Monday, 22 June 2020

We Need a Thumbs Up!

by Dawn Knox

camomile tea


Previously: After accidentally purchasing an island resort, Eddie and chums seem to be making a success of their new venture. But the future of their business rests on how impressed their next visitor is with her stay. While Eddie is worrying about the visit, he makes two unwelcome discoveries...


Eddie stared at the shadowy ceiling, listening to his alarm clock ticking. It was ten past two in the morning but he couldn’t sleep.
 
He had Waldemeyer to thank for that. 

The rest of the team were all working hard – Brian had shown himself to be a reasonable handyman, capable of carrying out simple repairs. In his spare time, he’d taken over the role of fitness instructor, running classes for the guests who’d booked the resort’s Health Package. In fact, Brian was so enamoured of his new job, he’d ordered snorkelling equipment and had organised a course for clients who wanted to explore the reef. 

Colin, when he wasn’t helping Babs and Deirdre in the kitchen, had set up a spa where he gave facials and massages. It had taken him a while to work out which were the best oils to use on the furriest of their guests and his initial attempts had been rather messy although he immediately offered a complimentary shampoo and blow-dry to anyone who’d become too gummy or oil-slicked. He’d also mastered the technique of running up and down clients’ spines in his bare feet which seemed to have resulted in miraculous cures of back pain.

Gideon was taking the island’s security seriously. He’d carried out several risk assessments and had also been persuaded to keep the swimming pool clean when Eddie assured him it was part of a security guard’s job. Keeping clients healthy and happy, Eddie had said and, although reluctant at first, Gideon had finally agreed. As an added bonus, Eddie was satisfied Gideon was usefully employed, yet not a danger to others because mostly, swimming pool cleaning equipment didn’t involve sharp implements.

Deirdre and Babs took it in turn to look after the kittens and to cook and clean. At first, they’d insisted the jobs were divided equally with the others doing their fair share of domestic chores. But after Colin had glued two of the kittens together when he’d been trying out a beauty treatment on them, Brian had almost drowned three of them whilst teaching them to swim and Eddie had left them unattended next to the champagne fountain, the rabbits had changed their minds.
So, other than the fact that there weren’t more of them to share the tasks, Eddie was happy with the team.

Waldemeyer, however, with his memory lapses, had jeopardised the entire island resort.
Eddie had thought the gull would be safe in reception, handing out keys and being nominally in charge of Babs and Deirdre, who were perfectly capable of organising themselves but too tactful to tell Waldemeyer. However, one of his tasks was to fly back and forth between Macaroon and Eagles’ Rest with the post which he seemed to have been doing successfully. What Eddie hadn’t realised was that Waldemeyer had occasionally placed the incoming post in a pile on the desk and had then forgotten it. This had resulted in Eddie not receiving the letter informing the management of Eagles’ Rest that television presenter, Ursula Best and her film crew would be arriving in a fortnight’s time to feature the resort on her show, North, South, East and Best. If the suggested date wasn’t convenient, the island’s management were requested to offer a different time. 

Of course, no one with their head screwed on correctly would reschedule Ursula and her team. A thumbs up from Ursula on her show ensured success to a holiday resort while a thumbs down was a signal to pack your bags and close your establishment. Such was Ursula’s influence, no one had ever recovered from a thumbs down. 

So, Ursula Best coming to Eagle’s Rest should have been cause to gather around the champagne fountain and to celebrate… if they’d had the fortnight’s warning that Ursula’s PA had given them.
Waldemeyer, however, had failed to deliver the letter to Eddie for a whole week. And now, they had a problem. There was insufficient time to hire new staff and to train them. How were they going to impress Ursula and her film crew and staff for two nights if they were understaffed? So far, they’d had a large group of policemen and several families stay and although it was exhausting, Eddie’s team had managed to handle everything. But under Ursula’s critical eyes, how could they ensure her visit was perfect? 

