As forty-something neo-Nazis went, no-one was denying she was hot as shit. She had short-hacked hair that shone white as a Klan hood, and a perma-tan so deep she was in danger of having to start to hate herself.
There was a whole bunch of people willing to subscribe to all things Aryan just to give themselves a better shot at getting into Posie Birtles’ Union Jack knickers. Two hundred and thirty one, to be exact – that’s the number who voted for her ‘Whites Unite’ ticket at the latest council elections.
Posie Birtles’ policies included boycotting the Kwik Save since it got taken over by the Senguptas, the only non-whites around the place. They were the kind of policies that pleased her old man, who was a bit of a big-shot on the far-right scene. Least, he was till he got caught red-handed trying to kick an asylum seeker right back over the English Channel. Now he funded the campaign from a cell block on the Isle of Wight. Reckoned with his cash and Posie’s looks, reclaiming the nation’s cultural identity was only a matter of time.
Posie Birtles paraded through the car park woods enough times to tempt a whole generation of teenagers of the benefits of natural selection. Dazaster was first to take a razor to his skull. Before long he was ferrying Posie round her various skinhead meet-ups in his ponced-up Lada. In case anyone questioned his Russian-made junk-heap, he pasted a ‘British and Proud’ sticker on his back bumper. He read up the ‘Whites Unite’ manifesto and spent his days loitering round the front of Kwik Save in a pair of second-hand jack-boots, hustling folk for indigenous rights and everyday essentials.
Course, such almost-picketing didn’t go down too well with the Senguptas. Their second son Rohit headed out one day and gave Dazaster a black eye and a couple of cracked teeth for his troubles. Dazaster lisped hate through his swollen lips. Rohit laughed and went back to re-stacking. Dazaster headed straight round to tell the Fuhrer that this meant war.
Posie Birtles shook her head at Dazaster crumpled up on her driveway and told him her old man wouldn’t stand for one of her boys being beat up by a Paki. She said, ‘we’re supposed to be the frigging master race.’ Still, she forked out the dosh to send Dazaster to the dentist. Then she changed into her leopardskin figure-hugger and clacked right on down to Kwik Save.
‘You been beating up one of my boys?’ she called to Rohit round the back.
Rohit dumped the tin-trays and got close enough to smell her shower-fresh skin. He set his eyes on her front. He said, ‘you after starting a war?’
Posie’s eyes darted and she flat-handed Rohit back into the store-room. The air was strawberry-cool.
‘Nazi scum,’ said Rohit, tearing at her straps.
‘Fucking dirty Nazi scum.’
At first, Posie Birtles seemed like just another of those posh-arse neighbours who lived off some long-gone husband’s life insurance and generally kept herself to herself. Till the day her carnation beds bloomed the words ‘White Power’. She fixed a flag-pole in her front lawn and hoisted the Union Jack. She got iron gates hooked up and a Rottweiler called Rudolph to keep her safe. She called Dazaster and said, ‘I got a job for you.’
Dazaster buzzed through the gate with a baseball bat figuring he was going to be sent straight round to Kwik Save to teach those Pakis a lesson. Posie sprawled on a sun-lounger in a tiny bright white two-piece. Rudolph took one look at the baseball bat and took off. ‘Rudi!’ shouted Posie, pricking up behind her moon-shades. Then to Dazaster: ‘Drop the fucking bat!’
Dazaster had a split-second decision whether to sweep the Nazi-dog straight to third base or risk it leaving his dreams of a late-night putsch with Posie over for good. He fixed his eyes on the tiny white two-piece and chose the latter. Lucky for Dazaster, Rudolph chose his shoulder to take a chunk from.
Later, Posie led Dazaster out to the flower beds and said, ‘you’ve got to make this right.’
She handed Dazaster a digital camera and backed away so she was posing into the sun.
‘You got the words?’ she said, flapping at the flowers behind her. Dazaster nodded. ‘You got the flag?’
Posie whistled sharp. Rudolph bounded round from the back. Dazaster tensed. Rudolph gave him a hungry look and slunk around her knees. She said, ‘you got it framed?’
Dazaster nodded. ‘Now?’
‘Hold up,’ said Posie. She reached behind and unclasped her bikini top. Her breasts bounced free. She cupped them, leered.
She said, ‘go.’
He pressed. He lingered in the viewfinder. Posie Birtles motioned for the camera. ‘Perfect,’ she said, flicking back through the pictures. Dazaster smelled fruit scent and sun lotion.
‘It’s his birthday, see.’
She reached over and kissed Dazaster’s cheek. A hard nipple brushed his bare arm. He goose-bumped up. She turned and walked back to the house. He watched her thong-arse all the way till it went indoors. He thought how it felt like his fucking birthday too.
