Saturday, July 4, 2009

First Golden Ticket Found!

Brandon Cattell Ponders his Discovery

Today Wonka Tobacco Works proudly announced the winner of the first Golden Ticket. Brandon Cattell found the ticket yesterday in a package of Wonka Imperials, purchased at the Kicking Donkey pup in Cloverdale. Of course we all heard about it right after the ticket was discovered thanks to our village news network (the phone exchange and neighbor's back fences). I grabbed my pencil and pad and rushed out the door hoping to get the first exclusive interview for my kind readers. I found Brandon at the Kicking Donkey surrounded by well wishers. He was nursing his third pint and seemed three sheets to the wind. Complete sentences were a challenge but not unusual for Brandon. Mastering the English language wasn’t important. Slaughtering a side of beef was. Brandon is a butcher, working at the local Red Owl Grocery Store. His cuts are well known to locals. Announcing you were serving Cattell cuts at your dinner party was sure to produce applause.

When I arrived I found Brandon sitting at a table. The party had moved on to the bar, leaving Brandon to his thoughts. He was fixated on the television, suspended from the ceiling near the pub’s fireplace. He had his Imperials on the table. The Golden Ticket was off to one side. It was obvious he’d just gotten off work judging by his appearance. His hat was still attached to his head with bobby pins. His apron and T-shirt were bloody, giving the impression he had been recently shot in the chest.

“He looks that way all the time when he comes in here,” the Publican said as he sat my Diet Coke with lime down on the table. “First stop he makes when he gets off work. Comes in, orders a pack of Wonka Imperials and a pint, sits and stares at the TV. It don’t matter what’s on. He stares like that all the time. Right unnerving it is. I’ve asked him to wash up before coming in but he won’t hear of it. I Iet it go. We’re all use to it. Besides, he cuts the best steaks in town and sees to it that my orders are filled first.”

“Is that so?” I asked Brandon. He looked at me with a sense of curiosity then took another cigarette out of the package, lit up and inhaled - long and deliberate. He held the smoke for a second or two then exhaled a stream of white smoke toward the tele.
“What do you think about your Golden Ticket? You’re the first in the world to win.” I asked. He looked down at the ticket.
“Found it in my smokes,” he said. “Hell of a thing to find in your smokes.”
“Yes, I’m sure it was. What are you feeling?” I returned to my unanswered question. By then a few of the regulars had returned to the table to listen in on the interview.
“I’m feeling the need.” He slurred as he struggled to his feet. “Gotta Crap.” A path suddenly appeared through the crowd leading to the Pub’s toilets. He stumbled in their general direction. Half way across the room he cleared his throat with such a sound one thought he’d dislodged his windpipe. He stopped and looked around. He had something in his mouth, something rather large. The Publican quickly produced a spittoon. but too late. Brandon reached down, gathered the bottom of his apron into his hands, pulled his apron up to his mouth and made a large deposit.’ Dropping his apron, he continue toward the toilets.

I waited. I examined the Golden Ticket. I was glad the first was found in Coverdale. It seemed only fitting considering the Wonka Tobacco Works was located right outside of town.

Brandon didn’t return. The Publican found him passed out in one of the stalls. A few of the locals carried him home to his Mrs. I took the Ticket for safe keeping and left it with his wife. She wasn’t please and seemed prepared to rip the ticket in half. Apparently his smoking is a concern of hers. Anything that encouraged him to continue was seen by her to be a challenge to her nagging, threats and ultimatums. Just as she attempted to destroy the ticket someone wearing a black coat, black hat and cane stepped from the shadows and stopped her.
“Excuse me,” he said apologetically for stepping in front of me on the doorstep. “May we speak,” he asked Mrs. Cattell politely. “It is urgent.”
She stepped back with surprise, then consented. The door closed abruptly leaving me to my imaginings.

As of this writing I don’t know who that was or whether or not the ticket was destroyed or kept.

The sun rises and sets on our village of Cloverdale. Our people continue as they have done for hundreds of years. We work, we play, we pray and we dream of better days with lighter loads.


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