A SATIRE OF EDINBURGH'S LGBT SCENE
CHAPTER 5: MI6 INVESTIGATES
When Malky went to sit down with his three women friends in Saturn’s, he saw the wafer-thin pate-head Eric McVey stretching his limbs around an oval, mahogany table with several of his shifty buddies. Malky therefore encouraged his companions to settle themselves at a square, white table to the right of the imitation medieval stone fireplace, pointed the silver arrowhead in his elongated belly button in the direction of the people he wished to put under surveillance, and took a tug at the tiny titanium ZOOM lever that was craftily embedded into the pit of his chest.
“The fireplace is as fake as the atmosphere,” said the trans woman with the elegant set of silver teeth.
“It’s as fake as the smart Alecs and plastic gnomes who dance into the shadows of the night,” agreed her equally delightful companion, adjusting her beautifully encrusted dress.
Malky femto-fi devices enabled him to hear any nearby conversations or mutterings which might be of interest, with extreme precision, in his own left ear. He presumed there must be some scientific reason for this. Maybe it’s something to do with my new emerald earring, he deliberated, and the vicious hole Hamish punched in my earlobe is still hurting!
“Winnie was so versatile, such an important part of my life, like a husband and wife entwined all together,” twittered Eric McVey, with a deft twist of his long, untrimmed moustache. “She, or they, to be politically correct, helped me to devise my neo-liberal strategies for the weak-kneed Lib Dems, and what a far cry from the Orange Order they were! She lined up our reprobates in the graveyard on Calton Hill, and they've helped us to hit on the expendable while protecting the czars from the hoi polloi. Now, that talkative church secretary at St Manion's on the Mound, we laid him out cold with a broom-handle up his Nebuchadnezzar!”
“And they reported that the pervo died from a massive stroke!” whispered a pock-faced fellow with one arm and two artificial legs. “It reminds me of the time that silly trans nursery minder was starved to death in her gang's safehouse somewhere behind Rose St. The crown agent recorded it as a gigantic adverse reaction to the bitch's insulin injections.”
“That was in October 2007, as I remember,” murmured McVey, with a gentle smile, “and the location was known as Fred's House.”
“I once worked there, as a gimp in a cage,” mumbled a proud, middle aged man known as the Spirit of Eromenus.
“That's where they should have kept you,” retorted McVey, with a rude scowl.
“Maybe it's time for the Knights and Dames of the Sacred Orb to cultivate a better public image for itself,” muttered a sprightly lady from Silverknowes. “A bit like the Wolf Pack or the Prime Resisters maybe. They recently received favourable attention from the Evening News.”
“No chance,” growled McVey, grimacing like a Rottweiler. “St. Aidan would turn in his slimy grave.”
“I don't approve of you, one single iota,” protested the Spirit, heading for the door.
“Good riddance to bad rubbish,” burbled McVey, preening himself.
Dr. Ben Hopkins heard none of that conversation when he arrived pushing his redoubtable walker Audacious. But when he sat down with Malky, Eugenia and their trans friends at the white table,
McVey stood up, rudely scratched his protruding self, and glared.
At that, Malky did something extremely silly. He leapt onto his seat, waved his arms like the wings of an eagle, and yelled “Down Schlosshund Meister!” while knowing full well that he was calling McVey a 'master of lapdogs'.
The neo-fascist, socio-economic advisor for the local Lib Dems scowled angrily and stalked over like an orang-utan on heat. And it was Ben who he eye-balled full in the face.
“I'm surprised you've finally returned to the scene after all these years, Hoppy-creep,” raged McVey. “I remember a scar-faced skinhead bartender called Fergus kicking you out of Chumps on your scrawny posterior after you bawled out Judge Antony during one of your all too frequent psychopathic psychoses. You even imagined that they'd disappeared that nosey Czech law student, the one who thought he was Michael Jackson. You actually accused them of drowning him in the Union Canal. What a laugh! While you were ranting away like an imbecilic moron, the supposed victim was getting himself royally laid in Gran Canaria! The shrink-heads should have sent you back to the Professorial Ward, where you truly belong.”
McVey must be that weird pixie who hid in the corner of Chumps all those years ago. deliberated Ben. Only the fag hags liked him.
“If you are referring to handsome Kvido from Ostrava,” Ben calmly replied, “he disappeared after bravely confronting Fergus and Judge Antony about all the 'bad bad things' they were doing, and I haven't set eyes on the poor little blighter since. Judge Antony death-threated me when I questioned him on the issue and, while Fergus O'Flagerty admitted that they'd disappeared Kvido, he became quite unruly when I tried to press the issue. I wasn't surprised when Fergus's much battered body was discovered on a level crossing a couple of years later.”
“Balderdash!” howled McVey. “If you don't put in a disappearance act yourself, I'll send my vigilantes after you. That I will!”
“Hey guys!” retorted Eugenia Slotsky-Pereira, rising to her feet. “Let's get the Hell out of this flipping dive.”
And so they did.
The two trans women scarpered, and Eugenia very craftily decided to take Ben and Malky to Chumps, only a few yards up Leith Walk. She also texted Hamish inviting him to join them, and he replied that he'd come by back of eight.
