by Dawn Knox
egg nog because it’s a bit like custard
There are no airports on the idyllic Isle of Macaroon.
This isn’t an attempt by the natives to deter would-be tourists, it’s simply that no one feels the need to leave. And if you’ve ever seen a photograph of the renowned cheese mines, the Custard River or the Meringue Mountains with its chocolate waterfalls, you’d understand why. Of course, from time to time, tourists arrive by boat either on the Bouillabaisse Sea to the east, or on the Vichyssoise Ocean to the west, but as people are loathe to leave the island once they’ve discovered its charms, they can no longer be called tourists.
If you ever get to the shores of Macaroon, look up Eddie the Bald Eagle. For an eagle, he bears an uncanny resemblance to a chicken but it’s best not to mention that. He’ll probably introduce you to his friends, Brian, Colin and Gideon. But please don’t mention Brian’s height - he’s very sensitive about being so short, and remember that Colin is a lemur, not a monkey. Oh, and if Gideon gets a pen out of his jacket, duck and stay down if you value your life.
The Three Wise Monkeys
Oscar held the mobile phone against his ear with his shoulder and grabbed a ballpoint pen.
“Oscar’s Signs. Oscar speaking, how can I help?”
“Hello, it’s Eddie. I emailed the other day to enquire about a large poster.”
“Yes, Eddie the Bald Eagle.”
Oscar held his paw over the receiver of the phone, rolled his eyes towards the ceiling and whispered to his apprentice, “It’s that bald chicken what thinks he’s an eagle.”
“I heard that! I’ll have you know I am a bald eagle!” Eddie yelled into the receiver.
Oscar held the phone at arm’s length and winced. When he was certain Eddie had finished, he placed it next to his ear again. “All right, no need to shout. So, Eddie the Bald Eagle, what can I do for you?”
“As I said in my email, I’d like a large poster put on a billboard in Spudwell, as close to the music festival as you can, to advertise my band.”
“Hmm.” Oscar glanced at the calendar, “I’ll do my best but most of the billboards around Spudwell have been taken. You’ve cut it fine, you know. The festival’s in two days.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ve had a few problems but they’re all sorted now… So, can you do it?”
Oscar sighed, “Yeah, okay, let me take down the details. Name?”
“Eddie, I told you!”
“No, not your name, the band’s name.”
“Oh, I see. It’s The Three Wise Monkeys.”
Oscar scribbled on the notepad. “And I assume the band members are actually monkeys?”
“There’s no ‘of course’ about it. You’d be surprised the sort of stunts bands pull these days to get themselves noticed. So, your band members are monkeys and their names are?...”
“Brian and Colin.”
“Brian, Colin and?...” asked Oscar, scribbling on the pad.
“Just Brian and Colin.”
Oscar paused and chewed the end of his pen, “My maths is a bit shaky but I definitely make that two monkeys. Didn’t you say The Three Wise Monkeys?”
“Yeah, that’s our angle, see. Two monkeys called The Three Wise Monkeys. Get it? Good eh?”
Oscar sighed. “Yeah, whatever. I’m just checking my emails and I’ve found yours but you don’t seem to have attached any photos of Brian and Colin. You did send me some, didn’t you?”
“Never mind, we’ll use some stock photographs.”
“Okay, thanks, you will have it ready in time for the music festival, though, won’t you?” asked Eddie.
“Of course. I’ll deal with it myself,” Oscar said and cut the call.
“’Ere, you can do this one,” he said and threw the notepad to the apprentice.
Eddie was striding about the car park outside the picturesque village of Cakehall when Brian and Colin arrived.
“About time!” said Eddie stabbing at the face of his watch with the tip of his featherless wing.
“Yeah, sorry we’re late. Colin was hungry, so we stopped off at the cheese mine down the road,” said Brian.
“Yeah,” said Colin, “want some?” He took a packet out of his bag and unwrapped it, to reveal a large portion of steaming, golden cheese. It had several bite marks in it. “There’s nothing better than cheese fresh from the mine,” he said and bit off a chunk.
