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Hugs ‘n Bugs
by Mimi Speike
(Image: Sly and his mama)
“Ma! Herkie won’t talk to me.”
“Don’t hound, I said. Ye got t’ tread light a good while. Not you, ye’ll rile him up anew. Typical, Chew.”
“Poor laddie shakes! The sounds he makes! Minus his pricks, he clicks an’ clicks. And spits. Gives me th’ razzberry. Razzies at me, his best buddy!”
“The poor wee mite, he’s ev’ry right, after what you done put him through. Take him his treats, his wig-gley eats. He’ll simmer down, an’ come aroun’.”
(Image: Sly speaks)
“Listen, you mugs.” Chicks wink and shrug. They’re smirking, squawking, gaily stalking any bug or worm or slug fails to evade note. None dismayed, Sly soldiers onward with aplomb.
“This bully-boy crap’s for the saps. And, dump the gear, hey? Disappear the zany chaps an’ feathered caps. Bitty blackguards! The whole farmyard’s in stitches, joking, nigh to choking, at yer mischief.” The chicks hiss.
“Well, tone it down at least, yer clownish Yo! Avast, me hardy! Blasted holy high, yer fool outcry. I retroverts, ye rascal squirts. I’m Sly, not Chew. Now, how’s ‘bout you?”
“Begging yer pard’n, cap’n, sar. Did we so wrong? We went along. ‘Twas your provoke drove gentlefolk to heart-’n-soul out o’ control.”
“Gentles, y’say! I hope n’ pray! Please, sirs, to doff – means, sirs, peel off – the garb. Them duds betoken bloods. Gentles, polite, do not affright, they nod, and coo good day to you. Hope you be well. Let me dispel your least unease. Try to appease, got it? I’m Hog. We dialogue. Who’s game? Yoo-hoo! You there. Yes, you!”
(A chick speaks.)
“Good day! Yer looking none so shook as was foretold us. Quite a scolding we had, too. That odd ado, it were meant well. That what befell ye last we met, we do regret. Ones normal mild-mannered fell wild. Not right o’ mind, we disinclined to heed yer plea to be left be.”
“Ye’ll none impress with that redress. Donate him snacks, you looniacs. Gather a sock-full, chock-a-block-full, if you please. Think on Herkie’s joy! Bagged up slugs an’ worms an’ bugs, insert the snout to grand pig-out. No finer gift to mend the rift or this spatch-cock1 eats the damn sock.”
He’s off. Sly goes in search of hose. The chicks confer, and they concur. “Huh! Ye wants worms? Trap yer own squirms. You scritch-scratch dirt. We should exert us for that riever?2 By yer leave, lads, he purrs – gross! – ‘n sidles – close! How m’ dears be? Lovely t’ see ye looking so … healthy. We’re, whoa!
“Hard by’s our pap, raring t’ scrap with any basturd-slickjack-brass thinking to gobble down a squab. Herk Hog, he sneers an’ disappears. One day the goon will pounce, and soon.”
The chicks stand firm, bound and determined. “Nossir! Nay! Ye wants bugs? Hey! Scoop ’em up by yer-damn-self. Why would we assist? We be dismissed, apparently, from sea duty.”
“Dismissed? But furloughed. Best bestir. Any would ship with me, equip m’ hosiery fat an’ juicy. More yer lip-flap, carry th’ cap’ll3 shut yer yap. Enough o’ that! Get to! Have at! Then we go sees, calmly, banshees,9 sees can we perk up Herk the Jerk.”
(Sly calls on Herk)
“Not what ye say. Ye say come in. Let’s us begin again. Knock-knock. I got a sock, filled up with, ah, just all kinda stuffs ye’ll relish. Um-um! Delish! Yer snigs4 an’ snails, no puppy tails, sorry. A snake, a spotted crake, latched onto him pure on a whim. I fig’erd a touch o’ gourmet would make ye smile, somewhat, somewhile.
“Me an’ m’ hands, we understands, we be aware yer recent scare has laid ye low, we’re here to show ye our support with an assortment of goodies.”
Herk starts to sneeze.
Poor Herk! God bless, eh? Kids, it’s stress. The hedgie sneeze does not mean he’s ill, indisposed. He’s discomposed.
A huff, a puff means, had enough! A pop, a click, he’s choleric. If he should pop, worse, pop nonstop, he’s nasty irked, you got your work cut out for you to coax him through full-blown aggressive surliness.5
Poor Herk’s a mess, in deep distress, his horrid bare-skin disrepair resulting from two dozen dumb-ass chickadees rushing Herkie’s boxwood retreat, where they browbeat him with the vim-and-vigor glee we oldsters see as positively offensive, but very young, natural high-strung, take for their due. And so did you. And so did I, long time gone by.
Seems like a dream almost, supremely confident, discouragement fleeting and, rarer yet, despair. There’s the first kiss, a genesis, a tasty crumb of things to come, good eats, your clan, jolly companions tried and true, the bluest blue of skies above–to fall in love.
For these small few, it boils down to this: hugs and bugs. And hugs and slugs.
No thanks the slugs, give him the snuggles, no contest, his Mum’s the best. Sly loves to be embraced. Sadly, Herk never got his share of what we all us crave. The hedgies, they’ve missed out, their pokes hindering stroking, cuddling, petting. Sure they fret.
Disputative, the hedgies live their lives solo.6 Less than outgoing, very shy, hedgies defy, despise, resent, rarely consent to socialize. The one who tries to hoe that row, he’s flat nutso.
Sly’s endlessly curious. He enjoys to take walks, and to make curious friends. He often spends the live-long night until first light a-tramp: Hoyt’s Hill down to the mill, around the pond and way beyond.
Oh, those summer evenings astir! Nocturnal beasties scurry, feasting off the seasonal bounty. Some opt to laze, to sit and gaze at, mystify at the night sky and, sometimes, bond with others fond of the same fun.
Thus did a stunning friendship form outside the norm, a friendship gone so very wrong.
- Spatch-cock: an immature male chicken. Used as an insult. (archaic)
- Riever: Scot dialect. One who goes on a plundering raid.
- Carrying the Capstan: A shipboard punishment involving the capstan. I’m not sure what it consisted of.
- Snig: Cumbrian dialect, a small eel.
- All this info true, pulled off one or another hedgehog website.
- Hedgehogs are generally solitary, pairing up only to mate.
Of Mice and Lions
by Boris Glikman
Every King of the Beasts harbours a horrible secret that is only revealed when he lies on his back and turns his head completely upside down. That is why you will never see him assume such a position either in the wild or in captivity. For what could destroy his pride and self-respect more thoroughly than someone noticing that inside every lion hides a mouse? The pressure of being forced to always hide this hideous truth makes male lions notoriously bad-tempered and quick to anger. As a way of over-compensating for this incorrigible defect in their nature, they roar constantly and act as aggressive bullies.
The Turmoil of the Waves
by Boris Glikman
If you look closely enough at the ocean, you will see that its every wave is made up of lost souls, unable to find a place for themselves either in this world or the next. Exasperation with their fate and their unremitting resentment of both life and death are the true causes of the ocean’s fury and erratic, turbulent nature.
For the Future
by S.T. Ranscht
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