A snapshot of the life of Benny Gervais (Flash Fiction)
Benny Gervais never went to Specsavers. After years of abusing his eyes he found himself being laboured with a squint from which he would never recover. While walking down the street his screwed-up face saw an obscure figure fast approaching him on the pavement. The face was devoid of all detail, to Benny like a blob of pink fleshy paint. He strained to see if he knew this person. Sadly, it was only when the man concerned was firmly inside his personal space that he could ascertain his identity with any real certainty. That person was Johnny Stokes, who grabbed Benny roughly by the scruff of the neck and proceeded to give him a bit of a pasting all over the street. Obstructed cars tooted their horns as both men flopped around in a mish-mash of grunts, windmill fists and bad centres of gravity. Benny looked goofily as he made the effort to untwist his large green coat which was placed over his head in a strategic move by his assailant. His eyebrows arched upwards in a look of pure misunderstanding and injustice, half-tripping over the kerb before Johnny Stokes pelted him with a couple of stones which bounced off the ground in front of him, only for Benny to skip out of the way on one foot as though dancing from bullets like in a Western.
“Wanker. Where’s my twenty quid?” asked Johnny.
Benny walked on. He couldn’t spare twenty quid in these recession-hit times. Now he had a black eye. Every person he passed on the street he looked at with this intense suspicion. He went into the bookies and his eye was the most conspicuous thing among all the blaring TVs. It shined like a plump, over-ripe piece of fruit. The man behind the counter, Raymie, he noticed it right away.
“You’ve got a black eye Benny” he said.
“Jesus what happened your eye?” Another man said. Benny gravitated right into his personal space.
“Any chance ye’ll sub me a score?”
Benny always asked people for a ‘sub’ of money. The legacy of Johnny Stokes clearly didn’t have the intended disciplinary effect. The man in question turned towards the TV with his hand placed on his chin, a symbolic gesture for Benny to take his reprehensible personage elsewhere. Down, but not defeated, he headed into the pub next door. His eye was the subject of conversation everywhere he went.
“What happened your eye? It looks like a Cadbury’s cream egg”
“Jesus who done that to ye?”
As hours passed the portfolio of Benny’s story had swelled into a complete fiction. He told a couple of real scorchers to people that he’d prevented a mugging; some woman with a child in tow who had almost gotten her handbag snatched. This got him a pint or two from people unfamiliar with common sentiments shared by those-in-the-know that Benny was a social scrotum of the highest order. To be avoided at all costs. When he grew tired of his first fairy tale, he began to tell different people it was to do with a burglar who broke into his house. He added all sorts of minute details into the story to suit his fluctuating mood.
“So, picture this: I catch him red-handed with the toaster in his hand, and him sat there with the gawpin head on him, fer fuck sake…The toaster wasn't worth much like, only a tenner out of Tesco’s. And it so close to Christmas, too, that's the worst of it. I went to wrestle it off him and the wee fucker dropped the toaster and then chopped me in the eye before I could react. He was quicker than me, I’ll admit that. So I ran into the living room to get the poker and I says to him: ‘Hi boy. You better get the fuck outta here before I do ye in…Then the hard man…or the so-called hard man, should I say, shat himself and ran out the door with the tail between his legs…What do ye think a that?”
“Any chance ye’ll sub me a score?”
At the end of the Saturday night Benny found himself at a poker machine. He was completely blind drunk: literally. He couldn’t see a bloody thing. He’s pushing random buttons on the machine in the hope that he presses the right one. Pounds are being instinctively slipped into the slots as its position has been mapped through the touch of his grimy fingertips. He takes several slurps of his pint. He’s reached the stage now where the heart burn will put him on the verge of hospitalization the next day: Rennie’s to the rescue. For a man with no money he did pretty well for himself. Many people in the town had fallen foul of Benny’s money extortion racket. At the present time he couldn’t fuckin’ work the poker machine, though, which was all he cared about.
“I can’t see” he said to the wall beside him.
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