The Grumpy Sparrow and the Unfortunate Trees

Why am I like this.


 

Sparrow

 

It was a Sunday full of wine and sprinkles for all but the poor and the poorly, and the animals in the forest rejoiced but for a grumpy little sparrow who fluttered about, searching for some sweet, sweet white to abate his surly demeanor.

“Sir Sparrow!” called a canary from a branch above.  “Why so somber on such a beautiful day?”

The sparrow settled on another branch.  “It is a medium day at best – at the very best – and, if you must know, I’ve had not a bite to eat for its entirety.”

“Ah, well, there are some crickets in the underbrush just east of here!”

The sparrow glowered.  “I’ve had my fill of cricket.  Begone with your sunny feathers and lackluster suggestions.”

“Suit yourself, then!”  The canary took her leave.

It was in that moment that the sparrow noticed a leaf to his left of precisely the wrong shade of yellow-green.  Properly offended, he bent down and plucked the unsightly thing from his perch.  Doing so, however, created an imbalance with the other side of the branch, so he plucked a second leaf to even things out.

Several minutes later, the branch was laid bare.

Please do not remove all of my leaves, Mr. Sparrow, said the tree in a language made of rustles.  I need them to photosynthesize.

The sparrow pecked the tree in irritation, then took to the air.  But in his haste to be on with his search, he neglected to pay sufficient mind to overhead clearance, and promptly bonked his head upon a higher branch and plummeted to the earth below.

He awoke sometime later to the gentle shake of a thin brown squirrel.  “Are you all right?” asked the squirrel, nosing him when he stirred.  “Come on – let’s get you up before a fox comes around and spots you like this.”

The sparrow hopped to his feet and stretched out his wings, which felt intact.  “I’m fine.  I was merely seeing what it must feel like to be one of those stupid birds who falls to the ground for no good reason at all.  To see if I could better sympathize with them, you understand.”

“Oh!  Did it work?”

“No.”

“Haha!  You’re a funny one, sparrow.”

“I’m hungry, is what I am.  I can’t seem to find a spec of sugar anywhere.”

The squirrel’s eyes brightened and he clapped his paws together.  “Oh!  You’re in luck!  I have a big pile of it in my tree.”  He gestured to a knothole in a nearby oak.  “I’ll tell you what – if you help me gather a couple of the hard-to-reach acorns up there, you can have as much of it as you want!”

The sparrow considered this for a moment, and then ended the squirrel’s life.

Slipping into the oak, the sparrow instantly noticed the heap of glorious snowy powder tucked away in one corner of the hole.  Wasting not another moment, he thrust his beak into it, but then immediately recoiled.

The sparrow puffed up, pregnant with rage, for it was not sugar at all, but saccharin – a devious impostor created by man.  He knew this, for as well as grumpy he was a clever sparrow.  In fact, a human child had once tried to feed him saccharin.  A child who had concluded that day with fewer fingers than she had begun it.

The sparrow thwacked the atrocious substance with a wing, sending up a billow of grievous white dust which settled upon his feathers.

A squirrel was a low-quality creature, he reminded himself.


 

Bene scribete.

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The Bag of Promises

No.


 

bag

 

Somewhere deep within the Forest of Meaning there lay a bag filled with promises for every creature, great and small.

On one bright and meaningful day, as woodland critters gathered around to await their chances at it, a nervous brown squirrel approached and ruffled through the bag as though, one might say, he were rooting for acorns.  When at last he found his, it promised him:

Your tail will grow much larger this summer.

This pleased the squirrel greatly, for he had chosen a very large tree as his home to compensate for the lack of confidence his currently meager tail provided him.  A large home and a large tail?   Well, the squirrelettes wouldn’t be able to resist him then.  He thanked the bag and moved on.

Next, it was the turn of a fluffy white bunny.  She sniffed around in the bag and quickly located her promise:

Your hops will be bouncier than ever this week, and by its end, you will find your one true rabbity love.

