Archive for the ‘short story’ Category

Leonardo Damon’s Long Weekend

Leonardo Damon’s Long Weekend

Saturday

Leonardo Damon woke up feeling awful, a feeling that could not wholly be accounted for by the empty whiskey bottle lying on the floor beside him. Then he saw the tin foil lying on the floor beside the empty whiskey bottle. It had been a heavy night. He raised his head and looked around the room. Nobody. They’d gone while he was asleep, thank god. His mother used to say about guests that it was nice to see them come but, by god, it was nice to see them go too. It was even nicer not to see them go, he thought.

He pulled himself up onto his elbow and threw up all over one of the old loafers that he wore for work. His ex was visiting her mother with the kids this weekend, or at least he thought it was this weekend, which meant that he wouldn’t have to attempt to tidy the flat.

He thought that he wanted a bacon sandwich. Then he threw up again. A familiar feeling, self- pity disguised as regret, welled up inside him. Then he remembered that everything was his ex’s fault and he began to feel a little better. He threw up once more, this time on purpose.

Gingerly, he made his way to the kitchenette, fished a cigarette butt out of a flat gin and tonic and plinked an Alka- Seltzer into it. He washed it back in one gulp and belched loudly.

‘She’d love it if I starved to death, the stupid tart.’ he muttered as he set about making his bacon sandwich.

After a discouraging afternoon at the bookies, followed by an ad hoc nap outside the local Tesco Express, Leonardo Damon decided to call it a day.

‘I may as well go home and relax with a few beers.’ He thought. Then, to reinforce the idea, he uttered it aloud.

‘Uhi maseell reuuaaaafffberrss.’ He said, to nobody in particular.

Despite a difference of opinion over prices with the shopkeeper (the beer was one Euro cheaper in the off- licence around the corner), Leonardo Damon eventually managed to buy two six- packs and a shoulder of Jameson. Even though it was autumn and the evenings had become much cooler, he found that he was sweating like a pig. It didn’t help that he hadn’t showered since Thursday.

Every week was the same. He spent Monday to Friday waiting for the weekend and then when it finally arrived he couldn’t think of anything to do with his free time other than drink, watch TV and update his Mugshareä account. He’d come late to social networking, but had found it surprisingly addictive. So addictive, in fact, that he had set up two accounts. One was standard fare- photos of people he barely knew gurning frantically in some misguided attempt to appear ‘fun’ interspersed with links to video clips of cats knocking babies over or babies knocking cats over or babies with catheads superimposed on them knocking each other over.  But on the other one he was Matt DiCaprio, a talent agent with close ties to the worlds of film and fashion. It wasn’t strictly honest, but it was, he thought, harmless. Just a bit of escapist fun. And it was nice to chat to girls. As he turned the key in the lock, he wondered whether either of the kids had accepted his friend requests yet.

After a few hours spent staring at the TV without really taking in what he was watching, Leonardo Damon remembered what it was he’d been meaning to do. He switched on the laptop. While it was powering up, he searched for the book that he’d hidden the piece of paper containing his usernames and passwords in. This involved quite a lot of swearing and knocking things off shelves. Finally, he found it in an old Argos catalogue and attempted to log into the first Mugshareä account, but was told that his details were incorrect. This happened to him on a semi- regular basis, but he didn’t know that.

He checked and re-checked, very slowly, with the single-mindedness that the truly drunk can, on occasion, muster.

‘None of this is to any fucking avail.’ He thought.

‘Naaaaahhh! Fuuuuucck!’ He said.

He tried the other account, but that didn’t work either. Nor did any of his email addresses. Nothing worked. Beaten, he turned to the television but Troy was on, so he watched Youtube clips of Henry Rollins intimidating people instead. Before long, he was snoring.

Sunday

The next morning, Leonardo Damon had donuts and instant coffee for breakfast while Wake Up Boo played on the radio. He showered and shaved and then popped down to the local shop for the Times and some cigarettes and maybe a six-pack or some wine. On the way back he ran into an old drinking buddy of his, Aldi Nero, so they went for a drink.

