Short Stories

LOTTERY WINNER

The day Mandy Grimshaw won the lottery was, as one would expect, life changing.

But not in a way that either she, or anyone else, could have predicted.

Mandy awoke that Sunday with a splitting red wine headache and the certain knowledge that it wouldn’t go away until she’d had some more. But, before she could do that, she’s have to get through the day first.

This was normal for Mandy, of a Sunday morning.

She was about to pop a couple of Paracetamols, turn on that supercilious tosser Steve Wright’s ‘Love Songs’ show and try to go back to sleep when she heard her phone ping.

An email had arrived.

She ignored it, picked up yesterday’s Times Review and started to read an article on female circumcision, when it pinged again. Hell, she thought, it could just could be Lottery Guy telling her that… well, as if… but wouldn’t that be great?

Her phone pinged again. Angrily. Decisional balance.  She put down the magazine and opened the mail.

What she read made her gasp more than any article on female circumcision ever have done.

Perhaps.

It was Lottery Guy.

She had won the lottery.

 

*

 

Mandy ran down the stairs, taking them two at the time.

For no good reason, she quickly checked the mail on her laptop, and yep, for once in her life, she had won something.

God.

What to do?

She made a coffee.

She fed the dog last night’s leftovers.

She sat down, hands trembling, with another coffee.

Sod it.

She poured a large brandy into it.

The kids were still asleep, no idea what they would awake to. Mother — squillionaire.

She made a list.

First a new car. Were car showrooms open on a Sunday?

Too damned right they were — to lottery winners.

 

*

 

The perma-smiled salesman with sparkling white teeth at Super Cars didn’t have to work to hard to hold the smirk.

He introduced himself as Andy.

“My friends call me Crispy,” he told her conspiratorially, thinking this could easily beat his average Sunday in more ways than one. “But call me what you like.”

Mandy squinted at his shiny Super Cars lapel name badge.

“I’ll call you Mr Van Stud.”

He laughed.

“In my dreams, Mandy. It’s Van… stone.”

“And I’ll thank you to call me Mrs. Grimshaw.”

Still a sale was the important thing; it wasn’t every day that someone marched in oozing newfound confidence saying they’d won a few bob on the lottery.

Although, to be fair, after five test drives, his nerves were frayed and the grin was starting to look a bit rictus.

But back on terra firma, it became more of a leer. Quite a looker, this one, he thought, nice arse.

But on her way home Mandy had what salesmen know as the dreaded ‘cognitive dissonance’. In other words, she asked herself why the hell had she let that smarmy bastard talk her into putting down a deposit on the Ferrari.

For sure, it was a fine looking car, and a veritable bloke magnet, but where was she going to put three kids, or the dog… or even the flipping shopping for that matter?

 

*

 

The kids were still asleep so Mandy made another coffee.

Laced it with Baileys this time.

God, she was burning to tell someone. Itching to tell someone. But who?

The list.

Keep yourself busy.

Item two: move house. She knew just the place, had dreamt of owning it for years.

She leapt into her old Land Cruiser (which would be replaced on Tuesday) and drove to the outskirts of Alderley Edge.

Mandy took a deep breath and pressed the buzzer by the huge fuck-off eagle-crested gold-leafed gates she’d driven past a thousand times, wondering what it would be like to drive through them.

Nothing.

Rang the buzzer again.

“Who is this?”

“Are you Leo Ferdinand?”

Silence.

“Rio… and who wants to know?”

“Mandy”.

Confused hesitation.

“Mandy who?”

“Mandy Who’s-Just-Won-The-Lottery-And-Wants-To-Buy-Your-House-For-An-Absurd-Amount-Of-Money.”

Another pause. Deeper breathing.

“How much?”

She told him.

“You’d better come in.”

 

*

 

In all truth, it was slightly tacky; less than she’d expected but she felt confident

she could fix it up.

She wasn’t so keen on the palm trees in the guest bedroom, the swimming pool in the kitchen or the elephant house by the back door. And everywhere was boy-made-good bling meets Ikea-stroke-Parker Knoll.

