Gotham – This week Bungalow Wilf

Alex

Glancing up at the lift as it reached the fifth floor Alex paused.  So far everything had gone without a hitch.  That though didn’t mean someone wouldn’t be out there in the corridor.  It could be a guest or even a hotel worker who might make the hit.  Not that he would be aware of it straight away.  The men in grey suits as they were termed were a lot more subtle than a straight out bullet to the head.

Alex licked his lips as he slowly stepped out of the lift.  Nobody seemed to be about as he quickly went towards were his room for the next couple of days would be.  Swiping the key, Alex popped his head around the door.  Nothing looked out of the ordinary.  A well made bed with the customary purple décor of the hotel chain.  He could easily be in Barcelona, New York, even Stoke On Trent rather than Gotham as all the rooms looked the same.

Cautiously Alex stepped inside carefully scanning the room.  Standing aside he looked inside the bathroom which was meticulously cleaned with the customary shampoo and soap miniature bottles.  Not that Alex would risk opening them in case the grey suits had put some type of poison in them.

Putting his suitcase on the bed Alex checked the room for bugs or anything that looked remotely suspicious.  Sighing with relief, maybe picking Gotham to escape and to meet his contact wasn’t that bad a idea after all.  This was a mad, volatile city with the added bonus of trying to find someone would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Bungalow Wilf

Nobody took much notice of the balding middle-aged man whose face resembled a forlorn potato that had seen better days.  To the passers-by Wilf looked any normal office Joe who had been working at the same company for over twenty years.

No doubt he had a wife and perhaps a grown up kid or two who had his dinner ready as soon as he came home from work.  Wilf was someone who lived in a nice semi-detached who picked his wife up from the shops or met up on their weekly Friday drink with Bert and Muriel.

First impressions though can be misleading as Wilf was one of the top assassins for the men in grey suits.  It was why he was here in Gotham to ensure that Alex Cresswell was permanently silenced.

The fool actually thought he was safe in Gotham.  That the men in grey suits were not already on his trail and knew he was in the city under a false alias.  Every step Alex had made had been monitored.  Time though was running out as it had to run to a conclusion one way or the other.

It was why Wilf was out and about in Gotham surveying the layout of the land and thinking of the best way doing the job.

Alex

Standing by the Gotham river, Alex watched the mobile phone drop down and hit the water.  He couldn’t take any chances of it being traced although admittedly that might be too late.

Brooding, Alex decided to go for something to eat.  There was that café nearby that seemed to be populated by kids.  A place that the men in grey suits couldn’t infiltrate or could they?

Anguish etched upon his face like the ripples of water as his mobile phone hit the plunging depths of the Gotham river.  He needed some food but know that it would be safe.  Maybe buying a pre-made sandwich in a supermarket and some crisps would be better.

‘Listen to me buddy and just do as I say,’ a voice whispered behind Alex’s ear.

A sharp instrument was pressed against his throat as Alex froze.  The bastards had got him and they were going to put this down to a mugging gone wrong.

‘Please, can we talk about this.’

‘Shut the fuck up.  Where is your wallet?’

‘What?’

The knife was pressed hard against his throat that a blood oozed from the scratch as though to show that he wasn’t messing.

‘My inside pocket.’

Quickly the mugger went and slid his hand and pulled his wallet out before doing a customary search.

‘Cell phone?’

‘I, I, lost it.’

‘Man, it ain’t your day is it?’  Laughed the mugger as he threw a surprised Alex away from him.

‘Please show some mercy.  Just take me back and I promise I won’t say anything.’

Now the scruffy mugger looked bemused as he rifled through the wallet taking the cards and loose dollars inside.

‘You can go man.  All I wanted was your wallet.’

The eyes goggled in disbelief that the man was just a mugger.  A shudder went down his back as though he had a spasm.  It showed that Alex was still too vulnerable and furthermore if some bum could get to him how did he stand a chance against the men in grey suits?  Maybe it was time to get in touch with his contact and see if things could be speeded up.

Bungalow Wilf

‘Bungalow Wilf?’ A loud Cockney voice cried in surprised. ‘Upon my soul it really is you!’

Turning his head round in surprise, Wilf saw his old army and SAS pal Alfred Pennyworth.  Pausing, Wilf knew that he couldn’t pretend that he didn’t know him.  After all his Scouse accent would be a giveaway.  However his mission may be slightly compromised considering that his passport said he was John Wilson.  What on earth were the chances that they would meet each other in Gotham of all places?

‘Alfie, lad.’

‘It’s been a while hasn’t it?  Last time I saw you was a few years ago at the reunion bash..’

‘A good night from what I remember.’

‘Is er Alma here?’

‘No, here on business.  Some conference I have to attend tomorrow.’

‘Say, I’ve half an hour to spare and I know a decent little boozer near here if you fancy a catch up?’

A couple wouldn’t harm.   Wilf thought.  After all he had to kill a bit of time before going over the plan for tomorrow.

It had to be said it was a nice little bar and the Cobblepot Penguin lager was a tasty light little beverage that he would have to look out for when he got home.  Glancing across the road, Wilf was sure that he had just seen Alex walking down the road and into a convenience store.  Not that it mattered.  Planning and timing even with such a tight timeframe was still everything.

‘Another pint?’

Wilf looked at his glass and wondered if he should get off.  ‘Go ahead then.’  Another one after this and he would definitely have to go.

‘If I didn’t know better I’d say you were just surveying the layout of the land.’

‘Just enjoying the scenery and the beer.’

There was a slight sigh as Alfred thought back to a previous mission that had gone wrong.  ‘It was a pity that you weren’t with us and Reggie on that mission when we lost him.’

Wilf smiled.  He didn’t think much of Reggie.  Never thought things through that it was no surprise that the mission got compromised and two had been captured with one being killed.

‘Everything always went like clockwork when you were in charge.’

‘Planning is everything but sometimes things can throw everything in the air.’

‘Give over.  You were always two steps ahead!’

After enjoying another pint and a chat about the football the pair said their goodbyes with Wilf conveniently forgetting to give Alfred his number.  Breathing hard he decided to go back the hotel ready to make plans.

Something though was up and Wilf could spy a couple of shifty characters that looked like they may cause trouble.  Glancing around he quickly weighed up his options as Wilf continued to walk as though he was not aware.

‘Excuse me…’

‘I wouldn’t if I was you,’ Wilf said as he casually grabbed hold of the would be mugger’s arm and wrenched the knife out of his hand.  A swift punch to the face sent him sprawling as he then pointed to the knife to the mugger’s mate who tried to come to his assistance.

‘Sorry lad,’ Wilf said as though he was giving him a parking ticket.  ‘But I can’t have you chasing after me.  Word of advice.  Pick your next victim properly next time.’  With that he calmly punched  and kicked him in the stomach before continuing to stroll unmolested back to his hotel room.

