Good Luck

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Vintage Publishing


This is a story of a young lady who, no matter what she does, has bad luck. I would go further and say she is a walking disaster. She knows it herself, as a teenager, she accidentally burns down
her own home. Yet, her beaming smile draws in people who become entangled in a life that for one, ends in disaster. Will the cat become the hero and change her life?

Submitted: September 19, 2017

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Submitted: September 19, 2017

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I had scarcely started cooking dinner when the telephone rang. Carefully I put down the spatula on an empty dish on the worktop, moved the saucepan off the hot ring and turned off the gas. Reaching over I picked up the still-ringing phone.

“Hello! Anita Thomas speaking.” I said politely.

“It’s me, darling, your Frank!” said a voice recognisable as my husband. But what was he doing ringing me at this time of night, he should be on his way home. I held my breath and waited for what he was about to say next.

“I will have to work late darling!”

Something told me as soon as I heard his voice that this was going to be another excuse.

He went on to say, “Sorry, it will take a while so I will be late.”

I just stood there in silence, the words filtering around inside my head.

“Oh! Yes,” I remarked and slammed down the phone.

Lucky, our cat, in anticipation of what was to come shot off the back of the settee. I don’t blame him for moving, as my so-called husband worked late last week. That too was on a Tuesday and that night I grabbed Lucky by the throat.

“Shit!” I shouted, and stamped my feet “It’s that new trollop of a secretary he’s got, I bet.”

Grabbing the cushion off the settee I punched it, throttled it with both hands, dropped it on the floor and kicked it across the room.

“I must control my temper,” I said aloud or else it could be more than the cat being hurt. Frank had had his last chance, no more late nights at the office. Devious ways of getting my revenge past through my head. 

Placing my hands into the oven gloves the intention was to remove the tray of lamb cutlets from the oven but our wedding photo sitting precariously on top of the television caught my eye. Remembering back to that wonderful day and to the many days of bliss which we have enjoyed together since I sort of went into a trance.

Like most men he had played around when we were courting, his excuse was he’d been bird watching.

Oh yes, pull the other one.

Regrettably, I also liked the men. The trouble was the only serious date I went on ended with a disastrous fatal conclusion. I enjoyed muscular men so arranged a night out with the company’s store-man; now he did have impressive muscles. Unfortunately, he took things seriously. He followed me home, saw me kissing Frank under the street lamp and attempted to run Frank and me over. Missing us both, the car came off the curb straight across the road and into the path of the number eleven bus. There was an almighty crash. The store-man died at the spot, luckily the bus driver and the four passengers survived receiving only cuts and bruises. There and then we both promised to be faithful especially once we were married.

“Shit! Shit! The tray of lamb cutlets is still in the oven.” I’m not sure if it was the feel of the oven gloves on my face drying the tears trickling down my cheek, or the smell of burning that reminded me what I was in the middle of doing. Anyway, I grabbed the oven handle and as I was about to open it a loud knocking sounded on my front door. It was my nosy but helpful neighbour from across the landing, wanting to repair my broken doorbell.

“Not at this very moment Hussein!” I tried to put him off. “I’m cooking a meal for my bloody husband who is on….. No, who is not on his way home from work.”

Standing there all geared up for work I had second thoughts. He might not offer assistance again. His appearance looked different in overalls with a toolbox in his hands as I had only ever seen him wearing a long Indian silk robe; his white-bearded face topped by a brightly coloured turban. Perhaps that’s what made him look funny to me; he was still wearing a turban, and somehow it didn’t go with grey overalls.

“Just do it.” I said, “And don’t be too long!”

He placed the toolbox on the floor and I watched him push a screwdriver into the doorbell switch. There was a bright flash and then silence, just the thump of the amateur electrician falling to the floor.

“Mr Hussein are you all right?” I was in total shock. I shouted at him again and again but there was no answer.

I stood there, stunned and helpless.

Then I remembered the casserole.

In a daze, I made my way back into the kitchen. On opening the oven door a mass of hot air escaped. The heat was so great it made me fall backwards nearly crushing the cat.

Lucky went off with a scream.

I didn’t have time to say sorry or look for him as gushing from the oven were huge flames and clouds of black smoke. I lay there for what seemed like ages.

I remember the smoke alarm sound.

Then water dropping onto my face from the sprinklers on the ceiling.

Before I could get up from the floor the kitchen door burst open and in came a young fireman holding a hose in his strong hands. One squirt of water put out the fire and without taking a second breath he picked me up and took me out into the fresh air.

