12. FOOTPAD

12. FOOTPAD

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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The judge is discovered imprisoned in his nest...

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It was too early in the morning for Footpad even though it was barely short of noon. He had been up half the night with a host of crying babies filling the air with the cacophony that crying babies usually do fill the air with and all he really wanted to do was get some sleep. But sleep was out of the question because Footpad had a job to do.

He had mail to deliver. And usually the mail on his delivery round involved important stuff, legal stuff like claims documents, wills and details of prosecutions for all sorts of offences because the chief mail box in the territory was that belonging to the great judge Toowitty, and lots of people found themselves writing to him.

To any human creatures who dared to trespass into the Forest (where they were most definitely not allowed) Footpad would have been called a frog though strictly speaking he called himself, when he ventured to use the tongues of humanity, a toad. He had all the right features for toads, and he was a particularly splendid representative of that species, large of girth, twinkling of eye and huge of yawn.

That hugeness of yawn was because of the babies. Dozens of them only recently freshly hatched from a cloud of toad spawn he had been tasked to look after by a flighty female. And after a night in the nursery the whole idea of struggling through the forest delivering even vitally important mail was close to being anathema to him.

But he had to eat and even pay the rent, so he forced himself to go to work and even smiled at strangers in a way some species don’t.

It was the judge’s nest-like house that presented his biggest headache, though. Some fool had barred it with huge staves of wood in a way that covered everything, letterbox included, and where there isn’t a letterbox there can be no letter delivery. Footpad was flummoxed.

He was about to shrug his shoulders and hop off in search of other letterboxes when he heard a sound from within the nest house of the Judge. It was a hooting sort of squeaking noise, a sound filled with a horrible mixture of anger and frustration.

“Is somebody in there?” he asked in his best refined Forest tongue. For the uninformed, there is a language common to the diverse residents of the Forest irrespective of what they look like, the colour of their skin or hides or feathers and their modes of perambulation. It assists greatly with such things as communication and consequently understanding and probably goes some way to explain how come there are rarely any flare-ups or disagreements amongst the diverse characters who have their home there.

Anyway, “is somebody there?” he asked.

“Help!” tooted a reply from the other side of the obstacles that had been nailed across the door.

“It’s the post, Judge,” replied Footpad, hoping his voice was loud enough to be heard within.

“I’ve been incarcerated!” came the distinct hoot of the judge, “the criminal has deceived me and locked me away to die, and he has gone away to fight with the forest folk with his twelve-bore!”

“Twelve-bore?” quavered the post-deliverer, “aren’t they dangerous?”

“They might be,” admitted Toowitty, who didn’t really know what a shot-gun was even though he’d been shown one by the vagabond Jules Junkface. But there’s a world of difference between seeing an object and understanding it’s function, and he didn’t even know what a trigger was.

The postie decided that the best thing he could do was try to release the Judge from his captivity, but the whole notion of his prising the stout wooden beams that had been hammered ferociously across the Judge’s nest entrance was absurd, even to him. He might have been considerably on the large size for members of his species found beyond the reaches of the Forest, but his skin was slippery and his muscles not up to the job, and he couldn’t so much as budge one of them.

“Now what’s going on here?” asked a new voice. New, that is, to the situation, though everyone knew it well, for it was Elflight the chief of police.

“It’s the Judge. He’s incarcerated,” explained Footpad briefly.

“Get me out!” squawked Toowitty when he heard voices and feared that a lengthy conversation was about to start up.

“Then let me help,” put in the lumbering and elegantly dressed Twinkletoes, and it was immediately clear to everyone else that if the job was to be done only the leathery Twinkletoes could do it.

“Go ahead,” invited Elflight, “do your best, oh buddy of mine.”

“I’ll help in any way I can,” added Footpad, not wanted to be left out considering he had a fistful of mail for the judge in his bright orange sack.

It took the powerful Twinkletoes less than a minute to wrest the first of the wooden beams from the Judge’s nest doorway and less than two minutes longer to clear the entrance completely.

“Ah, a letter-box,” sighed Footpad, “just what the doctor ordered!”

“I was incarcerated!” wept Toowitty, “and me a judge, too! It was the man that did it, the foul-breathed fetid accumulation of DNA that thinks itself superior to all! And I want him captured and locked up in the deepest vault in all the world, never to see the light of day again!”

“It’s a pity you didn’t recognise the danger sooner,” suggested Elflight haughtily, “because if you had then maybe you would have treated our skilled pathologist with more consideration.”

“Well I see it now, and that man’s got a twelve-bore and needs stopping!” fumed Toowitty.

Elflight was about to say something powerfully sceptical and filled with dark irony when a shot rang out.

“What in the name of...” screeched Toowitty.

“It’s the twelve-bore and he’s gone and got me!” raged Twinkletoes, “he’s gone and shot me as if I was a beast in the wild, and it’s made me fair angry!”

Then he raised his long head into the air until he could see everything under the sun as his eyes roved around. “And he’s over there!” he pointed with his snout, “Over there, I say, and I’m going after him, and so that you know, I’m more than a little bit angry!”

© Peter Rogerson 24.10.18






© 2018 Peter Rogerson


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Added on October 24, 2018
Last Updated on October 24, 2018
Tags: toad, postie, delivering, judge, incarceration, release, twelve-bore


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing