Short Story: The Guest

BeFunky Collage

The cards I picked yesterday yielded a WILD CARD! So all of my characters had to be animals… here’s the silly story I came up with.

It was Winter and Moses was preparing a nice, piping hot mug full of hot tea. He gently swirled in a generous helping of honey, watching as it dissolved into nothing. Just what I need.  He adjusted his glasses and plucked a copy of Wuthering Heights from the tightly packed shelves. He stroked the leather cover with his claws, resulting in a rather irritating scratching sound. He checked the novel and no damage had been done.

“Very well,”  he said sitting back into his rocking chair, his tail just skirting the wooden floor beneath. “Chapter 1, 1801. – I have just returned from a visit to my landlord…”

A knock at the door. He could hear the wind whipping about outside. Who could be out there on a night like this? He looked down at the novel. The irony hadn’t escaped him. He  placed the book on the piece of Redwood which served as his coffee table and approached the door.

“Who’s there?” he growled.

Knock. Knock. Knock. POUND. POUND. POUND.

“Who’s there?”

“Please open the door sir. I am an officer!”

“An officer?” Moses wrinkled up his nose. He doesn’t sound like a bear to me. “A police officer?”

“No sir. But if you would be kind enough to open the door you’ll understand.”

“And why should I? You could be some sort of predator with good manners!”

A long silence preceded the next exchange. So long that Moses thought he had moved on.

“Sir!” Cried the voice from outside the door. “The weather is soon to get worse. Please! You have my word as an officer – No harm will come to you!”

Moses thought for a minute and remembered that he was a Badger. He might be old, but he still had teeth and he still had claws. It was legal to defend yourself these days. “Alright. I’ll open up. No funny business.”

He unlocked the door and stepped back, allowing the officer enter. When he entered the dwelling, the beast was covered in snow and ice from head to toe. And what a head it was! Moses instinctively cowered near the fireplace. He tried his best to remain at ease, relaxed even, but it was difficult. There was a Lion in his living room.

He was enormous, although not full grown. He couldn’t be, thought Moses. He’d be twice as big. The animal was beautiful to look at, with his glowing green eyes that seemed to listen to the spirits in the air. And his mane was magnificent! He even stepped outside to shake it off. “Your beautiful home will be drenched. Please, let me do you this small kindness,” he said.

Moses watched in awe as this Lion, this Officer of the King pawed about his living room. The beast admired his watercolors, his deftness of hand, and compared them to the great Don Romalli, noting that it must be more difficult for a Badger to hold a brush than a Chimp. He hung his great cape like a curtain between the kitchen and the den, and set his giant boots next to the fire. Moses could have fit himself into just one of those boots. I could probably have a nice summer home in there, he smiled to himself.

“Now then,” said the Lion. “My name is Officer Madrigal, and I insist you allow me to make you some tea.”

“Oh no. Oh no… I have just…. I have this!” Moses found himself holding his mug of now lukewarm tea between both hands, arms reached out before him as if to say, “See! See my magnificent tea Yes! Yes!”

Officer Madrigal peered into the mug and snorted hot air into it. “Cold. More tea for my gracious host!” He padded back towards the kitchen. “Black or herbal? Or do you have a preference? I certainly enjoy a nice chamomile, but nothing beats Earl Gray on a night like this. Thank the King for tea, eh old chap?” The Lion looked at Moses with expectant eyes.

“Oh… I’ll just have whatever.” Moses tried to smile, but it has never been the strong suit of the Badger. The Lion went into the kitchen and Moses could hear cupboards opening and closing, water from the spiggott, a kettle slammed down on the old iron burner.

The Lion appeared with the Badger’s favorite tea set – delicate cream colored china with small mice and purple flowers linked in a daisy chain around each piece. “Interesting design,” remarked Officer Madrigal. He placed the tea set on the coffee table.

“You looked practised at tea service. Do they teach you that in the Academy?” It was a sincere question, but the lion began to laugh. Moses found the sound to be rather aggressive for such a joyful expression of emotion, but one can’t control everything. He looked down at his long claws and sighed.

“That is hilarious!” Howled the Lion. “I apologize, but I began to picture all of us cadets carrying trays of tea instead of rifles and…” His roars shook the den. “What they do teach us is dexterity. We are rather large animals, and as Officers of the King we can’t go around knocking over every little thing. So they give us dexterity drills to make us more…”

“Dexterous?” said Moses.

“Well, yes. I guess that is it. We are supposed to acclimate so the humans fear us less. The few of them left out there.” Officer Madrigal walked past his cape and back into the kitchen. “I’ll just be a moment longer. Where do you keep the tea?” He called.

Moses sat silent in his favorite rocking chair watching a large hunk of ice melting in front of the fire. Any minute now…

The Lion came back through the black cape curtain holding a small rectangular box in his paw. He sniffed at it and opened it using a single, magnificent claw. He winced and the box fell to the floor. Its contents strewn about the floor. The old Badger sat in his chair rocking back and forth, eyes glazed over by the fire.

“Is that…? Do you keep hair in your tea box?” Cried Officer Madrigal.

“Perhaps,” said Moses. The Lion nosed the hairs. Clumps of matted animal hairs were mixed with dirt and sap. He smelled rodent, mouse probably, and the distinctive odor of chipmonk.

“What is that supposed to mean? This is disgusting!” Officer Madrigal began to snort and sniff and paw at the matted hairs stuck to his nose. He stood on his hind legs and snatched his cape. He was putting on his boots when Moses spoke again.

“You see Lion, I am a Badger. I eat mice and other small disgusting creatures. I understand that the world has adapted to Human ways, but I am not of the world. I stay here in my Den and read my novels and stay out of the fray. You sir, Officer Sir, entered my personal space in the middle of the night. And while you were quite pleasant and respectful, you were still a guest in my home. You should have just quietly declined the tea, sir.”

The Lion was frozen, stunned, with his boot half on. His mouth hanging open allowing for a rather large puddle of drool to accumulate on his trousers. Moses picked up the small wooden tea box and brought it to the offending spill. He swept up all the hair and shook it back into the box.

“Now then,” he said to the Lion, “Will you be staying for tea?”

 

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