THE PONTOON OF WILLMONT
One day in August, the 12th actually, 1947 the year, and it was not on Planet Earth anyway and uses a dodecahedral counting system with blotches of goo and scrapings of wall moss, Roger was cycling up the road towards Fatty Boom-Booms house to borrow his Chimucheka amphibious biplane that he kept on wheels in his back yard and only used for very serious games of poker with royalty and dancing frogs in leotards.
It was hot. Cats are not best made to cycle bikes, specially this one that was a hand me down from his sister, Wobblebottom the 3rd, was on the big side and had no cross bar to hold onto in case of sonic attacks and rice cake purchases.
Why, you may well ask, should a superior cat like Roger, with the intelligence of at least pair of mating ducks in Spain, who could add and subtract to the end of the universe and back in time for dinner, want to use a plane at all? Good question. One that deserves an answer, later.
At first, it was clear that going uphill was harder than going along the flat or downhill. Then it was downhill, and with no brakes to make any stopping use with, much harder to steer. Then it was time to go on the pavement and do some very wobbly off roading up the grass verge, between the trees and back across the road to the other side, and then in the middle, until he was at the bottom and going back up the next hilly part.
Roger stopped and got off and considered his situation while letting vehicles pass and people look at him in funny ways. Was it, he wondered, his miniature T34 tank parked on his head, just between his ears? Or his George Lazenby lookalike T-shirt, with syncopated mandrills and a passage from Copernicus? Or his new look brown leather avocado flavoured trousers with flannel pocket handles and glued- on Yorkshire Brass Band?
For Roger, it was as close to a normal day as any other might be, given that normal was not a word he held ready to use at the notice of a moment, in the same way that Beethoven only went to the toilet when it was raining (or on family birthdays) in Wittenberg, which was cause for municipal concern in the long snowy winters, and Mozart only played the piano if that unknown man – the one with a smiling copy line drawing portrait of Hogarth in finest green wax crayon - from Florence tap danced on his roof and sang
I’m forever blowing bubbles
So, he left the bike leaning against a faded wooden fence, and jogged the rest of the way, gagging bag to the fore. Arriving at his destination in time to see Fatty Boom-Boom wax sideways through an intra- dimensional vortex and come out 4 feet away at the same time, holding a huge bunch of ripe bananas and 10 bags of sugar, he said…
Then Fatty said…
Opening statements having been satisfactorily completed an minuted to a similar standard of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and very importantly done and well performed to distant rounds of applause you couldn’t quite hear but knew they were going on anyway; they went into his house together with many unanswered questions and many questions they didn’t even think about yet as it started raining and Beethoven’s bathroom probably had a back queue.
It was dark inside and smelled of a forest in Southern France in 1664, when beer was first invented, but not really.
Do you have any of those anchovy tasting car bumper stickers with RIDERS OF THE LOST OAK on them, that you had last time I was here,
Fatty handed a few to Roger from a shelf by the door that probably led to the kitchen, but not in this dimension, except on the second Thursday of every other March at noon for 10 minutes – there was a sign that said as much taped to the handle.
Ah- laws of probability again. Great,
Said Roger, pointing and hoping that would do.
Said Fatty, who was very thin indeed, and used the epithet as his name to confuse people deliberately when he made boom-boom noises as he often got hungry and was ruled by his stomach then, who had its own separate agenda, and was well known to be able to eat 4 gallons of chocolate ice cream in 22 Ionian seconds with just a plastic fork and a single melon.
About your fuel bill for the last time you borrowed the plane… it needs paying now, please.
Oh, right. That. Yes. Ah. I did leave a promissory note for gold ear muffs, used, one set, in the pilot’s seat pocket. Did that not cover it?
It was in Greek and written in green ink on a dandelion. Not exactly bankable hereabouts.
How much was the bill then,
Roger most bravely ventured to ask Fatty?
Very reasonable, yes, Thursday,
said Roger, texting a message off to the President of Estonia that he would now be owned by Fatty and would he mind at all until he got his delivery of military inflatable infantry delivered next week.
I’m sure that will be just fine, and I’ll throw in a very good bicycle as well,
finished Roger looking up and smiling (hopefully) in the way that smiles often end discussions.
said Fatty, handing Roger a key with a small paper label that said SEND THIS TO FATTY printed on it.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back before dinner,
Roger stated factually although he had no reason to say so.
said Fatty again, nodding,
in 20 minutes then,
towards a large tub of melting chocolate ice cream and medium sized green and red melon.
Thursday I meant,
Roger added, not moved at all by the inference.
Yes, it does doesn’t it. In Penguin,
replied Roger, backing towards the door and keeping his gaze on Fatty.
Faced with a twin engine seaplane on a trailer with wheels and nothing to hand to tow it with, Roger removed the chocks and pushed it onto the street, taking off in fine style for a cat, down the hill road leaving the trailer where it ended up, in a field of cucumbers.
As he gathered height, he put on his best pair of flying goggles with steam operated wipers that he got from his gagging bag, and settled in to keep to about 1,000 feet and follow the A27 via Redditch to Grimsby and Darlington, Virginia.
