...Stalkers are a huge source of entertainment at work, and make up quite a large percentage of the usual customers and staff. There's nothing more entertaining than following the desperate exploits and tribulations of the romantically deluded. Which kind of explains the enduring quality of most traditional fairytales. I've always been able to spot them as I was partly raised by one, my Godmother, during my impressionable teens, and it was only when I was seventeen and released into the wild (left home) that I realised it wasn't normal behaviour for women. I shortly found that some men did it too. It took me until I was in my thirties to find it funny though.
That answered my dress code problems for the evening though, and I text back to say I would catch up with the group later, between 11:00 p.m. and midnight. I pick out one of my Jason Friday 13th outfits, and cook my daughter's tea while making sure she does her homework.
"Are you taking the piss?" Uniform asks me, when I open the front door.
"No, I'm going to a party afterwards as Jason Vorheese," I say. "What, too slutty for you?"
"Do you realise nobody has ever seen you out of either uniform or fancy dress?" he points out, leading the way back to the squad car. "If you ever get caught you'll be labelled the Costume Party Serial Killer."
"My boots have got real blood on," I tell him. "They're my old work ones. Customer had his throat cut with a bottle. I saved his life, you know."
"Yes, you must be faced with a permanent conflict of interests in your professional life," he says, sourly. "Which imaginary friends are you out with tonight?"
"All of them," I grin.
He shakes his head wryly. He doesn't trust me. He was one of the officers who picked me up when I was sectioned. He's got a cynical look about him anyway, which reminds me slightly of the Batman actor Christian Bale - on his guard, brooding internally about something.
"What are they telling you to do now, the voices in your head?" he mutters, as I do up my seatbelt and slam the passenger door.
"Always follow the instructions on the packet," I say, which is the first random phrase I think of. He just looks at me curiously before starting the ignition, and doesn't say anything else as we set off. I wonder what particular significance that phrase has to him, before remembering that very few men read the instructions on anything before use… particularly on packets of condoms...
...The pub crawl is still in the early-comers stage, with Mgr Lenny in his Sumo wrestler fat-suit adorned with fake Hawaiian garlands from his barmaid sidekicks, Desdemona and Lynette, whose grass skirts will probably have moulted quite a bit by the end of the night. Desdemona, who likes to be called Des or Desmond (but freaks if you call her Mona) is Jason Green's lift home from the other night, one of my favourite stalkers to watch. When she has a crush on a guy she rounds up every other girl with a crush on him and forms a little fan club so that she doesn't look like the psychotic obsessive that she is, giving her the opportunity to first endear herself to and then slag off the other fan club members, so that she looks like the best of the bunch. She goes for the real tough unapproachable guys because she likes a challenge. Her approach is to mollycoddle and mother and gently bully them, usually giving them a girl's nickname in contrast to her boy's one - I think she calls Jason 'Josephine' - possibly on the premise that behind every bastard is a closet Mummy's Boy wanting attention. In some cases she could be right. I wonder briefly what she'd make of Connor, who hates everybody. She'd probably think she'd met the love of her life. Connor would probably think it was his worst nightmare after his own mother. I have a feeling Connor's relationship with his mother probably ended as Korean dog food.
Lynette is Desdemona's regular sidekick, and seems to be her accessory of choice because she has huge boobs she can be persuaded to show off, and no personality, meaning that boys stare hypnotized at her cleavage while Des does all the talking and brainwashing. Lynette also drinks more than Des, probably because Des's gob is too busy opening and shutting with noises coming out to keep up. Consequently, Des scoffs at Lynette for being a lush and waking up in random guy's beds, while appearing less loose and available in comparison. It's all comparative, when you work on people's minds that way. Few girls seem to realise that once you're alone with a guy, he's judging you and your behaviour alone, not your friends' behaviour compared to yours. Unless he's starting to look at them more favourably now he has to put up with just the one you.
"Oh, my life, you look scary," Des greets me as I arrive. And then, predictably, "Where's all the other door staff?"
"Dunno, I don't talk to them," I shrug. Then add, not too kindly, "Probably having quality time with their wives and girlfriends."
"I don't see why anyone would want to, they're none of them that bright, are they?" she says. "It's not exactly a job for an intelligent person, is it?"
She seems to have forgotten who she's talking to, but I turn away without gratifying her unwelcome remarks. I give Mgr Lenny a hug instead and ask him what his poison is. Des gets her mobile out, joining me at the bar, and starts texting and Facebuddying all the door staff guys, harassing and abusing them, sharing any replies she gets with Lynette like trophies, while Lenny's triple Tequila Sunrise is assembled. My mobile vibrates in my pocket and I pull it out with dread expecting a text from head office, but instead it's Doorman Jak who has cc'd his reply to me as well. It says: shuv of des door ho i'm married. Out of the corner of my eye I see Des muttering 'Junk mail' and pressing delete on a message, twirling her hair idly. Jak has clinical Dissociative Identity Disorder and occasionally thinks he's other people, including me. He's separated from his wife but still wears the ring for his own sanity, as well as spending his alone time playing online War games. When he's at work he speaks to nobody except on occasions when he's mentioned his medication to me because I'm the First-Aider. As I delete his message also, my phone rings.
