Community Service - Part 6(New Version)

This story is written by David, please send comments and appreciation to

Chapter 6: Dirty, smelly socks, and stinky, female feet: they're all in a day's work, for Community servant David Smith – in the Sock Room.

I, eighteen-year-old David Smith of Canford, south London, was starting my second week of earning my Unemployment Benefit welfare payments, by performing my assigned duties as a community servant.

With no job to go to after finishing my education at Secondary School, and my statutory six-month entitlement to dole money having expired, under the Authoritarian Female Party's work motivation programme, I had been duly assigned to my Placement: hand-washing the females of Canford's dirty socks, in the town's Sock Room.

In their office, comfortably seated on their castor-wheeled computer chairs, and with me obediently and compliantly kneeling at their feet, Community Service Officers Karen and Linda were using my conveniently positioned shoulders as their coffee-break footrest.

And, why shouldn't they? Why shouldn't they, make some personal use of me? At least, that was their way of thinking.

After all, in their being in the employ and thereby members of the 'femocratic' Authoritarian Female Party government, and me being a community servant under their supervision, with their AFP-backed authority they had what amounted to total power and control over me.

I say 'footrest'. But there was rather more to it, than that.

And I say 'coffee-break'. But my two supervisors hadn't actually started work yet – if you could call what they now did for a living, 'work'. From what I could see, they spent most of their time on their office computers, logged into social media websites and other suchlike whiling-away-the-time entertainments.

But I, had started work ... because these were my – Community servant David 007 – first duties of the day: being my two blonde, twenty-year-old female supervisors' footrest while they drank the pre-work coffee I made for them.

These would be my first duties of the day, CSOs Karen and Linda had told me: To go into their kitchenette and make two mugs of coffee (milk and two sugars in both), and then go to my knees before them and obediently and compliantly provide my shoulders for footrests.

At first, I had stubbornly resisted CSOs Karen and Linda's stated intentions to subjugate me so diabolically.

But my two supervisors would not be defied – not by an unemployed, earning-his-dole-money community servant in their charge.

And so, to bend me to their will, and secure my future unresisting obedience and compliance, they had attained some persuasive ... leverage over me.

CSOs Karen and Linda's heinously conceived threat – and this, with the wholehearted approval of Canford's principal administrator, the local Community Service Liaison Officer, Harriet Harmman: If I refused to submit obediently and compliantly to their chosen methods of chastisement and control, they would have my nineteen-year-old brother John removed from his well-paid job as a chef aboard one of the North Sea oil rigs, and assign him to a Placement as a community servant.

Well, I couldn't let that happen. It would devastate our parents, to see both of their sons serving as community servants, under Prime Minister Caroline Flynt's 'female-friendly' Authoritarian Female Party government.

So my first duty of the day – again, this with not just the official but also the wholehearted personal approval of the most powerful woman in the local government: to go to my knees, facing my two computer chair seated, coffee-drinking supervisors while they used my shoulders as their footrest. And, to demonstrate convincingly my capitulation to both their authority and their will, with their ankles comfortably crossed on 'their' shoulder, compliantly facilitate CSOs Karen and Linda's taking turns to cup the undersides of the toes of their CSOs uniform yellow cotton ankle-socked feet to my nose, for me to submissively sniff.

And all that I could do, as I listened to my two supervisors' inane, usually boyfriend-related prattling as they drank the pre-work coffee I'd made for them, was to stare resentfully but resignedly at their attractive concave-bob framed faces, as they did so.

And this would go on, with the frequent and infuriating crossing and recrossing of their shoulder-perched ankles, until CSOs Karen and Linda finished their pre-work coffee, and finally ordered me to get to work in the Sock Room.

* * *

Upon entering the Sock Room, I was profoundly dismayed to see that my workload was still building up rapidly. But I wasn't surprised.

Despite my best efforts last week, my workload had continued to get more and more out of hand as the week progressed; the backlog inexorably building as the dirty socks were tossed into their colour-coded receptacles relentlessly.

Opened just last Monday, the females of Canford were certainly not slow in availing themselves of the novel enjoyments of their amazing new facility. Not all of the town's females, of course, but enough of those 'civic-minded' females, to ensure that I was increasingly overwhelmed by their presentations of dirty, stinky socks.

Beholding the soul-crushing scene in front of me, I couldn't summon so much as an ounce of motivation. So incredibly depressing, were the thoughts of such ludicrous laundering. How utterly futile, were my endless endeavours!

But of course, that was very much the point. It was the AFP's (Prime Minister Caroline Flynt's brainchild) method of motivating unemployed community servants like me out of their assigned Placements, and into gainful (and tax-paying!) employment.

Four of the eight white-painted wheelie bins' lids were hanging open, their noisome contents overflowing. Overflowing, with the countless pairs of dirty white socks that the girls and women of Canford had brought to the Sock Room for me to hand-wash, steam-iron, and return to the floor-to-ceiling sock shelves.

Two of the four other, non-white colour-coded wheelie bins were getting full, too: the black-painted wheelie bin, and the navy-blue-painted wheelie bin. These wheelie bins were the receptacles for the dirty uniform socks of the schoolgirls of Canford's two Girls Schools: St Esmeralda's and St Kate's, respectively. It was patently and painfully obvious already that just one wheelie bin per school was insufficient; it was a wholly unrealistic provision. At least two more wheelie bins, I thought, would have to be allocated to each of the two Girls' Schools.

It was same, near-critical situation, I saw, with the other two non-white colour-coded wheelie bins, which were almost full too: the multicoloured-painted wheelie bin, for non-white socks of various colours; and the yellow-painted wheelie bin, which was the receptacle for the town's CSOs' uniform yellow thin cotton ankle socks. It was glaringly apparent that a couple of additional wheelie bins were soon going to be needed for the CSOs' dirty socks, too.

Right, I thought. First things first: I'd better get those four overflowing white-painted wheelie bins of dirty white socks down to the industrial-sized open-topped hopper, marked: 'White Socks Only!'. I had my work cut out, and—

"Good morning, Community servant David double-oh-seven," said my neighbour from hell, Mrs Norma Newlove, from where she was relaxing on her usual black leather recliner that overlooked my lower-level work area ... and my heart sank to the floor.

One of who my two supervisors were already laughingly referring to as 'The Sock Room Girls' – the so-called 'regulars', who had hung out at the Sock Room nearly every day last week as if it was their new social club – Norma Newlove was in the company of five other, similarly reclining females.

Two of Norma's companions, I was ... acquainted with: Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb. Attractive in their way, I suppose, in their mid-twenties they were about the same age as Norma, and they were two of Norma's cronies. In cahoots with Norma those two had really fixed me, last week. The other three, nothing-better-to-do-with-their-time females, were new faces.

