Irish With A Tan

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The Hat the Monkey Wore

Sniffing around damp soil searching for insects and worms. The little raccoon began to dig. It had just rained not long ago. Having just rained, the forest was sure to be full of creeping critters ready to be eaten. There had been a heat wave the past week. This small raccoon had spent most of it in the water, not coming out in the midday heat. This time it was different, the wet forest air signaled the right time to find food. And this little raccoon was hungry. There in that spot it found a bounty that one would expect at end of a heat wave. The little raccoon put its head up. Something had startled it. A noise could be heard ahead. The bushes were rustling. The little raccoon readied itself to either jump or flee. There in front of it, out of the bush came a grey squirrel.

‘Chuck, you startled me! Why do you always insist on popping around when I’m eating?’

‘Why are you always eating when I pop around?’ asked Chuck.

‘Honestly Chuck, you really test my patience sometimes.’

‘Ah but what good is your patience if it’s never tested? How would you know you had any? You would be like that bird who I saw yesterday. He wouldn’t fly.’

‘What happened to him?’

‘Nothing. He was a turkey.’

‘Honestly Chuck,’ said the raccoon.

‘Are you coming to the Assembly?’

‘What for?

‘Bolbus!’

‘Why yes! Bolbus! How could I forget.’

‘Well you were eating. We all know how much you enjoy your food.’

‘Oh you’re humour is endless.’

‘As is your appetite.’

‘You!’ snarled the raccoon. Chuck hopped on his back and they made they’re way for the Assembly.  There, some of the woodland creatures would gather together and discuss the matters of the forest. Not all the creatures needed to be there. All were welcome. Usually it was just three representatives from each main kind of animal but not today. Today’s assembly was special. Everyone was going.
The deer, the rabbits, the badgers, everyone! This time the assembly was about Bolbus. So it was likely to be an interesting one. After a few moments of passing through the forest, they reached a round enclosure surrounded by trees. There were animals everywhere. Geese, owls, squirrels, badgers, many animals. And a monkey, a small brown monkey. It was holding a small black top hat with velvet lining going around it. But that wasn’t the strangest thing. There was a human standing beside the monkey. A boy human. A boy human child. There he was, standing in the center of the enclosure. The animals were staring, whispering amongst themselves. The boy stood with eyes wide open, unsure about whether to be amazed or frightened. Different animal noises could be heard all around the woods. The boy couldn’t make sense of the commotion. For the past five minutes a parliament of owls had been sitting and hooting a few yards away. One of the owls flapped over until he was standing a few feet away. The boy looked as the owl began to look him up and down. At that moment he couldn’t help but laugh.
Never in his entire life, did he expect to be inspected by an owl.

‘Boy why are you laughing?’ asked the owl.

‘He can’t understand you,’ replied the monkey.

‘I thought you told us the boy understood creatures.’

‘He can!’ said the monkey, ‘Only when he’s wearing the hat.’ The monkey held it up air, urging the boy to take it. The boy put it on. There was no longer the noisy commotion of animal sounds being heard. Instead, he heard conversations. Human like conversations.

‘I wonder if he has any treats…

‘They look kind of funny up close…

‘Can he talk…

‘What are those funny things covering him…

‘He’s very weird if you ask me…

‘I’m not weird!’ exclaimed the boy. The animals got louder and noises similar to gasping could be heard. They were all taken aback by the boy who could speak.

‘Boy, what is your name?’ asked the owl.

‘David… my… my name is David’ he said.  This was completely strange. Was he out of his mind? An owl spoke. And he understood.

‘Greetings David. I am HOOHOOT, Hoohoot the Owl. Head owl of the Parliament.’ Once again David couldn’t help but laugh. An owl spoke. And he understood.

‘Why do you keep laughing?’ enquired Hoohoot.
‘Hoohoot!’ said David in a fit of laughter.

‘Yes that is my name! Now tell me, why are you laughing.’

‘Because you’re an owl!’

‘Yes I know I am an owl. Now tell me, why are you laughing?’

‘Because you’re an owl and you have a name!’ giggled David.

‘Yes I’m quite aware that I am indeed an owl and that I do in fact have a name. Yet I fail to see what is so funny,’ said Hoohoot, clearly not amused.

‘You’ll have to pardon Hoohoot,’ said the Monkey ‘He’s not really into jokes.’

‘I don’t see the point of them, ‘added Hoohoot ‘and what do you mean by “pardon Hoohoot”. He was the one laughing!’

