49 - Ricky is Saved by the Doorbell
The alarm blasted out its normal few bars of, “I’m a Believer,” causing Ricky to fling back the duvet on his super sized bed and enthusiastically leap out of bed, flicking off the music as he went. He is a morning person, in fact he is an every time of day person that also has no problem surfacing in the morning. Except maybe after a Stag Night or some other similar function that involved the loosening of willpower once the supposed two drink limit has been breached. The alarm song he considers apt for his philosophy of, “everyday is new day of fun and opportunity,” that he believes helps him enjoy life to the full.
He dresses in a flash after a quick flick around the chops with his razor and a sprinkle of water to clear the head. Ricky says showers for him in the morning are a waste of the planet's resources. He is a working man who is covered in the grime of his trade within the first ten minutes of starting work. A morning hose down is simply a futile gesture. Smart, clean, work clothes are important though so on with the denims and red tee shirt with, “Ricky Delaney Carpenter and Joiner,” printed in white on the back. A walking advert of course, the walking being done by the trademark red baseball boots with white laces tied double to avoid the repeated experience of the constantly undoing, trippy, single knotted sort. Coffee, toast and host of healthy living and he is out the door by seven thirty to stop at Stevie’s workshop to get a puncture fixed.
That annoying occurrence always happening en-route to somewhere special, to see someone special when all dressed up in your best clobber and least equipped for the messy wheel change. In this instance to pick up Kate, who incidentally does not mind a trip in a white van, Ricky’s sporty Ford having been forcibly retired by the front end of an almost new BMW five series taking out his front offside as it tried to accelerate into a non-existent gap on the dual carriageway. Stevie is on the replacement case with strict instructions to avoid his cheap motoring options that cost a fortune unless you are a mechanic who can spend a few hours a week sticking things back on.
So, of course he was late for Kate. He did phone and late for the table booking at the “Naan Better Fine Dining Indian Restaurant,” he did phone as well, “It’s Ricky, Reyansh, going to be late,” and arrived at Kate’s in a mess of mud and grease.
“Hi Ricky you look... interesting. Like the mud camouflage and don’t touch me with those greasy paws.” Kate who is over the moon to have snatched Ricky from the jaws of perennial bachelorhood.
“Sorry Kate. Bad timing, I know. I’ll just get cleaned up then we’re off.” The cowgirl outfit is hanging on the pegs in the hall and he smiles at the boots as he heads to the bathroom.
The, “Naan Better,” is the best Indian in the area by a long way. Authentic food cooked fresh with a menu of very select dishes and is always busy with a waiting list.
“Hey Rey, sorry we’re late. I picked up a flat. Thanks for keeping the table.”
“No problem, Ricky. Your table’s down the back in your normal quiet place. Be with you in a moment.”
“Hello Ricky… Kate.” This is Charlie, out with his wife Jane. Hairdresser Charlie, whose shop, Snippets, on the High Street is a good source of local knowledge and rumour.
“Hi Charlie. Anything to report then? Hi Jane.” Ricky is only mildly curious. He is just making conversation.
“Heard about Jenna and Paul, they’ve split up.”
“That will be tough on Paul. He can be nasty if needed.”
“And he was by all accounts. Frank helped Jenna and they are now together. No surprises there though. Eh.”
“Your right there Charlie. What have you done to your arm?”
“You know Too Tall Tony? Well, I was helping him with the stilts. He was going to walk up Grove Road to see young Tommy for his sixth birthday. Say Hi through the bedroom window. Tony was all kitted out in his stilt walking clown outfit. My job was to help him stand up. Tony was sat on the van roof and I strapped on the stilts. Then I got on the roof to push Tony up and of course slipped. Landed badly and broke my arm. Tony did the walk, cheered up Tommy then took me to the hospital. Yes… after taking off the stilts you dummy.”
“So, no more haircuts for a while then?”
“Nope, at least six weeks off. I’ve closed the shop and put up a note. On the door. You want to join us?”
Looking at Kate, “No thanks Charlie we’re into a bit of intimate time, you know eye staring and food sharing. See you soon though.”
Stevie’s workshop is in a large lock up behind the furniture store. The big green doors that hide the inner workings are wide open with the man himself under an old very distressed Ford Consul Mark 1 convertible on his bright blue creeper that shows signs of a long hard life. Singing away
Ricky arrived just before eight, “Hey Stevie how’s the car search going.”
“Found a nice one Ricky.”
“Not this old crate I hope, it doesn't look too well.”
“This old crate I will have you know is an antique in car terms, a much admired and wanted machine. Just needs a spruce up. No, a nearly new Ford like your old one. We can go and see it later. After work, though I’m off to get my haircut first, so maybe six o’clock? Could meet you at Charlie’s.”
“Well, that old banger will clearly take a deal of sprucing by the look of it. You’ve obviously not heard then Stevie, Charlie has broken his arm helping Too Tall Tony so no snipping for a while.”
“Well, that’s a bummer. I was hoping to get it sorted before this evening. I’m taking Mum out for her birthday. It’s a right mess.”
“Always is though, isn’t it? Bit of a challenge for anyone, your hair, even Charlie. He says it’s like combing a shag pile carpet. Tell you what I’ll cut it for you, can’t make it any worse than it is can I.”
“Well, I don’t know Ricky, you could make me look a right idiot.”
