It was the evening of the big performance. Phil and Grant were convinced that the Pearly King was full of hot air. They were true to their word and Letitia had indeed been cast as Vera, and consequently she was crowing like a loon. "I'm gonna knock 'em dead with a big stick!" she said to herself. She was in her dressing room sorting out her make up for her first scene. Her partner and co-incidentally the male lead in the new production, Ernie Panell knocked on the door.
"Oh senorrrrita!" he crooned, "We arrrrrre almost ready to starrrrt!"
"Coooooming my looove!" She replied, and stood up. Massive Dolly Parton wig, absurd pink like dress and powder everywhere: she was ready. How could the bloody Pearly King stop her tonight when she looked like this?
Out in the auditorium, the final punters were being ushered to their seats: including a small party of toffs who were going into Box 3. Billy was up in the rafters and was not best pleased. They'd ignored him, the cheeky scamps. He dashed into his network of secret passageways. Phil and Grant were in Box 1: Apparently they thought they were royalty. They were unaware of anything unusual until a chilling voice came out of seemingly nowhere "Oi, you two pair of tarts! Didn't I tell you to leave Box 3 empty? You just don't chuffing listen do you?" The voice vanished.
"Oh rats. I thought we'd heard the last of that masked twit." Phil exclaimed.
"I think that was just wishful thinking Phil old boy" Grant responded.
"He's going to do something stupid isn't he?" Phil asked.
"Quite probably. He'll be hounding that bunch of posh people out of box 3 in a minute I suppose" mused Grant.
In box 2 sat the Viscount Ricky, wearing a paisley shirt. He was vaguely aware of something nearby but was too busy brushing his hair to pay it too much attention.
With a fanfare, the curtain raised. The stage was set up as The Dog's Head, the pub in Corrie as this was where most of the action happened.
Chrissie, dressed as Hilda was the barmaid. Ernie was Jack and was leaning on the bar. Letitia Carlotta was dressed as Vera in a silly pink dress and huge wig, and was sat at a table quietly sipping pint of Guinness.
'Gail' was also sat at a table, reading a magazine; 'Mike' was sat at the back, nursing a pint.
"Save a pint my darrrling, save a pint!" crooned Ernie "For summer nights with booze and no pub fights! For I must go to a dull meeting, in Bristol city and time is fleeting, so save a pint for me this summer night"
Carlotta, sitting at her table looked up and replied: "How can you sing to her and not to me? For could it be I'm not enough for thee? With her you flirt and look so wishful, and then you head forthwith to Bristol, Am I not enough for you to see?"
'Mike' stood up and butted in: "Will you people shut your bleeding traps? I'm trying to have a drink and to relax. You arguing will cause a headache, so kindly stop before your jaws break, and the incessant chatter makes you all collapse." With that, the music abruptly stopped, and 'Mike' strutted off stage.
"Well, that's a turn up for the books" sang Ernie "he could have killed us with a look. My dears I must now head away, and I shall return to you all Mondaaaaay!"
Meanwhile, above all the action, the toffs had just got comfy in Box three when Billy did the disembodied voice trick on them. "'Ere you lot, you're sitting in MY seat. Would you be so kind as to naff off?"
"I say Maude," said the older member of the group, "Was that you?"
"No it was not. I do not sound common." Maude sternly replied.
"I am far from common you posh oiks. Now beat it before I beat you" Said Billy with menace.
The toffs panicked and ran out of the box.
Billy closed the door behind them and locked it from the inside. He then lurked in the dark recesses of his little domain and settled down to watch the performance.
Letitia and Chrissie winked at each other theatrically, partially revealing their intentions to the audience.
After Ernie had sung, he went to the front of the stage and addressed the audience conspiratorially. "I'd like to take the barmaid with me." He winked and went off stage.
Letitia got up and waltzed to the bar and sang to Chrissie "Now he's gone and out of our hair, we can continue our little affair"
'Gail' looked at Letitia and Chrissie in surprise. She' got something to stick her beak into.
Hilda and Vera run off behind the bar for a quickie.
The phantom wasn't a happy bunny at all. Did these people not listen to reason? Or obey instructions? He had given them the casting instructions and they'd bloody reversed them. "That's it," he muttered "consider this performance to be properly sabotaged." With that he went back up to the rafters to consider his options.
'Gail' stood up and sang to the audience: "At last we have ourselves a scandal: An affair of love taboo, and although I am no vandal, this just will not do"
'Deirdre' walked on. "Ooh, 'ello Gail. Got any goss? Anyone in the factory screwing the boss?" she sang.
"Theeere's a secret affair which has been well hidden, involving Vera and Hilda making out in the kitchen." Came the response
'Mike' sauntered back in. He spotted Deirdre and ambled over to her.
"Deirdre my love where have you been? Have you been with Ken on the sly? You know he's the worst rat there's been, He's a cheating fool and a swine."
