Chuck’s missed this one out. It’s about time I brought Sir Woebegone out again, though, to make my blog more MG friendly. Not that this is any less weird than anything else I’ve done lately… but it did more or less come to me in a dream! Its just over 1100 words.
Sir Woebegone Goes Fishing
It was a funny sort of day, very brightly coloured but with heavy skies, making the buzzing of the bees extra loud, and extra soporific. Sir Woebegone had been here a couple of weeks, checking out the locality and seeing whether anyone had need of a knight in shining armour. Or even rusty armour, since his needed a clean, spare parts, and oil for the hinges. He mused on this as he fished.
Fishing, in Sir Woebegone’s life, carried out the function of looking busy yet passing the time in an agreeable manner. Sleeping being his favourite agreeable manner, followed by musing on things. His helmet lay upside down on the grass beside him, cradling a bottle of his favourite beverage for fishing, cider, lying in a bag which once had contained ice cubes, now a slushy mess. He didn’t actually fish with the cider. He fished with a worm, on a hook, on a string, attached to the end of his sword. The cider kept his thirst away and helped to pacify the worm.
He didn’t like using an innocent worm, and most worms weren’t too keen, either. Hence he offered cider as a bribe. After a couple of sips, most worms were ready for anything.
“Hey, yes, bring it on!”
“Here, fishy, fishy. Bet you can’t catch me!”
and other challenges – part of the drunken worms’ repartee.
Today’s worm was no exception, except for being exceptionally large, brown and juicy-looking.
“Good afternoon, worm,” Sir Woebegone had addressed him.
“Who ya talkin to, bo’? You talkin’ at me?”
“Well, yes I am, and I’m not ‘boy’ but ‘sir’, if you don’t mind.”
“Oooh, la dee da, I must say. Hey, boys, I’ve got myself a real live ‘sir’, here, just ready to hook me up and make me swim for my life!”
“Who are you talking to?” Sir Woebegone was puzzled. This was not normally how worms behaved.
“Well, I can ask the same question: I mean, who YOU talkin’ to?”
“I’m talking to you, Mr Worm,” Sir Woebegone said, leaning over to get the cider and the little dish he used for his peace offering.
“Well, I ain’t talkin’ to YOU. I’m talkin’ to my mates. And they’re goin’ to stop you from… hey, party time!”
“Would you like some cider?”
“Yeah, man! I LOVES cider!”
“Here you go then…” and Sir Woebegone introduced the worm to the dish of cider, and took a swig from the bottle to keep him company.
An hour had passed, and he could tell by the humming that occasionally rose to the surface, that the worm was partying with other lifeforms he came across in the cool green water.
“Hey, nymphie! Hello, darlin’; want to dance with me t’night? Oh, snailie, come over here, you dark teaser, you. No, well, you’ll miss out, that’s for sure.”
Sir Woebegone dozed off, rousing occasionally as another flurry of bubbles broke the surface. The worm sounded good for a few hours yet. Next time he roused because the sun had gone off him, and he felt cold. He gave a start as he opened one eye to discover a large form standing beside him.
“Er, hello,” he stammered, not wishing to seem surprised, but failing.
A very tall girl stood next to him.
“Is that my potion you’re drinking?” she asked.
“Potion? No, not this, this is my cider.”
“It smells like my potion.”
“Well, why not try some,” he said. “Here, try this.” Woebegone raised up the small dish previously occupied by the worm; the dregs might be warm, but they were still drinkable.
She drank. “More.”
Sir Woebegone sighed and poured some more of his cider into the dish. She seemed easier to reach than when he’d first given it to her. Was she…
“Yes, you’ve definitely got my shrinking potion,” the girl said, “thanks. I can never find it when I need it.”
“You’re welcome. I’m Sir Woebegone. And you are…?”
“Alice, of course. Everyone knows me. It’s a right pain. They are forever stealing my potions or hiding my them in other foods just to laugh at me when I grow enormous or shrink to nothing. It can be very difficult, being small enough to fit on a fishing hook. Who’ve you got on there today, anyway?”
“Just a worm.”
“JUST a worm? Don’t you think worms matter? Don’t you think they have feelings? You monster.”
“Oh, I say, that’s a bit harsh, don’t you think? He practically begged me to use him. He’s having a great time down there, listen…” and he waggled his sword a little, allowing some bubbles to breach the surface, carrying the strains of Some Enchanted Evening, over the perpetual sounds of ripples, and bees.
“How are you doing down there, Wormie?” he called.
“I’s a-fine, thank you most gracious Woebegonebegonebegone. I’s gotta friend comin’ up to see you. I’m Coming Up…” he sang, and Woebegone could see him boogying to his new song before his view was blocked by a hairy nose, whiskered face and beady black eyes, that broke the water with a soft ‘plop’.
“How do, mate. Hi, Alice. Got any more pop?” the newcomer asked.
“Only cider,” Woebegone replied, holding up his bottle and looking sadly at the level in it.
“What no salmon-paste-peanut-butter-sandwiches-cold-tongue-french-bread-watercress-radishes-marmite-soldiers-pickled-egg-cold-soup-new-york-cheesecake-pizza-pie-and-balti-chicken-with-samosas-to-take-away?”
“Er, ‘fraid not.”
“Oh, what a disappointment,” said Alice. “Ratty and I love to picnic. As long as Eeyore doesn’t find us.”
“Why don’t you want me to find you?” came a slow mournful voice from behind them.
“Well…” Alice was flummoxed.
“That would spoil the game,” said Ratty.
“Oh, are you playing games? I hate games.”
Sir Woebegone watched the threesome bicker over games, and whether they were going to play any. It had got noisy and crowded on the riverbank, and no fun for him at all. He raised his sword, bringing Wormie out of the water and allowing his latest song to rip into the air… “you can have a good time, you can do whatever you want…”
It was all too much for him. He laid Wormie next to the others, where he writhed in joyful rhythm to his song, and the others all joined in the chorus.
Woebegone shook his head, picked up his helmet and thought of the blacksmith at the OK Corral. It was the best place for fixing his armour that he knew, and he wouldn’t get any sense out of this lot.
Fishing. What a stupid pastime.
© J M Pett 2015