OUT OF THE BLUE
Leonard Loveland sat on the sofa next to his wife awaiting the commencement of Jim’ll Fix It on their sparkling new remote controlled television set. It was a show Amelia loved, as she was fond of seeing the dreams of youngsters turned into reality by the eccentric Uncle Jimmy.
Mrs Loveland fantasized about the kids on the show being her own, and each triumphant fix-it would see her well-up with pride and emotion.
“I think I’ll nip down the off-licence.”
Amelia was fully supporting of her husband’s offer of red wine and a family sized bag of crisps. Besides, he could kill two birds with one stone by allowing Gerald and Suzanne the chance to stretch their legs.
Both surrogate parents were deeply saddened by the passing of Keith and Judith. The latter went first, and followed within a week by her brother – who pretty much gave up after losing his beloved sibling and playmate.
Within a fortnight of Keith’s demise, another couple of golden retrievers were installed as ready made replacements.
Leonard Loveland was now forty-five years of age, and had been as good as his word by being a faithful husband during the eight years since handing back Grace Windcheater’s P45.
His transformation was complete after giving up the exotic woodbines in 1974. Leonard realised the drug inspired a hedonism that wasn’t there before, and his desire to get stronger and longer lasting highs was manifesting itself as endless pursuits of illicit nookie.
Mr Loveland also saw his motivation for work subside during this time, and knew something had to be done if he was to stay successful. In conjunction with giving up his soft drug vice, Leonard downsized and left his gossip magazine editor post. Being in constant contact with the affluent would always fast track him toward freely available narcotics. He’d developed quite a liking for cocaine, but realised its damaging physical and financial impact early on.
He was now happy living the simple life, and never stopped appreciating how refreshed his body felt on waking. Excessive use of his own merchandise always left him with a murky head and dulled senses.
Leonard had worked very hard to get himself into the position of very soon being able to dismantle his dodgy greenhouse harvest.
The 1978 World Cup was an example of an occasion where Albert Windcheater sorely missed his old sparring partner.
Albert’s mind had almost totally gone to the dogs in recent times, but the old man’s ability to remember details from the past were as sharp as ever. He fondly recalled the day Tommy Trite turned up to the dockyard and immediately won him and his mates over with his sunny nature and cheeky grin. Albert also vividly remembered taking Tommy and a few of his work mates along to the local dance hall, where Tommy met Ada and fell in love during a rendition of Painting the Clouds with Sunshine.
Albert felt very sad for Tommy. He himself had had a very lucky life, and fully accepted and welcomed the fact his own number would soon be called.
As Albert awaited the live television pictures to be beamed in from Argentina, he reminisced about the way Tommy always had a knack of putting people at ease with his laid back optimism. He also wondered what Tommy would’ve made of England’s failure to qualify for the finals on two successive occasions.
Well, at least there was the consolation of having Scotland to cheer on. The old man was broad minded enough to want the Scots to do well, despite England’s recent capitulations being welcomed with utter joy and celebration north of the border. Albert felt decidedly relaxed about watching Scotland’s make or break final group game; he’d like to see them progress, but equally wouldn’t be bothered if it went tits up for them.
As it happened, the Scots gave the mighty Dutch side an almighty scare when they went 3-1 up. The Jocks needed to win by three clear goals, and with twenty minutes remaining, required just one more to take their place in the next round.
It wasn’t to be, and a sizzling thirty yard strike flew past the bubble permed Scottish keeper to make it 3-2. It was a hugely entertaining game, and Albert thoroughly enjoyed it.
About ten minutes after the final whistle confirmed Scotland’s heroic failure, Albert died peacefully and contentedly.
As part of Leonard Loveland’s self imposed rehabilitation he started exercising, and his blue Admiral tracksuited figure was a common sight jogging through the sprawling acreage of Dulwich Park. He also played a weekly game of badminton with his wife, and toned up his pecs down the gym. None of this would’ve been feasible if he’d continued getting wankered on his home grown produce.
