Category Archives: Tales

2099. Putting the garden to sleep

Haralambus (known as Harry) and Hughina (known as May) Pfahlert were well into their retirement years. Harry’s main interest was the garden. With late autumn approaching he had been busy tidying the garden so that at the end of winter all the back-breaking work would be done and it would be less of a hassle come spring.

Well dear, said Harry to May after two weeks of extensive labour in the garden, all is done. Everything is weeded. Everything is fertilized. Leaves are dug in or burnt and the ashes hoed in. Mulch has been spread. Shrubs sensitive to the winter cold have been covered. I might be weary, but I’m well satisfied. The garden has been put to sleep. Let it snow! Let it snow!

It was such a pleasure in winter to view the snowed-in garden through the living room window, with the log fire roaring away and the smell of cinnamon buns cooking in the oven. All done! All done! One could enjoy the order of it all and look forward to the chaos of new life!

It was such a pity that Harry died in his sleep that very night.

2098. An interview with Silenus

Interviewer: What a thrill! I have the opportunity to interview Silenus. Silenus is an old drunkard who taught Dionysus how to party. Dionysus is the Ancient Greek God of Wine. Silenus himself is the God of Dance, the God of the Wine Press, and the God of Drunkenness.

Good evening, Silenus. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.

Silenus: My pleashure. It’s not often I can afford to take time out from dwinking to indulge in a bit of interfornification, if that’s what ya call it. I had to shneak away from Dionysus to do thish interview. Last time I shneaked away he changed this guy’s ears into donkey’s ears. At leasht that’s what I remember. Dwink? It’s not just wine I’m the god of but other shtuff as well like whishkey and vodka. Shherry. When I go to the dwink shhop I always look at the label not to see what type of booze it is but to check on the alcoholic percentage. That’s why I’m not fond of beer. Ya have to dwink a lot of beer to get dwunk and then I end up pisshing in my pants half the night. Not that I wear pantsh as ya can see. So how ya doing?

Interviewer: I’m fine thanks. And I was wondering if…

Silenus: One of the things people don’t know is that mosht of the gods up here are fucking pisshheads. Pisshhead is a Britishh term meaning ya get totally dwunk mosht daysh. It’s alsho used in Aushtralia and placesh like that. So anyway, mosht of the gods up here are pisshheads. I taught mosht of them how to party – it’s my job – but a good number of them these days know how to party a lot more than I taught them. Aphrodite has her work cut out all day every day and there’s not much I taught her I can tell ya. When I vishit her she’s busy busy busy. I don’t know how she fits everyone in.

Interviewer: Do you still operate in teaching people how to party today or was it something you did only in ancient times?

Silenus: I’m busy in the modern world. I did a good job on Hunt…

(The interview seems to have been suddenly and mysteriously terminated).

2097. There they go again

Now that cosmic aliens have become commonplace, and in the main taken for granted, certain serious problems have arisen.

I’m not talking about interplanetary marriages. These of course can create hitherto unthought of problems. A human and an alien falling in love is a bit like being besotted by a pet cat. Nothing wrong with loving ones cat. It’s the procreation bit that makes the mess. There are now all sorts of bylaws and mores to govern transplanetary sex. How does an Earthling, for example, have sex with a creature who has… Oh, doesn’t matter…

But it’s the racism that gets to me. As an alien on Earth from the Planet Spectrifica I can only say I have felt the full force of Earthly bigotry many a time. Earthlings used to discriminate against Asians and Blacks and Europeans and any subdivision they cared to create that was governed by looks or beliefs. These days this full-faced vengeance is aimed at aliens from outer space. They cannot accept the fact that every alien from every planet has features Earthlings posit as being ludicrous. Only the other day I saw two Earthling schoolgirls giggling at a Tronkinish who had three belly buttons on his/her forehead. The various races on Earth are now united by their common hatred and scorn of aliens.

That is why I have founded a group that gives voice to protest against these bigotries. It is called ALARM. For the name I simply took the first letter of every word in the name; which seems to be a practice used by the Earthlings. For example there are UN and BLM and USA and UK and NASA and so on. So I settled on ALARM.

ALARM is become increasingly popular with us aliens. We stand together against the ignorance of Earthlings.

