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My Pizza Heaven scooter is protesting as I ride up the mile-long driveway to the enormous stately home. I’ve never been called out here before. The little two-stroke engine is making those annoying little noises, only slightly more annoying than the noises that the gorgeous Ace Bumgang at Bumgang & Sons’ Breaker’s Yard makes when I ask him to take a look at it for me – on the occasions that I’ve ridden it through gravel, or a puddle more than three inches deep.
Good Lord, the house is huge. Like one of those ‘brownsigns’ in England, that have most of the rooms sectioned off with gilt corded rope, and that the public are allowed to wander around in at the weekends. So long as they don’t stray from the carpet and into the electric fencing, preventing them from leaving with more shiny heirloom helmets hidden down their trousers than they came in with.
A black stretch Cadillac limo is parked at the foot of the steps, the engine and exhaust still ticking quietly as it cools, as if the owner has only recently arrived home. I pull in at a respectable distance behind.
Swallowing my nerves, I take the pizza bag out of the top-box after parking up, and scale the enormous marble steps. I was rather hoping there would be a delivery slot, or at least a cat-door big enough to push the box through and run, which is my preferred tactic when also delivering to the rough end of town. I’d rather lose one pizza’s worth of payment, than my whole bike while my back is turned. Still smarting from the time I returned to the kerb just in time to see it being towed away around the far corner of the block, by four small children on a Fisher-Price musical push-along cart. Playing Old MacDonald Had a Farm… I cannot listen to that nursery rhyme since. It gives me terrible PTSD flashbacks.
But no. Just an entryphone beside the studded oak door. I press the buzzer, wondering if there is a camera as well, and if they’ll insist I remove my George and Mildred peaked crash helmet before responding. The one I still wear because I love Ace Bumgang’s face as he tells me the horrors of fixed-peak open-face headwear in an RTA. Sort of a mixture of caring, considerate, concerned, and ‘get out of my site office, you deluded stalker…’ while he pulls a sweater over his tight t-shirt, hiding those delicious-looking biceps and pectorals from my hungry gaze…
Expecting an intercom reply to my buzz, I get a shock when the door is opened silently in front of me – and for the first time I fully understand the meaning of the famous phrase ‘the world dropped out of my bottom.’
For standing in front of me, his matt-black tie undone and just-dead hair hypnotically dishevelled, is Crispin Dry – vending machine magnate, entrepreneur, and the sexiest corpse I’ve recently seen – since 4.23p.m. last Thursday, in a wheelie bin under the silver birch tree at the body farm…
“Mr. Dry!” I squeak, terrified – and immediately thrust the pizza box under his nose. Hoping to avert the smell of nervous pizza-delivery girl.
“Miss… Belllummm…” he slurs. “What a pleasant surprise. Do come inside. The kitchen is just this way.”
And he turns in the doorway and shambles off into the opulent entrance hall, beckoning for me to follow. It looks as though I have no choice. I pull the gigantic door closed behind me, feeling as though I now know how Gretel felt, upon entering the gingerbread house…
The kitchen is vast – like a bowling alley. When he opens the giant refrigerator, and starts selecting his condiments, I half expect to see the bottles deposited mechanically onto the shelf in front of him, like a set of ten-pins.
“I’ll just leave it right here, shall I?” I suggest, sliding the box onto the glassy-smooth granite counter-top. It sparkles with quartz and mica – not superheat-treated granite then, I find myself thinking… my mind wanders like this unpredictably at times.
“Join me, Sarah Bellummm,” he says, unexpectedly. “I believe you might be famished, after your long day…”
Damn. That will scupper my usual Friday plans, of waiting outside Bumgang & Sons’ Breaker’s Yard with a Chinese Meat Feast. Ace always pretends to be surprised, which is sweet, and sometimes he even takes it with him. He’s usually in a big hurry to meet up with his friends at the boys’ club, Gentlemen Prefer Poledancers – which is endearing, as it means he’s telling me in his own special way that he’s not settled for anyone important yet…
“Well – I think the last thing I ate, was a sip of chicken soup, from the vending machine at your office earlier…” I admit timidly.
“Toooo long,” he agrees, with a devastatingly wonky nod. “Take a seat. And close your eyes. I have a surprise for you.”
I slip off my George and Mildred and try to make the most of my helmet-hair as I arrange myself on the seat at the counter. He darts me a meaningful look, still foraging in the refrigerator, and obligingly I close my eyes.
Gosh, I hope this means a big tip.
“Is that your Cadillac outside?” I ask, to pass the time with smalltalk, while I hear him putting dishes on the counter in front of me.
“It is just a courtesy car,” he says, dismissively. “The Bugatti and the Maserati are away for servicing, and I only use the Diablo on holiday weekends, when I go hot-air ballooning.”
“Hmm,” I murmur, only half-believing him. Probably only got a Ford Focus and a Renault Megane in his garage… I make a private bet that the Cadillac is rented, just for show – utilised to pick up innocent girls when he’s in town. I mean, guys like Ace Bumgang, you expect them to have a couple of sports cars, a racing bike and a speedboat, I mean, petrolhead mechanics always do… but not a businessman. A fleet of 1.2L commuter compacts, if anything…
“I hope you are hungry,” Crispin Dry says, rather darkly, interrupting my fantasy that Ace Bumgang is The Stig, which would explain why he’s always so elusive. “I have an idea of your tastes already. Open wide.”
I promptly rearrange myself on the seat.
“I meant your mouth,” he croons, and I slam my knees together again, like a barn door in a tornado.
Nervously, I let my mouth fall open, in a textbook Q.
“Put your tongue in, pleeeaase,” he moans softly.
The Q becomes an O, as requested.
Something tickles my lower lip, sticky, and fragrantly barbecued. Mmm – chicken wings! My stomach rumbles immediately in response, and I chew enthusiastically.
“You approve?” he asks, and he sounds hopeful.
“Yum,” I nod. “Is there more?”
“Nine more, I believe,” he confirms, as I run my tongue around my teeth to dislodge any gristly bits. I cough on something dry, and remove something curved, almost fingernail-shaped from my cheek, which he quickly brushes aside from my own fingertips. “I think we have found your acquired taste exactly.”
“Do you have anything to drink?” I ask. My eyes are still rapturously closed, all thoughts of the tanned, toned and droolworthy Ace Bumgang forgotten.
“Be patient, Sarah Bellummm,” my dream zombie whispers. “I am sure I have a cocktail worthy of you.”
I am shocked by his intimate tone.
“It’s as if you were expecting me,” I gasp, feeling myself blush.
“But of course,” he says, so close to my ear, I nearly swoon off the chair. “I even made sure to re-stock the vending machine in my bedroom, right before you arrived…”
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More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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