Excerpt for Wonka Presents! An Egyptian Tale by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Wonka Presents! – An Egyptian Tale

Published by Madeleine Masterson at Smashwords

Copyright 2015 Madeleine Masterson

Wonka and me liked a good sunny day, he, in his warm spot crushed up against the skirting in a pool of light whilst I favoured the back door step in the full glare of the mid-day sun.

‘You’ll be too hot there.’ He advised from the dining room.

‘I know!’ I shouted back; but just there, in the heat with the jungle-like greenery of the yard, it was blissful. I sipped my strong tea and relaxed. Ah, Summer.

I was just drifting off when Wonka chirped up again.

‘Did you ever wonder where Gingertop went?’

Yes. Yes I had. He had been a regular highly anti-social visitor all last year. Ruggles, newly established as King of the ‘Out Back’ would practically wave him in, let him chomp down all the food on his plate and see him off. Gingertop was a haughty tom cat (not checked…) with piercing green eyes. Then, he vanished.

‘Where’s Gingertop?’ I used to ask Ruggles, who just looked at me with his angel-like big fat bonny face. Here, Wonka was on top of the game.

‘Oh Wonka, not your Egyptian theory again!’ and as I said it, I slowly twisted and rubbed my bangle, rescued from the toy box where it had lived for years to wear it as a bracelet instead. The story was, it had been brought back from the very site of the Great Pyramids by the river Nile, and presented to Mum and Dad as a gift from afar.

Children have no respect for the history just the usefulness of the thing, and when it ended up in the toy box with all the multitude of bric a brac – well me and my brother maybe used it now and then as a decoration in our vast cities of building blocks and cars, with a few good ornaments standing in as people. The bangle was inscribed all round with strange hieroglyphs as secret then as they were now.

As I rubbed it I seemed to see him, our Egyptian, standing by the wrought iron gate which was rather funny as I never was able to see him before (according to Wonka).

‘Shall I tell the story then?’ went Wonka, from his sideboard look out.

‘Called?’ I enquired, settling myself nicely on the stone step in readiness.

‘It’s an Egyptian tale,’ said he, and began to tell it.

As Wonka tells it from his sideboard look out, the last time he saw Gingertop was his usual perch on the big ledge outside the kitchen window. He was waiting to leap down to pinch Ruggles’s tea time and whip off again. All very standard and part of the yard routine, as Gingertop would arrive at daily intervals and leap up onto the wide windowsill, settling his ginger behind and tail against the window box full of pinks. This time though, he was not alone and had brought someone with him. According to Wonka, it was a strapping young man and a complete stranger; I say according to Wonka, because he was invisible to me and taxed my imagination dreadfully. Although it wasn’t a crime scene, I needed an image to help me out and with the following information, prized from Wonka, I captured our stranger on my sketch pad:

Next thing, said Wonka, he shouted at him.

‘Oi!’ He shouts up, through the best double glazing. The strange young man was just by the healed up and new back door, and not dressed for cold weather but entirely in keeping with the hot; and he had a skirt on. As we all know the Vikings were dressed up to the nines in their leathers and wotnot wielding cutthroat axes and such AND the even more pesky Celts were hard at it armoured from top to toe;

but this one, a few jewels sparkling about and a big headscarf, as faithfully described to me by Wonka. I mean.

‘WHO ARE YOU?’ He then shouted up. Gingertop may have heard and translated.

Wonka caught the words PYRAMIDS, KITCHEN and BASTET.

In the kitchen, there is an old poster of the great pyramids tacked to the wall; it was above Rugglesis head until it came unstuck and, in case it fell on him and frightened him into leaving us (I think not), it was moved to another spot; but it was still there and still visible from outside. The Egyptian theme continued as standing on a little corner shelf up against the kitchen window that cannot open, is Bastet. This small black statue is made of cheap clay and the ear fell off it but this was re-modelled and painted over. She, as you will know is a Cat God revered throughout the feline Kingdom, and has little flowers popped at her feet regularly.

This, Wonka approves of.

Where was I? Oh yes, so you could say the kitchen was already part shrine to Ruggles and part shrine to the pesky Egyptians.

‘Is he stopping?’ Wonka again mouthed, this time at Gingertop.

‘Might be.’ And off he or she jumped clear over the step and round the top of the passageway. He though, stayed put. As he was close enough for Wonka to check him out thoroughly he did manage to spot a name, a gleaming inscription on his armlet: Ramondo.

As for me, I could not see him. Wonka described the life out of him, pointed with his paw to the place in the yard where he was stationed, and noted he was looking for something. I did advise Wonka, that if he was a proper guard, he would have one of those big highly decorative staffs with him.’

‘What no staff?’ Wonka continued his one sided conversation through the glass. This time the strange young man turned and eyeballed Wonka, who had never been this close up to a real live Egyptian before and it was what he called a smack on look. At the same time, he shook his head and put his hands out in a ‘don’t know where the heck it is’ gesture.

