Murgatroyd and Bedlam Investigate
Garp Murgatroyd recently considered a very important question:
My drive to work begins down winding country lanes. I frequently get stuck behind slow moving farm vehicles and to be honest, I think it’s a completely forgivable and quite charming reason to arrive late to work. “Sorry boss, I was stuck behind a tractor.” Most people can’t use that excuse when they work in a city.
And whilst I have driven past numerous dead badgers, the odd dead fox or squirrel, they always get removed pretty sharpish. But you never see who does it. Maybe they just get slowly obliterated (if that’s not too much of a ridiculous juxtaposition), by lorries and combine harvesters? Regardless, they just appear to vanish.
The burning question of the day is this: who clears up road kill?
Noises From Bedlam realised that it was our duty to investigate.
We sent our inept intrepid reporters Luthor Bedlam and Garp Murgatroyd to brave the elements and go “incognito” in a bid to find out for our readers just who does clean up the road-kill and perhaps more importantly, discover where it goes.
None of us were even remotely prepared for the horrors they uncovered.
Pieced together from their notes, videos and tape recordings, documented below is the terrifying tale of what happened upon that fateful assignment.
“So what’s the plan, Luthor?” asked Garp, picking his nose and inspecting the prizes in the reflection on the phone to his ear.
“Basically, I think we just sit in a hedge by the road and wait for something to get killed” said Luthor. He had the phone squeezed to his ear with his shoulder as he picked bits of dog shit out of the bottom of a shoe with a teaspoon and casually flicked them at his dog. The dog showed no concern. The dog thought Luthor was a dick.
Garp asked if he should bring a thermos along.
“Erm…yes, can’t do any harm. And sandwiches? Bring some sandwiches. I love other people’s sandwiches.” Luthor smiled as a particularly large chunk of shit hit the dog squarely between the eyes. The dog showed less concern than previously. He simply lay still and smiled; patiently wondering when Luthor would find out he’d just pissed in the airing cupboard.
“Okay,” said Garp, “I’ll bring some sandwiches, but we’re going to need some chairs. I’m not sitting on wet grass all night. Have you got any chairs?”
After a slight pause, Luthor answered. “Erm…I think so. Yes. Yes, I’ll bring a couple of chairs. See you there at nine, partner. Our first NFB assignment together! Some proper journalism. This is going to be exciting.” He put the phone down and went to get his boots out of the airing cupboard.
A dark grey winter mist was swirling around the dark hedge-lined country lane. The lane cut through dark, empty fields…nothing but grass stretched off into the dark night beyond the dark green hedgerows. A lone, dark shadowy figure could be seen under the only streetlight that was still working. Did we mention that it was dark?
It was Garp under the streetlight. He stood patting his arms and moving from one leg to the other to keep warm when Luthor’s truck eventually trundled around the corner, coughing black smoke out of its exhaust. Luthor drove into the hedgerow, swore loudly and came to a stop. He jumped out and opened up the back of the truck.
“What the fuck are those?” asked Garp, staring inside the truck at two large leather chesterfields.
“Chairs” said Luthor. “Give us a hand.”
Garp shook his head in disbelief and grabbed a buttoned leather arm.
Half an hour later they were sitting very comfortably on the edge of a field behind the hedgerow less than ten feet from the edge of the road.
Luthor stared through his binoculars at the road.
“What’s that smell?” asked Garp.
“Yes. Piss. Dog-piss. The dog pissed in my boots.”
“Not sure. Revenge, I guess. I put him in the fridge yesterday.”
Garp’s eyes widened. “What the hell for? You’ll have the RSPCA round.”
“No I won’t. They won’t take him and have told me to stop ringing them. He’d snapped all my pens in half pretending to be the bionic man, so I put him in the fridge for a bit. Listen, don’t worry about him…we have a thing…an understanding….a bit like Clouseau and Cato.”
Garp watched him constantly fidgeting with the various gadgets dangling from his army-issue camouflage jacket. Knives, compasses, torches, tinderbox, toolkits, duct tape (fucking duct tape?) and all manner of other survival gear. He even had a shovel, some rope and two pistol sized crossbows by the side of his chair.
The guy’s fucking insane, he thought. I have to sit in the dark all night with a complete fucking mental.
“What sandwiches did you bring?” Luthor asked.
“We’ve only been here ten minutes.”
“Keep your hair on, I’m just asking.”
After two minutes of silence, Luthor affected a cough and tried again.
