STORYLINE - 3: BATESMANIA - A Limey Goes to Washington State (Fiction)

Fancy a touch of Evergreen?

Washington, Evergreen State
Washington, Evergreen State | Source
All-inclusive map of Washington State
All-inclusive map of Washington State | Source
'Welcome to Washington State (WA), the Evergreen State!
'Welcome to Washington State (WA), the Evergreen State!
Seattle, Washington, USA. This is how it looks on a map...
Seattle, Washington, USA. This is how it looks on a map...
...this is how it looks in the harbour. No place to be asleep on your feet!
...this is how it looks in the harbour. No place to be asleep on your feet!
Accommodation - or what it seemed like before upping sticks to somewhere more civilised
Accommodation - or what it seemed like before upping sticks to somewhere more civilised
'How much did you say this room cost?'
'How much did you say this room cost?'

"Go West, young man!'

That's like a warning in my neck of the woods - like going south, as women say about their figure and looks losing to gravity. I'll give an example, "Where's Frank these days? I haven't seen him lately". "Oh, he went west. They buried him last week".

Dad said it again, 'Go west young man!' Who, me?

'Why?' I asked,

'Eh, lad. Why mope around here when you can mope elsewhere?' Tactful as ever. We're not known for being backward in coming forward in 'Tykeshire' - er, Yorkshire to you.

Right Dad, I asked inwardly. Aloud I said, 'Where, like?'

'America?' he offered. 'Alaska. They say the scenery's wunnerful in' summer'.

(And what about the winter, and polar bears?) 'Right Dad, got the fare?'

'Christ lad, earn it, get a job! I won't take your keep for the next six months, so you'll 'ave the fare quicker. If you fly Virgin you could be away in months!'

Thanks Dad. I'll miss you too. Meanwhile the months trickle by, grist to the mill and all. Grimy fingers, oil, grease everywhere from the car workshop! How quick can you get through a packet of Manger's sugar soap?

'Anybody got a monkey wrench?'

'You're the monkey round 'ere!'

Laughter, nuts and small snappers catapult through the air.

The boss yells, 'Oi, you lot! Get some bloody work done!'

I flew out from Liverpool Speke, no more than seven hours to the Big Apple, Economy! Change of planes at JFK out West. Washington looked interesting, I thought. 'You better get a better Atlas, man!' the cab driver told me. I'd thought it was supposed to be on the Potomac.

I was driven by a suicidal cabbie through peak-time traffic in Seattle. This was 'sleepless' at a premium! I sat wide-eyed as we drew up to some Gothic pile.

'This is it, boy!'

'Thanks Dad', I said half-aloud. I'd been in a 'realtor's office' (estate agent to thee'n'me) and learnt of a room in the sticks, out away from Seattle..

'Come again?' the driver asked. I shook my head and waved him off.

I looked up at the house. Flaky blue paint around sash windows, side porch and door gaping as if inviting - daring me. There was a tower that seemed to rocket up as you looked at it, a window half open with net curtains billowing, getting grubby. The top part of the house was flaky white. It looked like an advert for 'PSYCHO'. Alfred Hitchcock must have been here when he got his bright idea for a film. Black and white always looks more threatening.

I was looking for a stiff old lady in a rocking chair upstairs when a woman croaked,

'You gonna stand there all day, or are you comin' in?' It was like listening to Dad with an American accent. 'Office said you were comin'.

I followed her in and nearly asked, 'Which room does Norman live in?' when she turned.

'This is yours'. She clanked the massive key in its lock and pushed the door open. This was the room facing front, grubby net curtains hanging out on the sill. 'Breakfast between seven and eight, any other meals you go out, understand?'

'Aye', I answered.

'What?' she stared.

'Yes', I said in International English. Understood. She scowled and limped downstairs, clack, clack. No stair carpet. I looked around. No telly, radio or 21st Century. Good job I had my laptop and adaptor. No socket in the room, only the ceiling light and a bedside lamp! I'd have to get my laptop charged elsewhere. Would some diner let me charge up in exchange for a bit of washing-up? This was four in the afternoon, time for a bacon butty and a cuppa. I'd seen the telly ads for 'Yorkshire Tea', camper-cum-tea shop cruising the highway into the sunset, disillusioned Brits with their tongues hanging out, ready for 'proper tea'.

