57 - Ricky is a Knight in Shining Armour
Tuesday morning at nine thirty Ricky is returning from the post office, looked both ways, saw the gap and crossed the road. The Jaguar coming too fast honked but he was already stepping up the opposite kerb. Sitting nicely teed up on the grass verge he kicked the empty coke can twenty feet down the pavement, jumped up a bit and yelled “goal.” He caught up with the can, picked it up and lobbed it the six feet into the black metal bin with “rubbish” stamped on the front. Mouthed “goal” and turned left to cross the car park in front of the superstore. Ricky Delaney tall, fit and full of life. His dark hair quite long but styled to suit his masculine good looks. Thirty, single and as all will tell you, worth is weight in gold.
“Hey Ricky you’re a bit late today.” this is Mike wearing a pristine black and white striped apron and saucier navy blue toque flicking the onions caramelising on the hot plate, the burger van shrouded in that awesome slightly foggy, smokey, smell of frying bacon.
“In-between jobs. Starting a new one on Monday. Going to help Derek the rest of the week.”
“Yeah. You know tall Derek the Decorator. You’d know him if you saw him. Has a face full of small white freckles.”
“I know who you mean. We call him double six because of the spots. What’s it to be today then Ricky?”
“Bacon bap please Mike with some of those onions. They smell gooo..d. And a coffee, the usual. You know I’m a bacon roll connoisseur Mike and have got to say these are the best. Ever.” He lifted the soft flour dusted top, filled it full of ketchup, stuck the top back on and licked the surplus as it oozed out the edge.
“That, Ricky, is a ketchup bab with bacon garnish.”
“That, Michael, is just how I like it.”
“You ruin my haute cuisine. Begone with you and let me serve some proper customers.” Laughing of course.
Sitting at the round white plastic table on a metal plastic coated green chair texting Derek, the three guys opposite arguing about nothing in particular bumped the table spilling his coffee a bit. He picked up the white china mug and mopped the bottom with the bap wrapper. Words were not worth the effort. Anyway the nearest saw, nodded a sorry in his direction then shifted his seat away from the table before resuming their debate. Derek replied “7.30 am sharp.”
Ricky waved a bye to Mike and headed into the building supply store wanting to buy overalls and a roller set.
“Ricky you old sponge how are you?” Bricklayer Patrick always with something new this time just back from working in France on the Cote de something helping his French brother-in-law drink cognac, coffee and eat patisserie at nine in the morning on route to building a house for a rich single woman with a liking for the rough side of life.
“Less of the sponge. I’m on the wagon at least for a while and yes I’m well and excited to see you. How did the French enjoy your company?”
“Grand, really grand. Best job ever. The French are very accommodating.”
“I expect they are. Anyway catch you in the pub sometime and we can exchange pleasantries.”
Ricky picked up a pack of white, lightweight, zip up overalls with hoods, a pair of gloves and paint rollers wanting to minimise the after work white look. He left by the side door and headed towards the other side of the car park where his van was parked.
Walking across the car park he noticed in the middle of the second row a woman in her early forties staring at the rear nearside wheel of her old, silver, immaculate 350SL Mercedes. The parking was terrible. The car in the bay rather diagonally placed with tyres touching opposite corners. It meant though there was room around the flat.
The sunlight was shining through her long blonde hair as it draped over her blue lightweight summer coat. Ricky walked up to her and looked at the aluminium rim sitting on the tarmac. She smelled of roses and looked like heaven as she lifted her head and smiled at him. One thousand years of inbred chivalry struck Ricky a blow and his heart melted. He said “I can fix that for you if you want.”
“Can you, that would be great. I’ve a lunch date and don’t want to be late.”
“Sure it will only take a few minutes. Is the boot open?”
Ricky lifted the base mat and cover, retrieved the tools, jack and spare wheel, loosened the wheel nuts, jacked up the car and took off the flat.
“You look like you know what you are doing. Are you a mechanic?”
“Nope, a carpenter well a joiner really. I specialise in fitted units. Just been to the store to get some bits.”
“Lucky for me then. Can you manage on your own?”
“No problem will be done in a jiff.”
“I had the plumbers in the other day. They made a real mess and took an age to get the job done. Not very happy.”
