For the Cake Wednesday Write-In
“You like fruit?” Big Ron asked, curious and calm, peeling a large blood orange with a small sharp knife. The truncated rinds curled, sharp and deadly, around his hands, growing longer and longer, scent clinging possessively to his fingers. The utterly forgettable punter, who hadn’t maintained the terms of their credit agreement, clenched his jaw and pulled his mouth down in misery. Maybe he thought big Ron was playing a game with him. This was a mistake. Big Ron never played games, especially when it came to dietary requirements and he was genuinely interested in this guy’s dedication to his 5-a-day. He felt this would be a good indicator of his dedication to keeping his fingernails.
You see, before big Ron had been big Ron, he had been Ronald Kosmowski, qualified dietician and lifestyle consultant to minor celebrities, back-bencher politician’s wives and rich bankers in Poland. In his vast and varied experience, the people who were serious about their daily nutrition were also serious about keeping their noses clean. Since arriving in London, Ron had found that, along with a frank disregard for basic manners, the city held little more than the brutal shredders with which the reality of “multi-culturalism” met the hopeful, glowing faces of thousands of immigrants every year. The city was full of junk food and junk attitudes and Ron had hated it all. Really – what good could come from chicken that cheap?
So here Ron Kosmowski was: having found that his qualifications meant nothing in this country, he had tried the ‘hard working painter/decorator’ bit and hated it and so plunged headfirst into the fiery underbelly of the drug scene in South West London (classy, upstanding, but most importantly always had cash upfront) and emerged, in a baptism of fire and disgruntled turf wars as Big Ron. As far as Her Majesty was concerned, he was still a registered, self employed labourer and, thanks to one or two strategic commercial jobs on the books a month, Her Majesty didn’t have ‘cause to ask any further. But everywhere Ron went, from Richmond to Kingston to his little box flat in Lambeth, he was continually, continually faced with clients who just didn’t know what was good for them: vitamins, good quality sealants and fiscal discipline.
And so, the punter. “Your name is Garry?” Big Ron asked. Maybe-Garry nodded, terrified out of his wits. Big Ron smiled: he held up a segment of orange which had been pierced by his knife. It bled slowly onto his broad, flat fingernails as he pushed it at Garry-for-now’s lips. At least he’d stopped trying to get away. “Eat,” Big Ron, prompted, soft, smiling “You need your five a day. Very important.” Cautiously, slowly, Garry accepted it, eyes bright and quivering like a scared deer and Big Ron’s smile grew proud and happy. They were alone. This was critical: even more consistent than disappointing clients was Ron’s propensity to take care of his own business. Even the most menial task was taken care of personally. Even the most delicious. He finished feeding Garry the orange and wiped his hands on a near-by tea towel. He picked up the pliers.