Alex

Getting the pay and you go mobile phone was pretty much easier than it was trying to get hold of his contact.  In the films they always got through straight away rather than going through to voice mail.  He knew better than to leave a message.

Biting his lip, Alex took a bite of the meat feast roll that he bought from the shop and winced at the awful salty taste.  Thankfully a swig of diet coke swilled the taste away but the hunger meant that he ate as much of the roll as possible.

All kind of thoughts raced through his head.  What if the men in grey suits were already onto him?  He had to get out of here as soon as possible.  Once he was out of their hands there was nothing they could do.  Alex would pass on the information and then Boris would provide him with the protection and change of identity as promised.

The intense surge of having to contact Boris coursed right through him that Alex could feel the relief as he finally got through.

‘We need to meet as soon as possible,’ Alex whispered even though he was on his own.

‘You just need to be patient.  Let us make sure everything is in place.’

‘I got mugged today….’

‘That was unfortunate.’

‘Unfortunate?  For all I know the men in grey suits may be outside now.’

‘So far you’ve thrown them off the trail.  You could be in Timbuktu for all they know.  All precautions have been taken.’

‘Maybe I just ought to go my own way.’

‘Okay, okay.’  Boris sighed.  ‘I’ll be in touch later to see if we can speed things up.’

With that the phone went dead.

Bungalow Wilf

The plan had already been devised.  Every possible scenario had been thought of.  All that it needed was Alex to start the clock and then they would swing into action.

Wilf already knew from the bug that they had put in Alex’s shoe tongue that his arse had already gone.  It was quite wise of Alex’s handlers to meet in Gotham central train station tomorrow at half past eleven.  After all it would be packed with commuters and tourists for anyone to try anything.  Nevertheless Wilf was sure that they would get Alex without anyone knowing.

The race to Central station

Sleep had eventually come for Alex despite his mind whirring over what could happen.  He had dreamt of a bomb going off but waking up knew it was too blatant for the men in grey suits.

Paranoia had settled into his sleep deprivation brain that Alex felt quite light headed.  Originally he was going to get a taxi but he chided himself for being foolish.  After all the grey suits would just take him somewhere else and then… a cold shudder went down his spine.  No, getting the metro or bus would be the best away.  As Boris advised stay where people were around.

Things had not started off well for Wilf as Alex went to the wrong platform and quickly rectified his mistake by racing across the opposite platform and jumping on the in coming train.  The doors had slammed shut in Wilf’s face as he wondered if Alex was intelligent to try and shake off any tailing.

‘No matter,’ thought Wilf.  He knew Central station was the place to get to and so long as he got there in time then he could get back on track.  Luckily another train pulled up a few minutes later although Wilf wasn’t too happy as the train ground to a halt due to a ‘giant bat figure,’ being seen prowling the lines.

Getting off the train, Alex carefully looked round to see if anyone was tailing him.  The relief was oozing out of him like a lid being taken off a over boiling pan.  Part of it was still bubbling away but he was only half an hour away from safety.  Not that Alex would be thanking that stupid Bat figure holding up the train.

Carefully the gun was held high up with the target on Alex.  Slowly he pressed the trigger as he knew that this was going to be a hit.

Something told Alex to move quickly away with a loud bang hitting the plastic railings.  His heart raced like the trains racing through Gotham central as he looked up in horror to see a woman grabbing hold of a child.  Snatching the spud pistol, she shouted an apology as she furiously told her son off.

‘Little bastard,’ Alex muttered as he saw potato dripping down.  Carefully he looked around for the Gazette newspaper stand by platform fifteen where Alex was to meet his contact.

By now Wilf was off the train as he quickly tried to get his bearings.  Timing was everything now and if Alex met his contact first then he was fucked.  Not that anyone would be aware as Wilf walked in the casual manner of a tourist who had the day to himself.

‘Hey buddy.  Are you waiting for someone?’

‘Do you have my gazette?’

‘What?’

‘Did you pick it up this morning?’

‘Hey, we get one on the way.  Why don’t you follow me?’

‘Sorry, I’ve made a mistake.’

‘Come on let’s get going.  We’re late as it is.’

Alex stared at the middle-aged man whose face looked like it had seen better days.  It was a good American accent he had to give them that.  Quickly he moved away as the man protested loudly and moved towards a bemused rail guard as Alex asked train times to get to the West village.  A crackle went on his radio as it seemed that the CCTV had suddenly gone down.

Moving swiftly, Alex then popped into a coffee shop to try and shrug the man off and was relieved that it must have worked.  Then again he could be monitored.  No matter one of Boris’s colleagues would be here.

‘Got your Gazette here.’

Alex turned round to see a forlorn man who certainly had a presence about him.  His heart was beating fast as though he had spied a rescue boat whilst being stranded on a sinking ship.

‘Did you pick it up this morning?’

‘Eight thirty as always.  How’s Millie the cat?’

‘Still not eating.’

‘You want to try Batchworth’s.  Eight out of ten cats prefer it.’

A smile broke out like the sun edging out the clouds on Alex’s face.  He was safe there was no doubt about it.  Nobody could know the passwords that he had been given.

‘Is the train on time?’

‘It is.  Time to leave dodge as they say.’

‘You don’t know…’

‘Please,’ smiled the man like a genial Uncle.  ‘Let’s wait until we’re out of here.  We’ve got people in place but we need to get out slowly.  A car’s waiting round by the entrance.’

‘Car?’

The man sighed.  ‘We picked a crowded place because they are unlikely to try and do something here in the open.  However on a train, you feel a little nick and you have a heart attack a few minutes later.  There are still ways and means my friend.  A car means safety after we make a few switches of course.’

Alex nodded as they moved slowly and into the car after the man had loaded his bags in the boot.

‘Boris said you were very nervous,’ the man said as they drove away.

‘Understatement.  These people will stoop to anything to stop me passing on the information I have.’

‘I don’t need to know,’ the man said.  ‘The less the better, know what I mean.’

Slowly the man went to his phone.  ‘Activate now.  We won’t be long.’

‘We’re, we’re are we going?’  Alex stammered as the car rolled into a large unit on a disused site near the docks.

‘You’re going home,’ Wilf smirked as he removed his disguise.  It was mainly to confuse any CCTV that might be about.

‘Shit!  You’re not…’

‘What Boris?  Let me say it’s not personal and for what it’s worth you won’t feel a thing.’

‘No, no, no!’  Alex screamed as he scrambled to get out of the car.

Nonchalant, Wilf got out of the car and with two other grey suits pulled a sobbing Alex out.  It was done in the professional manner of a vet administering a lethal injection to a dying animal.

‘Thought you lost him for one minute.’

‘I did but the panic had already set into him for some reason.  He arrived too early really.  Gave me enough time to clock him chatting to a guard.  The rest, well it was straight forward.’

