Some Christmas fiction for you
Yes, I know I’m late, Marion. It were the penguin, you see.
No, he wasn’t trying to pass as a rooster. Why would he want to do that? Wrong sort of flower … I mean, pullover … fowl! Water fowl!
What’s foul? Oh, yes, the penguin. Well, you see, there I were, queuing at cash machine near Marks, and this bloke in queue in front, he turns to me, and says: “Finished your shopping, mate?”
Almost, I says to him. Just need a few more bits for the wife – she’s been in a right pullover mood of late – sorry, I mean foul, foul mood. Christmastime, you know.
Yes, you have, Marion, and don’t try and tell me otherwise.
Anyway, this bloke, he says, “This is your lucky day, mate.”
How so? says I.
“If you come back to my car, it’s just over in car park, over road, near market,” he says, “I’ve got a talking penguin.”
You what? says I. My missus is 45, not 5. She don’t want no pull-string toy, you know.
“No,” says he, “I mean a real, gen-u-ine, talking, walking, Arctic water fowl.”
You mean a real penguin? I says. Not a toy, and not a packet of chocolate biscuits? So I went with him to –
Yes, Marion, I know all about “stranger danger”. I’m 47, not 7. Anyway, how often do you get to see a talking penguin in a Donny car park? And, as Santa is my witness, there it was.
Beak to feet: an honest-to-goodness penguin.
“Hello,” it says.
Blimey! I says. Well, reckon I said a good deal more’n that, but since you set up that swear box in front room, I’ve been trying to mediate me language.
Anyhow, Crikey bobs! says I. It’s a bloomin’, ruddy, talking penguin.
“Yes,” said the penguin. “You were expecting who, exactly? Donald Duck?”
Then, as Santa and his elves are my witness, it sniggered.
By ‘eck! Have you ever heard a penguin snigger?
Creepy, it were, Right creepy.
“So,” says the bloke.
Made me jump, him speaking up like that. Forgot all about him, I had. I were mesmerized, you see, by this talking, laughing penguin.
“You wanna buy a penguin?” this bloke asks.
I dunno, mate, I says. I couldn’t take my eyes off this bloomin’ penguin, you see.
“Ahem,” says the penguin.
You ever hear a penguin clear its throat? Yeah, that’s creepy, too.
Eh! Whatcha doin’ with that bottle of brandy, Marion? Give me that back, now!
… What’s that?
Oh, it were the penguin, like I tried to tell you. I were that frightened, I had to pop to shops, ‘n get myself a little summat to sustain myself.
No, no, that bottle of brandy, that weren’t til later, after the penguin fainted. No, I bought me a bottle of rum. If it’s good enough for our lads in Navy, I says to lass behind til, it’s good enough for me.
Well, I had meself a tot, or maybe two, or three, on way back to car park, and old Volvo where that chap were keeping that creepy bird.
And, by ‘eck! Him and the penguin, they were going at it like an old married couple.
It were, “You promised me this,” and “You never bring me monk fish any more,” and “You can take your tins of tuna, and stuff ’em where sun don’t shine.”
And that were just the bloke.
That penguin: what a beak he has on ‘im! If that’s what ducks are saying, when they’re on lake, quack-quack-quacking away, or starlings when they fight at your mum’s feeder, well, it’s no wonder the sky’s turned blue.
Penguin were off on some terrible rant about this bloke’s ancestry – summat about chimps, and fleas, and circuses – when he sees me.
“Well, well, lookee here,” says penguin. And he fixes his little eyes on me.
I took a big swig of rum at that. Those eyes: they held ice, and anger, and remon … remon … anger. He were one mean-looking bird, I tell you, Marion.
Then, what does he do? He grabs my bottle – yeah, just like you tried to, love – and …
You can’t imagine what a crowd can gather, when a man starts tusslin’ with a penguin in the back of a Volvo, over a bottle of “Jamaica Kim” rum.
Well, one silly sausage, he has to go and phone the police, don’t he? It took awhile, for rossers to come out, and attend our little set-to. Apparently, chappie who took call, he also had a dim view of an emergency involving a penguin in a car park, this close t’Christmas.
Well, Marion, I admit it, I thought I were a goner. About to be banged up for causing an affray with a penguin. But penguin, he may be mean, but he’s smart, too.
We’d stopped fighting by then, of course, but that crowd, there were quite a few with their gums flappin’. Tellin’ the tale.
So penguin, he suddenly raises his right flipper to his brow, and cries out, mournful-like: “Oh, woe is me!” and faints!
So, then, the mood changed, didn’t it? The bloke what he’d been tussling with, verbal like – the one who were in that cash machine queue – he’d scarpered. And neither of us – penguin or me – had any bruises to speak of, me because I have me big duffle coat on, and him havin’ only little flippers; and him because he’s a game little bird, and ducked me blows.
So there were no evidence of a fight, like. Plus, this little lass comes forward, saying: “St John’s Ambulance trained, let me through, let me through! This aquatic bird needs help!”
So she places him in recovery position, which were kind of tricky: did you know, Marion, that penguins don’t have knees? She does best she can, and someone else puts an old blanket on him, for shock, and there I am, all concerned – and I were, for penguin, he’d saved my bacon, so to speak – and someone comes forward with brandy – why yes, Marion, this brandy.
Penguin, he were a trooper. Turns out he’s teetotal. Took the pledge back in Arctic, didn’t he? So he says: “Give it to Harry”, meaning me, so –
Oh, penguin? He’s outside, in that old Volvo I nicked.
Do you wanna see him?
If you enjoyed this short story, check out my new collection, “What! No Pudding?”, available now from Amazon.