Please forgive me if I go on a bit longer than usual. In past entries, I’ve been trying to give you a sense of the flavor of McGinn’s prose. Today, I’d like to linger a bit on matters of plot and dialogue.
Remember Mick, the guy from two entries ago who’s “always pissed” because “he has no girlfriend”? Well, the protagonist, Dave Green, was going to crash at Mick’s place, but Mick wasn’t around at the time he’d told Dave to come by. Dave was thus forced to wander the streets of London all night, having encounters with the police and reflecting on the seedy underbelly of the city.
You may wonder why he didn’t just try Mick again at some point later in the evening….
….but whatever. Let’s move on, as Dave Green has moved on.
“‘Short of cash?’ A bulky man, fiftyish, suity, greying, Windsor knotted, stood at my side. His smile hovered a bit longer than necessary. ‘Need a bed for the night, I’d guess?’
“I turned to him, catching a gust of tangy aftershave. He looked like a well-off businessman, groomed and smooth. His eyebrows seemed thinner than they ought to be, pointier. ‘Yeah, a friend let me down, Mick, so I’ve got to spend the night out.’ As if it’s any of your business, I thought. Still, the guy’s just trying to be nice, the friendly type. Maybe he’s got a spare room or something.
“‘I’ll give you twenty quid if you do me a favor, and you can stay the night.’
“His smile racked up, but it didn’t involve the rest of his face. He looked slightly redder than before.
“‘What kind of favor,’ I inquired, as innocently as possible. I had a bad feeling about the answer.
“….He leaned in to me, stiffening the tang. ‘You suck me off and I’ll give you twenty quid and a bed,’ he said, just like that. He just came right out with it, loosing those words into the atmosphere. ‘That kind of favor.'”
“I was lost for a reply, my voice halted. What do you say to something like that?
“…Mildly, I pronounced the words, ‘I think you’ve got the wrong idea.’
“‘Okay, a wank for a tenner.’
“‘Look, I think you’d better just go away. I don’t want to talk to you any more.'”
Of course, this doesn’t suffice, and he has to threaten to punch the guy. (“Just fuck off, okay, before I land you one.”) Later, he muses about the experience:
“I couldn’t get the pinstriped pederast out of my head. I thought of reluctant rent-boys swallowing sour spunk for low cash. Not a subject I’d given much thought to before. There’s the career for me, all right. What I really need is a girlfriend to swallow mine…”
–Colin McGinn, “Bad Patches,” pp. 19-21 and 23