A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

The crocodile patient arrives at the Forest hospital and the man can't see sense.


Twinkletoes found the flight refreshing.

Even though he was sore where a dozen lead pellets had buried themselves into his rugged hide, the feeling of fresh air dappled by sunlight (if air can actually ever be dappled by sunlight) washing over his body was refreshing. It was so refreshing, in fact, that he started singing in his deep and rather pleasing baritone voice, a hypnotic little song that had been imprinted into his brain by virtue of it being part of his racial memory. His ancestors had sung the same song since time immemorial and by the time when Twinkletoes lived and breathed it had lost all of its meaning but none of its charm. But still, he sung it and it went along these lines (in translation).

Bingbum am I, pretty pretty sawdust and sky, Drinking the ocean and tingling with motion, Bingbum am I under a flaking hot sky…

As you can see, it was nonsense, but Twinkletoes loved the way his voice soared and dipped as his flight reflected the warmth of his song by soaring and dipping almost as if orchestrated by a great conductor over the might of the Forest.

Down below the message was spreading that the water had been poisoned and was not to be touched by anyone for fear of instant death by wriggling. Meanwhile word had gone ahead to the hospital that a major and rather leathery patient was on the way, and Chief Surgeon Chimpychunk spent a great deal of time sharpening his blades until he could have bisected a mouse’s whisker blindfold with the bluntest one.

Besides being a chief surgeon, Chimpychunk was a hoot. He could make a joke about just about anything and bearing in mind his occupation it was occasionally claimed that some of his comments were in rather bad taste. But that didn’t trouble him, and his head nurse, the Lone Ranger that consisted, you may recall, of the duo Cedric and Cedricina, was always happy to find mirth in blood and tumorous nasties.

Twinkletoes arrived on the nine-thirty from somewhere and was lowered gently onto the landing pad next to the main cutting room of the mighty Forest hospital. The Lone Ranger, Cedric riding on the back of Cedricina and the two working in perfect harmony together, were waiting to conduct their patient into the operating theatre and the Chief Surgeon was, in his turn, waiting by his table, clattering his knives together and practising stitches with a length of twine. He was well aware that Twinkletoes would need something a bit stronger than the normal thread he used when he was sewing his patients up.

“It’s been a nasty affair,” he murmured to nobody in particular because there was, at the time, nobody else in the operating theatre. “I’ve never heard of anything like it! A man at loose with a twelve-bore in our mighty Forest! What is the world coming to, that’s what I’d like to know? What are men coming to? And why am I talking to myself? Is it because I’ve got nobody else to talk to or could it be that I’m going gaga?”

Nobody, of course, answered him, which was just as well because they might have agreed with his gaga sentiment, and upsetting a surgeon immediately before he’s about to dig out lead shot from the leather skin of a Twinkletoes was never likely to be a good idea.

Eventually, after the Rastlings had assured a good landing without even causing the slightest suggestion of a bruise on poor old Twinkletoes back (the intention had been for him to land the right way round on his feet but the odd silken thread supporting him had got tangled when a few of the Rastlings had overreacted to his baritone melody, and he’d been turned base over apex during the flight), as I said eventually, he landed.

“Bring the poor fellow in!” barked the surgeon, scraping two shiny blades together so that they made an excruciating squeaking noise.

The Lone Ranger may have been a twosome, but it was a small twosome, too small to even set Twinkletoes into motion, and the huge leathery individual stubbornly refused to move.

In the end the patient had to make his own way into the cutting room. He had to climb onto the polished table all on his own … not even the Chief Surgeon could be of much use when it came to heaving so large a patient off ground level.

But co-operation in all things was the accepted rule of the Forest and Twinkletoes quite willingly did what the hospital staff quite plainly couldn’t do, and ended up snugly lying on the operating table with surgeon Chimpychunk clattering his cutting utensils next to his ears and tut-tutting to himself.

“We’ve a few bits of buried lead in here, my son,” he said, and he grinned a huge, open-mouthed grin that warmed the Lone Ranger’s heart.

“I’ll be all right now that I’m here, won’t I?” asked a nervous Twinkletoes.

“No!” grinned the surgeon, “you’ll be far from all right, you’ll be half left!” And he guffawed as if the joke was in any way original. “Half left,” he giggled, “get it?”

Then he took a lunge at a particularly obvious wound in his patient’s back with the bigger of the blades he’d been playing with, and dug in deep.

Twinkletoes giggled. “That tickled,” he laughed.

So the surgeon climbed onto a chair and hurled the blade with all his might at the wound, and bit by bit and using a great deal of energy, he skilfully removed every pellet of lead from his patient’s back.

Meanwhile, and near the fringes of the Forest Kingdom (or Queendom, if you like) the renamed Faceless was massaging his molten face with water from the stream and hoping to make the dreadful pain go away without drinking a drop of what he knew was deadly poisonous.

He was in a terrible state. Here he was, surrounded by what he saw as vastly inferior aliens, creatures so unlike him and his kind that the differences stood out like sore thumbs wrapped in scarlet bandages even to him, and it seemed they thought they were in charge. His weapon, the trusty twelve-bore, had been broken and his spare shot scattered so that it would take him a month of Sundays to gather it all back together again.

Faceless had always been convinced that not only was his species superior to all others but that even his own colour of that species was so much better than all the rest, and that gave him what some might look on as a c**k-eyed view of reality. So when he was being corralled by clearly wild creatures who actually seemed to think there was something wrong about him, he was confused.

It was the confusion of bigotry, and it hurt his spirit.

And in his confusion he was certain this wasn’t the end of things.

© Peter Rogerson 27.10.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on October 27, 2018
Last Updated on October 27, 2018
Tags: hospital, flight, starlings, surgeon, chimpanzee, surgery


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 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..