Sunday, 16 February 2020

The Fine Print


by Dawn Knox

bitter lemon

Previously, Eddie the bald chicken, who manages the pop band, The Three Wise Monkeys, band members Brian and Colin, and two social-media loving rabbits, Deirdre and Babs have been invited to stay in a hotel by Mr Krapowski. He is a wily fox who promotes pop bands and Eddie hopes he’ll offer The Three Wise Monkeys a deal for a recording contract...

Reluctantly, the hotel manager handed over the keys. 

“This is most irregular, Young Mr Krapowski. I really need your brother’s permission to allocate rooms to you.” 

“Come on Hugo! It’s not like you’re full.”

“That’s not the point, sir. The Tropicana Hotel has a reputation to uphold.”

“#WhatADump,” whispered Deirdre.

“Well, if you’ll take a seat, I’ll find the register,” Hugo muttered.

Eddie looked around the decaying hotel reception with dismay. Undoubtedly it had once been grand, but over time, its red velvet furnishings had faded to a sickly, salmon pink and the gold tassels and trimmings were mildewed and green. As Eddie sat on the sofa, a puff of dust enveloped him and rose into the gloom. It was too much for the spider above Eddie’s head. He began to choke and with one final dust-laden cough, he dropped from his web and dangled lifelessly by a thread.

“Another one bites the dust,” remarked an ancient spider on one of the lanterns that hung from the ceiling. “If I were you, mate, I’d get out while you can,” he said to Eddie. 

“D’you think he’s right?” whispered Babs, “there’s something odd about this place. I haven’t seen a single guest.”

“They’re probably asleep in their rooms, like I want to be,” said Colin yawning. 

 “Look there’s another guest,” said Deirdre, “She keeps wandering in and out of the reception.”

“I don’t think she can see through that veil she’s wearing. She’s trying to open the panel in the wall.”

“The door’s to the left, Miss Havisham,” Hugo called to the elderly lady mouse. 

“Thank you, Hugo,” she trilled, stepping to the right and trying a different panel.

Taking a feather duster from under the desk, Hugo hobbled towards the old lady who was now rapping on the wooden panel with her walking stick.

“Now, now, Miss Havisham,” said Hugo, flicking the duster back and forth across what appeared to be the old lady’s veil. It disintegrated with each swipe, “there, let’s get rid of all those cobwebs.”
“I wish to make a complaint, Hugo. This door is stuck.”

He took her gently by the shoulders and turned her towards the large entrance to her left. 

“If I might make a suggestion, Miss Havisham, it’s best to keep out of the cellar. It’s full of cobwebs and you know how they cling to your fur.”

“Why on earth should I go into the cellar, Hugo?”

“I’ve no idea, Miss Havisham. But that’s why you’re covered in cobwebs.”

“Nonsense. Now please point me in the direction of my room.”

“It’s to the right and up the stairs… the other right, Miss Havisham.”

Hugo lumbered back to the desk and beckoned the weary group.

“Name?” he asked Babs.

‘Babs’n’Deirdre.’

He scribbled laboriously in a large book.

“Name?” he asked Deirdre. 

“Er…Deirdre.” 

He scribbled again. 

“Er, Hugo, she’s Babs and I’m Deirdre.”

He glared at the rabbits and crossed out the entries. 

“Name?”

“This could take a while,” whispered Brian with a sigh.

Hugo finally led them to their rooms. The water in the shower had been tepid but after some vigorous scrubbing, Eddie’s goose bumps were no longer glazed in custard. By the time he’d climbed into bed, Colin and Brian were top to tail in the other bed, snoring in time with each other.

“Rise ‘n shine, boys!” Eddie said the following morning as he pulled the threadbare curtains apart.
“Shut up!” said Brian pulling the duvet over his head. 

There was a loud knock at the door. 

“It’s Hugo with our breakfast!” said Eddie, peering through the spy hole. He opened the door.

 “Good morning, Mr Chicken and Sirs. Mr Krapowski asked me to inform you that you’re expected in the conference room in ten minutes.”

“You can put the tray here,” Eddie said clearing a space on the table. 

“Only if you want Miss Havisham to join you, sir,” Hugo said, “this is her breakfast.” He turned and carried on further up the corridor, followed by the delicious aroma of bacon and eggs.



