by Dawn Knox
Eddie eased the battered van into the car park.
“Stop over there on the left,” said the sat nav.
“Mind your own business,” said Eddie driving to the quay’s edge. “I want to park here and look at the boats.”
“There are hardly any boats here,” sat nav said. “Just one old tub further along.”
Eddie pulled on the handbrake and sat back, his wings crossed over his chest. “I don’t intend to be bossed around by a navigational aid,” he said, as a bucket of what appeared to be whitewash hit the windscreen. A flock of seagulls circled and screeched overhead.
“Serves you right,” said the sat nav. “I told you not to park here.”
“Don’t try to pretend you knew that was going to happen,” said Eddie putting on the windscreen wipers.
“I know all sorts of things,” said the sat nav smugly.
“She has friends in high places!” said Brian, pointing at the seagulls.
“Very droll, small person,” said the sat nav, “but you would do well to listen to me in the future.”
“Yeah, yeah!” said Eddie.
“Why is everyone obsessed with size?” asked Brian.
“Just ignore her, I’m smaller than you and I don’t care,” said Colin, “and she’s just a machine. She hasn’t even got legs!”
“I don’t need legs,” said Sat Nav. “By the way, if you four gentlemen think you’re going off to your luxury apartment again and leaving me here on my own in this crummy van, think again…”
“There’ll be no more luxury apartment,” said Gideon sadly, “now we’ve been evicted.”
“Never mind,” said Colin, “Look on the bright side, we’ve got a new home and a new business.”
“You’re sure this boat is as good as you’ve been promised?” asked Eddie, “I thought you said it’d be parked here. I didn’t see it as we drove in. The only boat I can see is that old rust-bucket further up.” He pointed out of the side window at a decrepit boat moored along the quay.
“No, it’s not that one. That’s nothing like the photo at all,” said Colin, looking at the details about the boat they’d bought.
“I’m surprised you can see anything through the windscreen,” said the sat nav sweetly.
“Shall we get out and look for it?” asked Brian. “I’ve got an umbrella.” He looked up at the seagulls still wheeling overhead.
“You’ll need wellington boots if you’re going to get out of the van, old chap,” said Gideon., “It’s all over the ground too”.
“Or,” said the sat nav “you could…”
“Okay, okay!” snapped Eddie, ramming the gear stick into reverse and driving to the spot the sat nav had suggested earlier.
“What’s the boat called, Colin?” asked Brian as they walked along the quayside.
“Soup John Bee.”
“Don’t you mean Sloop John B, old chap?”
“No, it’s not a sloop. It’s a boat that’s been specially built to sail through this sort of soup. Bouillabaisse isn’t the easiest stuff to sail through. It’s all the bits in it that make it tricky. Vichyssoise is much easier to sail through but I couldn’t find anything within our price range on the other side of Macaroon.”
“I knew there’d be a problem!” said Eddie, “nothing could be as good as you made this business venture sound.”
“Of course, it can,” said Colin, “and anyway, I’ve got a bigger stake in this than any of you, I’ve sunk my life savings in it, so I’ve got more to lose. I’ve done my homework and what’s more, someone responded to my first advert in the Macaroon Chronicle and we’ve got a booking today.”
“Really?” said Eddie, “Well, we’d best find the right boat and make sure everything’s ship-shape.”
“Did you say Soup John Bee?” asked Brian who’d walked ahead of the others, “because I think I can see it.”
When the others caught up to Brian, there was a sharp intake of breath.
“Seriously?” said Eddie, “We own that?”
“Well, I own the biggest share,” said Colin with a smile.
“It’s stunning!” said Eddie.
“Are they going to pipe us aboard?” asked Brian.
“What crew? We’re the crew,” said Colin.
“But we don’t know how to sail a boat.”
“Here,” said Colin handing out books, “this is a crash course.”
“Don’t be so childish, Brian!” said Colin.
Eddie ignored them both, “But didn’t you say we had a booking for a fishing trip today? We won’t have time to stock up and learn how to sail the boat. What time’s the client arriving?”
“We’ve got an hour to get ready,” said Colin, “but don’t worry. I’ll go and get some supplies, you familiarise yourself with the boat. It’ll be easy. All we have to do is start the engine and steer.”
“But what about fishing? I don’t know anything about it,” said Eddie.
