Read Angelique Online

Authors: Carl Leckey

Angelique (8 page)

“It’s off Exmouth Street! Course I know where it is, just at the top of Grange road.”

I reply thoughtfully. “Top of Grange road eh?

Well that’s handy I should be able to find it easily enough?”

He enquires. “When do you plan going there?”

I reply. “Tomorrow morning, the sooner the better I reckon. I have a few other places I want to go as well.” Norman advises. “You can walk I suppose it’s not that far, better still you don’t seem short of a few bob.” He scans my expensive clothes. “Why not hire my cab in the morning? I’ll take you anywhere you want to go. It will save me mooching about for fares and it will keep you out of the cold.”

I enquire. “I was thinking about hiring a car but that seems a good idea. Do you own the taxi Norman?” He answers as if he is not sure. “Well half and half.

The controller buys the vehicles then hires them to us. We drivers pay him back out of our earnings. Eventually in about ten years I get to own the Taxi. By then it will be knackered I suppose.” I point out. “Sounds a good deal for him Norm? Not so good for the drivers. Why not buy your own Taxi and operate without him?”

He points out. “It’s all a matter of hackney carriage licences Adam. The council only allow so many licences and he has it sewn up. Where would I get the money from anyway?”

“Hmmm it’s a pity you are not in France. I could do with a few more experienced drivers. The pay and conditions are good.” Norma interrupts me.

“You could do with more drivers? What do you mean?” Hurriedly I reply. “I mean the company I work for. They are short of good drivers. There are quite a few of us English lads stayed over after the war and settled down with local girls.” He answers ruefully. “No chance of that. I wouldn’t mind living anywhere to get a good job. My Misses wouldn’t move from Birkenhead. She even considers Liverpool a foreign country. Talking about my Misses I better get going. I like to see the kids before they go to bed. Do you want my Taxi in the morning or not?” He stands up drains his glass and prepares to leave.

“Pick me up at the hotel at nine in the morning. By the way how many kids have you got Norman?” He sticks three fingers up. I gasp when he reveals how many kids he has. Norman is only a few years older than me and yet he has a family. Wouldn’t my Wife envy him? I have the money and no chance of kids he has hardly any money and kids galore. He sees the astonishment on my face and confesses. “We had two before I joined up and one since I came home, er and I think she’s up the chute again.” He adds a little peevishly. “Seems I only have to drop my kecks and she is in the family way.”

I congratulate him he informs me in a lowered voice. “There is not much else to do on cold nights if you have no money.” Norman smiles as he leaves the pub.

After he departs there seems no point in remaining in the pub on my own. I drain my glass and am ready to leave when one of the local floozies approaches me. She is a nice looking girl around about my age. Although in my opinion she wears too much makeup. Who am I to judge? Maybe the over application of makeup is a tool of her trade making her distinguishable to her potential clients. I notice a couple of the other working girls appear to indulge in the same practice. I admit I have a lot to learn about the ways of the world. She introduces herself by asking. “Want to buy a nice girl a drink sailor boy?”

I have to smile as I reply. “Sorry love I am not a sailor and am just leaving.” Without invitation she sits next to me on the bench pinning me in the corner thereby blocking my escape. “I’ve not seen you in here before. Travelling salesman are you? My name is Hilda by the way.

What do I call you?”

Without pausing or waiting for an answer she asks. “Well are you going to buy a girl a drink or what?”

As it is only early and I have no intention of utilising her service but why not enjoy her company for a while.

The barman is collecting pots I request him to bring Hilda what she drinks and I order another pint for myself. I open the conversation by stating. “To answer your questions Hilda, my name is Adam, no I haven’t been in here before. And I am not a travelling salesman.

Hilda I hope you don’t mind but I am happily married. Now you can either keep me company until you spot another more promising client or you can have your drink and let me leave. It’s entirely up to yourself but I don’t want to see you wasting time on me.”

She smiles. “OK Adam it’s nice to meet an honest man. If you don’t mind being seen in my company I will do what you suggest. Bless me I could do with a rest it’s been a busy day.”

The drinks arrive she enquires. “I can tell you are a local lad Adam. Accents are my hobby you see.” She hesitates then adds. “But you have a little twang hard to place but I would guess you have a touch of French about you. Go on tell me where you come from?”

