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Satyr Tales

Twisted stories to amuse and confuse.

Cheese, Bears and Bumble.

Or– A fine mix to fix writers block. Or-An unlikely combination of inspiration.

A post a week? I can’t make that, it usually takes me a month to write one! It takes even longer to read one!

Stuck for inspiration. Stuck for any kind of thoughts what so ever. Blank screen syndrome. The more I stare at the screen the blanker, whiter and emptier it seems to become. Numbness sets in. A mild tick develops in my caffeine induced left eye (the right eye is strictly a spirits-only sort of chap). Fingers tips become heavy, laden with self-crafted doubt and obstinate lethargy… ‘This is impossible, I’m not smart enough’, ‘there’s not enough time’, e.t.c.

I’m not even motivated enough to get distracted by social media and such like. Or play a time wasting game-app. Or fiddle with a time-saving app. Or try and make sense of a time keeping app.

Nothing else for it, I shall have to go on a wander to clear the rafter and eves. However, I can’t seem to drag my hooves out from under my posterior.

Meanwhile the keyboard is closing in as the right eye shuts of its own accord. Down, down, down into darkness. It feels kind of secure here. I don’t need to be anybody or anything. As far as I’m concerned, the day is finished and in epic failure. A redundant writing day wasted…and it is not even elevenses yet.

…Then a knock at the hut door stirs me from my loathsome languishing. A familiar face is at the door with his childling. Tis’ cousin Didder, Chief Artificer of the Realm and his small-ling consort, Kobi the Barbarian (A.K.A. Kobi One Kanobi). “Come on” beams the smaller of the pair. “We’re going on a bear hunt!”

Well alright! All of a once I am motivated and energized. Small folk have a very calming and reassuring influence on me. They don’t care when I look or feel glum. They don’t even care when I have a keyboard imprinted on my forehead. They only care that I come out to play and chase bears with them.

So off to one of my favourite woods for an adventure. I brought along a keg of coffee and a foraging book. The kiddling equipped us all with sturdy bear-poking sticks. The Artificer brought his welly boots and his Lucky Cap of Tinkering.

There was many a mud lake to cross, but brave Kobi took point and led us all safely through. There were also many snare and pit traps to avoid, possibly set by goblin hunters. However, our Artificer new well their tricks and disarmed them all without issue.

We hunted for huge grizzly bears and we tracked ferocious wolves. Didder the Artificer and I were most concerned about our possible encounter with an omnivorous leviathan, despite our robust bear poking sticks. Kobi however, was unperturbed and gleefully charged into the undergrowth unfazed. He truly is a great hero and leader of men.

There was even a goblin camp or two to be explored; as it was day time all inhabitants scattered as we approached then they kept to the shadows out of sight. Although they had little in the way of plunder it was still an interesting intrusion. Kobi even came into possession of a Goblins’ Luck-Stone!

Later on we spotted a couple of wayward hares and there was even a tiger flying an aeroplane overhead!

We were subject to a curiously brief hail storm, much to the giggling delight of young Kobi the Barbarian and the party had to take refuge in one of my halfway-shelters until it passed us over. Clearly this was some sort of fell sorcery at work by an evil witch nearby. But not to fear, as everybody well knows witches are terrified of the ferocious battle cry of a small boy whirling a stick around his head. So then all was bright and sunny again so we continued on.

We had to skim round the Wishing Well of Eternal Jubilation and Scummy Bits as there was a ghastly troll slumbering nearby, snoring his head off (I believe it must be Conrad the Destroyer of Worlds’ week off otherwise he would have moved the beast along by now).

Sleepily we made our way back to the Didder-Mobile and, after a parting shot or two at the skulking goblins, we set off back home again for tea, biscuits and a big old hunk of cheese (curtesy of the Artificer and his wife).

Now then, this adventure has moved me to post up a sneak preview of an on-going project, a tale regarding the above little chap who rested me from my gloom and withering writers block. So here’s a peek at something I started around about Christmas time-ish. Just about all the pictures are complete, I just need to find a savvy and cunning way to ink and colour them. But more to come. So here you have in all its glory, your first glimpse at a story concerning young Kobrias and his Landover: Bumbles sore Bumper!

If you like what you read please like, comment and share. It would be most appreciated.

Kind regards.

S.

Bringing in the Spring-My Office for the Day

It appears I have risen early from my ritual winter slumber and so hath my muse and colleague, Mother Nature. More of this please my dear. Eternally grateful. 


All the necessary writing requirements are here, pens, pads, new fangled technology aquatic wildlife and of course a vat of tea.

So without further ado, I’d best be cracking on.

Peace.

S.

The Night Before Christmas

A modern retelling of a classic seasonal verse, with additional silliness. This twist is for, in no particular order:                Jack, Martha, Ethan, Conrad, Kobe, Harrison and Expecting… The biggest things at Christmas time are the littlest people.

 

A side note from the Satyr-It’s strange how inspiration can come about. All it took was one snivelling pro-Trump degenerate cracking into my eBay account and purchasing an Apple mac or five and Eureka! New story. Every cloud has a silver lining. Or so they say.

So here you have it, white collar crime folk, thank you for bringing this story to me and indeed my readers. And just in the St. Nick of time too…Seasonal greetings everyone < :- )-

 

The Night Before Christmas

T’was the night before Christmas when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…

Well, except for two villains, a’ prowling the night

Creeping round Old Mrs Palins’ house, led by torchlight.

Gary and Jordan, were a veritable pair

United in crime, clad in counterfeit sportswear

T’was that time of year again, when they must provide for their kin

All the luxuries expected, to welcome the New Year in.

Neither had had, a real job up to date

Preferring to sponge, off of the welfare state.

So over to the rich side, of their town every year

To pilfer some presents and other assorted gear.

But what the pair didn’t know, was that Grandma Palin was a witch

A peaceable respectable one, homely but not kitsch.

Indeed the seasonal bunting, was all but for show.

Being a pagan she cared little, for reindeer’s and snow.

But she played along every Christmas, for it was both happy and wry;

And she baked breads and cakes, for the elderly nearby.

But the men bound her to a chair, then set her aside

And carried on pillaging, without breaking stride.

Quite rightly Grandma Palin, became quite hotly vexed

To teach these thieves a lesson, she would have them both hexed

So the old dear did mumble and an incantation she did weave

Jinxing the villains and all they touched and perceived.

Lo all of the plunder did significantly alter,

Into big lumps of coal causing both rogues to falter.

The burglars were enraged and turned on the old crow,

‘Turn it all back, we need gifts to bestow!’

Said Mrs Palin, ‘Well Mr Burglars, I would if I could.

But first I need you both, to do something good.

To atone for your crimes and lift off your curse:

Make an honest festive gesture: Open your hearts not your purse.’

‘To dispel my magic’s, all you need do

Is give something back, to the community you eschew.

It need not be pennies or Frankincense or gold

Merely show a little love for all to behold.’

But the chums would have none of it and both curtly said

‘To hell with you woman, we’d rather be dead.’

To this the witch rounded, ‘So be it, it is done!

Not a gift you will enjoy ‘til the spells’ course is run’.

‘Now be off with you both, for I’m a busy gel

And you and your new coal, can go burn in hell!’

The two thugs did huff, then threw down the fuel

Ridiculing the old woman and humbugging the yule.

So off into the night, they went in search of more stock

But alas every gift unwrapped, turned out nothing more than black rock.

