My Short Story…Ralph's Last Trip.
Writing about web page http://www.fanstory.com
Ralph's Last Trip.
By Milky Tom
"I’m as cool as a cucumber and just as useful."
These words revolved around the inside of Ralph’s head in an impressively ornate, green font. He contemplated the sentence and what words he should especially emphasize for maximum effect. Perhaps cool and cucumber should be stressed in the same tone…"I’m as cool as a cucumber…and just as useful." Yes, he decided. That would be best.
His tram of thought was rudely interrupted…
"Number three? Your answer, please, number three?"
"This better be good," said number one.
"Yeah…he’s taken long enough to think of it," agreed number two.
This dry comment triggered an eruption of tittering from the live studio audience… just loud enough to break Ralph’s trance and return him to the moment.
'Oh please God let them not be laughing at me…Shit…they are laughing at me…bollocks…why are they laughing at me?'
"Erm…could you repeat the question please?"
An earthquake of laughter followed this, probably ranking a 9 on the seismic Richter scale of live studio audience laughter.
At that very moment, a bead of sweat began to form on Ralph’s forehead. This innocent drop of salty water mesmerized cameraman 4. The hypnotic drip rapidly gathered in size, until it was time to say farewell and adieu to its motherland, and set off on its steady journey down Ralph’s forehead. Up and down, in and out, it bobbed and weaved cracks and crevasses, expertly negotiating Ralph’s nervous frown. As it passed through the great eyebrow gates and onto the sharp slide of Ralph’s nose it rapidly gained speed. Down it went to the bottom, pausing at the end for only a second, but what seemed like an eternity to the Deutsche Blind Date production team, and, thanks to cameraman 4’s swift and skillful zoom, the 4 million viewers at home.
And then…without warning…it dropped. Down flew the streamlined salty bullet. Thanks to the rapid speed of electricity, (the same speed as light through a vacuum), Ralph was the first to realize where it had landed. Yes! A direct hit on his microphone! The wiring was such that as the sweat shorted out the microphone attached to his body, a powerful electric shock was reverberated from head to toe.
Fortunately, a microphone was not needed to amplify Ralph’s comment that followed. Let’s just say that those with "Dolby surround sound" received quite the feast of barbarous blasphemy.
Unfortunately as with every Blind Date show Ralph had attended, his mum and dad were watching at home…horlicks in hand…pipe in mouth. Or rather, shortly after Ralph’s percussive procession …Horlicks on floor…pipe by door.
Ralph, you see, was something of a record breaker (both officially and unofficially). This had been the landmark thirtieth "Blind Date Show" he had participated in (in the twenty-fourth country). Now this is no run-of-the-mill everyday, garden variety, "Guinness Book of Records", record. Oh no! In his quest to find his other half, and if you saw him (5ft 4", acne ridden, with a hairdo that belongs only to the 1930s,) you would agree that there probably was only one other half, he has traveled extensively. He learnt no less than 7 languages fluently (by tape) and many more to a less accurate degree. His unique interpretation of how to say, "Do you have a match" in German earned him the scar he has above his left eyebrow today.
"We had agreed that to her question, "If you were a vegetable, which one would you be?" and that you were to answer… "A cucumber, because I’m as cool as a cucumber and just as useful" (All wrong, Ralph thought).
"Yes?" hotly asked the show’s host, Johnny Crumb.
"Yes," answered Ralph.
"Then why on Earth did you answer by screaming "Cock biscuits" and a number of other curses, which, quite frankly I’m not prepared to repeat."
"Listen pal, it wasn’t my fault, it was your bleeding microphone that gave me the shock of my life! I could sue, you know? There could be some kind of long term brain damage from a shock like that!"
"Well, in your case, sir," the host calmly answered, "I doubt that the most severe brain damage would have any impact on your brain."
Ralph arrived at Gatwick Airport. It was raining. "Typical" he thought. His parents weren’t there to pick him up from the airport as arranged. Fair enough, he supposed. He hadn’t spoken to them since just before the show. Although his memory of what he said mid-electrocution was a tad hazy, he guessed it was probably enough to make mum drop her Horlicks and dad his pipe. (It didn’t take much with what they were showing on Channel 5 nowadays and all.)
