Beetle or gnat? Answer = both.
Most frogs don’t use names but this one likes to think of himself as Gordon: Gordon the decisive.
Slup-slup. Gordon’s tongue makes a snappy noise as it flicks out and snatches his prey. Gordon thinks “slurp” sounds self-indulgent and overlong. “Slap” sounds wantonly violent and not the noise a responsible grown-up tongue should make.
Gordon: keeper of the pond.
He recognises that it’s not much of a title and it doesn’t impress the ladies.
Gordon also worries that his intellectual potential is not being used – ponds don’t take much keeping. In fact this one hasn’t needed any management for as long as he can remember – about eight seconds.
A beetle tumbles down the bank and wanders in circles. The thing Gordon holds in greatest contempt is indecision. The beetle meets its doom for faffing around as does a gnat which seems to think flying in energetic zigzags is as good as having a clear grasp of purpose and direction. Gordon doesn’t need to eat this much but reckons that the world needs to be a more organised place and is working with natural selection.
He’s a little overweight.
But manages to leap in time and dodge a massive boot crunching into the mud.
This boot, like most he’s seen, is attached to a human. Given the way the ground shakes, he assumes there are at least two humans in the area.
Ollie heaves a garden hose into the pond. He turns to the younger man beside him and says, ‘Thanks, Pat, anything over thirty metres and hoses are a bugger to pull.’ He says this in between gasps for air while bending over and clutching his knees.
Pat looks at Ollie the eccentric plumber and asks, ‘What’s it for?’ He points, his gesture taking in the whole length of pipe from pond to the quaint thatched cottage nestled deep among rose vines.
‘Witches. They always have a pipe coming from Hell. It’s where they get their power or something. Now she’s dead and I’ll never sell the house if it’s full of spooks.’
‘Yes. For all their creepiness, cats and odd smells, witches perform an important task. Hell is like a volcano and can erupt into Armageddon at any time. Evil needs to be released in small doses to keep the pressure down.’
‘Gremlins and stuff. It’s a fifteen-millimetre pipe so only the tiniest thingies will get out, I reckon.’ Ollie points to the hose in the pond. ‘Hopefully they can’t swim.’ He straightens up. ‘Ooh, me back. The people coming to view the cottage will be here in a mo’. After they’ve gone I can bury this pipe and make it more discreet.’ He stamps out of the mud and both humans walk away.
Gordon kicks through the water and stares into the hose.
Voices echo from the depths of Hades.
‘Hey, lads, the pipe’s out of the restraining spell. We can invade the world! Destroy, kill, annihilate! Mwahahaha. After all these millennia of waiting – this is our moment. Beelzebub, lead us on!’
‘How am I, a kilometre-tall cacodemon going to get through that little hole?’
‘Have you ever seen spaghetti being made?’
‘No. Tell me, does it look like it’s having fun?’
‘It’s never complained.’
‘I’ll have to squeeze my face down to the size of a thimble… Fine then.’
Grunts, groans and snarls advance up the pipe. Before long, Gordon looks into the eyes of Beelzebub. ‘Hello.’
‘Out of my way, little frog.’
‘Did you hear me? Do as I say or when I get out I’ll fry you with my pyroclastic breath!’
‘There’re just the tiniest logical flaws in what you say. You told me to get out of the way. I suspect you have little in the way of compassion that would cause you to ask me to step aside so I don’t get hurt, so I assume that in some way I am barring your entry into this world. I must also assume that if you could you’d have fried me already. This indicates that not only am I stopping you but there’s bugger all you can do about it.’
‘I… Er… Um…’
Gordon finds that indecisive cacodemons taste of fury and indignation. More spirit than substance, Beelzebub still made a tasty snack. The pipe fills with the sound of screaming as the remaining members of the demonic invasion force scurry back to netherworlds.
Two female frogs glide through the pond and stare at Gordon. ‘Who are you, big boy?’ Asks one, looking him up and down … and from side to side.
‘Gordon: Keeper of the gates of Hell.’
© Gary Bonn: 2012