This is one of Tony’s short stories ……
‘Stanley the Stair-Lift Mechanic’
By Tony Andrews
Once upon a time there was an old man who lived in Bournemouth, his name was Stanley, but everyone knew him as Stanley the stair-lift mechanic, he knew everything there was to know about stair-lifts. Stanley was a twitchy old guy, he always found a way to keep himself busy. In fact, it would be true to say that he was the un-laziest person I ever knew, there are 86,400 seconds in a day, and Stanley never wasted one of them. He was super quick at installing and fixing stair lift chairs, and he could service one in a jiffy. It’s a funny old job, but it was the only job Stanley ever had. His father owned a huge stair-lift factory you see, so Stanley sort of got dragged into it.
Stanley was such a hard worker, and sometimes, when you get deeply involved in your work, a lot of time can swish by in a flash. Well, that’s exactly what happened to old Stanley boy, and he was totally freaked-out when he reached the age of sixty-nine. He couldn’t understand where the years had gone? They seemed to have flickered by at the speed of light.
‘Sweet honey drops’, he whispered to himself, while looking in to the mirror, finding it hard to recognise the old man staring back,
‘Who gave you permission to turn into an old fart?’, he then laughed and walked away. Then, another year zipped by, like a dragonfly swishing your face, Stanley was seventy years old now! Holy smoke! This made him feel real old inside, and poor old Stanley started thinking about retiring.
Now, let me tell you something about Stanley that is completely important, it’s something you need to remember, Stanley made a big mistake in his life, and I don’t want you to make the same mistake in yours.
Silly old Stanley never truly chased after his BIG DREAM, do you know what I mean when I say this? I’m talking about the wild crazy ideas that spontaneously pop into our imaginations, usually without permission, everybody gets them, but the sad thing is, most people push their amazing ideas right to the back of their minds, and, just like a suitcase stuffed away in a dark corner of a dusty attic, we forget about them.
Well, there was a huge dream in Stanley’s heart alright, and it was a fantastic dream, but Stanley didn’t do anything about it, silly billy. No dream will ever come knocking on your front door, you’ve got to step out that door and go after it. You’ve got to go for it! You’ve got to chase that dream like a wild crazy dog chases after a cat, and make it happen!
So, this was Stanley’s dream, he always wanted to be a professional tennis player, he wanted to experience the glory of being the champion of the world, he wanted to win the US open, the Australian open and Wimbledon many times over. Old Stanley wanted to be the best of the best, but all that seemed to pass him by, things were very tough for Stanley, and times were hard, there were always so many bills to pay. At the age of sixteen when Stanley finished school, he ended up going straight to work with his Dad, and he was always too tired to play tennis after a long day-shift, Stanley’s BIG DREAM soon fell right to the bottom of his ‘to-do’ list, and that’s where it stayed, sadly.
Being a stair-lift mechanic can be a little bit strange because it’s usually about helping terribly old wrinkly people. So, if you start this type of career as a young man, like Stanley did, it’s inevitable that many of your clients will soon pop their socks and kick the bucket. This happened many times with Stanley and he ended up going to many funerals. He didn’t know the dead people all that well, but he went anyway, Stanley was a very polite man, his manners were almost too nice.
Now I will tell you about an unusual day that changed Stanley’s life forever. Sometimes a day comes along in someone’s life and it just turns everything around, inside out, and upside down. Well, this ‘strange-day’ was just arriving for old Stanley-boy. He received a telephone call from a sweet old lady called Mrs Jones. Now, let me tell you about Mrs Jones, she was ninety-eight years old, and she lived in a small tower, in a place called Swanage, down in Dorset. Her home was known as the old Swanage Water Tower, a lovely historic building overlooking Swanage Bay. Stanley had been looking after Mrs Jones’s stair-lifts for the past twenty years, and he recently upgraded her lift to a new, faster model called, ‘The Step-Hopper’. Mrs Jones was a true sweetheart, her voice was so light and tender that, whenever she spoke, it sounded like she was singing her sentences, and she still insisted on calling Stanley a fine young man, even though he was seventy, this hearty compliment always made Stanley smile.