Some Earthling asked (on television would you believe): What do the letters of ALARM stand for? I said that ALARM stands for ALIEN LIVES ARE REALLY IMPORTANT. They said that would be ALARI not ALARM. I simply sighed and thought, There they go again. Earthlings continue to impose their restrictive perceptions on every living creature in the Universe. It seems they will never learn. If scrunchers weren’t illegal on this backward planet I’d get one and scrunch the lot.

2096. Hobbies

When Englebert retired he was looking forward to doing what he’d always wanted to do, and that was to learn to make bread. For forty years he had slaved away as a proctologist, and a very good proctologist he was. Now it was time to put such things aside, don the baker’s hat, and learn to make bread.

His wife was a qualified gastroenterologist, and that was how they had met. Glennis had retired two years earlier than Englebert, and had taken up pastry making. She was very good at it. In fact, Englebert blamed her pastry success as being the cause of his growing rotundity.

Englebert’s first attempt at bread was disastrously inedible. Further attempts were described by wife Glennis as being the perfect vehicle for enjoying the taste of melted butter.

These days Englebert has become an expert at growing ranunculus in pots. Englebert is thinking of branching out and growing a greater variety. Already the number of pots on the patio has become a little disturbing. And on the porch. And in the living room. What he needs is a green house.

Quite frankly, Glennis wished he’d just stuck to bread making.

2095. Who was out to murder?

Urs was a tyrannical husband. Alice had long felt trapped in the relationship. She knew she should untangle herself from such a situation but really she didn’t know how. Her only time of peace was after the evening meal when she would take her coffee (Urs was watching the evening news) and wander down to the back of the garden where Urs kept his racing pigeons.

Urs was besotted with his pigeons. Alice found their gentle cooing both soothing and consoling.

The racing pigeons were worth a pretty packet. He would enter racing competitions with them regularly. He cared for them more than he cared for his wife.

One of his more tyrannical aspects was that Alice should prepare only healthy food. He regarded vegetable greens as a must to every meal, especially peas. “Peas are riddled with nutrients,” he would say. “That’s why they are so green.”

Alice hated peas. Part of her post-dinner evening walk was to take the peas she had hidden in her napkin and give them to the pigeons.

One early morning, Urs went down to see his pigeons and they were all dead. A veterinarian post-mortem showed that they had eaten poisoned peas.

2094. A nerve-wracking application

There’s no doubt that Laurel was highly qualified for the job. It was the first application Laurel had made after graduating from university. She was nervous, and thrilled to learn she had been short-listed and was to be interviewed.

What to wear for the interview? She could hardly wear her white lab technician’s coat with safety goggles, and hair in netting! She wasn’t exactly going to work today! So she chose to wear sensible shoes, a casual blouse, and tidy slacks.

The man doing the interview was most pleasant. He had carefully looked into Laurel’s CV. He said he was most impressed. The only thing Laurel lacked was experience. That wouldn’t be a bother. One could quickly adapt and learn if one fitted in well with the team.

“Would Laurel mind staying for a while in the waiting room while he mulled over her application and interview?”

Laurel returned to the waiting room. One never knows how things have gone. It is so nerve-wracking.

A woman entered the room. “Sorry,” she said. “Would you mind terribly if I did the vacuuming. It makes such a wretched noise.”

Laurel said she didn’t mind at all, and in fact followed the woman around, lifting the chairs up for the woman to vacuum underneath, and holding up the magazine racks.

“Thanks so much,” said the woman as she left. “You made the job so much easier. I really detest vacuuming.”

“You’re not alone in that,” said Laurel.

Soon the man appeared. “The only concern we had was if you would fit into the team. Other than that you’re perfect for the job. Professor Sally Quaid, the big-time boss, says you’ll fit in fine.”

“But I haven’t met the big-time boss,” said Laurel.

“Oh yes you have,” said the man.

2093. Oh what a tragedy!

Have you any idea how expensive it is to get a divorce? Raymond wanted to get rid of his wife but he wasn’t keen to lose almost half of what he’d worked for throughout his life. It was cheaper (and quicker) simply to get rid of her in a cunning and imperceptible way.

He devised a fabulous plan. As far as he could work out, it hadn’t been done before – at least he’d never heard of it. He had one of those cars whereby the driver had controls to lock the car doors. It was a child protection device. If the children in the back and passenger seats were messing around they couldn’t accidently open the door and fall out.