Chumps was confined to a long, rectangular room, the mahogany long faded, the high, decorative plaster ceiling given to streaks of mildew. The Victorian-esque bar ran the entire length of the wall to the left, and five nubile barmen, and a butch, ill-mannered barmaid who was also the resident DJ, stood there, like fallen angels, in tightly-fitting, black Hellbat suits, wagging their white bobtails, as ever eager to serve. The pot-bellied, giraffe-necked bar manager was patrolling them with his usual saucy diligence, while reserving his sternest finger waggings for zero-hour contract employees pouring more than the standard measures for extra tips. “So what if you can't pay your rent?” he would yell. “The world doesn't owe you a living. You can always haul yourself down to my office.”
I'd love to stretch his neck, thought Malky, while he was carrying three gin and tonics, without the benefit of a tray, to an oak table by the crystal glass window, with its daunting view from below of the £300 a night Glasshouse hotel next door.
“I never could ascertain the precise nature of the 'bad bad things' that Judge Antony and Fergus O'Flaherty were said to be doing in 2008,” Ben was saying, when a ghost-like personage stirred in the far corner, and rose to his feet.
“Hi there, Malky,” said the once distinctively handsome gentleman, wandering up. “I saw you a few minutes ago in Saturn's, and you made my heart soar like an albatross.”
Malky frowned and stuck out his tongue. “How do you know my name?”
“You must have put your hi tech devices into reverse. I am the Spirit of Eromenus, and I've heard your entire gabfest for over ten wearying minutes. May I sit down?”
Ben beckoned politely, towards the comfy seat. “Do tell us the story of your life, kind Sir. I'm sure that it will be all revealing.”
The Spirit took a sip of his sparkling mineral water, sat down like a mechanical robot, and rolled his fading green eyes. “I am now fifty years old, my friends and stricken with the death virus. I came out in Edinburgh at the age of nine, and during the mid 80s I was a gimp in a cage in Fred's House on Rose Street South Lane. I recall locking myself in my cage wearing nought but a pair of rubber shorts with two holes in it. The going rate in those days was ten quid a time and I typically made a hundred smackers in a single night even after I'd paid Fred his 20%. The élite of Edinburgh would come to my cage: clergy, lawyers, politicians, the whole ball of was. But I never was able to distinguish an iota of tendresse from a single one of them.”
“That must have damaged your entire life,” murmured Eugenia. “How on earth did you manage to escape to reality?”
The Spirit sighed heavily. “I didn't, largely because of the cocaine, though nowadays I endeavour to survive on my benefits.”
“But how did you manage to circulate the key to your cage?”asked Ben, realising that the gimp would have kept the key following each visit.
The Spirit grinned merrily. “I often handed it out myself in Fire Island on Princes Street, before retreating along the ancient slave passage from Cicero's Cellar Bar to Fred's zany basement.”
Fire Island was one of the leading gay clubs in Europe, mused Ben, until it went bottoms up and Waterstone's moved in. It dazzled with colourful lights, and resounded with the music of the day and the morrow. I once drank with Freddie Mercury there. He was such a sweetie.
Ben coughed politely. “Were the pimps of any assistance?”
“Spot on, Daffy Duck!” replied the Spirit. “Sometimes the man we call Judge Antony sold my key for me. That bastard was the biggest phoney I have ever met. He would insist on turning me himself each evening, for free. I am saying this simply to give you an indication of the sorts of 'bad bad things' which he and Fergus might have been doing in 2008, though I don't know this for a fact.”
Eugenia nodded in appreciation. “And what happened to Fred's House after you stopped working there?”
The Spirit of Eromenus flicked his eyebrows, nervously. “It is said that it became a 'nursery' where young children were groomed for their later work in the sex trade,” he stuttered. “Some had been sold by their parents, others kidnapped from deprived areas, and others imported from the East. Some say that the nursery was run by the trans woman who was to die there so mysteriously late in 2007. From natural or unnatural causes, who knows?”
As a highly perceptive MI6 agent, clumsy Malky recalled the recent conversation between Eric McVey and his buddies in Saturn's, in particular the discussion by the pock-faced man with three artificial limbs concerning the mode of death of a similarly described, trans nursery minder and McVey's assertion that this was in October 2007.
“Whoopee!” blurted Malky. “I do believe that McVey's vigilantes murdered the poor trannie.”
When the MI6 Saltire Cell agent Hamish McLeod came into Chumps, he was accompanied by the ageing rent boy Clucky the Chicken (who'd agreed to observe the confidentiality of any top secret discussions that might ensue). While Clucky was wearing most of his chicken costume, his face revealed him for what he was, an ugly, well-seasoned slob in his late forties.
Eugenia decided that the conversation previously underway was well worth continuing. “We were debating the nature of the 'bad bad things' that Judge Antony and Fergus O'Flagerty might have been doing in 2008,” she explained, as Hamish and Clucky sat down. “Did they 'disappear' the Czech law student Kvido because of his piercing criticisms? Was Ben correct in challenging the the villains, or was his behaviour when howling at Judge Antony utterly crazy and completely out of line?”
