Part 12b (i)
There we stood, four somnambulists suddenly awake, ancient statues amid the ruins of the washroom.
Eater, the whey-faced butler, angry and put upon at his unwarranted treatment.
Ayres, a Bengal tiger at bay, his eyes ablaze.
Me, my heart beating wildly and a deafening sound of blood rushing in my ears.
Bananas however, that most clearheaded of individuals, taking control, calmly turning the valves and taps, wetting a flannel, applying it to the butler’s eye, carefully placing the butler’s hand over it to keep it there, then gently taking the butler’s other hand, slowly extending the forefinger, using it to plug the water streaming from the wall.
The sound of rushing blood in my ears stopped.
Following that remarkable ape’s calm example, I reached out to remove some flakes of plaster that had lodged in Ayres’ beard, only to have my hand violently struck away.
“If you touch me again Maroon, or take just one step closer, or even look at me, I swear to God I shall…“ he said through grinding teeth, waving his fist under my nose.
“Maroon,” said Bananas, “I shall attend to Ayres, if you would be so good as to find an artisan or some such. The butler cannot stand here all day.”
It was obvious to me that our activities to date had taken a heavy toll on Ayres’ gentlemanly nature, so I forgave his intemperate passion and set out to find a domestic, using the respite to review in my mind the recent sequence of events.
* * *
At that precise minute, three floors below, El Barbudo our brave agent, was taking tea with his tormentor, Sarah, daughter of Doctor Evil and recent graduate of the Rhinegold Institute of Electro-Aversion Therapy…
“So all this was therapy?” he asked, one eye blinking.
“Aversion therapy, yes. Another fruit slice? They’re very light.”
“Thank you, no. And paid for by my, my f-f-friends?” he continued, his scalp crawling.
“That‘s right, Mr Bananas and Mr Ayres. Glark, top up Mr Barbudo’s cup.”
“I’m fine thank you,” said Barbudo, his beard crawling now too, “and I’m ‘cured’ am I ? Free to go and all that?”
“Why of course. You were always free to go. If at any time you’d wanted to stop the treatment, all you had to say was the agreed codeword.”
“The agreed codeword. Remind me.” Prompted Barbudo pleasantly.
“The one we gave to Mr Bananas.”
“And that was?” He was still smiling, but showing too many teeth.
“Didn’t he tell you?”
No, he must have overlooked that detail,” chuckled Barbudo.
“Yes. Oh dear indeed.” He said, shaking his head in amusement.
“Well he’s here now, so you can take it up with him personally.”
“He’s here? At castle Alucard?” Smiled Barbudo innocently.
“Oh yes. I expect you’ll have a lot to talk about.”
“You know, I really think we have.” His smile was different now.
“Quick test before you leave us?” Solicited sarah.
“Why not?” He took a breath, “you stupid c-c-c-clot! Why you f-f-foolish c-c-card! You c-c-cakesticking piece of chandelier barnacle…”
“O.K. good. Now try the ‘big one’…” She encouraged.
Barbudo took a deeper breath, hesitated, and in a rush, bellowed out:
“Why don’t you pluck your father’s cockerel and see if your sister has her pencil yet?”
“Excellent!” shouted Sarah, skipping round the room clapping her hands.
* * *
Casting my mind back, I remembered the meeting earlier that day, of those two giants in the library, as all the while, the ungodly turmoil of the elements raged and howled on the Moor beyond.