In their telephone conversation Mrs Jones explained how her new stair-lift still felt too slow, the journey up to her bedroom, at the top of the tower, took twelve and a half minutes, and many times, on the way up to bed, Mrs Jones dosed-off in her chair. Stanley offered to swing by in the morning and make some adjustments to the ‘Step-Hopper’.
The next morning soon arrived and Stanley pushed on Mrs Jones’s doorbell, and after a long ten-minute wait, the big creaky oak door slowly swung opened, and there she was, looking like a bag of skin hanging on an old skeleton frame.
‘Oh, how nice to see you, Stanley,’ said Mrs Jones, she was using two walking canes to keep her balance. Mrs Jones body language gave off a constant jolty shake that made her look like she was twitching and dancing to music that only she could hear, while receiving mild electric shocks. She jittered about like a squirrel that had one too many expressos.
Stanley was all hunched over looking a little bit like an exhausted chimpanzee, his knuckles dragged along the ground as he slowly picked up his tool box and walked into Mrs Jones old tower. His body language clearly expressed that he was totally fed-up of being a stair-lift mechanic.
After a nice cup of tea and some light gossip about the neighbours, Stanley picked up his tool bag and went to work on the ‘Step-Hopper’. Mrs Jones was a lonely old girl, so she decided to stay close to Stanley and watch his every move. Stanley didn’t mind, Mrs Jones was delightful company, and sometimes she’d spontaneously burst out into song, she was a dotty old soul, a happy old lady. After fifteen minutes of tinkering, Stanley stood up straight and spoke softly,
‘That should do it, Mrs Jones, I think you’ll be able to get up to bed much faster now,’
Stanley’s voice was cool and calm. Mrs Jones quickly parked her bum on the comfy cushioned chair and buckled herself in, she was ready to give it a go.
‘Here I go,’ she said, the muscles on her old wrinkly face loosened as she tilted her head back and served up a delightful sunny smile to Stanley’s face, she then put her little specs on, and pushed the ‘start’ button.
A strange noise suddenly bellowed out from the engine box, making the chairlift jerk about like it had the hic-ups, this was the moment Stanley realised that he’d re-wired the motor back together incorrectly, Stanley re-connected the red wire back to the yellow wire, when he should have re-connected the red wire back to the orange wire, his eyes were not as good as they used to be. This wiring malfunction instantly blew a fuse, and the chair-lift spontaneously took off into a ‘freaky high-speed pursuit’, making Mrs Jones shot up the stairs like a rocket, she looked like she was on her way to the moon! SCHOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!
She’d never travelled so fast before in her entire life!
‘Yeeeeee-Haaaaaa!’ she yelled, as she darted up the stairs. Stanley tried his best to catch her, but the chair-lift was too fast, Mrs Jones was gone, she was already half-way up the tower. Stanley still heard the roar of the accelerating lift mixed with the giggling sound of Mrs Jones voice, she laughed like a kid on a rollercoaster ride, she got to the top of the tower in about sixty seconds flat, then there was a sudden thud, a bass-like noise, that sounded like an elephant stomping its foot, then there was silence, pure silence. Stanley was completely out of breath when he reached the top of the tower, and he was speechless when he saw what he saw.
Poor old Mrs Jones was dead, she was sprawled out on the floor lying on her back with a big grin on her face. All the excitement from the super-quick-chair-lift-ride gave poor old Mrs Jones a heart attack. At least she died with a happy ending, and the last minute of her life was totally exhilarating. The stair lift’s engine was still running, it chugged away while it bashed against the walls of Mrs Jones bedroom, then it suddenly released a big bang, and conked out.
