EAST ENDERS

by Edward Wilkinson Latham

Photography & Design by EWL

Stan mopped up the gravy on his plate with the last bit of bread and butter and shoved it in his mouth. He raised his Millwall mug to his lips and drank the rest of the now tepid tea, chumming it al together like a cement mixer before swallowing the mixture.

“Beautiful as usual darling”, he tried to say, but after partly regurgitating the last mouthful, he decided to wait for a second.

“What love?” said his wife Janet, curled up on the couch in a turquoise velour tracksuit, armed with a pack of king-size Raffles and the TV remote. “Cheesecake in the fridge if you got room, love”.

Stan could hear the theme tune of East Enders just starting as his wife ceased talking.

"Why does she watch that shit", Stan grumbled to himself before shouting, “If I lived in Albert Square I’d move".

“Where would you move to Stan", said his wife hoping that humour would put an end to his noise before the theme music finished.

“Dallas of course."

"Of course", mocked Janet.

"Sunshine, oil and big horn cattle", continued Stan, putting his hands on his hips and pushing his groin our a bit. "J.R. in his hat by the pool, hand on some piece of young arse, while Sue Ellyn is passed out on the couch. Just like you, eh love? Bobby! Bobby!" Stan started to imitate J.R. His other impersonation was Mike Baldwin from Coronation Street, although Stan swore he could never live in Weatherfield come hell or high water.

“Shut it Stan. It’s starting now", replied his wife. “Not a peep! You know I like it. You’re just winding me up. Now behave yourself. Go out or something.”

“You wouldn't be trying to blackmail old J.R., would you?" Stan!

"Like my daddy always said, where there's a will, there's a way.”

“Shhh!”

Stan hung up his imaginary Stetson on the back of the kitchen door and started on the washing up. While he was washing his plate he thought about the rival American soap at the time, Dynasty, but wracked his brain to remember where it was set in the US. He loosely rinsed the plate under the cold tap and briefly went over it with the tea towel remembering when his wife used to copy the Alexis Colby style in the eighties with the big hair and the huge shoulder pads, boobs up front and tight skirts. He missed those days. His favorite suit still fitted him then. He had got it from Debenhams when he had taken a picture of Larry Hagman, cut out of the Radio Times, dressed in a light grey suit and matching waistcoat. He had managed to find one close to the original, but it had small white flecks in the cloth, but he thought it was close enough along side his low cut cowboy loafers. He then managed to buy a cowboy hat down Petticoat Lane Market from Big Dave for the finishing touch. He loved wearing that outfit and when his wife dressed up they always turned heads when they went to weddings. He had wanted her dress like Sue Ellen, but she refused to play a slut and a drunk, something that Stan thought she could pull off without thinking. When Brian the Butcher died on holiday in the Gambia, Stan thought about getting a black suit and black Stetson to wear at the funeral, but his wife talked him out of it.

Stan reached up to open the kitchen cupboard and as he did, he felt a strange hot sensation in his chest and a sudden dizziness. "Denver! Denver Colorado, of course", he said in his ridiculous American accent. That’s where Dynasty is set. Couldn't live there either..." His speech tailed off and Stan felt his lips lose their elasticity and a blob of dribble lulled out from the side of his mouth. The air in his throat and lungs became thin and metallic tasting and his entire body then went limp apart from his hand that that spasmodically clamped on to the kitchen cupboard handle. He fell to the floor on his knees like a string puppet, his chin making contact with the kitchen counter top on his way down. His hand then released from the cupboard handle and he fell on to the cool linoleum floor.

“Flynn! Stop pissing about. Leave your sister alone.”

The voice sounded distant but familiar, triggering a brief jolt in Stan's brain like jump-starting an old car on a cold winter's morning. His mind began to slowly make simple picture associations with the words he heard. He saw Flynn floating in front of him; a fat and stupid seven-year-old boy in his red tracksuit eagerly feeding on a chocolate bar, his cheeks blotchy and flushed. Never had a father although plenty of sad substitutes had come and gone over the years, especially during Christmas and the height of summer. He was the son of Maureen who lived next door, his wife's best friend. Stan flinched and his brain played a distant memory of that night outside The Yew Tree pub, spying on Maureen fumbling with Leroy Wise down the alley. Leroy was then the boss of the Stratford boys at the time and had a lisp that he accommodated with killing or disfiguring anyone who remarked on it, but Leroy died soon after, never to be seen again.

“Clear”, Stan heard the strange voice.

“Please madam could you please keep your son out of the way.”

“Flynn! Out!”

Stan felt a sudden electrifying cramp in his anus and neck simultaneously. His eyes started to flicker and bright light momentarily penetrated his vision.

“Look, he’s coming round. Janet love, he's comin' round", said Maureen.

“Stan, can you hear me?” said an unfamiliar deep voice."

“Thank you Mrs. Tarska”, the voice continued. "Please we need some room here."

Stan’s eyes moved back and forth under his thick eyelids, the colours panning from deep orange to brown. He breathed cold clean air, in and out with no effort. His eyes peeled opened to see the stain on the kitchen ceiling that Janet said she thought looked like a UFO. Stan had kept it there as a party joke so he could talk about Dallas again, when Pam Ewing was abducted by an alien.

One of the paramedics, a black man with a high forehead and green eyes leaned over Stan to secure his oxygen mask. Stan shouted a muffled yelp in fear, thinking it was Leroy back from the dead to take his revenge. He struggled and moments later he was shocked again with the defibrillator. He felt that electrifying cramp in his anus once again, making his back arch up. He opened his eyes again and another man with ginger hair and a matching moustache came into Stan’s view. He could see his wife as well, clasping a peach coloured tissue to her cheek and sobbing. The paramedics counted three and moved Stan on to the stretcher. He could hear the theme music to East Enders on the TV fade slowly as he was carried through the front door and then the sound abruptly stopped as the door slammed shut behind.

Edward Wilkinson-Latham ©