'This is a town, buddy', I was told by one local when asked if there was a diner in the village. He pointed me to a polished aluminium (notice the two 'i's' in aluminium, buddy) diner with wavy walls, sunshaded table outside. I needed to sit inside, to get access to wifi. Did they have wifi? 'No, Fifi's in her kennel right now', the man at the counter said, adding, 'They got wifi down at the open market', pointing back down the road. Helpful. I waved back at him, realising using my laptop would be a bit limited.

'No, damn' it, come to my house', he with the yellow T-shirt and ponytail told me. 'Anytime - what's your name?'

'Tony', I said, taken aback by the sudden friendliness.

'You got somewhere t'live, Tony?' I nodded, telling him of my room in the 'Bates House'. He laughed uproariously.

'The 'Bates House'? How much are you paying for the privilege?' He looked cross-eyed when I told him,'God, all that and no TV or radio! You gotta come where I am!'

He told his assistant he would be away for an hour, to get me set up,

'How long're you planning to stay, Tony?' I told him it depended. 'You want a job?'

'Doing what?' I asked.

'Why, making and selling these T-shirts, what else?' He laughed and pumped my hand, 'I'm Chuck, by the way'.

Tall and rangy,he was a double - but for beard and ponytail - for Chuck Connors, I told him.

'Chuck Connors', he seemed abashed by the compliment. 'Why thank you, Tony. He's my hero, too y'know!'

I didn't say he was my hero, but as I was on a roll I thought, 'leave it'.It was all smiles, but for 'Ma Bates' who croaked, 'I ain't givin' you your money back!'

'Oh yes you are, you old *****, Chuck told her (can't tell you what he said, you might be sensitive!) and said for the money she asked I should have more than grubby net curtains to look at. Under pressure - threats of legal action - she relented and thumped my deposit down on the hall sideboard.

'Get your stuff out, double-quick!'

'Take your time, Tony', Chuck assured me she could do nothing if I took all evening.

We left, my 'stuff' over my right shoulder, laptop in my left hand. I spent the rest of the daylight hours under his open 'gazebo', watching him and his assistant, learnt how to work the remote Visa gadget,taking cash from punters who wanted their names printing on the shirts. When packing up time came, Chuck called his boss on his mobile (cellphone) and had a few words. He winked and gave me the thumbs up.

'You're hired, Tony. you won't be a millionaire overnight, but it's a good living. We're in the next town tomorrow and so on around the county, always home for supper You like T-bone?'

'Oh aye, er I think his music's great', I answered. Laughter from Chuck and Billy, his assistant.

'T-bone steak, not T-Bone Walker', Chuck slapped me on my back. With my breath back I asked if there was somewhere I could call home.

'Where's home, Tony?' Billy asked.

'Ilkley', I told him.

'Ilkley?' he was nonplussed.

'Near Bradford in West Yorkshire', I answered in full, getting the same blank look.

'In the north of England', Chuck told him. Billy smiled.

'Nice', he said, vacantly.

'There's not much work, mind', I told them. 'I had to graft away in a garage for six months to get here.

'Graft away?'

Somebody said America and Britain were divided by a common language. They weren't far off.

'You can make a call in the diner', Chuck told me, pointing. I went in, looking a bit sheepish at the man behind the counter.

'You landed on your feet', he said, winking, and pointed at the phone.

Waiting for my line to Ilkley - not to be done regularly from here - I studied the poster on the wall. My finger idly followed the snaking river to the horizon, a long line of blue and white mountains behind

'Dad, guess what?'

'You've been mugged? Hard luck, can't send you any cash, though!'

'No, Dad, I've got a good job here', I told him a bit about the place, but didn't think it registered. All he said was, 'Time you had a proper job. Will you be back for Christmas, Mam wants to know it's worth getting a big turkey...'

'Thanks, Dad'.

'Eh?'

'I said thanks'.

'Oh, aye, see you'. Click, br-r-r.

'You got through OK?' Chuck asked as I fastened my seat belt.

'Aye, thanks Chuck'.

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Find your way around Washington State the easy way with this Rand McNally map, one of a series to help the wayfarer or wanderer safe along the road to discovery... not Perdition. I find GPS sometimes takes canals for roads, and as I wouldn't want to get my feet wet in strange places...