After a couple of rounds, Leonardo Damon ran out of cash.

‘I’d better go and find an ATM.’ He thought.

‘Pissncash.’ He said to Aldi Nero as he left the pub via the gents.

The ATM refused to recognise his PIN and, after the third attempt, ingested his card. This was particularly vexing as it was Sunday and his bank had one of the worst customer service departments in the developing world. He lit a cigarette and strolled back to the pub, chewing his options over. They weren’t very tasty and bits of them dribbled slowly down his chin like nervous abseilers.

Aldi Nero, who, despite being a toper was a remarkably practical man, strongly advised him to call the bank immediately, so he did. When prompted, he entered his account number and PIN before being told to wait while he was transferred to an operator. He turned on the speakerphone, accepted a small loan from his friend and they spent an agreeable two hours chatting, drinking and shouting at the horses on the TV. Eventually, a voice emerged from Leonardo Damon’s phone, informing him that, regrettably, there were no funds in his account. He begged to differ. He had been paid on Friday. And anyway, that didn’t explain why the ATM had swallowed his card. That was a matter that would have to be taken up with his local branch, which could be contacted during regular business hours.  The representative of his bank then advised him that she would have to terminate the call if he persisted in using abusive language. He called her a stupid bitch and slammed the phone down onto the bar.

After about twenty minutes of solid freaking out, Leonardo Damon began to calm down slightly. Once again, he had no idea what was going on.  At first, he blamed his ex. It was a habit. But he quickly realised that even if she had wanted to steal from him, something he wouldn’t necessarily put past her, she didn’t know his PIN or online verification codes.

‘Identity theft.’ Said Aldi Nero.

Leonardo Damon doubled over with laughter at the idea that anybody would want to steal his identity. He only regained control of himself when he noticed the small puddle of urine that was forming on the floor beneath his left trouser leg. It was time to go home.

‘Cumminamyygaff ferr few more n fillum?’ he asked, holding up the bag of cans he’d bought earlier, along with a copy of The Bourne Identity, which had been an impulse buy.

‘Might as well.’ said Aldi Nero. ‘Tomorrow’s a bank holiday, so you’ll have to wait at least ‘till Tuesday to get your life back.’

Leonardo Damon shrugged. He didn’t want to talk about his wife right now. And, anyway, he didn’t think he’d be getting her back on Tuesday. Or any other day soon.

Monday

After the he’d hit the snooze button for about the sixth time, Leonardo Damon remembered that it was a bank holiday and experienced a moment of great relief, almost happiness. He tried to roll over and go back to sleep but couldn’t, so he decided to analyse his hangover instead. He had a mild headache and felt twitchy and tense. His mind was a vague sludge of dark thoughts and petty fears, soundtracked by Wake Up Boo playing over and over and over. On the plus side, his stomach felt reasonably decent so he got up, emptied his bladder, took a painkiller and went to get a beer from the fridge.

In the sitting room, Aldi Nero was sleeping with his feet on the couch and his head on the floor. When he heard the door, he opened his eyes for a moment, hauled himself back onto the couch and, turning his back on the room and the world, resumed a grumblesome sleep.

Leonardo Damon turned on the TV for company and fired up the computer. He rolled a cigarette and spent a few minutes watching Supernanny trying to teach some manners to a pair of hyperactive ten-year-old brats and their ragged parents. By the time he’d finished the beer he was starting to feel human again, so, just to be on the safe side, he opened another.

Leonardo Damon flicked through the Argos catalogue and, for once, found the piece of paper where he expected it to be. He logged on to his bank account and examined his recent transactions. Eventually, he found two that he was sure he couldn’t have made. Both were made late on Saturday night. One was made at the College Green ATM and the other at one on Talbot Street, both areas of town that he hadn’t visited in a long time. Although he only had €2.74 left in his account, the knowledge that his card had been skimmed made him feel better. Up to that point he’d been worried that he’d spent it himself and didn’t remember. It wouldn’t have been the first time. At least now he’d probably be able to get the bank to reimburse him. He could use his credit card to survive until then. This called for another beer.