‘I’m sorry,’ said David ‘I didn’t mean to offend you.’

‘Well you have! Hooooo!’ went the owl. David could feel the urge to burst out into another fit of laughter well up inside him.  He held it down though. He did not want to see an angry owl. Still though, not laughing at this point in time had to be one of the hardest things he’s ever done.

‘Why do humans cover themselves with those things?’ said a little voice from nearby. David turned around to see who had spoken. There not too far away stood a squirrel. When it became aware that David had heard it, the squirrel backed away.

‘No I won’t hurt you’ declared David. The squirrel slowly came forward.

‘I was wondering,’ started the beaver ‘Why humans cover themselves in those things.’

‘You mean clothes?’ asked David, ‘humans don’t have fur like you do. So we need these things to keep warm.’

‘Who took your fur?’ asked the squirrel.

‘No one did. We’re not meant to have fur,’ he answered ‘Do you have a name too.’

‘Of course! Everyone has a name. Mine is Chuck. Chuck the Squirrel.’

‘He too is fond of jokes,’ added Hoohoot.

‘I told you all that he was nice,’ said the monkey.

‘Yes Bolbus,’ answered Hoohoot, ‘but not all the humans are.’ As he spoke, a raccoon came over and stopped in front of David.

‘Will you not introduce me?’ said the raccoon to Chuck.

‘Oh! I forgot. David, this is my good friend: Wilk, Wilk the Raccoon.’

‘Nice to meet you Wilk.’

‘Wilk likes to eat. Alot’

‘I do not!’ snapped Wilk. After growling at Chuck, he brought his attention back to David.

‘Here are worms and snails. For you to eat,’ said Wilk, offering his treats. David began to feel squeamish. He shuddered at the very thought that he was actually expected to accept this.

‘No thank you,’ replied David slowly pushing Wilk’s hand away. The thought just hit him that he was touching a Raccoon. Not only that but refusing dinner, from a Raccoon. His parents had always told him that when you were a guest at someone else’s home, you ate what they gave you. It would be rude not to eat.
However last November, at a thanksgiving dinner, David did refuse some food. He was offered to be the first person to try a spoonful of pudding. He refused to try it because he was in the kitchen at the time it was being made ‘She sneezed and covered her mouth with her hands but I’m not sure I saw her wash them.’  That little remark got him a very stern talking to on the way home. This however was whole different story.  David didn’t think his mother would be too peeved if he said no.

‘I only eat real food,’ he added, ‘Like chicken.’

‘CHICKEN!?’ shouted some creatures near by in horror.

‘I do believe,’ said Hoohoot, ‘That you have offended Mr and Mrs Chickayn. That’s bad form really, they didn’t come here all the way from the farm just for that.’

‘I’m really sorry, Mr and Mrs Chicken. I’m not here to eat you.’

‘It’s Chickayn.’ Corrected one of the chickens.

‘Bolbus, I think we’ve had quite enough. It’s time for your friend to leave.’

‘No wait!’ said David, ‘I haven’t even shown you guys to Karl or Tarragh yet.’

‘Whooo is Karl and whooo is Tarragh?’ asked Hoohoot.

‘They’re my cousins! They didn’t believe me when I told them I could speak to you guys. They told me animals didn’t talk.’
‘We most certainly do!’ snapped Hoohoot.

‘I don’t think it would be a problem to bring them here,’ said Bolbus.

‘What if they try and eat us?’ asked Mr. Chickayn.

‘Karl won’t, he’s a vegetarian.’

‘What’s a ve-ge-tablemarian?’ enquired Chuck?

‘You mean vegetarian,’ said David.

‘That’s what I said,’ replied Chuck.

‘A vegetarian,’ explained Bolbus ‘Is a human who doesn’t eat creatures.’

‘Oh… does that mean they’ll eat my acorns, because I wont have that!’

‘And you say that I like food?’ sneered Wilk.

‘Yes Wilk,’ answered Chuck ‘you do like food. As do I. But when I say that you like food or that I like food, the meaning is completely different.’

‘Is it now?’

‘Yes! It’s like when two bears walk by a trap with food on it. One walks by. But the other doesn’t and gets trapped. They both like food but one of them would trade their paw for a meal.’

‘Are you saying that I would trade a paw for a meal?’

‘No! Of course not… A few claws maybe, but not a whole paw.

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This entry was posted on November 1, 2013 by in Fantasy, Short Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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