This time it is head office.
"We've got a tramp acting suspiciously out back of you where the bins are," they say. "He's just handed over money to two guys, stripy jumpers and jeans, who are at your front door now. Could be a set up. The tramp's hiding just by the rear Fire Exit fiddling with what's either a metal bar or home-made firearm."
"Who are you talking to, who is it? Are they coming out?" Des shakes my arm excitedly.
"It's my mum, and no she isn't likely to be coming out - she's babysitting for me," I hand over Lenny's drink and head for the doors, throwing Des a sarky look. Two dark-haired guys in stripy jumpers are just getting out their I.D. I nudge Salem, one of the doormen at this venue, and whisper to him about the two guys being barred from other venues for use of stolen credit cards and fake notes. It's a lie, but will stall them and get them searched. I continue outside with my phone still stuck to my ear, pulling my Friday 13th mask back down over my face as I head around the back of the building.
"What, you're going to go right round and confront him?" Head office sound surprised.
"It's attention-seeking barmaids. They always give me a death wish," I say. "I'm just some innocent student in fancy dress walking down an alleyway to have a private phone conversation, is that okay with you?"
"He's right in…"
A shape steps out of the shadows ahead, and the so-called tramp raises his iron bar - and asks me to go away in impolite language.
"…Front of you," say head office.
I close my left hand around the bar on its downswing and shove, chinning him with the other end of it. My right hand is still on the phone at my ear.
"Yeah, I've found him," I say. "How do you want him?"
"We've got no back trace on him, looks like an actual tramp. Got a couple of uniforms right behind you, they can take over from here."
Head office disconnect. From behind me, two shiny black hat-wearing high visibility jackets stroll up and look past, at the dirty groaning individual dribbling his own blood and teeth into his hands.
"Is that all he was armed with?" W.P.C. Drury asks.
"You'll have to check," I say. "Apparently he paid money to a couple of chavs before they tried the front doors, while he lay in wait out the back here."
"Yeah, one of ours is taking the chavs' details now. Fake notes found on them by door staff."
Bonus, I think. What an imagination.
"Why did they call you on this one?" she asks me. "He's just some dirty old homeless guy."
"They didn't say," I reply. "Maybe was a doorman once. Maybe someone is subcontracting on the dirt cheap. On fake notes, even."
They cuff him and drag him off, not before putting on their medical exam gloves, taking the metal bar with them. I go back to my party.
Thankfully the bar-lads have arrived and are providing consolation to the girls for lack of door staff appearance. I keep to myself that none of the door guys trust Lenny not to try and rape them drunk. It would be like getting violently cornered by a Christina Aguilera-scented hippopotamus.
We move from the bar to Crash, a club popular with off-duty bar and door staff due to its no-exclusions policy, and the fact it used to be a pole-dancing club and left the poles in place for the customers to dance around. I start to feel bored already as the others in the group get more drunk, and more bitchy including Lenny, because some of the door staff are found to be on their own night out for someone else's birthday, and not in fancy dress. But the barmaids are of course ecstatic to see any doorman on his night off, and have done all but bring their own Rohypnol in their determination to be as accessibly comatose as possible in the arms of the nearest one by the end of the night. Lenny begins one of his massive sulks, and is only cheered up by Doorman Stuart turning up in a Batman costume and buying him forty shots, with the intention of wiping his surly gayness from his memory and implanting one of him enjoying himself. I'm glad I stick around for a little while helping Batman procure the shots, because as I leave I get to see Des outside the club screaming blue murder at Lynette, who is lying on the pavement next to the taxi rank with vomit in her hair. Des is screaming that Lyn has ruined her night because by the time she gets her home it will be too late to come back to the club. So much for caring friends.
As I debate whether or not to offer to take Lynette home, more to spare her from Des than anything else, I get another call from head office.
"Sooner those two choke to death on their own puke, the better," head office say. "They're responsible for half the Facebuddy stalking and leaking in the last few months that we've traced. One of your guys is trying to get a serious job in Home Security, and has been refused because the fat blonde barmaid in front of you is on his Facebuddy account and told everyone about his application. He's stuffed now, won't get anything. Stuck being a doorstop for life."
"Did you want something?"
"What we're saying is, we know you're stood there wondering whether to be nice. Don't risk it. You don't want those two leaky bitches in your car or anywhere near you."
They hang up.
"Subtle," I say, and go to the kebab shop before heading home.
Further update: The Random House Group investigated further in June 2012 after receiving more detailed analysis and comparisons of verbatim prose, scenes, descriptions and dialogue. The original complaint was not about 'ideas, plotlines or characters which are generic in their very nature' as they solely addressed in this earlier general response (my books do not have the same genre, storylines, or adult subject matter). Their later conclusion, despite the frequency of apparent imitations in writing style, scene content and prose throughout the books, was that it could only be explained as 'coincidental'. They provided no evidence or specific dates of their own.