Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 30 March 2013
It had been almost a week since the old gardener's transmutation, and he laid on the compost heap irritably snapping at flies and unable to do anything about the weeds which had grown up between the regimented rows of green bean-shoots which had sprouted in the warm weather during his absence.
Unable to sleep, he had been sitting in his little hovel late at night, listening to the bats chittering away outside as they tore around in their insatiable hunt for flying insects. At the time, it had not occurred to him to ask himself how he could hear them at all, let alone with the clarity and distinction that he had not even experienced as a child.
All his senses had been heightened that night, and he had become obsessed with one particular bat which he found he could aurally follow as it flitted around outside, communicating with it's fellows in a lower register at the same time as emitting ever-accelerating echo-location signals as it homed-in on yet another flying creature of the night.
He was seated - eyes closed - at an open window, with his hands stretched out before him on a table and a single, electric light bulb hanging above his head, when an extraordinary event occurred.
A large moth - attracted by the light - fluttered in through the window, and began to circle the bulb, gently bashing against it and creating little bell-like rings as it hammered it's fat body against the glass.
The old man became aware of the approach of his bat as the machine-gun twittering it was firing at the moth was directed toward him, and in a brief moment, the bat entered the room and actually came to a dead stop as it snatched the creature just over his head, before turning on it's axis and returning to the black of the night.
Two seconds later, the scented debris from the punctured moth settled on the old man like soft rain, and his senses were overloaded with the perfume of millions of prematurely released pheromones, one of which could have been detected downwind by any female of the species from a distance of several miles.
Almost swooning from the shock of it, he sat in the chair, all the while breathing deeply through his nostrils, trying to recover his composure and make his way to his bed to try to sleep.
Before long, the back of the seat began to cut into his legs, and his spine ached horribly, as if about to snap under it's own weight.
He slowly opened his eyes and saw - with utter horror - two furry and wolf-like paws on the table before him, both tipped with blackish and unkempt claws.
With a sharp yelp, he tried to stand up but only fell to the floor and lay there, curled up in a tight crescent and panting heavily. Something was pointing directly at his nose, and it was a while before he realised that this was, in fact, his own tail.
He had passed the rest of night trying to console himself by slowly licking his balls as he waited for daylight and refuge with the old woman at the house. She, he thought, would be the only one capable of understanding.
After sixty years of addiction to tobacco, the sudden deprivation of it was causing yet more anxiety for the old man, and the relentless diet of tinned dog food that the old woman had been feeding him for the last few days was having an adverse effect on his guts, so he decided to lift himself from the compost heap and do something about it.
He made his way down the sandy path to his hut and carefully nosed the door open before gingerly poking his snout around it to sniff the stale air within. He could tell that they had been there, but were not there now, so he crept across the room toward the table which - to his relief - still had the pipe and pouch lying where he had left them. He dragged them both off, dropped them on the floor, then went over to a hessian bag in the corner of the room and thrust his head into it, pulling out a raw carrot.
The carrot was old and flexible, but he devoured it quickly, then let out a cross between a belch and a bilious cough before gathering up the smoking kit and making his way back to the house.
The Yorkshire Terrier edged away from him and retreated to it's basket as he entered the kitchen, and he dropped the pipe and pouch at the feet of the old woman, looking up expectantly as she stared between them and him with incredulity.
It was a while before she understood what he was asking her to do, but eventually she took some of the stinking weed from the pouch and stuffed it into the bowl of the pipe, then proffered the stem to the ragged lips of the old man, who seized it between the two rows of teeth in his massive jaws and waited for her to light it. The old woman suddenly became overwhelmed with a surge of pity for the wretched creature, and felt as if she were administering heroin to a disabled junkie.
Composing herself, she went to a drawer in the dresser and extracted some huge, oversized matches, one of which she struck and held to the bowl of the pipe as the old dog began to make appalling sucking noises. She had never lit a pipe for anyone before, but soon the flame took and blue smoke began wafting from the scabby nostrils of the mongrel, swathing it's head in wreaths and clouds of comforting nicotine.
They had been so engrossed in their task that they had not noticed the owner of the house who had quietly entered through a side door, and was staring at the surreal scene with a look of utter astonishment.
He gave a small cough, and they both slowly turned their heads to see him standing there. That was it, thought the old woman, he would have to be told everything.