Living under the shadow of The Rock we were fine. Just like the ticket, posed little time, nothing more to say. The Christi’s at The Rock rarely troubled us save for the strains of their guitar – orientated worships which filtered through between 10 and 5 every Sunday…despite the presence of the centre over the street, there was no real sense of community that could be seen or sensed. The same people rarely appeared more than once or twice, except for the few elderly folks who beat their unsteady tracks toward the corner store, the above-door sign of which revealed the proprietors to be two persons named Jagger: ‘Newsagents and General.’ General what, the sign didn’t specify. Nor did it specify whether or not both Jaggers were still present or living.
The fact of the matter remained that it was the oddest shop encounterable in a modern western society. The large front window was taken up with a photocopier, which was suitably contemporary in design to function adequately, but infrequently used, no doubt. There was little else besides. The shelves, creamy off-white and dusted through age and disuse were very nearly bare, save for the two or three tins of a curious selection of unbranded non-perishables; baked beans, sweet corn, potatoes and carrots. Six cans of dubious lager and half a dozen bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale stood abandoned on another yellowed shelf, while four or five loaves of white Warburton’s bread resided across the tiny, dimly-lit room.
Behind an empty glass delicatessen-style counter sat Old Mr Jagger in a cheap navy blue sweatshirt through which his sleeveless vest was visible. He always wore vests and cheap quality shirts, even on the hottest of summer days. There he’d sit on an Old wooden stool and look silently through the gloom at anyone who walked in he didn’t know. ‘Stranger in my shop’, he appeared to be grunting mentally. The shock was surely greater for the potential customer, foolish enough to expect to find cigarettes in a general store. The cigarette rack, like every other space in the place was aged and deep in dust and devoid of product, or at least the expected one. In the place of cigarettes and matches, however, were a few more tins; hot dog sausages, corned beef and marrowfat peas. No telling what Old Mr Jagger expected to do by way of trade with so little of use in stock. He just sat there in the half-light, his hair receding by the year, the dust gradually thickening, his vest gathering dirt and his till empty.
Perhaps the shop was a façade for something much less savoury than even the processed meatballs on the top shelf in the corner. Maybe the guy was a junkie, who sat amidst his dusty Old cans and dealt narcotics to his Old junkie friends who ambled in with their bicycle clips still around their ankles. Maybe he was already dead.
Seeing him move to greet his Old crones did little to dispel this theory. Old Mr Jagger: the living dead. He certainly looked suitably corpse like. Quite conceivably, the store was a cover for something more sinister still, less tasteful than drug dealing, something perverse like child pornography for instance. What a thought – Old Mr Jagger at the centre of a child pornography ring, he and his wrinkly Old chums in the back or above the shop with some poor kids, filming or photographing themselves shouting hoarsely in their dribbly Old Man voices.
“Sniff my vest! You love it when I fuck you up the ass!” and shaking, sagging and wavering, all grey hair, yellow skin and horny, crooked fingers, bandy legs, flaccid, droopy Old Man members hanging in sickly Old Man perversion.
The visitors weren’t customers come for groceries exempt from the ageing process, but vile Old hoary bastards come to collect photographs and videos of their wizened scraggy Old bodies rubbing up against and performing bizarre sexual acts and sodomising the bright and sprightly young flesh they so craved for themselves. But then the Kids only deserved a limited amount of sympathy.
At weekends, groups of three or four eleven year old boys in football shirts would run past The Rock and past my home clutching cans of Coke laughing and shouting, saying, “Let’s go to Jagger’s”.
They loved it, the filthy little buggers. And they got free candy and lollipops. All a part of Jagger’s revenge on the youths, in an attempt to ensure they lost their teeth at an early age too. How he hated those Kids. Not that he didn’t have a fair point: sure, the youth of contemporary culture deserves to suffer for all its crimes and its stupidity. Old Mr Jaggers’ methods were not to be condoned, though. Even if the Kids are willing. Especially if the Kids are willing…
Of course, there was nothing to suggest that Mr Jagger wasn’t just a sad old man who’d been made redundant, and, too old to restart in industry, decided to spend his days sitting in a shop all of his own. The vests were perhaps merely indicative of poor taste, and the sparse stock an indication of his useless business sense.
The shop’s gone now. The large front display window has been bricked over, and the sign no longer above the door. It’s as though Old Mr Jagger and the shop never existed. Fucker’s probably dead now. Or inside.
Christopher Nosnibor seems a thoroughly likeable and talented chap. Find all you need to know at http://christophernosnibor.co.uk/default.aspx