Cathy Vella’s New Short Story – Bring Me My Shotgun


BRING ME MY SHOTGUN

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Cliff Richard had gone too far this time.  He was going to pay.

Keith sat facing his hostage, studying the wispy fringe that had once been a thick and lustrous quiff.

“I don’t know what you hope to achieve by this,” said ageing rock and roll star, Sir Cliff Richard.

“You need to be stopped.” Keith chopped at the air to emphasise his point.

“Stopped?  What do you mean, stopped?” Keith heard Cliff’s gentle lisp and it transported him to a time of innocence. He closed his eyes and pictured a younger Cliff, a Cliff with a quiff that bounced as he banged the bongos in Expresso Bongo. Cliff struggled against the tape binding him to the chair.

Behind the septuagenarian pop-icon, a small TV screen played Summer Holiday. A man sat cross-legged in front of the screen, singing along and occasionally pausing to laugh manically.

“Can you even play the bongos Cliff, or should I call you Harry?”

The man suddenly jumped up and ran from the screen wailing, “…we’ll enjoy the maaaaaagic, but we won’t fall in LOOOOVE.” He scurried and sat at Keith’s ankles, panting like a puppy.  He stared at actor and philanthropist, Sir Cliff.

“What is it you want?  Do you want money? I have lots of money,” Sir Cliff’s lip curled into his trademark pout.

“I know you do, but we’re past that now.” He rested his hand on top of the man’s head.

“Daddy can I touch him, pleeeeeeeease?”

“NO DON!” he slapped him hard on the top of his head.

“What do you want?” pleaded the former Young One.

“I need to show you the error of your ways.”

The 73-years-young singer hung his head and sobbed. “What have I ever done to you?”

Keith clicked the remote and Cliff’s face appeared on the screen. Mistletoe and Wine blared out from the speakers.

“Sing.”

“What?”

“You heard me, sing.”

Cliff’s voice croaked as he heaved back the sobs, “…the child is a king, the carollers sing, the old has past, there’s a new beginning…”

Keith and his Don closed their eyes and began to sway at Cliffs’ hypnotic tones. Don hummed out of tune and was hit swiftly on the head; he stopped with a yelp.

“Sing the fucking chorus,” Keith growled.

Christmas time, Mistletoe and Wine, Children singing….” Cliff’s voice broke and he started bawling loudly again. “Pleeeease, wha-whatever you have done… it doesn’t matter, we…we can make this right…I won-”

“No Cliff, it’s too late. It’s TOO LATE TO MAKE IT RIGHT!”

Cliff squealed like a baby at the booming voice.  Keith clicked the remote again. Saviour’s Day started to play.

“Why… why?” Cliff pleaded.

“SING!”

“…many have come from the valleys, many have come from the hills…” he stopped.

“Chorus!”

“No.”

“What?”

“I said no.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

“I’m not doing it.”

“Don, bring me my shotgun.”

Don, scuttled out of the room.

“Wha-what…why are you doing this? What do you want from me?” Sir Cliff writhed and stamped his feet. He rocked as hard as he could and the chair danced on two legs, then toppled over. From this angle Sir Cliff could make out the doorway at the end of the room.  A pair of legs, presumably attached to a body lay on the floor in the next room. On the end of the legs were massive platform boots.

“Who…?” Sir Cliff lifted his head to try and get a clearer view.

“This was all your doing.” Keith walked around him and lifted him upright and spun him round to face the screen. “All. Your. Doing.” He poked Sir Cliff on his head with every word. “Watch.” He clicked the remote.

Noddy Holder’s big hairy face appeared on the screen, “IIIIT’S CHRISTMAAASSSS-time, mistletoe and wiiine.” ’Sir Cliff’s voice cut in and his face swooped across the screen in a silver Christmas tree bauble.  A break-beat kicked in and a badly morphed version of both songs over-played one another whilst Dizzy Rascal shouted “BONKERS.”  All three then proceeded to dance.

Sir Cliff hung his head.

Keith paused the onscreen debacle and glared at Cliff, his face contorted in pained incredulity.

“Why Cliff? Why?”

Don came in with the gun and handed it to his dad.  He caught the frozen image on the screen and flew into a Rumpelstiltskin style rage – shouting and stomping on the spot.

“NO, DADDY NO!” He started hitting himself in the face.

“I…I…I have no control over these things…the label…my manager, they organised the whole thing…”

“You did nothing…”

“No! I literally did nothing, it was all done without us…it was just for fun…”

“YOU SHOULD HAVE STOPPED IT!” Keith stood up and yanked the shotgun onto his shoulder. “There can be no more of this…it ends here.”

The geriatric gyrator shut his eyes.

Don ran around the room slapping the top of his head, “FUN-FUN-FUN-FUN!”

Keith aimed directly at the Wimbledon regular’s tanned face.  He looked old at this moment, and he felt himself softening – how could he kill this old man? The innocence, the charity work, those beautiful teeth. Cliff’s films and music had been there at every turning point, every hurdle of his life….  He lowered the gun an inch.

Then he looked back at the screen and aimed again.

 — Please Keith, don’t do this —

Cliff’s voice was inside his head.

He looked over at his idol strapped to the chair.  A calmness had spread over pop legend, Cliff’s features.  He no longer looked like the old Cliff, he was now the young Cliff of Summer Holiday. His pearly whites dazzled as he smiled.

We’re going where the sun shines brightly

We’re going where the sea is blue

We’ve seen it in the movies

Now let’s see if it’s true…

His lips weren’t moving, but his voice echoed around the room, holding them both in a trace.  Sir Cliff’s eyes opened and the room was bathed in the gleaming white light that emanated from them.

“You shouldn’t fuck with me Keith!” The straps untied themselves from around Cliff’s wrists.  The room started to vibrate.  Don stopped slapping himself on his head.

“What the…?” Keith began to vibrate; his feet left the floor.

“Shoot him dad!”

Keith blasted Sir Cliff square in the face, taking the right side clean away. The ageing pop star moved steadily towards him.  He fired again, this time at the torso.  Sir Cliff’s chest cavity spewed across the room, splattering Don’s dungarees.  What was left of Sir Cliff’s face began rearranging itself.

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Keith stumbled backwards and let off a barrage of shots.

“DAD, HE’S NOT DYING! MAKE HIM DIE!”

Living legend, Sir Cliff stood tall.  With each shot and reanimation he became younger and stronger.

“IT WILL NEVER END.  I WILL NEVER DIE!” Cliff’s voice filled the room.

“RUN SON, RUN!”

Keith and Don scrambled for the door.  Cliff followed, humming what was to be his next multi-million-pound-block-buster-number-one-Christmas-hit.

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Main photo by Edward Myers

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