‘He says he’s lost it.’ Wonka reported back to me, ‘and he’s drawing something on the ground!’ He was as well! From somewhere he had found a bit of chalk and was hard at it, drawing loads of those little pictures. Funnily enough although I couldn’t see him, I could see his cartoon alright and trotted out back to take a photo. ‘If we can decipher this Wonka,’ I went, all excited, ‘we can figure out why he’s turned up!’

As Wonka is keen to recount, Ramondo, our new found Egyptian used Sam’s old drinking bowl when he was thirsty, scooping the water out with his hands. Sam had been one of my faithful hounds and I liked to think was still hanging about protecting us and that.

‘Hungry?’ quizzed Wonka, making a gobbling motion to indicate eating. Wonka had a modest appetite despite his size which worried the Vets far more than it did me – and he was rightly concerned that Ramondo, far from home, might be peckish. With that, our new guard on the block, produced a handful of berries. No wonder they were all so fit and strong I muttered to Wonka, imagining this scene as Wonka faithfully described it to me.

‘And then,’ continued Wonka, ‘he sat on the back door step, where you are now, and closed his eyes for five minutes.’

I was too busy examining the photo of the cartoon to listen to all of Wonka’s reports that day, and luckily, had drawn it all before the strangest thing happened! The entire set of photos faded and vanished. Wonka said I had deleted them by accident, but I knew different. Once I had the cartoon in the right sequence I shared it with Wonka, who checked it out with Ramondo.

‘Yes, he says you’ve done a decent job.’ Apparently Ramondo gave my pictures the thumbs up and showed the most excitement when we got to the picture of my bangle. ‘Why?’ I had said to Wonka, ‘has he drawn my bangle and Bastet?’

At this, Wonka says Ramondo cast his eyes upwards in a gesture of despair, but I only have his (Wonka’s) word for that. I had pieced the little pictures or what we liked to call a cartoon together and first off decided that Ramondo was a long way from home.

Yes and the next cartoon picture confirmed this, as it showed a coffin –

‘Sarcophagus!’ corrected Wonka, yes one of those being transported up the Nile.

‘I wonder if he knew any of those famous ancient Egyptians?’ I pondered, ‘there are so many! I had drawn one of them, Queen Nefertiti, and realised it could be seen from where Ramondo was supposed to be standing, through the window to where it was in prime place on my cork notice board.

‘He probably thinks this is a shrine or a temple.’ observed Wonka having one of his light bulb moments, and with that, Ramondo knelt down on the stony ground of the yard in a sort of bowing down motion. It seemed as though Wonka could be right.

‘What if he does know Nefertiti,’ I went to Wonka, who was even now proposing we listen to the news in case there was anything going on; ‘What, like a missing ancient Egyptian! Oh and not to forget the staff!’ I was talking to thin air though, and turned my attention back to the cartoon series.

The journey up the Nile, seemed to be headed for our very own British Museum, situated in London. It held many wonderful artefacts, but was most renowned for holding onto a lot of mummies and ancient tomb relics. Again, the Egyptians were held in high esteem in our household, having knowledge of cat power long before we did, and Wonka would not hear anything against them – not even in this new century when cats did not seem quite so prominent.

I had visited the Museum, a few years ago, which really demanded a full on commitment of several days to look round it, not a few measly hours; I recalled the entrance, guarded by Lions, and so was not surprised to see that Ramondo had included one of them in his drawings. As I mused over it, Wonka gave up a shout from the living room.

‘What did I tell you!’ The six o’ clock news read by that nice newsreader with the funny name (our favourite) was blaring out and had some breaking news, with the annoying rolling type at the bottom of the screen.

‘MISSING MUMMY police have been called in to investigate the disappearance of a recent addition to the new EGYPTIAN EXHIBITION –‘

The camera then switched from the reporter outside (and standing next to the very Lion I had just been looking at!) to a plinth, in a darkened room, with nothing on it.

More information came rolling along the screen, and Wonka took notes. ‘There is an obvious connection,’ he muttered,’ between Ramondo and this mystery.’

But what it was, we didn’t find out until later, on the Ten o’clock news.

The later news report said that a domestic supervisor (that’s a cleaner we think) had found the staff, also sighted on the 6 25 out of Kings Cross. ‘Whoever it was,’ said the nice looking reporter,’ left it in the rest room at York Station.’ York, hitherto mostly famous for the Romans, the Races and its Minster, received much interest after this, and many enquiries as to their Egyptian heritage of which it had none. On an even later news report which Wonka stayed up specially for, whilst I understandably needed an early night, he heard more about this strange journey.

‘It was on the twenty four seven news network channel,’ he told me the minute I woke up.’ According to an eye witness, a scantily clad young man dressed as an ancient Egyptian, asked where the Shrine of Bastet was, and presuming this to be the new cosmopolitan corner shop at the end of our street, directed him there!’ We reckoned that Gingertop, always lurking round corners and streets, had then guided him – him being Ramondo – to our back yard.

