by Dawn Knox
Previously: Doggett the Fishing Gnome fell in love with Nina the Ninja at the Halloween Party, however, now, she doesn’t seem interested and he can’t seem to re-ignite the spark. But help and sparks are on their way…
Doggett the Fishing Gnome hadn’t caught a fish for over a week.
It was unprecedented, inexplicable and exasperating.
Doggett was desperate.
Not only had his fishing expertise been called into question but his pursuit of Nina the Ninja had ground to a halt. True, his progress was almost at a standstill anyway, so a bit of deceleration wasn’t noticeable, but that wasn’t the point. He’d tried everything to rekindle the spark that had been ignited at the Halloween Party but the only time she showed him anything less than disdain, was when he gave her a fish. At any rate, she opened the door to take whatever fishy offering he had. If he had nothing, she merely peeped through the letterbox and told him to go away. Over the last few days, she hadn’t even bothered to look through the letterbox.
He needed a fish and he needed it now. But despite having been perched on his rock all morning, the float on his fishing rod barely moved on the still surface of the pond.
“Afternoon,” said Crispin, who was out for a stroll, “caught anything?”
Crispin didn’t know much about fishing but he was fairly sure that stamping of feet and loud swearing wouldn’t do much to attract a bite.
“I was only asking…” he said indignantly when Doggett paused for breath.
“Sorry,” mumbled Doggett, “it’s a sore point.”
Crispin shrugged and turned to walk off.
“I heard that, Doggett!” said Wendy, who’d arrived silently from the bushes. “You should be ashamed. You thaid naughty wordth to Cwithpin, I’m going to wite your name down in my book. And I’m going to fine you. That’ll be five penthe.” She held out her hand. “It gave me thuch a shock, I thwallowed my barley sugar.”
Doggett dug deep in his pocket and handed her five pence.
“Now,” she said, taking a pencil and notebook from her pocket, “What’th your name?”
Once Wendy and Crispin had gone, Doggett sat down again and stared at the unmoving float, willing a fish to nibble his hook. A fly landed on his ear and he brushed it away irritably. It circled his head and settled on the same spot. He batted it away again. The fly established a pattern of alighting on his ear, taking off with split-second precision, nanometres ahead of Doggett’s death blow, and performing two triumphant laps of his head before settling daintily once more on his ear.
Finally, Doggett could stand no more. He pulled his hat down over both ears, reeled in his fishing line and stomped home, muttering to himself. He took the long route, so he could pass Nina’s Toadstool but without a fish, he knew it was pointless knocking. And anyway, the sky was steely grey and if it didn’t rain before he got home and drench him, he’d be very surprised.
In fact, the elements did surprise him. It didn’t rain.
It hailed. And the hailstones were the size of marbles.
Lightning streaked across the sky, and thunder boomed overhead, shaking the leaves of the tree under which he was sheltering. Someone had once said it wasn’t wise to stand under a tree, in case of lightning strike. So, what should he do? He vaguely remembered being told he should be out in the open. But there was more to it than that… Ah yes! Now he recalled… he should be out in the open, crouching down with his bottom in the air, so there were no pointy bits, like his hat, to attract lightning.
Crispin peered out of the window at the leaden sky. Day seemed to have turned to night. He winced as hailstones as large as Wendy’s gobstoppers hammered against the glass, threatening to crack it. With alarming frequency, lightning streaked across the Garden, throwing everything into stark relief, including the strange object in the middle of the lawn.
“What’s that?” Crispin asked but there was no reply because Sylvester was cowering behind the sofa, pulling a cushion over his head more tightly with each thunderclap. Crispin cleared a circle in the condensation on the window with his finger, and screwed up his eyes trying to identify the strange object. It was the same size and shape as Elliot the tortoise but when the lightning flashed, Crispin could see this tortoise—if indeed it was a tortoise—was bright red.
Elliot was brown.
He was also a technophobe, unlike this red tortoise, who had an aerial.
A large, red, remote-controlled tortoise? Crispin wondered.