But they struck a deal and Rio went off to fetch some champagne.

After a glass, Mandy considered asking him if a roll on his super-king-sized-four-poster would be out of the question — just as a gesture of goodwill — but decided that may be pushing it.

Instead she asked him when he could move out.

“Can’t do Monday… we’re away to Barcelona…”

“… How about Tuesday?”

“Tuesday’s fine. Would you like the furniture thrown in?”

“No!” Mandy’s eyes had caught the glass coffee table supported by the two squatting nudes that she’d just realised, much to her relief, were made of ebony. “No. It’s… it’s minging… no offence.”

“None taken,” said Rio, who bobbed off to phone his lawyer. “Ok if the elephants stay for a bit?”

Mandy took a sip of champagne, and said it was, but don’t expect her to muck them out.

So that would be Tuesday.  A Ferrari and Leo… rather… Rio’s house to look forward to.

Better than Body Pump, with all those false-titted-fake-tan Wilmslow bitches sneering at her, she thought, as she drove down the half-mile long drive grinning from ear to ear.

 

*

 

The kids were up and out when she got home.

Sandy, the eldest, had gone to play hockey.

Betty had gone to sort out her horse — that bloody nag can go for burgers, Mandy thought, now I can replace it with something that doesn’t pay for the vet’s holiday home on the Algarve.

And Bobby, her rugby crazy six year-old, had gone to the club with his dad.

Two things struck Mandy.

First, she was starving.

Maybe being rich makes you hungry? Perhaps that’s why rich people are so bloody skinny: they’re too busy buying Ferraris and mansions to have time to eat.

And secondly, she had to tell someone. She would have liked to tell the kids first but… well, they weren’t here. She was about to make a piece of toast when her phone rang.

It was Sarah, her best friend.

“I’ve just won the lottery,” she told her, and Sarah — as she knew she would — told everyone in Cheshire, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and well beyond, and organised an impromptu lunch party in the Bubble Room.

 

*

 

All Mandy’s friends were there.

And of course a motley collection of bitches she couldn’t stand.

Then there were a host of disingenuous bastards who had only turned up for a freebee and the chance to press their suit for money.

At least Lenny, the bullshitting chinless property developer who never went anywhere without a folder full of plans pulled straight off the internet, had the balls to ask her for a million to get him out of the shit.

Mandy mulled it over for an instant before telling the little tosser to do one.

Champagne flowed.

Even Sarah, bought a bottle. It may have been with Rupert’s money, but the intent was there.

Then Tom, her ex-husband called.

He’d heard.

He told her that he’d dumped the 25 year-old slag he’d been ‘seeing’ and would there… well… would there be even the slightest chance that they could give things another go? I mean, he told her, just because I’ve been fucking other women doesn’t mean that I’ve loved you any less, does it?

In the sepia haze of her newly elevated status, and the unaccustomed buzz of midday champagne, Mandy deliberated for a good twenty seconds before telling him to go fuck himself.

Old Bob lurched over.

“Don’t suppose there’d be any chance of a few quid for some Viagra, love? Just to stop me pissing on me slippers you know,” he added with a toothless grin.

“Of course, Bob… and get yourself some new slippers while you’re at it.”

Imelda slinked catlike across the room; arms wide like a farmer guiding sheep to a pen.

God she was gorgeous, Mandy thought, and she had class to spare.

“… Go on then, superstar, how much was it?”

“Ten…”

“… Ten million!” Imelda gasped, showing perfect white teeth and a tongue stud. “Ten… fucking… million!” She repeated. “Christ kid, you’re flipping made for life… and the kids too!”

Maggie came over.

She grabbed Mandy’s small paws with her bricklayers’ hands and guided them to her huge breasts.

Mandy felt the hardness of the silicone.

“You can get yourself a pair of these and all girl,” Maggie leered drunkenly, pulling Mandy’s hands firmly onto her tits. “Don’t fucking tell me you don’t want to!”

Actually… Mandy didn’t want to. She was quite happy with her own, but it was nice to play with Maggie’s.