Hamish burped, before tilting his head, as if to exude wisdom. “We shouldn't be too quick to draw conclusions regarding these very grave matters,” he whispered, as if in complete confidence. “The 'bad bad things' could've referred to the trading of 'barely legals' to the élite Magic Circle, or they could've related to the still ongoing bullying and child abuse in our institutional churches. However, my top brass are currently considering a totally different scenario. Judge Antony says that he was employed by the King Baudouin Diamond Mining Company in the Congo during the 1990s during which time he worked a bit extracting teeth for his nasty buddy Insect, who was responsible for removing diamonds from the stomachs of miners who tried to leave with their spoils. We suspect that the pair of them were getting up to something similarly sadistic as late as 2008, in cahoots with Fergus O'Flagerty maybe.”
Clucky the Chicken flapped his wings in excitement. “That rings a bell! I was once involved in a fascinating perversion in the Garden of Eden Club at the bottom of Leith Walk, where male prostitutes were encouraged to swallow fake rubies and emeralds. The paying customers were provided with all sorts of fearsome enemas and strange pieces of medical equipment, and invited to discover ways of best extracting the jewels from the ugly rent boys' interiors without putting them under anaesthetic.”
“Thank you, Clucky, but no cigar for you this time I'm afraid,” Hamish grimly replied. “We already know all about the Garden of Eden. The proprietors were a pair of auburn-haired twin sisters from Dumbarton and they were sent to Cornton Vale in 2006 to serve lengthy sentences for their heinous crimes, and which time the wretched club was closed down for good.”
“This does raise some intriguing possibilities though,” remarked Ben. “Maybe I shouldn't have accused Judge Antony of anything in particular. Indeed, I don't rightly remember what I yelled at him. Something to do with what the psychotic clarinet player from Tranent had told me about voyeurism and human sacrifices in a Highland castle north of Inverness, perhaps or maybe only maybe. I was so wired on the modafinil I was taking for my sleep apnoea that I completely lost the plot as soon as the Judge death-threated me for being too nosey about Kvido's strange disappearance.”
“We in fact suspect,” explained Hamish, giving Ben a quizzical look, “that Insect and Judge Antony sold the internal organs they removed from Filipino and Romanian slaves and the like, to the owners of the Meusdenhead Hall Private Hospital down by Soutra Hill. We are furthermore investigating the possibility that they are currently luring gullible people from our LGBT scene to a luxurious hotel in a sleepy hollow near Humbie, with the sole intent of surgically removing their kidneys, and preserving their brains for medical research at the Western General, before disposing of their carcases in the Whalplaw burn.”
“Great jumping jabberwockies!” exclaimed Ben, in a tizz. “It seems that I was totally off the mark in 2008.”
Eugenia gave Ben a strange look. “The question of the hour is whether your dire experiences of 2008 can be related to our current triple murder scenario. Are Insect and the Judge prime suspects? What, if any, were the roles of McVey's vigilantes? Or are you, dearest one, a key suspect yourself?”
“Poppycock! That's prepostorous!”
“But it's an extremely unlikely coincidence that all of this would have happened immediately upon your long awaited return to this part of the LGBT scene. Maybe you silenced Davie Pickles and Winnie the Mince because of secrets they were threatening to reveal about your very own past.”
“How dare you!” raved Ben Hopkins, frothing at the mouth. “I'm not crazy. They never sectioned me to the Royal Ed, and I'm no paranoid schizophrenic!”
“I will discover everything!” raged Malky, rising to his feet. “Just let me wave my cute self at the spiteful inebriates for a week and all will be revealed.”
The conversation had degenerated even further before the retired Bayesian Statistician, Tom 'Sasquatch' Leonard tottered into Chumps. The bear-like septuagenarian had walked extremely unsteadily ever since 1994, when a wild stag pierced him in the groin with a broken antler during a deer hunt for the elite in North Wisconsin, causing outrageously painful injuries which had plagued him ever since. Following his acrobatic fall during November 2017 outside the Mosque on Annandale Street, he now heavily favoured his right leg.
Sasquatch made a tediously wobbly bee-line towards the folk arguing by the crystal glass window. “Why hi there, my dear friends!” he exclaimed, with a myopic grin. “I am currently writing a novel set in Edinburgh's all-too-plastic gay scene. The title is Kisses in Saturn's. Would any of you kind souls like to contribute your own reminiscences?”
“Take a hike, you blethering old troll!” snarled Ben Hopkins, the saliva streaming all over his chops.
CHAPTER 6: SANCTUM
For the next few days, Malky and Eugenia mixed their research and teaching duties in academic Statistics with further investigations on behalf of the MI6 Saltire Cell and the Forensic Scientists.
Malky was sitting in his office in the James Clerk Maxwell building studying the mathematical intricacies of Edgeworth's 'skewed normal distribution' when he received a text message from his fellow MI6 agent Hamish McLeod. This read 'Proceed to the Sanctum sauna near Dublin Street entrance to Broughton Market. Several suspicious characters hanging out there. I will arrive at four. Ham 666666.”