42 - Escaping The Faries
Bobby Beezer-Brown opened the front door in response to the deafening thumping of fist on woodwork and was confronted first by Little Micky, Big Micky’s personal spokesman, then Big Joe, who Little Micky dragged around, metaphorically that is, to extract monetary and other collections on Big Micky’s behalf. Big Joe stood an excellent six feet eight inches in stockinged feet and came complete with an abundance of muscles. Twenty stones of bulk crammed through the doorway. Bobby Beezer-Brown having never seen them before said, ”what the f...,” but was shoved aside before he could complete the expletive.
Little Micky flicked a half smoked cigarette butt to smoulder on the clapped out, stained with everything sofa and said, “Bobby Beezer-Brown you are a person hard to track down. Big Micky don’t like hard to track down people does he Joe? He don’t like nasty little gits like you messing around with his stuff does he Joe? And he wants it back. Pronto.”
Big Joe squeezes Bobby Beezer-Brown up against the wall causing Bobby to gasp with a rush of air and say in a wheezing voice, “what are you talking about? What’s wanted back? And who’s Big Micky? And anyway who are you with your mountain man?”
“Oooo, we have a brave one here Joe. Dumb but brave. A bad combination. Respect is an optional extra, Bobby Beezer-Brown, that is highly recommended. Big Micky is someone you never want to meet. Meet Big Micky and you will leave minus a few parts. Isn't that right Joe? I’m Little Micky, you clown. You want to talk nice to me. I’m the one who will keep you from ever meeting Big Micky, keep you all together and your bits intact. Big Joe’s sole purpose is to ask politely for certain things, things that when offered tend to save loss of essential equipment so to speak. I’m sure you’ve heard rumours of our exploits knowing the dark corners you frequent. No? Well, introductions over, be nice and hand it over.”
“I don’t know what the f…,” stopping himself and remaining just on the polite side, “....you are talking about.” Bobby Beezer-Brown looked skyward in exaggerated exasperation.”
“Now, now, don’t play the old “I don’t know” routine. It's tedious. Show him the portfolio Joe.”
Joe swings aside a three foot long, solid gold, linked chain weighing at least ten pounds that is hanging around his neck, opens a loose-leaf ring folder and flicks through pages of damaged people. Black eyes, broken arms in slings, dented heads and stitched up “grazes” etc, etc.
“This is Big Joe’s “Portfolio of Achievements” of which he is very proud. See he has even squiggled the name on the front. Fine examples of his professional attributes don’t you think? Is there any particular style that takes your fancy? Some particular rearranging we can help you with?”
“Wait…. Wait,” Bobby Beezer-Brown now agitated, “just tell me what you want and you can have it. Much as I like the snapshots I’m ‘appy with what I’ve got thank you.” Grovelling some call it but at this moment Bobby Beezer-Brown did not care.
“That’s the ticket. The lantern. The magic lantern thingy you half-inched from Morris The Drip that revolting dope head with no hanky and a slimy sleeve. You know Morris don’t you? At school together weren't you? Morris The Limp now of course. Gave you up with only one leg snapped you know. Show him the picture Joe. Says a bit for your street cred that does. Doesn't it? Another “hard to find bastard” was Morris but a dope head trail of wasted life… well you know. Like a slug. A trail of slime. An opportunist is Morris. Snitches for Big Micky but can’t keep his hands still. So, enough soppy banter we know you nicked it from Morris. You thought he was sparko but he saw you through a foggy haze.”
Bobby Beezer-Brown went quiet and almost whispered, “Not got it anymore. It was broke so I chucked it.”
“What a calamity, disastrous indeed. For you that is. Well if it’s not about your person here and now, you need to get it. Don’t you? And a bit rapido. Look at Joe’s disappointed face. He knows I’m going to give you twenty four hours. A reprieve is what it is. Then we visit Big Micky so you can explain. One way or the other. Got it or not got it. Got it? Good. ‘Till tomorrow then. And don’t get lost. We are now off to feed Big Joe’s budgies.”