What the ...?

Last week there had only been four black leather recliners on the 'Spectators' Gallery' overlooking my lower-level work area: two to either side of the six wooden steps leading down into it. But now there were six recliners: three to either side of the steps.

And there was still enough room for another four recliners.

Would that be my first welcoming sight, next Monday, upon CSOs Karen and Linda releasing me from my first-duties-of-the-day, pre-work coffee-making and footrest service? I thought dismally. Not six, but ten nothing-better-to-do-with-their-time reclining sock-changing females staring down at me, as I hand-washed the females of Canford's dirty socks?

Eying her here-for-the-day leather sports bag full of the usual food and drink refreshments, I said to Norma Newlove disgustedly, "Don't tell me, Norma: Mum's got the kids?"

"I'll have none of your lip – Community servant David double-oh-seven!" yelled Norma Newlove angrily. "Any more of your insolence, and I'll have you caned! You are forgetting your place again – Community servant David double-oh-seven! Just one word to your supervisors from me, and you'll soon be feeling the cut of their canes on your bare arse again! Right here, again ..." she said, pointing down at her white-socked feet, just below the lower bar of the Sock Room's two-barred safety rail, "... at the foot of my recliner!"

Why couldn't I keep my fool mouth shut?

Why couldn't I keep it zipped, when I knew perfectly well that my neighbour from hell Norma Newlove was taking full advantage of the fantastic benefits of the Authoritarian Female Party's new 'female-friendly' legislations, as they pertained to UK male citizens, in general, and to community servants, in particular? And, when I also knew perfectly well, that thanks to her new female-citizen powers she was really getting into the swing of being able to make life hell for me!

I was going to have to keep a much tighter reign on my resentment, I thought to myself, in self-admonishment. I was going to have to learn to bite my tongue – to prevent more serious harm being done to me.

Shaken, and humiliated to my core, I said," I'm ... I'm very sorry ... Mrs Newlove."

This brought a delighted gale of giggles from the three new faces, and titters of amusement from Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb.

Norma Newlove smiled too: for her, this was yet another satisfying little victory she'd chalked up against me. And the way things were going, Norma would soon be needing a new stick of chalk.

My face, feeling as red as the proverbial beetroot, I ascended the 'gauntlet' of the six wooden steps to get the first of the four overflowing white-painted wheelie bins of dirty white socks on the upper level of the Sock Room.


I used the automatic hoist to raise and deposit, one after the other, the unsavoury contents of the four fullest white-painted wheelie bins into the industrial-sized open-topped hopper – signed: 'White Socks Only!'. I then slid the bolt of the hopper's furnace-door-like access, and I filled a large, white plastic laundry basket with some big handfuls of the town's females' dirty white socks.

Now, and in full view of the Sock Room spectators, I sat on my wooden folding chair. And, before putting them into the hot-and-soapy-water tank for their two-hour minimum pre-wash soak, barehanded (because wearing gloves made the work much too fiddly), adhering to my strict instructions I began pulling the dirty white socks inside out – the better to ensure that I washed all of the build-up of grime, foot sweat and dead skin out of them.

And I was extra careful to try and make sure that I turned every last one of the dirty socks inside out ...

For each and every dirty sock that my supervisors discovered I'd failed to turn inside out before hand-washing – or that I'd not pulled the right way again after laundering, so as to save sock-changing females from that pesky inconvenience – before locking up the Sock Room for the day, in the presence of whomsoever sock-changing females, CSOs Karen and Linda would duly administer the requisite number of chastising cane strokes to my bare bottom.

And I was yet to be successful ... From Monday to Friday last week, not once had I escaped the enthusiastic administering of CSOs Karen and Linda's AFP-issue whippy bamboo canes for one or other of those particular transgressions.

On Friday, I'd thought I'd actually done it; I'd believed I was home and dry – until, at the absolute last minute, my neighbour from hell, Norma Newlove herself, had 'discovered' on the sock shelves a CSO uniform yellow cotton ankle sock that wasn't pulled the right way after laundering, and she had reported my 'failure' to CSOs Karen and Linda ...

It was the most dreadful, ghastly, humiliating work, pulling inside out all of those hundreds – literally hundreds and hundreds! – of dirty, stinky socks, as worn (often, for multiple days, and sometimes walked around in shoeless), and then duly discarded unto my care, by the female sock-changing residents of Canford.

If only I'd knuckled down to learning at school! I bemoaned, in another cuff of self-admonishment.

If I hadn't messed around and joked about so much, instead of concentrating on getting good grades, maybe I wouldn't be in this damned mess now.

If only I'd known!

If only I'd known, that I'd be reduced to hand-washing my neighbour from hell Norma Newlove's dirty socks, five days a week! I'm damned sure I would have knuckled down to learning then!

But look at me now: An eighteen-year-old recent school-leaver with no money, no job, no prospects, and stuck here – stuck in this damned Sock Room! Being watched, laughed at – mercilessly ridiculed and tormented, by Norma Newlove, and her ...

What were they up to now?

Laughing and giggling, and taking their dirty white socks off, and ... and clipping their toenails. And what was that noise? It sounded a bit like an electric toothbrush. And why were they all looking over at me, and smirking like that?

Ah, whatever. I paid them no notice – I had my work cut out!


Time drags by, in the Sock Room.

But at last, it was 1:00 p.m. Time for my half-hour lunch break.

And I knew where I was headed – to the town centre burger bar: Burger Heaven.

I'd been to Burger Heaven last week, at Monday lunchtime. And I'd been working up courage ever since, to go back.

To go back, to the lovely blonde counter assistant Tina – the heaven, of Burger Heaven.

Because I'd sensed that there was a spark of 'something', between us.

I hadn't so much sensed it at the time because I'd been in a world of my own; a world of unrelieved gloom and unremitting despondency. I'd been far too preoccupied and enveloped in my own, first-day-as-a-community-servant blues, to take much notice of whatever else was going on around me.

It was only afterwards that it really hit me. When I'd returned to the Sock Room.

It had probably just been my imagination, though. That was what I'd kept on telling myself, every day, for the remainder of last week.

After all, Tina was a beauty. A doll. A real catch. And me, well, I didn't think I was much of a catch.

So it was probably just wishful thinking, on my part.

But I had to know for sure.


And I knew for sure, right away.

I knew right away, that the spark of ... 'something', I'd sensed, was really there. That I hadn't been imagining it, after all.

It was in Tina's eyes. It was in the way she looked at me as I walked towards her, up to the serving counter of Burger Heaven.

Another counter-assistant colleague of Tina's, to whom she'd been talking when I'd come in the door and who's name tag declared her to be 'Janice', smiled meaningfully at Tina and went off to wipe down an already clean table.