“Can I have one?”
Garp sighed and threw a small foil parcel at him. Luthor chewed noisily and started to hum.
Garp shushed him.
“Luthor! Be quiet! Look!” He pointed at the rabbit sitting on the other side of the road, sniffing the air. Luthor grabbed his binoculars rather too excitedly.
He smiled at Garp. “Time to die Mr Bunny!”
Garp suddenly realised how unsavoury this all seemed. Jesus, we’re sitting behind a hedge in leather armchairs, waiting for a small animal to die violently.
“Come on you little fucker…get in the middle road” said Luthor, peering through his binoculars.
“Luthor can you not do that!”
“I don’t know – be so – enthusiastic about it.”
“But we need road-kill. Don’t get soft on me now. It’s just nature, Garp. Survival of the fittest and all that. Shall I get the truck?”
“NO! You shall not get the fucking truck.”
The rabbit, sensing idiots in its midst, had gone.
Luthor puffed and sighed and contemplated and fidgeted in his armchair. His face hurt when he thought hard but finally the cogs aligned and he proffered his plan:
“Fuck this. It’s no use. We need to do something.”
“Oh yes? And what do you suggest?” said Garp.
“We’ll have to thump a badger.”
“Thump a badger.”
“Yes, I heard what you said! I was merely expressing my incredulity at such a ridiculous notion.”
“Now is not the time to get all wordy Murgatroyd. Now is the time for action!”
“So you’re suggesting we kill a badger just to get the story?”
“Er… no, not kill it. You know, sort of…erm…just…knock it out. For a bit.”
“Then put it at the side of the road?”
“Exactly! Now you’re thinking on your feet. Well – your armchair.”
“And where do you propose we find said badger?”
“I don’t know…there must be loads of them around here somewhere. We just need to find their house”
“A badgers house?” Murgatroyd feigned perplexity.
“Yeah…” Luthor thought hard. His face hurt again. “Find a big tree I suppose… with a door in it.”
“Christ. This isn’t Middle Earth; moron.”
“Well we’ll be here all night then. I’m off to find something.” He flipped on his two head torches, his neck light, wrist lights, chest lights and two foot long torch. He checked all his widgets, tools and gadgets were securely attached then clattered off into the mist on the dark field behind their armchairs, looking like the end scene from Close Encounters.
Garp threw his legs over the side of his chesterfield and settled down with a cup of tea from the thermos. “Bumbling fool” he said to himself. These chairs are comfy, though. Ten minutes later he was sound asleep.
He was floating.
Floating in a sea of white swirling mist.
Tears filled his eyes and “Bright Eyes” filled his ears.
He floated in the mists and communed with the rabbits.
“We don’t want to die, Garp” they whispered gently.
“I know, little ones, I know….and I won’t let you” he promised.
No matter, he would protect the little ones.
“I won’t let the traffic hurt you!”
“We know; we love you, Garp.”
“And I love you too.” He smiled at his furry companions.
The lights grew nearer.
Murgatroyd raised himself up and held out both hands toward the lights.
Cars are no match for me. For I float in the mists of time.
Then the drums began.
A deformed, arrhythmic beat.
He stretched out his arms into the mists, revelling in his power.
The lights drew nearer, dancing through the swirling mists.
And the ugly drums.
Still, he held out his hands toward the oncoming traffic.
“You will not harm the little ones” his voiced boomed.
The lights bounced and grew in the mist, filling his field of vision.
And the drums.
And the…was that grunting?
The little ones scattered in all directions.
“Run, Garp.” they said.
“RUN!!!” shouted Luthor as he whistled past Garps left ear-hole, bounced up onto the armchair and disappeared over the hedge.
Garp shook his head and rubbed his eyes.
Then he spied the pursuing badger scuttling out of the mist from the field at quite a pace. Then another. And another. Then a whole group of angry, grunting badgers appeared out of the mist.
“Shit me” he managed, before throwing himself over the hedge.
They regrouped in a wet ditch halfway up the hill on the other side of the road. Well, not so much regrouped as toppled into a wet ditch halfway up the hill on the other side of the road in a blind panic.
“Turn your lights off” whispered Garp. “They might see”.
Luthor complied. Garp’s eyes were wide with panic. “Have they gone?” he asked.
Luthor popped his head over the top of the ditch and surveyed the scene below with his muddy binoculars.
“Nope. Looks like they’re digging”
“Digging? What – the – hell – they – digging – for?”