Deirdre replied: "I've just been up to Emmerdale, Visiting the Dingles and Dales. I've no idea what Ken's been doing, for all I know he's in Wales"
Billy had an idea: He'd already nabbed a fishing line and was fixing it to a beam. He lowered the hook carefully and snagged Carlotta's wig, and gently lifted it up. Then, when it was high enough and the audience were in hysterics, he calmly clambered through the roof space to one of his handy secret passageways and zipped down to a spot under the stage
"It's the Pearly King!" Gasped Chrissie.
"Your part is silent, duck face" Hissed Letitia as she flailed for her wig.
By now, Billy was under the stage.
"Duck madam?" Billy muttered under his breath "I think it is you who are the duck"
While Letitia was leaping up and down like a twit on a pogo stick, Billy quickly poured a phial into her drink.
Letitia finally managed to grab her wig, rammed it back on her head and gave the audience the most harsh glower. The hubbub quickly died down and the musical resumed:
Letitia went back to the bar and took a big swig from her glass and sang: "My ladies love has set my bar aflame, la la la la QUACK!" A look of absolute terror crossed Carlotta's face. She quickly forced it down and tried again "My ladies QUAAAACK!"
She ran off the stage in a burst of sobs and quacks, accompanied by the audience laughing themselves silly.
In a panic, Grant and Phil ran down to the stage and got the curtain pulled down. Phil quickly walked out in front of the curtain. "Ladies and gentlemen" he said "The performance shall continue in 10 minutes time, when the role of Vera will now be played b-b-b- by Miss Dyer.
Grant joined him "In the meantime, we would like to present to you the dance scene from act 3 from tonight's performance. Maestro, please bring the dance scene forward."
As Phil and Grant walked off, there was the sound of hurried scene shifting from behind the curtain.
The curtain raised to reveal an altered set with some slightly flushed looking performers.
The dancers were sat at rows of oversized sewing machines.
Mike walked in, and beckoned to one of the dancers, who got up and gracefully leapt and spun over to him.
"We have a problem very currant; the police are getting a search warrant. They are on to our label thieving, and they will be here this very evening. They be wanting to stop the operation, So let's prevent that dire situation."
The dancers all got up and danced around the factory equipment.
"We are in a massive fix, the law will be here in a tic. They will hunt for evidence that's damning, "
They were rudely interrupted when Joe Bucket, who had been drinking fairly heavily, plummeted headfirst out of the flies onto the centre of the stage, killing himself in the process. Panic erupted amongst the entire theatre with cries of "It's the Pearly King!" emanating from various panicky people.
Underneath the stage, Billy decided to beat a hasty retreat. "They blame me for bloody everything around here, and they're certain to pin that on me" he muttered as he made his way up onto the roof.
In the panic Ricky ran over to Chrissie to see if she was all right. "Yes I am!" she snapped "C'mon, let's get out of here before that masked prune does anything else."
She grabbed his hand and they ran toward the stairs that led to the roof.
On the roof stood Billy, the Pearly King of the Theatre. Having just run up here himself he was breathing a little heavily. As he stood there getting his breath, he heard approaching footsteps.
He looked around and saw a large-ish gargoyle on a neighbouring bit of flat roof and quickly hid behind it.
The door to the roof burst open and Chrissie half fell out, pulling Ricky along.
"Bloody nora!" exclaimed the viscount.
"That narking Pearly King!" cursed Chrissie "He isn't going to stop until he's done us all in"
"There is no Pearly King" Ricky responded
"Yes there bloody is!" snapped Chrissie "I've been to his lair and seen his pig-ugly face. He's definitely real. If he wasn't, who keeps playing pranks on Letitia, and leaving everyone those childish notes? The tooth fairy? For that matter, who was it that killed Joe Bucket just now? And don't tell me it was the ghost of Lionel Blair!"
"All right, all right" Ricky conceded, " I'll grant you the Pearly King probably did send all those notes and keeps pranking Carlotta, but let's face it: she screeches like a banshee. As for Joe, if the rumours are correct, then he spends his life in a permanent drunken haze. He probably tripped over his own feet in a wine-induced stupor."
Chrissie paused to think about that for a moment "Okay, I can buy that. He was partial to the odd case of wine. Every day. But the problem remains: the Pearly King is a dark force controlling our lives, running this theatre like it's his own personal playground!"
"No more talk of darkness."Ricky soothed, "Forget these wide eyed fears. I'm here: nothing will harm, you, my words will warm and calm you."
"Oh come off it" Chrissie glowered at him, "You want to go on a date or not?"
"Yeah all right" Ricky replied.
He put his arm around her shoulder and they went off down the stairs discussing venues.
Upon earwigging all of this, the King mocks throwing up and then says "Gordon Bennet get a room! I spend bloody ages teaching you how to be a proper cockney diva and this is how you repay me? If that's how it's going to be, then consider this war! I'm gonna get you two buggers if it's the last thing I do!"
He kicked a statuette for good measure and then limped back to his secret door.