Poor old Stanley was hysterical, both his hands covered his face, like a child counting to ten while playing hide and seek Stanley covered his open mouth and teary eyes, he needed a very long moment to digest the strange reality of the crazy situation he was in, he was full of anxious feelings, he had no idea what to do next, he kept looking out the window, making sure no one had seen what had just happened, he was apprehensive about calling the cops, maybe they would pin the blame on him? He’d never been in weird scenario like this before. After taking some deep breaths Stanley gently picked Mrs Jones up, placed her over his shoulder, and carried her back down to the kitchen.
He soon sat her down in her favourite armchair and went to the sink to pour himself a glass of cold water. Stanley was just about to sip on his drink when Mrs Jones started to moan, and move about. Stanley dropped his glass and rushed over to her side,
‘Mrs Jones!’ He shouted. ‘Mrs Jones, are you alright’? Stanley placed both his hands on her shoulders and gently shock her, he patiently waited for any kind of response. Mrs Jones started mumbling something but it was hard to understand her because her false teeth kept popping out, and her wig fell off too, she was completely bald. Stanley kindly pushed her teeth back in and by that time, Mrs Jones looked ready to say something, Stanley leaned in closer.
She breathed like an old grizzly bear who was ready to slip into eternal hibernation, she just about managed to squeeze off one last sentence.
‘There’s something in the cellar for you, Stanley, you’ll find it in a black coffin.’
That was it, that was all she said, and then she was gone, forever!
Stanley was totally freaked out! It’s not every day you hear someone say their ‘last words’, and they were quite strange ‘last words,’ too. Stanley went back to the kitchen and swept all the broken glass off the floor, he then proceeded to pour himself a new glass of water, as he tried to slow his heartbeat down. He started telling himself to just try and keep cool and calm, but all the thoughts in his mind were dashing all over the place like a wasp trapped inside a wine glass, then, in the corner of his view, he saw a small wooden door at the far end of the kitchen, so he walked over and pushed it open, it was dark at first but when he swung the door right back and flicked the light on, he saw some chunky concrete steps that led down to what must have been the cellar, Stanley began to make his way down, when he slipped and fell.
He rolled and tumbled down the staircase, and when he hit the bottom he found himself sitting on a freezing cold floor, there was dust everywhere. There wasn’t much down there, just a collection of some old wooden shoeboxes and tatty leather suitcases piled up in the corner, but there was a very creepy feeling in the air, a ghostly sort of vibe. Stanley nosed around for a while but he didn’t find much, he was about to make his way back up to the kitchen when he suddenly saw an object in the far corner, it was covered over by an old grey blanket, it was the black coffin.
A rush of excitement blew Stanley’s nervous feelings a million miles away.
He quickly pulled the blanket away, opened the coffin and found some funny items inside, the first was a couple of broken broomsticks (they’d been snapped in half), the second was a small green wine bottle with some bright pink liquid inside, and the last item was a huge envelope with Mrs Jones fancy hand-writing on it, it was her will.
Stanley took all the items back up to the kitchen and started examining them, then he noticed that Mrs Jones was no longer sitting in her arm chair, she had disappeared, spooky. A cold icy tingle danced all the way down Stanley’s spine. He proceeded to open the envelope and began reading the will, this is what it said.
If you are reading this letter then I must be dead. It’s very sad how so many people don’t really ‘LIVE’ at all, while they’re alive, so I will keep this letter short and sweet and get straight to the point, this way you will have more time to go and ‘Get-Living’!
Stanley, you are the only person who has ever been sweet and kind to me. So, I have decided to leave all my possessions and all my belongings to you. Everything which was mine is now yours, ok. This old Water Tower is now yours, I also have half a million pounds in my bank account, which I’m giving to you. I’m sad that I never had any children, Stanley. I would have given all my belongings to them, but there is a good reason why I choose never to have kids, and I will explain this to you now. There has been a family secret in my life and I have never told a soul, it’s all about my grandmother, the truth is, my grandmother was a mean and nasty old Witch. She wanted my Mother to become a witch and she wanted me to become a witch, but we had no interest, there’s just no fun in being evil and devious all the time. So, we both said thanks, but no thanks. The broomsticks in the coffin are flying broomsticks but my mum decided to destroy them. There is something very powerful in that green wine bottle that I must warn you about. The bright pink liquid inside is the family inheritance. It’s pure potent witch magic, mixed with dragon’s blood, very strong stuff! My Grandmother wanted me to drink it, but I always refused. So, let me get straight to the point, Stanley. If you want to ‘spice up your life’ and have a wild adventure, then I encourage you to drink the potion and go and do some good in this world. I wish you lots of happiness for the rest of your life, Stanley, and I want to thank you for being so kind to me over the last twenty years.