‘Paper work is all in order.’

Wilf grunted.  No doubt Alex didn’t envisage for his body to be disposed of using a acid to burn away his remains.  It was a long job but it was done with the efficiency of the men in grey suits.  After all no body meant no questions, no embarrassments for people in high places.

Everyone would presume as Boris did when his contact told him that Alex had failed to show that he had done a runner completely.  After all he had sounded flakey on the phone.  Of course it was a blow but then these things happen.  Maybe Alex would get in touch later.

The main thing was that they also had the papers and the USB key that contained the information that Alex was going to pass on.  Wilf idly held it in his hands and thought it was a high price to pay for what seemed so little.

Getting home

The flight was pretty routine as was the food.  Getting off the flight was like any other.  Waiting for the luggage, then making your way to immigration.  Passport checked, a serious look and then waved through.

Wilf looked around to get his bearings as he worked out where he had parked his car at Manchester airport.  Throwing his bag into the car, Wilf switched picked his phone from the glove department and switched it on.

‘Hello love,’ Wilf said.  ‘I’ve just landed.’

A pause as Alma sounded happy to have her hubby back.

‘Steak and kidney pud.  Sounds fantastic.’  Wilf replied.  ‘Shouldn’t be long, depending on traffic.’

Wilf was as good as his word as he pulled up outside his semi-detached house with his young granddaughter Georgia running down to be picked up by her loving Granddad.

‘My you’ve grown,’ Wilf beamed.

‘Do you want to see my painting?’

‘You’ve done a painting?  I can’t wait.  Come and show me then.’

‘Wilf, I’m putting the tea out,’ Alma yelled.

‘Well timed,’ Wilf grinned.  After all timing was everything.

 

 

 

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Tales of Gotham – This week Zip

Please note the following story is fan fiction

Always zipping around. That was how Zip earned his nickname. Back as a kid when he was living in London he was always roaming about. A quick turn around the corner and another long road would see Zip hike up to see where it would take him.

Back then Zip felt like an explorer venturing new waters. Some dangerous, some interesting, but all around him Zip would take in his surroundings.
Consequently he was able to find his feet pretty quickly in a new city. What was what and where it was advisable not to venture. Zip would make out and at times wished it was true as at least it had some bohemian romance that he had to seek out a marriage simply to get his green card to stay in the US.
The truth was that he had been recruited by Wayne technology for his expertise knowledge in IT. Zip had been in Gotham city for three years and had not known a city like it. Much had been made of the crime and corruption but in many respects Zip viewed it as open.

What other city was squeaky clean? With Gotham what you saw was what you got. Oh yes there was a vibrant life with a touch of danger gently stroking your spine. In short Gotham spoke of being alive.
There is everything for everyone in Gotham,’ Jake the security guard at Wayne enterprises proudly told him.
That was something that Zip agreed with as there every possible scene going.  Despite its bad press, Gotham was a cool place to live. Nothing was ever ordinary from the crooks and to some giant bat figure that was acting as a vigilante.
Sunday as the Bangles once sang was Zip’s fun day. Not too hectic but a bit more relaxed that you could take in the surroundings.
There was a nice breeze as he stepped outside of his apartment by Clarke street. In front of him was the Queens river which overlooked the Palisades. Much as he was loathed to admit it Zip lived in an exclusive area of Gotham. Furthermore the studio apartment was luxury personified. A football pitch could easily fit inside his apartment whilst the furniture and kitchen wouldn’t look out of place in a trendy magazine.
Being in the West Village had it’s pluses though, as he took his usual cup of coffee at the ‘old bean,’ café.  The coffee was pretty good as was the croissant that Zip always bought without fail.  Admittedly the main purpose of his visit was because of the pretty brown haired girl called Yasmeen who worked there.  Zip had roughly worked out what time her shifts were so always made an effort to pop in then.
Despite numerous day dreams of the conversation leading to a date or even walking Yasmeen home to her apartment it never materialised.  The nearest they had got was Yasmeen casually mentioning that she had gone to a Kills gig at the Maniax up by Hudson street Mid Town.  Zip had been at the gig but hadn’t caught sight of her amongst the thousands that were there.  Still it was a starting point.
Entering the shop with a Ed Sheerhan song adding to the trendy blandness of the shop, Zip carefully scanned the counter only to see a bearded but well groomed hipster with a brown apron covering his grey t-shirt.  Tattoos adorned his arms as he gave the customary ‘good morning, what can I serve you today?’
‘Is Yasmeen not in today?’  Zip stammered.
‘Hey?’
‘Never mind.  Caffe Americano.’
Shrugging off the disappointment to the start of his day he sat down to read the nearby Sunday papers.  Gotham Rogues had been beaten 35-14 by Metropolis Sharks.  Sighing, Zip could hear the moans at work.  Not that he followed the game or indeed any sport.  At a push and that would be a big push he would declare himself a Spurs fan but that was only because of his Dad.
Finishing his coffee, Zip decided to follow his old of habit of just heading in a direction to see where it would lead.  Marching with much determination the smart set of Gotham’s elite strolled around without a care in the world.  Spying the metro station by Fare street, Zip decided that the train would lead him to more excitement than the nice little bars and restaurants of the West village.
Already it had seemed a wise decision as the train carriage had a good mixture of Gotham life.  Glancing at the nearby elderly woman he could see that she was slightly nervous of the large biker type next to them.  Carefully Zip glanced and recognised the biker gangs name of the Jokers.
A loud whistling sound now engulfed the carriage with Zip’s brain struggling to recall the tune.
‘The flight of the Valkyries!’  Zip thought.  A huge man with a green Mohican strolled through wearing a leather kilt, a green and white t-shirt with a leather waist-coat.  With his huge futuristic boots he looked like an extra from Mad Max.
‘Hungry and homeless peeps!  Spare some change, please!’  Cried the man in a Glaswegian accent.
Zip smiled as he handed him a couple of dollars when the biker seemed to recognise the Mad Max extra.
‘Angus!’
‘That’s the name of ma dog!’
The biker laughed.  ‘What the hell are you doing here man?’
‘Making a wee bit of dough.’
The pair laughed as a short arse young lad got on and stood close by giving the pair a disapproving look.  Not that it bothered the pair as the biker let out a huge belch.
‘Your burp smells like cum.’
Zip turned round to a bearded man who looked like he should be out on a fishing boat in the Atlantic but he had the same look of himself.  Surely he didn’t hear that young lad say that to the biker?  For starters he was huge and looked more capable of punching him through the train cartoon style.
‘What did you say?’  The biker said as though he too couldn’t believe what he had heard.
‘Your-burp-smells-like-cum,’ the young lad said as though he was speaking to an idiot.
Suddenly the biker grabbed hold of the lad’s shoulder and roughly pulled him over.
‘Are you saying I suck cock?’
Zip fought hard not to laugh as the young lad realised that he was in deep water as he started to panic.
‘No, no, no.’
‘So why did you say that?’
‘I didn’t,  I didn’t.’
‘You calling me a liar?’
No.’
You can’t say that to people.’
‘I didn’t mean anything.’
Suddenly the biker punched the young lad across the carriage before grabbing hold of him as the train pulled up to the next station.
‘And I didn’t mean that you cheeky fucker!’  Casually he grabbed hold of the hapless young lad and threw him off the train.