The duo began to quaver, as they considered their plight

A change in plan was required, at least for this night.

Gary knew a charlatan who liked to prey on the Ebayer,

And Jordan went to his local, to pick up a hot DVD player.

But the pub had just closed and the hacker was asleep,

So both men moaned wretchedly and into their palms did weep.

Whined Jordan, ‘There’s nothing else for it, we’ll just have to submit;

Do the witches bidding, or our families will fit!’

Cried Gary, ‘Let’s do some good, for the people we’ve done wrong.

And hope to god it works or we’ll have no household to belong’.

So the thieves turned to thinking, a somewhat dubious notion

How to repay the town, and prove to their kin their devotion.

Hence they made a plan, both brilliant and bright

Then ran back to old Grandma Palins to set everything right.

Sang the Witch, ‘that’s the way lads, I knew you’d come through;

Now up and dashing both, you’ve got lots to do.’

So the pair spent the dawn, diligent on their plan

And soon it was finished with a little help from the old gran.

A carefully worded contract, up the witches enchanted chimney flew,

Promising their hard labour once the night’s dilemma was through;

They solemnly promised Santa, they would help him this year and the next

If he could possibly help them, what with them being both destitute and hexed.

High above the land, a familiar sleigh did soar,

Carrying a rosy cheeked fat man and presents galore;

Pulled by eight little reindeer, galloping on through the black,

When an unopened letter arrived, top the bearded man’s sack.

‘Ho, ho, ho, what be this?’ said the jolly old man.

‘A late letter to Santa? Well, I always do what do what I can.’

But then he read more closely and immediately understood

Then hastily changed course for Gary and Jordan’s neighbourhood.

The pair were most shocked, when Santa’s sleigh came to land

Their mouths did drop open as he proffered his hand

Their plan had worked! Who could have wondered?

Santa shook both their palms and smiled as he thundered:

‘Come on then lads you’d best climb aboard,

And let’s get to delivering this yule tide hoard.

There’s something for everyone, ho, ho, even your kin;

Now let’s all hustle, before they realise the trouble you’re in.’

So in jumped the pair and the sleigh took off at speed

So high and so fast that Gary almost wee’ed.

Back on with Santa’s rounds and the duo worked as hard as they might

Depositing gifts in stockings, throughout the rest of the night.

No one was left out, and some households were even repaid

To make up for the previous year’s seasonal raid.

Santa made quite sure, the pair’s homes were both filled

With everything their kin wished for, just as the contract had billed.

Returning to Grandma Palin, the sleigh finally empty of toys

Jolly St. Nick boomed, ‘well done, same again next year boys?’

‘Of course Mr Claus’ they replied full of cheer;

‘We can’t thank you enough, we’ll start work in the New Year.’

Grandma Palin was gleeful and said with a grin,

‘Glad to see you’ve learnt your lesson, now get home to you kin.’

‘We thank you too Grandma Palin, for teaching us right.’

Now Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!’

The Ballad of August Grey

Nonsense at its very best. I hope I have done Milligan and Dahl proud.

 

The Ballad of August Grey.

Part of the Gowal Fables series.

August Grey was a miserable girl.

Her only friends, the dull clouds that followed her. The only chorus in her life, the steady patter of drizzle that accompanied her footsteps where ever she went. Even indoors she squelched where ever she trudged and brought gloom and despair to all and sundry. Chat to her and you will immediately discover she hasn’t a pleasant thing to say about anyone or anything.

Now you have to understand, August Grey has had a pretty normal and technically pleasant existence. Both her parents are alive and well and still living together. She has wanted for nothing and nothing drastic or terribly negative has ever befallen her or her kin.

However, no matter what day it was, whether rain or shine, Christmas or New Year, birthdays or weddings, August Grey cast a damp shadow over the proceedings and the people.

‘I never get the presents I want. And why do I always get coal for Christmas?’ she would whine.

‘This dress makes me look like a cake.’ she would infer.

‘The astrologers lied to me’ she would moan.

‘How come I never win the lottery?’ and etcetera.

 

One fateful day a tall, handsome, curiously generous and dashing young prince randomly happened by and cut her head off with his magic sword. August Grey immediately turned into a beautiful princess, complete with a beautiful new head and exquisite features. The dowdy young gentlemen with the great physique immediately whisked her up in his brawny arms and begged her to marry him. He promised they would live together, forever and happily ever after (as is the convention) and that she would want for nothing.

Although August Grey begrudgingly accepted she was still morbid and morose even, with her new grandiose Disneyesque looks. Before the engagement could even get off the ground August Grey had deflated the whole happy scenario with her drab outlook and miserable moaning despite her luxuriant new persona and lifestyle.

‘My ring finger is sore’

‘This new Giorgio Armani dress is itchy.’

‘My ear wax smells funny’

‘These swan ribs are too tough.’

‘The Paparazzi always get my bad-side.’

The handsome young prince couldn’t understand it and it wasn’t long before he couldn’t bear to be around her moodiness. As he was quite foppish and well-to-do he immediately jumped ship and went off to look for a more suitable bride; one that resembled the equine countenance which he was expected to marry.

“Cheerio, what! Whaa, whaa, whaa!” He said as he disappeared into the distance in his chauffeured Bentley.

***

the-unusual-suspects
The Unusual Prospects: The monk, the Prince, the Pauper and the vicar.

So August Grey was left to her own devices, and although she had a lovely shiny new face, nothing changed…Apart from, within the week her large, twinkly-eyed, pouty, porcelain features reverted to their predecessor’s usual guise. A face farce if you will.

Nothing could excite her, nothing could cheer her. Everything was a pain and a chore. There were no silver linings to her horizons. It was as if August Grey was determined to be damned miserable and try and drag everyone else down with her. It appeared she was only ever truly happy when everyone around her was as grey as she.

Time passed, events befell the world. Some tragic, like that Earth Quake in the lesser known Little China District of Old Cambridge Town. Some happenstances were amaze-balls, like that homeless gentlemen winning the Euro Millions Jackpot. But August Grey, now a fully grown woman, was unfazed. She revelled in her own misery.

‘I’m entirely certain that the starving Ethiopians are no less miserable than I. I bet they don’t have a huge credit card bill to pay off’ she would often say.

‘I’m far more unhappy than that child who has just lost their entire family to a zombie apocalypse. At least they don’t have to write so many Christmas cards this year’ she would whinge.

It was as if she craved to be the unhappiest person alive.

***

Later on in life, a few years down the lane a Buddhist monk happened by intent on changing middle aged August Greys’ life view. In order, of course, to help her see things more positively and live a worthwhile life. After just three days of trying to teach her the finer points of his spirituality he threw in the towel, or toga, and was seriously considering rejecting Buddhahood altogether on account of being made to feel so miserable.

Then on a later and entirely different and brand new fateful day The Gowal happened by unannounced. The Gowal is half owl, half goat and point-three percent recurring parts Honey Badger. And he was more than a match for anyone at Masters Tiddlywinks. He had heard of August Grey and her miserable ways and took pity on her.

He offered to take August on a mystical voyage across space, time and reality; show her the wonders of this world and others in the hope she would see the true beauty and benefit of life and nature.

‘Won’t you change your mood for the good of humanity?’ Said he.  ‘See, there is a bright and beautiful world out there. And true too, tis’ a bright and beautiful life! Lo, you have been blessed with life!’

However, after being sat with the miserable git for some considerable time, the Gowal soon realised how sad she was and not about to change her ways.