Tina was exactly how I remembered her— but no, she wasn't. She was even more amazing. Even more fabulous. Even more dazzling. She was a baseball-cap-wearing, blue-eyed, blonde-ponytailed dream.

"Hello, stranger," said Tina. It was cliched as hell – but my knees nearly buckled.

"So ... you're back," she said. And I almost had to hold onto the serving counter for support.

It was the sound of her voice, with its underlying hint of playful mischief. It was the look in her eyes; blue eyes, so full of expression, that seemed to really 'see' me.

I couldn't find my tongue. I couldn't get a single word out.

I'd been working out all last week, what to say to Tina, and how to say it. But now ...

"Um ... why don't you sit down, David," said Tina, "and I'll bring your plate of burger and chips over to you – if that's what you're having?"

That was what I'd had, last Monday. A whole week ago – and she'd remembered!

And what a thrill it was, to hear Tina say my name!

At first, I wondered how she could possibly know. But of course – lovestruck fool that I was! – it was glaringly emblazoned in bold black letters on my white, uniform T-shirt: 'Community servant David 007'.

The truth of it was, that I couldn't afford to eat at Burger Heaven – I was holding back what little money I had, for something else ... hopefully.

"Um ... I can't stay, Tina," I said – and what a thrill it was, to say her name!

"I ... I just wanted to ask ... Tina, if ..."

"If what, David?"

"If you fancied, well ... going to see a movie tonight? At the multiplex?"

"Hmmm ... I'll have to check my social calendar, David ... Just kidding!" she said teasingly, flipping closed the lid of her Smartphone. "Ha! Social calendar – as if! Meet me at seven, David. Here, outside Burger Heaven."

I could not believe it. I just could not believe it!

I actually had a date, with Tina! The lovely, vivacious, personable and engaging Tina – the heaven, of Burger Heaven.

Before going out through the door, I turned around, to see Tina smiling and fluttering her fingers goodbye to me— no, not goodbye – au revoir! And Janice was back, linking arms with Tina and a big beaming smile on her face.

Tina wasn't fooling me: she would have no trouble at all, a girl as lovely, and as vivacious – as drop-dead gorgeous – as her, in filling the pages of her social calendar.

And no boy of eighteen ever walked so tall, or had such a spring in his step, or had such a gleam in his eye, as I had, as I returned to the Sock Room.

* * *

"You're keen, Community servant David double-oh-seven," said Norma Newlove when I breezed through the Sock Room's doors as if I was walking on air. "It's only twenty past one!"

Well, Norma, not all of us can laze about on recliners all day – some of us have to earn our living! I thought but didn't dare say.

At the slightest bit of "lip" – of disrespectful backchat, or what many females now in these new 'femocratic' times would consider outright and intolerable insolence, from a community servant – I knew Norma Newlove would be reaching for the Sock Room's internal phone to raise the issue with CSOs Karen and Linda in their office, to have me 'disciplined'.

"And why are you smiling like that – Community servant David double-oh-seven?" demanded Norma. "What on earth have you got to be happy about?"

Ah! And wouldn't you like to know, Norma! I thought but didn't dare say.

Three of the six black leather recliners were vacant now, I noticed. There was no sign of the three new faces. Well, at least that was something. I'd been worried that the three of them, who I'd guessed were about the same age as me, were going to join in 'the fun' with Norma and cronies. They had certainly seemed the type.

"Well, if it was up to me," said Cheryl Chubb, "I'd make Community servant David work through his lunch breaks from now on. Until he's got his workload down to a more reasonable level – that would soon wipe that silly smile off his face! It's getting out of hand. I mean ..." she said, pointing to two more overflowing white-painted wheelie bins, "... look at all of those dirty socks, spilling over onto the floor like that, making the place look untidy. There must be hundreds— no, thousands, of them!"

You aren't doing a bad job of making the place look untidy yourself, Cheryl! I thought but didn't dare say.

"Yes, Cheryl, I couldn't agree more: make double-oh-seven work through his lunch breaks, if he can't keep his workload of dirty socks down to a respectable level," said Gina Stainham. "And to add to them, here's two more dirty socks!" she said, waving her white-socked feet in the air. "Look, double-oh-seven!" she told me.

And Gina wasn't kidding, either. The soles of her white leisure/sports socks were filthy dirty, especially at the impact points at her heels, the balls of her feet, and her toe pads – from her habitually walking around shoeless. Gina Stainham was hard work!

"Er, excuse me ... ladies, but as you have just pointed out, I must be getting on," I said.

And I was halfway down the six wooden steps leading into my 'domain', when—

"Go and get a clean pair of white socks from the sock shelves, double-oh-seven," said Gina Stainham. "And then come back here, and change my socks for me," she ordered.

What, the? I thought.

"Um ... yes, Mrs Stainham," I said, biting my tongue.

"And fetch a pair of white socks for me, too, community servant David – you know the sort I want," said Cheryl Chubb bossily. "And bring another pair, for Mrs Newlove!" she yelled at my retreating back. "You can change our socks for us, too!"

What the hell! I thought.

"Er ... yes, Mrs Chubb!" I called back.

And that set the three of them off to giggling and tittering.

Bloody hell! I thought.

They were complaining about me letting my sock-washing workload get out of hand, even to the point of suggesting I work through my thirty-minute lunch breaks until I've got it under some semblance of control – yet here they were, getting me to change their socks for them!

Because it was so obvious that no way could I ever possibly keep the female sock-changing residents of Canford supplied with clean socks, CSOs Karen and Linda ensured that the Sock Room's floor-to-ceiling shelves were always plentifully stocked with pairs of brand-new socks – by ordering me to refill them, each time the Socks r Us firm's van delivered another consignment.

There were lots of different socks to choose from on the sock shelves. But predominantly the shelves contained pairs of long, white leisure/sports socks, that, in these new 'femocratic' times when the UK's females had such an abundance of sports and leisure time, were by far the most popular choice of sock-changing females.

Looking at the sock shelves, I saw that fortunately there were still plenty of single-pack, 3-pack, and 5-packs of the long, white leisure/sports socks – naturally, when pairs of brand-new socks were available, sock-changing females would eschew the pre-worn, second-hand socks that I'd so laboriously laundered for them.

I selected a 3-pack of the required socks, tore off the brand-new socks' cardboard packaging, and returned with them to the three 'ladies of leisure' awaiting me on their recliners like princesses on their royal divans.

Raising her legs slightly, Gina Stainham said, "Take off my socks, double-oh-seven."

I hated being called that – double-oh-seven. It sounded like the ultimate mickey-take. Which of course it was.

"Yes, Mrs Stainham," I said, hoping my traumatised feelings weren't evident in my voice. I knew there was going to be more to this than met the eye – that had been my experience with 'The Sock Room Girls' so far.