Eddie had a pile of lists he’d prepared of things to do before the big arrival. But inevitably, he accepted that some of them wouldn’t get done. He could only hope no one in Ursula’s crew wanted to play golf because he’d noticed when he’d walked across the course the other day that the grass would soon need cutting. He’d passed several times before and noticed it was almost at the point where it needed to be cut but somehow, it never got to the stage where it was actually too long. He’d wondered if perhaps there was such a thing as a lawn which could regulate its own growth, however, there was so much to do, he’d soon forgotten about it. But surely it would need mowing soon? Perhaps he could persuade Gideon to do it… He’d then dismissed the idea – machines weren’t the pig’s strong point – especially if they involved pointed bits or blades which inexplicably, could, without warning, become airborne…

The alarm clock now read half past two and the ticking was so irritating, Eddie decided to get up and compose more lists. He knew what needed to be done, he simply didn’t have sufficient hours in the short time which remained, for his team to do it. 

He’d have to prioritise. And he’d do that in his office, away from the dratted ticking. However, there was something else annoying him. A noise other than the tick-tock of the clock. It was coming from outside and it sounded like the hum of an engine. Eddie got up and listened at the window. He could hear the waves lapping on the beach and the cicadas in the forest but the breeze blew this way and that, confusing his ears. One minute the humming seemed to come from the soup and the next, inland. Unable to pinpoint the source of the sound, Eddie’s imagination began to suggest possibilities.  

The humming could be the throb of a distant motor – possibly a boat. There was only one person who might arrive at Eagles’ Rest at this hour - Manny Moore – who’d returned to cause mischief! That would be bad enough during normal times but now with Ursula’s visit imminent, Eddie had to do something. He grabbed a torch and hurried to the beach.


Once on the sand, Eddie could still hear the droning of an engine but he could tell it was coming from behind him, somewhere on the island. As he strained his ears, he became aware of a different noise which was drifting across the soup. He waved his torch about, illuminating the darkened waves.
Yes, it was definitely the sound of humming. 

But it wasn’t coming from an engine. 

This was a tuneless version of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

“Who’s there?” yelled Eddie, swinging his torch in frenzied arcs, trying to locate the source of the noise.

The humming stopped. 

“It’s me,” said the voice. 

“Well, who are you?”

“And who are you?”

“I’m Eddie, proprietor of Eagles’ Rest. Show yourself and stop making that racket.”

“Racket?” the voice said in hurt tones, “It’s a hard piece to hum, you know.”

“Well don’t try!” said Eddie, “Some people want to sleep! Why don’t you just go away! You’re not welcome on this island!”

“I’m not on the island.”

Eddie pointed his torch beam toward the source of the sound. His first thought was that there had been a shipwreck. Poking out of the soup about fifty yards away was the silhouette of a triangular shape – rather like the pointy prow of a rowing boat standing on end. It had an enormous pink hole in it, which was almost mouth-shaped. 

Eddie dropped the torch and stumbled backwards with shock. 

Bobbing in the soup in front of him was an enormous shark. 

“G…go away!” shrieked Eddie, “Be off with you!” 

“That’s very rude! Why should I?” came the calm but rather hurt voice of the shark.

“Why? Why?” screeched Eddie, “Because you’re a shark, that’s why!”

“That’s discrimination. You can’t go about discriminating against folk because they belong to some minority group. Haven’t you heard of the LGBTQS movement?” 

“I’ve heard of LGBTQ.”

“Well, I’m the ‘S’ of LGBTQS.”

 “You can’t just jump on a bandwagon and add letters to things willy-nilly!”

“Come in the soup and say that!” the shark shouted. 

Two torch beams swung over the sand as Brian and Colin stumbled sleepily towards Eddie.

“What’s all the shouting about, Eddie?” Colin asked with a yawn.

“Is that the lemur who sometimes wears a pink tutu?” called the shark over the surface of the dark soup. 

“Who wants to know?” asked Colin, now wide awake.

“It’s a shark!” screeched Eddie, “The soup’s shark-infested! What are we going to do?”

Colin ignored Eddie, “How d’you know who I am?” he called out, “It’s pitch black.”

“I’ve got an excellent sense of smell,” said the shark, sounding very pleased with himself.

“You can smell me?” Colin shrieked “Do I smell?” He sniffed his armpits in panic.

“Yes, you’re quite distinct from all the others. I’d recognise Chanel No. 5 anywhere.”

“Oh, I see,” said Colin with relief, “I thought you meant I smelled.”