This was my response to a writing competition set by 'Billybuc'

A light-hearted, off-the-cuff sort of entry, it follows a character in search of work. He's that desperate - his Dad's been pushing him out of the parental nest - to get away from home, he'll go almost to the ends of the earth. Going to Washington State is like going to the ends of the earth for some of us Limeys* (as in, the last stop going west before Japan).

*Speaking of which, do you know where the name 'Limeys' came from? The Royal Navy insisted on their crews being given citrus fruits to avoid scurvy breaking out on ships over long voyages. Sauerkraut was something else that was introduced by Captain Cook for his crews during his three long voyages across the Pacific. William Bligh, one of Cook's officers on the last voyage, whole-heartedly adopted Cook's policy of providing limes for the crew. Apples were also taken on board, although they were not as effective in warding off the dreaded disease that could decimate numbers.

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A Falcon guide to the Northwest Pacific, Washington, WA, where to go, what to see, where to stay and eat. Here's your chance to test its accuracy and reliability - to boldly go, to tread untrodden paths.. as long as you get back to civilisation and refreshment stops.

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Comments 15 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Well welcome to my state! Sit back and get comfy; we'll treat you right in my neck of the woods. LOL Great fun!


old albion profile image

old albion 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Tha's done a gradely job 'ere lad gradely. Tha can congratulate thi'sen.

Graham.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Alan, you most definitely have a knack for writing dialogue. I can almost hear your characters speaking. I enjoyed this "fish out of water" story. Voted up, funny, etc.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Glad you liked it, y'all (sorry, that's Deep South).

Any takers for a Yank on Albion's fair shores? - not you, Graham, unless you're surrounded by water after all that rain. Mebbe billybuc could do a piece about his alter ego floundering with the Yorksher yammer in, say, 'Ebden Brig (Hebden Bridge) or 'Ipprum (Hipperholme)?

C'mon, billybuc, let's see what you're made of... Or maybe Unnamed Harald could see himself in his old stamping grounds?


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 3 years ago from American Southwest

One can, by the way, get Yorkshire tea in the western US (though we only know of two stores in Denver at the moment), but with the local water, the taste is probably not quite there.

And I was told (by a Sri Lankan, no less) that tea cannot be properly brewed at mile-high altitude because of the lower boiling point. Anyway, my English relatives put up with the lack of civilization because the scenery is great.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Aethelthryth, (belated) Happy New Year! There is a Hard Water type of Yorkshire Tea, if your local water has a high chalk content. It sells well in London and the Southeast. Myself I'm more of a coffee drinker (sh! Don't tell anyone!) although when I go up to High Beach/Beech near Epping I sually have a cup of tea or two. We have some Yorkshire Tea here at home, usually for my elder daughter who prefers tea to coffee.

If you want to go 'native', try Yorkshire Tea with fruit cake and crumbly (Wensleydale/Cheshire/Lancashire) cheese. You might one day stop off at Hawes, where the Wensleydale Creamery has its shop and restaurant just below Gayle at the top end of town. Plenty of choice, and a great view across the dale.


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 3 years ago from American Southwest

Oh! Sounds wonderful!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Sounds, and is. A few miles further west is the eighteen arch, hundred-odd foot high Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle Railway built for the Midland Railway along the 'spine' of England. (Watch where you walk there, it gets a bit boggy after rain, but there are well-trodden footpaths to follow). Then down to Horton-in-Ribblesdale to the Pen-y-Gent Cafe for a great view of Yorkshire's 'third peak' (the other two being a bit north of here, Great Whernside and Ingleborough - near Ingleton).


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Loved your story! Funny and serious at the same time. The English language is very versatile, so much so that sometimes it seems like a totally different language and needs to be interpreted!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Glad you like it, Blossom. That's why I write, to entertain - a latter-day Skald, you might say, only not with poetry.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 3 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Understood by the Yorkshire gal :) Enjoyed too


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Greetings Ethel. Glad you liked this.

Did you know Ethel is from the old Anglian and Danish for 'noble'? It would have been written 'Aethel' (I have a woman in my first two books named Aethel - see RAVENFEAST


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi alan, loved your story! lol! it would be just my luck to end up at the 'Bates Motel' too! lol! funny stuff, nell


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello again Nell. Fancy a shower? I'm sure that gay blade Norman from the house would be glad to help... His mum's probably telling him to get down there and get busy with the shower curtain!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Come on in billybuc, and check out the images.

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