“I hope there’s something for us to eat,” Colin said as they made their way down to the conference room, “I’m starving.”

Ahead of them a veiled Miss Havisham stepped into a broom cupboard. A mop fell out into the corridor, closely followed by a bucket. 

“Miss Havisham, can I help you?” Eddie asked.

“Perhaps you’d be good enough to direct me to the restaurant. My eyes are playing up this morning.”
Eddie brushed the cobwebs from her head. “Have you been in the cellar again, Miss Havisham?”

“Certainly not! Now, where’s the restaurant? While you ask me silly questions, the eggs are getting congealed.”

“But didn’t you have breakfast in your room earlier?”

“That was ages ago. Now, if you’d be so kind as to escort me to the restaurant…’ she said, tucking her paw under Eddie’s wing. 

“Er, it’s in the opposite direction, Miss Havisham,” he said, turning her so they were facing the same way, and tucking her other paw under his arm. “Let’s go.” 



The door to the restaurant was clearly marked.

“This way, Miss Havisham,” Eddie said as she walked past it.

Once he was satisfied she’d made it to a table, he followed the others towards the conference room.
The door opened and Mr Krapowski beckoned them, “Come on! We haven’t got all day!”

“What’s the rush?” Babs whispered. 

“#CrabbyKrapowski,” Deirdre replied.

“I hope there’s breakfast,” said Colin, “I’m starving.”

As they entered the conference room, cameras flashed and people stampeded towards them shouting questions.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” Mr Krapowski held up his paws and shouted above the roar, “there will be plenty of time to talk to the band later, please let The Three Wise Monkeys in.”

“#MorningMayhem!” said Babs.

“#WorseThanThat!” said Deirdre. “What on earth’s going on?”

Mr Krapowski led them to a table on a dais, in front of which were rows of chairs.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, please find a seat, ready for an important announcement.”

Mr Krapowski indicated that the band members should sit at the table and then placing a sheaf of papers in front of each one, he told the reporters to be ready with their cameras to photograph the signing of the ‘Deal of the Century’.

“You didn’t say you’d done a deal, Eddie,” Colin whispered. 

Eddie shrugged, “I haven’t but I expect Mr Krapowski’ll explain everything in a minute.”

“Right, Three Wise Monkeys, when I give the signal, I want everyone to sign their contracts here, and here and then tick this little box,” said Mr Krapowski.

“But we haven’t read ̶ “

“I’m offering you fame and fortune!” snapped Mr Krapowski, “Just sign!” 

“Yes, but we ought to read ̶ “

“Just sign the contract. You can read it later and if you don’t agree, there’s a cooling off period of three days. But you can’t keep the press waiting any longer,” said Mr Krapowski, “it’s now or never.”
“So, if we don’t agree with the contract, it won’t be binding?”

“Correct.”

“I’m not sure about this,” said Brian.

“Me neither,” said Colin.

“Look,” said Eddie, “if we don’t like it, we’ve got a three-days cooling off period. What can possibly go wrong?”

“Ready!” Mr Krapowski said to the reporters, “Sign!” he said to The Three Wise Monkeys.

The five members of The Three Wise Monkeys signed where Mr Krapowski had indicated, and ticked the box, as cameras clicked and flashed. 

“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. And now, I know many of you have questions for the superstars.”


“What a load of sexist nonsense!” said Babs after the press had exhausted their questions and left, “They didn’t ask how often Brian or Colin pluck their eyebrows!”

“Never mind,” said Colin, “When we’re rich beyond our wildest dreams, you can buy a newspaper and sack all the idiots, can’t they Eddie?”

Eddie was reading the contract with his beak wide open.

“Can’t they Eddie?”

Eddie leapt up and chased after Mr Krapowski, who was showing the last of the reporters out.
“You told me we could cancel this contract!” said Eddie.

“And you could have done, if you hadn't ticked that little box,” said Mr Krapowski, tapping the paper with his paw.

“But you told us to tick that box!”

“Didn't anyone ever tell you not to sign anything until you’ve read the fine print?”


“We've got to what?” said Babs, reading her copy of the contract. 

“Stop screeching!” said Eddie “You're giving me a headache!”

“Yes, but really! We've got to what?”

“Hand over our mobile phones…” read Deirdre, “Oh no! #CompletelyStuffed.” 