With my arm still around his neck, I brought my face up close to his and looked him in the eyes and said in a quiet voice “Oh! My pussy, please rescue my pussy!”

The fireman blushed and then I heard voices from behind me, “Go on Michael find the lady’s pussy!” 

Standing there was the rest of his brigade.

“I meant my cat, Lucky,” I said, trying to get back a little of my dignity as my face started to go red. He put me down onto the floor before disappearing into the smoke-filled apartment.

“Don’t worry, if anyone will find your pussy, Fireman Jackson will,” the tallest of the men in blue said with a giggle.

There is something about men in uniform that can turn a woman on, no matter how bad the circumstances are. My knees genuinely went wobbly and I could feel myself getting closer to the floor.

Four pairs of strong hands grabbed me, lifting my whole body in a kind of cradle and between them whisked me down a flight of stairs to a waiting ambulance.

“It’s shock!” I heard someone say.

An oxygen mask was placed over my mouth and a blanket placed around me. What brought me back to sanity were the few words from one of the paramedics, “Its Mrs Thomas isn’t it? Don’t you remember me?  I’m the one who took your husband into the hospital after you hit him with a wine bottle thinking he was a burglar!”

“Jesus is there no privacy around here.” I thought, “Yes, yes it’s me. I am that woman, so what?”

The man in green took one step back and put his arm out as if to defend himself, “I was only trying to be friendly.” he said, and with those last few words lost his balance and fell out of the back of the ambulance.

He just lay there. No one came to his rescue.

“He’s dead,” I shouted.

I stood up, the mask on my face pulled tight because of the shortness of the pipe. I gave it an extra pull and with that, the oxygen bottle came loose from its holdings. It flew out of the back door pulling me with it. The next thing I knew I landed on top of the poor paramedic who was now sadly bleeding profusely from a large cut caused by his fall. Having me and the oxygen bottle also land on top of him didn’t help.

I shouted, I screamed as loud as I could, there was no one around. Where were they all?

A policeman approached. Seeing the predicament he used his radio to ask for backup.

In the meantime, the other paramedic appeared.

“What the hell is happening!” he shouted, “Aren’t you Mrs Thomas? What have you done to my partner?”

He was looking at me as if it was my fault. “I think he’s dead,” I said.

Kneeling down he checked his pulse.

“Jimmy’s still alive.”

He came towards me and unravelled the oxygen mask and the pipes. Then he lifted the bottle and handed it to the policeman.

“Can you take these immediately up to apartment three on the second floor and give them to Fireman Williams. He will know what to do. Explain to him that I have another emergency down here.”

The policeman nodded and ran up the steps towards the Gold Cliff Apartments’ main entrance.

The paramedic started treating his friend who was still lying on the floor. I gave him my blanket, which he threw over the limp body and then with the help of a bystander lifted him onto a stretcher. I just stood there mulling over all of the evening’s events. Were they all because of me? 

“Excuse me but where are all the firemen and what about my poor Lucky?” I asked as the ambulance’s rear doors were slammed shut.

“Is Lucky the cat that poor fireman’s been looking for?” the paramedic asked.

“Is he all right?” I queried.

“He has inhaled a lot of smoke but a little oxygen will make him right as rain in no time.” he answered.

“Are they going to give oxygen to my cat?” I asked.

“No to the poor fireman who has been all this time crawling around your smoke-filled apartment.” the paramedic replied, as he jumped behind the steering wheel. He closed the door and put on the blue flashing lights. The ambulance sped down the road narrowly missing an incoming police car, which eventually stopped alongside me.

 

The doors opened and out popped three large policemen and one daintier policewoman.

“Have you seen a Sergeant Mackenzie about?” one of them asked.

“The only policeman is up on the second floor at my flat,” I replied. With that, all of the police huddled together in a sort of a private gathering.

Then one of them approached me, “You must be the Mrs Thomas he radioed in about?”

“Yes,” I said, expecting a snide remark.

“PC Brown will stay with you and ask you some questions!”

And off the rest of them went, up the steps and into the building, leaving the policewoman to talk to me. She asked me about the events and my involvement. I told her the truth even down to the part my husband played; his lies about working late and his involvement with his secretary.

