Title: Reparo in a Rickshickle Dream
Author: The Island Hopper
Summary: In order to keep the Buckets from being removed from the Factory, Wonka agrees to something he doesn't particularly approve of. Normalcy, anyone?
Author's Notes: Geez, I didn't mean to depress everyone with Cell Block F. It wasn't my intention to make anyone shed tears, so I apologize if anyone did, but thanks to those of you who reviewed. But, I feel like there's enough emotional turmoil in the world without unduly subjecting yourself to it in fiction. So, on that note, here's something a little lighter, ok? And kudos to anyone who can find the Buffett reference in this story.
Charlie couldn't be quite sure what had set Ms. Rickshickle off that morning, but felt it probably had something to do with the fact that he'd shown up covered from head to foot in sugary purple soot.
While in the process of explaining that it was simply the result of an early morning factory experiment gone awry, much of the dusty lavender stuff had been inadvertently shaken off by Charlie's rather animated gestures during his pantomime as to the purpose of "Wonka's Magical Good Luck Dust" experiment, which, ironically, had not been at all lucky. The cast-off dust on the floor then gelatinized as it bonded with the stray rain brought in by dozens of pairs of children's shoes belonging to those who chose to play in puddles all morning whilst poor Charlie was nearly being blown to smithereens in the Inventing Room. He hadn't had time to change, Charlie explained to the thin-lipped elderly woman observing him as one might observe old food in the bottom of the dishwasher, and had simply chosen to come to school as he was rather than waste more time getting scrubbed off, which might have taken an awfully long time considering the forcible explosion, and wasn't that responsible and civic-minded of him?
After watching four or five of his hapless classmates slip in the purple goo and land flat on their backs (which, Charlie had to admit to himself, very well might have been worth the morning's tribulations), Charlie carefully made his way back to his desk, sat down, and slid gracefully, albeit unintentionally, out of his seat twice before deciding his best course of action was simply to cling to the sides of the desk for dear life. The class watched this spectacle in silent awe. This is something they were wont to do with Charlie's seemingly daily Chaotic-Mess-Involving-Mr.-Wonka-And-Or-His-Factory story, and, now that it was out of the way, class could begin.
Things went smoothly for the first fifteen minutes of Ms. Rickshickle's dissertation on the reproductive organs of Amazonian tree frogs. It started with a little scratch. Just a little one, above his temple. A minute later he scratched his thigh. Then his knee. Then his stomach. When Ms. Rickshickle finally turned to her class to make sure they were grasping the irony of a discussion on territorial male mating habits of the tree frog in the political science portion of their day, she was somehow not very surprised to find Charlie Bucket sprawled out on the floor and itching every inch of his body ferociously.
"What is it now, Bucket?" she asked crisply.
"Itches," Charlie managed to stutter. Cindy Pletcher, who sat directly across from Charlie, discreetly moved her foot away from the writhing form. "Really itches."
"Go," Ms. Rickshickle said tiredly.
As he did every morning, Charlie made his way down to the nurses' office to receive treatment that, often times, the nurse had no idea how to administer. How does one cure insane itching brought on by falling in a vat of lucky purple soot? Questions akin to these presented themselves to her nearly every day in the form of a fourteen year old boy named Charlie Bucket.
"My God, Bucket, did it have to be this early?" the nurse drawled upon seeing her usual patient. "I've barely had time to mentally prepare myself."
"I itch," Charlie said simply as he continued to scratch like a madman. "Pretty bad."
The nurse cocked an eyebrow. "You aren't going to give me a remedy list again, are you? Because I have no idea vitzen baye is, or a hornswaggler, or even how to derive wezipan juice from the root of a – "
"No," Charlie said quickly, eager to stop wallowing in itch-induced misery. "I don't have a list. Please, can I just use the sink? I can wash most of this stuff off, I think."