“Stop worrying. We’re sailing on the Bouillabaisse Sea; how hard can it be to catch fish? They don’t call it fish soup for nothing. It would be much harder in the Vichyssoise Ocean but we can’t fail here, can we? Honestly, you three are so negative. What can possibly go wrong?”
When Colin arrived back at the boat with boxes of provisions, he was frowning.
“The client phoned me. He’ll be arriving earlier than expected and he’s bringing a guest.”
“Is that a problem?” asked Eddie, “You look rather worried.”
“No, nothing to worry about but I’ve bought some new outfits so our guests will feel at home,” said Colin biting his lower lip.
“Sailors’ outfits?” asked Brian.
He unpacked four clown costumes.
There was silence for a few minutes while Brian, Eddie and Gideon surveyed the colourful wigs, red noses, enormous shoes and baggy suits with pom-pom buttons.
“Why?” asked Eddie slowly.
“Well, I didn’t realise when he first booked, but it turns out that by chance, our first client is Phineas Frogg and I thought it might make him feel at home.”
“Just put it on!” snapped Colin, “Do it now! Mr Frogg and his guest have just pulled into the carpark.”
Three clowns stood to attention as Mr Frogg and his guest walked up the gangplank. He clapped his hands together in delight, “Oh, how wonderful! It’s like home from home, isn’t it Mr Krapowski?”
Eddie squawked in alarm, “You didn’t say anything about Mr Krapowski!” he said out of the side of his beak.
“I didn’t know he was coming, I swear! …Well, not to begin with,” whispered Colin.
“Ah! So now the clown costumes make sense!” said Eddie.
Colin gulped, “I don’t think I feel very well.”
The fox scowled at the clowns, “Let’s hope they’re more professional than they look, eh, Frogg?”
“Well, this is a new enterprise. I expect they’re just experiencing a few teething problems. I was the first to respond to their advert in the Macaroon Gazette and as their first client, I got a really good deal.” He turned to the clowns. “Now which one of you is Mr Colin?”
Eddie turned to Brian. Brian turned to Gideon. Gideon pointed to the clown draped over the side of the ship.
“I think it might take him a while to get his soup-legs,” said Eddie “so, if you’d like to go aft, we’ll serve some drinks and get underway.”
Behind enormous noses, Gideon’s and Brian’s eyes swivelled right and left, unsure which way was ‘aft’, until Eddie jerked his head towards the rear of the boat indicating which way they should go.
They gestured silently to each other, eyes wide in horror.
“D’you think he’ll recognise us?”
“No, just keep cool and act like a clown.”
Colin groaned loudly and lost more of his breakfast over the gunwale.
“We haven’t even got out into the open soup!” said Brian “what’s he going to be like when it starts getting a bit choppy?”
“Drinks!” roared Mr Krapowski from the aft of the boat.
“Will he ever stop whining?” Brian whispered to Eddie.
“Just be grateful he hasn’t recognised us yet. If he had, he’d have made us all walk the plank.”
“More drinks!” shouted Mr Krapowski, “And will one of you clowns move this boat. We’ve pulled all the fish bits out of this area. Let’s move!”
“Aye, aye, sir!” said Eddie, “I’m trying but there seems to be a problem.”
“I thought you said they ran a tight ship, Frogg” Mr Krapowski said.
“They’re doing their best, sir!”
“Clowns! All of them!”
“I think there’s something tangled round the propeller,” said Eddie flicking through a boat engine manual, “it could be a bit of onion.”
“Well fix it!” yelled Mr Krapowski.
“Where’s the propeller, old chap?” whispered Gideon.
“You!” shouted Mr Krapowski at the crumpled clown slumped over the side of the boat, “You haven’t done anything since we set off. You’re half way in the soup anyway, you go and fix the propeller…”
He seized Colin by the pom-poms and tipped him over the side.
At that instant, the engine roared into life.
“Obviously not the propeller, then,” said Eddie running an oily wingtip down the page of the manual.
“Clown overboard!” shouted Brian and he flung a life ring at the bedraggled figure with the green face who was looking up from the Bouillabaisse. His wig floated like a drowned animal next to him and his enormous, red nose had disappeared.
“I know you!” shouted Mr Krapowski, “You’re one of The Three Wise Monkeys! You and your friends cost me a fortune! Just let me get my hands on you!”
“I’m not sure what you boys did to Mr Krapowski,” said Phineas “but I’m very peeved he took it out on me too! Sailing off and leaving us on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean is mutiny!” His tiny arms were crossed over his puffed-out chest.