Taking hold of the top of Gina's knee-length right sock, I rolled it down her tanned and very shapely leg so that her sock was automatically turned inside out when I pulled it from her foot – to save myself from having to do that horrible chore later. I then did the same with Gina's left sock.

Taking her pair of just-removed, turned inside out dirty white socks from me, Gina sniffed them, and she contorted her attractive features in an elaborate pantomime of mortified revulsion.

"Now mine, Community servant David," instructed Cheryl Chubb. "Take off my socks."

"Yes, Mrs Chubb," I said, red-faced with shame, and I repeated the same, thoroughly belittling sock-removing procedure.

Taking her pair of just-removed, turned inside out dirty white socks from me, Cheryl sniffed them and, hamming it up, she coughed exaggeratedly as though overcome by noxious fumes.

Now it was my neighbour from hell Mrs Norma Newlove who elevated her legs slightly, prompting me to 'attend' her. "Come on – Community servant David double-oh-seven!" she snapped. "Jump to it! Chop chop! Take off my socks!"

I felt my bottom lip tremble, and I knew I was on the verge of tears – because I was being reduced to this: changing my neighbour from hell Norma Newlove's dirty, stinky socks for her!

Thanks to the Authoritarian Female Party's new Female-Friendly legislations, including empowering all females (including foreign businesswomen and vacationers) with authority over all UK males, Norma Newlove was literally 'socking it to me' beyond her wildest hopes and dreams.

"Yes, Mrs Newlove," I said, and I was dismayed to hear the raw emotion betrayed in my croaking voice.

This was too much!

But I knew that Norma was hoping for just the flimsiest, teeniest excuse to get on the Sock Room's internal phone to complain to my two cane-wielding – and cane-happy! – supervisors.

Repeating the automatically-turned-inside-out sock-removing procedure again, I took hold of the top of Norma's knee-length right sock, and rolled it down her – and even I couldn't deny the truth of it: very shapely – leg, and pulled it from her foot. I then did the same with Norma's left sock.

Taking her pair of just-removed, turned inside out dirty white socks from me, Norma sniffed them, and, hamming it up, as though assailed by the pungent emanations of an overripe Stilton, Norma cried in disgust: "Phwaah!"

"I wonder which of our socks are stinkiest?" said Cheryl Chubb. "I bet mine are – I've been wearing these socks since Friday morning!"

Immediately, my mental alarm bells began clanging.

But before I could retreat from within her reach, with her free hand Norma grabbed my hair and pulled my head close to her ample bosom. She was surprisingly strong, and I wasn't about to have a Tug of War contest with Norma pulling forcefully on my scalp. "Well, we'll soon find out, Cheryl," said Norma. "Because he'll tell us – Community servant David double-oh-seven!"

Arranging the toe section of one of her just-removed, turned inside out dirty white socks, Norma covered my nose with the damp, now greyish-white cotton and pushed hard, sealing my nostrils with her sock's toe section. "Now sniff – Community servant David double-oh-seven! Sniff!"

This was too much! Much too much!

But unless I was prepared to let her pick up the internal phone and dial '1' for CSOs Karen and Linda's office, and place myself at the mercy of their arbitrary arbitrations, I was powerless to resist or refuse Norma.

So I sniffed ... to find that Norma hadn't been hamming it up, after all, as a powerfully pungent aroma – much as I'd imagine an overripe Stilton to smell – assailed me. 'Phwaah!' – indeed!

Arranging the toe section of one of her turned inside out socks, just as Norma Newlove had done, Gina Stainham said, "Now come here, double-oh-seven. And smell my socks."

Compliantly, I reported to Gina Stainham's recliner.

Snatching a good handful of my hair, just as Norma had done, Gina sealed my nostrils with the toe section of one of her just-removed, turned inside out dirty white socks. "Now sniff, double-oh-seven. Come on – sniff!" ordered Gina.

I sniffed ... to find that Gina hadn't contorted her attractive features in an elaborate pantomime of mortified revulsion, after all – it had been for real!

Arranging the toe section of one of her turned inside out socks, just as Norma and Gina had done, Cheryl Chubb, the instigator of the stinky-sock 'contest' said, "Now come here, Community servant David. And smell my socks."

Compliantly, I reported to Cheryl Chubb's recliner.

Gripping a good fistful of my hair, just as Norma and Gina had done, Cheryl sealed off my nostrils with the toe section of one of her just-removed, turned inside out, now yellow-tinged dirty white cotton socks. "Now sniff, Community servant David. Sniff – and sniff deeply!" commanded Cheryl.

I sniffed ... to find that Cheryl hadn't been hamming it up either, after all. Cheryl hadn't exaggerated her coughing fit – because now, coughing myself, I realised that she actually had been overcome by her own, noxious stinky-feet fumes!

Releasing her painful grip on my hair, Cheryl said, "So, Community servant David. Your decision: Mrs Stainham's, Mrs Newlove's ... or mine? Whose socks are the stinkiest?"

I didn't know what to say.

They wouldn't believe me if I said that none of their socks ponged – they'd all see it for the cop out that it was. This was very tricky, fraught with incalculable risk: I had to make a choice – and yet somehow make the right choice.

"Um ... all of your socks are very stinky, Mrs Chubb. But ... but I'd have to say that it's your socks, Mrs Chubb, that are the stinkiest. I nearly choked on the fumes. So, Mrs Chubb, I ... I declare you the winner."

"See!" shouted Cheryl Chubb triumphantly. "See, Norma? See, Gina? I've won. Community servant David has declared me the winner. My socks are the stinkiest!" she said with the greatest of satisfaction.

But Norma Newlove had a face like thunder.

I had to try to placate the chagrined Norma. So I approached her first, with one of the pairs of brand-new white sports/leisure socks from the 3-pack I'd brought from the sock shelves. "Um ... Mrs Newlove. You said you wanted me to change your dirty socks for you—"

"Give me those socks!" snapped Norma Newlove, snatching the pair of socks from my hands in annoyance. "Do you think I'm incapable of putting a pair of socks on my own two feet?"

Oops ... maybe I'd chosen the wrong stinky-sock contest winner.

I'd known the decision of the 'award' was fraught with risk. But there was no question that Cheryl Chubb deserved it!

"No, Mrs Newlove. But ... but you said—"

"Well, what I am telling you now – Community servant David double-oh-seven! – is to get on with your sock-washing! Before I get on that phone and inform your supervisors that you haven't done a single bit of work since you've come back from your lunch break. So get yourself back down those steps. And here – take our dirty socks with you!"

"Yes, Mrs Newlove," I said through gritted teeth.