‘If I see you again I’ll God damn kill you!’
‘Where’s yer pedal bike?’
Zip had to admire the young lad’s bravery or stupidity as the biker now got him back on with a few oaths before promptly stuffing him in the luggage hold above.
‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  Just let me down.’
‘Shut the fuck up.  You should have got off when you had the chance.’
Not a word was said as the ticket inspector got on and seeing the commotion, whistled and quietly turned round.  He wasn’t the only one mind, as people continued to read their newspapers, books, or simply look out of the window despite the muffled moans coming from above.
‘What has happened to your bike by the way?’  The Glaswegian Mad Max extra asked.
‘Oh, it’s in for repairs man and I need to get to Arkham Asylum to visit my Uncle.  Apparently there has been a bit of an incident.’  He sighed.
With that Zip decided to get off at Chambers Avenue to see where his feet would take him.  Much as he loved the madness of Gotham it could sometimes just a get bit too moody.  Zip shook his head and had a quiet chuckle at the young lad’s ‘Your burp smells like cum.’  What on earth he was on he didn’t know.
‘Buenos días, Inglish!’
Zip turned round and saw César who immigrated from Mexico and was probably the oldest bootshine boy in Gotham by the station entrance.  In his late fifties he still proudly wore his Gotham Knights t-shirt from ten years ago.  César did well in being able to still fit in it as his beer gut did it’s best to stretch the yellow material.
‘Hey César, how’s it going man?’
‘Ah, how you say, rude people.  I polish this jerk’s shoes so good that you could see your face as clear as daylight in them.  You know what he say?’
‘No.’
‘He say, riddle me this and I pay you an extra five dollars?  I say just give me my money.  Instead he say’s what has a tongue that can’t taste, eyes that can’t see, and a sole that will never die?’
‘A shoe?’
‘I don’t know,’ César said exasperated as he waved his hands.  ‘I not give a fuck for tricks or games.  All I want is my money.  Instead he laughs and walks off.  This Batperson pisses me off too.  No sign of him when I get robbed!’
Zip arched his eyebrows as he didn’t believe in this vigilante dressed as a Bat.  Nevertheless in this mad city it wouldn’t surprise him.
‘You want your shoes cleaned?’
‘I don’t think it would be wise to polish my trainers.’
‘A quick brush.’
‘Okay,’ Zip sighed as César gave his adidas Beckenbauer a good brush as he then handed over five dollars.
‘Muchas gracias,’ César said before pausing.  ‘Say Inglish would you be able to sort a bet out for me.  I have ten dollars on this.’
‘What is it?’
‘I say you still have wolves in England.  Of course not in cities but in the countryside.  Big dire wolves.  You being Inglish can confirm this.’
There was a slight pause from Zip as he could see the big doeful eyes looking at him hopefully.  César didn’t seem to have the best of weeks and for him to lose more face and money, well he couldn’t do that to him.’
‘Yes, we still have wolves.  I’ve seen them.’  Zip replied.  Well there was the football team Wolverhampton Wanderers and he had once caught a minute of them on the pub screen when they were playing.
‘Ah I knew!’  César yelled in delight before handing a dirty scrap of paper.  ‘I just need you to confirm this in writing.  Say I Zip, a man born in England can state that wolves are alive and roam wildly in England then sign.’
Obediently Zip signed as César held the paper aloft triumphantly as though it was a trophy.
Moving on, Zip whizzed on amongst which was mostly the business and office part.  Wayne Towers was nearby as was Gotham Police HQ.  Mind there was a bit of culture such as Gotham’s opera house, the art gallery, and the musuem.
Smiling to himself, Zip wondered if he should pop into the art gallery.  Maybe there would be some single artist female with a bohemian streak who he might make a connection with.  After all he was English and the Gothamites seemed to think that being British was enough to make him a free spirit.  Spying a pre-Raphelite exhibition, Zip popped in and paid the admission fee.
Zip’s heart was beating fast with excitement as he spotted the dark long haired Sicilian looking girl with bright red lips.  There was an hint of boredom mixed with a tinge of intelligence ready to do something off the cuff if it amused her.  Maybe he would get his opportunity of romance from a brief encounter like those romantic movies that Zip secretly enjoyed.
‘It’s quite beautiful,’ Zip stammered as he stood close to the girl as they looked at Millais’s Ophelia.
‘You think?’  The girl said in a way that was half scornful and half testing.
‘Well yes.  The bright colours and details.’
‘It’s certainly haunting and sad, I’ll give you that,’ the girl said as she casually moved on.
There was a brief stunned panic as Zip tried to regather his train of thought.  In the films there would always be a coy smile and a connection between the two.  Something else would be said, something witty and then a full blown adventurous romance would bloom.
‘I’m English,’ Zip thought.  ‘Maybe if I could direct the conversation towards that it could lead onto something else.’  He was of course vainly hoping for the quirky, romantic English guy that he prayed that the girl would find attractive.  Again like the movies.
‘Say are you here on holiday?’
The girl frowned and wrinkled her nose in bewilderment.  ‘What?’
‘I mean, well erm, you er your accent sounds different.’
A roll of the eyes only made Zip squirm even more.
‘I know I’ve lived in Miami for a while but I didn’t think I’ve lost my accent.’
‘It’s not something I’m an expert to be honest.  I’m from London, England.’
Another pause.  ‘Well I hope you enjoy your stay in Gotham.’
A slow, authoritive thud of shoes banged loudly across the floor as a late balding middle-aged figure casually walked towards them.  In his well designed and immaculate suit you would think he was a CEO of a major financial firm.  Yet there was a trace of toughness as he carefully scanned Zip.  Someone you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of.
‘So this is where you are Sofia,’ said Carmine Falcone.
‘Hi Daddy.  Are you enjoying the exhibition?’
‘Mmm.   Personally I prefer the High Renaissance period but nevertheless there are some interesting ideas and paintings.’
‘Nice meeting you,’ Zip stuttered as the penny dropped that he had tried to chat up the daughter of the notorious underworld crime boss of Gotham, Carmine Falcone.  Christ, he didn’t do anything by halves.  That was a relationship, desperate as Zip was that he would shirk at.
Moving swiftly around, Zip meekly walked out to enjoy the fresh air.  By now his stomach was telling him that he ought to get something to eat.  Standing amongst the tall imposing buildings it was quite a awe inspiring sight.  Cars, taxis, buses, whizzed past as Zip made his way to the nearby Metro.  A slight shiver went down Zip’s back as it did without fail as he looked over towards the Narrows and the creepy imposing, grey building that was Arkham asylum.
Breathing with a sigh of relief as he stepped underground and onto the metro and after navigating the correct platform jumped on the next train which took him to Volk Street.  Another train was jumped as he got off at Straig up where West Chelsea Village was.