Lots of Love,
Stanley was speechless, he had no idea that his morning was going to turn out like this. The surprising letter from Mrs Jones made him look at his whole life in a brand-new way. He was brave enough to admit to himself that he hadn’t really been a very happy man, and he was even braver to go ahead and change things. After thirty seconds of hesitation, Stanley opened-up the old green wine bottle and took a big gulp of the strange pink liquid.
A hot rumbling fizzy feeling started kicking about inside his tummy, he had no idea what was going to happen. Stanley walked over to the front door and took a good long look at himself in the big hallway mirror, when the strangest thing happened, he slowly started turning into a dragon, but it wasn’t a normal dragon. Stanley had turned into some sort of magical mongrel, he was now half-man, and half-dragon. The pink liquid also went to work on Stanley’s brain, he soon got the inspiration to become a go-getter, no more fixing stair-lifts, instead he wanted to find a way to make his dream come true. This all seemed very possible because Stanley now had the energy of a healthy kid, his brain had suddenly become wild and creative, Stanley felt like he was twelve years old again.
He quickly dashed upstairs and fetched the run-away stair-lift from Mrs Jones bedroom and carried it back down to the kitchen. He then went straight to work on turning it into the most extraordinary flying machine that ever existed. Using his tools, Stanley attached the four broken-broom-stick pieces to the chair, he turned the stair lift into a one-man aeroplane, being half-dragon-half-man, Stanley now had the urge to fly.
Stanley suddenly remembered how Mrs Jones used to go shopping in Bournemouth, on her little motorbike, this was about nineteen years ago. This memory made Stanley have a good nose-around in the garage, and he soon found Mrs Jones’s old motorbike, but the only thing he wanted was her crash helmet, he found it sitting on the motorbike seat, it was a nice red one.
Stanley put the helmet on, walked back to the kitchen and sat in his new unorthodox aeroplane, but he wasn’t ready to fly just yet, instead he started meditating and thinking about becoming a great tennis player, he had no idea how he was going to fulfil this big dream, but he knew he WAS going to make it happen, somehow.
Stanley pondered for a while, then, after a few moments, he heard a squeaky sound come from over by the front door, it was just the paperboy, stuffing the daily newspaper through the rusty letterbox. Stanley decided to read the paper over a nice hot cup of tea. The local newspaper wasn’t very interesting, but when he got to the sports pages at the back he found an article that was quite intriguing, it was a story about an American tennis player who lived in Alabama, his name was Kurt Rogers, he was probably the best tennis player in the United States, and he was only eighteen. The article covered the recent tragic event of Kurt’s motorcycle accident, he’d crashed into a big truck on his way home from tennis practise. Teenage boys can be quite careless sometimes, especially when they’re out riding their motorbikes. The story explained how Kurt had crunched both his legs under the trucks rear wheels, things didn’t look good for Kurt at’ all. He was now stuck in a bed, slowly recovering, at the Lakeland Community Hospital, in Alabama, USA. The doctors report said that he would never play tennis again. Stanley put the paper down, knocked back the rest of his tea and got ready to make a trip to the United States.
All the magic from the pink liquid gave Stanley waves and waves of enthusiasm, he now had the courage, and confidence, to go and do something wild and liberating. He didn’t have a clue what he was going to do, I guess he would find out once he arrived in Alabama. Stanley buckled himself in and swiftly flew off in his new flying machine, it took off like a firework, the broomsticks reacted to the pink liquid in Stanley’s bloodstream, they worked perfectly well. Stanley whizzed up the stairs and went crashing through Mrs Jones bedroom window, he flew out from the tower and dashed across Swanage bay. Stanley looked very peculiar as he swished over the Isle of Wight, many seagulls stopped and stared. It was time to pay a visit to Kurt Rogers at the Lakeland community hospital, in Alabama, USA.