A ragged, jagged streak of lightning sliced through the darkness, crackling with electricity. It sought the fastest route to earth and Crispin watched in horror as it snaked its way towards the tortoise’s antenna until it made contact. Blue light pulsed down the aerial to the tortoiseshell, emitting tiny flares as it progressed. As the figure cartwheeled across the Garden, Crispin realised with shock, the remote-controlled tortoise was actually a Gnome gripping a fishing rod, with tongues of blue flame licking at his body. Grabbing his raincoat and with a colander on his head for protection against the hailstones, Crispin dashed into the storm. Running on smooth, slippery hailstones was challenging, but Crispin managed to remain upright. That is, until he reached the top of the steps to the Sunken Garden where his feet desperately tried to find purchase—and failed. With Elf boots scrabbling, Crispin’s body pitched forward, resulting in a rather ungainly swallow dive. He landed in a heap at the bottom of the steps, thankful he’d only twisted an ankle and not broken his neck.
He hobbled painfully towards Doggett, who was leaning against the sundial, with a dazed look but a beatific smile on his face. Blue sparks continued to crackle from his skin and clothes, making him glow with an ethereal, blue light. His hair, beard and eyebrows were singed black and they steamed gently in the cool air.
Crispin wasn’t sure whether it was wise to touch him but he definitely couldn’t leave him there in such a sorry state, discharging electric sparks into the air. Gritting his teeth, Crispin seized Doggett and pulled him to his feet.
“Ow!” gasped Crispin as electric currents coursed up his arms, sending his muscles into griping spasms. If he’d been capable, he’d have let go, but his fingers had locked and were no longer under his control.
“Oooh!” said Crispin, as the pain subsided, to leave interesting tingles travelling up and down his body.
“Mmm!” he sighed as the tingles increased in intensity and became surprisingly pleasurable. So pleasurable, he nearly dropped Doggett while he enjoyed the sensations. He also noticed that his ankle which had been too painful to support his weight, no longer hurt.
Crispin settled Doggett on the sofa in his Toadstool and went to find Nina. Other than calling for Nurse Bludgett—something he was reluctant to do—the only person Crispin could think of to help Doggett, was Nina. Not that she was medically qualified—or even trained, but Crispin knew she’d once been to a fancy-dress party as a nurse and she still had the costume. He left Sylvester in charge and forbade him to touch Doggett.
As soon as Crispin had left, Sylvester investigated the steaming guest.
“Ow!” Sylvester said when electricity sparked between his finger and Doggett’s shoulder. Just as he’d begun to wish he’d heeded Crispin’s instructions, the muscle spasms gave way to interesting tingles. “Oooh!” he said and finally, “Mmm!” as rather pleasing vibrations rippled up and down his body. He was still quivering with pleasure when Wendy knocked at the door. She had a laptop under her arm and feeling unusually mellow, Sylvester smiled at her and invited her in.
Bending slightly to get in through the door, she followed the beaming Sylvester into the living room.
“Don’t touch Doggett,” Sylvester said.
“Okay, Thylvethter.” Her horrified expression suggested she had no desire to touch the charred Gnome.
“Why are there blue thparkth coming off him?”
“It’s a long story…” said Sylvester, who had no idea, “Anyway, what can I do for you?”
“You know you told me how clever you are with technology? Well, I thought you might be able to mend thith…” Wendy smiled coyly at him, unable to conceal her adoration.
“What seems to be the problem?” asked Sylvester, taking the laptop and trying to lift the lid.
“I think it openth on the other thide…”
“I’m just testing the hinges… Yes, they seem to be okay…”
He turned the laptop around, opened the lid and stared at the black screen. “Yes, it’s definitely broken.”
“Aren’t you going to turn it on?” Wendy asked, leaning over to press the On button.
“Of course! I was just carrying out visual checks first…”
“Oooh, Thylvethter, you’re tho clever!”
The screen was still black.
“It might take me a while to fix, so if you’d like to come back later…” Sylvester said. Crispin would be back any time soon and he’d probably know how to repair it.
“But I’d love to watch you… Pleathe…”
“No, I can’t work with an audience.”