Stepping briskly and with determination, Zip looked at the fabulous array of restaurants.  There was Italian, Spanish, Peruvian, Caribbean even a Russian restaurant.  It looked cool with the bars of people casually chatting away and walking around without a care in the world.  None of it though floated his boat.
Finding himself by West Chelsea Park he knew this wasn’t a place he really wanted to hang around.  A scream of ‘Police, Police!  Stop that man!  He has my bag!  Police!’  Alerted Zip that it was best not to look like a tourist.  Wandering around aimlessly was not helping him from prying eyes that were no doubt monitoring him.  He might as well have a heat detector target on him.
‘Excuse me,’ a man smiled.  ‘Do you have the time?’
‘Yeah, it’s…’
‘Shit!’  Thought Zip as the man brandished a flick knife.
Looking back, Zip didn’t know why he just simply didn’t hand over his wallet but the self defence mechanism kicked in and he ran.  Part of it could be viewed as silly.  There had been instances of others coming out of the shadows and at the end of it the majority just wanted the money and whatever other valuables you had on you.  Sometimes it was best to comply and not force their hand.  Then again they could just easily still maim you or worse.
That was why Zip took his chances.  You only had a split second to decide and Zip decided to try and at least get back to civilisation.  Well somewhere were there was people and possibly the Police to put his assailant off him.  Typically there was no fucking sign of that Bat vigilante that people were talking about.
Being quick was a blessing, Zip thought as he somehow managed to keep ahead.  He was also careful not to go down any dead ends or alleys otherwise he would be truly fucked.  What he needed was a metro station.  Racing around in a circle there was a relief as he spied Stofer street station and raced down jumping on the first train.  Panting hard he knew he looked a sight but at least he was temporally safe.
Looking up he saw that the train was going towards China Basin that Zip decided that he would take that as a sign and go to a Chinese restaurant.  There was the Dragon which served fantastic food and maybe Yang Li would be about.  Zip was sure of a spark between the two and it just needed to be flicked into action.
After his last incident, Zip walked like a man on a mission who knew where he was going.  The look of a man to let would be muggers know that he was not a fucking tourist and that he was not going to stop for anyone.  Nevertheless he gave a huge sigh of relief as he stepped inside the Dragon.
‘Table for one please.’
The words always made Zip wince.  It felt like having a tough shit in having to say the words.  To Zip it spoke of being sad and lonely.  After all restaurants were to be enjoyed by couples or friends.  Glancing up a jovial Tony came bustling over to provide his own personal service.  It came at a price of course as Tony spilled forth his concerns and worries of his life.
Tony had felt sorry for the out of place Englishman as he gave him a bit of extra attention and advice on how to avoid the lurking dangers of Gotham city.  Places that needed to be avoided and of course the venues and establishment that simply had to be visited.  Not everything was bad in Gotham.
‘Have you seen this?’
Carefully Zip picked up the Gotham Gazette with the bold headlines of ‘Batman, saviour or menace,’ and sighed.
‘Just another nut job who is going to meet a grisly end if he keeps on going like this.’
‘I wouldn’t call him that!’
‘Oh, and dressing up as a huge bat  is normal?’
‘Batman is doing something the Police and this corrupt administration at Town hall should be doing. He’s attempting to clean this city up.’
‘It’s going to take more than beating up a couple of muggers,’ Zip said tartly.
‘Look my friend the guy is a superhero.  Believe me this is just the start.  As I told the Gazette.’
Tony pointed proudly to his quote of how he had seen Batman in action save a family from being kidnapped and held to ransom.  ‘He swung out of nowhere like a giant bat.  I didn’t have time to blink…’
‘Jesus,’ Zip thought as Tony read it out verbatum.
‘Well if the Police get hold of him then it will all stop.  You can’t take the law into your own hands.’
‘Batman helps the Police.  He catches them and then delivers them to the law to deal with it.’
Zip shrugged as he picked up the menu.  As usual it was hot and sour soup followed by duck in ginger and spring sauce.  Glancing up there was no sign of Yang Li and apart from two couples around him the restaurant was far from full.  It meant that Tony was now giving him his latest crisis that Zip wished he would go back to talking about Batman.
‘The cage is open but the beast is asleep.’  Tony sighed as Zip squirmed as he went into great detail about his current impotence.  ‘Pang has her needs and if I can’t you know perform to the occasion then she might start looking elsewhere.’
‘Have you talked to your Doctor about it?’
‘Come on.  I can’t talk about stuff like that.’
‘Well have you any stresses?’
Zip winced as he talked about his daughter and her good for nothing boyfriend who knocked her about and took money from her.  How his business was on the slide and how the health and safety wasn’t helping with their list of demands.
‘That needs fixing, I can’t prepare food on that.  A little bit of dirt didn’t harm anyone.’
Zip had just finished his last mouthful and vowed that he might give the Dragon a miss for a while.  Nevertheless it was tasty food.  Couldn’t Tony just keep some things in the dark?  Thankfully he got a text message from Syd that a guerilla gig was taking place up near Cobble Hill at Wren Street near the docks.  It meant jumping a few trains but it was an excuse to escape Tony and a chance to perhaps see Yasmeen.  Sometimes he had heard Yasmeen mentioning about going to gigs up by there.  Besides there might be some ‘rock chick,’ who would love his maverick ways.
It was uncomfortably hot inside the small warehouse where the gig was taking place.  Water was running freely down the wall as Zip did his best to get across the throng towards his mate Syd.
‘Glad you could make it, man,’ Syd cried slapping him on the back and handing him a plastic glass of lager.
Zip took a sip with his stomach wincing in revulsion.  It tasted like the bottom of a chemical vat with a scuzzy after taste.  This was something that would have to be forced down.  People squeezed past as the loud thump of the drums was drumming up the anticipation as the crowd drew closer to the stage.
Glancing to his right, Zip’s heart leaped up as he was sure that he had seen Yasmeen squeezing in front.  Carefully he tried to move forward as the loud guitars suddenly roared into life as the singer of the 80A drove head first like a Viking horde on the attack.
Part of Zip was caught in purgatory as he didn’t want it to be seen as obvious that he had spied Yasmeen.  He wanted it to appear as natural as it would in the movies rather than the action of a borderline stalker.
A huge cheer broke out as Zip’s turgid glass of lager was knocked out of his hand as somebody went bodysurfing from the stage.  It was too manic to catch sight of Yasmeen now as the band went into their next song.  Even Syd was nowhere to be seen as Zip was jostled about like a bottle on the high seas.