After his latest run around the park, he returned home and made himself some peppermint tea. Even caffeine had been taken by the scruff of the neck and frogmarched out the door.
Leonard wasn’t puritan enough to say goodbye to all his vices, and allowed himself five cigarettes a day. The ones he enjoyed after his various workouts were always the ones that tasted best.
Amelia Loveland had made the long journey north to Glasgow, as her father was on his last legs in hospital. Since Morton McNaleckie’s eventful Christmas visit a few years earlier, he made two further trips down south to visit Amelia and Leonard, and impressed the husband and wife by displaying a more open-minded and sympathetic demeanour. Leonard wondered whether the influence of the drug-tampered tea had made the dour old sod more open minded.
Doctor Kilmore took Amelia to one side to explain the grave health of her father, and to prepare herself for a drastic change in his mental state.
The severe stroke had left Mr McNaleckie paralysed down most of his left side, and impacted his brain to the extent where he had absolutely no control over his emotions and speech.
Amelia expected the worst and got it. Her father opened his eyes and gave his daughter a slow and quizzical look. Eventually the right hand side of the old man’s face cracked into a smile.
The only Susan Amelia was aware of was her paternal grandmother, who died in 1947.
“Dad, it’s me – Amelia, your daughter!”
Mrs Loveland went onto auto pilot and spoke strongly, gripping her father’s right hand tightly to encourage him to return to his previous self.
Amelia didn’t have a clue who Audrey was, and her head toppled to rest against her chest.
“Tell those fucking kids to stop riding about on those scooters! The little shits nearly had me. I’ll fucking tear them limb from limb, ungrateful little fuckers!”
Amelia was horrified at her father’s messed up brain. Before today, the worst cuss she’d heard from her father was the word damn. Mr McNaleckie’s outrageous expletives were spoken in a one hundred percent proof Glaswegian purity of a Govan tenement block alcoholic.
Mrs Loveland’s only wish now was for her father to soon be dead.
“GREAT HAIRY MINGE!”
The entire congregation of the Shughie McFee ward turned and gasped at the bellowed profanity, and Dr Kilmore ordered a nurse to inject Mr McNaleckie with a family sized dose of sedative.
Amelia had long since left the hospital when her father woke up several hours later. His ravaged brain was functioning slightly better than before, and he understood the significance of the Holland versus Scotland World Cup match being shown on the communal television.
Morton McNaleckie was never interested in football, but got caught up in the excitement of his nation’s valiant attempt to pull off the impossible. When Archie Gemmill waltzed through the Dutch defence to put the Scots 3-1 up, the pint sized midfield maestro not only provided his country with one of its greatest sporting moments, but also contributed to the cause of humane euthanasia by killing Mr McNaleckie with the excitement.
Earlier that day, Leonard Loveland was sat in his living room drinking peppermint tea and listening to his Electric Light Orchestra Out of the Blue LP.
The soon-to-be former drug dealer gave himself a pat on the back for the hard work he’d put in at sorting himself out. Tonight, he’d provide a long term acquaintance with an eighth, and then pull down the shutters on his shady second career. Tomorrow, he’d destroy what remained of his cannabis plants.
Leonard was interrupted from his aural nourishing by a loud knock. The tracksuited health fanatic turned down the volume on his new music centre, and made his way sedately to the front door; which he opened to be confronted by Detective Inspector Dennis Dovetail.
“Mr Leonard Dylan Loveland?”
Loveland’s face drained of blood. He stared at the questioner and could only gawp open mouthed as a reply.
Detective Inspector Dovetail tucked his I.D. back into the breast pocket of his raincoat.
“You are under arrest on suspicion of cultivating and distributing illegal substances. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence...”
The deadpan delivery had been used a thousand times over the course of Dennis Dovetail’s distinguished career, and it always fascinated him as to how the accused reacted. On this occasion, it struck him as strange when the arrested man didn’t appear to be taking any notice of him when issuing the formality. Instead, Leonard Loveland stared with disbelief at the officer stood a yard behind him. His look of incredulity was returned with a half smile and sly wink from WPC Windcheater.