Saturday 4 April 2020

Seduced by Zeros

by Dawn Knox

Irn Bru 

 Previously, Eddie (the chicken), Brian (the monkey) and Gideon (the pig) are penniless and in an attempt to earn some money, they become life models in an artist’s studio. Eddie and Gideon lose their dignity but Brian loses his hair when the artist decides that for her needs, Brian must undergo a full body wax.

 “Size?” asked the shop assistant.

“Small!” snapped Brian, “Obviously!” He threw his arms wide to display his puny, hairless body and then remembered his nakedness and recovered his modesty with his hands, “And nothing garish, I don’t like being stared at!” 

“Don’t take it out on the shop assistant,” said Gideon. “It’s not her fault you’ve just suffered a depilatory humiliation.”

“How about this one?” Eddie asked, holding up a brown onesy. “It’s quite understated.”

“It’s got ears on the hood,” said Brian. “I’d look like a teddy bear.”

“Nothing wrong with that, old chap,” said Gideon.  “Everyone loves a cuddly teddy.”

“I’m a monkey. I have my pride, you know.”

“How about this?” asked the shop assistant.“It’s one of our most popular onesies for those of reduced stature.”

“You mean infants,” said Gideon looking at the red and yellow superhero onesy.

Eddie placed his wing over his eyes and waited for Brian to explode. 

“Yes!” said Brian, “I love it! I’ll take it!”

Once in the street, Eddie eyed Brian in his newly-purchased Superchimp onesy. “Are you sure about this? I thought you didn’t like to be stared at?” 

“I’m fine. In fact, I feel like a different animal. Taller, stronger, braver…”

“With that padded six-pack on your front, old chap, you look ridicu ̶ “

“Resplendant!” said Eddie barging Gideon into a shop doorway. 

“Resplendant!” whispered Brian breathlessly. His eyes were shining.

“I do beg your pardon, madam and young sir,” Gideon said to a bear and her young cub who he’d narrowly avoided knocking to the ground.

“Ooh look, Mummy! It’s Superchimp!” said the cub pulling at his mother’s hand. 

“Yes, dear,” she said, and glaring over her shoulder at Superchimp and friends, she dragged her offspring across the road.

Brian placed his hands on his hips and puffed out his padded six-pack, “Impressive, eh?”

“Well… it’s all right,” said Eddie, glancing at Gideon to ensure he didn’t risk upsetting Brian. At least while he was admiring himself in his onesy, he wasn’t moaning about having been waxed all over.

All right?” squeaked Brian, “Merely all right? Check me out! I’m ripped!” 

“I hope you’ve still got the receipt. We ought to take it back straight away. Unless it was you who tore it…” Gideon said patting his pockets, “I’ve got a sewing kit somewhere.”

“Not ripped, ripped!” said Brian, “it means I’ve got lots of muscles.”

“For crying out loud,” said Eddie, “they’re not real!”

“Well, at least he’s stopped moaning,” said Gideon. 

“Oh crikey, what’s he doing now?” asked Eddie as Brian ran ahead with arms outstretched as if he were flying.

Some way along the street, a lemur ran towards Brian. He placed his bongos on the ground and threw his arms round Superchimp.

“Brian? Is it really you?” cried Colin.  “You’re looking great!”

“You’ll love it!” said Colin, “I play the bongos and I’ve already made some really good friends. The money’s not bad either.”

“But why aren’t you in an office somewhere designing buildings?” asked Eddie, “Didn’t you finish your architect’s course?”

“Nah! I realised I’m not cut out to spend all day in an office. What I need is excitement. I want that rush of adrenalin. And that’s what I get at the Circus Minimus. From what Brian’s told me, you haven’t got jobs, so why not come along and see if you like it. I know the ringmaster and he’d be happy to take you on, if you want. 

“Doing what, old chap?” asked Gideon.

“Well, Brian plays the guitar, Eddie does a mean moonwalk. And you? Well from your suit, I’d guess you were a magician. Am I right?”

“I’m actually a sp ̶ “

“He’s a magician,” cut in Eddie.

“So, we have a guitarist and a magician. But I’m afraid I don’t need any more dancers, Mr Bald Eagle,” said Phineas Frogg, ringmaster of the Circus Minimus.  “Is there anything else you can do?”

