MARK Bright woke up tied to a chair.
He had no idea how long he’d been there. It was dark and smelt of moist and turpentine.
“What’s this, Mr Bright?” a voice demanded as he came round.
In front him the dim screen of a laptop barely lit the shabby table on which it stood. The voice seemed to be everywhere.
“Where am I?” murmured Bright.
“Mr, Bright. What’s on the screen?” said the voice.
Bright’s eyes adjusted to the light. He was in a cellar he didn’t recognise. The last he remembered he was interviewing Titus Bramble for Al Jazeera. How had this happened?
He peered at the screen:
— Stix (@jeffkennaleague) April 25, 2015
“Who are you? Why are you doing this me?” said Bright, still woozy, although he recognised the tweet.
“Everything will be explained, Mr Bright,” replied the voice calmly. “First, tell me what this means to you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bright said, recollection beginning to seep back.
“Perhaps this will jog your memory, Mr Bright,” said the voice before the screen changed to another tweet. It was Bright’s:
— Brighty (@Mark__Bright) April 25, 2015
Bright remembered everything. “Oh that. I was watching Match of the Day on Saturday and saw a funny tweet about Gary Lineker’s shirt so I decided to share the joke,” he said, forgetting himself a little.
“You mean you stole the joke, Mr Bright,” replied the voice. It filled every inch of the dank so well it’s owner had to be in another room.
“I wouldn’t say I…”
“Don’t even try, Mr Bright,” said the voice with a thin edge of impatience. Then after a couple of moments: “You have no idea who you’re dealing with, do you, Mr Bright?
“Have you ever heard of the Kenna League?”
“The what?” said Bright, confused.
“The Jeff Kenna League. It’s London’s leading pub-based fantasy football league,” said the voice, as if the catchphrase was a national phenomenon.
Bright offered: “Is it anything to do with Jeff Kenna? The Republic of Ireland full back?”
“Not at all,” replied the voice. “Well, the league was named after Jeff, but he has nothing to do with it. Although, irritatingly we do get stray emails intended for him from time to time.
“On the face of it the Kenna League or Kenna – as it’s more commonly known – is a group of managers who congregate in the pub a few times each year to buy and sell Premier League players in an auction format,” this did little to cheer Bright. Whoever was behind this stunt was clearly out of their mind. The voice droned on as Bright’s mind began to race, thinking of how he could escape.
“…and one manager is a real pirate. Hot headed sort. The only manager to quit during an auction…”
Bright tried the ropes on his wrists. They were bound tight behind him. He scanned the darkness for anything to help cut, catching the last sentence of the inane monologue: “But underneath, Mr Bright, the Kenna League isn’t all rounds of drinks and worn out jokes about Titus Bramble.”
Bramble! He was involved in this! Bright wondered what the former defender was really up to since being released by Sunderland in 2013. It definitely wasn’t Bramble talking now though.
The voice continued. It definitely belonged to an Englishman, as non descript as it was preposterous: “You have shown disrespect to the Kenna, Mr Bright. Even taking into account your prolific spells at Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday, you must learn to understand the power of the Kenna committee.”
“B-B-But, I ‘at’ mentioned you in the tweet along with the Linkear. I acknowledged the joke was yours. I’ve got more than 87,000 followers, you probably got some more followers out of it,” Bright was pleading.
“Mr Bright, your little caper only earned the Kenna three extra followers: a Birmingham City fan service, a self-publishing ‘comedy’ author and an American woman who retweets credit card advice.
“Therefore, Mr Bright, we have no alternative but to keep you here.”
“What? I’ve got a home, a job, a family. People will wonder where I am. Please, please, please let me go!” said Bright, writhing in his bonds.
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible, Mr Bright, but we have got a little surprise for you.”
The voice went quiet. After a few moments the opening bars of a slow, start-stop, R&B pop beat filled the room. Bright immediately felt pinpricks of cold sweat all over his body. How did they know? It was impossible!
A woman began to sing:
Folks say I’m tripping and I’m losing my mind
It was ‘Sweetness’, the 1994 hit by his ex-wife Michelle Gayle. Good God, no!
Much as he had loved Michelle, and indeed he was still on good terms with her, Bright couldn’t bear that song. He had never admitted it to anyone out of respect, so how did they find out? And why were they doing this to him?
He managed to negotiate the track’s three minutes and 37 seconds without swallowing his tongue, and when the music faded he began to breathe more slowly.
The room was silent for a few seconds and then he heard it:
Shoop shoo doop
Shay day shoop shoo doop
It was on repeat!
Mark Bright’s own voice awoke him with a start. He was in his own bed. He felt his wrists and wasn’t tied up. Oh, thank the heavens, he thought, it was just a horrible nightmare.
He checked the time on the bedside clock. 3.37am. He was about to drift off to sleep again when his blood ran cold. Opening his eyes wide he looked at the bedside table again.
The curtains weren’t completely drawn. A small gap let in enough sodium street lighting to reflect from a small shiny square propped against the lamp.
It was a signed photo of Titus Bramble.
Photo credit: Prostate Cancer UK
Go For Broke Cup – semi final second leg
Judean Peoples’ Front 0 (0) – 2 (2) KS West Green
Fat Ladies 0 (0) – 0 (0) Hoxton Pirates
Fat Ladies win 23-7 on points scored in second leg
Fixtures – this weekend
Canesten Combi Cup – semi final first leg
Team Panda Rules OK v Cowley Casuals
Dynamo Charlton v FC Testiculadew
Kenna table – week 33 of 37
|2||KS West Green||Stix||36||2|
|4||Sporting Lesbian||Ben M||28||2|
|5||Lokomotiv Leeds||Ben S||26||0|
|10||St Reatham FC||Mike||21||0|
|11||Team Panda Rules OK||George||20||1|
|12||Just Put Carles||Carles||19||1|
|15||FC Tescticuladew||James N||16||1|
|16||Still Don’t Know Yet||Pete||15||0|
|17||Judean People’s Front||Sholto||14||0|
|19||Headless Chickens||John N||10||0|
|Player of the week||12||N’Doye, D – HUL – STR|