Aristocrat Are Fucking Rats by Alistair Robertson

It was Grandma with me, and my cousin Nick. Nick is about my age. We walked through the familiar doors of the Club and after the $7.50 pot and parma Grandma retired to the pokies. It had been 45 minutes which I thought was enough time and so Nick and I went through to the gambling section. It was near pitch black though. Nick said he had heard something.

“What did you hear?”

“Down with the aristocrats.”

“Down with the aristocrats?”

“Yeah. Down with the aristocrats.”

“You heard that from outside.”

“Yeah.”

A rat appeared through a hole in the floor, wearing the dress of a 17th Century Earl.

ARE YOU DOWN WITH US!? THE AINSWORTHS! THE AINSWORTH WORTH HOW MUCH? WORTH BILLIONS! HEIR TO THE ARISTOCRAT LEISURE FORTUNE AINSWORTH, THESE AINSWORTHS, THESE WORTHY FEW WHO WRANGLED A GAMBLING MACHINE FROM THE REMNANTS OF AN OLD DENTIST’S CHAIR AND MADE AN HONEST DOLLAR CHEATING THE UNFORTUNATES FROM THEIR HARD-EARNED – MAKING A SWIFT BUCK SWIFTLY FROM A SWIFTY AND ALL FOR A BIT OF CHEDDAR.

The thought of cheddar, a pavlovian trigger for the Earl, precipitated a wave of saliva that was now dripping from its chin hair and soaking its attire. The rat began stripping off, making use of its dexterous paws to unfurl the elaborate costumes many layers.

WE STARTED OFF LIKE YOU. BUT WE EVOLVED. TO PERFECT THE EFFECTS WE HAD TO LIVE IN DARKNESS, WE HAD TO MASTER THAT PERFECT COMBINATION OF FLASHING AND BEEPING AND RINGING AND WHIRLING, CONCOCTING A BRIGHT ELECTRONIC SOUP THAT WE GAVE NAMES TO LIKE ‘LOVE ON THE NILE’, ‘CASH CATAPULT’ AND ‘WINNING WISHES’. AND NOW WE HAVE YOUR YOUNG MEN AND OLD WOMEN HOSTAGE, FEEDING OUR VICIOUS AVARICIOUS APPETITE FOR LUCRE, GOLD, MONEY, CASH.. CASH.. CASH AND.. AND…

“Cheddar?”

CHEDDAR! YES! CHEDDAR! CHEDDAR!

The rat began convulsing, its clothes were soaked through. I glanced the erstwhile humanness of its figure, now deformed beyond recognition. Wearing a velvet green dinner jacket, the rat wiped the last drips from its jaw with a silk cravat. There was an expectant look on the rat’s face, it had become awkward, I thought Nick was going to say something then he just sort of stretched and looked at his shoes.

SO ARE YOU DOWN? DOWN WITH THE ARISTOCRATS!

“Did you see an older woman walk through here at all?” I asked.

OH YOUR GRANDMA’S DOWN, SHE”S DOWN ALRIGHT! SHE’S DOWN 40 DOLLARS!”

The rat attempted to snap its fingers but they were damp and so did not make a sound, nevertheless on queue there was a shrill musical beeping and my beloved Nan, atop a stool, mesmerised by a ginormous poker machine descended from the ceiling.

“Grandma!”

SHE CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE BEEPING AND THE WHIRLING AND THE TWIRLING. HEAR THAT CUP OF COIN JANGLE – THAT’S MY CHRISTMAS JINGLE!

Nick hadn’t said anything and I looked across at him for solidarity, but he had already taken a pew next to Grandma. The rat had given him a free meal token and 5 dollars of credit. Everything happened so quickly but when I remember back it’s all in slow motion. The two of them, years apart, now had the same dead expression, I could make out the spinning graphics in their eye mirrors. I think at that moment I yelped. I had never made that sound before and never made it since.

LET’S HAVE SOME FUN! WHAT DO YOU NEED? A DRINK, MAKE IT A DOUBLE! A COUPON? I GOT A WHOLE BOOK OF THEM! IT’S FAMILY FUN SON!

Out of the darkness, illuminated by the glow of the poker machines that had began multiplying in number, more rats joined in a steady procession of fancy dress. There were victorian ball gowns, antebellum tuxedos and various attire ranging from the mere aristocratic to what looked to me like leather fetish officer uniforms. They were singing a hymn of some kind, and were of such a number that they could not help but step and crawl on one another, atop the growing ball of teeth and fur, arose the familiar rat, first among equals. No, it wasn’t a hymn, or perhaps it was to the rats. It was ABBA’s Money, Money, Money..

MUST BE FUNNY IN A RICH MAN’S WORLD!

The rat was warbling and on the high notes screeching.

MONEE MONEE MONEE!, MAAHST BE FAHNEE! INAAA REETCH RAT’S WURRLD!!

The spotlight was squarely on the rat now, so far away was the peak of the rat mountain, I could only make out the billowing robes of what I assumed was a second costume change. The screeching was amplified but my kin remained oblivious, their limbs moving like automaton – feeding coin after coin. I had an idea.

“Oi, rat, Cheddar, Cheddar, Cheddar, must be funny in a rich rats world.”

OH YES CHEDDAR! CHEDDAR! CHEDDAR!

A stream developed across the face of rat mountain. Waterfalls emerged from the crest of rats’ jaws, in other places crevices became pools. Where the stream ran there was now a river, urged by the chorus of cheddar. The rats were wriggling in a fit of mutual ecstasy that soon gave way to agony as the lower rats in the pyramid drowned in the saliva flowing from on high. Unperturbed, the rat, now sporting the robes of Henry VIII, pressed on…

CHEDDAR, CHEDDAR, CHEDDAR! MAAHST BE FAHNEE!!

Grandma remembers that afternoon differently, and has since been back to the pokies a number of times. But if there’s a moral to this story it would be this: look after your family, because the people that make poker machines are fucking rats.

3 thoughts on “Aristocrat Are Fucking Rats by Alistair Robertson

  1. Haha, love the moral of the story style ending. It’s was really imaginative in a Neil Gaiman sort of way. I think the rat-speak could have done without the caps and still come across with the extrovert style needed to hit the brief. All up, I’m a fan. Nicely done and good luck!

  2. Hadn’t heard of Aristocrat gaming machines until you and Adrian both wrote about them – must be an Aussie phenomenon. Good ending – a fable for our times!

  3. Interestingly, the old Aristocrat factory / warehouse was very close to where I live. They left a partial of the wall when they knocked it down. I’ll see if I can get a photo 🙂

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