Becca landed in the bin bags, only just avoiding the champagne bottle that was hurled in after her.
She was wet, cold and hysterical – her laughter echoing back at her from the empty street. Nick had the camera rolling. Once the world stopped its diablo whirligig act, she tried to get herself up onto an elbow, to face the camera, to give the thumbs up they’d want to see in the edit suite later. When they’d finished laughing.
From further down the street, there was a recognisable holler. The woman with the tatts who’d refused to have any part in proceedings. She Could See What They Were Up To. She’d be reporting them. She’d be shouting for some minutes and Becca didn’t have the patience – for the shouting or the poor grammar. Let her complain. See who’d listen to her. Becca had given her the chance to be listened to, and she’d refused. She’d made her own bed and she could lie in it.
Except, probably, she couldn’t. When they’d called at her door, it had been half six and she’d still been in her PJs. She’d gone off to the corner shop for booze and fags later – Nick had her under surveillance, whatever – and she’d still been in her PJs. Nice bunny slippers, though. Becca regretted not getting them on camera, although, she thought, pixelated, they’d probably get away with it.
“Come up here to patronise us,” called tatts in PJs and bunny slippers with absolutely no-one shouting back at her. No, “oi, we’re trying to sleep here,” even though it was half past 2 in the morning.
Becca tried to find her watch, her arm, her hand as she sank into the bin bags like tatts would sink into her tasteless waterbed, all the while with Nick continuing to video without once offering to help her up.
Tatts in PJs slammed her window – wooden framed, not double-glazed – and stomped off back to whatever it was that kept her up at half 3 in the morning. Becca was guessing something involving a web cam, although she’d seen the raddled youths who’d stopped by her back door earlier so perhaps she was conducting another sort of business. That would have been perfect. Becca had told her she would be perfect. She’d had the door slammed in her face.
“Look at you,” Nick sniggered.
“Yeah, look at me,” Becca shouted, to Nick giggling, shushing and giggling again.
It had been a long day. They’d seen the clock round, the pair of them, following the different families who’d let them in no doubt because they couldn’t read what they’d signed. The meths-heads and the winos and the alkies. Becca felt like shouting back at tatts – you don’t need us to come up here to patronise you. You patronise yourselves.
The bin bags gave way under Becca’s weight and she was pitched into the road, still laughing, with Nick running round, camera still rolling and the champagne bottle rolling, too. He caught it. There was still some in there. There was a moment’s disagreement between them and then Becca pulled rank. She might be the one picking fat-encrusted pizza crusts off her jeans, but she was the boss of him right now. Fiona was back in London doing whatever it was Fiona did – Becca imagined her with her wine in the bath reading Proust or whatever. Just for the Instagram photo, of course. She’d be back at it with the credit card and the rolled fifty and the Bolivian Marching Powder before too long. Becca snorted – snorted – realised that Nick was still laughing and she pulled rank again, pulled herself up, upended the champagne bottle to empty it of its remaining drops and said the pair of them had better put themselves away for the night. They had three hours before they were needed back in the edit suite, and then they were following the Swaineys and their brood – all seven of the bleeders – for another day’s Nothing with optional Sod All. Nick laughed. He should. It had been her treat tonight. Day 1 of the shoot. Six months and then Channel 4, prime time. Chav telly. Broken Britain. As freelancers, they both needed it that way.
Until Fiona saw the photo that tatts had taken. Until 5:30 the following morning and the phone call and the reminder that a flat paid for by the Company could be taken away by the Company. Until Becca understood how they dealt with their trash.
Mike Hickman (@MikeHicWriter) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including 2018’s “Not So Funny Now” about Groucho Marx and Erin Fleming. He has recently been published in EllipsisZine, Dwelling Literary, Bandit Fiction, Nymphs, Flash Fiction Magazine, Brown Bag, and Safe and Sound Press. His co-written, completed six-part BBC radio sit com remains unproduced but available to interested producers!