“It’s a long story,” said Eddie.
“We’ve got nothing but time,” said Phineas.
“I’m not so sure,” said Brian, “I don’t think we have much time at all. The island is sinking.”
“Rising soup levels?” asked Colin, whose green tinge had begun to fade now he was on dry land.
“No, old chap,” I’d say it had more to do with five fellows standing on this slice of baguette which is slowly disintegrating as it sinks into the Bouillabaisse.”
“This is outrageous!” said Phineas. He gulped and his eyes disappeared into his head. “He’s my employer. How dare he leave me in such danger! There must be laws against treating employees like this!”
“I think Mr Krapowski is a law unto himself,” said Brian.
There was silence for a few minutes while they contemplated their feet. Soup crept over the edge of the bread island. It glugged around their ankles.
“We could always swim for it,” suggested Colin. “We’ve got a life ring.”
“I can’t swim,” said Phineas.
“But you’re a frog!”
“No need to point out the obvious. I might be a frog but I still can’t swim.”
“Neither can I,” said Eddie, looking to the heavens for help. He paused and then pointing at the sky, he added, “What’s that?”
“Seagulls!” said Brian, “And they’re heading straight for us! Why have I never got an umbrella when I need one?”
“You’d have thought they’d have had enough target practice on my van… wait a minute! What’s that flying at the front of them?”
“I’ve never seen a bird like that, old thing,” said Gideon shading his eyes with a trotter, “it hasn’t got a head or wings. And it’s got whirly things on each side.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it at all,” said Colin.
“Ahoy there!” shouted the flying thing.
“Sat nav?” said Eddie, his beak dropping open.
“I saw Mr Krapowski return on that boat without you and thought you needed help.”
“Sat Nav! I’ve never been so pleased to see anyone in my life, although I didn’t know you looked like that. Normally, you’re just a voice.”
“I hired a drone at great expense to bring me out to find you. Now listen, I have a plan…”
“Why is everyone obsessed with size?” Brian asked.
“Oh, stop moaning! At least the seagulls airlifted you and Colin off that island and brought you back to Macaroon. Us bigger chaps were up to our armpits in soup by the time you sailed back for us,” said Eddie.
“Yes, but seagulls’ beaks are really sharp!” Brian said rubbing his shoulders, “And they tore my shirt.”
“What happened to Mr Krapowski?” asked Phineas, ignoring Brian’s complaints.
“The last time we saw him, he was dangling between two seagulls heading towards the Meringue Mountains,” said Colin. “They’d done a good job of camouflaging him. He was completely white. I understand the seagulls used him for moving target practice before they carried him away. Anyway, he won’t be back any time soon, so we can all relax and enjoy a lovely evening in the middle of the ocean”
“Who’s navigating?” asked Brian looking around.
“I am,” said the sat nav over the PA system, “Turn hard to starboard, just after that lump of fish.”
“So, who’s steering?”
“Phineas. Apparently, he’s always had a yearning to travel. He’s in his element. So, we can all just put our feet up and enjoy the sunset,” said Eddie.
“Hoist up the John Bee’s sail, dum de dum de de dee…” sang the sat nav.
“For crying out loud,” said Eddie, “I hope she doesn’t keep that up. Can’t you turn her down?”
“There’s nothing like life on the ocean wave, is there?” said Colin, switching the PA system off.
“You’ve changed your tune, you almost turned yourself inside out with soup-sickness this morning,” said Brian.
“It seems I’ve got my soup-legs at last,” said Colin doing a lively hornpipe.
- The Macaroon Chronicles Prologue and the Three Wise Monkeys - http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-macaroon-chronicles-prologue-and.html?m=0
- #ChickenInCustard - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/chickenincustard.html
- The Fine Print - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/the-fine-print.html
- French for Cheese - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/french-for-cheese.html
- Porkies and Espiggy-onage (Lies and Spies) – https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/03/porkies-and-espiggy-onage-lies-and-spies.html
- Nearly Death by Chocolate - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/03/nearly-death-by-chocolate.html
- Waxing Lyrical - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/03/waxing-lyrical.html
- Seduced by Zeros - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/04/seduced-by-zeros.html
About the author
Dawn’s latest book is ’The Basilwade Chronicles’ published by Chapeltown Books. 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. Dawn has 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