These old planes are marvelous, he thought, as he looked down and saw that he was over taken by a train on the ground below.
Landing some time later and well off course, near Darlington but not quite in Virginia as he ran out of fuel but luckily noticed how a lake the size of a carp pond near a country road made the best brake of all, Roger stopped outside a lone shop that sold trolleys in the middle of nothing but tobacco fields in every direction as far as he could see. The staff inside were so surprised when he entered that one ate lunch, two fainted and the manager locked himself in his office and urgently scanned through the Bible for guidance on dealing with customers. The glass door refused to close behind him, and broke when he turned to look at it.
Any…trolleys for sale today then,
he announced to anyone.
One lady eating a pickled cauliflower and wet kangaroo sandwich pointed and nodded while making an OK sign with her hand.
Oh yes I see. Very nice, very nice,
Said Roger, giving her the handle from the broken door and looking around trying to appear interested in trolleys. There were thousands of them, all different shapes and sizes and styles, with legs and wheels and casters and frames and hydraulics and electrics. Every type Roger could imagine was there, and plenty he had never thought of as trolleys too.
The manager was looking at him through the glass window of his office at the back.
He held up a hand written sign. BUY 1 GET 10 FREE, it said.
He smiled at Roger, and made a wide open sweeping gesture with his hand, to indicate that all was available to choose from.
I only need two really. Robust ones. With big wheels, Roger shouted at him politely.
The manager held up another sign.
TWO, it said, and he put it down.
TWO, he held it up and put it down again.
TWO he repeated a third time, most likely in astonishment.
Yes, T-W-O, confirmed Roger.
All of a sudden, he was surrounded by fawning women, one of whom shoved a slice of Battenberg cake in his mouth while he was tying to speak, to which he went on to say
One was stoking his back. Another was stroking his head.
Said Roger, before he could think and as soon as he had swallowed, kneading the carpet with his claws.
the women were repeating in tones so mellow that meant yes and then some.
Purrr-rrr-rrr, said Roger a lot more.
Before he knew it, Roger was outside the store and replacing his BOSS’s gold Pancreas card into its lead lined vault in his padlocked pants, pushing a pair of large trollies in the direction of his plane with stars in his eyes and his head full of something he couldn’t quite remember that was very, very important.
He made it to the carp pond without spending any more of the BOSS’s money, and in some confusion as to his feelings.
I think I must be drunk,
he said to a fence post.
Yes, I think you must be, the way you are staggering all over the place and getting in a right muddle.
Said the fence post back to him, rather stuck up.
By then, he was standing knee deep in icy cold water, and his head cleared up enough for him to say,
Oh no. I got… petted by strangers! Filthy rotten trolls. And they thought I would enjoy it! Oh the shame! The indignity! It was very nice though, and the cake too…
he went on as he levered the plane onto the lined-up trolleys on the lake edge.
Taking the drum of fuel the shop had charged him double for from one trolley and filling the plane with a length of hose from under the pilot’s seat, Roger revved the engines up and ran the trolleys, plane attached, down the road back past the shop, waving a wave of large waviness to the four staff who stood tearfully, hands clasped, in the busted doorway while the manager held a sign that read
WELCOME 1ST CUSTOMER, C U THURSDAY,
as he roared by and took off, wondering what was happening on Thursday.
Landing in the place where he wanted to be and having had a full day of it until now, Roger was expecting to see the Holy Michael, Son of Woad Inn the Blue, Husband of Pea Souper the Green Laminated, father of Ignis the Deplorable and Wooley the Unwearable, Keeper of the High Corn Cobb; and standing next to a decent hole in the ground, which he was, as Roger taxied around and alongside, putting out the fire with the prop wash in the x-ray machine that had been keeping the airport staff warm for the last 3 days and nights.
He cut the fuel and went happily out to meet his business colleague, who had his arms folded.
Only 3 days late this time,
Said Holy Michael.
Yes well, I had a bit of trouble with trolleys here and there.
You are a bit of a trolley,
replied Holy Michael, and handed him a fat pink envelope marked NO. THURSDAY.
Opening it, Roger found a 46 page folded promissory note embroidered on vellum with gold brocade embossed in gold and stamped with the print of Cardinal Bearbane’s Golden Trumpet Horn, for the sum of ten shillings and 26 cents in Greenlandish dollars, a free ticket to the annual international cod walloping contest in Sydney, Australia and a year’s supply of horse manure coupons claimable at any way station West of Missouri, before the 26th April, any Thursday.
This will do nicely,
Said Roger, and seeing there was nothing else to discuss, shook hands,
As it seemed to be the word of the day, and flipped through his Fiery travel portal to land at the table in his carboard box South of Michigan, where it was raining and proudly, didn’t make a shred of sense for any purpose except Delilah was just doling out some hot green banana soup and said
I’m doling out some green hot banana soup,
with a smile,
Eh…yes that will be nice…I’ll just dip this mouse I found en-route. Nesting in the port engine of the plane, would you believe.
Said Delilah, shaking her head and smiling, as marmosets often do.
laughed Roger back at her, nipping off the tail of the mouse and dipping it.
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GET RID OF WHAT YOU NEED.
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