“Well ̶ “

“To be honest, I don’t really need any more acts at all, but as a special favour to Colin… I’ll tell you what, you can all perform at the same time. The pig can walk round the arena doing a few magic tricks while the small supercreature flies overheard performing stunts ̶ “

“But Mr Frogg, I play guitar, I don’t actually fly ̶ “

“Of course, you do,” said Phineas, “A splendid fellow such as yourself, of course you do.”

“Well,” said Brian puffing out his six-pack, “if you put it like that.”

“For crying out loud!” whispered Eddie.

“And you, Mr Bald Eagle can be the lion tamer,” said Phineas.

“But I don’t know anything about taming lions except that it’s very dangerous!”

“Nonsense, my lions are pussy cats. Well, that’s settled then. Be here at seven o’clock for tonight’s performance.”

“Shouldn’t we rehearse or something?” asked Brian. 

“Not at all. Circus Minimus thrives on spontaneity.”

“They’re not pussy cats! They’re real lions!” said Eddie aghast.

“Stop press!” said the clown leading them into the arena. “The lion tamer has correctly identified the lions.”

“There’s no need for sarcasm.”

“There’s always need for sarcasm,” said the clown, opening the door of the cage and simultaneously tripping over his enormous boots and pushing Eddie and Brian inside. Gideon had skipped nimbly sideways and was edging away on the tips of his trotters. The clown slammed the door shut and pulled on the rope to raise the barrier between the two cringing creatures who were pressing themselves against the bars of the cage, and the pride of lions. 

The audience went wild… then fell silent in anticipation, watching the magnificent beasts with twitching tails and unblinking, amber eyes fixed on the cowering chicken and Superchimp with the crumpled six-pack. The pig in the magician’s outfit ran back and forth outside the lions’ cage, keeping a watchful eye on the clown and shouting encouragement at his friends. 

Other than the twitching of the lions’ tails, nothing inside the cage moved, until one of the lions leapt gracefully off his platform and strode towards Eddie and Brian. 

The audience gasped and sat forward on their seats. 

The lion shook his mane, sat down metres from Eddie and Superchimp, roared loudly and raked the air with his claws.

“Any chance you could make a start, mate?” he whispered out of the corner of his mouth, making it look like he was snarling, “Only me an’ the lads wanted to watch the game later an’ if you don’t ‘urry up with your taming lark, we’ll miss the kick-off.”


“Yes, you know the sort o’ thing! You crack your whip and I lick my lips and back away as if I’m scared, then I creep forward when you’re looking in the opposite direction. That sort o’ thing. But if you don’t hurry up, the crowd’ll get restless – they like to see a bit of action. And if they start leaving the big top, Mr Frogg don’t like it, see?”

Before Eddie could pick up the whip that the lion was pushing towards him surreptitiously with his paw, one of the lion cubs bounded forward and grabbed Brian, “Look, Mama! Superchimp!” 

There was a sharp intake of breath from the audience and lions alike, as he scampered back with Brian in his mouth, and dropped him in front of his mother.

“How many times have I told you not to touch things that don’t belong to you?” the lioness said, “and you’re not supposed to interfere with the lion tamer, it’s against health and safety!” 

“I didn’t!” squeaked the lion cub, “he’s not the lion tamer.” 

The lioness, aware that according to regulations, she shouldn’t approach the lion tamer, peered at Superchimp uncertainly as if wondering whether to push him under her rear end and hide him, hoping the crowd wouldn’t notice or to throw him back to Eddie. She made up her mind and picking Brian up, she launched him with such force that he spun through the air, way above the reach of Eddie who tried to catch him. Sailing over Eddie’s head, Brian slammed into the cage bars, where he clung, quivering with fear. 

The audience rose to their feet as one and cheered.

“It’s all right, let go, I’ll catch you,” said Eddie standing beneath him with his wings outspread but Brian was past speech and just shook his head. 

The crowd stamped and those with hats threw them in the air.

The lion cleared his throat, “When you’re ready, mate… me and the lads would really be obliged…” he whispered to Eddie. 

A frog’s smile is usually rather wide but that of Phineas Frogg almost split his head in half.
 “Masterful!” he said, “the audience loved you! You’re stars! Mr Bald Eagle, you had the lions eating out of your err, wings and as for Superchimp’s flying stunt! Simply brilliant! I’m not sure what the magician was doing but who cares? The crowd loved it! Once word goes round, we’ll be sold out for the rest of the week – or month even!”

“I don’t think I can go through that again,” said Eddie, “I’m sorry but my nerves are so jangly, I don’t think I’m going to sleep for a week.”

