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مجموعه: کتاب های فوق متوسط / کتاب: فول مونتی / درس 3

کتاب های فوق متوسط

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Chapter 2 At the Job Club

A few minutes later, Nathan dropped on to the floor of the men’s toilet from the narrow window high up in the wall. Gaz followed him, resting his foot on his son’s shoulder to help himself down.

Dave was too large to fit through the window and had to wait outside in the street.

‘Just hurry, will you?’ called Dave. ‘My feet are freezing.’

‘You really should be more grateful, Dave,’ replied Gaz. ‘We’re doing this for you - going into this awful place to get Jean out.’

Dave knew this wasn’t true. He hadn’t wanted to break into the Club and get Jean out at all.

Nathan didn’t say anything. He was thirsty, hungry and ready for bed. What were they doing in a place like this on a Sunday night? Had Gaz forgotten that tomorrow was a school day?

Loud music was coming from inside the Club. Gaz put his hands on his son’s shoulders and said, ‘Right, then, I’ll wait here.

You find Jean and tell her Dave wants to speak to her outside, all right?’

‘Dad, do I have to?’ asked Nathan. He was afraid of Jean. What would she say when she saw a twelve-year-old boy here? But Gaz had decided and Nathan knew he had no choice. Gaz was already opening the heavy main door of the toilet, ready to push Nathan out into the Club.

The noise of the music and the heat from the Club hit Gaz and Nathan in the face. The room was in half darkness and for a moment it was difficult to see anything. But the stage was brightly lit. Gaz and Nathan looked towards it and their mouths fell open in astonishment.

The Chippendales were in the middle of their performance.

They were dancing and moving their half-naked bodies sexily in time to the music. All the women who had been standing quietly in a queue outside the Club were crowding round. But they weren’t quiet now.

Hundreds of women — housewives and mothers, women who worked in shops and banks, young girls and old grandmothers were climbing excitedly over each other and pushing each other out of the way. They all wanted to get as near as possible to the half-naked men on the stage. They watched the Chippendales dancing and taking off their clothes, and shouted as loudly as they could, ‘Off! Off! Off!’ They were loving every minute of the show.

Gaz had never seen anything like it in all his life. For a few minutes he couldn’t say anything. Then, still staring at the women, he pushed Nathan forwards into the darkness.

Suddenly, he saw three women coming straight towards him as they walked towards the men’s toilet. One of them had short hair and a shiny pink face and was wearing a very short skirt. It was Jean with two friends, Sharon and Bee.

Quickly, Gaz ran back and hid inside one of the toilets, shutting the door behind him. Through a small hole in the door, he saw the three women come in, laughing and joking loudly.

They were clearly having a very good time.

‘I’m not waiting in that queue,’ said Jean, talking about the long line of women waiting for the ladies’ toilet. The three women went to the toilet and then stood in front of the mirror, combing their hair and putting on their make-up. From his hiding place, Gaz could hear every word of their conversation.

They were talking about Frankie, a young man who worked in the same shop as Jean. Jean’s two friends started to make jokes about Frankie.

‘Frankie really likes you, you know,’ said Sharon.

‘No, he doesn’t,’ said Jean, starting to get a little angry. Then her voice changed and she said softly, ‘But even if he did, I couldn’t do anything to hurt Dave. Not even if I wanted to.’ She looked up at her two friends standing behind her and suddenly her eyes filled with tears. ‘But . . . you know, Dave’s almost given up. He’s lost interest in everything. He’s given up trying to find a job . . . and he’s just not interested in me any more.’

Sharon and Bee were sorry they had made jokes about Frankie. They knew Jean still loved Dave and that she was having a difficult time at home. Since he had become unemployed, Dave had become more and more depressed, and now he was beginning to pull Jean down with him.

‘Don’t worry, Jean,’ said Bee. ‘Things will get better, you’ll see.’

Jean managed a smile and the three of them went back into the Club. After waiting for a few minutes to make sure they had gone, Gaz came out of the toilet.

Suddenly, Dave’s head appeared at the window and his voice called sadly, ‘Gaz, Gaz. That was Jean, wasn’t it?’

