The Quest For The Lost Car Keys

Featuring Malcolm Muddlehead, the man who makes a mountain out of a molehill and who thinks the moles undermining his bungalow will eventually cause the collapse of the cul-de-sac and ultimately civilisation itself.

Malcolm Muddlehead woke from a troubled sleep with a start. He’d just been gnashed to death by a two headed monster and now his bed was shaking like a storm tossed ship.

Lightning flashes streaked across his bedroom wall and his curtains billowed as rain splashed through his swinging bedroom window. In panic he switched on his bedside lamp only to be jolted by an electric shock. He shot out of bed and rushed to close the window stubbing his toe on the chest of drawers.

The carpet was wet as a swamp and heavy rain lashed the glass panes like spears being hurled by warring jungle tribes.

Nervously peering out from behind the sodden curtain he looked at the havoc in the cul-de-sac. The poplar trees across the road were swaying like two angry giants waving clubs. The leylandii hedge was swelling like a tidal wave and someone’s washing was flying about like ghosts in a tumble dryer.

Malcolm looked out in horror at his neighbour’s car being pummelled by the tempest. Thank goodness his own was tucked up safely in the garage. He wondered if he should phone Mr Pratt to warn him of the pandemonium. But then he yawned and decided to go back to bed. He could always help tidy up the devastation in the morning.

Suddenly a crack of lightning made his bedroom blaze like an erupting volcano and then a thunderclap shook the bungalow as if an earthquake was about to destroy it. The street lights went out and his bedside lamp crackled and popped.

It was then he heard a howl that sent a chill down his spine. There was a scratching at the door that made the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. He froze in fear as the handle turned. He waited for what seemed a lifetime until the door burst open. A black shape hurtled towards him. He dashed into bed and pulled the covers over his head. He winced as something alive landed on top of him. That something was crushing the life out of him. Struggling for breath he passed out.

In the morning he came to and felt a heavy weight bearing down on him. With all his might he pushed it off the bed and then heard a yelp and a thud as it hit the floor. Summoning all of his courage he peeked out from under the duvet and saw Scott, his black Labrador licking an injured paw.

Malcolm hazily pieced together last night’s cataclysmic events and concluded that he was lucky to still be alive.

He looked around the room and noticed that apart from one shattered light bulb and a damp patch on the curtains there’d been surprisingly little damage.

Bravely he rose from the bed and tiptoed towards the window fearing the worst. He peeked from behind the curtains relieved to see the street was still intact and his hydrangea bushes had not been battered. All that remained of last night’s turmoil was Mr.Littlejohn’s long johns hanging from the magnolia tree at number 7’s.

Tremblingly he dressed and tentatively opened his bedroom door. Nothing seemed untoward until he entered the kitchen. Then it hit him like a hammer. It was a sock to the jaw. He staggered backwards and landed on his kitchen stool.

There on the wall beside the cooker he saw the hook. Shiny and curved like a little finger. Screwed into the wall. Brazenly mocking him. It was laughing at him. It was taunting him. His worst fears were realised. His car keys were missing.

He froze in shock then almost keeled over. How on earth could he exist without his car? How would he get to the bowling club? It was his steed. His carriage. It was an extension of himself. It was his extra leg. His beloved olive green Vauxhall Astra.

He determined to search high and low. He would not rest until he had fulfilled this formidable challenge. He would find those keys or die trying.

He’d not leave one drawer unopened, one cushion unturned.

He steeled his nerves. He clenched his jaw. His resolve was firm. He’d even skip breakfast.
Fearlessly he thrust his hands into his trouser pockets.

Handkerchiefs. Pennies. Pound coins. Peppermints. One hundred times he checked. Left pocket. Right pocket. Back pockets. Back pocket right. Front pocket left. Right, left. Back, front. No car keys!
He emptied his mother’s old fruit bowl. It hadn’t seen a banana for years but was filled with buttons and foreign coins, shrivelled conkers and faded raffle tickets. No car keys!

He opened drawers and cupboards, scattering tea towels and utensils in a flurry of desperation. He emptied cereal packets and muesli and cornflakes crackled under foot. But still, no car keys!
He looked in the fridge. He looked in the oven. He looked in the toaster, the microwave and the kettle. No car keys!

Panic now turned to anger. He would not put up with this. He strode into the lounge looked behind the sofa then gripped floral cushions in his bare hands, throttling them as he interrogated them one by one. But none confessed to knowing anything about the whereabouts of his indispensable keys. He glowered menacingly at the tropical fish. In a rage he upturned the coffee table and hurtled out of the room and then crashed into Scott who’d been coming in to the room to see what the commotion was.

Malcolm and his dog sat in the hall together surveying the wreckage. He realised he needed help.

Reaching for the phone on hall wall, with trembling fingers he dialled the number for his best friend Albert Iremonger. No answer.

Next he phoned his sister Marjorie who told him not to be such a baby and slammed the phone down on him.

Thirdly he tried Citizen’s Advice but he was told he’d have to make an appointment and because of staff shortages it would be at least a month until they could fit him in. Malcolm couldn’t wait that long. He had his weekly supermarket shop to do tomorrow.

He put head in his hands and he wept. He’d never felt so bereft.

But then Scott jumped up and barked at the broom cupboard. Malcolm looked at his canine companion and realised that between them they’d solve this mystery once and for all.

Side by side they inched along the magnolia wall until they reached the cream white door. Holding his breath, Malcolm turned the chrome handle and flung the door open.

A tentacle sprang from the cavern, tangling around his legs and pulling him to the ground. Scott growled as his master wrestled with the writhing monster on the beige carpet. Malcolm felt his strength ebbing, his spirit weakening, his life swimming before his eyes.

But then heroically he reached deep within to find the reserves for one last supreme effort. He tore the tentacle from his thighs and hurled the creature along the hall. Smashing through the front door it landed on the concrete path outside and burst open.

Malcolm and Scott approached the vanquished foe and stared at the disgorged contents of its stomach.

And now he saw his quest was over. His work done. His prize won. For lying amongst three months worth of domestic detritus: of dust, of matted hair, match sticks, staples, a model airplane wheel, dried shrunken apple cores, peach stones, tissues and toffee wrappers, were his precious car keys.

He stooped towards the wreckage of his vacuum cleaner and scooped the jewels from its bowels and held them triumphantly aloft for all the curtain twitchers in the cul-de-sac to witness.

He went back inside to celebrate his victory with a cup of tea and a buttered scone. It had all been too much excitement for Scott so he went for a lie down in the dog basket.

Copyright © Clive PiG Words 1347 20/05/2016