‘My face feels all furry,’ she would moan.

‘My teeth are too pointy and they aren’t white enough’ she would whinge.

‘Sod this you miserable thing,’ said the Gowal at last.  ‘I’m off. You’re never going to change and you’re bringing me down with you. I’m the happiest most delightful fantastical fictional character around. I can’t work with this!’

And so the Gowal flew away in his favourite rocket ship perhaps never to return again, his soul and heart tarnished forever by merciless mardiness.

***

And so it came to pass that crooked old August Grey lived to a ripe-ish age of sixty five and three twelfths. When she finally died no one came to her funeral. No-one wept. And no one missed her. Therefore it would have been right and just that the name, August Grey, vanished into the mists of time never to be mentioned ever again.

The End…

 

…Presumably.

But wait. Harken!

T’was only after a month or so of her departing this mortal coil that strange things started to occur in the graveyard wherein August Grey was interned.

Flowers had taken over the whole sanctified scene.

There were blooms of all colours, species and fragrance. Every time the wheezy, knackered, old gardener hacked them back, in order to respect the other head stones and their occupants, the very next morning the whole garden of death was alive and blooming again. The source, seeming to stem from the stone marked, August Grey.

The resident vicar, whom had just returned from the Costa Del Sol, couldn’t believe it. The prolific plants were taking over the whole hallowed haven. Overnight, August Greys’ grave became a world phenomenon and people gathered from all around the globe to see it.

sangria-soaked-vicar
The Resident Vicar

The greying, former Buddhist monk was in awe. The dashing and now distinguished, V shaped prince was aghast. August Greys’ former work colleagues and neighbours all gathered round to see the impressive, if not unruly, paradise garden spawning from her tomb.

Even the chairpersons of the Royal Horticultural Society and the Royal Botanic Gardens both agreed that this was madness and a slight against God and science.

The bewildered congregation all looked to one another for an explanation as to what was occurring.

Then the familiar and all too lovable Gowal returned on his steam-powered hovercraft and said with a grin, ‘I get it now! I finally worked it out!’

Everybody stared at him with either mistrust or conjunctivitis in their eyes.

‘Do you not see?’ chuckled he to everyone assembled. ‘It’s your outlook that should have changed, not the outlook of this late moody wretch?’ proffered the Gowal, indicating Augusts’ grave with a florid wave of his arms.

Now even more perplexed, the crowd elected to ignore him. There was a rowdy jeer from the back, possible from the sangria-soaked vicar.

The wise Gowal was unperturbed and took centre stage next to August Greys’, now quite remarkable headstone. ‘She was a morose magnet! She absorbed the negativity out of the world so we semi-normal people didn’t have to deal with it.’

The odd pair of earnest and curious eyes met the Gowals’. A few ineloquent murmurs rolled around the congregation.

‘Rubbish!’ jibbed the vicar, through a mouthful kebab, then added ‘Hairy bottoms!’ for good measure.

The Gowal rolled his eyes and carried on unabashed ‘She wasn’t bringing you down with her, she was trying to extract your negativity! The negativity that was already there. Or at least she was trying to distract you from it by shouldering it herself.’

The crowd shuffled their feet uncomfortably.

The Gowal turned to a cluster of ex-office workers. ‘I’ll wager that every time she said, “I hate Mondays”, you fellows felt a whole lot better for it. Or at least decided to be more jovial for the rest of the day rather than be glum like her?’

August Greys former co-workers and employers, exchanged glances then reluctantly nodded their heads.

‘Every place she had ever been employed now works in peace and harmony. I’m willing to wager that prior to her employment the general feel in the office was typically moody and dire, just given voice by August.’

As the general feel and sound of acceptance and agreement washed over the crowd the Gowal began to caper around the head stone excitedly as he continued.

‘Every wedding she ever attended, the couples are still together happily married as if they were still on their honey moon.’

Tin wedding anniversary-ists Mr and Mrs Babysmith reluctantly nodded their heads, then shared a mischievous, surreptitious, twinkly-eyed glance.

The crowd was silenced as they pondered this for a long, awkward moment.

‘This venerable late August Grey had been extracting your unhappiness all her life. Only now that she has been laid to rest has that negative energy been turned into something pure and hopeful and beautiful.’

More embarrassed murmurs. More embarrassed feet shuffling.

‘…Every birthday party she’d ever crashed she couldn’t help but voice the rude truth in the back of the birthday-ees head: ‘Why the hell did they buy me this? What am I supposed to do with it? Don’t they know me at all?’

A gentlemen at the back with a birthday helium balloon piped up, ‘yeah! And why is it I always get pants every year? What are you people trying to tell me about my underwear and hygiene habits?’ The gathering grumbled a concurrence. The birthday balloon choose that moment to fly way with a rather comical, albeit puerile, rasping sound.

‘When my dog died I was mortified.’ Piped up a person petting a new-born pup. ‘August said something completely inappropriate about taxidermy which made me very angry. But now I realise her intervention made me stop feeling sad about losing, Bono. ’

The congregation gave pause and stared down at their toes in silence. A gentle breeze lifted across the graveyard as playful birds and insects danced amongst August’s quivering, bountiful bouquet…

Without warning the former Buddha leapt forth from the mob. He whipped out a cordless beard trimmer then set about shaving his funky facial hair and scalp. He then donned an orange robe found somewhere about his person and began to chant in the lotus position.

The dashing Prince immediately got down on one knee and proposed to the ugliest, Neanderthal female pauper he could find (ever the classical romantic he often kept a selection of expensive shiny rings about his person for just such an incident).

Seeing that he had made his point, the jubilant Gowal snatched up the nearest, differently abled, starving, orphaned child and whisked him or her away to have a fantastical adventure across time, space and reality on his magical flying supermarket trolley.

From that day forth August Greys’ grave became a focal point of pilgrimage for anyone and everyone in need of an uplift and to pay homage to such a martyr. She is a symbol of optimism and hope. Every miserable person who stands before her grave feels relieved as if a great burden of negativity is lifted. And for each and every new visitor, a fresh, beautiful flower would immediately pop up and instantly bloom…

…And everyone and anyone who ever spent any time with August Grey or her flowery tomb lived truly, remarkably, unfeasibly happily ever after.

The Very Actual End.


Appearances and All That

A long lost gem from quite some considerable time ago that went AWOL. I have since retrieved it hosed it down, given it a rough shave and I am now, as we speak, shoving it in front of the jury.

It has had a plethora of titles throughout its life, but it can’t settle itself on one. So for now it is simply entitled: Appearances and all that.

So then, Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Appearances and All That

(Aka: The Colonel/ Careful What You Wish/ Book Judging/ Have a go Hero/ Challenging Perception.)

The annoying bell rattled in a half-arsed manner as the door closed behind Jack. This was much to the relief of the weary Naomi, who had been anxiously clock watching for her reprieve since lunch.

‘Afternoon, how’s you?’ Said he, almost knocking over a display of discount lager as he struggled out of his jacket.

‘Good, it’s been slow though’ said the pretty girl behind the counter in her pleasing Irish cadence. She nonchalantly rubbed her expansive bump, whilst lazily poking till buttons to humour an old lady fishing coppers out her purse.

It was a Friday afternoon and punters had already begun visiting the lazy suburban off-license.

‘Excellent’ Jack beamed, before disappearing into the back room to lob his coat over one of the many glass and aluminium tower blocks of blokey-beer and girly-alcho-pops.

