Where The Hell is Charlie?
Where the Bloody hell is Charlie?
Alfred stoodbarefoot and called to his wife.
"Janet...have you seen my blue socks?" While he waited for her reply he
checked his tie and dazzling white shirt in the dressing table mirror. His thin, hairy legs, protruding from the curved tail of his shirt, needed covering up.
"Darling, where are my trousers?" Alfred said, examining the little finger on his right hand.
Spotting a tiny piece of skin sticking out, he started chewing it. Janet walked into the room carrying a pair of neatly-pressed trousers over her arm. Her black pencil skirt contrasted vividly with the whiteness of her naked upper body. She'd hurriedly pulled on her brassiere, but didn't have time to clip it up before she'd heard Alfred's call. Her breasts lay lazily in each cup.
"Here are your trousers, and you don't want blue socks, you want black. I'll never understand you. You only want blue socks because your mother said they looked nice on you on our wedding day."
She carefully lay the black trousers on the bed. Then she deftly clipped the bra's straps together, and finally manipulated each breast into its cup. Alfred watched his wife without interest until she'd finished adjusting herself.
"Yes, Mum always liked the way I dressed... Are you going to stay half-naked all day?" he asked, removing a pair of black socks from the open drawer in the dressing table. Janet pushed a strand of highlighted white hair from her right eye.
"You can talk," she scoffed. "Standing there, looking like a lover caught with his trousers down. For goodness sake get a move on. Charlie Jackson will be here in a minute. You know how he likes to be the first at a party." Alfred smiled.
"At least we'll have a laugh. Charlie always has a joke or two up his sleeve when he gets drunk. I can't say the same about your kids." Janet pushed her head forcefully through the tight neck-hole of her jumper.
"Oh it's my kids is it tonight? You had nothing to do with it eh? They just appeared from under a gooseberry bush did they?"
"They are your kids when it comes to a party. Miserable they are,just like you." Alfred stopped talking, he'd sat without adjusting himself squashing his private parts. He screwed up his face
in pain. Janet turned away from adoring herself in the mirror.
"What's the matter now?"
"I've just sat on my whatsits if you must know."
"Serves you right for moaning all the while. And you have the cheek to say I'm
miserable. I hope they ache all night."
Alfred was trying to rub the pain away, when the chimes of the doorbell rang out. Janet laughed.
"I'll get it. Hurry up and put your trousers on will you."
He sneered at her retreating back. Bloody women, he thought, they haven't got the faintest idea how sore this can be. He picked up his trousers and began pushing his left leg gingerly into them when he heard the frontdoor open. He listened as his wife squealed, "Hello."
Then he heard Robert's deep boring voice.
"Hello Mum." followed by Melissa's high-pitched laugh. He remembered the first time he had held Robert just after he was born. He was examining the boy's scaly-like scalp when the wretched kid had wet on his hand. He'd given the disgusting baby back to its mother.
"Look what he's done to me," he'd complained to Janet. "He's going to be a right boring little git he is," he'd said. And so it had proved. If only he'd stolen an apple or cheeked a teacher when he was at
school. But no, Robert was a good little boy. He always did his homework, and cleaned his teeth after every meal. Alfred thought that when Robert met Melissa things might change. His son might consider coming out of himself. But she was as silly as he was. All she could think and talk about was the menstrual cycle, and when it would be right for Robert to implant her, so they could have a baby. Listen to her now telling Janet they can have another go the day after tomorrow. He must
remember, he thought, to tell Melissa that the bed in the spare room was made-up, just in case she had miscalculated, and they needed to get down to it quickly. Hurry up Charlie, he muttered to himself, I'm going to need a really good laugh tonight. Alfred tried taking the belt a further notch than he normally did, but it wouldn't have it. He felt really guilty because Janet was always telling him to lose weight, and he kept saying he didn't need to. Disgusted with himself, he slipped his left shoe on just as the chimes rang out again. Come in Charlie for goodness sake, Alfred thought, but he was going to be frustrated again. This time he heard the sultry tone of his daughter, Trish. If Robert had been a disappointment to him, then Trish was a disaster. Life had been going along fine until the day he suggested that Janet should talk to the 15-year-old about the birds and the bees. He'd nearly swallowed his false teeth when Janet had asked why, because she'd already had sex. He'd demanded to know who it was that had defiled his precious girl. But Janet couldn't tell him, because there had been two or three. When he'd confronted Trish with this she'd just blown cannabis smoke
in his face and told him to get a life. Now, three years later, she'd got two children by different fathers and a conviction for possession. She was probably standing at the bottom of the stairs now, with her breasts bursting out of a skimpy top and a skirt up to her neck. He waited for her usual greeting.
"Hiya pops," she called.
