Story number #0606 (2011)
If like repels like and opposites attract, how is it possible that Hogwash and Bum Note, two of the cheekiest and hairiest personalities on the planet, made the acquaintance of The Cheeky Monkey one evening in a grove of tamarind trees somewhere in the depths of Bananaskindia? Maybe because they aren’t magnets, not yet at any rate. That’s my best guess.
I’m not a magnet either, but I am almost a magnate because I recently invested heavily in a déjà vu plantation, growing some of the most poignant déjà vus this side of the past, and the returns have been enormous. The returns have been enormous. Did I just say that? People told me there was no future in the déjà vu business but they were doubly, even triply wrong.
The returns have been enormous. Now where was I?
Here, of course, where else? My name is Thornton Excelsior and I take a keen interest in the comings and goings of Hogwash and Bum Note, the daftest explorers in the annals of daftness, and in the canals too whenever those are available. On behalf of the Eldritch Explorers’ Club, of which I am currently stoolman, our chairs having collapsed thanks to woodworm and obesity, I dispatched them to Bananaskindia to map that slippery land.
A keen interest in their comings and goings… Am I repeating myself?
Especially in the goings. They are a liability.
Bananaskindia is a fruitful region of the world and yet it is rife with hazards, including the dreaded Recycling Cyclones, a meteorological phenomenon found nowhere else, partly because nobody has bothered to look in any other location and partly because local storms don’t have the necessary paperwork to cross the Bananaskindian border. Let’s be grateful!
When you are exposed to a Recyclone, as they are known for short, all the molecules in your body are rearranged and you become something new and generally much more useless than before; the ghost of a spirit level, perhaps, or a pocket knife so sharp it cuts through any pocket it is dropped into. Those are just a couple of examples taken at random from my brain. I wanted Hogwash and Bum Note to be overwhelmed and transformed like that. If I can’t get rid of them properly, at least I can get them altered.
Or so I reasoned. But my wishes were thwarted.
And it was The Cheeky Monkey’s fault…
To reach Bananaskindia, Hogwash and Bum Note trekked through the purple passes of Neplum and descended into the plains and ready salteds of the frontier region. On the border sat a wise man, a sage, who blinked at them with his third eye and said, “If you want my advice, you should always turn the other cheek. Go in peace, my friends.”
“We’ll remember your words,” answered the explorers.
They proceeded south, reaching the city of Delhicatessen a few weeks later, where they stocked up on provisions before resuming their journey. It was hot and they sweated under the sun like punctured barrels; too hot even for a better simile than that. How delighted they were to each the cool shade of the sweet tamarind forest!
In a small clearing not long after sunset, they encountered The Cheeky Monkey, who lay full length on the ground, weeping thick tears and clenching and unclenching his poor little hands in adjectival dismay.
“Look at his poor little hands!” cried Hogwash.
“They certainly don’t have a bank balance or possession of properties, land and other assets, if that’s what you mean,” returned Bum Note.
“Shall we enquire the cause of his grief?”
“Yes. Why do you sob like that, O prostrate primate?”
“It’s because… because… because I am so very ugly. That’s why! All my life I have been mocked because of my cheeks. I have too many of them on my face and in fact they grow on the other side of my head too. They go right round and join up again in a loop…”
“Encircled by cheeks! A wheel of cheeks!” marvelled Hogwash.
“And the other animals make fun?”
“Almost every day,” sniffed The Cheeky Monkey.
Hogwash and Bum Note conferred together briefly and then they comforted the supine creature with the wise words the sage had given them: “Turn the other cheek. That’s all you have to do when insults are hurled at you. Simply turn the other cheek. It’s easy enough.”
The Cheeky Monkey digested this advice. “Very well, I shall!”
And that’s exactly what happened.
Maybe he thought he needed the practise, or perhaps he felt offended by the mere presence of the two explorers, but whatever the reason it can’t be denied that the outcome was unexpected and astounding, although perfectly logical in its own way. The monkey began rolling.
The problem was that he simply had too many cheeks to make turning the other one a safe procedure. And Hogwash and Bum Note had neglected to inform him when to stop turning them. The Cheeky Monkey therefore accelerated along the ground like a horizontal tornado.
“I always knew I’d go far!” he called back dizzily.
Hogwash and Bum Note watched him rotate. To my eternal chagrin, this was the moment that a Recyclone decided to form with the intention of spinning the explorers into a transformational oblivion; it grew directly in the path of The Cheeky Monkey and there was a collision of vortices.
What happened next? No one is sure. The axis of the Recyclone was perpendicular to that of The Cheeky Monkey and my mathematical abilities aren’t sophisticated enough to work out which helix dominated the other. Maybe they combined forces or cancelled each other out. I fear it was the latter option. Certainly it is the case that my schemes were foiled yet again. Unless…
There is always the possibility that Hogwash was transformed, molecule by molecule, into Bum Note, and vice versa. That’s exactly the sort of thing that would happen to them. So I’m going back to my déjà vu plantation. Again.