A purchased was finally made at the counter, and the octogenarians’ face lit up as she stuffed the expertly paper-wrapped, litre and a half of gin into her battered faux-leather hand bag.

Naomi was an expert bottle wrapper, much to Jacks envy. She could somehow manage to bloom a rose from the top of any bottle every time. Jack used to practice diligently on cans of Stella Artois. That is, until it eventually occurred to him that drinkers of that nature don’t appreciate such frivolities.

‘Just to help me sleep, Duck, eh?’

“You take care of yourself now, Mrs. Fernshall’, the baby-burdened assistant said patiently, praying their interaction was now resolved.

“You take care of yourself, Dearey. This town’s not safe for a pregnant young girl; not with all them ‘ooligans and what-not about’.

Naomi sighed inwardly as the leathery harridan prattled on at pace. ‘I’m scared to leave me own ‘ouse most of the time. ‘Cept for necessities of course.’ She winked conspiratorially, patting the bulge in her hand bag. ‘All those chav-happy-slappers all happy-slapping themselves all over the place. Drugs should be made illegal! And that’s the end of it!”

‘Ah, right you are, Mrs Fernshall’ said the bun baring booze barista. The whole transaction had taken far too long and her aching fake-smile muscles were on critical. Likewise, her patience-o-meter needle was ticking well over into the danger zone.

Mrs Fernshall gave a reproving sideways scowl at the re-approaching unkempt male staff member. Hugging her scuffed bag to her, she huffed in disgust then hobbled out of the shop.

‘So what’s new and cool then?’ asked Jack joining Naomi behind the counter. He immediately picked up a handy biro and nervously spun it around between his fingers.

‘Not much, boredom. We got robbed the other day. The till is down twenty quid from this morning. We’re out of Orange Reef and I’ve got a craving for a massive bowl of strawberries and mushrooms with barbecue sauce.’

‘Wow really? No more Orange Reef?’ Well that’s my night ruined.’

‘Yeah I know, my mine too.’ Naomi rejoindered in her pleasantly sarcastic Irish lilt. ‘Oh yeah, The Colonel has been in twice today already and the word is he’s started to go on the rob, so watch him. Oh and the post office got done over earlier this morning.’

‘Never a dull moment round here, eh? So…wow, we got hit as well?’

‘Yeah, the bastards, got away with both tills and had a crack at the safe in the back. Oh, and a couple of crates of Stella went too. Feckin’ parp-holes the lottarem! I wish I’d have been here, I would have rung their scraggly necks’, raged Naomi, her cheeks flushed purple as she savaged a party sized bag of crisps.

‘Er, yeah absolutely, you’re twice the woman now you’re pregnant, eh? Nobody got hurt though? Were they armed?’

A man walked briskly into the shop snatched up a newspaper and threw some change onto the counter. He had hurried out again before the bell had even finished its hectic clamour.

‘Cheers!’ Naomi and Jack chorused after him. Naomi casually prodded a button on the till then haphazardly discarded the coins within while Jack continued his anxious pen gymnastics.

‘Nah’, continued Naomi. ‘I don’t think so; it was just a kind of snatch ‘n’ run affair.

‘And wow, The Colonels on the rob, really? I thought he was alright. Smelly, but not a thief?’

‘Yeah, I thought so too. It’s only what I’ve heard though, but just keep your eyes open all the same.’

‘Actually I just saw him up the road, sprawled out on a bench near the supermarket. He was almost out of zombie piss too, so I guess he’ll be back directly.’

‘Oh good,’ muttered Naomi under her breath.

‘Why is he called, The Colonel, anyway? He doesn’t look very patriotic or militaristic. If anything he looks…contagious.’

‘I donnu, guess he was in the army or something. Ah, but god, why can’t people just feck off. I mean, I know I hate working here and it’s boring and everything, but it’s my dad’s shop, you know? Feck off and steal somewhere else!’

‘And just how many freshener sprays do we go through trying to repel his honk anyway?’ Jack helped. ‘I wish something like that would happen when I’m working, you know, just to see what’d happen or whatever’.

‘God sake, don’t say that. Anybody would think this job’s dull. But yeah I see what you mean; it would be an interesting situation. But feck, careful what you wish for, Umpah Bin Laden could bounce through the feckin’ door on an atom bomb or something and hold the place hostage!’

The phone rang and Naomi gave an exhausted sigh. ‘Hello, News and Booze, open ‘til eleven’, her voice swelled, heavy with laboured enthusiasm. ‘Er, eleven tonight sir…or mam.’ Naomi’s’ eyes swivelled. ‘It’s coming up for five now. Yep, that’s PM. Yep, you’ve gotta while yet.’ She rolled her eyes again, ‘Friday. Thank you, bye now’.

Naomi sighed replacing the handset with both hands as though it weighed more than her stomach did. She happened to glance out the door window, suddenly muttered ‘shit-beans’, then tried to duck behind the counter…without much success as she was not in the most agile of conditions.

Without any warning at all, other than Naomi’s hastily constructed expletive and hastier waddle toward the sanctuary of the back store room, the Creepy Guy from the flat above burst in through the door. The irritating bell seemed excited by the arrival of another individual just as annoying as itself and positively jangled with glee.

The spindly man marched to the counter where Jack, who had much less initiative than Naomi, now stood wide eyed and pen in a blur as he realised that he was about to be jettisoned into a conversation with a highly unsavoury character. A conversation from which he could not escape nor hope for reprieve.

The Creepy Guys’ countenance was essentially a toothy, thin-lipped sneer encompassed by sporadic tufts of discoloured stubble all set haphazardly beneath a pair of thick rimmed spectacles.

‘Hello!’ Jack ventured with more confidence and volume than he expected.

‘I can hear the racket from that radio all the way upstairs.’ Yapped the creepy guy in his typical reedy, nasal manner. ‘You-are-disturb-bing-me!’

‘Oh, I’m really sorry; I’ll turn it down then’, yelped Jack trying his best to elude confrontation.

‘I should think so too,’ hissed the scrawny man through the eye of a spittle tsunami. ‘I have rights you know, this store is far too noisy; I should report you lot!’

‘Very sorry sir, didn’t realise the sound could travel so far,’ Jack turned the barely audible stereo down further so that only a bat with a stethoscope concentrating really hard could have distinguished any real sound.

‘There anything else I can do for you…Sir?’

‘Er, yes.’ The Creepy Guys’ demeanour changed to that of a somewhat embarrassed school boy. ‘Is Naomi in? I’m sure I saw her earlier’.

‘Who? Naomi? Er…’ Jack’s extraordinarily sloth-like brain broke gently into a trot. ‘Er, I think she’s, er, I don’t know if she’s working today…’

The creepy guys’ shoulders slumped visibly. ‘Oh, fine then,’ he griped, a touch of acidity in his tone. ‘Give me twenty Labrador Super Kings and a lotto ticket then.’

‘Right you are then’ said Jack turning to the task.

‘I did kind of hope Naomi would be here to serve me; never mind. I always prefer it when Naomi serves me. Hmmm, serves me…’ The Creepy Guy drifted off into a glassy-eyed day dream.

Jack had to cough gently, then slap the cigarettes down hard on the counter to bring him out of it. He was sure he caught a glimpse of drool at the side of the sad acts’ mouth. ‘I wonder if he’s ever been through quarantine’, he pondered.

