During the Credits

From his sleeping patterns people would assume he was jet-lagged, but he was just lazy. In fact, he’d never been on a plane in his life. He saw them on television though, as he forced more crisps into his mouth. His tongue complained, but it’s words were buried by fried potato.

His phone rang. He didn’t answer it. It was nearly time for his afternoon nap. He hadn’t looked at a clock, and his curtains were drawn, but he knew the TV times by heart. As the credits of the game show came up, it meant it was three pm. Despite his superior schedule knowledge, he still had a guide delivered for the pictures.

He lifted it up so it would show the evening programmes when he awoke. There was an interview with the lady from that popular soap advertisement. She was a modern housewife without the time to clean or the desire to scrub. The product guaranteed superb cleanliness with minimum work, “Get your house clean without getting dirty”, was the tag-line.

Distracted by the advert, he ended up falling asleep with it in his left hand, and in the other, a few forgotten crisps fell to the floor, joining a few choked up bites of hot dog.

“James, oh James, wakey-wakey!”

He didn’t wake, one of his ears was squashed against the sofa cushion.

“James, wake up now. There’s something we need to discuss”, it was an angelic voice and gradually stirred James to semi-consciousness.

“Wha-?” he staggered he limbs with his words, propping himself up against the sofa arms.

“I want to talk to you about your laziness, it’s become a matter of cleanliness”, the voice said.

James couldn’t see anyone: there was no one there.

“You seem to be having trouble, I’m down here”, the magazine he had been holding was resting on an empty bag of crisps.

“The…the cleaning lady?” he stuttered, “You’re talking to me?”

The image of her on the page had taken life and she was idly mopping a floor whilst talking to him.

“I centainly am – you need my help”.

“I do?” he was confused but went along with it.

“Of course. You see, you are very dirty and smelly because you are lazy. You haven’t washed or hardly moved since I’ve been here. This is a monthly publication sir, so you understand my concern”, her voice was high, irate.

“Look here, this is none of your business. I didn’t mean to, but I apparently invited you into my home and this is how you repay me, with…with insults?”

“Just a spot of helpful advice”, she said whilst straightening her sweetcorn themed curtains.

“Well, I don’t need it. I’m relaxing”.

“Sir, one can not call it relaxing if one does it all the time”, her smile was forced, “So here we go. Buy this soap and use it on yourself. You’re about the right industrial size for a bulk purchase”.

“Charming!”

“Just watching out for your wallet sir, always important”, she finished her fussing and placed the soap product on her kitchen counter with the label facing forwards. He watched as she added a ‘this is sparkling clean’ memo next to the sink.

“Look lady, I’m not up for this today. I’ve got stuff to do”.

“Really? Important stuff?”

“I’m getting a bit bored of this attitude, just quit it will you?”

Her face fell and her shoulders sunk low. She took off her apron and threw it on the floor. He didn’t know how to continue with this conversation.

“I see. I shouldn’t have gone for the hard sell. I always go for the hard sell and look what happens. I’m an adult fairy working in advertising. You know, I never wanted to do this. I always wanted to be a wish-maker or a life-trainer, the good guy on the shoulder. Maybe if my mother had been more supportive…”, she held her hands to her face, tears were falling from her eyes.

“Oh hey now Ms, I didn’t mean to offend you. I just don’t need what your selling. That’s all. How about this? When it’s the end of the month, I’ll post you through next door and you can have a try with them. Maybe you’ll have better luck there. They’ve got kids”, he flattened out the page she lived in as a comforting gesture.

“You mean that? Young kids?”

“About four or five, both of them”.

“Oh glorious! They’ll have so much mess!”, she put her apron back on, “Thank you sir!”, and went back to her starting position holding the soap up in the air.

The phone rang again, the credits were still rolling. James scratched his head. When was the last time he showered?

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