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Notes of a Professional Voyeur VI - Fiction Serial by Benny Profane

He housed us in a one-room apartment in the Bronx. The place was alive with vermin and it leaked almost worse than the bowels of the cargo ship that we had just escaped.

We were less than impressed with the pestilential condition of the place but we also knew that we were in no position to argue. And besides, despite his failure to tide us over with some start-up funds, Tommy had managed to wrangle us a pair of jobs on a building site that he was running at the time.

So we bedded in on our first night, as wet and miserable as on arrival, but with small fires of hope kindling in our respective bellies.

Our first few weeks were coloured by the type of inevitable wet-behind-the-ears enthusiasm you would expect from two country lads discovering a new city for the first time. Sure our gaff could have been better, and we barely had two coins to rub together, but we were happily drunk on the sights and sounds of our new environment.

Well those halcyon days didn’t last long. The lousy state of the flat and our perpetual impoverishment soon took the sheen off our American Dream.

It turned out that Uncle Tommy was nothin’ but a conman. He came through with some scratch to tide us by for the first week or so, and we started work on the site straight away, but that initial contribution of $50 to be shared between us was the first and last significant contribution we saw from him.

After two months of feeding off scraps from Uncle Tommy’s table, coupled with repeated assurances that “It’s on the way” and “You know I’m good for it” and “Sure aren’t you me own flesh and blood”, we finally saw Tommy for what he really was.

So we decided to up sticks. But not before extorting whatever we could from the old man. I knew I wouldn’t have the mettle to get into anything physical with him (he was still my Mother’s Brother after all), so it was up to Bertie to try and force whatever he could out of the tight fisted bollix.

Knowing that Tommy was out on the tear one night, Bertie sneaked into his flat and waited for him to stumble in pisshed as a fart and ripe for the rollin’.

Well Bertie never went into too many particulars as to how he “persuaded” Uncle Tommy to hand over the healthy sum that subsisted us on our subsequent travels, but I never saw the man again and if ever his name came up between myself and the Mother, the incident was deftly side-stepped and swept under the proverbial rug like so many other familial indiscretions.

We were glad to be rid of him. And considering the snivelling, conniving sort of a fella he was, I imagine it didn’t require too much “persuasion” on the part of Bertie before he became cooperative. Cunts like that deserve everything that’s comin’ to em.’


George here paused and took a drink of his pint. He was beginning to enjoy his oration and I got the impression that it was a well-practised performance.


‘So off we wandered.

Considering the sour taste the Big Apple had left with us, along with the nervous prospect of running into Tommy again, we decided that the best option would be to leave town as soon as possible.

Without really discussing our options we made the silent and mutual decision to head west.

We didn’t have any other connections and our only knowledge of the country amounted to whatever we had learned from the movies and grubby geography textbooks of our school days.

“How about Chicago?” suggested Bertie.

“As good a suggestion as any.” I said.

Chicago it was.

We boarded a Greyhound bus just off Time Square on a sleepy, humid night in mid September.

Now, although the Greyhound buses have a certain charming notion to them, they are in fact just as stuffy, cramped and hot as the more rational side of your brain would reasonably assume.

Bertie and I would sleep alternately as he held on to the packet that counted for our livelihood, secreted away in the inner pocket of his coat. Every time he fell asleep I would inevitably end up staring at the point on his chest where I knew the money was hidden.

Although I couldn’t actually see the package, the awful knowledge of its presence never failed to inspire in me complimentary emotions of fear and excitement.

Hours on end I spent on that stuffy bus staring out the window and watching the passing scenery. The dizzying proliferation of life and business and the unending carousel of movement and people had a strangely disorientating affect on me.

In my more reflective moments I would think back to where I had come from and how different it was to the new locations that I travelled through, and I would marvel at the fact that any of this could have happened at all.



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