Anthony moved slowly down the aisle of the Janus bookshop, casting a quick glance at the racks of magazine fronts to see if there was anything new. His eyes registered the image on the front cover of every magazine and his mind computed them as seen, think I've seen, maybe not seen. When he got to the end of the first rack he turned around to look at the display on the stand in the center of the room. Only a couple of other men were there furtively perusing the inside of publications but giving the impression they were in a public library.
Anthony was 26 and had moved to London only six months ago. He managed to get to the Soho area at least once a week; it was becoming an addiction. He had found Janus magazines in a small shop in his home town quite by chance when he was just about to leave for college. Until then he had thought he was the only boy in the world who thought of smacking girls bottoms. To discover that his interest was a shared one and was written written about had come as a revelation and he relished the knicker clad spankings in the grainy black and white photographs..
As he neared the end of the row of magazines he found himself approaching a tall gentleman in a smart city suit who was flicking through one of the imported publications. Anthony noticed that the man brought something from his pocket and laid it down on the top of the table. The man moved away as Anthony moved sideways. On top of the next magazine was a small white business card. No company name, just an address and a phone number. Anthony picked up the card and looked across at the man who was saying something the shop assistant. He watched the man leave and looked down again at the card. It was obviously meant for him and he placed it carefully in his jacket pocket. Turning to enter the next aisle Anthony spotted a copy of Sting that he had not seen before and took it the counter. He pulled a copy of Janus from his briefcase and offered it as part exchange. Neither he nor the assistant spoke until after the new purchase was in its brown paper bag and the £5.00 was asked for.
Anthony stopped for a pint in a pub about 100 yards down the road. He sat in the corner and surreptitiously eyed the pages of the magazine under the edge of the table. He pulled the visiting card from his pocket and turned it over. It was clear he was invited to make contact with the stranger. The address was of a road off Charlotte Street. Quite close by really. It would not take the man long to get home. Anthony lit a cigarette, smoked it and then bought another drink. An hour had passed since he was in the shop. He put his glass down on the table and picked up his briefcase The payphone was in the corridor leading to the lavatories and he inserted the coins whilst looking at the card, cradling the handset in his neck. The conversation with Edward Richards was brief.
Two hours later it was getting dark as Anthony stepped out of the door of the townhouse and walked down the well worn stone steps onto the pavement. He turned to look up at the window and saw the curtain flick to one side. With a deep heat sensation in his bottom and a lightness of spirit in his mind, Anthony gave a cheery wave and set off down the road to the tube station.
He would be back. Mrs Richards was a demon with a cane.