Meanwhile, in the store room observing the façade on the CCTV monitor, Naomi was congratulating herself on an award winning escape just in the nick of time. But just then, disaster struck. The bell jangled out an angry rhythm. Mrs Hale, the Bookies wife from two doors down blundered in for her afternoon prescription of nicotine and Porte.

Naomi was well aware that Jack feared and loathed both Mrs Hale and the Creepy Guy from the flat above and was going to need support. It was going to take him at least ten minutes to remember how to use the lottery ticket machine. Maybe longer now that he was to be under pressure from a whole queue of impatient, sad and frightful people.

But Mrs Hale will need her prescription fast, it was almost a quarter to drunk! Nothing for it, she would just have to bite the bullet and be subjected to the snivelling, drooling, attentions of the Creepy Guy from the flat above. All she could hope was that she would not have to talk to him for long now that his sale was almost complete. Jack had done well at covering for her though, she would not forget it.

‘Oh hello, Naomi. I didn’t realise you were in today’ said Jack, sounding practically believable. Subtlety was not his forte.

‘Hello, Naomi’ oozed the Creepy Guy from upstairs, who was now so excited he had gone from drooling to almost ejaculating from his mouth. ‘I was so looking forward to you selling me my cigarettes today, such a pity’. You could almost smell the self-abuse on him.

‘Hi, there. Sorry I’m late, Jack; can I help you, Mrs. Hale?’ said Naomi as bubbly as she could whilst making sure she put an emphasis on the latter half of her sentence. She poked a button on the lottery machine and Jack sighed with relief. ‘Thank you!’

‘The usual please, Duck,’ croaked the animated, tea cosy wearing corpse, already mining the exact change out of her moth eaten purse.

Naomi had already got her twenty-deck of cigarettes on the counter before the withered geriatric had even finished her sentence. Naomi then waddled from behind the counter, her pleasantly potted profile almost completely destroying a display of chocolate, and proceeded to try and reach a top shelf Porte.

‘Hey, I’ll get it’, said Jack, having now completed his transaction with the creepy guy from the flat above who was now loitering near the door staring unabashed at Naomi.

‘Nah, it’s alright, I can manage.’ said the blonde girl stretching her chubby fingers for a grasp of the bottle; her maternally engorged bosoms testing the durability of the middle shelf in which was housed nervous, tinkling bottles of vodka.

‘Cheers then’ said the, now positively foaming, Creepy Guy from the flat above as he backed out of the door clutching his procurements to his groin. Only the irritating bell acknowledged his departure. It almost sounded saddened.

Jack glanced out of the shop window after him making sure he had gone. ‘Coasts clear, I think. But The Colonel’s across the street, and he looks like he needs a drink’.

‘He’s no good,’ creaked the crinkled face under the tea cosy from the other side of the counter. ‘He should get himself a job and get off the streets if ya ask me! Never trust a man with no money, my dear, bad news! And he should get himself to church Sundays too.’

Naomi continued stuffing intoxicating items into a plastic bag as the phone rang. ‘So true, Mrs Hale. Hello, Booze & News, open ‘til 11.’

Mrs Hale tottered out of the door which was held open by a foppish twenty-something year old in a tweed jacket and cap. He was then followed by the rush hour shoppers with The Colonel caught up in the tide.

‘We’re open till 11 Madame. Thanks, bye!’

‘Halloo there Chaps, got a long order, sorry!’ bellowed the gentleman, with astonishing confidence and charisma, gently laying down a large gift wrapped bundle of assorted flowers on the counter. ‘Mummy and Daddies vow-renewal bash you see.’

Jack and Naomi worked together to serve this rather well pronounced young fellow-Jack, fetching and carrying for him whilst Naomi did all the important things like the hard sums, the wrapping, flirting, and keeping vigil on The Colonel.

The charming dandy had three cartons of cigarettes, three or four bottles of spirits and four boxes of wine on the counter, all bagged up and ready to go. All sorted well before The Colonel had finished blankly staring at a shelf full of the same cheap cider.

Jack and Naomi could never imagine what took his decision process so long, because inevitably, he always bought the same brand: The slim litre bottles of potent gut-rot that fitted neatly in the tatty pocket of his long and grubby trench coat. And indeed, it was the stores most economical priced beverage for its volume and percentage…and indeed, priced accordingly for those particular pockets.

‘O.K. So that will be, er…I mean, will there be anything else, sir?’ Said Jack, in full brown nose mode.

‘Erm-no, that’s it I should wonder’ purred the gentleman. ‘Oh actually, on second thoughts you’d better empty the till into one of those bags too. Oh and open the safe in the back for me would you?’

‘I’m sorry?’ said Naomi abruptly, with an edge of aggression.

The fop thrashed his flower bundle open and tore out a sawn-off shot gun which he cocked with a spine chilling metallic kuhchunk-chunk. Calmly and with authority he levelled sights on Naomi and stated, ‘I said: empty the tills and open the safe in the back and please don’t try my patience’.

Everyone in the store, bar the assistants and seemingly schizophrenic gunman, murmured a drunken curse of shock and alarm then froze in abject silence.

Jacks’ biro pinged off to clatter loudly in the distance somewhere and he raised his palms high in surrender.

‘Trust funds dried out you see’ smirked the tweedy toff. ‘You know how it is. Besides, it’s nice to finally know where your lots pension and benefits end up.’

You could see the conflict in Naomi’s expression. Half of her wanted to cower behind the counter with her bump and hope a handsome knight on horseback would come along and cut the guy’s head off then carry her away to safety. But the other half of her wanted to vault the counter and repeatedly head butt the young popinjay into the consistence of porridge. However, her better judgement took a hold as the gunman thrust his armament closer towards her. ‘You had better come this way then, sir.’ She growled through gritted teeth.

Just as he was about to follow, the criminals’ eyes narrowed as he sensed movement close behind him. He swung round training the gun on The Colonel.

‘I say, what do you want, Granddad?’ Spat the good for nothing criminal.

The Colonel said nothing, nor did he flinch at the sight of the firearm. He seemed to stare straight through the gunman with impassive, silver-blue eyes, as if he wasn’t even there…and as if he wasn’t even there with a gun.

Sweaty palms clenched throughout the silent room. Once relaxed beer guts were now rigid and compact with fear with an over whelming urge to loose bladder control. Jacks’ bladder was especially spasmodic and he was now doing an irrepressibly little wee-dance.

Just when it seemed as if time had indeed frozen, in this seemingly surreal situation, a proud bottle of something very old, very expensive and very French eased its way through the clammy, sweaty fingers of a rouge-cheeked fat man.

The bottle, deciding that it was preferable to meet its end by its own means than being perforated with shot and defiled, tumbled gently and inexorably to the floor. It exploded upon impact staining the laminated floor blood red.

Everyone present jumped…Including the gunman. The next bit happened all rather quickly:

The glass shards had hardly settled in their expanding pool of claret before The Colonel had a hold of the shot gun barrel with one hand and had twisted it anti-clockwise out of the tweed toting Charlies’ grip. The gunman’s’ legs were then swept from under him, with a forceful kick to the back of the knees that would make Chuck Norris blub.

As the dandy desperado went down, his mangled fingers must have clipped the trigger and the gun went off, flaying the ceiling and showering everyone in plaster dust. Everybody flinched again and held their ears. The gunman fell backwards but was pinned by his neck to the edge of the counter by the flat end of a cider bottle in the Colonels’ other hand.