The bunny hopped in excitement and nuzzled the bag with gratitude, then bounded away.

A deer came afterward.  She hoofed around the bag and located a promise just for her:

You will run with more grace and speed than you thought possible, and avoid the jaws of the wolf.

This was, of course, splendid news.  The deer had a very young fawn and would not like to see him orphaned.  Well, naturally she wouldn’t see him orphaned, as in such a scenario she would be deceased.  The opposite was entirely preferable.  She sighed in relief and trotted off.

A cricket followed.  He crawled into the bag and searched around.  He dug through all the promises, explored every corner, scoured every inch, but could find no promise meant for him.

The cricket was crestfallen.  “Dear bag,” he pleaded, “have you nothing to promise me?”

“I’m certain I must,” replied the bag – the bag can speak when it suits it, let’s say.  “Did you try looking harder?”

It was an astute suggestion.  The cricket tried looking harder, but still uncovered no promise for himself.  “I see nothing, o magnificent bag.”  The cricket was quite despondent.

“That is so very unlike me,” mourned the bag.  “I can think of not a single reason why I would have nothing to promise you.”

It was then – exactly then – that a grumpy and impatient sparrow fluttered down, snapped the cricket up, and ate him bodily.  It was not very satisfying.

“Oh,” said the bag, relieved.  “That would be why.”  The world made sense again.

The sparrow eyed the bag suspiciously.  “Have you anything for me, bag?”

“I don’t see why not!”

The sparrow shuffled through the bag and found a promise all his own:

You will find no sugar this week.

“That is a terrible promise,” grumbled the sparrow.

“I am sorry, Mr. Sparrow.”

“I feel this entire ordeal has been quite meaningless.”

“I understand, Mr. Sparrow.”

“Just a waste of everyone’s time.”  The sparrow pecked the bag in irritation.

“Please do not peck me, Mr. Sparrow.”

Thoroughly displeased with the day’s events, the sparrow took his leave.


 

Bene scribete.

Dincton Flatt and the Very Grey Suit

Uh-oh, another one.


 

greysuit

 

“This suit,” Flatt muttered, half turning to the left, then right, as he admired himself in the mirror, “is rather grey.  Extremely grey, one might say.  But is it…”  He ran his hands over the coat.  “…too grey?”

“I shouldn’t think so, sir,” his robot coyote responded with a tilt of his head.

The tailor started, falling back onto his bum and dropping his tape.  “Heavens!  It can talk?”

“Featherby can extremely talk,” Flatt sighed, waving a hand in dismissal of the obvious.  “For him not to speak would be the proper marvel.”

The tailor frowned, but went back to work.

Flatt’s gaze returned to the mirror, but truthfully, had never left it.  “Perhaps you’re right, Featherby.  One can never have too grey a suit, can he?”

“Not when made by the finest tailor in Danesbury, sir.”

“Oh, well,” the tailor sputtered, distracted but obviously chuffed, “th-thank you, yes.  You’re a–a fine thing, I suppose.”

Featherby nodded curtly, and Flatt shook his head, summoning an appropriate reply to his tongue, but before it could bust snappily and handsomely through his lips, the shop’s door swung open and a man in a lavender suit twirled in.

“What on Earth…?”  Flatt only saw him through the mirror, and still didn’t feel like turning around.

“I require a tune-up for my vestments,” the entrant announced, voice lilting all over the place.  His short hair and mustache were blue, which they had no business being, if Flatt were to be consulted on the matter.

“Mr. Gabbery is quite occupied at the moment, I’m afraid,” Flatt said, ensuring his tone suggested his own importance without necessarily rubbing it in the strange man’s face.

“Yet I am an immediate man,” the newcomer assured, holding his arms out and strutting fancily over to the others.

Featherby piped up, “And who are you, precisely, if you do not mind my asking?”  There may have been a bite to his words.  Good for Featherby.

The man turned to the coyote and set his fingertips upon his breast.  “Dabither Fudgebegotten, naturally.”  He swooped down and held out a hand, to which Featherby tentatively offered a paw, and they shook.  He then straightened up and faced the tailor once more, gesturing over himself.  “Now present me that I am presentable.”

“Of–of course, just as soon as I finish–” Mr. Gabbery began, but Fudgebegotten overrode him:

“Cannot be borne, I regret to say.  I have many preparations to make.”

Flatt finally deigned to turn his head, raising an eyebrow.  “Surely, my good man, you cannot mean to interrupt my fitting?”

“I haven’t the time to wait on questionably grey suits, I fear. I’m certain you understand.”

“Nonsense,” Flatt grumbled.  “Its greyness is precise…”

“Nevertheless,” Fudgebegotten intoned, addressing the tailor, “my needs are a priority.”  He smiled, and his mustache twiggled.  “I promise.”

The tailor furrowed his brow, but nodded.  “Very well, then.”  He gestured headwise for Flatt to step down from the pedestal.

Flatt eyed him.  “Truthfully, Mr. Gabbery?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Flatt.  He did promise.”

Flatt groaned but complied.  “Come, then, Featherby.  Let us quit the scene of this indignity.”  He marched toward the exit, coyote in tow, but stopped as he reached the door, glowering back at the lavender-suited tailor usurper.  “Mr. Fudgebegotten – you wouldn’t happen to have been wearing a hat earlier, by any chance?”

Maaaybe,” Fudgebegotten practically sang, lips pursed joyfully and eyebrows waggling for a needlessly extended period.

Flatt’s face darkened, and he flung his way out through the shop’s threshold.

“You know, sir,” Featherby mused as they walked down the street, “now that I see it in the daylight, I wonder if it could be said that your suit is, perhaps, after all, just a touch too much on the grey side.”

The frown on Flatt’s face might have dislocated his jaw.  “Oh, Featherby, why did I build you?”

“For good times, sir.”


 

Bene scribete.

Dincton Flatt and the Heavy Taco

I’m going to be honest – this is not worth reading.


 

Taco

Dincton Flatt shuffled ponderously down Bendstrom avenue, eyes darting suspiciously at everyone he passed by.

“It’s far too small a day for bacon,” he muttered.

“I wouldn’t know,” said Featherby, trotting alongside him.  And he wouldn’t, for in addition to being a coyote, he was a robot, and could not eat bacon in the slightest.

Flatt stopped a short, round man coming from the opposite direction, placing his hands to his shoulders and leering into his beady eyes.  “You.”

“Me?” the man sputtered.

“Yes, you.  The very one I am accosting.  How long have you had that hat?”

The man reached up and grabbed at his driving cap.  “This one?”

“Yes, that one.  Out with it, man.”

“Er–a couple years, I imagine.”

“And how long have you been wearing it?”

“All day – what is the meaning of this?”

Flatt sighed and released him, waving him off.  The man gave a distrustful glance, but went on his way.

“Sir,” offered Featherby, “perhaps you shouldn’t be attempting to track down our hatleaver on an empty stomach.”

Flatt wiped a hand down his face.  “Yes, I suppose you’re right.  But what could possibly satisfy my hunger for justice?”

“There’s a newspaper-and-taco stand just over there.”

“Why on Earth is there a newspaper-and-taco stand on Bendstrom?”

“A question for the ages, sir.”

“Never mind.  It’ll do in a pinch.”  Flatt made his way over to the stand and got the attention of its attendant – an oily teenager with lank brown hair in his eyes (which could only serve to obscure his taco-related perceptive capabilities).

“Good afternoon, sir,” said the vendor.  “Would you like a taco?”

“As it happens, I would.”  Flatt looked the boy up and down.  “I see you’re not wearing a hat.”  He narrowed his eyes.  “Have you murdered anyone lately?”

The vendor got to work on the taco.  “I don’t think so.  I’m not really one for murderin’.  Mum would be none too pleased with that.”