Mandy didn’t need to loo but she needed space, somewhere away from being the centre of attention.

She sat on the toilet seat and, on impulse, took out her phone to ring Sandy. She didn’t want her to hear the news from anyone else.

But first, she opened the email to check the exact amount.

“Congratulations, Mandy,” it began, “You are a winner. In last night’s National Lottery Draw. You have won… ten pounds.”

“TEN POUNDS? TEN FUCKING POUNDS?” She screamed at the toilet door.

But that’s not what it said earlier, she whimpered. It said ten bloody million… and a few hundred thousand. Mandy was sobbing. What a bloody idiot she would look.

Then she said an idea.

They’re all twats anyway she thought.

She dried her eyes and strode down the stairs with a new sense of purpose.

 

*

 

Downstairs was pandemonium.

People jostled, pushing, craning necks to get a view of something.

Or Someone.

From halfway down the stairs, she clocked Mick Hucknall get his guitar out and set up in the corner. This is all I need, she thought.

He looked up, saw Mandy and walked across to the foot of the stairs.

A roadie who lived in the village had told him.

He’d seen her at his gig last week and wondered if she would like him to play at her house warming.

He’d just had to pay out for his O2 gig in October, so he’d do it  — for her — for a half a million. He was a bit short of cash. In fact, he said, money was… well, it was really too tight to mention.

“You were shite,” she said, “and anyway, you’d freak the elephants out… beside which,” she added, remembering what she was about to do, “there’s not going to be a housewarming.”

Mandy tapped a glass animatedly with a fork, triggering an air of urgent expectation.

“Speech,” said someone, stating the bleeding obvious.

“Pray silence for Ms Mandy Money Bags!”

“Right…” began Mandy taking a deep breath, “thank you all for coming… ”

A minute later the Bubble Room had cleared. People left faster than anyone over 12 who’d accidentally strayed into a Justin Bieber concert.

Only Sarah stayed, mainly to finish the Champagne.

No one had ever heard of the Levenshulme Lesbians Cricket team, but most considered it was excessively generous to the point of total insanity for Mandy to donate almost her entire lottery win to their fundraising campaign.

For that sort of money, someone said, they could fucking well buy Lords.

Of course she wasn’t giving it all away, she’d said. She had kept a tenner, which the manager of the Bubble Room said was around £4,598.30 short of covering the Champagne bill.

 

*

 

Mandy awoke that Sunday with a splitting red wine headache and the certain knowledge that it wouldn’t go away until she’d had some more. But, for that, she’d have to get through the day first.

This was normal for Mandy, of a Sunday morning.

She was about to pop a couple of Paracetamols, turn on that supercilious tosser Steve Wright’s ‘Love Songs’ show and try to go back to sleep when she heard her phone ping.

An email had arrived.

She ignored it, picked up yesterday’s Times Review and started to read an article on female circumcision, when it pinged again. Hell, she thought, it could just could be Lottery Guy telling her that… well, as if… but wouldn’t that be great?

Her phone pinged again. Decisional balance.  She put down the magazine and opened the mail

It was Lottery Guy. She’d won a tenner.

‘BFD’, she thought. ‘Big… Fucking… Deal.’

Then her phone rang.

It was Tom. He sounded drunk.

What time could he pick Bobby up?

No… not drunk.

“What the fuck’s the matter with you,” she asked. “Have you been taking Charlie again?”

Tom sniggered in that irritating way he did when he wanted to really put one over on her. ‘Christ,’ she thought, he was even more irritating than Steve Wright. It was like when he told her she was seeing that 25 year-old slag. Only, to be fair, he hadn’t called her a slag. Just everyone else who was also ‘seeing’ her.

She was wondering how she’s stuck with the dick for so long when she realised he wasn’t sniggering any more.

Worse. He was cackling.

And then he told her.

“I’ve just won the Lottery,” he said. “Ten million… ten… fucking… million!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance Of Looking Happy

My name is Eliza Anne Thomson. I am eight and three quarter years old. I have a dog called Amber, a cat named Bono, and a mum that I wish was someone else’s.

