Remains of the Day
by Greg Hamerton
gazed up at the soft blue sky. Drat it! That blasted dandelion had
grown up into his helmet again, and it was itching just behind his
sunglasses. He vowed to pull it out of the ground the moment he got his
hands on it. The only problem was, he had lost his hands when that
inquisitive slobbering cow had visited last week, and he couldn't find
them. Blast that cow! It had taken him over a week to dry out from the
sticky saliva that the cow had left in its eagerness to get to know him
"Women! they just can't get enough of me." Mort loved the way his ribs
knocked together when he laughed. There was a blurred movement and the
sound of wings beating the air. Mort stiffened.
"Someone is coming, best to look cool," he thought, and gazed out
through his sunglasses again. Mort was very good at looking cool. Not a
bone moved. No sign that he was afraid or nervous or ruffled or even
that he gave a damn. Dead calm.
A crow hopped into view and cocked his head to one side, beading Mort
with one eye. "You look pretty chill, bro," the crow croaked out a
"Just a crow!" thought Mort, letting the wind sigh through his helmet
in relief. He eased his back deeper into the grass, trying to look
disinterested and aloof, the way he had seen a pair of teenage girls
look at boys they were really interested in.
"What do you mean, just a crow?!" the crow crowed.
"But I didn't say a word?" Mort thought. "How did this rapscallion
"I can see into your mind. It's nice and dark and each thought stands
out so clearly inside your helmet. In fact..." the crow chuckled, a
mischievous grin splitting his beak as he bobbed closer to Mort's head.
The crow had leaned in under his chinstrap and was looking up inside
"Jolly nosy parker!" Mort was irritated "What right has he got to be so
The crow was tugging on something inside. It was agitation he felt,
deep within his mind. Or was it the crow? "Jolly Nosy Parker" he
There was a soft sucking sound, like Mort's granpa used to make every
evening to pull his false teeth out for the night. He had oftened
wondered if the teeth preferred the glass of stale water or his
The crow exploded into view, chasing a small pink object that was
running wildly through the grass. The crow was struggling to keep up
with the little runner, not because of its speed, but because the crow
was convulsed with laughter.
"It's...hgghgg...it's...pfffggh...it's a Nononohahahshh..." the crow
wasn't making any sense.
"It's a Nosy Parker" he gasped out, then cried as tears of laughter
rolled over his beak. With one foot he clung on to the little parker as
it tried to investigate off under the bushes, but even that proved to
be too much to bear. The Nosy Parker scuttled away; the crow on his
back in the grass was a hopeless hysterical puddle.
Mort could not catch the joke. He had a nagging feeling that the Nosy
Parker belonged to him and that somehow he was the centre of the joke,
but...something was missing; Mort could not remember quite what it was.
QuiteWhatItWas came trotting out from under the bushes then, its pink
little body quivering with curiosity and then step by step it edged
closer to Mort's head. Finally, with an eager squeek, the Nosy Parker
leapt into Mort's helmet. Mort vowed to keep all future thoughts behind
Eventually the crow composed himself, although some features were put
back in the wrong place. He wobbled over to Mort on feeble legs,
struggling to keep his tearstreaked face in a sober visage. It was a
thin veneer of sobriety, for beneath the surface Mort could see ripples
"Oh, you're beautiful, man" the crow chuckled in a mellow voice. "A
Nosy Parker - that joke was to die for!" And then he looked at Mort,
taking in the skeletal alabaster. The crow stopped in his tracks and
his eyes started to bulge, as he realised the implications of what he
had said. He was staring at Mort and making strangled sounds, fighting
to maintain his composure. It was a short round and the challenger was
conquered in a few swift blows to the belly. The crow leapt backwards
into the air, wings spread wide as gales of laughter claimed his body.
There would have been a loud "splosh!" sound at this point if such
things made sounds, but they don't so there isn't. The crow landed on
his back in the hopeless hysterical puddle.
"Oh, I get it" grumbled Mort "to die for . . .habloodyhaha". But it was
quite a good slip and Mort slowly warmed to the strange humour of this
irascible crow. He began to build a plan, but kept it well hidden under
his helmet's chinstrap to avoid espionage.
The crow was still wriggling about in the puddle, quite helpless. "It
just needs one little thing now, to push him over the edge" Mort
schemed "and he will never recover." Mort could think of the perfect
One Little Thing. "Nosy Parker nosy parker nosy nosy nosy Parker jolly
nosy jolly nosy Jolly Nosy Parker" He piled the thought thickly on top
of itself, over and over just to be sure and he felt It bumping around
inside his helmet.
"Go on, little guy, go see what's out there, what that big friendly
crow doing..." The Nosy Parker squeeked with delight and bounced over
the edge of Mort's helmet. It saw the crow floating on his back and
scuttled off in his direction. It all seemed so very interesting.
It was at that moment that the crow happened to roll over amidst a
fresh gale* of laughter. Which stopped, frozen inside a beak clamped
shut with fear. The crow's eyes bulged even larger than ever as he
looked straight into the face of the Jolly Nosy Parker
"No no that's not fair, take it away its too much please no please TAKE
IT AWAY I'm going to die laughing no not a Nosy Parker IT'S A NOSY
The crow's pleads for mercy were swallowed in the enormous sea of
hysteria that engulfed him then. He cried with the pain of each wave,
tears streaming down his feathered face, falling off his beak to fill
the hopeless hysterical puddle. The puddle became a raging torrent and
the crow was swept away.
* The Beaufort Scale gives 12 official wind classifications. Beaufort
forgot to contact the wind about this, with the result that it
regularly behaves as if it is a Strength 6 wind when it is officially a
Strength 4, a Strength 3 when it is officially a 5 and sometimes
refuses to blow at all, even though there is, officially, wind. The
fresh gale is officially Strength 10, which, if the wind had been
behaving itself according to its rank would have been strong enough to
break branches off trees and roll Maltese Poodles down the road. The
wind wasn't behaving. It was much stronger than strength 10. This may
have been due to the crow assisting with the generation of wind,
Mort's ribs made a hollow clocking sound as they knocked together.
Finally all was quiet. A thermal lifted gently off the field in the
sun, pulling a breeze softly behind it. Mort gazed up at the blue sky
and wondered. He wondered if the recovery vehicle really was coming to
fetch him. They had said that they were coming, he could still remember
the voice on his radio : "Don't worry Morton, we'll find you soon. Just
stay right there and we'll bring the vehicle in"
That had been before the radio battery had run flat.*
* "Running flat" is a typical English expression which is designed
purely to confuse foreign people who want to learn our language. I have
watched many batteries as they run flat, and believe me, they don't
move at all, and when they are finished they are just as upright as
when they started.
How long was it now? Five, six weeks? He couldn't be sure. But then he
had landed in a rather inaccessible neck of the woods, high up in the
mountain ranges. Maybe they were having trouble with the vehicle. Or
maybe there were no roads to this particular field where he lay. But
his friends were good people, they wouldn't just leave him here, of
that he was sure. They must be having problems, but they would find him
soon. Mort eased deeper into the grass and slowly drifted asleep. The
sun blazed down on his white bones and the breeze whispered through the
gaps in his spine. It was a delectable sensation being cooled on the
inside and heated on the outside. It was beautifully relaxing. Mort had
never felt so good in all his life.