Leonardo Damon’s anxiety was beginning to dissolve. A comfortable chemical contentment began to work its way into his system. He decided to make the most of his bank holiday. With a bit of luck there’d be an old movie to watch later. Tomorrow could look after itself. He realised that he was hungry, so he looked through the pizza boxes on the floor and found two slices of pepperoni and a piece of garlic bread and wolfed them down. Supernanny wasn’t such a bad show. Those kids were actually quite cute when they weren’t trashing the house. This reminded him of his own kids, but he warned himself off going down that road right now. A bank holiday, a few beers, a movie and an early night. Perfect.

‘Things are looking up.’ He thought as he rolled another cigarette and sat back to watch the rest of the show. On the couch, Aldi Nero tossed and turned in his sleep and muttered ‘I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you.’

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The Ostriclops

THE OSTRICLOPS

1.

Mr PeeEwww was a nice man who lived in a nice house with his Vulturegull, Columbo.  Mr PeeEwww liked good food and fine wines, watching TV and writing open letters to celebrities. But, what he liked most of all was tidiness.  He spent most of his time making sure everything was clean and neat and in its place. If there was even one unwashed cup in the house, he couldn’t relax until it was washed and dried and put away on the right shelf in the right cupboard and the sink was rinsed and the towel was folded and hung on the towel rack.

One Saturday afternoon, Mr PeeEwww was watching his favourite programme, ‘Incredible Adventures in Sock Puppetry’, when what should poke its head through his window but an Ostriclops.

Now, Ostriclops are very rare and valuable mythical creatures. They are valuable because they are rare and rare because they are valuable.

‘Himmity Jimmity’, thought Mr PeeEwww, ‘A rare and valuable creature is poking its head through my window. If I box clever, perhaps I can capture it and find it’s owner and maybe even bag myself a nice little reward.’

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Never one to overthink things, Mr PeeEwww made a dive for the Ostriclops, who just said ‘Bobbysocks!’ and hopped out of the way. Whoosh! Right through the window flew old Mr PeeEwww and he crashed into the pond with a big plop.

‘Bobbysocks!’ said the Ostriclops hopping in through the window, and closing it behind him.

‘Grrrr! Hmmm! Snarrf!’ thought Mr PeeEwww, now both untidy and wet, ‘Catching this Ostriclops mightn’t be as easy as I thought. I know! I’ll borrow a big net from Fishy McGristle at No 17.’ And off he went down the street, all drippy and squelchy.

Fishy McGristle was not very happy to see Mr PeeEwww squelching on his doorway. Fishy didn’t really like dripping neighbours. He liked fishing and being left alone to eat fish and watch TV in his underpants and tweet angrily about what the presenters were wearing.

‘What do you want?’ he said angrily, ‘I’m trying to watch Incredible Adventures in Sock Puppetry and I can’t watch it if people keep interrupting me. Also, my fish will go cold.’

‘Sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if I could borrow a fishing net?’ said Mr PeeEwww.

‘A fishing net, eh? But you don’t fish. Why’d you want fishing net?’

Mr PeeEwww hadn’t meant to tell Fishy why he needed the net but he was so discombobulated from his fall into the pond that he forgot to think of an excuse. ‘Well, it’s like this, Fishy, my old neighbour. I’ve been kicked out of my house by an Ostriclops and I need a net to capture it. I mean you should see this thing- all claws and stripes and cunning eye gleams.

‘An Ostriclops, you say?’ said Fishy McGristle, trying to keep the cunning gleam out of his own eye, ‘I suppose you’d better come in then. But stay away from my fish.’

2.