We are standing in the car park outside Morrisons ‘cos mum just got thrown out by the security guards. This sort of thing happens quite a lot.

It’s Friday afternoon and mum had just picked me up from school. We were in the car and her friend Tracey phoned and said she should get her arse down to Morrisons – something about cheap champagne. I hate Tracey ‘cos my mum says she fancies my dad. She sells posh underwear and my mum says she’s a slut from Moss Side.

When we got there, they told us that champagne was all sold and my mum went mental until the woman told her there was some other stuff they were selling for half price. We got to the checkout with everyone looking at us ‘cos all we had was bottles in the trolley. It took ages to put them all on the belt. All the people who work in Morrisons are white and fat and old and look as if they have special knees, or whatever it’s called when you’re not right. Mum calls them ‘Timmys’ and says they only work there ‘cos no one else would work in Morrisons, even in a recession.

The woman on the checkout looked sad and I felt sorry for her. She said something and pressed a buzzer and a more important woman came over and said to my mum she could only have three bottles.

My mum asked why, and the important woman told her it was a special offer, and it was Morrisons’ policy that everybody had to have a chance to buy it. Mum said it was Morrisons’ policy to stop the bloody Scousers buying it and flogging it at car  boots, more like. The important woman didn’t think my mum was funny. I noticed she had an enormous mole on her neck and there were lots of hairs growing out of it. It looked a bit like a coconut.

We put the champagne in the car and mum remembered she’d not had lunch, so we went back into the café. Mum had two sandwiches and a bowl of tomato soup and I had a toasted tea-cake and a yoghurt. Mum said she was ravenous ‘cos she’d not eaten since she’d been to the gym. Dad says when mum goes to the gym she just parks her arse on a bike and yaps to Maxine who has fake tits and lives in Wilmslow. He says the only part of her that gets any exercise is her tongue. When we got to the checkout mum asked the woman if it was ok to have two sandwiches or should she just have one so everybody else could have the chance to buy one? She didn’t think mum was funny either.

We sat down and a fat man who looked as if he was walking on a tightrope brought the soup. It was cold, so mum complained and when he brought it back she burned her mouth on it. The fat man looked happy as he walked away.

On the way out of the shop Mum had an idea. She said that there was nothing to stop her coming back in and buying three more bottles, and as long as we didn’t bump into the woman with the coconut on her neck, no one would know. I tried to stop her ‘cos I knew she’d get done but she went to two different check-outs and got six more bottles and she looked happy. That doesn’t happen very often.

Then she had one more go. She tried to be clever by using the self-checkout thing, but because she was buying alcohol she had to ring a bell so someone could check that she was over eighteen. Like anyone would actually think she was under eighteen! We had to wait ages for someone to come.

There was a huge security man on either side of the woman with the coconut. They were walking towards us.

None of them looked happy.

 

A MUSEUM SLIP-UP

 

My name is Eliza Anne Thomson. I am eight and three quarter years old. I have a dog called Amber, a cat named Bono, and a mum that I wish was someone else’s.

We are standing outside The British Museum ‘cos mum just got us thrown out by a security guard. In fact, everyone’s got thrown out, thanks to her. This sort of thing happens quite a lot.

It’s half term and we’re in London. I don’t like London much ‘cos it’s full of foreigners and thieves. Last night Dad had his wallet nicked at a tube station and lost all his cards and stuff.

Mum took me to the British Museum ‘cos I’ve got to do a project on Afghanistan for school. There’s a room called “Crossroads of the Ancient World” that my teacher Miss Honey said we should go and see it ‘cos it’s got jewellery and stuff from Afghanistan that’s not been seen for ages.

Mum had to pay twenty pounds for us to get in; she wasn’t happy ‘cos she said we were only going to be five minutes, to get leaflets and things. She told the man on the desk she wanted to be done well before the shops close and hadn’t come here to be mugged by the Taliban.We had to take our suitcase with us ‘cos we’d got to meet Dad after and catch the train home. It’s got a handle and wheels you could pull it along with and it’s bright pink. Dad had to meet someone on business at a place called Lord’s. Mum said that meant he’d be sitting on his arse all day watching cricket and drinking beer.