‘GOTHAM PD!  Everybody stay where they are!’
The music stopped abruptly with screams and shouts of ‘What the fuck is going on?’  ‘Hands off me!  I’ve got rights!’
By now people including Zip were looking for the nearest way out.  The last thing you wanted was your collar felt by GPD’s finest.  Innocence was a minor inconvenience if the GPD wanted an arrest.  It was a wing and prayer for Zip as he just followed the herd who were streaming out of a fire exit.
A Police officer was attempting to grab hold of Zip as he made a slight feint as though he was attempting a touch down in the Super Bowl.  Somehow he managed to shrug off the finger tips of the GPD officer although admittedly the streaming crowd helped as they barged into the hapless officer who looked like he should be with the Keystone cops.
‘Shit,’ Zip snapped in frustration as more Police were waiting like fisherman pulling up their nets by the exit.
‘Stop that guy!’  Yelled a large scruffy bearded man with a fedora hat.
Frantically Zip was trying to think if he had done anything wrong or anything that could be interpreted wrongly.  Not that he stopped as he prayed he could squeeze through the bulk of Police blocking his path.  Closing his eyes he expected to be hauled to one side only to feel the sweet cold air on his face which was a relief from the intense heat.  Glancing back he saw that the Gotham Police had got their man as the scruffy bearded man hurried forward and grabbed hold of a scrawny guy.  It seemed that the interrogation was already starting as the bearded guy shouted and yelled for answers.
It was deep into night now as Zip looked into the cold dark air with a few stars twinkling.  That was a second lucky escape today which Zip vowed that he ought to take note of.  Yet he was feeling lonely that he couldn’t end the night just now.
Spying a late night kiosk he bought a packet of cigarettes, two lottery tickets and for some reason a copy of Hello magazine.  Biting his lip, Zip moved briskly towards the nearest Metro.  This was going to be a long journey and a few changes as he went through Down Town.  Zip’s destination was at a end as he finally got off at Hanavan Blvd at Sandy Hook.
Up in the distance stood the imposing shape of Gotham City stadium.  Where Zip was going was a million miles away from the chic, happy throng of fans who went to watch Gotham Rogues.  Here in Sandy Hook it might as well be another planet.  This was bleak post apocalypse stuff full of rubbish strewn about and homeless people trying to keep warm.
Zip could hear the angry desperate voices snapping at each other over a bottle of grog.  One of them yelled that he was promised a swig whilst the other yelled ‘fuck you asshole!’  The guy looked longingly at the bottle as though it was a magic pill out of this bleak underworld that they currently occupied.  Instinctively he made a move forward for the bottle only for the other guy to push himself forward as though he would kill him.  Looking like a downtrodden bird who had lost out in a battle for scraps he backed off.
There were a few sullen glances at Zip but nobody was here unless they had business or resided there.  Besides Zip walked as though he lived at Sandy Hook.
Glancing up, Zip looked at the depildated apartments.  Bits of concrete had fallen off with Graffiti sprayed all over the wall.  ‘Jay was apparently a cocksucker,’ whilst Gino loved Brenda forever and ever apparently.  There were a few Gotham Rogues and Knights slogans but a very weird one.
At first Zip didn’t pay much attention to the white demon black pupil eyes that snarled and appeared to laugh manically at him.  But the red spray of ‘HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA,’ shaped like a smile sent a cold shiver down his spine.  It didn’t help that part of the red spray ran loosely like blood.
Loud music could be heard whilst another couple were arguing as Zip ventured inside the apartment.  Gulping he had hoped not to be here but like Pang he too had needs and tonight had been another barren one.
‘Hello?’
‘Hi, Lottie it’s Zip.’
The door opened as a tall, skinny, red-haired woman open the door.  Despite being only ten years older than Zip she could quite easily have passed for his Mother.  Although make-up was plastered heavily Lottie’s wrinkles still stood out.  Wearing a small Japanese styled dressing gown that had been nicked from a massage parlour, Lottie motioned Zip towards her untidy room.
‘I brought you copy of a Hello and some smokes.’
Lottie’s eyes lit up as she took hold of the magazine.  She could scarcely read but the pictures of celebrities in their glamorous surroundings made Lottie feel as though she could step into the pictures and experience their luxurious world.
‘Bruce Wayne!’  Lottie marvelled at the beaming multi-billionaire playboy who was at an official function.  ‘He is hot.’
Zip smiled like thin gruel.  Daft as it sounded he felt jealous that Lottie who could pass for a transvestite found his main boss attractive.  Still everybody had to have their fantasies.  Goodness knows Lottie deserved a little slice of that.  Her story of how she had arrived in Gotham was horrific and made worse by the matter of fact way Lottie told her story.
Original from Virginia, Lottie’s boyfriend Ged at the time had promised her a chance to escape to a better new life that could bring untold riches.
‘I was just naïve as I saw this huge City that you could easily lose yourself,’ Lottie said.  ‘The hustle and bustle made me feel alive but then…’
Yes then.  Ged had turned out to be a pimp with prostitution and violence to become a regular theme of Lottie’s world.  Knocked about and shared amongst his friends as though Lottie was just a toy.
‘Still I survive dear Zip,’ Lottie said coughing as she took another cigarette.  ‘I take whatever comes unless that stupid guy dressed as a Bat steps in.’  Another laugh mixed with coughing.
‘You really ought to see a Doctor about that.’
‘With what?’  Lottie smirked.  ‘I don’t have the money.  Besides it comes and goes especially when it’s damp.’
As usual there was a awkward pause as Zip broke that barrier of what he had come for.  Tony had recommended Lottie to help his needs a while back but even so he still felt revulsion that it had come to this.
It took a while for Zip to get hard with Lottie using her hands to wake his cock up.  Lottie was now on her bed sofa with Zip grunting away rhythmically from behind pretending Lottie was Yasmeen until he felt that little shudder and temporary relief as he shot his load.  Panting hard, Zip pulled up his trousers and after politely drinking the weak cup of coffee he pulled out twenty dollars and paused as he threw another twenty on top as well as one of the lottery tickets
‘See you next week my darling?’
‘You can bet on it,’ Zip said feeling relieved but revulsed at the same time.
Closing the door as he slowly made his way for his long journey home, Zip certainly hoped that tonight as he always did for the past year would be the last time.  Maybe romance would finally come to him.  After all everybody deserved a bit of happiness.  Even that Batman did.