Off the bus and Ralph was soon settling back down into his studio flat in Bognor Regis. Kettle on…clothes off…dressing gown on…everything chunky dory. He picked up his list of countries and crossed off Holland. As he gazed down the list of countries left, his mood began to sink again. He recalled how even his Russian Mail Order Bride had left him for his uncle. "I sorry, Ralphy…you very goods man…I just need "me" time." Shame they both died.
The telephone rang. It was Sam, Ralph’s best friend.
"Hard luck about Holland, buddy… chin up! Where the hell did you hear tenacious testicle tuner from anyway? You really made some schoolgirls blush with those…ahhh schoolgirls…(short pause). Anyway, you will find her soon! Actually, it’s a statistical phenomenon that you haven’t found her yet. She’s around the corner, I bet! Ha! That rhymes!"
Ralph sighed, "Oh bet…Betty my love, how I yearn to hold you once more!
"Shit man, you got to forget about her"
"Ill never find another like her though."
(Betty was Ralph’s first and only girlfriend. They dated for a short period in the 1970s…in preschool. Ralph was six years old when they lost contact, her family having moved to Devon.)
"Dude, you gotta listen to me, you gotta move on, plenty of fish in the sea and all that. Tonight’s the night! I know it! I can feeel it! Meet me at ‘The Bush’ at eight?"
"Sorry man, I can’t make it. I’m tired from my flight and all…and…"
"No worries, I understand speak to you tomo?"
"Cool. Chin up! Bye matey."
And as Ralph replaced the receiver a thought flashed through his mind. This was not a new thought. In fact it was a though he had had many times. A thought he regularly suppressed and submerged under the everyday chores of his mundane life. But this time it was different it rose above the din…above the sea of his thoughts, and floated boldly in big red letters. At the very moment he hung up on Sam, everything internalized all his hate, anger, frustration and sadness tore away from his careful construction of control. Something deep down in an abscess of the abyss of his mind…snapped.
There was the flash of a blade. The hot feeling of cold sharp steel on soft flesh…and then the lush red carpet unrolled before him, Ralph the celebrity! Just like he had dreamed off. Only it wasn’t a dream and it wasn’t a carpet. He was a failure and it was blood.
"Well I didn’t know he knew of such words!" said mum "What the hells an arse bandit anyway? And knob cheese? What’s knob cheese?"
Dad blushed imperceptibly, "I don’t know dear, maybe it’s French. Ralph was in France not so long ago. Yes probably a French cheese. Who knows what kind of cheese those frog fiddling bastards are making nowadays?"
"Bastards!" mum concurred.
"Anyway" dad continued, "It’s six O’ clock now we better get a move on, don’t want to keep Ralphy-boyo waiting. It was six at the station, right?
"Not five or anything else?"
But mum and dad had not only got the time wrong, they also got the place wrong. (Mum had taken Ralph’s instructions without her hearing aid in). After waiting at the station for half an hour, they decided to drop round Ralph’s and see if he was in. Sometimes he stayed abroad for longer than planned (to maximize the odds). In any case, they could feed the cat and make sure everything was in order.
Ralph dimly heard the key in the lock. It was distant as if from another world. A second later he passed out.
Mum screamed and collapsed on him. Dad stared in disbelief for a second and then his first aid training took over. He took off his jacket and wrapped it around Ralph’s cut wrists, elevating them to slow the flow.
"Call an ambulance."
Ralph was airlifted to Brighton General Hospital and treated for major blood loss as a critical condition patient, in the intensive care unit. The doctors tried their best to save him. At one point, hope was almost lost when Ralph’s heart stopped dead. Nurse Epsom managed to revive him. His vital signs soon stabilized, but he was closely watched for several hours, just in case he crashed again…
Johnny looked up at his Granddad adoringly… "Tell it to us again, grandpa!"
"Oh, leave him alone, kids," chided Betty. "You don’t want him to have another heart attack, do you?"
"You know when your heart stopped and grandma saved you?
"Does that mean grandma fixed your broken heart?"
Thanks for reading, Let me know what you thought of it!