Stanley’s flight was so much fun. He knew it was going to be too quick, and boring, to fly straight to America, so he decided to take the long way around instead, he flew over the English Channel and headed for Europe, he glided over Germany, swished over Switzerland, pinged over Poland, ushered over Ukraine, sky-rocketed across South Russia, kangaroo-ed over Kazakhstan, mambo-ed through Mongolia and chugged over China. The winds picked up as he jittered across Japan, then he finally hovered straight towards Hawaii, this was where Stanley decided to make a quick pit-stop for a nice cool beverage. Stanley flew past a huge hotel that had a big outdoor pool, he quickly noticed a beautiful young lady sunbathing by the poolside, she was all by herself.
Stanley flew down like a cheeky sneaky fox and hovered beside this girl as she sunbathed the afternoon away, she wore big headphones as she bopped her head along to some dance music.
Faster than a cheetah, Stanley grabbed her drink and quickly gulped it down, fresh pineapple juice, yummy. Stanley kept awful quiet, but something was up, the girl felt a sudden absence of warmth because of Stanley’s shadow blocking the sunlight. This fleeting cold feeling made the girl open her eyes and look up. Well, she got the shock of her life, the last thing she expected to see was a half-dragon-magic-man sitting on a run-away chair-lift, guzzling down her pineapple juice. She screamed at the top of her voice, rolled off her sun-lounger, and plopped into the swimming pool, this made Stanley laugh out loud.
‘Sorry about that,’ he said to the girl, then he flew back into the blue sky and headed straight for America.
Stanley looked terribly strange as he flew on his travels, a silly old man comfortably seated in a funny looking chair, his red crash helmet looked like a huge oversized cherry, and then there was his big green dragon’s nose poking out from his funny face, Stanley looked bonkers, but he was having the time of his life. The witch magic in the pink liquid gave him glorious happy feelings. He never knew this, but all the ‘evil’ in the witch magic had disappeared over the years. This is what happens when you leave witch magic stored in a wine bottle for ninety years, the good magic stays strong, and the dark magic vanishes, there was still lots of pink liquid left, Stanley had only drunk half the bottle, he kept the rest of it safely tucked away in his jacket.
Stanley had now flown over California and was well on his way to Alabama, the chair lift was shifty, ultra-fast air travel was a natural function for this strange contraption, the Alabama Lakeside Community Hospital was now coming into view. Stanley needed to find a good place to park, a secret spot where no-body would find his special flying chair, he decided to park on the roof, nobody would look up there.
As Stanley climbed down the emergency-fire-escape stairs, he wondered to himself how he was going to sneak into the hospital. At first, he was going to pretend that he had a bad leg and walk in with a fake limp, but it turned out he didn’t have to. Stanley soon discovered that he parked his chairlift on the roof of the motorbike-accident-recovery-ward, he walked past the first few windows and saw some fat hairy bikers stuck in bed, wrapped-up in bandages, eating crisps and secretly drinking beer, but when Stanley got to the third window he saw a young teenage boy sleeping peacefully, both his legs were in plaster casts. Stanley poked his green nose in for a closer snoop, he soon noticed that the hospital room was completely filled-up with flowers, and on the bedside table stood a beautiful flower arrangement that looked like a huge tennis racket, and a card that said, ‘GET WELL SOON, KURT’.
Stanley had found his man, but he had no idea what to do next, how was he going to save this poor young guy? Stanley quietly climbed in and slowly took his crash helmet off, it was easy to see that Kurt Rogers was in a deep sleep, maybe a coma? Stanley looked at his face and wondered how he could help this young man, his legs looked terribly crooked, he was in a right mess. Stanley took a deep breath and sighed gracefully, then he suddenly heard a quiet voice in his mind gently whisper something, the voice was pure and it came straight from his heart, the voice kept repeating the same words over, and over again, this is what it said, ‘Drink the rest of the pink liquid, Stanley, this is going to fix everything, do it now!’