As brassily dictated by my neighbour from hell Norma Newlove, I descended the six wooden steps to my one-man-laundry 'domain' – taking along with me her, Gina Stainham's and Cheryl Chubb's pairs of dirty, stinky white socks.

But at least their socks were already pulled inside out.


Sitting on my wooden folding chair facing the 'Spectators' Gallery' that overlooked my 'domain', and pulling inside out another big batch of the sock-changing females of Canford's dirty, stinky white socks, I looked up to see the return of the three new faces reoccupying the same recliners they'd vacated earlier.

I assumed they'd returned from having a spot of lunch in one of the High Street's food outlets – unlike the so-called 'regulars', they hadn't come to the Sock Room prepared with leather sports bags full of here-for-the-day food and drink provisions.

When I looked up again, after turning inside out another four or five pairs of balled-up stinky white socks, it was to see that the three new faces were now sitting up comfortably on their black leather recliners and observing me with great amusement – they'd heard about the Sock Room community servant, but now for the first time they were witnessing his 'antics' for themselves.

Each of the three new faces' having removed their trainers, the soles of their white-socked feet were almost directly facing me. I was sitting on my wooden folding chair, but if I'd been standing the soles of their feet would have been at my head height.

I had fallen into the habit on these occasions, of making a 'professional' assessment as to the dirtiness and sweatiness of the socks that it was my duty to hand-wash and launder to a high standard. And upon closer observation I saw that the three new faces' white cotton socks were stained grey from their foot sweat, at their heels, the balls of the feet, and the toe sections.

But in my 'professional' assessment the three of them were no worse than the average Sock Room visitor; their socks didn't look overly sweaty or dirty.

For this, at least, I was grateful: I knew that some of the more bitchy sock-changing females (Chery Chubb, for one) purposefully wore their socks for days on end and sweated and dirtied up their socks deliberately.

Gina Stainham's socks got filthy dirty. But in her case I believed this was just because of Gina's preference for walking about shoeless – the fact that because of her indifference and carelessness of my plight I was then left with her filthy dirty socks to try to hand-wash clean again was just the unfortunate consequence. So Gina Stainham contributed to making my life hell without even trying.

More and more girls and women were taking to wearing trainers now, in these new 'femocratic' times, I thought as I 'professionally' assessed the white-socked soles of the three new faces' feet. The light and comfortable, sporty footwear were the perfect accompaniment to their leisure/sports socks, and—

"What are you looking at – Community servant David double-oh-seven?" demanded Norma Newlove belligerently, interrupting stuffing her face with at least her third bag of Cheese & Onion crisps from her big multipack. I was sure she was addicted to that flavour. Could that be why her feet and socks smelled so pungently of strong, overripe cheese? I wondered.

"Get on with your work – those stinky socks aren't going to pull themselves inside out! No wonder your workload is getting so out of hand!" Norma told me. "I'm going to suggest to your supervisors that you work through your lunch breaks, for the time being. And that you start working Saturdays, too – I bet CSOs Karen and Linda would welcome the triple-pay overtime!"

That cow! I thought.

CSO's Karen and Linda, I thought, would probably welcome regular Saturday-opening – and so would Norma and cronies! My two so-called supervisors would 'earn' a small fortune in overtime pay, and the so-called regulars' Sock-Room-cum-social-club would be open for an extra day.

The three new faces crossed their ankles and started scrunching and flexing their white-socked toes pleasurably, smiling admiringly at Norma.

Norma Newlove was showing the three new faces 'the ropes'!

"Wow! This place is a cool hangout!" enthused the prettiest of the three new faces, and her two friends nodded their emphatic agreement.

"Oh, we have all sorts of fun, with the community servant," Norma told the three Sock Room initiates, who then pleasurably scrunched and flexed their white-socked toes some more.

Once I'd deposited this white plastic laundry basket full of turned inside out dirty white socks into the hot-and-soapy-water tank for their two-hour minimum pre-wash soak, I thought, concentrating on my work again, I'd be able to crack on with hand-washing the pre-soaked socks in the temperature-controlled stainless steel hot-and-soapy-water sink. And ...

And what was that noise again, that sounded a bit like an electric toothbrush? There it was, starting up yet again.

I'd heard it thrumming away this morning, off and on. When the 'regulars' and the three new faces had been clipping their toenails, and looking over at me, smirking mischievously.

Looking up from my work, about ten pairs of turned inside out socks later, I saw there were quite a number of sock-changing females now crowding around Norma Newlove's recliner. There was a hubbub of excited anticipation about them, as they took turns clipping their toenails, and—

"I thought I told you to get on with your work – Community servant David double-oh-seven!" yelled Norma. "Do you want me to get on that internal phone, to CSOs Karen and Linda? Now, I won't tell you again: Get on with your sock-washing!"

The three new faces smiled at Norma with open admiration.

That ... witch! I thought.

And now I realised it was her, Norma Newlove – my self-appointed slave-driver! – who was responsible for making that mysterious noise, that sounded a bit like an electric toothbrush.


The afternoon dragged on slowly.

But at least now, an hour or so after my much needed fifteen-minute afternoon tea break, the end of the day's Sock Room drudgery was finally in sight.

With my pair of long wooden tongs, I'd transferred the last of the presoaking socks from the hot-and-soapy-water tank into the temperature-controlled stainless-steel hot-and-soapy-water sink. And with my back thankfully turned to those nothing-better-to-do-with-their-time female watchers in the 'Spectators' Gallery', I'd made good inroads with hand-washing the dirty white socks, and transferring the washed sudsy socks into the adjacent stainless-steel rinsing sink.

The electric-toothbrush-like noise had been going almost incessantly; it would stop for a few seconds, and then resume. But I ignored it, and just got with my mind-numbing, soul-destroying toil. After all, what the hell did I care what the buzzing noise was?

I would have just about enough time, I estimated, to rinse out the day's last batch of socks, squeeze out most of the water by means of the old-fashioned mangle, and hang the damp socks out on the nylon clotheslines in the flagstone courtyard to dry overnight.

I'd steam-iron the socks in the morning after I'd filled up the hot-and-soapy-water tank with another batch of the dirty white socks for their two-hour minimum pre-wash soak. For the next couple of days at least, I thought, I'd better prioritise the dirty white socks. Two more of the white-painted wheelie bins were now overflowing with dirty white socks, and—

"Um ... er, Community servant David? Would you come over here, please?" said Norma Newlove.


I didn't like the sound of that. I didn't like it one little bit. Norma had to be up to something. But what?

Reluctantly but resignedly I pulled off my pink washing-up gloves, and I turned around to see Norma, her Sock Room cronies Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb, the three new faces, and also about fifteen other sock-changing females, all looking over at me from the 'Spectators' Gallery' with innocent smiles on their faces.

What the hell was going on?