Meanwhile, the Ostriclops was exploring Mr PeeEwww’s house (Ostriclops are very curious creatures, in both senses of the word). First he went up the stairs and had a look around the bedroom, trying the bed out for comfort and springiness. It was very springy, so he spent about five minutes having a nice bounce and left big footprints in the duvet. Then he examined the bathroom, which was very white and bright. Ostriclops don’t have teeth, but they love minty things, so he gargled all the mouthwash and chomped the toothpaste tube until it split in half, spraying toothpaste all over the room and frightening him so much (even more than Halloween) that he tripped on the bathroom mat and landed in the bath. Ostriclops enjoy baths very much, but they don’t particularly enjoy being flung into hard, waterless, human baths any more than the next creature. Unless the next creature is very, very odd (and probably best avoided at social events).

Slightly shaken, but not overly stirred, the Ostriclops clopped down the stairs and found himself face to face with Columbo, the Vulturegull, who was, as usual, trying to peck open the fridge while listening to ‘Celebrate’ by Kool & The Gang.

‘Bobbysocks!’ said the Ostriclops.

‘Jodhpurs?’ said Columbo, frowning a feathery frown.

‘Bobbysocks!’ said the Ostriclops, shaking his head.

‘Ooh, Bobbysocks!’ exclaimed Columbo, ‘Schlep!’

With that, the Ostriclops and Columbo set to work together. With the aid of a piece of string and some nifty beak work, they soon had the fridge open and were sitting on the kitchen floor devouring all of Mr PeeEwww’s delicious delicacies.

3.

‘An Ostriclops, you say?’ repeated Fishy McGristle as they sat around his kitchen table (which stank of fish) drinking tea (out of mugs that stank of fish). ‘I reckon I can help you catch it. But what’s in it for me? Eh? Eh? Me? ME!’

‘You?’ said Mr PeeEwww, ‘Well, there is the satisfaction of helping a neighbour.’

Fishy McGristle snorted.

‘And, of course, the feel-good factor of returning the thing to its rightful owner.’

Fishy McGristle spat a mouthful of fishy smelling tea right into Mr PeeEwww’s face.

‘Himmity Jimmity’! Don’t do that!’ said Mr PeeEwww, wiping the foul fishy liquid off his face with the end of his scarf before continuing, ‘But I suppose that there might be a reward involved.  Maybe we could share it?’

‘Reward? Yes, rewards are good. I like rewards. Even shared rewards are pretty good, I suppose. Ok then, let’s go on an Ostriclops hunt. Wait here, PeeEwww, we’ll need some equipment for a job like this. Hmmm, I wonder if I should bring my fishing dynamite…’ Off he went, leaving Mr PeeEwww dripping mournfully and smelling a good deal fishier than, in his opinion, any person should.

4.

Creeping. Crawling. Slithering. Slightly Stumbling. The hunters worm along the edge of Mr PeeEwww’s garden hedge.

Inside the house, Columbo and the Ostriclops were full and drowsy and watching a ‘Come Dine With Me’ marathon surrounded by chicken bones and dirty plates and pizza crusts and empty wine bottles. The floor was practically invisible beneath all the rubbish.

‘Bobbysocks.’ Said the Ostriclops as a particularly mean contestant gave the last host a terrible mark for her meal.

‘Buurrrrpp!’ said Columbo.

‘CRASH!’ went the door and in tumbled Fishy McGristle and Mr PeeEwww and a big fishing net. Fishy threw the net at the Ostriclops, who tried to dodge it, but he was too full, far too full of delicious food and wine to move out of the way in time.

‘We got him!’ shouted Fishy McGristle.

‘Indeed we did! shouted Mr PeeEwww.

‘Caaaawwwww!’ shouted Columbo, flying, claws out, straight into Fishy’s fishy face.

‘Ahhhh!’ said Fishy, as the Vulturegull clamped onto his head, flapping furiously.

