For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #116, where we write about this photo from agevla77 at DeviantArt.
There had been teething problems, but Charlie was confident that they were now behind him. Sure, it had taken a while to get the business off the ground, but his late father had been right – “we come in wi’ nowt, we leave wi’ nowt, and all we’ve got is what’s in between”.
“Chase thi’ dreams, lad”, he had said, before his own untimely death. And with a meagre inheritance, Charlie had indeed followed them, quitting his zero-satisfaction job and breathing life into his new alter ego, Charlie Chuckles. And for Charlie, it was a worthwhile transformation- from being an unappreciated civil servant, to people’s appreciation beaming through from ear to ear.
Leaving the day’s last gig, an eight-year-old’s birthday party, he tripped awkwardly – nobody had thought of something like walking when they had designed this footwear – to his car, a banana-yellow Citroen 2CV that he had bought – and decorated – especially for his new persona. To the world, it was Charlie the Clown’s clapped-out old charabanc, and yet ironically it had been Charlie’s biggest outlay. Classic cars in good condition did not come cheap!
Climbing into the car, he pulled his wig back, removed a prosthetic nose, and swapped into some suitable shoes. As best he could, he wiped his thick makeup from his face – the rest would have to wait until he got home. He started the engine – even that distinctive “put-put” sound had been designed to draw attention – tuned by the garage especially to raise a laugh.
Yes, it could be worse, thought the greying Charlie, as he pulled out of the hall’s car park into the grim Halifax traffic. Even the volume did not dampen his spirit, although he was pleased when he reached open road. The Pennine snow still stuck to the higher ground, there had been a fresh dump only last night, and it looked like it was closing in again. He had better get home as soon as possible. Charlie allowed his mind to wander to his steaming hot bathtub. Yes, the sooner he got home, the better.
The state of the roads became clear, however, as Charlie saw the blue car in front falter. Catching a patch of ice on the road, the blue car began to pirouette, and Charlie applied both his brake and his horn, not that the horn made much difference. Charlie had customised that, too, to sound like Noddy’s horn. Great for entertaining the children, but not much use when it was really needed. Bracing himself for impact, it was Charlie’s lucky day, as he halted just six feet short of the blue car.
He jumped out of his own car. Was the other driver okay? He waddled over, as quickly as he could. When it came to agility, his costume served only to hamper his progress. But the distance was small and, right now, how he appeared did not even cross his mind.
The blue car had two occupants, both young men. Charlie rapped on the window. Turning to face him, the passenger started, pointed, nudged his friend and started sniggering. “Fucking Hell. Here’s Ronald McDonald!”. Unperturbed, Charlie took control. “Are you all right, lads? I saw you go into a spin; can I do anything to help? I have a phone if you need one.” Shaken but otherwise unharmed, the dazed driver regained his composure, assuring Charlie that he was all right. And, five minutes later Charlie himself was back on the road. The world had righted itself once again.
“Ronald McDonald”, Charlie chuckled to himself. Even grown men appreciated him these days. He joyfully tooted his horn, for no particular reason. And, Generally happy with the world, the remaining ten miles of Charlie’s journey were uneventful.
“That’s funny”, he thought, as he finally arrived home. The weather was really grim now, and he had not arrived home a minute too soon, but Charlie’s attention was drawn to a dark red Transit van, parked in his usual space. Plus, a police car was parked a little further along. Strange, he thought. He knew his neighbours, and none of them owned a van, let alone one so plush and shiny as this one. And why would the police be visiting anybody in this weather? But Charlie set these to one side – his main priority was to get in and to start running a nice hot bath, to properly clean himself up ready for a relaxing evening. Leaving his car, however, he became concerned to see two police officers, plus two other men, awaiting him on his pathway.
“Mr Charles Baker?” One of the men, stocky and thick-set, barred his path.
Perplexed, Charlie responded: “Yes, I’m Charlie Baker. Can I help you with something?”
“Mr Baker, my colleague and I are High Court Enforcement Officers. We have been appointed today to serve you with this Notice of Eviction.”