Sunday, May 11, 2008

Events From The Cage. Volume 1.

The gerbil tentatively popped his head up from behind the toilet roll tube and surveyed the scene in front of him. Smoke still wisped up from the flame scorched furniture, barely anything was recognisable, not even the wicker basket he had so affectionately chewed not 10 minutes before. He slid back down onto the soft warm wood shavings of his cage, sighing inwardly. They're not going to be impressed, he thought. This was definitely worse than the last time, even then he was lucky to get away with his life intact. Maybe he was aiming too high, setting himself unreachable goals? Or maybe the expectations on him were just a figment of his imagination.

As he sat there his paw reached down and into the hidden pocket in his fur, pulling out the packet of Marlboro Lights he kept there for emergencies. This was definitely an emergency, he thought. His tiny digit flicked the Zippo lighter and sparked the flame. Sucking deeply on his smoke he pondered what he was going to do next.

No amount of watching home improvement programmes was going to work. He needed professional help, someone that knew how to deal with a mess like this. There was no other option, he was going to have to call Teddy. Teddy wasn’t the most stable cat in the world, in fact he was an utter liability. Those crazy yellow eyes constantly darting all over the place made Frank nervous, and you never knew what he was going to do with his damn claws. Frank had been there when Teddy lost it once, the rumours going around didn’t come close to what had actually happened, and the very thought of it all sent a shiver down his spine making his fur stand on end. It all started to go wrong when Teddy was little and he was scrabbling around in the rubbish bins. That’s when he found the croutons. Now he was never off them. Frank hated the things; he was much more of a seed kind of guy. Especially those South American Sunflower seeds, but they were hard to come by.

He flipped open his Nokia and hit the speed dial. “Teddy, it’s Frank. I need a favour…”.

Within minutes there was a knock at the door. The slender silhouetted figure of the cat stood in the opening, his immaculate ginger coat glistened like a full body halo in the afternoon sun. Teddy’s eyes slowly opened, burning a fierce yellow, adjusting to the darkness of the house. His pupils danced left and right like flies at a window. The gerbil noticed a single claw protruding from the cats paw, the sunlight seemed to hiss its way down to point like it was being cut into two perfect pieces.

“You can put that away right now” warned Frank, pointing his podgy digit at Teddy’s talon.

“Can’t dude”, replied Teddy in his slow South London accent. “Got a fish bone stuck in there earlier and can’t shift it. It’s embarrassing, I sound like a one legged chick when I’m walking down the street. It’s ruining my damn reputation”. The cat took in the damaged room and gently sighed. His other paw reached into the small brown leather bag hanging around his neck and absently took out a tiny crouton. Popping it into his mouth and crunching down heavily he looked at Frank. “This, my friend, is an utter shit hole. And I believe I’m right in thinking that you are sitting bang in the middle of it”.

“That’s why I called you Teddy. If any cat can, you can. Can you cat?”

“Frankly Frank, I can”, replied the cat “But it’s going to cost you”.

“No problem Teddy”, he lied. “And if you get it done before midday then you’ll get the usual payment, but with garlic”.

Promising the cat garlic croutons was on hell of a risk. They were hard to come by, even the cat himself couldn’t get them all the time. But he couldn’t have the Owners knowing what was going on and had to have the place back to normal before they returned. For the first time since the gerbil had known him, Teddy’s eyes stopped moving. But being fixed with that stare, his usually rock solid self belief started to wobble. If he didn’t come through with the payment on time the cat would be wearing a new fur coat by morning. However, if he managed to rectify his earlier mistake, he would be off the hook on all fronts. He rolled back the fur on his wrist, his trusty Casio revealed 9.58am. 2 hours he thought. 2 hours to correct the formula and deliver it, have the house back to normal, pay the cat and be back in the cage. A lesser gerbil would have crumbled at this point, but Frank always had a trick or two up his sleeve. He just hoped that there was another 2 up there he hadn’t found before.

He looked at the open doorway, pulled out another Marlboro and lit it. One day, he thought, I’m going to retire to my wheel and have my shit cleaned up free of charge. But not today. No, today was going to be a completely different kettle of fish. And then he was gone, leaving only tiny curls of smoke in his wake.


Beth said...

Well done!
Reminds of a modern, hip version of The Wind in the Willows (Badger, Toad, Mole et al.)
And you are keeping the reader in suspense.

ted said...

i don't think i've ever been as interested in the life and times of a gerbil than when i come visit your blog! you have to watch out for those teddy's...they'll get'cha!

All Mod Cons said...

Beth - Thanks! Coming from the Writer herself, it's a big compliment!

Ted - Dude, how you doing?! Glad it's entertaining, keep your eyes peeled for Vol. 2.

Crashdummie said...

is it just me who didnt follow the conversation... at all? all i can say is: huh?