Warily, I trudged up the six wooden steps to the upper level of the Sock Room, and compliantly I reported to Norma's recliner.

Looking at the sea of twenty-plus butter-wouldn't-melt-in-their-mouths faces, I said, "Um, what ... what can I do for you, Mrs Newlove?"

"We want you to, um ... adjudicate another contest for us, David," said Norma Newlove pleasantly.


I definitely didn't like the sound of that. Now I knew for certain, that Norma was up to something. But what?

"Another contest, Mrs Newlove?"

"Yes, David, another contest. This time, we'd like you to judge, from out of all of us ..." Norma gestured to encompass all of the twenty-plus sock-changing females present in the Sock Room, "... who has the cutest toenailed, and the nicest, smoothest, prettiest soles."

"Um ... Mrs Newlove, I—"

"Stand at the foot of my recliner, David, and start with my feet. Then you can judge the other reclining ladies' feet. Followed by all of the other ladies' feet."

"Um ... Mrs Newlove, I'm not sure I'm qualified, to—"

"Here, David," said Norma Newlove, raising her outstretched legs. "Start with me. Hold out the palms of your hands for me to rest my heels in, so that you have a perfect view of the soles of my feet ... Come on, David, my legs are getting all tired and achy, holding them up like this."

"All right, Mrs Newlove," I said, immediately feeling the strain of supporting Norma's relaxing outstretched legs as she settled the backs of her heels in the apparently comfortably accommodating palms of my hands. "But, I don't know if I'm the person, to—"

"Look at my toenails first, David," said Norma, scrunching her toes to better enable my judgement. "Are my toenails nice? Do you think they're cute?"

The three new faces craned their necks, and the fifteen or so standing, sock-changing females gathered closer, the better to hear my adjudicatory pronouncements on the merits of Norma Newlove's toenails.

"Well, Mrs Newlove – judging by my own personal likes and preferences ... I think your toenails are perfectly trimmed: not too long, and not too short. And I really like your cherry-red nail polish. It really sets off your suntanned legs, Mrs Newlove, and your lustrous black hair," I told her sincerely. "It's definitely 'your' colour," I heard myself saying, complimentarily.

Recently returned from an AFP-funded holiday in Florida, the twenty-six-year-old, black-haired, voluptuous-figured Norma Newlove was actually looking very attractive, I had to admit.

"Now, what about the soles of my feet, David? Is my skin nice and smooth? Or is it dry and flaky? We want you to judge the soles of our feet, paying special attention and making particular mention as to the smoothness of the bottoms of our heels, and the balls of our feet, where sometimes we ladies have problems with an unsightly build-up of hard, dry, dead skin."

Some of the fifteen or so standing, sock-changing females tut-tutted empathetically and, showing the soles of their feet to each other and pointing out their own particular trouble spots, admitted that from time to time they did indeed have to address that vexatious recurring problem.

"Well, Mrs Newlove," I said, appraising the soles of her feet, "I can tell you that you have no problems on that score. The bottoms of your heels and the balls of your feet are in tip-top condition," I told her in all honesty. "In fact, the soles of your feet are not unsightly at all," I heard myself saying.

"Thank you, David," said Norma. "That is exactly what we want from you, as our contest judge: your honest, candid, considered opinion."

"Um ... all right, Mrs Newlove," I said.

"Community servant David," said Cheryl Chubb from the recliner next to Norma's, raising her outstretched legs in expectation. "Me next. Hold out the palms of your hands for me."

"Yes, Mrs Chubb," I said ...

And so it was, that I duly deliberated, and gave my "honest, candid, considered opinions" pertaining to the "cuteness" of the toenails, and the smoothness of the soles of the feet of next in line Cheryl Chubb, followed by Gina Stainham, followed by the three new faces – who turned out to be eighteen-year-old college girls Anita, Trudi and Naomi – followed by the rest of the fifteen or so standing, sock-changing females.

After assessing the "cuteness" of the toenails and the smoothness of the soles of the three new faces, Anita, Trudi and Naomi – I said, ingratiatingly in hopes of winning their future decent treatment of me and hating myself for it, "And thank you, young Misses (I didn't know how else to address them!), for doing your civic duty, and bringing your dirty socks here to the Sock Room for me to hand-wash, instead of washing them yourselves at home in your washing machines."

Anita, Trudi and Naomi all smiled back at me in open amazement, pleasurably scrunching and flexing their bare toes like there was no tomorrow.

"Oh, but you are welcome – Community servant David double-oh-seven!" Anita, who was the prettiest of them told me. "And in future, we'll be calling into the Sock Room regularly," Anita assured me. "To hand over to you, personally, our dirty, stinky socks for you to hand-wash! Because it is exactly what you deserve!"

When it came time for me to judge the fifteen or so standing, sock-changing females, Norma Newlove told me to go to my knees. "It's the best position for you to judge from, David," she told me. "You'll need to be nice and close to our feet."

One by one, each of the standing, sock-changing females stood directly in front of me, so as to facilitate my assessment of the "cuteness" of their toenails.

There was a surprisingly wide range of attractive nail polish colours on show, although some of the sock-changing females' toenails were unpainted or coated with a clear glossy varnish. Anita, the prettiest of the three new faces, had a French pedicure. One thing I couldn't help but notice was that all of the twenty-plus females' toenails were all nicely trimmed.

Upon my having duly aired my pronouncements as to the "cuteness" of each of the standing, sock-changing females' toenails, they'd then turned their backs on me, and raised behind them first one foot (that I held in my hands to aid their one-legged balance), and then their other foot, for me to duly air my "honest, candid, considered" opinions as to the smoothness of the soles of their feet.

As instructed by Norma Newlove, I paid special attention and made particular mention as to the state of smoothness of the balls of their feet, and the bottoms of their heels.

"So, David ..." said Norma Newlove, after I had duly delivered my pronouncements upon the smoothness of the soles of the last of the standing, sock-changing females' feet. "Who is the winner?"

"The ... winner, Mrs Newlove?"

"Yes – idiot!" snapped Norma, once again sounding like her usual obnoxious self. "The winner! The winner of the contest. In your judgement, who, out of all of us, has the cutest toenails, and the nicest, smoothest, prettiest soles?"

"Um ... I, er—"

"In your honest, candid, considered opinion, who do you declare the winner of this contest?" demanded Norma.

I remembered Norma's face of thunder, her obvious displeasure after I'd declared Cheryl Chubb, and not her, the winner of the stinky-sock contest.

"Um ... you have, Mrs Newlove. You have the cutest toenailed, and the nicest, smoothest, prettiest soles," I told Norma, feeling my face blazing away in acute embarrassment.

Uncomfortably I beheld the unforgiving disappointed glares of the other contestants. "It ... it was a difficult decision," I told them.