“Don’t worry, I can do it no problem. Got the magic touch. Come round my place when your finished here, I’ve got some sharp scissors. Now where’s my new tyre?”
Ricky’s puncture is repaired and he is heading off to work. Today is a slack day, a day of estimating and quoting. It was shaping up to be hot and sunny and after a couple of calls he is on his way to see a customer who wants new bedroom units built into some alcoves. Dawn Dalton, a really nice lady, married to a long-haul airline pilot and an old customer he has worked for, on and off, for a number of years. They are on good friendly terms.
Dawn had phoned Ricky and said, “Come round tomorrow, around lunch time is best, if you can. I may be in the back garden so just pop through the side gate if there’s no reply when you knock.”
So, Ricky knocked, then went through the gate into the back garden. The swimming pool, sparkled in the bright sunlight, contained within the tall brick wall forming a very sheltered courtyard. Two loungers positioned facing the sun, each occupied by a seemingly dozing person. A side table with ice bucket and a bottle of Fizz.
“Hi, Dawn,” Ricky standing by the Fizz bottle.
One of the bodies rose to a sitting position, one hand slightly behind to support her. The long blond hair partly obscuring her face and the other hand pulling dark sunglasses down from the top of her head. Wearing a skimpy bikini and looking divine. She picked up a half full flute and drained the glass.
“Ricky, thanks for coming. Would you like some bubbles?”
“No thanks. I’m driving and have a lot to do.”
The other body moved, swung her legs around to sit on the side of her lounger. Blond as well. They looked like twins.
“Ricky this is PJ, she’s my best friend and comes to stay sometimes when Roy is away.”
“Hi, Ricky. Go on have a drink. You can sleep it off before you leave. Have a dip, the water’s great.” PJ wearing a similar bikini and looking playful. They definitely could be twins.
“No thanks. Hate to spoil the fun and all that. So, Dawn what do you want me to look at?”
“Follow me, Ricky.” Dawn stood up, flicked back her hair and walked towards the house her hips swinging in an unintentionally suggestive manner.
She shows him the bedroom and the alcoves.
“So, Dawn, what do you want me to do for you.”
“You can do anything you want for me Ricky,” says PJ who has followed them up and is leaning against the door frame clearly somewhat more than slightly tipsy. “What do you think Dawn? Should we kidnap him? Some more bubbles and a nice cool dip?”
Dawn was about to reply when the front door knocker banged and a key turned in the lock. A shout into the hallway, “Hey Dawn, you there?”
“That’s my sister. PJ, can you take her through to the back please. I’ll just finish with Ricky and then be down.”
Dawn shoots Ricky a sorry about my friend she’s a bit drunk look and says, “So Ricky what do you think? Is this a good idea?”
“Sure is Dawn. It’s quite a simple job really and I can make something that will look stunning. I’ll measure up and send you a quote. And no problem about your friend.”
So, Ricky is saved by the bell, literally. He says goodbye to PJ, gets into his van and heads home to wait for Stevie who arrives around five.
“What do you want to do Ricky, see a car or cut my hair?”
“Both, eh Stevie. I’ve got my scissors. Sit on the chair and I’ll get to it. Won’t take long.”
“Don’t muck it up Ricky, I’m a bit nervous about this.”
“No problem. I’m treating your head like a fine piece of timber that needs to be trimmed, planed and polished. A delicate operation.”
“Not sure about the polishing bit Ricky.”
“Figure of speech Stevie, a figure of speech. Just mean I’ll finish it nicely. Now where’s my comb.”
Of course his comb won’t go through such a thick, tangled mop so he tries a brush with those long spiky prongs which gets stuck.
“How does Charlie manage to get into this mess of yours?”
“With strength and swearing then a frantic snipping and massive thinning. Grows back into an uncontrollable lump in no time though. Maybe I should go and see Helen at the lady’s hairdresser and see what she can do. It certainly won’t wait until Charlie has mended.”
“Hang on Stevie I’ve got a wide toothed metal comb upstairs I’ll try that. Back in a jiff.”
“That’s got it now….”
A good comb and quick snip and a start is made. Ricky drags the comb, with some effort through Stevie’s hair, lifts a few strands and cuts away.
“Whoops and Whoops again.”
“What have you done Ricky? I getting more nervous.”
“Gone a bit wonky at the back but will straighten it up. Got it thinned a bit around the sides and top. Looks...well it looks, fashionable.”
“What does that mean?”
“Your a trend setter Stevie. A new look. Lumpy head with a wonky back. Not too bad. I am sure your Mum will like it.”
Stevie rushes upstairs to the bathroom and stares into the mirror. “I thought you said you could cut hair Ricky. This is a right mess.”
“Said I would give it a go Stevie. I’m a carpenter so it has a carpenter’s finesse. Looks better than it did. Except maybe the wonky bit at the back but you can't see that. Wear a scarf.”
“It’s bloody summer Ricky. I’m definitely off to see Helen tomorrow and get this fixed.”
Anyway, it was a bit of a disaster but Stevie got away it. His Mum was sympathetic mostly because she liked Ricky. Helen did manage to sort it out the next day although Stevie’s hair ended up very short and made him look weird, everyone being used to his thick mop. They went to see the car which was perfect so Ricky ended the day with a smart set of wheels and a new career opportunity if he wanted in creative hairdressing. Oh and don’t forget the close shave with a certain frisky lady by the name of PJ.