‘Probably a bit homesick,’ said Wonka, now back on the side and waiting for Ramondo to reappear. I did wonder how Ramondo knew about my kitchen statuette but of course the ancients knew far more than we give them credit for; thoughts of a reward made me ask Wonka whether we should contact the British Museum?

‘If you can find a contact number for one of the most famous museums in the land, I’ll give you a reward! So I sent them an email instead, brief and to the point.

To whom it may concern

A young ancient Egyptian, who calls himself Ramondo has

turned up in my back yard; he thinks this is a shrine of Bastet

and also thinks we know his aunty (Nefertiti). He is quite harmless

and in good health (to-date). Is this, your missing artefact?

I signed it off and sent it, once Wonka had checked for spelling and grammar. More or less immediately, we received a reply. One of those automatic ones which advised us:

Ms Binkerton will be out of the office until further notice.

‘Well that’s handy,’ I sighed at the lack of customer service and came up with another solution. ‘Why don’t we just buy him a return ticket and see him on the train Wonka?’

Wonka gave my idea some thought, and also made attempts to communicate this to Ramondo. His puzzled expression had us on the run for a while, until I had the better idea of drawing a cartoon of it.

As I prepared the sequence, showing me and Wonka assisting him to the train station, with details of his journey back to the museum (walking, not the underground we thought best), I popped the radio on, for a nice soothing bit of music.

‘Do you think this looks like the 9 50 am out of York Wonka?’ I queried, including the platform number and a sign for the rest room. I was just going to draw the Lost Property so he could reclaim his staff when the news came on the radio:

‘- and we are going over to our roving reporter at the British Museum. What can you tell us John?’

John gave us a short history of the missing artefact (Ramondo) the latest sighting (Aberdeen. We disregarded this) and then gave us the most startling news of all.

‘The curator of this particular section in the museum had quite a surprise this morning, when instead of an empty plinth next to the display cabinet containing an elaborate sarcophagus, he found a ginger cat sitting on top of it. The metropolitan police are treating the case as a possible kidnap and have issued the following number for the public to contact them on………….’

Gingertop and the mystery of his disappearance was solved. For Wonka that is.

It looked like him, of course it did, but how this swap had taken place was as mysterious as the pyramids themselves.

‘Shall I continue?’ I wondered if the journey back could be made quicker perhaps with a few incantations……. Wonka told me not to be so fanciful and apparently Ramondo was keen for another train journey.

‘Have we to surmise then,’ I said to Wonka ‘that he’s come all this way to find Bastet?’

Wonka however, was busy having a fair go at showing Ramondo what had happened to Gingertop. As charades go it was a decent attempt, but when I drew it and held it up for my invisible ancient Egyptian to see, this clinched it.

‘He says – ‘ started Wonka

‘Yes?’ I prompted.

‘His Gods are pleased!’ he finished. Ramondo had gone through a lengthy charade himself, with praying hands and eyes cast skywards and such like reported Wonka.

I did offer, via Wonka, to run him up to the station but now he had accomplished his purpose, I was assured that he would be returned swiftly.

‘As swiftly as the sands of the desert, when they fly up into a storm.’

Listening to Wonka’s pronouncement I did wonder if he had been watching ‘Flight of the Phoenix’ again with Jimmy Stewart (our fave), but this was about a crashed plane in the desert and not an ancient Egyptian in sight.

Later that evening, when the sky was on the turn and I had spotted the first glittering star out back, we attended to the news.

‘…and over to our roving reporter at the British Museum for the latest on the missing artefact.’ Suddenly we were gazing at a darkened room with a glass case under several spotlights. I had always favoured this kind of lighting and had been faithful to the desk lamp in all my rooms, and when they were off it was good old candles. And then we saw him, at least I saw him for the first time – our Ramondo, laying gracefully in the casket with (I thought) a pleased expression on his face. Of course it wasn’t a real person or anything, it was one of those elaborate mummified objects that the Egyptians were busy producing all day long, but John, the roving reporter, was full of it.

‘….an eye-witness says that this particular display case was empty only half an hour ago! And there are reports coming in of a strangely clad young man posing for American tourists by the lions!!’

Definitely Ramondo then, as Wonka said, he did come across as a proud and fine Egyptian.

There was no mention of Gingertop in John’s news though, and although we switched to the relentless twenty four seven news channel (at Wonka’s insistence) it was now focussed on a hitherto unknown American making a bid for the White House. As for my email, like many before and after, it was politely ignored.

And so it was, that Wonka’s tale ended. Except for one thing really; some days like this one, when the sun was fierce and strong and I sat on the step basking in it, (and turning the bangle) whilst Wonka splayed out on the sideboard, there was the sense of being guarded. Just a little glimpse sometimes, a certain scent in the air, that suggested an ancient presence. Could it be?

The End

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