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‘Ah, what a perfect day!’ I exclaimed to the crisp summer sky.

The birds pirouetted through the cerulean canvas, singing sweet melodies into my ears. The gentle wind made the crocuses sway side to side playfully, their pollen cascading into the sky. The bumblebees buzzed to and fro, before landing gracefully on a tender flower petal.

And Merribank’s wheezing drowned out all of these noises from the minute we stepped outside.

I stopped walking. My oh-so Romantic notions had been abruptly destroyed.

‘Merribanks’, I sighed, preparing oh so carefully to furrow my brows, ‘Must you…breathe so?’

A few more stifled croaks, and an out-of-breath voice replied, ‘I am so very sorry Sir. It’s just, I am carrying a lot of bags sir.’ And with that he stumbled, dropping our tent, my canned socks, and my most valuable collection of antique iron-wrought bowling balls, from that holiday on Venus last summer.

The wheezing continued, and quickened in pace when Merribanks raised his head, only to discover that Monsieur Cuddles had been and had a number two in that very patch of fine greenery.

‘Please sir,’ he continued, brandishing a tissue, ‘can’t young Froggleton at least carry a bag? He’s walking along unhindered with not a care in the world.’

My brows now fully furrowed, I turned to look at Froggleton. As is the norm, he was several steps behind us, gazing out into the endless expanse that is the legendary Bimblespottin woodland, with the most aloof expression one could ever muster. At least, I assumed it was aloofness. You never could tell with Froggleton’s bangs being so… feral as they are.

I shuddered, before continuing to walk, ‘I’m afraid not Merribanks, Duke Froggleton is our new replacement side-kick, after the unfortunate case with Mr Watersby. He shall therefore receive the treatment fitting for a secondary character of his stature, which means no carrying the bags. That job is dedicated to you, my fine companion.’

Merribanks muttered something under his rasping breath about life and its many cruelties, before picking up the bags and continuing on his way.

It sure wasn’t my fault Duke Froggleton is the new side-kick! I would have had it be Miss Draggidoodle, if it were not that Merribanks, the traitor, had to go steal her away from me. But then again, I should have expected it! The way he was looking at her, like she was the finest dish of pan bagnat!

I vowed he would built our tent singlehandedly, in the rain, surrounded by vicious wildebeest. I would get my revenge yet!

*

It was approaching nightfall, but the tent was finally procured. Merribanks sure did take his sweet time about it, but I suppose having a broken arm will slow some weaker folk down.

And, of course, in the midst of the second chapter of my ground-breaking self-published novel, Adequate Expectations, I was assaulted by Merribanks’ effeminate squeaking. Just as the protagonist ‘Bip’ was due to go visit the ghastly ‘Miss Snavisham’, Merribanks flung my novel to the ground, shrieking some nonsense about his ‘provisions being missing’ and ‘what have you done with them, sir?!’

‘Upon examining our supplies’ he slobbered, ‘I have discovered my emergency first aid kit, my matches and all of our food has been replaced with bowling balls from our summer holiday to Venus! How will we acquire food with bowling balls, sir?’

I chortled. ‘Easy, Merribanks! We shall simply have Duke Froggleton bowl over all the forest critters, crushing them into edible, refined pulp within seconds! He was crowned champion in the 2540 National Chipmunk Bowling Buddies Society!’

Instead of praising my genius, Merribanks simply stared at me, the way he stares at all the chickens we prepare for the chopping block every Friday morning. With a look of unrelenting sorrow, and the sort of pity you’d offer a disabled goose.

‘Fine sir,’ he began, ‘I shall humour you this once. I’ll approach Duke Froggleton.’

‘And I shall be waiting in the grove east of here,’ I crooned, ‘If I sing one of my original melodies, all the gentle rabbits and squirrels shall gather, akin to Snow White. And then we shall eviscerate them.’

*

But alas, singing my number one hit dedicated to Howie, ‘I want it this way’, did not bring the beautiful forest dwellers hither. A rogue snapping tortoise snuck up behind me, and pinched my plump bottom with the reckless abandon of fifteen young harlots, but that was all the action I had managed to muster.

A few twitching trees bustled under the moonlight, and Merribanks arrived, dragging Duke Froggleton forward with about as much grace as a bow-legged giraffe.

‘I highly doubt Duke Froggleton is able to bowl for any innocent squirrels tonight, sir’, Merribanks quipped, ‘He is completely out of it. I caught him by Bimblespottin Pond, tight as a boiled owl on that opium stuff which is going around so much nowadays. He has no idea where he is.’

To demonstrate this fact, Froggleton curtseyed in my general direction, exclaiming how he had never expected to meet Dame Judi Dench in the flesh, but it was a most absolute pleasure.

Froggleton then proceeded to scream and scream.

‘Don’t eat me, Mrs Dench! Don’t eat me!’ he cried at the top of his lungs, ‘Why are you devouring me, Mrs Dench?!’

I did not think the screaming would cease, until a bellowing roar came from behind us. A familiar roar.

Merribanks’ sweaty hand clutched my satin coat. As I turned to gripe to him about the importance of the fair handling of said satin, he whispered to me.

‘You know in our first story sir, ‘The Bloodthirsty Beast of Bimblespottin Wood’, whatever happened to the werewolf?’

But I did not give Merribanks a response. For the next thing I know, Duke Froggleton had grabbed my fine collection of antique iron-wrought bowling balls (yes, the ones from that very holiday on Venus!), and shoved one into my frontal lobe, exclaiming ‘Let me at ‘im! Let me at ‘im! I can deal with the beast!’

He then proceeded to tail it at top speed into the direction of the piercing roars, leaving us with no option but to run after him. It did not take long at all to discover the rampaging occupant of Bimblespottin Wood.

*

All I can say about the events of that particular day, is that Merribanks will never again complain about how building a tent with a broken arm is a difficult challenge. As I woke up in hospital, with Merribanks lying beside me, I can say he had a brand new outlook on life.

With his ruptured skull, three spinal fractures and now two broken arms, I can assuredly say that Merribanks has a new outlook on life.

And I can also say the same. I am tired, beaten and bruised, looking at Merribanks from the seat at the edge of his bed, whilst licking a strawberry ice cream and wooing his oh-so agreeable nursemaid. Indeed, a new shade of existentialism flickers ever prominent in my eyes.

Yes, I truly am a changed man.

 


Poor Merribanks. He will never catch a break.

But what became of the honorable Duke Froggleton?! Ah, that is a tale for another day…

I hope you enjoyed the fourth installment of Brannigan Bimblespottin! You can read the rest of the tales here!

And look forward to the character sketches, they’ll be posted in a day or two!

Copyright © 2016 Rebecca Sherratt

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