“Nor me,” said Brian, “I’ve got friction burns on my hands from slipping down the bars.”
“I’ll be here tomorrow,” said Gideon.

“Well, all due respect, Mr Guttle, it was what went on in the lions’ cage that I was after. It was pure showbiz. Lions advancing menacingly and Mr Bald Eagle pushing them back with his whip and chair. Superchimp flying back and forth through the air ̶ “ 

“I only went through the air once,” said Brian, “and that was enough for a lifetime.” 

“And the lions weren’t actually menacing…” said Eddie.

“Of course not. It’s all an illusion. But you two are masters of illusion.” 

“We are?”

“Yes, so I’ve contacted the owner of Circus Minimus. He’ll be arriving shortly but in the meantime, he’s authorised me to offer you a contract…”

“I’m not sure. We haven’t had too much success with contracts in the past,” said Eddie.

“And I want to play guitar,” said Brian, “I can’t do that with sore hands.”

“Let’s not be hasty,” said Phineas. As he took a gulp of air, his eyeballs receded into their sockets and almost disappeared. He slid the contract across the desk, towards Eddie.

“How much?” gasped Eddie, his beak falling open as he peered at the paper. 

“Eddie!” said Brian, placing a restraining hand on the chicken’s wing, “Remember what happened the last time we signed a contract?”

“But Brian! Just check out those zeros!”

“Do we really want to sell our souls?” Brian said piously. He glanced at the figure Eddie was pointing at, “Yep, that seems a reasonable amount for a soul. Where’s the pen?”

“Here, take mine,” said Gideon fishing in his jacket pocket.

“Is there some problem?” Phineas asked.

“No!” said Eddie and Brian in unison from beneath the desk where they’d dived when it looked like Gideon was withdrawing a pen from his pocket. 

“Of course, you wouldn’t sign a contract without your old pal, Gideon, would you chaps?”
“No,” said Eddie and Brian, still cowering beneath the desk. 

“Have you killed anyone with a poison dart yet, or is it safe to come out?” asked Brian.

“Of course, it’s safe,” said Gideon “and I’ve already signed my name.”

Brian and Eddie crawled out from under the desk and signed the contract with Gideon’s pen.
Phineas rubbed his slimy hands together with glee, “Excellent! So, when the owner comes later, I can tell him I’ve secured the hottest new act in Hummus-on-Sea – indeed, perhaps on the whole of the Isle of Macaroon. Now, gentlemen, a toast?”

He poured everyone a tumbler of whisky and raised his aloft, “To? Now, what are you going to call yourselves…?”

 Before anyone could answer, the intercom crackled and a tinny voice rang out, “Mr Krapowski’s here for you, Mr Frogg. He’s come to meet the new act.”

“Thank you, Marsha, send him in.” 

He turned back to Brian, Eddie and Gideon, but they were nowhere to be seen. 

“I can’t believe we were so stupid!” said Eddie gasping for breath. They’d jumped out of the window and run down the street, not stopping until they’d reached their apartment.

“Yes, we were seduced by all those zeros… Again!” said Brian, “What are we going to do now? Mr Krapowski’s not going to be kindly disposed towards us after we got out of that other contract.”
“Well, technically, we didn’t get out of that contract, it was Gideon who bought it with one of his bouncing cheques.”

“Steady on, old chap! You wouldn’t leave me to take the blame, would you?”


“No!” said Brian with his hand clenched over his padded six-pack, “We wouldn’t. We stand for Right and Justice. We stand for Honour and Integrity…”

“That onesy has gone to your head,” said Eddie. “Tomorrow, I vote we go back and buy that teddy bear suit for you…”

“Tomorrow,” said Brian, “we may not be alive if Mr Krapowski sees that contract.”

“Well, I may have some very good news for you chaps,” said Gideon, “I believe I used the pen with disappearing ink, so, very soon, our signatures will be fading from sight.”

“I’ve always said you’re a fine chap,” said Eddie, “one of the best, in fact.”

“And there’s no way we’d have let Gideon take the blame single-handed, is there?” asked Brian.

“Certainly not,” said Eddie, “we stand for Right and Justice, Honour and Integrity, don’t we?”

“Unless there are lots of zeros,” Eddie added under his breath.

Links to previous stories in The Macaroon Chronicles series
The Macaroon Chronicles Prologue and the Three Wise Monkeys

No comments:

Post a Comment