“Did you give them fruit cake and tea?”
“No I didn't think of that. I gave them tea but no cake.”
“Well there’s the problem Lady. When I was young my Granny said to me one day, “If you want a good job done and on time always give the workers a strong cup of tea and a piece of fruit cake at four in the afternoon. The more fruit the better. They will stay on an extra hour and you will be guaranteed a good job.” And that’s the truth. She was good with sayings was my Granny.”
“I’ll remember that and thanks for the tip.”
“There you are. All done. Don’t forget to get that tyre fixed you don’t want to get stranded.”
“Thank you so much. Can I give you something?”
“Certainly not. A Knight in shining armour does not take payment for saving a lady in distress. I’ll give you a few of these. If you or your friends ever need fitted units call me. A good reliable job with a smile always guaranteed.” He handed her some of his flyers.
Ricky got in his van and started driving towards the town centre but the traffic was building up towards lunchtime so he went the long way home missing the queues and saving time. As he pulled into his drive. Doris next door was on her doorstep struggling with her shopping.
“Hey Doris let me do that. I’ve told you before, let me know what heavy shopping you need and I’ll get it for you when I go to the supermarket.”
“Don’t like to bother you Ricky. You’re so busy.”
“But I have to shop don’t I dopey. It’s no bother. You can come as well if you want.”
“Okay Ricky. I’ll remember and thank you.”
Doris very secretive with her age but at least eighty and living alone. Bad hands so a heavy lifting is a problem. The semi-detached he had lived in for eight years neat, tidy and well fitted out as you would expect. Inside and he spent the rest of the day sorting the back of his van and sharpening tools ready for Monday, then just relaxed until seven thirty the next day when Derek arrived to pick him up.
“Morning Derek and where are we going this bright fine day?”
“Over to the other side of town. A really nice blond lady wants her lounge and hall decorated. It’s all white so should be easy. I’ve allowed four days for the two of us. That all right? Might mean a Saturday.”
“No problem Derek. Let’s get stuck in.”
They arrive at the big, detached, posh house. “Morning Mrs Jennings this is Ricky who will be helping me.” Her blonde hair slightly wavy and slowly shifting with the gentle breeze around the front porch.
“Hello Derek. Ricky. Come in. You know what to do so I’ll just let you get on with it. Tea.”
“Sure thing. Thanks.”
Furniture moved, dust sheets down and away they go. The preparation. Sanding, filling, filling and sanding some more. Sugar soap the doors and skirting. An hour for lunch. Loosen door fittings and mask the glass to the internal doors. At four o’clock exactly. “Tea lads. In the kitchen.”
Mrs Jenning standing by the kitchen table knife in hand.
“Hope we’ve not upset you,” said Ricky looking at the long blade feigning fear.
“Don’t be silly. I’ve made you a fruit cake and there’s strong tea in the pot. I’ll cut you a slice and if you want more help yourselves.”
“Thanks Mrs Jennings. You’re a star.” said Derek
The cake was still warm and freshly baked. The tea just right.
“This is a treat. How’s this for a job. I told you this would be a good one.” Derek enthused at Ricky, munching into his second slice.
They wrapped up the day at six thirty. Tidied everything so the place was liveable for the evening and headed home stopping at the Fox for a quick one before Ricky was dropped off at nine.
The next two days were the same. They worked hard and finished at six thirty on Thursday. There was fresh fruit cake and strong tea at four each day. They finished at seven in the evening on Friday with everything cleared away, furniture back in place and the house spotless. The extra time put in to get the job done before the weekend.
“Well Mrs Jennings that’s it, job complete. I hope it’s alright.”
“Looks very good Derek and thanks for getting it done by the weekend. That was unexpected. You have worked very hard and thank you. We have friends staying so that’s a very real help I can tell you. Saves me all sorts of effort.”
“Thanks for the tea and cake Mrs Jennings” said Ricky. “Nothing like tea and cake to put a chap in a good mood. Much appreciated I can tell you. And excellent cake as well. Just as we like it full of fruit.”
“A tip I got from my friend during lunch on Tuesday. She had a flat tyre and a nice young man changed the wheel and told her his Granny’s saying. About cake and workmen. All I can say is, she was very wise and very right. And thanks for a great job.”