One time, Dazaster used to hope that being the first of his peer group to own a car was his sure-fire ticket to pussy. He dreamed of billing blow-jobs for late-night lifts back from town. Double after midnight. He drilled industrial techno from his Kenwood speakers, and cruised the lanes looking for fares. He fixed a Dukes of Hazzard horn and had his name stuck across the sun-shield. Dazaster was five-foot-four with his hair spiked. Becoming a Nazi had lost him a good inch. He never weighed more than a scrawny-arsed eight stone. Arms like cocktail sticks. His name said it all. The pussy preferred to walk.
Next day, Dazaster headed into town and had a swastika tattooed over his heart. Took him three tries to find someone to do it. A back-street shack round the bus station. He went shirtless the day he ripped the bandage off. He ended his Kwik Save boycott.
‘Your mother must be very proud,’ said the old Sengupta.
‘Too right,’ said Dazaster.
Rohit said, ‘are you sure you’ve got it the right way round?’
Dazaster looked down, frowned. They laughed. Dazaster left. He said, ‘I’ll be back.’ And then, ‘Paki scum.’
He made to run, but heard Rohit’s voice out front.
‘Then be sure to take us up on our two-for-one one-coat paint next week – add a little colour to your life!’ They laughed again. Them laughing like that, it dug deeper than Rudolph.
Most of the car park woods crowd thought Dazaster’s swastika was dumb. Specially as his scrawny white ribcage sort of spoiled the intended effect. But that same night, he got to give Chloe Rivis a lift home. ‘I think it rocks,’ she said. She bummed a fag and punched him playfully on his shoulder. He winced at the Nazi-dog’s work. Dazaster turned the techno up, handbrake-turned out of her road. He presented himself on Posie Birtles’ front door. ‘Jesus,’ she said. ‘Someone’s signed up for life.’ And then: ‘Wait here. I gotta get a picture.’
Who knows whether the swastika was the clinching factor, but Dazaster and Chloe seemed to hit it off big-time. Dazaster drove her to school each day and he revved the engine while they French-kissed in the drop-off berth. Scowled at the arseholes laughing at his Lada. Kept his top off when he could.
Posie Birtles didn’t seem best pleased when Dazaster rolled up to run her to the next Whites Unite rally with Chloe Rivis in tow. Posie squinted in the back seat. She saw a thin girl in a saggy white top. She said, ‘this ain’t no Sunday School outing.’
Dazaster said, ‘she’s one of us.’ He nudged Chloe.
Chloe said, ‘I hate niggers. You ask anyone.’
Posie shook her head. She clambered in the passenger seat. Dazaster watched the way her short black skirt side-spliced up her thigh. She leaned to turn down the techno. She watched Chloe in the rear-view mirror. She said, ‘what do they call you?’
Chloe brushed the blonde from her eyes. She said, ‘Chloe.’ And then: ‘But I’m proper English.’
They stopped at a pub on the moor-top. Razor-skulled men swigged pints in the car park. They parted for Posie. ‘Morning, guv’nor,’ said one man, bulging tattoos.
Posie pulled a face, shuffled her papers. She accepted a cigarette. Dazaster nodded at the men. They cast their eyes over Chloe. Chloe stuck close to Dazaster. He lit a fag, handed it to Chloe, and took off his tee-shirt.
‘Shit, kid,’ said one. ‘That beats the lot.’
‘No half measures,’ said another.
They shook his hand and slapped his back till it blazed redder than the cross of St George. Chloe nuzzled closer. She smiled up at Dazaster: ‘I’m gonna get one too,’ she said. ‘Right here,’ – she patted her heart – ‘where everyone can see.’
Dazaster took Chloe on trips to the seaside. They played the arcades. They slapped the penny-push machines till they were chased away. They shared candyfloss. They ate chips on the end of the pier and gazed out to sea. Dazaster said, ‘reckon there’s some country out there we can’t see where there isn’t no niggers.’
‘I’d like to live there if there is,’ said Chloe.
Dazaster said, ‘might have been us if Hitler had won the war. That’s what Posie’s old man says. Says us winning was the worst thing ever. Meant they could all come in and take our jobs.
‘Like at Kwik Save?’
‘Yeah,’ said Dazaster. ‘Exactly.’
Chloe said, ‘I wouldn’t work there for shit any how.’
Dazaster said again: ‘Exactly’. Then: ‘I’m going to smoke them bastards out. I ain’t lying.’
She smiled and leaned in to kiss him.
One time, they stopped on the way out of town to slash the tyres of a couple of cars parked outside the Chinese takeaway. Chloe stayed lookout while Dazaster crouched behind and stuck in his pen-knife. Dazaster said it didn’t matter if they were Chinkys or not, just giving them money was bad enough. Chloe said, ‘it’s cat-meat, anyhow. That’s what our kid says.’
Heading home, they pulled up on a garage forecourt where an Indian man was manning the pumps. Dazaster tugged his tee-shirt off and got out to confront him. The man said, ‘fill up?’
