Race With the Devil by Joseph Ridgwell

(reprinted from Savage Manners, with permission)

Some nights, strange things happen, unusual events occur, where the dark side of the moon can be revealed to your broken soul. I was on the back end of a three-day binge that had started Friday lunchtime in the boozer. I was sitting in the back seat of a cab next to a black brass from an East End sauna, and heading to the Elephant & Castle. The Elephant & Castle? The brass was leaning her head against my shoulder and rubbing a scabby-looking thigh against one of mine. The windows of the dirty cab were steamed up. I wiped the nearest to me with the sleeve of my jumper and peered through. Outside it was just beginning to get light. It was around 5AM Sunday morning.

The brass kept whispering in my ear. Her breath smelt of crack, whiskey, and strangely, boiled rice,‘When we back to mine, we’re ganna get fucking on it, right down and dirty.’
‘Yeah, baby,’ I replied. I felt a small stirring in my groin region, but kept staring out of the window, recalling random events from the binge.

Friday night passed in a whirl of drink and cocaine. I’d gone out straight after work, with my friend Javed. Beers, G&T, red wine, cigarettes, then a quick dash to meet our connection, and finally onto a lap dancing club. At some point we lined up a couple of personal lap dances and with the beer goggles on the girls all appeared like stunning princesses. But you know what its like, the stripper is flashing her little man in a boat at you, fake tits swinging inches from your nose, brown-eye winking, and the next thing you reach out a hand for a free grope, or in this case, I reached out a hand for a free grope. And that was it, the girl freaked out, the bouncers came a running, and seconds later we’re standing in the street, scratching our heads, licking our wounds, and wondering where to go next.

The next place to go to was a brass house in Shoreditch. It was one of those eastern European establishments, junkie-fuck sex slaves, run by Albanian mobsters and Russian Mafia. By this time I was almost falling over drunk. I found myself in a room with a tall brunette. I attempted to take my trousers off, but fell onto the bed, helpless. The brunette mumbled in Polish, or Lithuanian or something, and then stripped and jumped into bed with me. I got a mouthful of nipple before we both sparked out with valid excuses: I was hammered and she was probably on her fifteenth shag of the long night.

I awoke to a loud knocking on the door. The girl jumped up in fright and into her skimpy outfit, her eyes rolling into her head until she looked like a zombie. Then two gorillas burst in and informed me in no uncertain terms that my time was up. I played it cool,
‘Phew, she is one hot chick, gave me the sweetest fuck of my life.’ The gorillas liked that response and they smiled and grunted at each other, just a couple of good guys. I found Javed asleep in the waiting area, overseen by a bored looking receptionist.

The cab was driving me further and further away from East London, and some sort of reality began to seep into my slime coated thought processes. What the fuck was I doing in a cab with a black brass on Sunday morning? Fuck knows. The brass kept leaning over and kissing me, sticking a hand down the front of my trousers, whispering some of the most disgusting things I’d ever heard. While the driver, a shrivelled up old Muslim remained impassive the entire journey, like some wise-old Brahmin of the road. Despite the kissing and cock-rubbing business, I kept breaking away and peering out the cab window, recalling stuff.

Saturday passed in much the same vein as Friday. Javed and me were in the pub by four o’clock and back on the Stellas and the good foot. I lost track of how much coke we were doing, or how much we were drinking, but it never stopped. At some point we ended up in a West End nightclub. I was wired, rampaging through the place, picking up little e-head kids from the floor in the chill-out rooms and telling them to get with it, step to it. No one understood me and or even tried, they were all buzzing out to the love drug beat, sent into a semi-catatonic state by the hypnotic pounding darlek music dance shit, eyes forever glazed.

Meanwhile Javed had chatted up some blonde middle-class piece, fresh from the home counties, lost her virginity to a pony at the age of 12 and was never the same again. The drinks kept coming and the coke kept coming and the hands of the clock wound round, speeded up like in one of those old black & white films of yesteryear, Harold Lloyd, or Buster Keaton, or something. And all the time I kept wondering where it would all end, or even if it would end.

The cab was still driving, crusing the grey misty morning streets of London, the old Brahmin never seeming to change gear or speed, just coasting along, while the black girl licked the side of my face with her snake-like tongue, which probed and slurped everywhere. I was still peering through the window, watching events as they unfolded, the flashing city scenes and grimy urban landscapes.

