Monday 25 May 2009

MR CURLY TOP - by Col Bury

Something a bit different...


So the question beckoned: should he risk prison and wrap the wheel-brace round the cheeky bastard’s head?

Two hours earlier Dave stirred in his bed at the trill of the phone. Consciousness brought with it a parched mouth and throbbing head. As usual the thought of never drinking again was only fleeting and he virtually ignored it knowing many more sessions would inevitably occur.

He reached for the phone and grumbled, ‘Hello.’

‘Dave, it’s Franco. Hope it’s not too early.’

Who the fuck is Franco? Dave glanced at the red digits of the clock radio: 07:00…on a Sunday bleedin’ morning!

‘Dave, are you still there?’

‘Yeah, yeah.’

‘My ice cream van’s broke down and I’m booked into the carnival today. It’s mega money and I can’t miss it. I tried to call you last night.’

Ah, right. It’s that greaseball from down the road. Mr Curly Bollocks, or somefin. ‘I was out last night. It’s a bit early innit?’

‘I know, I know, but I really do need the van today, mate.’

Mate? He hardly knew him. He’d nodded to him in the street once or twice, nothing more. But a foreigner’s a foreigner, and the dosh would pay for another session. Plus his business was mainly word of mouth and he wanted to maintain his good rep’. ‘Okay. Since I’m up now, I’ll take a look. Gimme an hour.’

‘Can you make it half an hour? I have to get to the carnival.’

Fuck me! ‘Okay.’

Forty minutes later, with his head still banging, Dave trudged down the street and was met by Franco beside his ice cream van.

‘Dave, I thought you said half an hour.’

Bloody hell, Franco! ‘You’re lucky to have me here at all. What’s the problem anyway?’ he asked, feeling rain tapping his tender head.

‘Engine noises, chugging and stalling.’

Great. ‘I’ll have a nosey and see what I can do. No promises though.’

‘But what about…’

‘…The carnival. I know. I’ll try me best.’

Over an hour later, and wetter than seaweed, Dave heard Franco exit the warmth of his house via the front door.

‘Sorted it yet?’

Dave’s oil-smeared face peered round the raised bonnet. ‘Cleaned your plugs and EGR valve, tweaked the timing belt and put some oil in it cos you were running dry,’ he sighed, jingling the keys. ‘Give it a try.’

Franco took the keys and turned it over first time.

‘Ah, that sounds better already,’ he said revealing ivory teeth.

‘Whizz it round the block and see how it’s running.’

Dave sucked on a well-earned cig' and within a minute Franco was back.


‘Yeah, but I forgot to mention the front nearside tyre needs changing.’

Dave gazed at the said tyre, biting his lip hard, very hard. He could see it was dangerously bald. He took an audible drag of his cig' then killed it underfoot. ‘Can’t you use your spare and change it yourself?’

Franco shrugged. ‘I’m useless with cars and I’ll be late for…’

‘…The carnival…of course...mega money, right?’ Dave again thought of his business rep’ and reluctantly agreed to do it.

A little later, still clutching the wheel brace, Dave shouted Franco to tell him he’d finished.

Franco emerged donning his white ice cream man coat. ‘Oh, Dave, you’re a real mate. I knew I could rely on you,’ he said, passing Dave and entering the van.

Well, at least it was beer token time.

Franco returned proffering a cornet topped with lashings of curly vanilla ice cream split by a flake. ‘Thanks a lot, mate.’

Dave glared at the cornet. Stunned. Speechless.

‘Oh, sorry. Do you want raspberry sauce on that?’ Franco’s grin was smarm personified.

Still eyeing the cornet, Dave tightened his grip on the wheel brace.

‘Call it a token of my appreciation…a Mr Curly Top Special,’ said Franco, stretching the cornet arm closer to Dave.

Dave grimaced and raised the wheel brace, then his family and business rep’ nudged his manic thoughts: the old devil and the angel debate. He dropped the wheel brace with a clang, smiled and took the ice cream from Franco.

‘Try it, Dave. You’ll love it, mate. Everyone does. Now I must go to…’ The sentence was abruptly halted by Dave slamming the ice cream SPLAT onto Franco’s nose, where it belonged.

‘…The Carnival, I know, MATE. Now you can go as Coco The Fuckin Clown, you cheeky bastard!’

Col Bury is currently writing a crime novel and his ever-growing selection of short stories can be found on TKnC and A Twist Of Noir. He blogs and interviews crime authors here:


  1. Good one Col, bet it took you a lot of restraint not to have Dave turn him in FUBAR-Franco.

  2. I was expecting crushed nuts with that cornet!

  3. Cheers, Lee. Restraint's not the word. I just wanted to kill the f....., but Dave's a good guy so...

    Matt - a missed opportunity with your alternative ending.
    After 'splat' - 'Do you want crushed nuts on that?' followed by a sturdy kick in the balls!

  4. A touch of "Tales of the Unexpected" here - was NOT expecting that ending but it did have a feelgood factor, a twist with a difference - nicely executed, Col.

  5. lol! - my sympathies were with Dave the whole way through, nice one Col!

  6. Franco got his just desserts in the end. A nice humorous flavour to that one, Col.

  7. Ice creamed, with laughter . No? okay. great story.

  8. I was hoping for 'hundreds and thousands' of laughs. No? Okay, cheers, Paul!

  9. After reading your other stuff thought Dave may have cut his brake pipe and he'd have blood on his hands instead of the raspberry sauce! Good change thou' mate

  10. Cheers, Chris. I did say it was 'a bit different!'

  11. *snort!* Good stuff, really enjoyed it. :)

  12. Thanks, Julie. I appreciate that.

  13. This is a great short story that doesn’t involve guns, drugs or criminals. There are just two characters and one situation. It’s funny, clever and well written. What more could a reader want?

  14. Ta very much, Warren. I'm glad you liked this somewhat different approach to crime, and appreciate you taking the time to comment.