I laugh and explain “Very good Hilda I was in France during the war and have lived there since the armistice. By Jove! I am amazed you detected an accent I didn’t know I had one, you are very clever.”

She informs me in a sad voice. “I used to be an actress. I should still be if it hadn’t been for the damned war and the flu. Hey would you believe I was in a couple of shows at the Argyle? An, I’ve played the Tivoli New Brighton.” She reveals proudly.

“Wow!” I exclaim admiringly. Thinking of the show I had enjoyed with Peggy at the Argyle on my last trip to England. “You played the Argyle Eh! That’s some achievement for someone of your age.”

She explains. “My speciality was playing foreign Ladies. I had a brilliant speech coach until she died. She used to be an actress herself until she got married. She’d been in lots of top plays and shows. She’d even played in London you know?”

She sniffs back a tear. “It was my Mum actually. The bloody flu carried her off a couple of years ago. My Dad was a merchant seaman and got lost without trace in the first year of the war.”

Slightly embarrassed I find myself having to ask the usual question. “Hilda with your obvious talent what are you doing?” I am at a loss for words she finishes my question for me. “On the game you’re going to say?” She grimaces. “Got three kids to feed since Mum snuffed it and an actress’s job ain’t as well paid as this one I can tell you.”

“Bloomin Heck! Hilda! You don’t look old enough to have three kids. What does your husband think about your er profession?” She sees someone entering the far door. “There is one of my regulars just came in. By the way I ain’t married. Those kids I mentioned are my Brothers and a Sister.” I observe the man she has spotted and remark. “He looks a bit out of place in here Hilda he looks like a posh gent to me?” She laughs and explains. “He is as regular as clockwork every two weeks. For your education watch what happens in the next few minutes, he won’t let on to me he don’t want to be seen in public with the likes of me you understand, he has his reputation to look after? He only comes in to make sure I is available. He’ll have hiself one half pint of mild and makes sure I see’s him. Then he leaves a couple of minutes later. I follow’s him around to a posh place just round the corner in Hamilton square. I don’t go into the front door you understand? I have to go up the jigger and in through the back door. It ain’t his proper house where he lives. I know that cos the caretaker told me he rents it by the hour.”

I gasp in amazement and encourage her to continue with her disclosures by sounding doubtful.

She reveals more of the goings on of the local bigwigs once she begins it is hard to stop her. Not that I wanted to I must admit to enjoying her company and her gossipy disclosures. “Hmm! That’s nothing.” She continues indignantly when she detects doubt in my voice. “What if I was to tell you that lots of the other gentry from around here use the place in Hamilton Square?”

She drops her voice to a whisper and reveals. “I was a bit late leavin one day. The daft bugger was crying so much I held back to give him a bit of a cuddle, just to comfort him like. Anyway, just I was going out of the back door, who would you believe was comin in the front door, and before you ask I know he was meetin one of my mates cos she told me?” I lean closer as she reveals. “It was only the bloomin vicar from the church I used to attend. You know the randy bugger baptised me? Hey! You should have heard the bloomin long boring sermons we used to sit through on a Sunday. He was always on about sinners burning in hells fire. I reckon he will be getting his arse scorched when he pops his clogs eh?” She giggles as she discloses this snippet. She takes a gulp of her drink and continues enthusiastically.

“I was shocked to me inner bones I don’t mind telling you. That reminds me I asked my pal Judy what kind of treatment he has. She didn’t tell me all the details but I know she dresses as a nurse and he likes feedin bottles, nappies and all kinds of baby stuff.”

“So she did tell you all eh?” I retort with a knowing smile.

“No she didn’t, we all likes to keep our little secrets. Even best pals don’t tell all. I know about him cos I saw them in her basket when she was meeting him.” She explains confidentially. “Me and Judy are good pals and tell each other lots of other things especially if we have had a really bad client.

We warn each other to give them sods a miss. I’ve had a few black eyes I can tell you before I got to recognise the bad buggers.”

I enquire “I take it Judy is on the game as well as you Hilda?”

She reveals. “I’ve known Judy forever, we was even at school together. She is a real pro, her Mum was on the game and her Granny was as well they taught her all the tricks of the trade so to speak. Judy is a kind of specialist she just deals with an elite clientele. She bought the list off one of the girls a few months ago. Pretty Polly was her name she hooked a rich fella and married him.”