But, so help me, I was only telling the truth!

Norma Newlove actually did, have the cutest toenailed, and the nicest, smoothest, prettiest soles.

"So, Mrs Newlove, I ... I declare you, Mrs Newlove, the winner of the contest. Um ... congratulations."

"Good!" cried Norma Newlove in exultant triumph. "Good! I'm really glad you said that – Community servant David double-oh-seven! And congratulations are in order. Because now, as your duly declared contest winner, I get to do ... this!"

At this apparently prearranged signal, I found myself being roughly manhandled by some of the standing, sock-changing females, who, laughing, giggling, and squealing with glee, unceremoniously dumped me – the wrong way around! – onto Norma Newlove's now vacated black leather recliner.

Panicked, I tried to thrash about, but I felt my arms, ankles and legs being gripped to immobilise me. It was useless to resist, and my continued ineffectual struggles only served to antagonise my tormentresses, who in response further tightened their grips and dug their fingernails into me.

"I get to do this – Community servant David double-oh-seven!" gloated Norma, crouched in front of me, and glowering down ecstatically at my turned the wrong way, upside down face. "This! I get to put this lot down your throat! I'm going to make you eat it all up, and swallow it all down!"

'This lot', I now saw, to my absolute horror and disgust, were lots and lots of toenail clippings, and some little piles of greyish flecked flaky powder ... So that's what that electric-toothbrush-like sound had been, I now suddenly realised: an exfoliator!

On the slick, slippery centrefold pages of the glossy magazine that Norma was holding very carefully, along with the lots and lots of variously coloured and clear-varnished and unpainted toenail clippings, the little piles of greyish flecked flaky powder, I now realised with utmost revulsion, was the shavings of dead skin – removed from the soles (predominantly from the balls of the feet, and the bottoms of the heels, "where sometimes we ladies have problems with an unsightly build-up of hard, dry, dead skin") of the twenty-plus sock-changing females now present in the Sock Room.

How could they? How could they!

I already knew that the Sock Room brought out the bitch in many of the sock-changing females ... but this!

My neighbour from hell Norma Newlove was in her element. Not even her sweetest of dreams could have conjured up such a satisfying scenario.

"No. No, Mrs Newlove. You can't. You ... you can't do this. Please. Please don't. Please, Mrs Newlove ... please, please don't do this," I heard myself beg pathetically.

But I knew I was wasting my breath. Knew that my pitiful pleas were in vain. Knew, in fact, from the glint in her eyes, that all I was doing was greatly increasing Norma Newlove's wicked pleasure.

My pitiable entreaties, I could see, were also greatly increasing the sadistic pleasure of the standing, sock-changing females, who were smiling maliciously down at me as they held me firmly in place.

Upon closer inspection of the horrible little hills of soles-of-the-feet greyish flecked flaky skin dust, and the lots and lots of coloured and uncoloured toenail clippings, I discerned the scattering of Norma Newlove's own, distinctive cherry-red clippings. And somewhere, too, in those little dusty mounds of greyish flecked flaky dead skin, I knew, was Norma's own, balls-of-the-feet and bottoms-of-the-heels contribution.

To Cheryl Chubb, the winner of the stinky-sock contest, Norma said gleefully, "Eat your heart out, Cheryl! This is the real prize – this!"

Taking great care not to lose any of the ... ingredients, Norma Newlove rolled the pages of the glossy magazine into a mouth-size tube, forced one O-shaped end of it into my mouth, began tipping up her end of the now tubular magazine, and—

"Hey!" yelled Tina – the heaven, of Burger Heaven. "Hey, you!" she yelled at Norma. "Leave David alone!"

What in hell's name was Tina doing here? I wondered.

Tipped upside down on Norma's recliner, I couldn't see Tina, but I could picture her face.

"What's the matter with you?" Norma Newlove asked Tina belligerently.

"I said leave David alone!" screamed Tina.

How long had Tina been here? I wondered. How much had she heard? How much had she seen? How much had she witnessed?

Looking over at Tina, and then back to me, Norma said to the twenty-plus gathering of sock-changing females, as the penny dropped, "Ah! So, it's her, is it? It's her, is it, who's put such a big, goofy smile on Community servant David double-oh-seven's face?"

Norma Newlove smiled down at me gleefully. To her, this was like the icing on the cake. "Well, well, well. So you've got yourself a girlfriend, have you?" taunted Norma, tormentingly uptilting with deliberate slowness her end of the rolled-up glossy magazine. Norma was milking this moment for all it was worth. Any second now, and ...

"Didn't you hear me?" shrilled Tina again. "I said leave David alone – you bitch!"

I saw Norma Newlove's face darken at Tina's insult.

Trouble was coming. Real trouble. Bad trouble.

"If you can't stand the heat – Burger Girl – get out of the kitchen! Go flip some more burgers," Norma told Tina disdainfully. "These Sock Rooms are for real women. Community servants need to be taught a lesson. And it's real women like me, who are their teachers. So leave now – or witness what I'm going to do to Community servant David double-oh-seven!"

I was filled with a sense of outrage such as I had never before experienced.

Norma Newlove – a mean-minded, cruel and vindictive woman who had never done a day's work in her 'career-claimant's life, talking to the pleasant and personable and hardworking Tina – the heaven, of Burger Heaven – like that!

I wished that I could warn Tina off.

I wished that I could warn Tina to get out of the Sock Room. For her own good.

I wished that I could warn Tina to get away from Norma Newlove – and all of these other sock-changing, lesson-teaching "real women". And now – before it was too late.

For 'causing trouble', Tina was sure to land herself in hot water with the Authoritarian Female Party's local big wig – Canford's Community Service Liaison Officer, Harriet Harmman. The AFP wouldn't take kindly to their 'female-friendly' apple cart being upset – and upset, at that, by an 'ungrateful' female.

I wished that I could tell Tina to just forget about me.

I wished that I could implore Tina to just walk away. To just leave me to my fate ... to just forget, about 'us'.

I wished I could urge Tina to take a second look at her social calendar – because she had to have better dating prospects in there, than an unemployed and virtually unemployable dirty-sock washing community servant.

But I could say none of those things – because I had one O-shaped end of Norma Newlove's rolled-up glossy magazine full of multicoloured and uncoloured toenail clippings and soles-of-the-feet greyish flecked flaky dead skin shavings forced into my mouth.

Not that Tina would have listened to my urgent warnings and desperate pleas anyway, had I been able to voice them.

"Now – Community servant David double-oh-seven!" gloated Norma Newlove, steadily uptilting her end of the rolled-up glossy magazine. Smiling ecstatically down at my turned the wrong way, upside down, horrified face, Norma yelled triumphantly, "Enjoy! Enjoy – eat it all up, and swallow it all down – this little lot of—"

But then suddenly the decidedly unsavoury contents weren't in Norma's rolled-up glossy magazine anymore – they were in her hair.