Dazaster looked back at Chloe and grinned. Turned back and said, ‘what are you looking at?’
Puzzled, the man repeated, ‘fill-up?’
Dazaster said, ‘do you speak English?’
The man gawped.
Dazaster said, ‘do you speak English, you Paki cunt?’
The man put down the pump and told Dazaster to clear off. Dazaster repeated his taunt and got in his Lada and screeched away. Two miles down the road, the Lada clonked to a halt. They slept on the back seat on the side of the road that night. It was the first time they did it. After, Dazaster lay on his back and held Chloe tight. He said, ‘reckon it’s saying summat that even the stars are white.’
Posie Birtles peered over her reading glasses and said, ‘by inviting just about everyone, from every race and culture, to set up camp within our borders, us, the British, the indigenous population, have become downtrodden, third-class citizens in our own country.’
Rohit said, ‘No wonder your little brown-shirts are getting out of control, with stirring messages like that.’
Posie scribbled on the paper. She said, ‘the fight must go on.’
Rohit said, ‘perfect.’
Posie tossed her sheaf of papers on the floor. Morning sun glared through the curtains. White sheets knotted their limbs. She said, ‘I won’t miss these frigging rallies.’
Rohit said, ‘how’s the old man?’
Posie said, ‘he’s sweet. He liked the flower beds best. And the dumb kid with the swastika. He still thinks we’re funding a right-wing revolution. Not Sunday lunch for a bunch of deluded old skinheads.’ She said, ‘besides, he beat up another Indian kid last week. Put back his parole a good two years.’
She glanced at her clock radio. She fingered Rohit’s chest, felt his hand creep back between her legs. She feigned resistance: ‘We ain’t gonna start a revolution lying down ..’ She stayed layed down and smiled.
Next time, Dazaster brought along a couple more new recruits. He pushed forward, showing off, glad-handing skinheads. Chloe smiled. Stewie and Danny hung back. Awkward and pasty faced. Stewie twitched on a cigarette. His eyes darted. Posie said, ‘the fight must go on.’ They cheered her from the podium. On the way home, Dazaster said, ‘you never said.’
Posie said, ‘the time’s right. It needs new blood.’ She regarded Stewie and Danny in the rear-view mirror, raised an eyebrow.
Dazaster said, ‘I’m up for it.’
Posie said, ‘you’re just a kid.’
Dazaster swung the car hard round the next bend so Stewie and Danny fell against the window. He said, ‘I’m not a fucking kid.’
Chloe said, ‘he’s not a kid.’
Posie said, ‘far as that lot go, actions speak louder than words.’
Later Posie got Chloe on her own. She said, ‘you sure about this?’
Chloe screwed her face in surprise. ‘This what?’ she said.
‘This.. stuff.’ Posie swept her arm towards the flower beds.
Chloe squinted in. A smile broke. She said, ‘you’re testing me.’ Posie shook her head.
Chloe said, ‘I hate niggers more than ever.’
A few nights later, Dazaster waited for Chloe at the end of her street. The lights pooled orange. Chloe reached up, kissed Dazaster’s cheek. She said, ‘you ready?’
Dazaster said, ‘too right.’
They headed in the car park woods. Dazaster fumbled in the bushes. He said, ‘found it.’ He lugged out a spray can and a can of petrol. They crouched, watched the Kwik Save. Dazaster said, ‘all clear?’
Chloe said, ‘all clear.’
Dazaster gave Chloe a long French kiss and swished the cans over the road. He sprayed, careful, ‘Pakis Out’ on the nearby wall. He held open the Kwik Save letterbox, levered up the can with his other hand. He started tipping, jumped back when the petrol sploshed his jeans. Then he took off his shirt, held it against the can nozzle, and stuffed it half in the letterbox. His pale skin shone. He turned to Chloe, grinned, thumped his Swastika twice. Then he stood back, leaned in with a lighter. His shirt puffed brighter orange than the street lights. Flames zipped up the aisle.
They lay in the woods and did it while orange and blue licked the sky. Sirens fought. Smoke tightened in their throats. Dazaster got up. While Chloe cried, he walked back to the lights.
Rohit turned to Posie and placed his hand on her thigh. He worked it upwards. He said, ‘my father is pleased. He never liked that fucking shop.’
Posie pushed his hand away and nodded forward.
Rohit laughed. ‘I’ve driven these things before, you know. I can turn my hand to anything. Such is the life of the immigrant.’
Posie said, ‘stop it.’ She lit a cigarette. She tried not to smile.
Rohit slapped his hand on the steering wheel. ‘You’re not worrying about those little brown-shirts, I hope?’
Posie said nothing. Rohit said, ‘think of the pay-out.’ He put his hand back on her thigh. He floored the van in the fast lane.