The Winner

Submitted into Contest #87 in response to: Write about a mischievous pixie or trickster god.... view prompt



The Winner

Puck  is always playing tricks. He enjoys watching people become confused but he does not want  to harm anyone.

Have you ever got ready to go out, walked into the hall and found you car keys are not in the pot on the hall stand? You are sure you put them there when you came in – you always do. You look on the floor in case you dropped them and reach up to search your coat pocket taking a glove out of each pocket to search but putting them carefully back. You need to get going so you go and fetch your spare car keys from your desk. You put on your coat and pick up your gloves from on top of the key pot. You stop for a moment surely you put your gloves back into  your pockets.. You shake your head look at your watch and hurry out. When you return a few hours later you put your car keys into the pot hang up you coat. One glove falls on the floor and you bend down to pick it up. Underneath the glove are your car keys. You think “They must have been there all the time.” You think you hear someone laughing in the street outside but realise that is just not possible with triple glazing.

Or maybe you have parked your car, early in the morning, in the only spot on the far side of the car park. You make a mental note of the number on the post in front of your car. You come back late in the evening and it is already dark. You walk across to where you parked you car and it’s not there. You check the number on the post. This  is definitely where you parked the car. You turn round and walk back towards the car park entrance taking your phone out of your pocket and switching it on as you walk. Just as you are about to dial for a taxi you see a car, it is the only one  in the car park, right by the entrance. You look at the car and realise it is yours. You look at the number on the post ‘21’ – you are sure that you parked in spot ‘221’. Must be getting forgetful? Still you have found your car and can go home to bed. You think you hear someone laughing behind you, you turn round, but you are the only person in the car park.

If anything like this has ever happened to you then you have been the victim of Puck, Hobgoblin or Robin Goodfellow all names for the same malicious demon. He enjoys playing tricks but as the medieval name Goodfellow suggests he is one of the good fairies. He loves to play tricks on people and thinks he is the best ever prankster. Puck is a native British spirit whereas Loki (another prankster) was a Norse God who came here with the Vikings. Loki and Puck have much in common though Loki can be cruel.

Both Puck and Loki are able to shape shift – be human, animal, bird, male female or whatever they like. No human can therefore recognise them but they are able to recognise each other. They both think they are the greatest prankster ever and at a party they both attended, after rather a lot of drink, they decided that they should have a contest to find out which was the best. They persuaded Oberon and Odin (their respective masters) to judge the competition.

Oberon and Odin found two men who were identical twins. They were moneylenders. Money was all they thought about. They never spent money on anything other than essentials and spent all their time finding people who needed a loan, lending them the money they needed and collecting it back with interest. They shared a house and they lived on the upper floor, the ground floor was where they had their offices. They shared a housekeeper who looked after the house, did their laundry and cooked their food. They also shared a secretary/bookkeeper. So they only had to pay two salaries and one National Insurance payment – the housekeepers’ earnings were too low to qualify her for National Insurance. The housekeeper and secretary were husband and wife and part of their payment was having a flat in the basement. Neither of them had ever seen either brother even smile. Most of the time the brothers scowled.

Loki was given Richard as his challenge and Puck Michael. The challenge was to make their twin smile or, if possible laugh. The brothers hardly ever went out (if anyone did not pay up they sent their enforcer round. Their enforcer was a large, strong, simple man who lived in the attic. He was happy to have somewhere to live and to have regular meals provided and did not need anything else.) The competitors had to find something in the twins’ dull regimented life that they could tweak and bring – at least momentarily – a change of personality. Loki and Puck agreed that they should take it in turns and that whoever made their twin smile first was the winner as long as the other did not succeed in the same round.

Puck noticed that Michael had a habit of getting up from his office chair and walking across the room to stare out of the window. While Michael was looking out of the window Puck made the chair fall over. Michael did not seem to notice the bang and when he got back to his desk simply picked up the chair and sat down. Richard had two clocks on his desk – he liked to know the exact time. Whilst Richard was reading a document Loki moved the time on one of the clocks so it showed an hour and a half earlier than the other one. When Richard thought it was nearly lunch time he looked at his two clocks looked annoyed, picked up his phone and dialled the speaking clock. He put the speaking clock on speaker phone and adjusted both clocks so they were correct. Then he tidied up his desk went out of the door, locking it behind him, and went upstairs for lunch – the usual soup and a hunk of bread.

Loki had noticed that the twins were always immaculately dressed. He made Michael spill soup down his shirt and trousers. Instead of laughing Richard said “you should take more care, brother, that’s going to increase the cleaning bill.”

Puck was aware that Michael was due to receive £15000 from Jack Sprat . Puck knew that Sprat had sold his house for a million pounds and moved to the U.S.A. Michael sent the enforcer to collect the money from Jack Sprat as it was a day over due. The house was still empty but Puck had made it look occupied and when the enforcer knocked on the door he opened it. What the enforcer saw was an elderly lady in a smart dress.

“Can I speak to Jack Sprat?”

“Sorry. He doesn’t live here anymore.”

“So did you buy the house off him? “

“That’s a joke? He never owned this house and he did a moonlight flit owing me six month’s rent.”

When the enforcer reported back Michael got out Sprat’s file. He checked that Sprat had said he owned the house and that there was a letter from Sprat’s solicitor saying Michael could sell the house and take what he was owed, plus expenses, if the loan was not repaid. Michael rang the number on the solicitor’s letter and asked to speak to Mr Maddox. The reception said that there was no Mr. Maddox and never had been. Michael told his brother who said “I keep telling you to do thorough background checks on people. So instead of being £5,000 up we’re now £10,000 down.”

Michael hated being told off by his brother who never made any mistakes. He locked himself in his room and worked through till midnight.

The next day Michael was over the moon when he opened an envelope to find a cheque for £100,000 signed J.Sprat. The accompanying letter said that Jack had used the £10,000 to back a horse that had come in at a hundred to one and had a payout of one million pounds. He wrote that he had then used £100,000 of his winning to place more successful bets and he was now a multi millionaire   He thought it was only fair to send Michael ten percent of his original winnings as without the loan he would not have been able to place the first bet. Michael rang the bank that had issued the cheque and they confirmed that they would certainly be able to honour the cheque if Michael took it in.

Michael bounded out of his office and knocked on his brother’s office door. He waved the cheque at Richard and said this was the biggest profit either of them had ever made and that has checked with the bank and they would be willing to honour it. The look on his brother’s face made Michael smile.

So Puck had won. In fact he actually made both brothers smile. When Michael presented the cheque at the bank the teller asked him to wait. Michael was not surprised, it was a large pay out. After ten minutes he was shown into the manager’s office. The manager asked Michael to sit down and then explained that he would not be able to honour the cheque.

“But when I rang I was told Mr. Sprat’s account had sufficient funds and that your bank would honour the cheque.”

“That is true. But I am afraid you have been the subject of a practical joke. This cheque is forged. The signature J Sprat on the cheque is not our Mr. Sprat’s signature, his signature is very different.”

“Well as he’s in America I can’t go to see him. Can you contact him and see if he would write me a replacement check because it was to pay back a loan taken out six months ago?”

“Our Mr. Sprat lives next door and I can assure you that he has never ever needed a loan for anything. He is a very successful business man who owns a number of multi million pound companies.”

Michael left the bank and went back to his office. He was looking very miserable when he told Richard what the bank manager had said and Richard’s mouth curled up, just a little – he had never learnt to smile.

April 02, 2021 15:43

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RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

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