The story so far: Cecily is in love with a talking heron which is about to be attacked by an orc. Meanwhile, that bluebottle that distracted you in Chapter 13 has composed a song called ‘Buzz’. He is currently testing the same section of window to see if it can get out that way. Currently, he was on his 513th attempt at escaping from the same section of window. Each time, he hoped it will be different. As he tried, he sang to himself in order to keep his spirits up. Sadly, he will be squashed, unnoticed, in Chapter 18.
The cucumbers are thriving, three of the females are incubating eggs. There is a self satisfied and smug air from the bull cucumber who has yet to realise he is not the father; that role belongs to the suave marrow from the greenhouse next door.
Anyway, back to the disastrous dinner party where Vlarg was closing in on Hardy in the hopes of having a delicious meal.
There was a sudden blur. Blows were exchanged. The sound of blunt weapon on flesh thudded around the room. Cries of pain and anguish, of fear and regret shook the furniture. Shakiest of all was the dresser which held the antique evaporated milk cans. The cans rattled, the doors shook. A lifeless and bloodied figure lay prone on the carpet; hands were put to mouths and the mighty warrior who has conquered all stood proud in the middle of the chaos.
“I’m sorry for the kerfuffle, everyone,” Mr Smidgeon spoke in a light, nasal voice. He pocketed the cosh fussily before adding “I am afraid I cannot tolerate poor etiquette at mealtimes, especially in front of Hetty.”
His wife crept over next to him and adjusted his cardigan for him, then patted him adoringly on the upper arm.
In a broken voice, Hardy muttered “Can’t thank you enough, old fellow,” before tottering out into the kitchen. His feathers were ruffled and an eye was swelling slightly. Cecily followed him as pale as a bleached sheep.
Vlarg said nothing; he was unconscious on the floor.
The Smidgeons, with silent nods, excused themselves and exited hand in hand. Josiah saw them out.
“Someone’s luck is in tonight,” Mr Henderson observed, watching the couple leave the house.
Mr Henderson stared at the comatose orc. His wife looked furtively around the room, confirming they had been left alone. Then she knelt beside Vlarg and felt along the orc’s taut and muscular body with practised hands. She looked up at her husband.
“I know he lost that fight but he is rather strong. Very muscular. Perhaps we could...look after him at home for a while?”
Her husband nodded and also crouched beside the lifeless warrior. His nose wrinkled.
“He’ll need a bath.”
Mrs Henderson gave a slight shrug and felt the muscles greedily once more.
Without speaking, they both hoisted the slowly reviving orc to his feet and began to lead him away.
“You come with us, Mr Vlarg,” Mr Henderson said kindly. “We’ll make sure you are ok. Stay for a bit with us, till you feel better. Ooh, and do you know, we have some friends coming over at the weekend. Tell me, are you a sociable kind of chap?”
Through the front door they squeezed, past the bemused Josiah and off down the street. Watching them go, their host could believe that he could hear the sound of pens writing notes ferociously on notebooks behind the net curtains all along the street. He felt rather exposed and closed the door without delay. With a lurch of his stomach, his thoughts turned guiltily to Cecily. Those noble and beautiful dreams she had held dear of Hardy’s acceptance and of an exquisite evening lay in more tatters than the carpet at a moth convention.
When he went back into the lounge, Cecily was kneeling on the floor, sobbing gently and trying to budge a stain from the carpet.
“Here, let me do that,” Josiah offered.
“You had a chance to act earlier and to save Hardy from that horrible creature,” Cecily told him, wringing her cloth violently. Josiah was impressed; she was very musical and could get a tune out of anything.
Blinking through her tears, she looked up at him.
“Sometimes you need to act!”
Josiah looked hurt. There was a blur of activity and a set and lighting rig was hurriedly erected. Cameras moved in whilst Josiah allowed a smock to be put round him by a make-up artist. His face was soon caked in foundation. Technicians and sound men did their bit whilst the best boy stood there wondering what it was he actually did. Finally, a director appeared and bellowed for quiet on the set before demanding action.
Josiah looked meaningfully with a smouldering glare into the nearest lens.
“Cut!” the director yelled and there was a moment of faffing before the crew were ready for the next shot. A boom microphone was lowered. Instructions poured forth from the director before action was called for again.
Speaking in a dramatic and emotional tone, Josiah boomed “I am just waiting for my big....”
Panic crossed his face as the rest of the line eluded him.
Instantly, the lights were extinguished and the cameras were withdrawn. Muttering bitterly, the crew wandered off, complaining about the poor quality of actor they had worked with. The make-up girl was in tears as she was led away. Last to leave, the director stopped in front of Josiah, pushing his face close to his erstwhile star’s.
“You’ll never work in this town again,” he hissed before stalking off.
Almost in a whisper, Josiah said “...chance. You know I want to be a movie star...”
Cecily shook her head.
“It just gets worse,” she said.
At this point, Hardy returned with a sticky plaster over a part of his beak. He looked rather crestfallen.
“I don’t know how you can be seen as the dominant species who have evolved more than any other creature,” he sniffed. “You are nothing more than wild beasts yourselves.”
Cecily went over and fussed over him.
“Shush, don’t upset yourself,” she cooed.
“I’m going back to the lake!” snapped Hardy. "I was crazy to think that this would ever work. Adieu."
With that he was gone before anyone could even think of saying "Bless you!".
"I'll just wash up," Josiah bellowed over the sound of Cecily sobbing hysterically, rolling on the floor and pounding her fists on the carpet. She clearly hadn't taken it very well.
"If you cared for me at all you would get that darling bird back in my life!" snapped Cecily.
Brooding on this, Josiah went into the kitchen whilst Cecily left hysterically, heading to her bedroom in the opposite direction.
"Now, the one on my heel is a particularly interesting shape," Mrs Train observed to the now empty room.