"Hello Trish," he grumbled in return. He coughed, as a faint whiff of an illegal substance wafted into the room and immediately found his throat. He wondered how long he could avoid going down stairs? Perhaps a few swigs of the bottle he kept hidden behind the wardrobe would help? Maybe he
could pretend to be ill? What if he just slipped out of the back door? No he'd tried all these things before and been caught.
Where the bloody hell is Charlie?
He decided he definitely needed some Dutch-courage before going downstairs and facing his family. Perhaps, he thought, if he drank enough he'd be to far gone to care about his sluttish daughter or dreary son. He quickly retrieved the bottle from its hiding place, and hardly pausing for breath, drank a quarter of the contents. Wiping the surplus from his lips, he wondered why Janet didn't worry about the way the kids had turned out? The strong alcohol was burning his throat. The only way he knew
of soothing that feeling was to drown it in another swallow. This second dose seemed to dull the sharp rawness exposed in his mouth. Within a few moments Alfred could feel the effects of his thirst. He felt a warm flood envelope his body and his head began to sing, not a loud irritating noise, but a gentle sound taking him above the trials and tribulations of normal life. As his mind drifted into
semi-oblivion he knew he could now confront his wayward brood. His descent of the stairs went into history as a blank moment. Finding himself at the bottom, grasping for dear life to the banister, he
heard Melissa. Her words were full of excitement but her voice seemed to drone along at the same pitch.
"It nearly happened last month," she said. "I was a week late." Janet and Robert giggled. Trish smiled and closed her eyes as she sucked in an extra measure of blue smoke from her, very long,
home-made cigarette. Alfred walked rather unsteadily into the kitchen and secured himself another large strong drink. He took a deep breath and headed for the living room.
"It's about time you turned up," Robert said, as his father entered. Then lifted a glass of half-empty lemonade to his lips. Melissa scowled and Trish opened her glazed eyes and exhaled a cloud of grey smoke. Alfred worked hard to focus his eyes in the direction of his son's voice. As the blurred shape sharpened he could see that Robert was still a fat-faced lump of uselessness. Despite
Alfred's years of trying to teach Robert how to dress smartly, his son still wore his clothes a size to big. When you are large-boned and big-framed like him loose fitting clothes look dreadful, and he looked dreadful.
"Are you listening to this boy of yours?" Alfred slurred in the direction of Janet. "He's obsessed with time. It's a wonder he's not stripped off for action."
"Alfred!" Janet shouted.
"Well he comes round here having a go at me. And there's him checking his watch every few minutes and her sitting there with her diary open."
Melissa shoved her notebook into her handbag, jumped out of her chair and rushed out of the room. Robert glowered at his father then grunted something indecipherable and followed her.
"Can't you behave a little more sensitively when they're here?" Janet asked. "After all they are trying to produce a grandchild for you."
Alfred tipped half the contents of his glass into his mouth and swallowed hard. He was now able to wave the glass around without spilling any.
"She's not trying anything of the sort. She just wants to replace the doll she had when she was a kid. And Robert needs to know whether he's firing blanks or not."
He turned his attention to Trish. He struggled to keep his head still and let his eyes stop rolling. Through the clouds of smoke surrounding his daughter's face he could just make out the reason men liked her. Her six-inch exposed cleavage heaved up and down with every inhalation of smoke. A few strands of her long black hair seem to be hanging on for dear life as they clung to her
"Don't you agree Trish?"
Trish's eyes opened at the sound of her father's voice, as if she was surprised that he
would seek her opinion on anything.
"He's an arsehole pops," she slurred. And immediately took another deep, long drag of her cigarette, closing her eyes in ecstasy. Janet brushed some invisible bits from her skirt and stood up.
"Well I suppose it's up to me to go and smooth troubled waters again. One of these days," she said glowering at Alfred, "Your son's going to walk out and never come back."
Alfred emptied the remains of his glass.
"Do you think I care?" he roared, his eyes closed and his face red from alcohol. Janet snorted and bounced out of the room.
"Pops," Trish's voice almost sang the word, "Why don't you come and sit here with me and have a drag?" Alfred lifted his glass to his lips but it was bone dry. He put the empty glass down on the table.
"All right...why not," and slumped onto the settee next to her. Trish took a long puff and handed the wrinkled cigarette to Alfred. For some reason he couldn't fathom he examined Trish's red lipstick mark before, with two fingers holding the cigarette, he put it in his mouth and inhaled the smoke. He felt like coughing his guts up but, he thought, not in front of his daughter. She would see that as a
sign of weakness. He quickly exhaled and the smoke poured out of his mouth and his nose all at the same time. Almost immediately, he felt a sensation, not dissimilar to the feeling given by the gas
anaesthetic at the dentist. His head began to ring and he thought it was going to lift off of his shoulders. It wasn't an unpleasant feeling and he began to imagine he wasn't there. He lifted his hand toward his head, to try and rub some of the sensation away, and the next thing he knew his arm was waving around in the air. It didn't appear to have any weight, it was hard to control his movements. He couldn't feel the settee any more, it was as if he was floating.
