Over the next few weeks, I am serializing Colonel Birdwhistle’s first story. Click here to start at the beginning: Part 1 .
And now, I submit to you Part 2:
Mrs. Dobrey returned in a moment followed by a boy exactly the opposite of her slight build. Every aspect of him was round, from his trunk to his cherry cheeks. Rolls of fat calves punched out of short pants that were too tight for him. His arms stuck out of his shirt sleeves like dough squeezing out of a tube. A look at the lad, who appeared miserably confined in clothing far too small, elicited a feeling of pity. Looking from mother to son, the Colonel found it hard to believe they were cut from the same cloth. They just didn’t belong together. Yet here they stood, silently looking at the Colonel and expecting something from him.
“Well…hello,” he paused trying to remember the boy’s name, but he could not.
“I’m Leon,” said the boy.
“Yes, yes. Good day, Leon,” said the Colonel. “A fine young lad. I am Colonel Clarence Birdwhistle. I had the pleasure of meeting your mother and she said you might have some interest in me.”
The boy strained his neck to look up at his mother, who smiled back down at her angel and nudged him to redirect his attention. Leon took the correction and once again stood quietly staring at the Colonel, who had no idea how to entertain the child. He cleared his throat, rubbed his mustache and even pretended to be occupied with caring for Oscar, who didn’t help in the ruse at all. He had taken to dozing on the sun-warmed pavement and growled at the interruption from a good nap. Still the boy stood and said nothing. Finally the mother broke the silence.
“Couldn’t you tell him a story from one of your adventures in Africa?” she suggested.
“I suppose I could,” replied the Colonel, uncomfortably shifting in his chair. He cleared his throat once more and searched his memory for something to say. The boy teetered forward and back and came to rest in a seated position with his legs crossed in a most awkward fashion.
“Well, Leon. I can think of something that might interest a boy like you,” began the Colonel. “Do you know what the word cannibal means? It’s a beastly thing, Leon. Practiced only among the low, uncivilized people of the world…” Hearing a loud cough intended to interrupt, he looked up and saw Mrs. Dobrey standing behind the boy flailing her hands in a violent manner and mouthing the word, “NO!”
Taking the obvious cue, he changed direction. “…But that is a tale for another day, my boy. Let me see…. I recall an event when the local witch doctor put a spell on us…” He stopped short as he spied the disapproving mother shaking her head once again. He fell silent as he tried to find an appropriate memory to relay.