Bobby slumped on his stained with everything sofa, with new burnt and still smouldering enhancement, in a proper sweat. “What was all that about and over some poxy ancient lump of wood and brass that as far as I could tell was busted.” He was sweating in streams, thinking out loud, “Twenty four hours. Could be a breeze. Hopefully no probs getting it back from Old Lily’s back yard.”
Out the door and down the street wearing his best clobber just in case. Grandma Green, the bonkers Grandma, had always said, “Bobby, don’t go out unprepared. Wear your best kit and clean underwear.” Not too far to Old Lily’s place and there it was sitting where he’d chucked it the day before. Dumped it in a rage because Light Fingered Lily’s fence, Charlie, had laughed with tears when Bobby had suggested a score was appropriate. “Don’t even work you doughnut,” he had snorted, “get out of here and take the garbage with you.”
Retrieved in a flash and dusted down. No broken bits. So, feeling chipper and cheered that his essentials will remain his property, a fully sprung step saw him approaching the corner where the old clapper board doss house hid a random selection of life’s detritus. A taxi drew up against the curb disturbing a heap of yesterday’s half eaten takeaways to discharge Morris dragging his sleeve across his nose and struggling with a pair of old fashioned, under the arm crutches. Now here is a chap without a Grandma Green unless of course the rags being worn were his best church going garb.
“Morris you look in need of a good fix of the best substance your pitiful wealth can buy. Going up in the world are we? A taxi, what luxury.”
“Little Micky give me the spondoolies for a ride to hospital and back. Got me a bath and a nice plaster leg. Thanks to you. Why’d you snatch it Beezer?”
“You know me Morris, it was there, you were with the Fairies, or not as it turns out, so it had to be done. Got you a bath didn’t I. Anyway how was I to know him and his ape were involved, Never seen them before. Did you get a good kite at that book of horrors? Nasty. But I expect you were introduced, looking at that leg.”
“That’s precious that is. You don’t know what you’ve got there do you? Worth a fortune to the right people. Those who understand.”
“What do you mean worth a fortune? Charlie knows crap when he sees it don’t he? And anyway how would you understand in your condition?”
“Sure, but this is not what it seems. It looks like an old clapped out magic lantern, appears not to be working but it’s not a magic lantern. Magic is the appropriate word. Lantern? Container more like it. I’ve seen it in action. I know what it contains.”
“Bit dodgy mixing it up with the unlikely twins though. What were you thinking?”
“I was cowering from Micky’s wrath. Had fed some duff info. Missed a filleting by a whisker. On me way out it was there, on the side, by the door. I lifted it, scarpered and regretted, all in about thirty seconds.
“So, enlighten me. What’s so great about this pile of junk. What’s in it?”
“His wife. His wife’s in there. Stuck in some limbo crap or something I heard him say. He told some ancient, long haired, hippy type know-all to piss off, in his normal eloquent manner, with a size fourteen Joe’s boot. Then Shirley was gone. Lovely lady. Not seen again until that arrived a week later. It came with a note and a riddle.”
Look through the lens only you will see
Your wife inside tied to a tree
The key is there to set her free
Unlock the door and count to three
The key is hidden within the frame
That is released by saying my name
One so old and with much fame
My legend built upon a king’s bane
“How’d you remember that? Your brain’s fried most of the time.”
“Easy. It’s on that bit of paper stuck to the side. Listen, the note said, “to be reunited, solve this easy riddle.” Big Micky deals in intimidation and pain not IQ so she’s stuck there.”
“That’s not my problem. This saves me grief so I’m giving it back,” Beezer said lifting the lantern and shaking it.
“Don’t do that, she’s in there you dummy, you’ll ruffle her up. Bash that thing about and she gets dented. Not a good idea. Beezer, I know the answer to the riddle. We can use that with a bit of thought.“
“What and risk being dismantled. I don’t think so. I don’t want to be a page in Big Joe’s masterpiece.”
“Won't happen mate, we hold all the goodies. Big Micky might lack brains but he’s not stupid. Is he? Give him the box, open it up and he’ll be generous. We get some wedge.”
“Or, more likely, chopped up. Don’t forget you had it away and I’ve been chucking it about. Threw it on Lily’s trash heap. Shirley’s sure to be all duffed up. Ruffled might not come into it.”