Trish, meanwhile, had lay back and watched her father's reaction. She somehow managed to rescue her cigarette. She began to laugh and her huge breasts seemed to inflate and wobble out of control. She managed, somehow, to take another small drag in between guffaws. She hardly felt a thing
as her father's head slumped into her lap. His eyes were closed and to all intents and purposes he was unconscious. Trish laughed even louder.
Melissa burst into the kitchen and headed for the sink. She grabbed a glass from the middle of a collection lined up next to a row of assorted whisky and vodka bottles. She didn't wait for the water pouring from the tap to run cold before filling the glass. She closed her tearful eyes squeezing small globules of tears onto her cheeks, and drank. She heard a sound behind her, and opening her
eyes and dropping the glass from her lips, she turned round. Robert stood by the door, his brown
eyes were sad and his plump cheeks hung loosely, causing his mouth to droop down either side in sympathy. He took a step forward and his arms reached out. Melissa's eyes narrowed.
"Keep away from me," she hissed. "You and your father are one and the same. Neither of you like children, so why are you bothering?" Robert shook his head.
"How can you say that," he said. "He hates me as much as you hate him right now. He's old fashioned, he doesn't understand modern methods. Especially when it comes to having babies."
Compared to Robert's portly frame Melissa was quite slim. She knew Robert liked her the way she was and worried he would ignore her when she became pregnant.
"So why aren't you ready when the time is right then?" she questioned. "You always seem to have an excuse for not trying." Robert leaned against the kitchen wall.
"I can't just switch on and off you know," he said. At that moment Janet came in.
"Oh don't put the lights on yet Robert," she said. "Close the curtains first...Are you all right Melissa?Don't take any notice of Alfred when he's had a drink. He opens his mouth before he engages his brain. Even when he does we still have problems getting any sense out of him...You haven't been crying have you? It's no use standing there like a wet weekend Robert, your wife needs a hug."
Robert glanced across at Melissa, the look on her face was more gentle now. He walked up and threw his arms around her. She began to sob.
"I'm sorry Rob...I didn't mean all those things I said." Robert held her head close to his shoulder and whispered in her ear, "That's all right...that's all right."
Janet smiled as the two youngsters hugged each other. She busied herself by closing the curtains. "Mum," Robert said suddenly. "I think we'll go home now. Melissa's upset and Dad's drunk. We'll pop round during the week
OK?" Janet began to pour herself a soda water.
"Yes I think you're right. Your father's not the best company tonight." She sipped at her glass as the back door closed.
A sudden increase in the volume of the music from the living room made Janet jump. It had
become a monotonous rhythmic thump thump. She rushed into the front and was greeted by the sight of Trish, both arms raised in the air with a glass in one hand, gyrating on the spot in the middle of the room. Alfred was laying on the settee, his face contorted into a silly grin, writhing around trying to catch up with the beat. Janet grabbed the volume control and turned it down.
Trish turned round,she was still wobbling, "Whaja do that for?" she slurred.
Alfred began to laugh, and in-between guffaws, shouted, "That was great...put it on again." Janet shook her head at the state her husband had got himself into.
"Wait!" he called again, putting a finger toward his lips "There's someone at the door...didn't you hear the bell, it might be Charlie?" Janet ignored him and put a caring arm round Trish.
"I think it's time you went home now don't you?" she said. Trish's eyes were nearly closed, she nodded and giggled.
Twenty minutes later Janet peered through the curtains and watched the back of the black cab pull away, carrying Trish, still giggling, home. Alfred was sitting on the settee by now. His eyes were glazed over and he was still grinning and singing to himself.
"I think you need some cool night air," Janet suggested. "Perhaps a walk on the beach will help bring you round." Alfred shrugged his shoulders and nodded.
Janet patted him on the top of the head. "I'll just go and get our coats." She stood in the hall and listened. Then quickly picked up the phone and dialled.
Robert stood proudly in the church rubbing his hand over Melissa's growing pregnancy. Trish, with her two boys and new-born baby girl, stood next to them. They watched as Janet said "I do" in
reply to Charlie Jackson's pledge of love. It had been eighteen months since Alfred's body had been found laying lifeless at the bottom of Cragstone cliffs. A tragic case, the coroner had concluded, of a lethal mixture of drink and drugs. He'd returned a verdict of accidental death.