“Shall I come back in ten minuteth?” she asked, her face alight with hope.
“Make it half an hour.”
“Okay… If you’re sure…” she said ducking to get through the door on her way out.
“I am,” said Sylvester following her to make sure she left. As he passed the sofa, he couldn’t resist touching Doggett again.
“Ow!” Sylvester gasped.
“What’th the matter?” Wendy’s face was full of concern as she rushed back into the room.
“Nothing,” said Sylvester through gritted teeth, “Oooh!” he added.
“Thylvethter, you’re glowing…”
“Mmm!” sighed Sylvester.
“Are you all right? You’ve got blue thparkth in your hair…”
“I’m fine,” said Sylvester, “but perhaps you’d better bring this back tomorrow. I’m a bit busy looking after Doggett at the moment.”
As he handed her the laptop, it sprang to life. The screen lit up, music blared and it vibrated.
“Oh, Thylvethter! You’re tho clever!” Wendy squealed and clapped her hands. “How did you do that?”
Sylvester was so surprised, he almost dropped the laptop but he was enjoying the tingles too much to reply. He merely shrugged and gave himself up to the sensations, hoping Wendy would let herself out.
“No,” said Nina, “absolutely not.”
“Please,” begged Crispin, “he’s really poorly.”
“I’ll come on one condition…”
“Get him to stop bringing me fish and I’ll consider it.” Nina crossed her arms over her ample chest.
“But I thought you liked his fish…”
“No, I loathe them but if I don’t take them off him, he posts them through the letterbox and they slime up my doormat. I’ve been swapping them with Wendy, for barley sugars. Her cat likes fresh fish. But there are only so many sweets a girl can eat in one day and I’m getting a bit sick of barley sugars.”
“I’ll tell him to stop giving you fish. Now will you come?”
“Okay, just give me a few moments to find my nurse’s uniform.”
“I told you not to touch Doggett!” said Crispin crossly, “And don’t deny it, I can see your hair standing on end and sparking.”
“Is this the patient?” asked Nina rather unnecessarily. She seized Doggett with her sausage-pack hands and hoisted him over her shoulder before Crispin could stop her.
“Ow!” she shrieked, “Oooh!” and finally, “Mmm!”
As she carried Doggett back to her Toadstool, she had a very broad grin on her face.
“Someone’s knocking at the door!” shouted Sylvester from the living room.
“Well answer it!” shouted Crispin, who was washing up in the kitchen.
The rapping continued and grew in intensity.
“They’re still there!” shouted Sylvester who was curled up on the sofa.
Crispin rushed past with suds dripping from his rubber gloves. “You could’ve opened it,” he grumbled.
“Who, me?” mumbled Sylvester.
Crispin had barely turned the latch when the door burst open and Bartrum barged in.
“You two! I’m deputising you, follow me! Well, come on! What’re you waiting for?”
Sylvester leapt from the sofa, stood to attention and looked at Crispin for guidance.
“Err, what do you want us to do, Bartrum?” asked Crispin.
“I’ve been threatened and I need bodyguards—and that’s you two!”
“But wouldn’t Frank Fowle be a better bodyguard than us?” Crispin asked.
“I can’t find him.”
Sylvester shrank backwards “I need the bathroom.”
“No time for that! We… You need to nip this in the bud,” Bartrum said.
“Err… and if we don’t want to?” asked Crispin, “Will it mean cess pit duty?”
“Definitely! Starting immediately.”
Crispin sighed and said to Sylvester, “Fetch your wellies and a nose clip. We’re off to the cesspit for cleaning duties.”
“I don’t think so,” said Bartrum, grabbing the two Elves and frogmarching them into the Garden, “When I say I need bodyguards, I mean it.”
When they approached Nina’s, Bartrum had each Elf by the ear. He pulled them both down behind a bush.
“Ow!” yelled Sylvester, “That hurt!”
“Shh, he’ll hear you,” said Bartrum, “we need the element of surprise when you attack. Look, there he is and… Oh no! He’s armed with a light sabre!”