Mr PeeEwww just didn’t know what to do.  On the one hand, he wanted to catch the Ostriclops and on the other he quite enjoyed the sight of Columbo giving Fishy McGristle a free haircut (he hadn’t forgotten the tea spitting incident).

Suddenly there was a loud POP and the Vulturegull dropped to the ground, unconscious.

The last thing Mr PeeEwww saw before he felt a sharp pain was Fishy McGristle pointing a gun at him. Then everything went black, then grey, then a sort of aquamarine and then back to black.

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5.

‘Meeehweeeglubbits. Stop eating all the cake. Leave some for me. No, I don’t want fish stew. I HATE fish stew!’ A creature with the body of a person and the head of a fish was gobbling up all his madeira cake and, with the other hand, throwing big globs of fishy gunk at his head. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t good at all. It was goo.

And then, just like magic (it never hurts to have magic in a story, its really rather handy), the dream sequence faded and Mr PeeEwww woke up and pulled the tranquiliser dart out of his leg.

6.

Mr PeeEwww had a sizeable headache. Then he had a large glass of water. Then he had a very large glass of wine, after which he felt, not quite fine, but less unfine. Then he saw to his Vulturegull, who had woken up but was stumbling around the room in circles reciting the lyrics to ‘Celebrate’ over and over in his own language.

‘Himmity Jimmity. This is a pungent pickle and no mistake, my fine feathered friend. We’re going to have to put on our thinking caps, roll up our sleeves and get to work. And as soon as we’ve tidied up this mess, we’ll try and rescue that poor Ostriclops. ‘

So they set to tidying and brushing and mopping although, truth be told, Columbo was much better at making a mess than cleaning one up. By the time they were finished it was well past bedtime and the two companions were worn out, what with the day’s excitement, the tranquiliser darts and the housekeeping. So they sat down for a wee breather and before they knew it they were sound asleep.

7.

The sun was high in the sky when Mr PeeEwww woke up.

‘Himmity Jimmity!’ he said, rubbing his eyes. Columbo was still sound asleep and snoring loudly.

‘Wake up, you silly sausage!’ said Mr PeeEwww, poking the Vulturegull in the ribs.

‘Sausage! Sausage!’ said the Vulturegull, jumping up and down and flapping his wings with excitement. He loved sausages (unfortunately, sausages didn’t always love him!).

‘All right then.’ said Mr PeeEwww ‘We’ll have breakfast first, but right after that we’ve got to call in on Fishy and get that Ostriclops back. The poor thing probably smells like a big ugly fish by now.’

So, it was with stomachs full of sausage, egg and determination that Mr PeeEwww and Columbo marched up to Fishy McGristle’s house and knocked on the door. There was no answer. So they knocked again and again, louder each time. There was still no answer.

‘I’ll bet the smelly old Clopsnapper is doing this just to annoy us. Come on, let’s have a look through the windows.’

They went all around the house (twice, once in each direction). Mr PeeEwww checked the ground floor windows while the Vulturegull looked upstairs, but there was nobody there.

‘Perhaps he’s popped out to the shops.’ said Mr PeeEwww. ‘Let’s take a look around inside.’

So they broke into Fishy’s house (Vulturegulls are usually very good at opening locks because they’re so greedy and locked doors often have food behind them).  They looked in the kitchen (full of fish), the sitting room (full of old newspapers and old fish), the bathroom (full of *** and old fish), the bedroom (full of trampolines and old fish) and the closet (full of nets and wellies and dynamite and old fish) but nowhere in the house did they find a room full of Ostriclopses.  Or even one single Ostriclops.

8.

‘It’s not looking good, my fine feathered friend.’ Said Mr PeeEwww ‘If that Ostriclops isn’t here, then I just don’t know where Fishy’s taken it.’

‘Fishy! Fishy! Fishy!’ said Columbo.