“I’ve always had bad luck.” I said, “When I was sixteen, I tried smoking for the very first time. It was in my bedroom while all the family were asleep. I rubbed the match on the side of the box several times before it lit. Next thing I noticed was my nightie had caught fire. I ran around in a panic and managed to get it off, throwing it towards the curtains. The flames got bigger and bigger. The smoke was terrible. I opened the bedroom door and tried to wake my parents up. No one answered me. Things got darker and darker. The whole house burnt down.”

I started crying and cradled my face in my hands.

“Don’t get yourself all worked up, I’m sure it all ended happily.” the policewoman said.

“I wish it had but the house wasn’t insured and my parents threw me out. My Mother and Father still won’t talk to me.”

Just as I finished speaking a large black car pulled up and out of it stepped my husband. I ran over to him and put my arms around him.

“Oh! Frank. I have made a mess of things.” I said.

“Not to worry.” was his reply. “Meet my boss. I’ve invited him up for a coffee.”

I shook his hand, “I don’t think so, not tonight.” I sobbed, and then muttered, “There’s been a fire in our apartment.”

They both looked at me.

“Have you been injured? I am sorry for keeping your husband working so late,” the older man said in an apologetic voice.

Frank looked around as if he had only just noticed the red fire engine and the two police cars.

“Has there been much damage?” he asked.

A distant siren was heard and an ambulance with blue flashing lights came around the corner and pulled up alongside us. Two men in green jumped out and ran towards the steps of the apartments.

“What’s happening up there?” my husband asked.

“A death I’m afraid, sir!” replied the policewoman standing by my side.

“Is it Lucky my cat?” I asked.

“No. It’s not an animal,” she replied.

“If it’s not the cat then who is it, Anita?” enquired my husband who had a very worried look on his face.

Before I had a chance to answer he suggested to his boss that they call the chat over a coffee off for the night. He apologised but needed some private time with his wife to sort out this small domestic problem and added that they would meet again in the office first thing tomorrow.

My husband then grabbed my arm and gently manoeuvred me over towards the steps but the policewoman simply followed. 

“I’m sorry but the lady has to stay with me, she is under suspicion for murder.”

“Murder!” my husband shrieked.

“Yes, I’m afraid so.” answered the policewoman.

“Murder of whom?” my husband asked turning his head to look at me then back at the policewoman.

“Sorry, but I am not allowed to reveal the person’s name until he has been officially identified.” came the reply.

We all sat down on the steps. Then the door to the apartments opened. Out came a young fireman, assisted by the paramedics.

I recognised him “Are you feeling all right?” I asked.

“Yes, just going to the hospital for a check-up, my chest is a bit tight. I’m sorry but I couldn’t find your pussy.” He finished his sentence with a cough as he passed by on the way into the ambulance.

A large black sleek hearse appeared and parked in the spot vacated by the ambulance. Two men dressed in matching black suits took a wheeled stretcher up and into the building. In no time at all they returned; this time the stretcher had on it a large black plastic bag which must have been heavy as they were assisted by two of the firemen.

One of the policemen informed us it held the body of my neighbour, Mr Hussein.

“He came into repair our doorbell!” was my answer to my husband who was looking at me wondering what he was doing in our flat.

“Everyone simply came to help but somehow they got caught up in the bad luck that has plagued my life.” 

A tear started to roll down my cheek.

The streetlights came on just as the last of the firemen and policemen came out of the building.

Sergeant Mackenzie approached, “You can go up to your flat now.” he said, looking at me and my husband, “The walls are slightly smoke damaged, the kitchen floor a little wet but it could have been a lot worse.”

He stopped and looked over at one of the firemen, “Mr Harris has done a quick check of the electrics, and everything seems to be in order except for the doorbell. He suggests you get a qualified electrician in as soon as possible to see to that.”

“Any sign of the cat?” I asked.

“Sorry but no, he has either crawled behind something, in which case he has most probably died from the smoke, or he managed to get out. By the way, why was he called Lucky?” he asked.

“We had scarcely taken over the apartment, I was placing flowers in the window box which hung on the outside of the window when a small bundle of fluff landed right on top of my new pink geranium. Apparently, the caretaker kept cats on the flat roof, twelve floors up, to keep away the pigeons.

Anyway, the cat survived. More than I can say for my plant, and we decided to keep him and call him Lucky. He’s been with us ever since.”

“What’s happening about our neighbour?” my husband asked.

 “We are quite happy that it was an accident. He shouldn’t have been fiddling with electricity. His box only had a hammer and a screwdriver in it,” he said surprised, “so we’ve placed it by your front door. Use it or throw it out. Do whatever you like with it.”