It goes through my mind how or why had she acquired that name, in the light of what Hilda revealed about the nick names the mind boggles.

Hilda continues. “The lucky bugger Polly lives the good life in Southport I hear. Judy don’t pick fella’s up in pubs they find her in her little flower shop.” I recall the flower shop in France that was the cover for the Officers brothel it seems flower shops are a universal cover for the oldest trade. I remark admiringly “It seems there is more to the life you girls lead than I ever dreamed?” She replies proudly. “We likes to keep most of our tricks of the trade to ourselves in case our regular gets poached by other girls understand?”

I nod understandingly, she continues. “My Mum would turn in her grave if she knew what he was up to, the Vicar I means. My Mum was a regular church goer you know? So was I until I er, we’ll say no more about that shall we?” Hilda leans back with a dreamy smile on her face and says. “Although I must admit I could do with more of his likes as my regular, he don’t want the usual diddling you see. One of the rooms in there is full of all kinds of different clothes, uniforms and odds and sods. I just dresses up as a School Mistress and I gives him a jolly good spankin on his bare arse, and I tells him off for being a naughty boy.

It only takes about an hour and he pays me so well I can have the rest of the day off. I wish he wanted more punishin more often then I could do without some of the other clients I has to serve. Some of the buggers are weirder than him I can tell you. The treacle freak is the messiest but the very best payer, but he only does it on his birthday his Mother’s birthday and his dads. Oh I near forgot and the King and Queens two birthdays.” She adds another snippet. “For some reason he has to have golden syrup on that day.”

I shudder to think what those meetings entail. I smile to myself thinking about the episode in the brothel in France when I was still in the army and the strange depravities of that horrible officer. Hilda confesses more details in a whisper. “When I gives him a good spankin I thinks of how the teachers used to cane me when I was at school.

I really lay’s it on him. His big fat arse fairly glows like a cocky watchman’s brazier in winter when I spank’s him real hard like. The first time I did it I wasn’t severe enough, but now he really gets a good walloping I can tell you. I’ll tell you this though? He gets his bloomin monies worth out of Hilda. By Jove, he does. I am fairly out of breath when I have done him”

She hesitates as if reluctant to confess further details. Hilda takes another delicate sip of her drink before revealing. “This was only after I found out he was the head master of that posh school in Rock Ferry that I really laid it on, you understand.” I disclose something to her from my childhood. “You’re not that fond of teachers then Hilda. You must have been a bit like me. Teachers and me didn’t get on.” Hilda objected to my opinion about her. “No you got it wrong there. I kinda liked school. Yes I liked the learnin part of schoolin, I wasn’t fond of the bloomin punishin they dealt out. You could say I was just revenging every poor kid the teachers whacked eh? I reckon some of them so called teachers would have done better in my game instead of punishin poor bloomin kids.” Hilda laughs and discloses. “My pal Judy nick named me the Avenging Angel when I told her what I does to my regular er clients, the other girls have picked it up now.” “Does that annoy you Hilda?” I enquire.

“No! Not really. I kinda like it to be honest it makes me sound Saintly like, don’t you think? Anyway I calls Judy Burps because of what she does for her Holier than thou client. Most of the girls have nick names anyway. Now Wendy, another of my pals she is called.

The Grand National Winner.”

“Why is she called that I enquire.” She replies. “Cos she does more jumps than any of us.”

She begins to giggle. I find myself giggling with her. The client leaves by the far door he entered earlier after a quick glance in Hilda’s direction. Hilda prepares to follow him, I stand up with her. “Thanks for your company Hilda it’s been most er most educational. Give him a few extra whacks for me will you? Take care of yourself and I hope you get back into acting some time. Here’s a few bob to cover your time.” I slip her a ten bob note. She smiles kisses me on the cheek and whispers in my ear. “Don’t you worry about Hilda, Adam? I know how to look after meself. Maybe when the kids are older and get jobs I’ll go back to the acting game and you might see me on the Argyle again.” She follows her client prepared for a jolly spanking time. There she goes another casualty of the damned war and the flu epidemic; it goes on and on and on. Despite the life the war and flu have driven her into she still retains her sense of humour.

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