“What!” squealed Crispin.
“Lemme go!” screamed Sylvester as Bartrum propelled them both towards the light-sabre wielding figure.
“Hello, where did you two come from?” Doggett asked the two Elves who lay sprawled at his feet.
“Watch out for his light sabre!” yelled Bartrum from behind the bush.
“What’s going on?” Doggett asked as he leaned his broom against the wall. The handle glowed with a blue light and electricity crackled from it until Doggett let it go, then it reverted to a normal yard broom.
“Well, how was I to know it was just a broom?” said Bartrum crossly, “It glowed and hummed like a light sabre.”
“Tea?” asked Doggett.
“Don’t you try and change the subject!” said Bartrum, “We need to sort a few things out!”
“Don’t try acting all innocent. What about your challenge to my authority?”
“Did you challenge Bartrum?” Nina asked, appearing as if from nowhere.
“Not that I know of.” Doggett scratched his head.
“You must have,” insisted Bartrum, “all I keep hearing about are your superpowers and how you can heal people and mend things…”
“Oh that,” said Doggett airily.
“Come on Man! Be a Gnome! If you’re going to challenge me for control of the Garden, well… get on with it. But I warn you, I fight dirty and I have minders.”
He grabbed Sylvester and Crispin who’d been creeping away and dragged them back.
“Challenge?” asked Doggett scratching his head and sending sparks flying. “Well, I ought to be sweeping up really, but I suppose I could spare an hour for a quick game of Scrabble if you like… We could play for matchsticks…?
“So,” said Bartrum warily as the two Gnomes faced each other across the Scrabble board, “let me get this straight, Doggett, you definitely don’t want to be in charge of the Garden?”
“Me? In charge of the Garden? No thank you. Whatever gave you that idea?”
A long searching look at Doggett’s face assured Bartrum the denial was sincere.
“Very wise indeed,” said Bartrum, smiling with satisfaction as he looked down at his Scrabble tiles. “Ah! Checkmate. I win.”
“Checkmate? I thought you had those in Chess,” said Sylvester.
“I’ve made the word “Checkmate”, you idiot,” said Bartrum “Look.” He pointed to the word ‘CHEKMATE’.
“Don’t you spell “Check” with a… Ow!” said Sylvester as Crispin elbowed him in the ribs.
“Now, tell me about these tingles I’ve been hearing so much about, Doggett,” said Bartrum.
“Not much to tell really. When I come into contact with anyone, they get the tingles. People seem to like them. Especially Nina.” He smiled at her shyly and she blushed.
“And is it true these tingles actually cure things?” asked Bartrum.
“How about bunions?”
“I’d be happy to give it a go.”
Doggett reached out and touched Bartrum’s arm.
“Ow!” yelled Bartrum, his mouth falling open in surprise. Then, when the shock had passed, he added, “Oooh!” and finally, “Mmm!”
Dawn’s two previous books in the ‘Chronicles Chronicles’ series are ‘The Basilwade Chronicles’ and ‘The Macaroon Chronicles’ both published by Chapeltown Publishing.
The Crispin Chronicles
Links to the previous chapters:
Chapter 1 – Her Ladyship’s Garden - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/04/the-crispin-chronicles-1-her-ladyships.html
Chapter 2 – The Letter from OFSGAR - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/search/label/The%20Crispin%20Chronicles%20-%20The%20Letter%20from%20OFSGAR
Chapter 3 -The Sweet Smell of Success - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-3-sweet-smell-of.html
Chapter 4 – A Visit from Peggy the Pram - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-4-visit-from.html
Chapter 5 – Nightly Disturbances - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-5-nightly.html
Chapter 6 – Just Desserts - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-6-just-desserts.html
Chapter 7 – A Little Girl at Large - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/06/the-crispin-chronicles-7-little-girl-at.html
Chapter 8 – The Halloween Party - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/06/the-crispin-chronicles-8-halloween-party.html
Chapter 9 – A Glimmer of an Idea - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/07/the-crispin-chronicles-9-glimmer-of-idea.html