Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Ever since the Co-op closed down...
“You saved my life forty-seven times?”
Harold dropped to a piece of dressed stone with the rough outline of a man in it. He had his thinking face on.* “How?” he said. “I haven’t needed saving more than half a dozen times in my whole life and I didn’t see you on any of those occasions.”
“That’s because I’m an expert in not being noticed,” said Tim. He chipped a piece of lichen off his foot as he talked. “Not that I always save you personally. I can’t leave the building so I mostly rely on what my network tells me.” He indicated the magpies. “If they tell me you’re in trouble I send help.”
“I see.” Harold couldn’t have really, because his eyes were closed. He opened them again. “So all those times I was thanking Jasfoup, or Devious, or Gillian… they were all down to you, really?”
“No,” said Tim. “Not always. Sometimes you didn’t even know you were in danger, like when you were about to fall down a mineshaft in 1981 but the sight of a topless sunbather distracted you. My people,” Tim nodded at the birds, “stole her bikini. I’ve still got it, as a matter of fact.”
“So that’s why I’ve always seen magpies about, ever since I was a child,” said Harold. “They were watching over me all the time.”
“That’s right.” Tim smiled. “They appreciate you bidding them ‘good morning,’ too.”
“What about at night?” said Harold. “Do you equip them with Action-Man sized night vision goggles?”
“That’s because the bats take the night shift,” said Tim. “I never sleep.”
“This is fantastic.” Harold stood up, crossed the tower room and shook the stone cat’s hand. “How can I ever thank you?”
“Well…” Tim glanced at me. “I’m out of pilchards.”
*not that he carries around a suitcase full of different faces**, but he’d arranged the features of his usual face into the one he used when deep in thought.
**because if he did I’d have picked him a better one out.