‘Of course! You’re not just an empty stomach after all, you clever Vulturegull. Fishy loves fishing more than anything. I’ll bet all the blue cheese in Bavaria that he’s got a fishing boat slurping about down at the river. We’ll go and have a look straight away- unless you think we should tidy this place first?’

‘Too old for this! Go! Now!’ said Columbo.

As luck would have it, there was a taxi passing by. This saved them from having to walk all the way to the river, which, in any case, wasn’t a great distance away.

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9.

The river was dark and wet and drowny and deserted. Deserted, that is, except for one gristly looking fishing boat bobbing about at the end of a rickety pier.

‘Look how gristly that boat is, it must be Fishy’s,’ said Mr PeeEwww, paying the taxi driver, ‘let’s get a closer look.’

Columbo and Mr PeeEwww crept towards the boat and looked in through an open skylight. There was no sign of the Ostriclops, but Fishy McGristle was there, sitting back in an old wooden chair with his smelly fishy boots on the table. He seemed to be arguing with a man. A very familiar looking man.

‘Himmity Jimmity!’ whispered Mr PeeEwww, ‘I know that man. It’s Tawdry MacGuffin, the presenter of Incredible Adventures in Sock Puppetry. But what’s he doing with Fishy and d’you think I can get an autograph?

‘Clops! Shhh!’ said Columbo.

‘Yes, yes.’ Said Mr PeeEwww ‘Lets be even quieter than we’re being now and perhaps we can hear what they’re arguing about.’

Luckily, Fishy was a shouter and Tawdry MacGuffin, being a TV presenter, was only happy when the whole world could hear him.

This is what they said:

‘A hundred? A HUNDRED?’ said the TV guy, ‘You must be bloomin’ crazier than a sock puppet operator! I’ll give you fifty squid and not a tentacle more.’

‘Fifty? FIFTY?’ said Fishy, ‘This is a rare and valuable mythical creature we’re talking about. A hundred is more than fair. But I’d be willing to sell for ninety nine super- fresh squid.’

‘Ninety Nine? NINETY NINE?’ said MacGuffin, ‘That’s totally unacceptable. But what if I was to offer fifty one?’

‘Fifty one? FIFTY ONE’, said Fishy…

Outside the boat, Mr PeeEwww whispered to Columbo, ‘This might go on for a while, at least 48 more, if I’m not mistaken. Let’s see if we can find that Ostriclops.’

10.

There was nothing much at the bow except a pile of fish bones and an old copy of the New Yorker Magazine, but at the stern, behind the cabin, there was a hatch with a ladder leading down into the belly of the boat. Mr PeeEwww and Columbo looked at each other for a second and then started their descent. It was very dark inside and there was a weird scurrying sound that made the hairs on Mr PeeEwww’s neck stand on end and made Columbo feel quite peckish which made his stomach rumble which seemed to make the scurrying sound worse which made the hai…

When they got to the bottom of the ladder, they weren’t quite sure what to do next.

‘It’s very dark,’ said Mr PeeEwww, ‘and I don’t have a match or a phone or anything. Himmity Jimmity, now I wish I hadn’t given up smoking and phones.’

‘Shuush!’ said Columbo, cocking his head to one side.

They listened. Slowly, the sound became clearer.

‘Bobbysocks. Bobbysocks. Bobbysocks. Bobbysocks.’

It was the unmistakable sound of an Ostriclops in distress and it was coming from a big wooden box in the middle of the hold.

‘This must be him.’ said Mr PeeEwww, ‘Right let’s get this box opened.’

Columbo set to work on the lock (a rusty old padlock that smelt of fish and was no match for a motivated Vulturegull) and soon they were able to let the Ostriclops out of the box which is not as similar to letting the cat out of the bag as you might think- cats are much more likely to squirm and scratch.

‘BOBBYSOCKS!’ said the delighted Ostriclops, hopping about on one leg before slipping on a fish and banging his head on a bit of the ship that none of them knew the name of.

