The black car squatted on Stockwell Road. Billy Vehement clocked it on his way back from Brixton tube station. The regular gang stood outside the Portuguese delicatessen across the road from his flat, swapping jokes over bottles of Super Bock. Traffic tore up the tarmac; a rogue gull dawdled over the skating park. Billy could only focus on the car. It looked like something from another world: old, stately and sleek, with one tyre hitched up on the kerb, like a show dog cocking its leg.
Late summer, mid-afternoon. Billy had attended an audition earlier in the day, for the part of a comedy chef in an insurance advert. A nothing job, but it would see him through until winter. Apart from a few minor roles here and there, he was surviving on repeat fees from an advert for pet food from the previous year, a gig in which he’d worn the mask of a belligerent pug. The best career moves were often the most anonymous.
A few steps closer to the car and he could make out a tall, balding, male figure seated on the back seat, visible through the rear glass. A ping sounded lazily on Billy’s radar. He headed towards his front door. He hadn’t reached the first step when he heard the soft sound of knuckles on glass behind him, soon followed by the whine of electric windows.
The voice echoed back at him from – what was it now? – three, four years. The cut-glass affectation. Billy’s stomach actually soured. He turned to see Peter Priest smiling from an interior of cappuccino leather.
An excerpt from My First London Dream. Buy a copy here.