So, like a bold, confident dare-devil, Stanley took the old green wine bottle out from his Jacket and gulped all the pink liquid down in three seconds, and what do you think happened?
Well, things suddenly went blurry for Stanley, he looked like he was about to turn into a pure dragon now. He looked down at his hands and watched them turn a darker green, then something happened that caught Stanley completely off-guard, he began to shrink and fade away, holy smoke, he was slowly becoming invisible. Then it happened, Stanley completely disappeared, all that was left was a red crash helmet sitting on a pile of clothes. This was far too spooky for Stanley to understand, and Kurt Rogers knew nothing about this, he was still resting in his bed, away with the fairies. Where had Stanley disappeared to?
After two more weeks of resting, Kurt Rogers finally woke up, he was terribly surprised to find himself resting back in his cosy bedroom. He had many strange feelings in his body, he woke up feeling light-headed and hungry. It was a quiet and peaceful morning and Kurt was still in that spongy headspace between being asleep and being fully awake, he slowly gathering his thoughts while he listened to the birds sing and chirp outside, then his mum walked in with a bowl of tomato soup.
‘Good morning, my lovely son, I’ve got some tomato soup for you, with some melted cheese on toast, on the side.’ Kurt’s mother had lots to say,
‘The Doctors are very happy with your speedy recovery, in fact, they think it’s a miracle. They’ve never seen anyone bounce back so fast from such a terrible accident.’
Kurt’s mother drew back the bedroom curtains, and the whole room got filled with fresh Alabama sunlight. Kurt sat up and started sipping on his soup. He was truly astounded to find that his legs were no-longer in plaster, he felt great!
‘It’s so nice to see you moving about, darling.’ Kurt’s mother was ace, she only had one son, so she always made a fuss of him. She was just walking out the door when she turned and said, ‘It’s lovely to have you home, Son. Not so sure I like your new tattoo though, but I guess I can get used to it.’
Kurt’s mum blew a kiss to her son, then she sang a song as she went back down to the kitchen.
Kurt wondered about the tattoo, as he sipped on his soup.
Then he suddenly found it, printed on his arm, a huge green dragon with a big smile on its face.
‘Good Morning, Kurt.’ Said the tattoo, and just like a jack in the box, Kurt jumped right out of bed, splashing tomato soup all over his white bed sheets.
‘Look at you,’ said the dragon, ‘Standing up all straight and strong, what a grand site to see.’ Kurt was speechless, but the dragon was right, Kurt was pretty much back to his normal healthy self. The wondrous witch magic had turned Stanley into a tattoo, how about that? But not just any tattoo, Stanley was now living under Kurt’s skin, and all the witch magic had lingered from Stanley, into Kurt’s whole body, making him recover back to full health at a supernatural speed.
Kurt and Stanley soon started a very long conversation and became the best of buddies.
The coolest thing about Kurt and Stanley was their passion. They both still wanted to be the best tennis player in the world, and living in the same body made this very possible, this was a very cool situation, it wasn’t too late for Stanley’s dream to come true after all.
Kurt soon got back into his tennis training and became stronger than ever, and Stanley loved every minute of it, he felt everything Kurt felt, and he helped Kurt improve his game, immensely.
Kurt started entering local state tennis competitions, and kept winning, one after the other. People noticed his bold tattoo, and they started calling him The Dragon-Boy. Stanley was always present inside Kurt, he made Kurt’s right arm extra powerful, giving Stanley the strongest fore-arm ever, Kurt’s opponents didn’t stand a chance when Kurt used his ‘dragon-punch’ serve.
Kurt went on to win the Australian open four times, the French open three times, the American open six times and Wimbledon thirteen times in a row, he became the greatest tennis player in history, and Stanley was there with him, enjoying all the glory, every step of the way all the way.