Naomi and Jack leapt back from the counter in shock at the sudden noise and violence, colliding with the shelving behind them. Over taxed liquor and tobacco products peppered the staff and shop floor.

The thief’s entire buckled body was being supported only by his shattered knuckles caught in the trigger guard, his compressed neck being forced onto the edge of the counter and the Oldman’s seemingly awesome strength.

The Colonels’ stone-cold eyes didn’t cease their relentless withering gaze, into the desperate, wide, wild and stricken eyes of the bandit. He just held him there, emotionless, ever-passive. Not a drop of aggression in his dirty grey whiskery features.

The contorted scallywag struggled and choked in vain for a few seconds, but it only hurt more. His last attempt at clawing at the smelly mans’ cider wielding hand ended in agony, not to mention that concussion and lack of oxygen were getting the better of him.

As quickly as it had started, The Colonel sensed it was all over and released the scoundrel from his vice, now in possession of the shotgun. The exhausted cad collapsed in a pile, dedicating the remainder of his energy to lamely clutching his throat, nursing his broken hand and whimpering like a whipped dog.

Jack and Naomi exchanged a worrisome, wide-eyed glance. Similarly, the witnesses present couldn’t fathom whether this occurrence had turned out for the better or worse:

On the one hand, an ill-mannered, threatening menace to society with a loud gun had just been apprehended by a very brave vigilante in an off-licence full of innocent drunks.

On the other hand, an ill-mannered, threatening menace to society with a beard and discrepancies about personal hygiene, had now just come into possession of a loud gun in an off-licence full of innocent drunks. Were they to cheer? Or were they to simply loose bowel control altogether and flee for their lives?

Things were decidedly awkward for all involved. For the crowd, this was so weird they’d all forgotten to breathe. One rather pickled old lady with yellowy-orange fingertips even fainted.

The cider-armed, gun wielding geriatric continued gazing at the uncouth delinquent, who had by now realised he was completely undone and elected to stop massaging his ailments and cower pitifully, as the mad old fool directed the guns’ barrel into his personal space.

Many a bead of sweat rolled down many a wrinkled brow. Naomi subtly fumbled behind her for something to defend herself with. Before recommencing his nervous jig, Jack subtly allowed the minutest amount of urine to trickle down the inside of his leg.

Calmly, the tramp relaxed his stance. With his prized booze tucked under his arm he cocked the remaining shell out of the firearm. He then jabbed a couple of points on the weapon and it fell apart in his hands clattering to the ground in pieces.

The last person the petrified audience expected to hear from right now was from The Colonel who said in a slightly slurred but dry and respectably pronounced way: ‘Guns kill people, y’ idiot. And usually never the right ones’.

The telephone rang breaking the tension like a badger through a conservatory window. Naomi’s natural reaction was to grab the receiver before she knew what she was doing. The would-be customer on the other end managed to say ‘are you open?…’ before Naomi evenly and decisively said ‘feck off’ and replaced the receiver promptly.

Conveniently, the distant sound of sirens could be heard, making a slight sigh of relief resonate around the room. The old tramp gave a penultimate glare at the ruffian, then stepped over the prone, punished fugitive to pay for his cider (in exact change of course). As he did so Jack caught a glimpse of the metallic twinkle of medals dangling from the mans’ undercoat.

Naomi held up her hands and shook her head. ‘No chance, it’s on the house, Sir. In fact…’ she hauled up one of the bulging carriers full of neatly wrapped and expensive liquors off the counter. ‘All yours. And thank you.’

The silver-eyed gentleman held her cheerful gaze for a moment or two. He then made an almost imperceptible nod of thanks to the beaming girl and shouldered the load. Glancing one last time at the thief, who shrunk back in terror once more, he then disappeared out of the door, the irritating bell dared only softly ‘clink’.

After an embarrassed silent pause the pathetic criminal rose to his not to sturdy legs and looked down at the bits of gun at his feet. He turned to Jack and Naomi, then the assembled horde of alcoholics and whimpered: ‘I’m sorry…I…I’m really very sorry…’ tears blooming in his eyes.

You could hardly believe it was the same man who, a minute earlier, had been roaring at defenceless drunk folk with a semi-automatic firearm. He lurched out of the shop, stooped, cradling his impaired limb.

Naomi broke the unorthodox silence as she quickly grabbed the phone and rang the authorities’ hot line.

‘Yes hello, Police or something similar? Come quick, our off-license nearly just got burgled by a man with a gun. I can hear some sirens nearby, so I think one of your lot has got lost round here somewhere’.

Just as the whole shop began to relax and cease hyperventilating, the door burst open once more. The bell and its mounting exploded into its component parts and scattered itself amongst the rest of the debris on the floor. Hunched over, half propped up against the door frame, with tears rolling down his scarlet cheeks and crimson covering his hovering right foot was the Creepy Guy from the flat above.

‘You shot me, that’s it! That-is-it-this-time! I’m going to report you!’ he screeched at ear popping, seizure inducing pitch.

Naomi could not help but smirk at the pathetic little man. She spoke lazily into the phone once more. ‘Oh, and we’re going to be needing a vet too’.

THE END

One Peaceful Beach

One Peaceful Beach

opb

This landscape has been painted especially for me. Most artists spend their life chasing a view as perfect as this.

 

I afford myself an out-loud sigh of satisfaction. I’m not that old that I can get away with talking to myself just yet. I don’t want strangers thinking I’m a mad, old cat-lady in the making. Although, are four cats already too many? I miss them. Bless them.

 

This sluggish breeze is no match for my new all-weather jacket. If anything, it’s hugging to me more. The clouds seem to enjoy the wind’s attention, however, giving them something to do… look busy and have a place to be. The slothful element tickles the long grass and fusses sand around me.

 

The jacket is of great quality so I can’t feel any chill. Damned expensive but I think I can afford it, now.

 

Some would say this is completely the wrong season for this little island. I am not of the some. This place is all me.

 

It’s unfortunate, of course, but I’m quite relieved that Alfred wasn’t able to come with me. He hated the outdoors, anyway – unless he was vainly swinging a golf club in one of his more ridiculous caps, of course.

He would have hated the roar and salty spray of the sea, the crunch of the pebbles, the rattle of the dry grass, the… “Oh”, I sigh again. “The everything!”

 

Since I’ve been away, I’ve felt a huge burden fall off my shoulders. Just over a week ago, I looked in the same mirror as I had done for 30 years and didn’t recognise myself.

At first, I thought I was having a stroke or I’d slept funny, but no. No, it was a smile. Just languishing there on my face. Neither forced nor fearful. Just waiting there, enjoying its own presence and being.

I think it’s the same smile that’s on my face right now, but possibly bigger.

Oh, and redder. And possibly glossier.

I haven’t worn make up in years; well, not without having to. Had no reason to do myself up or try to feel presentable unless there was a wedding or funeral to go to. Or anywhere else that was demanded of me.

That’s the thing, Alfred always liked me to look my best when socialising with his friends or his work colleagues.

I think, in those circles, I was possibly referred to as the… trophy wife? I’m sure he never cared what state I appeared in when we were alone in the house… not that he ever saw me… even when I was handing him his dinner tray.

Although, you know, I do believe I did get a half-hearted attempt at a ‘thanks’ the other evening. Mind you, that may just have been trapped gas. That was the night before we went our separate ways.

opb-ii

My, my, this is glorious.

Completely impulsive trek, so didn’t think to pack a thermos. Or a hip flask, for that matter.