“Thank you all ever so much,” I said. I was relieved to hear all of this and couldn’t wait to get back up to our home.

What a day it had been but the episode had far from finished. As soon as we entered the apartment the smoke damage was noticeable. It would need to be completely redecorated. We cleaned up enough of the kitchen, which had taken the brunt of the smoke, to be able to have a meal.

Later whilst sitting enjoying a cup of tea a scratching noise could be heard coming from the living room and from our neighbour, Mr Hussein’s toolbox. You can imagine our surprise when we opened it to find inside, Lucky. I picked him up and cuddled him and he gave a meow of either relief or pleasure. He followed me into the kitchen where I gave him a saucer of milk and some of his favourite chews.

A loud shout from Frank frightened me,  “Come in here a second, darling.”

He never calls me that unless he has something special on his mind; you know what men usually think about. I was disappointed when I found him sitting in front of the television, with the control knob in his hand, flicking through the pages of Ceefax. He stopped on the lottery results page.

“Look at this!” he said excitedly, handing me a piece of printed paper, “I found it in the box under where Lucky was hiding”.

I recognised it as a Lottery ticket and with a closer look saw that the numbers matched up to the numbers for the jackpot and triple rollover, from a few months previous.

“What are we going to do? I asked, “It could be ?15 million.”

I knew exactly what Frank was going to do. He was the most honest person I have met so it didn’t come as a surprise that he said we should hand it into the police.

“We will give it to our neighbours family.” he said, “We’ll take the ticket and have it checked in a shop tomorrow to make sure it is valid.”

That’s what we did and sure enough, the ticket was the only winner of the jackpot worth a staggering ?20 million. I went all faint and nearly collapsed.

“Please don’t tell anyone!” Frank asked the shopkeeper and we left surreptitiously.

 

We arrived at the police station in a very nervous state, me especially. The policeman behind the desk recognised us.

“Ah! Mr and Mrs Thomas. I am Chief Constable Morris come through to my office. I have some news for you about your neighbour Mr Hussein.”

We were invited to sit down and offered a cup of tea. David was most polite and after making us feel at home sat on his chair behind the rather large wooden desk.

“He is not the man you thought he was. Matter of fact his name wasn’t Hussein at all.”

He turned the pages of a large folder.

“This man has been in this country illegally for forty-five years using at least ten false names that we know of. He has defrauded the country out of thousands of pounds by claiming benefits for himself, a wife and at one time ten children. His real name is Romari Raman.” He stopped and opened up another folder; we both turned and looked at one another.

“In his bank account we found ?30,000 which will be confiscated by the Inland Revenue, and by the way, he has no dependants. But that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg. I think that by the time we’ve worked our way through all his aliases we’re going to find he was a key player in some pretty nasty stuff involving drugs and people trafficking. I don’t want to seem callous but, in a way, the country owes you a debt of gratitude for what happened in your apartment yesterday.”

I stood up and corrected his words, “What happened was an accident; I never touched him!”

“Yes, I know.” David said using his arms to motion me to sit down, “You misunderstood me. We don’t blame you, but his accidental death has rid us of a cheat.”

David the policeman stood up.

“I have one more thing to say,” he opened the drawer of his desk and pulled out an envelope and waved it at us. “We hope you accept this small gift as a token of thanks for capturing a man on the run. A little sum of money to help repaint your apartment.”

Frank was now up on his feet.

“We don’t want to seem ungrateful, but this man, whatever he might have done was always at hand to help us and Mr Hussein will always be remembered by us. So, for that reason, we would like you to use this money to give him a good send-off.”

I stood up next to Frank and held his hand.

“That’s very thoughtful and kind of you both. Oh! By the way, did you find your cat?” the policeman asked as he opened the door for us to leave.

“Yes.” I said, “He was cuddled up inside Mr Hussein’s toolbox; not a hair out of place and looking like a million dollars.”

“He’s certainly got the right name.” the policeman remarked, “Hope it rubs off on you.”

“Good luck.” the policeman shouted from behind us as we made our way slowly down the police station steps and onto the busy boulevard. Frank had his arm tightly around my waist like he did when we first met on that memorable day on the slippery slopes of Mount Blanc when I lost control and veered off-piste falling twenty feet more or less directly into the strong arms of an ornithologist from Peckham. 

Now that was lucky.


© Copyright 2020 Germanica Jones. All rights reserved.

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