Citizen Cliff in November rain

Breathing hard as his prize was within his grasp Cliff looked across the room where the prize lay ahead.  So far it had been so easy but Cliff knew he would be knockin on heavens door if he didn’t get right.  That was something Cliff didn’t want as Mr Heavens was a grumpy old codger.

Gulping as Cliff knew he had to show patience he looked at the bit of paper that told him how to get across safely.  Scratching his bandana in bewilderment, Cliff was pretty tied up at the puzzle so he did what he did best, and that was close his eyes and make a mad dash across the room.

Screaming as deadly spears and arrows were flung at Cliff it was a one in a million that he got over to the other side as his tight US cycling pant only suffered a minor slash.  That though was only a minor inconvenience as Cliff proudly picked up the tub of roses which he replaced with an axle.

A huge rumble broke out as a screaming Cliff was forced to run as a large chocolate orange rumbled towards him

Yelling loudly as Cliff shook his fist the closet door was closing.  Running like a  hippo his bandana fell off as he struggled like an overweight mouse he squeezed through the closing door but not before grabbing his precious bandana.

Laughing loudly, Cliff was in Paradise City as he clutched his prize only to see his grim-faced Father brandishing the demon slipper.

‘Come here sweet child o’ mine.’

A frightened Cliff made a dash outside into the cold November rain with his Father running after him holding the demon slipper aloft.

‘Welcome to the jungle,’ Mr floppy the rabbit said as Cliff ran past him.

‘You cheeky swine!’  Cliff raged.  ‘I only cut the garden last week.’

It was turning into a live and let die situation as Cliff tried to scramble over the fence as he landed with a huge bump.  Brushing himself down, Cliff chortled as he waved at his outraged Father brandishing the demon slipper.

Alas that was the end of the minor victory for Cliff as Mr Heaven grabbed hold of Cliff’s ear and frog marched him to his Dad as he had run straight into his Axl Roses.

‘Don’t you cry tonight,’ Cliff’s Dad said as he proceeded to give Cliff ten of the best out in the cold November rain.

 

 

Citizen Cliff – In thunderstruck

Citizen Cliff – In thunderstruck

 

An evil clap of thunder that could have come from the very hands of Satan reverberated across the Citizen’s estate.  With the rain being hurled as though it was the apocalypse knocking at the window, Citizen Cliff sat with a warm smug feeling that he was inside.  More importantly the Red Revolution’s big game against arch rivals Dynamo Centre was about to start on television.

The referee blew his whistle to begin the game as the Cliff family huddled around the TV spouting words of wisdom. On the first touch the screen suddenly hissed with a violent grey slurry across the screen.

Blinking and without fear for his own safety, Cliff pulled out a bottle of holy water.  There was no doubt that a poltergeist had got into the television and was ready to possess Granny yet again.  It had caused high drama especially as it had taken his Mum ages to clean up all that pea and ham soup Granny had spewed.  Furthermore Cliff had a sore arse as he had craftily taken his Dad’s hazelnut whip from the deluxe quality chocs.  Granny’s head had swiveled round as he pilfered the said sweet and shouted for his Dad to give Cliff the dreaded demon slipper.

‘BE GONE DEMON!’  Cliff cried as he drowned a choking Granny.

‘You stupid boy,’ snapped his Dad.  ‘The aerial has been blown off.  For your stupidity get up there and fix it.’

‘But there is a storm out there.’

‘Put it this way Cliff, there will be the thunderous sound of the demon slipper being struck against your butt cheeks if you don’t get out on the roof.’

So it was that a knee trembling Cliff found himself slipping and sliding on the roof.  Lightening flashed as Cliff felt thin air as his little feet scurried frantically.  Somehow he grabbed hold of the floundering aerial put found his nose up against Mrs McCauley’s bedroom window.  Cliff’s Mother had called her a depraved hussie.  Ignoring the screeches of Mrs McCauley as Cliff used his lips like Mick Jagger against the window, he could understand why.  Indeed it would be a long time before he would be able to eat yoghurt or look at Foo Foo’s dog collar in the same light.

Somehow Cliff got himself on the roof with Mr Tupper racing home with his bag of chips who admired the dedication of cleaning windows in this weather.  The only thing that puzzled him was what had happened to Quasimodo’s hump.  Still he had more important things like getting a blow torch to fix that awkward bathroom door.

With knees a trembling as lightning flashed his Father yelled that they had a perfect picture.  Sighing with relief Cliff was smacked on the head with a bolt of lightening that he was thrown off the roof but luckily landed in a bed of roses.

‘How many times have I told Bertie not to take a crap in my roses,’ grumbled Cliff as he went into the house.

Looking sharply to the left and to the right.  With the house plunged into darkness and a deadly silence it meant that the scary Boogie man was out there.  Boogieing his victims to great and not so great disco classics.

Be scared of the Boogie man boogieing his way from underneath your bed!

A stupid grin broke out on Cliff’s face.  How could he forget his own birthday?  True it had been last month but what possible reason could it be?

‘Oh you shouldn’t have,’ Cliff chortled as he closed his eyes waiting for the surprise.  He certainly did get one as Cliff got a cuff around the back of his ear.  His Dad though got a nasty electric shock as sparks still flew from Cliff’s beautiful perm that the lightning had given him.  The perm was so beautiful that Terry McDermott and Graeme Souness would be jealous.

‘The storm has taken out the electricity,’ his Dad winced.

How are we going to watch the match?”  Cliff wailed.

A bright bulb suddenly appeared above Cliff’s Dad’s head.

‘Don’t just stand there put your fingers in the socket!’

Cliff done what he was told with the TV sparking into life, just in time for the Cliff household to see the Red Revs score.  “Blimey Dad.’  Cliff said.  “What an electric atmosphere!”

Citizen Cliff in “Cliffy and his magic torch”

Citizen Cliff in “Cliffy and his magic torch”

A cat meowed with the slow solemn twinkling of a piano that sounded so sad that the end of the day had arrived.

‘Night, night, Cliffy,’ His Mum said to her fifty plus son.

With the door closing the family dog Bertie threw on his guitar on and growled out a mean riff.  On cue Cliff jumped out of bed and flashed his torch on the rug which showed a big hole with Cliff and Bertie jumping down a kaleidoscope slide of multi-colours.  Speeding furiously along that Cliff could feel a draught as he had his pyjama bottoms on back to front the pair suddenly came out of a tree as they bounced on a marshmallow cloud down below.

Rubbing his backside Cliff could see a large purple rabbit and a Policeman whose feet were made of wheels.

‘Woah dude,’ the rabbit lazily said as he chewed on some grass.

‘Have you seen big foot?’  The Policeman said suspiciously who looked like a hamster.

‘I think he’s over there,’ Cliff said as two feet plunged through the clouds.

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‘No that’s big feet,’ the Hamster Policeman on wheels said.

‘It looks like a talking head to me,’ Cliff huffed as a floating head raced amongst the purple sky.

‘You certainly wouldn’t want the demon slipper from that,’ Bertie said.

Cliff shuddered.  ‘I think it would be a psycho slipper.’

