The Hustler of Warrington
I was in a rush.
It was 7.00pm and I promised him I’d catch a film at his place.
I had the popcorn and the wine.
I also had several bags of personal shopping from my unintended detour through Oxford Street.
I was 3 hours late and no man, woman or pigeon was going to stop me from getting on the next train.
I continued to skip and walk quickly, shopping overflowing.
I moved to the side, thinking it must be one of those incessant “I need to find myself” type backpackers trundling through Victoria station.
Annoyed, I swung round. Maybe I dropped one of my many many shopping trinkets!
A rather large man, dressed in black leather with hip-hop stylesque jewellery hopped my way.
(Heavy Nigerian accent) “Ehheh! You walk fast. Where you going?”
“Sorry, I saw you and I needed some information.”
“I have was waiting on a frien’ of mine here at de station. De problem is, ah! Stupid pigeons…”
“Do you need direc–”
“De problem is, it is going to voicemail and I dunno where he is. An’ I dunno wha’ to do in dis situation.”
“There’s a pay phone right there, maybe try a different friend?”
“Ah! I thought of dat you know, but de problem is, he was going to meet me here an’ we were goin’ to put our monies together you see.”
“I’m sorry I don’t understand and I’m running late already.”
“Yes dis won’t take a minute. Tah!”
He pauses. I wait. He looks at his phone.
“Let me ring his numba and show you how it goes to voicemail!”
He begins shouting at his phone
“Ah! Where is de stupid man’s numba? His name is Olu you see, I have too many people with O in my phone.”
As much as I was tempted to just run away, this large, burly man, dressed like a 1970s Blaxploitation villain, kept finding new means to keep me within in view.
He took a step forward, I stepped back, wondering if he were some sort of assassin and I was the mis-identified target.
“Maybe he’s just stuck on the train. Don’t stress. OK…bye!”
“Yes, but the extra worry is dat, I have a wife an’ a baby in Warrington.”
“….an’ my friend was going to give me some monies to add to my monies so I coul’ go see dem.”
I squeezed my bags closer to my body, swallowed and extended my sharpened index finger ready for a counter-attack. His cheeks looked ripened for scratching and getting a good bit of DNA. You know, just in case the police take their Krusty kreme filled time before responding to the scream, he gets away and tra-la-la…I have enough evidence to put his brawny-storytelling ass in jail.
“So I was wondering if you could spare me some monies.”
“Sorry I can’t help you I don’t have any money on me.”
“But my sista, look at all you’re shopping! You don’t have £50 to len’?”
He walked forward, eyes cold, yellow and raw. His jewellery clinked and his leather jacket cracked and popped. In the busy, London station, I was being hustled.
“You look like a rich man with all your jewellery, why don’t you go to the pawn shop just over there?”
“Ah! I thought we Africans we haff to take care of each odda? Eh? You don’t have no monies?”
He took it there. The arbitrary “take care of your own line” that makes the liberals tremble, releasing nickels, dimes and pound coins.
I stared menacingly back and retorted: “I don’t have any cash. And I’m not in the habit of taking care of hustlers African or otherwise.”
I took two steps back still staring at him, leaving enough space to sprint and not get pulled back by the arm.
I held his gaze and balled my fist.
“Wow, you’re the first person to not get scared and run away. I’m doing an independent comedy/improv show, would you be interested on us showing this clip on the telly? You were really good!”
I looked at him terrifyingly: “I’m not interested! How dare you?!”
“You were a good sport love! C’mon! Waddaya say? Look here’s a pamphlet with the show’s details, we’re genuine–”
I turned and sprinted away.
Only in flippin’ London.