Dave had heard some, but not all, of the women’s conversation. He thought he had heard Jean talking about a man at work who liked her.

‘No, no, it wasn’t Jean, Dave,’ Gaz lied. He had suddenly lost all interest in adventure. ‘I’m going back into the Club to get Nathan,’ he said.

Nathan was sitting alone at a small table, still staring at the stage. Gaz realized that the women were too busy having fun to notice him. He walked over to Nathan and pulled him to his feet. ‘Come on, Nathan,’ he said. ‘We’re going home.’

The Chippendales had reached the final part of their act. They stood at the front of the stage, almost completely naked now.

They were smiling and holding out their arms to the crowd, inviting them to come up to the stage. To Gaz’s astonishment, he saw women run up to the Chippendales and give them five and ten pound notes.

‘What about Jean?’ asked Nathan.

Gaz saw Jean on her feet, dancing and singing. ‘Jean’s busy,’ he replied sadly, pulling Nathan back towards the men’s toilets and their escape route.

The next morning, Monday, Nathan was back at school and Gaz and Dave were sitting at a table in the local Job Club. With them were twenty or so other unemployed men from the steel factory.

The Job Club wasn’t a very cheerful or pleasant place. Many of the men had been unemployed for a long time, and the Job Club didn’t give them much hope. The dirty walls were covered with red and white notices, informing people how to get jobs. But everyone in the room knew there were very few jobs around.

Many men had become depressed and felt there was no reason to go to the Job Club.

Gaz and Dave went there three or four times a week. They went mainly to see their friends and for the free cup of coffee and the chance to get warm.

The manager of the Job Club, Luke Marcus, was telling the men how to write application letters. It was his job to try and get them back to work. He knew he was wasting his time with most of them and that they were just waiting for him to go away. Most of them had given up hope of ever finding another job. But there were one or two older men in the room who still listened to Luke, and he wanted to help them as much as he could.

‘Right, I want you to finish your letters by the time I get back,’ he said. ‘If you have any problems, I’m in my office.’ He went out and closed the door behind him.

As soon as the door had shut, the men reached under the tables and got out newspapers, cigarettes and packs of cards.

Some of them made paper aeroplanes out of the paper for their application letters.

Gaz sat with a cigarette between his fingers. He was still thinking about the women at the Chippendales’ show, and his thoughts weren’t happy ones.

‘Women don’t need men any more,’ he said. to Dave and anyone else who wanted to listen. ‘We’re useless. A few more years and we won’t exist. Except in a zoo or something. We’ll be finished. Yesterday’s news.’

An older man in his fifties was sitting at a computer, trying to write a job application. This was Gerald Cooper, who had been Gaz’s and Dave’s boss at the steel factory.

‘Shut up!’ said Gerald sharply. ‘Some of us are trying to get a job.’ He looked at Gaz’s cigarette and then at the sign above their heads. ‘Hey! Can’t you read? It says “No Smoking” in here.’

Gaz sat back in his seat with his cigarette still in his hand, not intending to put it out.

‘Yes, and it says “Job Club” too,’ he said. ‘When was the last time you saw a job in here?’ The men sitting around him began to laugh. ‘You forget, Gerald,’ Gaz went on, ‘you’re not our boss any more. You’re just like the rest of us — finished.’

Gerald turned to Gaz with an angry fire in his eyes, but all he said again was, ‘Shut up!’

Dave was still thinking about the Chippendales. ‘How many women were there?’ he asked Gaz.

‘About a thousand,’ Gaz guessed.

‘Well, if each of those women paid ten pounds, that’s ten pounds by a thousand . . . ‘ Dave started to count on his fingers, but the sum was too difficult for him. ‘That’s well . . . er . . . that’s a lot of money.’

‘Ten thousand pounds,’ said another man helpfully.

‘How much?’ asked Gaz quietly. Suddenly, everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and listened.

‘Ten thousand pounds,’ repeated the man.

Gaz stared at Dave. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘that’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?’ He had a strange look on his face, a look which Dave didn’t like at all. He had seen that look many times before and he knew it meant trouble. It was the look Gaz had when he was getting one of his crazy ideas.

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