“Unfortunate but It’s our chance Beezer. To get ahead. I can get my act together and get out of this dump. Not going to let that slip.”
“Oh..... Bollocks. OK then. Come round tomorrow. We’ll give it a go.
Ten o’clock the next day and the same less than genteel racket shakes the front door which is thrown inward off the hinges.
“Thanks a lot. I know it needs painting but really.” Beezer says with a bit of strop involved.
“Over exuberance is one of Big Joe's downfalls. You’ll get over it and don’t get lippy.” replied Little Micky, “hope you have the goods.”
“We do and it’s for sale.”
“Well there’s a thing. Are you in a jesting mood or what? Joe here can help you with that I’m sure. He has pictures of laughing people. Well, whose laugh has been wiped off their face at any rate. So, where’s the contraption then?”
Morris replies, “A safe place. To be handed over as and when an appropriate sum, forty thousand of the best folding, is in our possession. A cheap price for an adored wife I think. That’s the deal. Tell Big Micky we can set her free. Ask him what that’s worth. And keep Big Joe away from us or it’s in the river and Big Micky will know what that means.”
For the first time in his working career Little Micky was flummoxed. Big Joe was champing away, keen to add to his portfolio but he says, “OK, I’ll speak to Big Micky but if it’s a no, it’s the pent up wrath of Joe for you two. Back shortly.”
A two hour nervous wait later and the sun that was shining through the door-less door disappeared. Big Joe squeezed in bull-like, complete with steaming nostrils, in an ominous way. Only peril ensued when Big Joe was first. Morris and Beezer just looked at each other and shrugged a well we tried didn’t we. Then Little Micky entered carrying a brown holdall that was flung unceremoniously at their feet. “Twenty grand there and another twenty when Shirley’s in his loving. Big Joe’s in a temper and on a tight leash so don’t antagonise him. Now, no more messing about, get the goods and you, Morris, come with me. Big Joe stays with the dimwit with strict instructions not to touch. No arguments.”
They collect the lantern from the secret location under Morris’s excuse of a bed, then on to meet Big Micky who is looking mean and workmanlike.
“Well Morris, Big Joe is ready and waiting to give you a right spanking. Hand it over, get it open and there’ll be no more broken bones.”
Morris gives him the lantern and Micky looks down the lens, “hi sweetie,” he burbles in his best cooing, lovey voice, “your big Mixy will be with you soon. Kiss, kissy, kiss.”
Morris says, “you are the only one that can make it work. All you need do is say the name Merlin, you know King Arthur's magic man, no? In the legend with the sword, stuck in the stone and stuff. The round table.” Sighing in exasperation.
“Oh… I know, like in that Disney film.”
“Yup, that’s the one. Say the name Merlin then count to three, as it says and the key will appear. Unlock the door at the back and hey presto, ha, ha.”
“Ok, here goes - Merlin - one, two, three.”
The frame glows and the key is revealed. There is a rush of air as he unlocks the door but not coming out, going in. He is sucked in and the door slams shut.
Little Micky and Morris look through the lens and are surprised to now be able to see Big Micky cut a very bruised and shaken Shirley free. There's a thumping on the door but it will not open.
Morris says, “Looks like they’re stuck in there. Set her free alright. Just as the riddle says but looks like one way magic to me. Appears you are promoted, Big Micky. Now where’s my dosh and I’ll be on my way.”
Little Micky, now Big Micky of course was so pleased to be boss he paid up. He kept the lantern on the mantelpiece and now and again snuck a peek inside. Morris got a new suit and went about Grandma Green style. He flushed out the woes that had caused his downfall, successfully escaped the Fairies and finished his degree at Oxford University. Bobby Beezer-Brown was dumb enough to qualify as assistant to the new Big Micky forming a fine, lasting partnership with Big Joe.
The moral of this tale? “don’t upset an ancient Wizard. You will be magicked away until they decide otherwise.” The old Big Micky lived in the lantern with Shirley for a while, tending her bruises. Then they were released. The whole experience proved so traumatic for him he became a doer of good deeds and volunteer at his local CAB office specialising in debt trauma.