The Morning After

His eyes opened and for a brief moment he thought he’dchampers died in the night and gone to hell. He sat bolt upright. Big mistake, his head started to rotate clockwise like a spinning coin that was finally coming to rest. He slumped back onto the bed. His head hurt. No that didn’t even come close to describing it. His head felt as though it was on fire. What the fuck had he been drinking last night?

He remembered being with his best mate Big Tone and having a few pints in the Old Anchor pub. He also remembered Flash Dave joining them and ordering everyone large gin and tonics. Oh yes, now it was coming back to him. Flash Dave brought someone with him. Some pratt named Bubbles who pulled out a wad of notes and insisted on buying a few bottles of champagne to celebrate. What was he celebrating? The fact that it was a Thursday. Wanker!

He stood up. He was still fully clothed. There was an unpleasant smell in the room. A burning smell. Maybe he’d cooked something before he’d passed out?

He found his way to the bathroom. He needed to piss. Some of it went where it was supposed to but most of it hit the bathroom carpet. God this was the hangover from hell. He didn’t feel sick but his head felt like it belonged to someone else. His forehead was burning up, his left cheek was numb and his eyes were watering so much that he thought he might actually be crying. Maybe this wasn’t a hangover. Maybe he’d caught a chill or something. No, no, don’t be silly. Just too much alcohol, that’s all.

Coffee. That’s what he needed. Strong black coffee.

Three cups later and he still felt no better.

A shower. Yep that would do the trick. A cold one. That would cool his burning head.

Ten minutes in an ice cold shower did give him some relief. But the headache came back. Now it seemed worse than before.

Bloody cocktail of booze had done this to him. Lager, then a few shots of liquorice Sambuca, gin and tonics, followed by glass after glass of Moet was not a recipe for waking up feeling great. Now he knew why Flash Kenny’s mate was called Bubbles!

He looked out of the window. The weather was foul. A cross between driving rain and snow. A kind of cold mushy mess was falling. But it was hot in the flat. Extremely hot just the way he liked it. He remembered turning up the thermostat before he left for the pub yesterday. Maybe now he should turn it down a bit. Save on the bills. He touched the radiator underneath the window. It was as if he’d put his fingers into an electrical socket. Fuck, that’s hot!

He walked over to the one by the bed. It was also red hot. What the fuck was stuck to it? He knelt down to have a closer look. That’s when he saw it. That’s when everything fell into place.

No, no way, no fucking way!

He ran to the bathroom and looked into the mirror.

It looked like a giant birthmark covering one side of his face. Red. Raw. But this was no port-wine stain. Oh no, this was more of a Beaujolais nouveau stain. Bright, red, angry!

The substance stuck to the radiator was his own skin. Burned off during the night when he’d collapsed and passed out with his head pressed up against it.

He was in shock. He picked up his phone and dialled 999.

“Ambulance please. I think I’ve just burnt the side of my face off….”

 

 

 

Welcome To England.

She stood there. Hands by her side. Back straight. Trying to look taller than her five feet seven inches. She’d been told to impress.

A tall bearded man was circling her just a few feet away.

“Smile for fucks sake. Let’s see those teeth!”

She did as she was told, put on a false smile then opened her mouth wide.

“Take off your top. “

Like a trained dog she obeyed him in an instant. She threw her blouse to the ground.

“And your bra!”

She unhooked it and let it slide to the floor. She stood their topless. Her body started to shiver from the cold night air.

The bearded man turned away from her and spoke to a shadowy figure in the corner of the damp railway arch.

“Is she clean?”

“Well, she’s travelled in the back of a van for the past thirty six hours so I suppose she could do with a bit of a wash…”

“Don’t fuck about Carlos. Is she CLEAN? Any infections, diseases, marks, cuts, bruises?”

“She’s clean!”

“What is she?”

“Albanian.”

“How old?”

“Eighteen? Maybe twenty?”

“Has she been used much?”

“Just a few times on the way over, that’s all.”

The bearded man ran his hands over her shoulders, arms, waist and legs. He poked a finger into her stomach.

“She’s a bit skinny.”

Carlos appeared from the shadows. A short, stocky, balding man in a leather jacket who appeared to have no neck.

“That’s how everyone wants them these days. But she’s got great tits. Anyway, she’ll soon fatten up after a few takeaways.”

The bearded man stroked his chin.

“How much?”

“Five thousand.”

“Euros?”

Carlos laughed.

“Fuck off. Pounds!”

The bearded man shook his head.

“That’s expensive.”

“Bollocks, she’ll earn you that and more in six months. If not just sell her on. You’ll get three grand for her even if she’s damaged.”

The bearded man reached into his coat pocket, pulled out a bundle of fifty pound notes and handed them to Carlos.

“Okay. I’ll take her.”

Carlos took the money and smiled.

“She’s yours. I’ve got a few more coming in next month from Nigeria. Interested?”

“You know me Carlos, if the price is right and they’re in good nick then I’ll take them. Give me a call when they arrive.”

The two men shook hands and Carlos left.

The bearded man looked at the young girl in front of him.

“You speak English?”

Nervously the girl spoke.

“Yes, but not too good.”

“Okay. Listen to me carefully, I just bought you, so you belong to me now. Understand?”

The girl nodded.

“You call me boss. Okay?”

Again the girl nodded.

The bearded man slapped her hard across the face, causing her head to jerk violently to the right. She stumbled but quickly regained her position and stood up straight. The man leaned in close so that his face was only inches from hers.

“I said, you call me boss. Okay?”

“Yes boss.”

“That’s better. Now put your fucking clothes on and come with me.”


 

She sat quietly in the back of the old Volvo estate while the bearded man drove slowly through the brightly lit streets.

After thirty minutes the car stopped outside a terraced house in a quiet street.

The bearded man got out and opened her door. He clapped his hands.

“Come on, chop chop.”

Hurriedly she slid along the back seat and almost fell out of the car. The man had already started walking up the pathway of one of the houses. She closed the car door and ran quickly to catch him up.

The door was opened by a woman in her late forties with a complexion that gave away her sixty a day habit. Without saying a word the bearded man turned and walked back down the path. Leaving the girl unsure of what to do next.

The woman grabbed her arm and pulled her roughly into the house. She looked the girl up and down as though she was trying to guess her worth. She spoke in a broad London accent.

“You speak English?”

The girl nodded.

“A little.”

“Good. What’s your name?”

“Ardita. My name is Ardita.”

The woman put her hands on her hips.

“Where you from?”

“Berat. It’s a small town in Albania.”

The woman let out a sigh.

“To be honest I really don’t give a shit where you’re from. But for what it’s worth, welcome to fucking England.”