05 August 2009
End of the Lion?
AND SO there I was, stood betwixt a rifle-toting huntsman and my prized pet lion Thundercock, outside London Zoo. The atmosphere was so tense you could have cut the air with a knife, taken a slice and made yourself a very strained sandwich. It really was very tense indeed.
“Cackshott,” I said, addressing the crazed hunter carefully. “Lower the rifle. Come on, just put it down now.”
“Not until I’ve bagged that creature!” Colonel Cackshott cried in return.
“You shall not be ‘bagging’ anything, you miscreant.”
“Oh no?” Cackshott retorted, raising his rifle up as he took aim at the lion.
“No.” I said sternly, moving myself between Cackshott’s rifle and dear Thundercock. “If you want to shoot that lion, you shall have to go through me first.” I paused. “And if you want to go through me, you shall have to go through my man-servant before that.”
“What?” Botter exclaimed, peeking his head out from his hiding place behind a nearby cab.
“‘Tis in your contract, you know,” I explained patiently.
“I don’t have a contract.”
“Well, I have a copy. I keep it in my head. Trust me, that clause is most definitely there.”
Botter and I continued to discuss the small print of his entirely fictitious contract; not only because I enjoy tormenting my wretched servant, but also because I had noticed Inspector Spunkleford creeping out from behind the back of the cab, and I was discreetly watching him silently motioning to the police officers outside the zoo. I reasoned that Spunkleford was formulating some sort of ambush on Cackshott while he was distracted, and thus I had hoped my continued contractual dispute with Botter would buy the officers ample time to carry out their plan.
“…milord? ” Botter continued, having gone unheard whilst I had been observing Spunkleford’s machinations.
“Hmm? What?” I said, half-watching the officers slowly sneaking toward the increasingly agitated Cackshott.
“I said, ‘is there any way that my lawyer can see this contract, milord’?”
“You don’t have a lawyer, Botter.”
“No, but I can imagine one,” Botter replied. “And I was thinking that an imaginary lawyer would be very well qualified to examine an imaginary contract.”
“Botter, that is surprisingly witty for you,” I exclaimed. “Of course, you do realise that there is a clause in your contract stating that you shall never attempt to be funnier than your master, so I am afraid you are in direct breach of your terms of employment, and -”
“SHUT UP!” screamed Cackshott, finally growing impatient of our banter. “By jove, you two do speak a load of old rot, you know.”
“Charming,” I mumbled, as I watched the policemen cautiously advance upon Cackshott.
And then everything went to hell in a handbasket.
First, one of the officers stood on a stick – or it might well have been a stick-insect which had managed to escape from the zoo itself, I cannot be sure. At any rate, it snapped under the policeman’s foot with a loud crack, causing Cackshott to swivel round quickly.
“Stop right there!” he bellowed, pointing his rifle straight at the clod-footed copper. “One more move and I shall blast you all to kingdom-bloody-come!”
While Cackshott screamed blue murder at the policemen, I saw my chance to take him down myself. Well, if you want a job done properly, leave it to an aristocratic adventurer and gentle-man of action, after all. I began dashing toward Cackshott, but he was on high alert by now, and he swung back around to face me, his gun trained on my lordly form. I skidded to a halt a few feet shy of my target.
“No second chances!” yelled Cackshott, as he raised his gun.
I braced myself for the impending bullet and a woefully unspectacular demise at the hand of a nut-bar in a terribly dishevelled safari suit.
Cackshott pulled the trigger, and time slowed to a crawl.
There was a deafening roar, something struck me hard, and then there was nothing but complete and utter blackness.
OF course, it does not take a genius to realise that I had not been killed, else how would I have written up this astonishing adventure? No, instead I regained consciousness on the street, Botter’s filthy face being the first sight my eyes beheld as they flickered open.
“Eurrrrggh…” I moaned. “Is this hell?”
“Milord!” Botter beamed, gently mopping my brow with a wet towel. “You are alright!”
“Argh! Tits on stilts!” I gasped as I moved to sit up, pain flashing through the right-hand side of my body. “What the ruddy hell happened? All I remember is being hit by something…”
“Allow me to field that one!” chirped Spunkleford, suddenly coming into view beside me. “It was incredible, Likely! Absolutely incredible!”
“What was? What in the name of Dickens’ dick-end are you babbling about?”
“Well, Cackshott went to shoot you, but then – oh, my! Your pet lion suddenly bounded on up like a locomotive, and knocked you clear from danger! He saved you, Likely! He saved your very life!”
I grinned. “Oh, Thundercock! A more loyal pet one could not possibly ask for! You’d do well to learn by his example, Botter,” I said, turning to my man-servant. “So, where is dear Thundercock? I should like to thank him personally!”
Botter and Spunkleford exchanged solemn glances.
“Erm…well, you see…Thundercock did save your life…but…well, it was at a cost, I am afraid…” Spunkleford sighed. “He didn’t just knock you clear from the firing line, Likely. He took the bullet, as well.”
“What? So…so where is he? Where is Thundercock?” I asked, as I scrambled to my feet, looking around for my proud pet. “Answer me, damn your eyes!”
Spunkleford gently removed his hat and lowered his head. “I…I am afraid we lost him, Likely. I am so very sorry.”
“No!” I shouted, dropping back down to my knees. “It…it cannot be! Not dear Thundercock! Dear God, no! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
“Um…” Spunkleford interjected, ruining a perfectly good dramatic moment. “We…we did find him again, though.”
“What?” I said, mid-outcry.
“Oh, yes. You see, Thundercock DID take the bullet, that much is true. We thought he was done for, but as my men pounced on Cackshott and took him away, that old lion starts stirring, then he starts sniffing the air, and then lo and behold, he gets back up!” Spunkleford shook his head in disbelief as he recounted the events. “Before we know what’s happening, that lion of yours goes bounding off into the zoo! We managed to track him down, to the big cat enclosure. It turns out that he caught the scent of a couple of lionesses there…and…well, he went to…erm…well, you know…”
A wide grin spread across my face. “Ha-ha! That old devil! Takes a bullet and still has time for the ladies! Ha! Clearly, he takes after his beloved master, eh?”
And with that we all fell into helpless laughter, such was the hilarity of my humourous observation.
- Lord Likely.