“Is that all you're worried about? Look at this!” shouted Eddie, “We can't leave the Tropicana Hotel without Mr Krapowski's permission! #TrussedUpLikeATurkey!”

“Ooh!” said Deirdre “Great hashtag.”

“Well technically,” said Brian smugly, “I can leave because I didn't sign my name on the contract.”
“You wrote something,” said Deirdre, “I saw you.” 

“Yeah,” said Brian “I thought there might be something dodgy about that fox, so I signed my contract ‘Colin’. I can walk out of here any time I please.” 

“So can I!” said Colin “Great minds think alike. I signed my contract ‘Brian’.”

“Sit down the pair of you,” said Eddie “if Mr Krapowski has got one contract signed ‘Brian’ and one signed ‘Colin’ do you think he's going to be bothered which of you numbskulls has signed it?”
Brian and Colin glared at each other and sat down again on the sagging bed. 

“Well what’re we gonna do?” asked Deirdre “We can't possibly perform twice a day, six days a week! It was exhausting enough doing last night’s show.”

“And what about the elephant’s knickers? How can we recreate that at each performance?” asked Babs bursting into tears. “#Doomed!”

“We’ve got to get out of this, Eddie. You’re the manager, manage things!” said Colin.

The others nodded. 

“We need to escape but Hugo seems to be everywhere. I tried to get out of the fire exit but he caught me,” said Deirdre, “I had to pretend I’d tripped and fallen through the door.”

“Like I said,” said Babs “#Doomed!” she sobbed hysterically.

“Shh, Babs! What’s that?” asked Brian.

“What?”

“There’s tapping outside our bedroom door.” He looked through the spy hole. “It’s Miss Havisham. She’s probably trying to find the restaurant for lunch.”

“Right!” said Eddie leaping up, “follow me! #EagleWithAPlan.” 


“Now, let’s get this straight,” said Miss Havisham, “You want me to take you to the restaurant?”
“Yes, please, Miss Havisham. It’s a sort of fire drill.”

“Well, of course. Follow me.”

“There’s just one thing, we need to be really quiet. We’re going to keep it from Hugo and then surprise him with how much we know about the fire escapes and regulations.”

“Say no more. I’ll be as quiet as a mouse,” she said bumping into a table and knocking over an enormous vase.

Colin pirouetted, caught the vase mid-air and slid along the corridor on his stomach holding it aloft.  

“Shh, young monkey! Hugo’ll hear,” said Miss Havisham, “Now, I’m sure the restaurant’s here somewhere.”

“This is the first floor, Miss Havisham. Are you certain?”

“Oh, yes. Ah!” she said opening a door which led to a back staircase. “Yes, this is it.”

At the bottom of the steps, she opened another door.

“Yes!” said Eddie excitedly.

“This isn’t the restaurant!” said Colin.

“No, it’s the cellar! We’re going to dig our way out,” said Eddie.

“What’s that about a cellar?” asked Miss Havisham.

“Nothing, Miss Havisham. Thank you for bringing us to the restaurant.” 


“It’s amazing what collective talents we have,” said Brian, “I didn’t know rabbits were so good at digging.”

“And I didn’t know monkeys were so good at climbing,” said Babs.

“I am not a monkey!” said Colin. 

“Well,” said Eddie, “now we’ve escaped from the cellar, we’d best go our separate ways. Mr Krapowski won’t be able to catch us if we’ve split up.”

“Bye, boys,” said Babs, wiping her eyes, “Deirdre and I are going back to Spudwell to get proper jobs. It’s been great knowing you. #LoveYouToBits.” She blew kisses as they set off towards town. 

“I’m going back to college,” said Colin, “I’ve always wanted to be an architect.”

“I’m going to Cakehall,” said Brian, “I’m going to work down the cheese mine. That’s been my dream since I was young.”

“And I’m going exploring,” said Eddie, “I’m going to hire a boat and row to the source of the Custard River.”

“And I’m going to the restaurant,” said Miss Havisham, tucking her paw under Eddie’s wing. 


Links to previous stories in The Macaroon Chronicles series
The Macaroon Chronicles Prologue and the Three Wise Monkeys - http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-macaroon-chronicles-prologue-and.html?m=0


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 
Hugs from Dawn

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