Something on the front of the day’s paper caught Flatt’s attention, and he snatched up a copy.  Depicted in the side column was an all-too-familiar face.

“Cleben Render.”  A fart of a man if ever there was one, and there was one, and his name was Cleben Render.  His fiery red hair and leaf-green suit said it all.

Featherby nosed at another copy.  “What do you imagine he is doing back in Danesbury?”

“Who could say?”

“Likely the story written about him in the very paper you’re holding, sir.”

“There’s no time for that, Featherby!”  He slammed the paper back into the stand, and in the following moment, was handed a fresh, sizzling taco.

It smelled appetizing enough, but as he tested it out in his hand, he noticed an unusually generous heft.

“This taco is rather heavy, isn’t it?  Is the shell made of solid gold?”

The vendor shrugged.  “I think that would be cost-prohibitive, sir.”

“How much is it?”

“Two quid.”

“Lead in the beef, then?”

“Maybe if the cow was shot to death.”  The boy fired off a pair of finger-guns.

Flatt bit into the taco.  The flavor was loud, and it hit his gut as though his esophagus were punching him in the stomach. His colon began to rumble, and his eyes reached out in desperation for the nearest establishment with plumbing.  “Pay the man, Featherby.”  He began to backpedal.

“Sir?  You have given me no funding.”

Flatt turned and broke out into a sprint, calling back, “Oh, Featherby, why did I build you?”

“For good times, sir!”


 

Bene scribete.

A Stick in the Road

stick

 

Once upon a time, there was a stick in the road that nobody liked.

“I very much dislike this stick,” muttered John.

“And who are you to make such a proclamation?” asked Lydia.

“I’m John,” said John.

Lydia raised an eyebrow.  “I see.  I’m Amy.”

“Are you, now?”

“No.  I’m Lydia, actually.”

“I was hoping you’d say that,” John sighed.

“It is a rather awful stick, isn’t it?”  Lydia crossed her arms and stared distrustfully at the little piece of wood lying in the middle of the street, doing no one any good at all.

“Quite so.  If I had to guess, I’d say it’s worse than the half-eaten sandwich my employer threw at me in a fit of anger earlier this morning.”

“That does sound dreadful.”

John put a hand on Lydia’s arm, appreciating the sympathy.  “What would you say should be done about the stick?  We could give it to a dog, I suppose.  Or put it in a museum.”

Lydia shook her head.  “I think that would be a disservice to both dog-kind and society as a whole.  No, I think it must simply be done away with.”

“But how?”  John frowned, shifting awkwardly as he let the thing re-enter his field of vision.  “How does one get rid of such an unpleasant stick?”

“I have a pistol at home,” Lydia offered.  “Perhaps we could shoot it?”

“Maybe.  Maybe…”

Collin strolled by the two, sneering at the road as he passed.  “Lousy, good-for-nothing stick.”

“Who was that?” whispered Lydia.

“I think it was Collin,” John decided.

A small yellow vehicle pulled up to the stick, paused, then reversed and backed up the way it came.

“Whatever it is,” Lydia insisted, “something must be done.”

“You’re right.”  John swallowed, tugging nervously at his collar, then stepped out into the street and approached the stick.

“John?” Lydia called.  “What on Earth–”

John picked up the stick and tossed it into the brush on the other side of the road, then returned to Lydia’s side.

“Oh, thank heaven,” a woman in front of a flower shop called as a portly man down the sidewalk said, “About time,” and a few other onlookers submitted their chorus of relief.

“Well done, John,” Lydia beamed.  “I dare say that stick won’t be bothering anyone any longer.”

“It was truly a despicable thing,” John agreed.

“Do you think we ought to be married, now?”

John nodded gravely, gazing off into the horizon.  “I believe so, yes.”

They linked arms and walked off down the street, and no one knows what became of them, as they were not very important.

 

Bene scribete.

Dincton Flatt and the Crime Scene Place

Time for some more nonsense?


