Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 2

Knock, Knock, Knock. Simon waited for a few seconds.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Inside Charlie’s apartment something stirred under a bed sheet.

Bang! Bang! Bang! ‘Charlie!’

Charlie opened his eyes, a little confused and world weary thanks to a large bottle of Jack Daniels the night before.

Bang! Bang! Bang! ‘Charlie! Open the door!’

Charlie sat up and climbed out of his bed.

Bang!…

‘Shut up! I’m coming.’

Charlie un-chained the door and opened it. Simon Squeezed past him and went straight to the kitchen.

‘What?’ Charlie demanded wearily.

‘It’s Tuesday, we have to be at the studio in an hour.’

Charlie’s face tried to respond and failed, so far only his legs, eyes, part of his brain and at least one of his arms was completely awake. He tried speech ‘nmph?’

‘GMTV. I’ve got you three cups of coffee, drink this.’

Charlie took the coffee.

‘And a bacon and egg sandwich,’ continued Simon.

‘mm.’

‘Eat your sandwich and get in the shower, I’ve got you a new shirt and some razors.’

‘You’re ever so nice.’

‘I know, now get in the shower.’

Simon edged him toward the shower and gave him his second coffee as he entered and closed the door behind him.

‘Make sure you shave!’

‘Alright, stop shouting.’

 

Fifteen minutes later the shower door opened and out came Charlie. To Simon’s astonishment he actually looked close to presentable.

‘Right, you look good, let’s go.’

‘Wait, wait… wait.’

‘What?’

Charlie looked around his room and grabbed his keys, a small cantina and half a cigarette out of the ash tray.

‘Ok.’

 

In the underground car park Simon unlocked his car. Charlie looked at him with an expression like pity.

‘What are you doing?’ said Charlie.

‘Getting in the car.’

‘We’re not taking your car we’re taking mine.’

‘Really?’ Simon ran a disapproving eye over the trashed vehicle, ‘why don’t you buy a proper car?’

Charlie composed himself and prepared his fragile mind for coherent conversation.

‘It’s not about how new and shiny a car is that makes a car great. I’m not getting in your car; it has no handbrake and no keyhole, so in my book it’s not even a car. Having no keyhole is like a woman having no vagina.’

‘Charlie it’s a modern car, this button is the hand brake, and it doesn’t have a keyhole because you start it with a button.’

‘Your sexless freak of a car is the automobile equivalent of a blonde-tipped, spiky haired prick with no penis, whereas my fucked up little Jaguar is the car equivalent of dishevelled rough sex.’

Simon closed his car door and got obediently into Charlie’s.

 

Concise and in control is how Charlie would describe his driving. Most others would describe it as erratic, dangerous, fast, and suicidal. Neither is right, he actually drives in a way that is both oblivious to other road users and apparently, as he has never crashed, safer than flying. In-fact, his record is so clean that being driven by Charlie is statistically safer than driving. It is frightening nonetheless.

Charlie spoke loudly over the sound of the engine.

‘Now your wife has a good taste in cars.’

Simon looked at him suspiciously.

‘How do you know what my wife drives?’

Charlie took no notice.

‘A 1971 British Leyland pick-up 4×4. Cool car.’

‘I’ve never introduced you.’

‘It even has a damn snorkel and a roll cage!’

‘Charlie!’

Charlie looked at the slightly panic stricken face of his agent.

‘Not getting paranoid are we Simon? She dropped a box of books to my last book signing. You weren’t in so she offered.’

‘She’s been acting strange recently, that’s all.’

‘Of course she’s acting strange, she’s a woman. It’s when she starts acting normal you have to worry. It is a cool car though.’

‘It’s not hers her dad left it to her.’

‘Simon, fucking relax.’

‘You’re right. I’ll start acting like you shall I? Get drunk for days on end, eat shit, swear at everyone?’

Charlie pulled the car up outside the studio and stopped the engine.

‘Sure, if you want to.’

‘I wasn’t agreeing with you.’

‘Ok.’

Charlie gave him a friendly pat on the back.

‘You know, it’s a pretty easy life, just doing what you want.’

‘Yes, I’m sure.’

 

A man in a suit was waiting by the entrance of the studio. He noticed Charlie and Simon and waved them over.

‘Ok, that’s the producer. He’ll brief you before you go on. You must do what he tells you. Marcus, how are you!’ Simon called from a distance.

Marcus ushered them to hurry up.

‘Simon, I didn’t think you were going to make it,’ said Marcus.

‘It’s nice to see you again,’ said Simon.

‘And Charlie,’ said Marcus turning to Charlie, ‘I’m a big fan of your work, very funny stuff, glad to have you on the show.’

Charlie considered this interesting critique of his work and replied dryly, ‘My next book is about a blind alcoholic orphan. She gets raped by a ghost and spends most of the story sitting in a dark room swearing at the walls until she finally dies of aids.’

The good thing about people like Marcus, or anyone who has a job that involves holding a clip board and having a wire leading to your ear with people telling you to tell someone else to hurry up, is that they never really hear anything anyone says to them. This is why his response to Charlie’s reply was, ‘Looking forward to it. The green room is on the right. The makeup girl will be with you in a few moments.’

Charlie looked at him like a wizard looks at a clown.

‘I fucked your dad,’ he said.

‘Hm?’

 

Charlie sat in the green room staring at the mirror.

‘Simon.’

‘Yes?’

‘Do you really think people who watch GMTV actually want to read my books?’

‘Yes.’

‘The only people who want to read my books are either drunk students or bored serial killers.’

The makeup girl came in wearing a short mini skirt and a low cut top. I would describe her in more detail but I’m not sure it’s necessary.

 

To Simon’s initial relief Charlie seemed to be behaving himself on set. He answered the questions well with a light sense of humour and gave witty anecdotes about how the book was written. He even offered to sign a copy for the interviewer, Ben Shepherd. (It later transpired that Charlie had just drawn a picture of a penis with a smiley face on the tip and the word BEN in big letters along the shaft). The segment came to a close with a final question.

‘Thank you for coming on the show. We’re all big fans. What do you have planned for the rest of the day?’

Charlie smiled and said, ‘I think I’m going to fuck your makeup girl.’

Ben went red.

‘Err… sorry about that ladies and gentleman. We’ll see you after this short break.’

 

Charlie and Simon hurried back to the green room to get their things and get out before the producer had a chance to come down on them.

‘What the hell is wrong with you?!’ said Simon.

‘What? He was asking for it.’

‘How does Ben Shepherd “ask for it”? He’s the most unthreatening man on TV!’

‘He said he was a fan of my book.’

‘How is that a bad thing?’

‘He’s never read the book.’

‘How do you know that?’

‘It’s Ben Shepherd! He’s never read any book! He would struggle with The Very Hungry Caterpillar!’

‘What!?’

‘Exactly!’ Said Charlie.

‘You won’t be allowed on ITV again and the BBC probably won’t have you.’

‘I don’t really care.’

 

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