“Digging a hole under the hedge we jumped over. And one of them is in my armchair. He must be supervising. Or maybe he’s eating your bis-quits haha! Did you bring the sandwiches?”
Garp turned over and lay on his back in the slope of the ditch. “We’re going to fucking die. We’re going to fucking die in a fucking badger holocaust! There are hundreds of them! What did you do to them?”
“I think I pissed them off” Luthor shrugged. “Did you bring the sandwiches or not?” He lay on his back by the side of Garp and gave him a nudge.
Garp stared at the stars and considered his predicament. “Joining NFB will be a bit of a laugh” they had said to him. “Nothing too deep or serious. Half the time we just sit in our pants making shit up and quoting twitter like proper journalists” they said. Now I’m lying in a wet ditch next to a constantly hungry moron who considers chesterfields to be camping equipment…being systematically hunted down by crazed badgers.
“Oh shit, they’re through” said Luthor. He was peering over the top of the ditch again.
“Yeah, two of them have got under the hedge.”
“No. Hang on a minute…”
“This could be our lucky day!”
“How in the fucking fuck is this even remotely, possibly our lucky fucking day?”
“Well…There’s a really big truck coming.”
Coupled with the mud and blood on his face and ridiculous camouflage jacket, Luthor’s manic smile gleaming in the moonlight painted a bizarre picture. It was like they had dropped a deranged fat Rambo into the middle of the English countryside. Fuck me, thought Garp. This lunatic is actually enjoying himself.
“BOOM!” shouted Luthor.
“Double BOOM!” he shouted again. “Get in there!”
“Are they dead?”
“VERY. Very dead indeed!” Luthor stood and danced on the edge of the ditch. He set all his torches to “flash” and started to rave-dance.
“Big box, little box, big box, little box.”
“Get down you idiot, what about the others?”
“Oh, they scarpered. Probably makes you not want to hang around when you see your friend’s head being crushed! You know what this means Garp?”
“That you should be committed?”
“What? No…it means we can go and retrieve the sandwiches! And we also have road-kill. It’s win-win IMHO!”
Back in the Game?
Luthor’s exuberance was short-lived.
“Can’t believe they ate all the sandwiches. The thieving little bastards.” He slumped back into his armchair.
“You did try to invade their homes” reasoned Garp, sipping his tea. He noticed with some pride that his hands had stopped shaking.
“I considered it more as ‘cold calling’ to see if they wanted to partake in a journalistic experiment to uncover the truth about road-kill.”
“By punching them in the face?”
“Punching them in the jaw. That’s how you knock a person out. Not the face.”
“Luthor, they are fucking BADGERS. Look at the size of their heads! How in the hell did you expect to be able to land a punch squarely on the jaw?”
“I lifted his face up while he was asleep.”
“You did what?”
“Lifted his face up.”
“Then punched him in the jaw?”
“Well, I would have done. I think they must have some sort of psychic badger burglar alarm or something. I lifted his face up and they all seemed to wake up at once.”
“What? Where were you?”
“In their house, like I said.”
A black van pulled up on the road next to the first dead badger.
Garp whispered: “Get down!”
Luthor was already on the ground, binoculars out.
Garp found his view obscured by hedge trunks. “What can you see?”
“Someone is getting out of the van.”
“I knew it. I knew somebody must come to clear up the road-kill. Is he from the council?”
“Erm…I don’t know. Oh, erm, I don’t think so. Not unless they’ve started employing children. Mind you, they do have some strange equal opportunities policies.”
“What do you mean?”
“Not sure…looks like…yeah…bloody hell, it is!”
“What is it?” Garp found he was becoming strangely anxious.
“It’s a midget.”
“Ehy? What do you mean a midget?”
“I mean a midget. Dwarf. Diddyman. Vertically challenged. And he’s wearing a cloak.”
“Jesus! What is he doing?”
“Dunno; let’s go over and ask him.”
“Luthor no! We can’t go over. He could be…dangerous.”
“Dangerous? What’s he going to do? He’s a fucking midget. If he wants a ruck we can just kick him over the hedge.”
Luthor started to get up then stopped suddenly. “Oh.”
“What is it?”
“There’s five more of them just got out the back of the van.”
“Yep. And they don’t look like they are from the council.””
“Oh god. Why not?”
“They’ve got shiny red eyes.”
TO BE CONTINUED
(c) 2012 Luthor H. Bedlam