Illustration by Kerry Howarth – thank you https://www.instagram.com/artsbykez/
Chapter 7: Illuminations Not Hallucinations.
True to his word (not really, true to Wantha’s pestering), Ricky Ricketts decided to make things right.
‘How do you fancy going to Blackpool this weekend?’ His nicotine-stained forefinger ran itself up and down Wantha’s left arm. She made that clicking sound she reserves for disapprovals with her tongue and the roof of her mouth.
‘The illuminations are on’ Ricky thought this was a good thing, bringing a bit of romance back. He had talked it through with his mother, Edith who thought it was a lovely idea, but funds were sparse as you know in the world of Ricky Ricketts, so he was hoping the next thing out of Wantha’s mouth could be diverted – somehow.
‘I don’t want to see no hallucinations, Ricky Ricketts! Take me to Knowsley Safari Park!’ Wantha demanded. ‘I want to see the elephants’. Ricky sighed a deflated sigh while counting in his head the non-existent money in his bank account. He resisted the temptation to correct Wantha. It’s illuminations, not hallucinations. But this extended silence from Ricky was making Wantha feel rejected.
‘Fair enough, if that’s your attitude’ Wantha lifted her one perched buttock cheek off the foldaway kitchen stool. ‘No visit to Knowsley Safari Park, no more Wantha Rose for Ricky Ricketts… I know that sighing sound you just made. You think I don’t know that sound? You promised to make it up to me, Ricky Ricketts!’ And with that Wantha swung her ample behind out of the kitchen door, and out of Curmudgeon Avenue. Ricky let out another sigh, this time in relief. And so did Harold, who had been eavesdropping on the stairs. Imagine his shock when he heard the words Knowsley Safari Park! Imagine the bowel dropping catalyst of the phrase ‘I want to see the elephants’! Harold does not have a phobia against vegetarian mammals, no, don’t forget, he was responsible for the freak elephant accident that caused the death of Mr and Mrs Payne; my belated and cherished former residents, also Edith’s parents. Harold had not meant to set Deirdre the elephant free. She had taken a disliking to his smell, and bolted, remember? She flattened the Payne’s static caravan like a bull in a china shop while Harold ran away with his fake driving licence. How could you forget that? Of course, Ricky Ricketts has no idea of Harold’s involvement; and neither had Edith.
Back at her mother’s house, Wantha was devouring a packet of Lidl’s own chilli tortilla chips, you know those king-sized sharing bags? One of those.
‘Hutch up sis’ Toonan said, dipping her hand in the crisp bag.
‘Oi!’ snapped Wantha.
‘I thought you were on a diet?’ said Toonan.
‘There’s no point… That Ricky Ricketts tried to get, me to go and see the hallucinations. But I said no. I want to go and see the elephants. Then he went all funny and started making this sighing sound hmph hmph! So I told him. No elephants, no Wantha Rose’ Wantha snapped the bag into a right angle and poured the remaining crumbs into her mouth. With all this talk of hallucinations and elephants, Toonan snatched the empty crisp bag from her sister and looked at the ingredients.
‘I would have smoked those crumbs if I’d have known!’ Toonan said.
‘Oh, I see you two have had your lunch then’ Patchouli sat down in her front room on the Hillock estate and lit a cigarette. ‘Didn’t save me any?’
‘I’m comfort eating mum.’ Wantha was mentally trying to remember if there would be any biscuits left in her mum’s cupboard. She does do all the shopping for Patchouli, after all, being her full-time carer.
‘That Ricky Ricketts wanted me to go and see the Blackpool hallucinations and I said no, I want to go and see the elephants at Knowsley Safari Park. And do you know what that dickhead did? … He sighed’ Wantha delicately took the cigarette out of her mum’s fingers and sucked in as though it was an asthma inhaler ‘Ahh that’s better. So I dumped him. Again.’
Toonan silently mouthed the word ‘Wow!’ At their mother.
You can say what you like about Patchouli Rose from Whitefield. But there is nothing really wrong with her memory. Not her long term memory anyway.
‘Don’t you remember? Don’t you remember it being on Granada Reports?’ Patchouli was all wide-eyed at her two mismatched daughters. ‘Oh, it was a good few years ago now, but an elephant crashed into a caravan park, the driver accidentally set it free, silly sod.’ … Toonan and Wantha were now scratching their heads trying to remember, and by the way, Toonan’s body odour problem is back again. ‘And wait till I tell you, that couple that got killed… were Edith’s parents! Ricky Ricketts’s grandparents! That’s how they got that big posh house up on the top road!’ (Why, thank you, Patchouli). ‘So no wonder he doesn’t want to go and see the elephants!’ Patchouli Rose wanted nothing more than to see her daughters happy, so if getting Wantha back with Ricky Ricketts made her happy, then she was grateful for this little memory she had pieced together from when Edith confided in her and a vague recollection of seeing the story on the Northwest news.
‘Poor Ediff’ Toonan shook her head and sniffed.
‘Poor Ricky Ricketts, I’d better go and comfort him.’ Added Wantha, heaving herself off her mother’s corner sofa. ‘Oh! I’ve just eaten that entire bag of fake Doritos all to myself! Why didn’t you tell me before, Mum?’ Wantha ran upstairs and squeezed herself into the body control knickers she had bought from Primark yesterday in preparation to walk to Curmudgeon Avenue again.
‘And it’s illuminations, not hallucinations!’ Patchouli managed to correct Wantha before she slammed the front door with her glorious behind.
Join me same time next week when we find out why Harold is really getting on Edith’s nerves.
Happy reading, Samantha xx