A sad saga by Martin Fry—
The genie of the Chelsea boot
She was out there somewhere. Frank knew it.
They’d agreed to meet under the clock at the Bus Station at 8. He’d arrived on the dot. In fact, if truth be told, he’d been there since half seven, chewing gum—
8.05: still no sign. Frank sighed and muttered nervously. She said 8 o’clock. She said carry a copy of Smash Hits. She said be there on time. They’d been pen-friends a short while now, but a meeting?… in the flesh? …face to face? Who knows where it might lead?
He’d been hoping for the dream date for such a long time now, but all he ever got were nightmares.
8.15: she’ll still be washing her hair.
8.30: she’s got to be cutting her toe-nails.
8.45: must have missed that bus. By now all the other dates had met up. Frank watched as lonely people made their connections, left the department store doors where they’d been waiting in the rain and stepped off into the bright neon lights of the night.
9.15: Frank was anxious. Very anxious. He was desperately searching for an excuse for being there alone. He pretended to read the timetables but his eyes couldn’t focus. He must have got the wrong day, wrong time. Wrong precinct.
10 o’clock: still clutching the crumpled magazine. Ink running down his fingers. He decided to pack it in. Another day gone wrong. Just who—
Walking back to his bus-stop home, Frank heard the sounds of a familiar refrain drifting from a nearby public house, a Watney’s Red Barrel watering-hole for handsome dudes with gold medallions and car keys. He sighed to himself. “Who broke my heart? You did, you did. Bow to the target, blame Cupid, Cupid. You think you’re smart… stupid, stupid”. Frank whispered the last two words under his breath.
“Stupid… stupid”. He sighed again and considered his lot. “Shoot that poison arrow”. ABC. That guy—
Walking further on down the damp dark streets he remembered all his pathetic attempts to make himself appear a more attractive proposition to the tender gender. He’d gone for voice lessons, but what Frank really needed was a new script.
Clothes, he’d thought, were his main problem.
Frank had tried the lot: a zoot suit with armpit-high trousers, the white dreadlock look, cuban revolutionary. He’d gone mohican, he’d gone folk-dancing. There’s got to be a dame out there and I don’t mind smartening myself up for her, thought Frank. He was going crazy but he was getting nowhere. He gazed forlornly at the 17 trendy Afro-rhythm LPs and the Beatle wig in the corner and felt about as up-to-date as a hula-hoop.
And there on a shelf, gathering dust, was another complete failure. His chest-expander lay limp like a concertina. He just about had the strength to lift it, but as for turning his body into a bronzed Adonis—
That night Frank realised he was back to square one. Whatever he wore, they laughed at him. Openly. Or fell asleep over their Babychams. Or left with another guy. Disaster, like a shadow, like an unwanted friend, seemed to follow him wherever he went.
As he lay back on his bed, that familiar refrain came back to haunt him: “Shoot that poison arrow to… that’s the look, the look of love… tears are not enough…”. That guy—
Frank began polishing his new Chelsea Boots, thoughtfully. They’d just arrived and were his current pride and joy. But, suddenly, as he applied the polish to the black leather surface—
A man in a gold shimmering suit stood before him.
Frank was aghast. “Wh-who are you?” he stammered.
“Martin Fry’s the name. The Genie Of The Chelsea Boot your wish is my command/
Frank was speechless. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. He pinched himself to see if he wasn’t dreaming. “Genie of the WHAT??” he cried.
“Genie Of The Chelsea Boot,” said Fry. When they find you beached on the barrier reef/
“B-but,” said Frank, incredulously. “You—
“Well,” shrugged Fry. “If you don’t want my advice, I’ll be on my way…”
“No, No!” Frank shouted, tugging his sparkly sleeve.
