The magpies were laughing at the couple that made its way along the edge of the forest. The cuckoos laughed as well, although it did not sound all too different from them arguing with each other…or them making out with each other or…well, them doing anything with each other.
”Cuk-koo!1” they laughed. ”Cuk-koo!2”
”F*** dem birds!” Elidor said.
Pierce had read a book about these kind of things, too.
”You wouldn ́t, really, no, not a good idea, that! Rather hurts both the bird…”
You shut up, too! his brain thought
”Yes, sir…um, sorry, sir!” his mouth said.
Elidor’s forehead creaked and crackled. He thought for a while about the boy at his side.
”Never saw yer around too much, boy!” he said. ”Where yer livin’?”
Pierce told him. He could see Elidor’s forehead uncreak and uncrackle after a second. He eyed up Pierce and said:
”Yer a bit of a wussy, boy, aren’t yer?”
Pierce turned red with embarassment.
I am just what I am! It’s not like everybody can be a cubic blacksmith with dandruff! his brain thought.
”I…um, sorry, but I guess, I am just what I am! It’s not like everybody can be a…” his mouth said before he could stop it.
”Hm? Wanna get nasty on me here?” he asked.
Pierce froze instantly. His gaze went to the ground.
”No, Sir, no! I just, I mean, I just wanted….sorry!” he muttered. ”I’m sorry!”
”Yer always sorry , huh? Yer fink dat’s enuff all der time, huh? Yer fink I’m stoopid?”
”No, Sir! Sorry, Sir!” Pierce said, his voice trembling.
”Yer just says sorry, huh? Dat’s what yer finkin’ is what yer just has ter do, aren’t yer?”
”No, that ́s not what I…”
”Shuddup, yer good-fer-nuffin little twat! I’m doin’ der talkin’ now!”
”Yessir! Sorry, sir!”
”Yer says sorry one more time and I’ll kick yer rear end all der way up to der trolls’ mountain!”
”Er…you actually know where the trolls’ mountain is?” Pierce asked in his tremor.
And then Pierce said:
Elidor lifted his hammer and started screaming and running. Pierce, luckily, was a little faster. He rushed away along the edge of the forest, Elidor behind him yelling angry gibberish.
Pierce let himself drown into the trance of a terrified youngster who could not but detach from his surroundings. There was a lot of grass to run through that he was not noticing, there were little uphill slopes and little downhill slopes to run up and down that he was not noticing…and then there were trees, trees that had roots.
Pierce stumbled and crashed into one of those trees, head first.
”Nah! Nah!” somebody said. ”Be careful! I’m trying to think here!”
Pierce was in no condition to answer. As per narrative convention, he stood straight and still for a split-second. Then he fell over backwards into the grass and stayed lying there, as stiff as a footbridge. From behind, Elidor came gasping.
”Hello?” the voice said. ”I heard you! You’re not, by coincidence, a troll, are you? `Cause if you were, I’d have to ask you to leave me alone!”
Elidor stood still, panting. He had not noticed the voice yet, but he had found Pierce.
”…get…yer, I says…what yer doin’ down dere?… Fink, dis is der…der time ter take a nap or…”
”Are you?” the voice asked a little louder. ”Or aren’t you?”
Elidor turned towards the air and took a deep breath.
”What’m I not?” he asked.
Elidor looked at himself.
”No, never been a troll, me!”
”Are you sure?”
”Bloody well, that’s good! Never wanna ter be a troll neider!”
Pierce sat up in the background, unnoticed by the others, and listened.
”That’s fine, my good man! Wouldn’t expect you to want to be a troll! Now, if you don’t mind…”
”Elidor is der name!” Elidor said proudly.
”…Elidor, alright, nice, now, Elidor, would you please lea…”
”Elidor O’Caigh! Der best blacksmiff in der cuntry!”
”…blacksmith, you said?”
”Are you strong?”
”How strong exactly are you, Elidor O’Caigh?”
”Errybody’s nice ter me!”
”Oh, then you are strong!”
Elidor stood thinking. Then it dawned on him, that there was no good in trying to want to beat up a voice.
”I don’t quite believe you, to be honest!” the voice said.
”That you are as strong as you say!”
”What yer want me ter do?”
”I bet you can’t take off the top of that tree in front of you!”
Pierce could not help but smile a knowing smile. An instant later, he felt sorry. Elidor spat into his hands, rubbed them a couple of times and took his hammer.
”Der top of dat tree dere?” he asked himself. ”Piece o’cake!”
”Wait a just a second!” the voice said. ”Do you see the hole in the trunk a couple of feet above the ground?”
”That’s were I want you to cut off the top of the tree!”
Elidor looked up.
”Is there a problem, Elidor O’Caigh?”
”No, no problem!” He turned around. ”Come here!” he ordered.
Pierce stood up reluctantly and came closer.
”Yes?” he said.
”Kneel down in front of der tree, will yer!”
What??? Pierce ́s brain detonated.
”Yessir!” Pierce ́s mouth said as he dropped on his knees.
What he felt in the seconds to come he would later think of as a herd of wild horses trying to dance on his back. And then the top of the tree found itself lying around in pieces and felt quite stupid. Elidor stepped down from Pierce, while a hairy thing came sneaking out of the top:
”Are you…er, finished?” it asked hesitantly.
Pierce tried to stand up. Before he managed, he felt another foot on his back. The voice said:
Pierce did not hear the Ooh- and Aah-sounds the voice made to celebrate its freedom. He was angry. Angry of himself, angry of the world, angry of everything! Who did this imbecile think he was, huh? Using him as simple stool like that? His back hurt like hell, too. A simple stool! And above all—
Pierce growled. Slowly he rose. Ignoring the pain, he rose and stomped towards Elidor. Blue veins showed on the side of his head and threatened to burst as he took the hammer out of the hands of the confused blacksmith. It was too heavy for him.
So he hit Elidor with his bare fists.
”You’ve never been there for me, you! Never!” he screamed.
He hit Elidor twice, three times, many times, until he ran out of breath and energy. To his surprise, Elidor, by that time, lay on the ground, gasping for air and holding his face.
”You’ve never been there for me, you!” Pierce whispered…and fell over to the side, crumpling together in pain. He wanted to scream.
© 2012 Alexander Biebricher All Rights Reserved.
1 lit: Look, a rectangle on feet!
2 lit: Look, an upright footbridge! (lit: Look, an upright something which isn’t a tree but made out of wood and that sometimes contains delicious wood-worms and could very well be used as a footbridge!) Unfamiliar with the concept of carpentry this is the way cuckoos perceive boards, mostly.