 

Is a crimes

 

Dincton Flatt strode handsomely through the quaint French doors of 29 Cherry Grove Street, his robot coyote trotting alongside him.  He adjusted his collar and surveyed the scene, expression insisting on his own importance.

“Heaven’s grace, Flatt!” blurted Abberson Watley, one of his top agents.  “It’s been three hours – where on Earth were you?”

“He felt the need to take a detour for a spot of chair shopping,” Featherby offered.

Flatt raised an eyebrow at his coyote.  “A man must see to the needs of his posterior, you’ll agree.”

“Mr. Flatt, I’m glad you could join us at last,” a familiar voice floated in from another room.

Flatt nodded in greeting as the other approached.  “Constable Billiardsman.  What precisely are we looking at?”  Jeborah Billiardsman was one of the more competent officers he had worked with, but his attire sported a preposterous amount of buttons.

“It’s Detective Inspector, Mr. Flatt, as I’ve told you many times.”  He gestured toward the middle-aged woman who lay motionless in the center of the sitting room.  “Hiddia Ribbenstern, forty-three years of age, found at 10:30 this morning with her body cut off.”

“Her entire body?”  Flatt grimaced, eyes sweeping over the woman’s corpse.

“I’m afraid so.”

Flatt shook his head.  “Savages.”  He knelt over the body.  “Do we have any leads?”

“None yet,” Watley sighed.  “Who would commit such a heinous act in such a well-kept and well-priced little chalet?  To so wantonly devalue it is the real crime, if you ask me.  Have you seen the kitchen?  Real marble tops and new, stainless steel appliances.  Solid maple floors throughout.  And such a short distance from the station.”

These last comments were directed toward Billiardsman, who held up a hand.  “I’m not here to house-hunt, Mr. Watley.  Merely to investigate a murder.”

“Yes.  Yes, of course…”

“And on the topic of said murder: how much do you know about the owners, Mr. Flatt?  Why are they selling?  Any financial difficulties?”

“The Hollyrakers?  I don’t believe so.  She’s expecting, and they purchased a larger property last month.”

“One represented by Flatt’s Flats, of course,” Watley added.

“Naturally.”  Flatt smiled at his reflection in the metal clasps of the deceased’s handbag, running a hand over his short, impossibly blond hair.  “No, I doubt they were involved in this.  Perhaps the culprit was incensed by the victim’s fashion.”  He stood up, gesturing to the bowler that lay askew on the floor, a half meter from the woman’s head.  “That bag with that cap?  No, madame, I fear not.”

“I hardly think–” Billiardsman began.

“Did anyone notice her mobile?” Featherby chimed in.  He had been nosing around the woman’s body, and was fishing the device out from under her frame with a paw.

Watley retrieved the phone and looked through it.  His eyes widened.  “My god!”

Flatt stepped over.  “Watley?”  Watley showed him the screen.  Ms. Ribbenstern had written a note to herself, and Flatt read it aloud for the officer’s sake: “I am not wearing a hat today.”

Billiardsman blinked.  “No hat?  You’re certain?  Then, that means…”

“That our killer must be some–some sort of hatleaver.”  Flatt frowned.  “Watley – call Ms. Franklin and have her cancel my dentist appointment for this afternoon.”

“You do not have a dentist appointment today, sir,” reminded Featherby.

“Ah, yes.  Watley – call Ms. Franklin and have her schedule an appointment with Dr. Clamb for 5:00.”

Watley’s features contorted.  “But, Flatt, we–”

“And then have her cancel it.”

Watley was silent a moment before asking,  “Whyever for?”

“We haven’t the time to indulge in the luxuries of oral hygiene, Watley; we have a murder to solve.”  Flatt turned to Billiardsman, who had scooped up the cap and was turning it over studiously.  “Have that checked for hair and prints, Constable.  Meanwhile, we’ll start looking for anyone who appears to have recently parted ways with a hat.  And committed homicide.”