“Oh no, not of body odour... You smell delectable. The monkey, on the other hand… Well, let’s say I can always tell when he’s on the beach—”

“What?” shouted Brian, “I don’t smell! And what d’you mean you can always tell? How long have you been spying on us?” 

“Did someone mention spying?” asked Gideon who stepped out of the shadows, tripped over a rock and after picking himself up, joined them at the soup edge.

“Smells! Spying! What’s the matter with you all? We have a monumental problem! Out there is a Great White Shark!” Eddie screamed, “We have Ursula Best and her film crew arriving shortly. She won’t want to go snorkelling in shark-infested soup! We have to get rid of it!” 

“Did you say Ursula Best’s coming here?” the shark asked, “Well, in that case, I’m definitely not going anywhere. I’ve always wanted to be on television.” 

“’Scuse me, Eddie old chap,” said Gideon, “but if you don’t mind me saying so, I think you’re going about this the wrong way. You need a softer touch—”

“Touch?” yelled Eddie, hopping from foot to foot, “I don’t want to touch it!”

“I simply meant, we ought to offer the shark a bribe.”

Eddie stopped hopping. “Actually, Gideon, that’s not a bad idea. Now what can we offer a shark?”

“Eddie!” Babs called from the back of the beach, “Can’t you keep the noise down! You’ve woken up the kittens. Deidre’s having a terrible job calming them down.”

“How about a kitten?” Eddie whispered.

“Eddie!” said Colin and Brian together.

“It was just a joke,” muttered Eddie. 

“Who’s telling jokes?” asked Waldemeyer hopping down the beach to join the others. 

“No one. It’s no laughing matter. The soup is shark-infested,” said Eddie gloomily, “And Ursula Best wants to go snorkelling around the reef. Although…” he added slowly, “Suppose she went snorkelling and never returned? She couldn’t give us a thumbs down then…”

“There is no way I’m taking someone in the soup if I know there’s a Great White Shark on the prowl,” said Brian.

“A Great White Shark? Oh! You mean Chopper,” said Waldemeyer. “He wouldn’t hurt anyone!”

“You know him?” Eddie’s voice rose an octave.

“Of course. It’s Chopper O’Flynn.” He held one wing up to the side of his beak and shouted “Hellooo Chopper!” across the soup. 

“Hellooo, Waldemeyer!” came the reply.

“Well, if you know him, Waldemeyer, p’raps you can persuade him to swim off. We don’t need a shark around this island and we certainly don’t need him while the television crew is here.”

“He’ll be no trouble,” said Waldemeyer. 

“No trouble!” wailed Eddie, “He’s a shark. Sharks bite chunks out of people. They’re bad news!”

“Not Chopper,” said Waldemeyer, then lowering his voice, he added, “He doesn’t like it mentioned but he had gum disease a few years back—”

“I’m not interested in his dental report!” Eddie said. 

“Ssh! Keep your voice down, he’s very touchy about it,” said Waldemeyer, “All his teeth fell out. He’s got a set of dentures of course. Just for appearances but he can’t go hunting anymore. If he bites into something, his dentures fall out.” 

“Is that supposed to make me feel sorry for him?” Eddie shouted.

“Sorry for whom?” Waldemeyer asked.

“Focus, Waldemeyer! We’re talking about Chopper the shark!” Eddie screamed, “What’s he doing around here anyway?”

“He drops by occasionally. He gets lonely out in the deep soup.”

“I expect that goes with the territory! Sharks aren’t best known for their social skills!” 

Deirdre shouted from the back of the beach, “Will you please keep the noise down! My kittens need their sleep!”

“So do I,” wailed Eddie, holding his wing tips to his temples, “I’m exhausted.”

“Look, Eddie, there’s no point panicking,” said Brian, “if Chopper isn’t a threat, then there’s no problem… Let’s get some sleep, things’ll look better in the morning.”

“I wish it was that simple,” said Eddie, “I only got up because I could hear an engine humming…” he stopped and tipped his head to one side, “In fact, I can still hear an engine humming.”

“I can hear it too,” Waldemeyer said.  

“What is it?” asked Eddie.

“Sounds like the lawn mower,” said Waldemeyer, “Yes, now I come to think about it, that’s definitely what it is.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Eddie, “it’s much too dark to mow grass.”