Hmmm, ever practical, ever prepared. Ever the good Girl Guide and nursemaid, even when she’s in her late fifties. No one else was ever going to take care of me. And now I am looking after myself.

 

Is that tide going out or coming in? I suppose that’s the beauty of it. And does it really know either? Do I know if I’m coming or going? No-I-do-not. And that’s exactly why I’ve got this big, broad, beautiful smile on my face. I have a fresh life, a new start. Anything could happen and anything will happen.

Right now, I don’t have anybody to look after or to look up to. No orders to take. I can eat what I like, drink what I like and when I like. I could even chat to this deliciously tanned young man coming up the beach without fear or shame or wads of make up to cover over the inevitable end result.

 

Peace, tranquillity, sea and sand.

 

Who could have suspected that Alfred had all that money locked away in some strange account abroad? My, my, and I thought I had him completely worked out.

And who would have thought that I’d be the primary benefactor should we part ways? Quite a shock, I can say.

He really did have a strange way of showing it. Hmmm, mind you it’s mainly the not showing it that was the problem.

 

I’m sure he did love me at the beginning. He had to have done. We were just a regular, giggling, young and fun-loving couple. But then something just… changed.

Whether it was the stress of his job or the passing of his mother, then later his father, I do not know. But I can safely say that the last fifteen years of my life have been a complete and utter misery for me.

 

I’m going to let that one lone tear rolling down my face land on this unfamiliar soil.

It’s not a tear for loneliness, nor loss or even self-pity.

It’s a tear of happiness and liberation.

One tear for all the countless arguments, the countless harsh words, the countless bruised cheeks, arms, legs and fractured ribs.

For the ignorance, for the arrogance; for the jealousy; for the fear. One tear for me. And so far away from all that.

 

Even the seagulls seem to have a strange accent here. It’s lovely.

I thought seagulls were seagulls the world over. Although I really am showing my ignorance now. They might be pigeons for all I know.

 

And just think. Just think, after all that – it was his precious BMW that finally finished him off. I can think of, and agree with, each and every possible derisory acronym imaginable. Boorish, Middle-aged, W-… well, never mind.

He spent more on that blasted car over the past few years than he ever did on me, once he’d turned.

I’m still a girl, after all; I do like my girly things. But most of the time it’s the thought I appreciate more.

 

The rather dashing man in uniform said it was brake failure.

Alfred must have been stamping those pedals furiously all the way down that hill.

Poor Mr Mohammed, must have had the shock of his life, seeing that great walrus’s head screaming at him from the car window. And first thing in the morning, too.

Poor fellow. Just a few cuts and bruises, though. And the odd illegible Sunday paper.

Of course, I’ll reimburse him for the shop window in time. And Alfred’s demolished papers, naturally.

 

Suppose I’d better start heading back now, I seem to have come quite far from the hotel.

 

I will miss this view. But I think it will always stay with me.

Now, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, it has to be said. However, pinnacle events, landscapes and bits of useless information do occasionally get imprinted, ingrained on my memory forever.

As such, it’s amazing the random little things one can pick up in a short space of time, what with the Internet and so forth.

For instance, I’m a complete fool when it comes to exams – I failed my driving test years and years ago, but there was one pearl of wisdom I did retain, courtesy of my instructor:

Did you know a normal car jack can lift up to 2 tons even when the force applied to it can be as little as the equivalent of a kilogram in weight?

Who knew? Incredible isn’t it.

 

Sea air always did make me sleepy.

I think I might pop to the bar for a glass of something bubbly and towards the bottom of the list. Then head off to bed, me thinks.

With the bottle.

And room service.

 

Is that my little hotel all the way over there? Crikey, I have come a long way, haven’t I?

 

Oh, and here’s another little nugget of pointless general knowledge: Did you know that the brake fluid in an R-reg. BMW saloon can be drained simply by removing one nut on the bleeder valve?

It’s true. And apparently it only takes about fifteen frantic pumps of the brake pedal to rid the entire system of fluid and render the braking mechanism completely useless?

You have to love modern technology… And I do love my brand-new, all-weather jacket.

 

END

 

The Fable of [Insert your loved ones’ name here], The One Star

 

Forward

 

“Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are anthropomorphized (given human qualities, such as the ability to speak human language) and that illustrates or leads to a particular moral lesson (a “moral”), which may at the end be added explicitly as a pithy maxim.”

The following is evidence as to what occurs if the Satyr unwittingly becomes trapped in an airport (or aviation pen as they shall now be known) with only a book on aboriginal folklore for company. Highly interesting stuff.

This story’s theme and narrative derives from that similar style, nothing classical or typical in the least. They were camp fire stories told by a teller or an elder of the village and follow no set guidelines. Most of the listeners to the tale will be neighbours from the same village who know each other pretty well and know any usual characters and their traits told by a particular teller. The teller would also do well to incorporate parts of village life and its inhabitants into these tales.

 

The Fable of [Insert your loved ones’ name here], The One Star

For Lumpus the Panda

 

There once was a star called [insert your loved ones’ name here]. And she was the brightest star in the inky blue. However, she found the heavens a lonely place. Sure there were angels. But they were all cock sure and holier than thou. And sure, there were clouds. But they were all usually gloomy and on their way else where. Of course, there were other stars, but they all had their own cliquey, constellations. Either old boys clubs or too-cool-for-school brand-new just-discovered ones.

 

Alone, as such she was referred to as, The One Star. [Insert your loved ones’ name here] was always busy but still made time for every fussing, ill-tempered cloud and every terminally hyperactive comet that passed by. She always respected the older stars and helped them out as best she could. She would often stop by and make them a cup of Horlicks or sit and read to them a while. She helped newborn stars get on their feet and show them how to hide during the day. All this hard work made her shine like no other star in the whole galaxy.

 

Now, the Moon was a moody bastard who didn’t like anyone stealing his glory. One fateful day, he turned on [insert your loved ones’ name here] and tried to bad mouth her to the wind and the hills. However all the constellations stood by [insert your loved ones’ name here], old and newborn, and the clouds tumbling by hollered her name.

 

So moody Moon tried a different tack. ‘I am the Moon. I am King of the Night Sky. Surely all stars should live in groups to form an attractive cow or mythological being or something. A star cannot be a constellation on its own, and we’re pretty full up here already.  Even the Day King, who is my personal friend, has said this and agrees.’

 

At this latter remark the old clouds and the young clouds drifting by and the hills and the lakes all whispered ‘the Day King, the Day King, the Day King’

Even though only Moody Moon had ever met the Day King, they had to agree with him.

 

The miserable Moon continued ‘You must go down and live on the land and be a land star.’

 

So, [insert your loved ones’ name here] the One Star was cast down to the land where she found herself in old Cambridge town on a chilly winters night. She fell among some land stars who all lived in a row.

 

[Inset your loved ones’ name here] realised very early on that she was not at all like the land stars. However, she kept busy as before. She made time for the pigeons and lit the way home for drunks and she kept tramps company during the long, chilled nights. She also helped some of the land stars to reach the skies. However, she knew deep inside that she wasn’t happy.

 

One night, [insert your loved ones’ name here] was teaching Eric the monotone sewer rat to tap dance, when a Gowal happened upon them unannounced. Gowals are half owl and half goat and three 28ths lynx. So, as you can understand, Eric was out of their like a shot. ‘Bye [insert your loved ones’ name here]’, droned Eric as he vanished into the night.