Tina hadn't gone back to Burger Heaven to flip some more burgers, on Norma Newlove's advice.

Tina had stayed in the Sock Room.

And, her approach going unnoticed because all of the sock-changing females' eyes were riveted on me and my heinous predicament, with a well aimed, white-trainered foot Tina had flipped instead Norma's tightly rolled-up glossy magazine right out of her hands; the springing-out pages hurling the entire 'preparation' upwards and into Norma Newlove's face and lustrous black hair.

"Aaaaahhhhhh!" shrilled the horrified Norma, flapping small clouds of soles-of-the-feet greyish flecked flaky exfoliations from her attractive long, black hair, and pulling free from its strands with her fingers one of her own, cherry-red big-toenail clippings.

And that did it ...

I had seen Norma Newlove angry before, many times – but never like this. This was something else again; something on a whole new level. Norma was incandescent with uncontainable, white-hot fury.

Embarrassed like this – humiliated – right in front of her Sock Room associates and peers, Norma knew she would never live this hoisted-by-her-own-petard moment down.

"Get her!" Norma adjured her fellow, frozen-in-shock sock-changing females. "Get her – get the Burger Girl!"

Suddenly Tina found herself surrounded by twenty-plus very angry sock-changing females. There was no possible escape. "Keep your hands off me!" Tina spiritedly told the converging threatening throng of Sock Room attendees.

"Let me get my hands on her," said Norma Newlove furiously. "Just let me get my hands on her!"

"Leave her alone!" I shouted, finding some courage of my own from somewhere. "You just leave Tina alone, Mrs Newlove!"

"You just keep it zipped – Community servant David double-oh-seven!" snarled Norma Newlove, turning angrily on me. "I'll deal with you later! You are the cause of this – you!"

Whether it was because one of the sock-changing females had picked up the internal phone and dialled '1' to contact my two supervisors, or whether CSOs Karen and Linda in their office had heard for themselves the outbreak of pandemonium on the upper level of the Sock Room, I didn't know. But one thing I did know: I was flooded with relief, at seeing my two cane-wielding supervisors.

"So ... what's going on here?" said CSO Karen, calmly and authoritatively. "What's happened?"

"She happened – Burger Girl!" shrilled Norma Newlove, still flapping soles-of-the-feet skin dust out of her long hair, and pulling free some of the coloured and uncoloured toenail clippings that had gotten themselves all snarled up in her formerly lustrous locks.

CSO Karen said, "What's all that in your hair, Mrs Newlove? Is it ... what I think it is?"

"Um ... yes, CSO Karen," admitted Norma. "We wanted to have a bit of fun with Community servant David double-oh-seven. I wanted to force-feed him – make him eat up, and swallow the lot!"

CSO Linda said, "You should have given us a ring, in our office. We'd have added to it."

CSO Karen said, "So what happened, Mrs Newlove?"

"I just told you, CSO Karen: she happened – Burger Girl. She kicked the whole lot right out of my hands! She was trying to protect him – Community servant David double-oh-seven. Her boyfriend!"

At Norma Newlove's referring to me as Tina's cherished boyfriend, I felt my heartstrings being plucked like crazy.

How brave, Tina was! She had confronted and stood up to twenty-plus sock-changing females – to rescue me! And boy, she had certainly fixed Norma!

CSO Linda, handcuffing Tina's right wrist to her own, left wrist, said, "We can't let this stand. We'll have to present her to Ms Harmman. And I suppose you'll be wanting us to lodge a complaint in your behalf, will you, Mrs Newlove?"

Pointing to her hair, at the multicoloured mess of toenail clippings, and the dreadful dermatological soles-of-the-feet detritus sifting down through her formerly lustrous locks, the beside-herself Norma Newlove seethed, "Well, what do you think, CSO Linda?"

"I think you are absolutely right to press charges, Mrs Newlove," said CSO Linda. "But I have to tell you: if it's her first offence, she'll probably just be let off with a warning."

"Just a warning!" yelled Norma in outraged disbelief.

"A formal warning," CSO Linda clarified as if that would make Norma feel better.

CSO Karen, handcuffing Tina's left wrist to her own, right wrist, said to Tina, "Come on, you. Let's see what Ms Harmman has to say."

"It was absolutely shameful, what was going on here, CSO Karen!" argued the spirited Tina. "Someone had to stop it! This so-called Sock Room is an abomination!"

"Um ... Mrs Newlove," said CSO Karen. "CSO Linda and I will be gone for about half an hour while we go to the Community Service Liaison Centre to process ... Burger Girl. Could we impose on you to look after the Sock Room for us while we're away?"

"Oh, absolutely, CSO Karen. Of course. You're not imposing on me at all, CSO Karen!"

Being led away, handcuffed between CSOs Karen and Linda, Tina looked back over her shoulder at me – and I felt my heart crack right down the middle. It was a terrible, psychophysical pain. I couldn't bear it.

Why did Tina have to do this? Why hadn't she got the hell out of the Sock Room while she still could?

Tina could have any boy she wanted. So why did she have to get herself into this kind of trouble – over a community servant, sock-washing loser like me? A Sock Room attendant!

"Tina!" I wailed mournfully. "Tina! Tina!"

But she was gone.

Looking about me, I saw the predatory eyes of twenty-plus highly annoyed, vengeful females.

I beheld the rage-filled, glowering face of Norma Newlove; the angry faces of her Sock Room cronies Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb; the hostile faces of eighteen-year-old college girls Anita, Trudi and Naomi; and the unforgiving visages of the fifteen or so standing, sock-changing females.

Hell! I thought. My neighbour from hell Norma Newlove will really have it in for me now!

"Um ... well, I really should be getting on with my work, ladies," I said, inching backwards towards the six wooden steps leading down to my lower-level, one-man-laundry 'domain'.

"As, um ... as you yourselves have pointed out, ladies, my work is really building up, and ... and getting way out of hand, and ... and those dirty socks won't pull themselves inside out. Um ... so, if you'll excuse me, ladies, I'll—"

"Oh, no you don't – Community servant David double-oh-seven!" yelled Norma Newlove, pulling yet another toenail clipping from her hair, which in turn caused another small fallout of soles-of-the-feet grey flecked dry flaky dead skin dust.

"Get him!" Norma Newlove exhorted her sock-changing sisters, as I began making a desperate run for it.

"Get him!" shrilled the homicidal Norma. "Get him – Community servant David double-oh-seven! Get him!"

Community Service continues, in Chapter 7.


This story is written by David, please send comments and appreciation to