“Not for Bruno. He can’t see during the day, so it’s no harder at night.”

“Are you telling me we have someone on this island I’ve never met?”

“Oh, yes, you won’t have come across Bruno. He’s a bit of a loner. He keeps himself to himself.”

“So, we’ve got a gregarious shark and a short-sighted, introverted, nocturnal gardener?” said Eddie, “And where, may I ask, does blundering, bashful Bruno live?” 

“Oh, very clever!” said Waldemeyer, “I see what you did there, with all those ‘B’s – blundering, bashful—”

“Will you keep to the point!” Eddie shouted, “Where does he live?”

“All right, no need to get cross,” said Waldemeyer in hurt tones, “He lives in the hut next to the golf course.”

“Well, I think I’d better drop by and meet him,” said Eddie.

“Who?” asked Waldemeyer. 

“Bruno!”

“Oh, he won’t like that. Not while he’s working on the fairway. He’s one of those moles who prefers to work alone.”

“Are you telling me we’ve got a mole in charge of our golf course?” Eddie screamed. 

“Yes. Bruno Antellini is a first class groundsmole.”

“But having a mole in charge of a golf course is like leaving a wolf in charge of a flock of lambs!”

“Is it?” asked Waldemeyer. 

“Of course, it is!” yelled Eddie hopping up and down, “Moles burrow underground and leave mole hills all over the place. You can’t have a golf course full of small mounds!”

“Oh no! Bruno wouldn’t do that. He’s reformed. He’s taken the pledge.”

“What pledge?” 

“To stop digging up lawns. He’s been on the wagon for two years. There hasn’t been one single mole hill in all that time,” Waldemeyer said proudly. 

“Aaargh!” screamed Eddie.

“For goodness sake, Eddie!” said Brian, who’d fallen asleep with Colin and Gideon on the beach beds. “Calm down or you’ll have a heart attack and I don’t think even Babs, with her Grade One, First Aid badge, is going to be able to resuscitate you.” 

“If you lot would take this series of disasters seriously, instead of falling asleep in the blink of an eye—”

“’Falling asleep in the blink of an eye’ – very clever,” said Waldemeyer in appreciative tones. “I do admire someone who has a way with words.”

“Will you shut up!” screamed Eddie.

“What’s going on?” Colin asked sleepily, “Why’s Eddie shouting?”

Eddie climbed up on top of the beach table and yelled at the top of his voice, “I’m shouting because no one is listening to me! It may have escaped your attention but on Friday, Ursula Best will be here and if she isn’t one hundred percent happy with her stay, we are doomed! Yet, for the first time tonight, I discover two new people on or around the island – a dangerous predator in the soup and an alleged reformed mole hillaholic on the golf course!”

Eddie might have intended to press home his point further but he’d been standing on the edge of the table and two of its legs suddenly collapsed under his weight, pitching him forward, to land beak-first on the beach. 

“Whoops!” whispered Waldemeyer to Brian and Colin, “That’s not going to make him any happier. D’you think now’s the time to tell him there are another six people on the island he hasn’t yet met?”


Links to previous stories in The Macaroon Chronicles series
  1. The Macaroon Chronicles Prologue and the Three Wise Monkeys - http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-macaroon-chronicles-prologue-and.html?m=0
  2. #ChickenInCustard - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/chickenincustard.html
  3. The Fine Print - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/the-fine-print.html
  4. French for Cheese - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/french-for-cheese.html
  5. Porkies and Espiggy-onage (Lies and Spies) – https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/03/porkies-and-espiggy-onage-lies-and-spies.html
  6. <Nearly Death by Chocolate - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/03/nearly-death-by-chocolate.html
  7. <Waxing Lyrical - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/03/waxing-lyrical.html
  8. <Seduced by Zeros - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/04/seduced-by-zeros.html
  9. Soup-Legs - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/04/soup-legs.html
  10. The Year’s Most Popular Christmas Toy - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/04/the-years-most-popular-christmas-toy.html
  11. Holey Night - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/05/holey-night.html
  12. Aleema - http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/05/aleema.html
  13. Heading Home - http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/05/heading-home.html
  14. Moore’s the Pity - http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/06/moores-pity.html
  15. Eagles’ Rest - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/06/eagles-rest.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 

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