 

Anyway, the Gowal was quite a gentleman and apologised for his intrusion. [Insert your loved ones’ name here] shared her nettle soup with him and after that they chatted and got on really well (they both had a passion for pesto, Terence Trent D’Arby and both thought the moon wasn’t all that).

 

The Gowal with the lynx teeth and goaty beard didn’t talk too much about himself, nor was he intrusive, but in a short space of time he realised what an amazing and brilliant star [insert your loved ones’ name here] was and completely understood why the moon had turned so green.

 

After a few nights of meeting with [insert your loved ones’ name here] (and after promising not to pounce on poor Eric the monotone sewer Rat) the Gowal had made up his mind: he was going to go and confront the morose Moon and sort this out.

 

So, that night, after he left [insert your loved ones’ name here] to teach a friendly pigeon how to bake gluten free dumplings, he flew up into the night sky on his mighty pinions to confront the envious moon.

 

Before the charismatic creature could even say his piece, the moon began grumbling and moaning about this and that, over the top of the Gowal. ‘How come only half the world can ever see me at any one time?’ moaned the Moon. ‘Why is it always so cold out here? How come I can never find shoes that fit me?’ so the poor Gowal couldn’t get a word in edge ways.

 

However, he was not about to be undone. The Gowal beat his mighty wings and made feathery, soaring circles of eight which mesmerised and distracted the po-faced misery guts. This gave the Gowal just enough time to ask why the Moon had banished [insert your loved ones’ name here] to Earth, ‘She is not a land star, she belongs in the night sky not along a road’.

 

The Moon just shrugged, said ‘huh’, and turned his back on the Gowal. By this time it was almost dawn. The Gowal was so angry he could barely breath fire attractively or throw his magic javelin straight. Exhausted but intent on perusing his mission the Gowal soared across the horizon to the west cursing the moon and his negative outlooks.

 

Just above Jao Lin’s House in the lesser known china district of old Cambridge town, the Day King was just commencing his morning stretch routine. The Gowal hurled himself at the sun, ranting of the moons callousness and inadequacies and begging the sun for his help.

 

The Day King was still only just coming too and didn’t notice the speeding fantastical creature until it was too late.

 

The poor Gowal got far too close far too fast to the sleepy if not radiant Day King and was scorched. The smouldering ball of singed fur, feathers and magic javelins tumbled back down to earth. The trailing plumb of black smoke could be seen from anywhere throughout little china.

 

The Day King did not feel much like shinning after that and spent the rest of his day hiding behind clouds, hop scotching between the blotchier bow legged ones. If anyone could have looked at the sun for long enough they would have noticed that he was weeping quietly. When his day was done he quickly and quietly set off towards the horizon in the west right over near Derricks’ place.

 

The morbid Moon reluctantly climbed into the air and whined about everything under the sun. He moaned about this and he moaned about that. About the sound crickets make on summer evenings and about the laziness of his member of parliament. Satisfied that he’d done a good night’s work he rolled away again to chase the woeful Day King from his fitful slumber.

 

The Sun rose once more, although he did not bother with his stretch routine. Nor did he hum to the song birds in the trees. Nor did he doff his cap to the milkman. Instead his tears veiled the horizons of old Cambridge town and he prayed for his stint to be over with quickly.

***

 

The Gowal lifted one eye lid. ‘Oh, he thought. For a minute there I thought I wasn’t dead. But clearly I am as all I can see is white. This must, therefore, be limbo’

 

The Gowals’ ears gradually accustomed to the sounds of limbo. It sounded curiously similar to a busy high street in old Cambridge town. Then, limbo produced a sound not unlike that of a slow motion car crash with shouting and much foul language. And then, limbo made the sound of a monotone squeaking. And finally, limbo made the sound of a star that was really pleased to see him.

 

The Gowal felt himself being helped to sit upright. He groggily rattled his head and tried to say ‘where am I?’ and of course, ‘What happened?’

 

But the excitable sound of the star was telling him to relax and to take it easy and that he’d had a brush with the Day King. Apparently the Day King was very sad about it.

 

‘Eric the monotone rat lives in little china and saw you plummeting to the ground’ said the One Star. ‘He’s the one that organised a safety net erected. Just in time too. He came and told me, I came and fixed you up.’

 

‘Ah’, said the Gowal, that’s why I can’t see, because I flew into the sun’

 

‘No no,’ said [insert your loved ones’ name here], ‘you have a patch and bandage over one eye. But the other one is fine.’ [Insert you loved ones’ name here] continued,

 

‘I got to meet with the Day King! He told me what you were trying to do. He stayed out longer and yelled at the moon for me. I kissed you and that’s when you came round. Now here we are.’

 

The Gowal blinked again and shook his head. An idea had struck him. He held up his paw down the centre of his face. Just as he suspected. Through his good eye he saw a twitching nose and some lengthy whiskers: A rat wearing cool shades, shrouded in the most unbelievable light. When he took his hand away there was only light and no rat.

 

The Gowal laughed harder than he had ever done before whilst Eric and [insert your loved ones’ name here] looked on bemused.

 

‘It appears, My Dear [insert your loved ones’ name here]’ he began to explain, ‘that for all the good you have done as a night star, and indeed as a land star, you now shine so brightly you can be seen clearly even by day!’

 

The star looked at the rat, the rat squinted back at the star and shrugged. They both looked back to the Gowal.

 

‘Do you not understand, O’ One Star?’ roared the Gowal, tears streaming down his gills’ that you are now brighter than the moon will ever be, by day and by night! What’s more is, wherever you go and whomever you meet you will always have an entourage of bright and shiny people around you who you have helped and befriended along the way. You make your own constellation! Every star is a friend, therefore every constellation is yours!’

 

The One Star considered this. Eric the monotone sewer rat scratched at a flee. As the thought gingerly seeped into the One Stars conscious, she grew even brighter and brighter. There was another bang, crash and subsequent outburst of swearing from a small lane just off Drummer Street.

 

‘But, but,’ stammered the One Star. ‘The Moon, I’m stilled banished…’ Eric and his flee both nodded their agreement.

 

‘Clearly the envious Night King has no power over you [insert your loved ones’ name here]’ declared the Gowal, ‘otherwise he would never have let this happen. Just because somebody is important, doesn’t mean they are always right. Furthermore, you now have the blessing of the Day King-you are free to go about being yourself, for ever. Now go, go and be the best constellation you can be!’

 

With that, [Insert your loved ones’ name here] hugged the Gowal, Eric and indeed his flee and began rising back into the sky from whence she came, safe and happy in the knowledge that’s she was the happiest, brightest, kindest and much loved thing in the sky.

 

Epilogue

 

Eric the Monotone Sewer rat went on to have a highly lucrative and creative career on the Westend doing tap dancing shows. Although he has now retired from that highly prestigious circuit he still hosts Ted Talks concerning confident public speaking even with a speech impediment.

 

The Gowal and his whereabouts are currently unknown. But for a short time he did have a highly successful chain of take away restaurants in the lesser known China District of Old Cambridge Town. I’m sure he’ll drop in again in the near future.

 

The Morose Moon has left the One Star well alone ever since her re-ascension. He now has to attend Miserable Buggers Anonymous bi-monthly on behest of the Day King. He’s making good progress.

 

The Day King is just as happy and jovial as he ever was and always will be.

 

As for the One Star and her constellation…well, why not just take a look up at the night sky and see for yourself.

 

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