Fry turned. “Well, Frank” he said, “it’s like this. Beneath this myriad of golden threads beats the heart of a regular guy. Believe me. Inside this gleaming exterior there lurks a small man who knows only too well the trials and tribulations of that game called ‘Love’. I, too, have my private moments.” Fry winced as if wracked by painful memories. “But, come on,” he said. “We have but mere hours for our quest. Seconds to find that Elusive Vision of Love. Everything is temporary, written on sand/
Fry pointed out of the window at the fairyland of glittering lights spread beneath them.
“We’re on the doorstep of a New Dawn,” he said. “So c’mon, Frank, Let’s go!”
Together they headed off into the numb suburb Frank chose to call home. Down Dead End Street, Anywheresville, No Hopeshire. Past The Vespa Club, past The Cave. Past The Roxy Rendezvous. Trudging on and on through that neon world known as Nitelife.
They entered Rocky’s, a club that Frank had never even seen before. Even to call it as a “club” at all was pitching it a bit high. More like a place for bruisers than a place of retreat. A place where redecorating meant fresh sawdust. A place where the mice carry truncheons. Rocky’s was packed with the meanest, cruellest, toughest, evillest characters Frank had ever seen.
“Are you sure we got the right place, Martin, oh Genie?” said Frank, dismayed.
“Cool, co-ool, Master,” whispered Fry. “This is the one. ‘X’ marks the spot. She’s here, your Dream Date. I can feel her in my bones, Master.”
Frank edged nervously towards the bar. “The drinks are on me, Genie.” he said, surveying the dismal scene before him.
“Make mine an orange,” snapped Fry: “Strictly no alcohol. We gotta be razor-sharp tonight—
They glanced around them. Overweight, overworked, over-the-hill disco patrons were feverishly trying to do the Frug, The Pony, The Hitch-Hike, The Go-Go, The Mamba. Dances from yesteryear and beyond. The grisly deejay was positioned right of the dance floor inside a purple fun-fur cage. “Heeey! This is dedicated to a little lady I leeeerve so so fine!” he slavered. “And that little lady might just be YOU!” The deejay stabbed a finger at a frumpy girl in sequinned party frock and white plastic knee-boots. She got up and started twisting frantically to the sound of the Danish World Cup Squad.
Worse was to follow. The Goombay Dance Band. The Tweets. The Smurfs. The Wombles. Hurricane Higgins. Kelly Marie. The deejay span a Joe Dolce 12-inch and waddled to the bar. Drunken Romeos hit the dance-floor spinning round giddily in the flashing disco lights.
“This is awful,” said Frank. “The deejay’s in a time-warp.”
“Trust me, oh worthy Master,” said the gold-suited one. “Things will work out… for it is SHE!” He pointed at where the spotlight was falling on the dancefloor. “Like a pearl in an oyster bed. Like a diamond in a sewer… there is The Girl Of Your Dreams!”
Frank’s eyes fixed upon her, and locked into place. This vision of radiant beauty was dancing a crazy wig-out routine. She’d invented it especially for Rumania’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. Their record blared from the loudspeakers.
“Talk to her. Go ahead, talk to her,” Fry implored. “A sunken ship with a rich cargo/
Frank got up. Frank sat down again. He was trembling. “I can’t do it. I can’t. Continue »
“Skip the hearts and flowers, skip the ivory towers. Jump on in or we’ll be here for hours. Nothing ventured nothing gained, me old fruit,” grinned the Genie of the Chelsea Boot.
“I implore you, oh, I implore you to show me how,” gasped Frank, chickening out.
“Listen,” said Fry. “There ain’t much I don’t know about wooing the heart of a Dame.” And with that he leapt upon the dance floor, broke into a wild routine and glided suavely to rest before Frank’s dream date. She seemed transfixed, totally motionless. Fry—
She could feel his hot breath on her cheek. His lips were moving. They spoke. “If I were to say to you can you keep a secret? Would you know just what to do…“
“Certainly would, creep. I’d say drop dead! Shape up and shove off, Fishface. And anyway,” she glanced at Frank, with a look of disgust, “…who’s yer friend?“