‘He’s just drunk with freedom and fish-stink.’ said Mr PeeEwww, ‘Now, I think its time to go home, tidy ourselves up and have some delicious food and fine wines to celebrate.‘

‘I’m afraid I can’t let that happen.’ said a Fishy voice behind them. ‘Because there’d be nothing in it for me. Eh? Eh? Me. ME!’

‘ME BLOOMIN’ TOO!’ said Tawdry McGuffin in a voice so loud that it could probably be heard by astronauts in space (via satellite surveillance, but with the speaker volume turned down very, very low.)

‘Himmity Jimmity!’ said Mr PeeEwww. ‘You were meant to negotiate for at least 48 more, leaving us plenty of time to escape.’

‘Well we didn’t, not that it’s any of your business, but we came to an agreement in just 24 more.’ said Fishy.

‘Let’s just shoot them. Then I can take my Ostriclops and go. I’ve got to record another show later and if I’m not on time the sock puppets get grumpy. It’s tough enough getting them to learn their lines at the best of times.’ Said Tawdry McGuffin, proving that he was quite, quite mad.

‘Whatever you say, you’re the TV guy after all.’ said Fishy, pointing his tranquiliser gun at them, ‘Nighty night you unfishy oddities.’

11.

‘Wait!’ said Mr PeeEwww, reaching into his pocket and producing a small rectangular object. ‘Before you shoot us, can I get Mr McGuffin’s autograph on my favourite remote control which I always carry around with me for some reason?’

‘NO! No autographs!’ said McGuffin, ‘Haven’t you seen my website, www.NOAUTOGRAPHSNOEXCEPTIONS.com?’

‘Aw, go on.’ said Fishy, ‘And while you’re at it, I’ll have one too.’

‘NO! NO! NO! NO!’ screamed Tawdry McGuffin, jumping up and down and shaking his fists at everyone and generally causing a bit of a distraction.

‘HA! While you were all busy being distracted, I gained the upper hand.’ said Mr PeeEwww, pointing the rectangular object at Fishy McGristle, who was trying, with little success, to calm McGuffin down by slapping him with a fish.

‘What are you going to do with that thing?’ laughed Fishy.

‘This is no ordinary device. This is a plot device, which allows me to escape from any situation, no matter how unfeasible. Watch this.’

He pushed a button. Nothing happened. Then another, still nothing happened. Then he checked the batteries and gave the device a wipe with his handkerchief. Once again, nothing happened.

‘Himmity Jimmity! Maybe this is just an ordinary remote control after all.’ he said, before throwing the device at Fishy’s head and screaming ‘RUN!’

Fishy screamed in pain and accidentally shot Tawdry McGuffin with a tranquiliser dart. Mr PeeEwww, Columbo and the Ostriclops scampered up the ladder and locked the hatch behind them. Once they were safely on dry land, they cut the mooring lines from the boat and jumped up and down in victory as it floated aimlessly downriver. Then they went home, tidied themselves up and had delicious food and fine wines to celebrate.

12.

After they had washed away the fishiness and were settled comfortably in front of the telly, Mr PeeEwww said ‘Well, I don’t think old Fishy will be trying anything fishy around here again. Anyway, he’s probably halfway to the sea by now. But we still do have the little problem of finding your owner, Ostriclops.’

‘Naaaw!’ said Columbo. He’d gotten used to the Ostriclops.

‘Bobbysocks!’ said the Ostriclops, burying its head under a rug.

‘Look,’ said Mr PeeEwww ‘What I’ll do is put an advert in the local paper that says “Found: Bobbysocks!” and if anybody answers it looking for an Ostriclops, we’ll know that they’re your proper owner. Ok?’

‘Bobbysocks!’ said the Ostriclops.

‘Grumphitymeh’ said Columbo.

So the next day Mr PeeEwww placed his ad in the paper. Nobody answered it for a long, long time and the Ostriclops stayed put for a long, long time. It even tidied up after itself now and again.

NOT THE END?

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