Eddie shook his head. “Nice to see you two cheese-malingerers are taking the music festival seriously,” he said scowling at them.
“All right, keep your feathers on, Baldy, we are taking it seriously but we have to eat. You don’t want us fainting all over the place do you?” said Colin.
“I’m warning you, cut the ‘bald’ jokes!” snapped Eddie.
“Well, anyway, we’re here now, so let’s get going,” said Brian, looking about the car park. “Where’s the van?”
“It broke down,” said Eddie.
“Oh no! How’re we going to get to the festival? There are going be scouts there. It might have been our first big break,” said Brian.
“Don’t worry, while you two were stuffing your faces in the cheese mine, I managed to arrange alternate transport. Follow me.”
“Why are we heading away from the car park?” asked Brian.
“Yeah,” said Colin, “this path leads to the river.”
“That’s right,” said Eddie “with so many people on their way to the music festival, you can’t hire a van, car, or even a bicycle for love nor money.”
“Please don’t tell me you’re expecting us to swim there!” said Colin.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Eddie, “you can’t swim in custard. You’d drown. No, I’ve hired a rowing boat.”
“What! Are you serious? You’re expecting us to row through custard?” asked Brian, “If I get a blister, I won’t be able to play my guitar, then what?”
“I’ll row,” said Eddie “and don’t be so ungrateful. If we don’t go by boat, we don’t go to the festival, it’s as simple as that. I would’ve thought you’d have been glad I’ve sorted the problem out.”
“Well, you are our manager. We pay you to sort things out. I don’t see why we have to be grateful as well,” said Colin.
“Yeah,” said Brian, “you get paid more than we do and we’re the band.”
“Ingrates,” muttered Eddie.
There was silence for a while as they trudged through the field of candyfloss bushes.
“Is it much further?” asked Brian, “This case is getting heavy.” He shifted the electric guitar to his other hand.
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” said Colin, “my back’s killing me carrying these bongos.”
“Quit moaning,” said Eddie, “the river’s just around the bend.”
“Is that it?” asked Colin pointing at the tiny rowing boat moored to the jetty, bobbing in the custard.
“You are joking, aren’t you?”
“It’s that - or you walk,” said Eddie.
A weather-beaten ferret stomped down the jetty to meet them, “Which one’s Eddie the Bald Eagle?”
“Are you for real? He’s a monkey,” said Eddie, stabbing his wing in Brian’s direction “and he’s a monkey.” He nodded at Colin, “so have a guess who’s the bald eagle!”
“I’ll have you know, I’m not a monkey, I’m a lemur!” said Colin.
The ferret moved his captain’s cap backwards and scratched his forehead, “Seems to be a lot of identity confusion round ‘ere,” he said, “I don’t care what you are. All I want to know is who’s paying. Is it the chicken or what? I’ve got more parties interested in The Saucy Tart, so if you’re not goin’ to hire her, I’ll bid you good day.”
“All right, all right!” snapped Eddie taking his wallet out of his pocket. “Here you are,” he said and handed over some notes.
“Rightio,” said the ferret, folding the money and stuffing it one of his fishing waders, “I’ll see you back here on Tuesday. Make sure you look after her.”
“Wait a minute!” called Eddie as the ferret walked briskly off the jetty, whistling tunelessly, “Can’t you give us a hand to start?”
“I thought you said you knew what you was doin’,” said the ferret frowning.
“Well, theoretically I do.”
“Not so much,” admitted Eddie.
The ferret put his paw inside his wader and began to withdraw the money. “I’m not sure I trust you with my boat.”
“I’m a fast learner,” said Eddie quickly, “and if you could see your way clear to giving us a crash course in boating, I could cover any expenses involved…” He pulled another note out of his wallet and held it out.
“Landlubbers!” muttered the ferret. He was still tutting, as he untied the painter.
