. I searched the cover for the price, shaking my head the whole time because this actually was a massive inconvenience. “£7.99,” I said leaving my finger pointing at the price and looking back at Enrique. They hadn’t moved. “£7.99!” I repeated about two seconds later when the man still hadn’t produced £7.99. In fact he was only just getting his wallet out.
“Why didn’t you have that ready?” I asked. I couldn’t believe it. He mumbled something about not knowing if we had it. “There was every chance though, right? I mean you ordered it. You wanted us to have it.” He eventually got his card in the reader. Unbelievable. The machine approved his transaction pretty quickly so that was one thing. I left the counter before the customer did.
And there was laughter coming from the cat-food, Enrique had only gone and made Gertrude laugh. Had to think quick. I went back to the counter and picked up the phone.
“Enrique! Your rabbi’s on the phone, says it’s urgent.” He looked over at me and I waved the phone, “wants to talk to you about you going to the synagogue too much!”
“Who?” Asked Enrique, the stupid twat.
“Your rabbi. Rabbi… Rosenthal.”
“Yeah, he reckons you’ve become too Jewish? He can’t handle it.”
“Yes!” I could have said anything. Enrique was out of his depth. Enrique turned to say something to Gertrude but she had gone. I saw she was near the sausage rolls.
“I take it in de office,” said Enrique. You fucking do that, I thought. When he’d gone in I beckoned Gertrude.
“He’s gone, quick!” I told her. She hurried to me.
“They’re everywhere,” she told me.
“It’s amazing,” I agreed. She put her cat food and rum on the counter. “Hey, I saw some kids had sprayed graffiti on your front wall.”
“Really? My front wall?” She looked shocked. Good.
“I’m afraid so, but listen, I’ve got a pressure washer and honestly I enjoy using it. I could come down take care of it no problem.” I raised my eyebrows.
“Oh no,” said Gertrude being polite.
“Really?” I leant over the counter. “Thing is they’ve painted swastikas.”
“I’m afraid so,” I said with a sad nod.
“I did those,” Said Gertrude the Whore.
“Oh! Oh right,” I said. “So you want to keep them?”
Gertrude paid for her things with her lovely big fat credit card. “Well, anything else need power washing? Or fixing?”
“No thank you.”
“Well, you know where I am,” I told her. She nodded. “Let me carry that!” I told her and she didn’t protest this time. We were friends. As I was leaving the counter Enrique came out of his office.
“Stay back!” Said Gertrude
“Wha?” Asked a very confused Enrique.
“Enrique, pop quiz, swastikas, good or bad?” I asked. His eyes darted around the shop like he was looking for the answer. Like the answer would be written on one of the shelves.
“Good?” He replied.
“Lucky guess,” I told Gertrude and walked her to her car laughing.