What Raymond would do was to stall the car on a rail crossing just as a train was hurtling towards them. Then he’d quickly press the button to lock his wife’s door, leap out his own door, and… Oh what a tragedy! Oh what a sadness! Why did it happen to me?

It wasn’t exactly something he could practise. After all, how many cars can one afford? But he drove the route several times and knew well the times the trains passed.

The day arrived. They were to visit great aunt Maude and bring her the usual weekly supply of chocolate and cat food. They were just about to leave (Raymond was actually wearing his running shoes!) when a message came that great Aunt Maud’s sister also wanted to visit Maude, and could they pick her up on the way? That ruined things. The request meant they would have to take another route. Murder would have to wait another day.

The following week off they went on their habitual visit. Raymond’s wife (goodness, as yet she is not introduced – her name was Fiona) had trouble dragging Raymond’s drugged body to the garage and into the car. Once done she drove to the rail crossing and stopped. She got out to watch.

Oh what a tragedy! Oh what a sadness! Why did it happen to me?

(P.S. A Happy Easter to all who wish to be wished such! I shall be hopefully back with a murder on the 5th, Easter Monday!)

2092. Cadenza for Oboist

Monique played the oboe in the symphony orchestra. If the truth be told, she was a snob; an utter cultural elitist. When the guest conductor included a selection of Christmas Carols into the seasonal program Monique refused to take part. The orchestra was there to play masterpieces and not jingles. Composers such as Bach and Mozart and Beethoven and Tchaikovsky were high on her list. Even the contemporary composer, Haruto Takahashi, was worthy of consideration. In fact, Haruto Takahashi had been commissioned by the orchestra to compose a new work especially for them. The new work was to have a spectacular cadenza in the middle to be played solo by the oboist.

Oh the excitement! Oh the expectation! Monique and Haruto Takahashi were to meet to discuss the intricacies of the proposed 30 second cadenza. It was then that they fell in love.

Haruto Takahashi had a reputation for being a bit of a rake; but it was Monique’s behaviour that stunned the orchestra. The Woodwind Section in particular couldn’t believe what was going on. Monique had gone from upper class oboist to trollop overnight. Meanwhile, Haruto Takahashi had gone off to compose his masterpiece. Monique cast her eye around the String Section. And then the Brass Section. And then the Percussion Section. Oh that timpanist! He knew how to hit a thing or two!

Haruto Takahashi produced his work. There was a magnificent oboe cadenza. Unfortunately the orchestra had to employ another oboist. Monique was in Bermuda with a plumber she had met when he was unblocking the orchestra’s kitchenette sink.

2091. A warning to the Argentinosaurus

When Dong White, Professor of Entomology at the university, was asked a simple question he went into contortions. The question, asked by a student, was simply, “Why do most species of bees have stripes?” Suddenly Dong White realized the answer to a question he had been pursuing all his intellectual life. Stripes on bees had evolved during, and even possibly predating, the Age of the Dinosaurs. Stripes acted as a warning to the Argentinosaurus, and other long-necked dinosaurs, not to come and pinch honey from the bees’ nests. If they did pinch, they would get stung.

These days, of course, stripes on bees are a hang-over from those days. Today, only giraffes could reach a bees’ nest high in a tree, but giraffes don’t eat honey.

Professor Dong White wrote a lengthy article on his insight and sent it to Scientific America for consideration. He had had other entomological papers published before. Why do bees have stripes? was sure to be a winner.

The magazine was kind enough to return the Professor’s paper. But scribbled at the top were the words: What a load of crap.

2090. Pianoforte lessons, darling

Mazie’s daughter was Mayzing. Mazie was outraged. Her friend, Tammy, was also a parent at Mayzing’s school. The Hir-Oh-No Academy of Arts was not only expensive; it was the cat’s pyjamas. Tammy’s daughter, Shammy, was studying pianoforte at the Academy.

“It’s a wonderful skill to have, darling” said Tammy to Mazie. Thus it was that Mazie enrolled Mayzing in pianoforte. But what a shock!

“You have no idea,” declared Mazie. “More than half the pianoforte keys were white. There are only five black notes to every seven white notes. But what does one expect when all the composers, like Mozart and Beethoven and Burt Bacharach, had bigotry bred into them? I told Mayzing’s teacher that I wanted her to learn only the black notes. There must be pieces written for just the black notes.”

These days, Mayzing is confused. The only true Black notes are Blues ones.