“Detective Inspector,” the officer sighed.  “And I assure you, Mr. Flatt, that the CID is quite capable of handling this investigation.  You are merely here as a courtesy and character witness–”

“Nonsense, my good man.”  Flatt clapped him on the shoulder.  “I’ll have this dastardly hatleaver brought in forthwith.  And this property will sell in no time at all.”  He turned and beckoned to Watley and Featherby.  “Come, gentlemen; let us get to work.”

“Mr. Flatt, that isn’t how–” Billiardsman was calling after him, but Flatt stopped listening.  He was too busy playing at a bicuspid with the tip of his tongue.  Alas, there were signs of a chip.

“Watley – ring Ms. Franklin, if you would  I think I’ll keep that appointment after all.”


 

Bene scribete.

10 Minute Story: Dincton Flatt and the Perfect Chair

Here’s another one of these, I guess, why not.

WHY NOT.


 

A chair

 

“No, that simply will not do,” muttered Dincton Flatt, dismissing yet another chair as he wandered down the expansive aisles of the Sitting King Emporium.

“You can’t be too picky, sir,” offered his robot coyote, trotting alongside him.  “Surely there must be something here you fancy.  It is, after all, the premiere shop in Danesbury for all your sitting needs.”

“My needs are precise, Featherby.  I must be comfortable as a mouse who is – well, you must know, extremely comfortable.  And it must make me look important – but not as though I’m trying to look important.  It’s a delicate balance, you realize.”

“If you say so, sir.”  Featherby trotted up and sniffed at another seat – a wide, over-padded avocado-green affair.  “What of this one, then?  I’d say it would do your bum a service.”

“Heavens, Featherby.”  Flatt put a hand to his chest, eyes rolling over the thing in mortification.  “It is a punishment to behold.”

“Certainly unpretentious, yes?  Yet only someone of obvious importance would dare let himself be seen perched on such a seat.  And it looks quite comfortable, you must admit.”

“I shall admit to nothing.  Surely it must be as far from delivering a pleasant sitting experience as one might imagine would be a pair of large and unforgiving needles protruding haphazardly and expectantly from the earth.”

“That is startling imagery, sir.  Nevertheless, you will not know unless you give it a try.”  Featherby hopped up onto it and bounced up and down a little.

Flatt narrowed his gaze, then turned and continued walking.  “Remind me to have your reasoning algorithms refined.”

The coyote sighed and jumped back down to follow.

“Can I help you find something?” a friendly but businesslike voice reached Flatt’s ear.  A sharply dressed middle-aged woman approached him from a couple aisles away, navigating awkwardly between the tightly packed rows of chairs to get to him.  She was carrying a clipboard.  It was always clipboards.

“You’re likely to be of more help than him, I suppose.”  Flatt nodded toward Featherby.

The attendant let out a small gasp on noticing the coyote.  “What?  Er, sir, I don’t think you’re allowed–”

“Hold the cream,” Flatt interrupted, eyes landing on a tall, ruddy-brown wingback the next row over, elegantly stitched and expertly beaded.  He squeezed through a pair of plush recliners to reach it, nearly tripping over them and falling on his face, but no, gravity would not best him on this day.

“Sir?” the attendant called after him.

“This one.”  He stroked the perfect chair in admiration.  “Yes.  This is the one.  Have it prepared for me, will you?”

The attendant scanned her clipboard, offering a sympathetic smile.  “I do apologize, but that item has already been claimed.”

Flatt grew pale in horror.  “What?  No, you must be–by whom?”  He searched the chair in a desperate fit, hands landing upon a small blue tag.  Across it was written one word – a word which Flatt whispered in despondency: “Cheverly.”  He slumped miserably down into it, becoming only more distraught as it greeted his posterior with immaculate support.

Featherby hopped up onto his master’s lap and nosed his face.  “Take heart, sir.  There is still the green one.”

Flatt leaned his head back, frown threatening to unravel his features.  “Oh, Featherby, why did I build you?”

“For good times, sir.”


 

Bene scribete.