"Well there's a first," she muttered as she turned to the sink, turning on the taps. "I swear, I haven't eaten a single thing from the Wonka factory since you've started coming in here every day looking a different color, or are covered in something entirely unidentifiable to a normal human being, or are only able to walk on your hands, or something. What goes on in that factory? If this is what happens to the workers," she pointed to Charlie, "I'd hate to think what's happening to the candy."
"Better us than the people who buy it," Charlie said as he practically dove into sink. He splashed a liberal amount of water all over his face, hair, and hands, then proceeded to take off his sweater and chuck it in the garbage can. "I think the sweater is unsalvageable."
"Like my morning," the nurse muttered as she filled out the appropriate paperwork for Charlie's daily visit. He pretended he didn't hear, instead trying to look absorbed in a colorful poster displaying the wonders of the circulatory system. "Sign here," she said finally. "And get back to class. I'll see you tomorrow, I'm sure."
Charlie scrawled his name in the familiar notebook and headed back to class as quickly as he could. Nevertheless, he received a cold stare from Ms. Rickshickle upon his return. "You will see me after class, Bucket," she said icily, eyes bulging. Charlie couldn't help but to notice the amazing facial similarities of she and the giant cartoon insect on a poster directly behind her. "Something needs to be done about this. I can't have you disrupting the class every day, can I?"
If you had any idea how distracting it is watching the hairy wart on the end of your nose dance when you talk, you'd shut up about my disruptions, Charlie thought to himself as he nodded demurely to his teacher. She set her lips and turned back to her lesson…but what spiders who laid their eggs in unsuspecting victims had to do with Wal-Mart's impact on small business economics, he might never know.
"You see, Bucket," Ms. Rickshickle said slowly that afternoon as she and Charlie sat alone in the classroom, "I simply cannot teach with you coming in covered in purple gunk every day."
You simply cannot teach period, Charlie thought. "But, Ms. Rickshickle, in all fairness, it was only this morningthat I was covered in purple gunk…"
"Yes, and tomorrow your feet will be as big as skis, and the day after that you will only be able to speak backwards, etc., etc. Do you get what I'm saying?"
"No," Charlie said, though he did. The opportunity to toy with his teacher was simply too much fun to pass up. "Because it would do no good to have feet as big as skis. The people in the ski industry would be quite upset. And besides that, you'd be stubbing your toes on doorways you're three feet away from. That's no fun."
"Please shut up."
"I'll tell you what I want you do to, and if you refuse, you are no longer welcome in my classroom."
Charlie sat up a little higher in his seat. That was the best news he'd heard all week.
"You will, instead, be required to sit outside the classroom, and listen in on the lecture." Ms. Rickshickle's face contorted into what might have been a smile on a normal person but came out more of a dire grimace. "And I shall be sure to bring in industrial fans to keep you company in the hallway. Perhaps I will even arrange for the school band to practice outside our door."
"May I conduct them? Will they take requests?"
"Bring this Mr. Wonka to me," she said evenly, tapping her index finger lightly on her desk. "I want to speak to the man responsible for…for this," Ms. Rickshickle flicked her finger in the general direction of Charlie as if she were pointing out a bogey to him.
Frowning, Charlie said, "Why do you want to speak to him? He's not responsible. I'm the one whoslipped in the puddle of jelly and dove headfirst into the vat of soot, not him. He might have cried."
"Bucket, you seem to be talking again. Kindly stop."
"Bring him to me," she repeated, looking sternly into her student's eyes. "Or face the consequences. I want him here at no later than four o'clock tomorrow. I'll make him see reason."
You'd be the first, Charlie thought. However, on the outside he only shrugged. "Ms. Rickshickle, I'll be honest with you. I wouldn't expect him to come if I were you. He doesn't really…do the whole 'outside world' thing. You know. Reclusive genius and all that."
"You tell him he either comes or his heir remains at a ninth grade education level for the rest of his life."
Swallowing hard, Charlie stood up slowly. "Well, in that case, I'll see what I can do."
"See that you do. And think about it, Bucket. Do you really want the most literate book you're ever able to read to be Johnny Tremain?"
Charlie shuddered. "No ma'am. He'll be here. I promise."