“This is a bit cramped, isn’t it?” said Colin.
“Stop fidgeting,” snapped Brian.
“I can’t help it; your knees are bony.”
“D’you want to swap places?”
“Don’t be so stupid, you’re far too large to fit on my lap. Could you move that guitar case a bit? You keep jabbing me in the throat.”
“Well, move those bongos!”
“Can you two in the bow keep still? The chicken’s trying to board!” shouted the ferret.
“Eagle! I’m an eagle!” snapped Eddie.
“Yeah, whatever!” said the ferret, “By the way, you’re facing the wrong way, you’ll find it easier to cut through the custard if the pointy end goes first.”
“Oh! Sit down, Eddie, you’re rocking the boat!” shouted Brian, “I feel sick!’
“Well, keep your vomit to yourself!” snapped Colin.
The ferret crept away and left them to it.
“Are we nearly there?” asked Brian.
“I’ve no idea,” grunted Eddie.
“If you row any slower, the custard will skin over and we’ll be trapped,” said Colin, “we may never get out of this boat.”
“Don’t be ridiculous! And I’m going as fast as I can. There’s no current here.”
“Well, it can’t be much further,” said Brian, “I just saw a poster advertising one of the bands who’ll be at the festival.”
“A poster!” said Colin, “What a great idea! Shame we didn’t think of it.”
“Actually,” said Eddie, “we did. At least, I did.”
“So, any minute now, we could see Frogs’ Scorn in enormous letters with our photos?” asked Brian.
“Um… well, not exactly,” said Eddie, “you see, I changed the name of the band and I didn’t have any photos of you, so they’re going to use stock photos of monkeys.”
“I am not a monkey, I’m a lemur!” shouted Colin.
“Sit still, you’ll capsize us!” yelled Brian grabbing the sides of the boat.
“Ow! Move that guitar case!”
“Boys, boys! Calm down!” said Eddie.
“And what d’you mean you changed the name of the band? You can’t do that without consulting us?” said Brian.
“I made an executive decision. I never liked the name Frogs’ Scorn anyway.”
“So, what are we called now?” asked Brian.
“The Three Wise Monkeys.”
“I’m not a monkey!” screamed Colin.
It was another hour before anyone spoke.
“Well,” said Brian finally, “let’s look on the bright side. At least we’ll be playing in the festival. And even if our name is really stupid, it’s our music that counts and it could be our first lucky break.”
“Yeah, s’pose,” said Colin sulkily.
“Is there any water left?” asked Eddie hoarsely, “I don’t think I can row much further, I’m exhausted.” He was quivering and his wing tips were covered in blisters.
Gradually, the tall broccoli trees in the woods gave way to roads and gingerbread houses.
“There’s a sign for Spudwell, we must be nearly there,” said Colin.
“Hey, look! said Brian, “that’s our poster! The Three Wise Monkeys.”
Eddie took the opportunity to stop rowing while they inspected the billboard on the side of the road.
“What is that?” shrieked Colin.
Eddie let go of the oars and cradled his head in his hands.
Beneath the heading The Three Wise Monkeys it said ‘Appearing at the Spudwell Music Festival 2020,’ and beneath that, were photographs of two chimps wearing Hawaiian shirts drinking from tea cups. Below one chimp it said ‘Brain’ and below the other, it said ‘Colon’.
“Eddie!” shrieked Brian and Colin in unison.
Eddie estimated how far they were from the riverbank, then he peered over the edge of the boat. He’d heard that it was possible to walk on custard although he wasn’t convinced.It might just be worth a try.
About the author
Dawn’s latest book is ’The Basilwade Chronicles’ published by Chapeltown Books and she enjoys writing in different genres and has had romances, speculative fiction, sci-fi, humorous and women’s fiction published in magazines, anthologies and books. She’s also had two plays about World War One performed internationally. You can follow her here on https://dawnknox.com , Facebook here DawnKnoxWriter or on Twitter here https://twitter.com/SunriseCalls