After the club we found ourselves outside another Sauna. The original natural energy was still there, boosted by the artificial energy, the not quite finished so won’t go home feeling. I was pressing the buzzer of the brass house. The door was locked. Outside a row of cabs stood guard, waiting to shuttle the girls home after another lucrative Saturday nightshift.

We were oblivious to everything, even a man walking eighteen dogs, an unusual sight. Then the voice,‘What d’ya want?’‘What d’ya mean whadda I want?’‘Don’t get funny.’
‘Ok girl, a shag.’‘You look drunk.’‘How do you know?’‘I can see you on the camera, you’re swaying.’I looked up, the camera was shining directly on me. I smiled, waved, did a little dance. Then another girl got on the intercom,‘Wait there,’ she said breathlessly. ‘You can come to mine if you want.’

I looked to Javed, told him what the mystery girl said, and raised my eyebrows. Javed blew his nose and shrugged his shoulders. Then he inspected the contents of his handkerchief, and saw the blood. ‘I’m off,’ he said. ‘I’ve had enough of this shit.’
I remonstrated, told him the night was still young, and something about not wanting to give up the ghost, or face the long inevitable comedown. Javed shot me a worried glance, ‘You’re crazy.’

And then the girl appeared and I stepped in the car without even a word, watching Javed walking along the road, hands bunched into his pockets, his flimsy shirt blowing in the wind.

And then I was in South London, inside this strange girl’s apartment, a black brass from an East London sauna. The scene was crazy, obscene, and hardcore. The girl pulled out some liquid MDMA. Then we both stripped off in the living room. She found a bottle of baby oil and covered our sweaty, stinking bodies in it. We splurged together, entwined in a slippery embrace of death. There was no mention of using a condom; it was just a full on hard grind. Once the MDMA hit me I was out of my nut, bats and vampires flashing before my eyes, as I pounded and pounded away at the lump of brown flesh beneath me.

The girl was groaning and grunting, grabbing, biting, and slapping. This death roll went on for an eternity until she slid from under me, got on top, and stuck my slippery cock straight up her arse. ‘This is it!’ She cried. I thrusted and grimaced and stuck both hands inside her gaping slit. ‘Oh fuck!’ She cried.

She felt me begin to jerk, to reach the heights of passion. She slid off and stuck my pulsating blood and shit smeared cock straight into her mouth, her eyes imploring me to come. I closed my eyes and concentrated, desperately trying to block out all other thoughts. Then she took the cock out of her mouth and wanked it hard, stroking my balls,
‘Come on, all over my face, all over my fucking everywhere!’

And then it happened. I could feel it building up from a long, long way, away, maybe even another galaxy or solar system. And then, but no, and then, no, yes and…………………………………The girl groaned and took it all, smearing it over her face and tits, licking her fingers, begging for more, but there was no more. I was finished, obliterated, but somehow staggered to the bathroom.


When I re-appeared the girl was laying on the settee, naked, the dried up-cum still glistening on her voluptuous body. She was hard at work sucking at a pipe, streams of smoke pouring from her flared nostrils. I said nothing, grabbed my clothes and re-dressed. ‘Where ya going?’ she panted.

I mumbled something, what, I’m not sure, and then I found myself staggering along the daytime streets of revelation. I caught my reflection in a dirty mirror. My face was bright red, like I had sunburn, my eyes haunted and scared. I kept staggering. I found a park; some bushes, crawled inside and collapsed onto the dirt. I was finding it hard to breathe, hard to do anything, but just lie in the dirt like a dog. Then it suddenly dawned on me, a moment of white night clarity, I was in a race with the devil.

I knew I had to get up, but all I wanted to do was sleep. I closed my eyes and saw the devil, mocking me, spurting out streams of fire, and laughing, always laughing. I had to get out of that bush and somehow win the race of death. I opened my eyes, saw a lone jogger, fitness freak, if only he would come over and help me, I would make it. But the jogger ran past, at high speed, not even a sideways glance.

Then I thought about Neal Cassidy, taking that final walk along those Mexican railroad tracks all those years ago. Well, he had lost his race with the devil, but I wasn’t about to lose mine. I forced myself up again, grabbed a branch and somehow, someway made it. Then a high street, a cab station, and like a miracle a cab. I slumped into the back. The driver looked at me in total disgust and warned me not to be sick. ‘Yeah, whatever,’ I thought. ‘Just get me home you cunt.’ I thought. I closed my eyes, the devil was gone, and a soft pink glowed.


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