The first bit was a video. It told you about Afghanistan and why no one’s ever won any wars there. Mum said that that idiot Tony Blair should have watched this first. There were lots of old people watching the video ‘cos it was somewhere you could sit down and old people always sit down when they see a bench or a chair in case they have to stand for ages. The room smelled of fart.

There was a big picture on the wall in the second room of somewhere called the Hindu Kush. It’s a mountain range in the middle of nowhere where lots of people have died trying to conquer it. I don’t know why they wanted to as there’s nothing there but I liked the picture anyway.

The exhibition was set out a bit like a snake. Mum said that was to make it look bigger and spread people out. But when we wanted to look at anything, there was always this fat American woman in the way. She wore white trainers and black tights and a coat that smelled like Amber when she’s wet and kept saying “awesome”.

Dad says that if you look hard enough in a museum you’ll find something that’ll change your life. I said that to Mum and she said that the only thing that’d change her life was finding the door out and getting a decent cup of coffee that you didn’t need a bank loan for. That, and Silver Asset winning the 4.20 at Haydock.

The bit I liked the most was the Gold Crown. It’s supposed to shimmer with the slightest vibration ‘cos that sets the petals off. It’s made in four pieces so they could store it away as they were always moving around.  Mum said it looked like something Posh Spice would wear.

Then mum’s phone went off and she got told off by the guard. She had short black hair and looked dead snooty. She wore a black trouser suit and mum said she was probably a Lesbian. I don’t know about that, but she definitely looked foreign.

I said to Mum I didn’t think she could be a Lesbian ‘cos Miss Honey had said that Lesbos wasn’t in the EU and Dad always said that only people from the EU can work here unless they’re terrorists. I didn’t think she was a terrorist either, unless that was why she had the radio.

Mum told her that as she’s had to put up with her radio crackling since we came in, she didn’t see why she couldn’t use her phone. The guard was tall and had a mole on her neck with hairs growing out of it. She told mum that the signs were quite clear that you couldn’t use your phone and if you did you’d have to go outside.

We walked round the corner where there was more jewellery just like the other stuff. We got stuck behind the fat American lady with the smelly coat then mum’s phone rang again. The American lady said something to Mum and Mum made a rude gesture to her with her middle finger.

The guard from Lesbos was coming towards us so Mum put our case in the corner and grabbed my hand and then we went out of the exhibition by a side door with a circle and a red line in the middle of it. The door slammed behind us and an alarm went off but Mum didn’t notice ‘cos she was busy talking on her phone to Maxine from Wilmslow. Maxine’s got massive fake tits and sells posh knickers and bras. Dad says she’s just a slut from Moss-side. Mum was getting dead excited ‘cos Maxine said that Silver Asset had just won at 100-1 and mum had put fifty pounds on it. I wish I could have a pony but Mum says she spends enough on horses already.

Then the door we’d just come through burst open and the guard with the hairy mole came through and looked very cross. She was holding her radio that had made all the noise and was talking into it loudly. The alarm was still going off and everyone started rushing past us out of the building. Other guards in black suits were showing them where to go. The fat American woman waddled past us in her trainers and made the same rude gesture to Mum but Mum didn’t notice ‘cos she was still yapping to Maxine.

The guard from Lesbos made us go out of the building and Mum stopped talking to Maxine and then remembered she’s left our case in the museum. She told Mum that she couldn’t go back inside ‘cos there was a bomb scare. Everyone who had been in the museum was standing outside behind a line of men wearing yellow vests. Then some soldiers arrived in a green Land Rover with a blue flashing light and ran into the building by the door we’d come out of.

A fat man in a suit with a loud speaker said that there’d been a suspicious pink object found in the Afghanistan bit of the museum where we’d been. He said because of security they would have to make it safe with something called a controlled explosion. I don’t know how exploding something can make it any safer.

Then Mum went mental with the fat man in the suit with the loudspeaker ‘cos it was our suitcase and she just remembered that her betting slip was in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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