With that Bertie grabbed his guitar with a sinister and heavy ‘dum, dum, dum,’ as the rabbit put his arm around Bertie as they sang ‘Psycho slipper, ou, ou, ouch!  Psycho slipper, how far, far can Cliff run away!’

‘Anyway Cliff we need your help,’ the hamster Policeman said.  ‘A dragon has been causing mayhem that Mr wibble wobble is still in a state of delirium.’

‘Delirium?  Are they a poor man’s magnum?’  Cliff chortled.  ‘Show me the way PC hamster.’

‘Follow me,’ and with that PC hamster wheeled away leaving a bemused Cliff watching as he raced into the distance.

‘Hey Mr Talking head,’ Cliff asked the floating head hovering above. ‘Where has PC Hamster gone?’

‘He’s on the road to nowhere,’

‘We all know that,’ Cliff snorted.  ‘But where has he gone?  I need to get this pesky dragon before I wake up.’

‘As I said the road to nowhere.’

‘You’re not much help,’ Cliff snapped.

‘Just follow the path amongst the clouds,’ The talking head replied.  ‘I must go as someone is burning down the house.’

And with that the talking head sped away.

‘There she was,’ the rabbit sighed.

One minute Cliff was lying in the grass and the next he was floating high up towards the cloud path.  There was no doubt about it  Bertie told him whilst a huge mushroom smiled at him in the sky.

Cliff bounced along the clouds chortling as he jumped up and bashed a cloud only to yell in pain as a ton of coins hit him on the head.

‘A penny for your thoughts Cliff?’  Bertie asked.

‘I wish I hadn’t called heads,’ he groaned.

On and on the pair went although Cliff followed Bertie’s lead as he ate the smiling multi-coloured stars as they furiously raced throughout the sky.  It seemed like they were going to catch the dragon who was now in the distance but had to scream to a halt for the traffic lights.

‘Is this red light permanent?’  Cliff asked feeling very annoyed.

‘At last,’ Cliff sighed as it went to amber and then green but as he took a step forward quickly went red with a hand stopping him to go further.

‘But you didn’t give me a chance!’  Cliff wailed.

‘We’re a slave to the traffic light,’ Bertie groaned

‘Phish,’ Was Cliff’s response.

Suddenly a red hand came out of the traffic lights and stuck two fingers up to an outraged Cliff.

‘You have to go green!’  Cliff yelled as he got himself ready to sprint as it now went to amber then green, before quickly hitting red.

After a few attempts Cliff came with a fiendish idea to get the better of the traffic light.  Whistling to himself Cliff made as though he was walking away and out of the corner of his eye spotted it was green.  Spinning around the light went red.

‘Mmm,’ Cliff thought.  This needed a crafty plan that was as a subtle as a brick on the head.

So it was that Cliff turned around and quickly sprinted as it went green holding Bertie’s paw.  Momentarily they raced through the air with Cliff landing like an overweight rugby player scoring a try.

‘Ah!’  Cliff shouted triumphantly at the furious traffic light as he landed in ecstasy on the other side.  ‘See if you can stop me now!  That’s why they call me Mr Fahrenheit!’

‘Cos we’re travelling at the speed of light,’ Cliff and Bertie sang as he banged out a few more chords.  ‘Cos we’re having a good time, having a good time, so don’t stop me now!’

Two red fingers were shown and out of nowhere it grabbed hold of three grey sullen clouds who angrily chased Cliff and Bertie through the clouds.

‘I knew you shouldn’t have had that cheesy treat,’ Cliff yelled at Bertie at the loud rumble.

‘That was the thunder cloud.’

‘Aaagh!’ Cliff screamed as a bolt of lightning scorched his backside.  ‘I’ve been thunderstruck!’

Frantically the pair raced across the clouds hurdling and jumping to avoid the lightning and now the golf sized hail balls that were flung at the pair.  Below in the distance lay the dragon with Cliff and Bertie holding their nose as they jumped into the green calm waters below.

There was a whale and a beautiful seabed as they saw a submarine stop.  After a wait two 80a submarines turned up.

‘I should have known submarines travel in pairs,’ Cliff chortled as he raced upstairs to be first to get to the periscope.

‘There’s the dragon, Cliff.’  Bertie cried.

With a ding, ding, ding of the bell the red submarine soared into the air with Cliff shouting after the dragon.  As they got closer Cliff got himself ready on the roof of the submarine and jumped off by a land called Honnah Lee.

‘I didn’t know you lived by the sea,’ Cliff cried.

‘Where else would I live?’

‘Anyhow you’ll have to stop causing mayhem…’

‘Oh thank you Cliff,’ Said the dragon’s Mum who swooped in from nowhere.  ‘You’ve managed to bring Puff home safe and sound.  You shouldn’t have strayed too far away Puff.  There are people who don’t like dragons and want to slay them.’

‘I don’t know about that,’ Cliff said scratching his head.  ‘I’ve been with a few dragons in my time and one even threw tins at me but I didn’t want to kill it.  Besides my Auntie Hilda she’s an old dragon!’

‘Oh Cliff how can I repay you?’  the dragon’s mother said.  ‘Would you like some apple crumble?’

‘With custard?’  Cliff cried excitedly.

‘Of course.’

‘Well then you can count me in!’

After a sumptuous meal and a game of snap that ended abruptly when Puff burnt the cards Cliff and Bertie made their way home.  It was a long journey back on the 80a submarine that seemed to take eighty days with Phyllis Fogg who was on the phone to someone about going to art class.  ‘Oh Percy!’  Cried Phyllis.

 

‘Alan Bradley!’  Cliff shouted as he saw a tram hurtling towards his friend across the road.

Eventually they got back to peppermint land with Cliff and Bertie getting an heroes welcome.  After getting a medal from the Mayor Spud head who had plenty of ‘kudos,’ that he managed to get an open red submarine ticker tape parade with a famous breakfast tv presenter.

As the red submarine soared and made rainbows a girl with kaleidoscope eyes turned around to the rabbit who was chewing on grass and asked who it was.

‘Oh that’s Cliffy in the sky with Anne Diamond!’

With that the multi-coloured slide smashed through the sky meaning it was time for Cliff and Bertie to go home.  Jumping down the slide Cliff screamed in terror as Bertie lapped it up by getting a surf board and racing it as though he was on a huge wave.

As usual Cliff landed on his backside as Bertie landed inch perfect by his basket.  The loud thump of Cliff hitting the deck prompted the big light to come on.

‘I hope you haven’t been playing with your torch again, boy!’  Cliff’s Dad cried.  ‘You’ll get hairy hands.’

‘Of course not,’ Cliff shouted as he rubbed his backside.

‘Well settle down then Clifford,’ His Mum.

‘At least you didn’t get the demon slipper,’ Bertie said.

‘Yeah but I always seem to end this story with a sore arse,’ Cliff grumbled.  ‘Anyhow night, night!’