Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Replies That Vanished

It's almost dark when they pick up the ladder.

Sweezus and Kierkegaard are in charge of it this time.

Good practice, says Sweezus.

For what? asks Kierkegaard.

Festival of Cycling, says Sweezus. We'll head back first thing in the morning.

Will there be novelty races? asks Kierkegaard.

Maybe, says Sweezus, but I just meant it's harder.

Copy that, says Victor.

He is cycling gingerly now.

The blood's drying, says Captain Baudin. You can soak your trousers at my place.

We can't stop there, says Sweezus.

I'm not in a hurry, says Victor. 


Later. The moon is up. Waves crash in the background. 

Captain Baudin climbs down from Victor's bike seat.

He heads for his letter box.

The letter box is not much of a letterbox.

It's a cleft in his rock. The mail gets blown away sometimes. Soaked by ocean waves, or slanting rain.

After which he can't read the writing.

Who knows how many replies he has had from the Society of the Cincinnati?

Replies which have vanished.

He reaches into the cleft with his claw. 


An hour later Captain Baudin has recovered from his disappointment.

He has been invited back to Carol's to have a chat with Gaius.

Gaius will no doubt have tales of the Cincinnati, who sound Roman.


Monday, January 18, 2021

Face To Face With The Bottom

They cycle away from the lighthouse.

Sorry if my remark caused you to leave prematurely, says Victor.

Not at all, says Captain Baudin. I was about to leave anyway.

Captain Baudin is perched on Victor's bicycle seat, clutching it tightly.

It brings him face to face with Victor's bottom.

Victor, says Captain Baudin. Are you aware that you're bleeding?

 Victor was not. But he knew that the back of his trousers was damp.

It may be mercury, says Victor. I had a suspicion I'd broken the thermometer.

But you placed it in a plastic bag, says Kierkegaard. 

And then sat on it, says Victor.

Cheer up, says Captain Baudin. I'm convinced that it's blood, and not mercury.

How can you be sure? asks Victor.

I was in the French merchant navy, says Captain Baudin. Captured by the English. Escaped and recaptured. I've seen plenty of blood spilled in my lifetime.

I guess that was before you were a lobster, says Sweezus. 

Of course, says Captain Baudin. I was eventually made Captain of the Admiralty at La Rochelle. At that time such an honour could not be bestowed on a lobster.

Captain of the Admiralty! says Victor. That was good.

Very good, says Captain Baudin. And even better, at present I'm waiting to find out if I've been accepted as a member of the Society of the Cincinnati.

Do they accept lobsters? asks Sweezus.

To be honest they're unaware I'm a lobster, says Captain Baudin. I felt, living here, it wasn't necessary to tell them.

Is that why you want to check your mail? asks Arthur.

Yes, says Captain Baudin. I have been waiting since 1784 for an answer. Today could be the day.

Well yes. But strictly speaking it's still Christmas Day, with no mail delivery. 

On the other hand, the Festival of Cycling commences tomorrow.

So it must be the 19th of January.

That's one of the mysteries of SPACE-TIME.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Turning Violet

Captain du Couedic finds the dinner mints.

Captain Baudin pours the coffee.

Make yourselves comfortable, says Captain du Couedic.

The philosophers sit down.

There is a faint cracking sound, when Victor does it.

He hopes it was not the thermometer.

No point looking now.

So the thermometer was stolen, says Captain du Couedic. If only I'd known that.

What would you have done? asks Kierkegaard.

Buried it, says Captain du Couedic.

Buried it? asks Victor.

Hypothetical now, says Captain du Couedic. It is recovered. Another dinner mint?

Don't mind if I do, says Victor.

He takes a dinner mint and bites off a corner.

Interesting, says Victor.

What is? asks Sweezus. The dinner mint or what Captain du Couedic just said?

Burying stolen goods, says Victor. I wonder what else is buried near this light house?

Are you accusing us of receiving stolen goods? asks Captain du Couedic.

Us? says Captain Baudin. I don't even reside here. 

That's right he doesn't, says Arthur. He lives under a rock.

My rock, says Captain Baudin. 

Me then? says Captain du Couedic. 

But Victor doesn't follow it up. He is sitting in a damp spot.

Has the thermometer broken?

Best be off, says Victor, standing up and patting the back of his trousers.

Okay, says Sweezus. Thanks for the coffee.

And mints, says Kierkegaard. 

Wait. I'll come with you, says Captain Baudin.

Captain du Couedic looks pained.

No offence, mon ami, says Captain Baudin. I need to return to my rock and check if the mail's come.


Captain du Couedic sits alone at the top of his light house, gazing out at the sea.

The sun is sinking. The sky turning violet.

Life is long.

He sucks on a dinner mint.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Fingerprints And Dinner Mints

The philosophers soon reach the lighthouse.

Sweezus knocks on the door.

After some time the door opens.

We're closed today, says Captain Baudin. 

It's us, says Sweezus. Did you get the thermometer?

Captain Baudin peers at the visitors. 

Why do you want to know?

We need a receipt, says Sweezus. Saint Roley didn't get one.

You want to see Captain du Couedic, says Captain Baudin.

I thought you were him, says Sweezus.

An easy mistake, says Captain Baudin. We are both sea captains.

And both lobsters, says Victor. 

Come up, says Captain Baudin.

They trail up the stairs.

Captain du Couedic is sitting in an arm chair, gazing at the ocean, through a window.

He turns around.

Them again! 

We're closed, today, says Captain du Couedic.

We know, says Sweezus. We just want....

Victor interrupts him.

We're here on police business, says Victor. May I see the thermometer?

The replacement thermometer? asks Captain du Couedic. 

If that's what you call it, says Victor. Where is it?

Here, says Captain du Couedic. He points to the table. 

On the table are plates of French crumbs, broken cracker biscuits, smears of fish paste, several olive stones, a few dirty feathers, and a thermometer sitting askew in a glass of clear liquid.

Methylated spirits, says Captain du Couedic. I'm attempting to clean it.

Arthur picks up the feathers. They are his. They had stuck to the thermometer, when it was in his pocket.

Victor picks up the thermometer, and examines it.

Do you have proof of ownership of this item?

Such as? asks Captain du Couedic.

A receipt, says Victor.

No, says Captain du Couedic. But I have a receipt for the one that was broken.

Can you produce it? asks Victor.

What use will that be? asks Kierkegaard. You don't suspect that one was stolen.

STOLEN! cries Captain du Couedic. If this thermometer was stolen then I shall return it! 

He lifts the thermometer from the glass of methylated spirits.

And hands it to Victor.

Victor puts it into a plastic bag that he keeps handy for evidence.

It may still have fingerprints on it.

Coffee, anyone? asks Captain du Couedic. And there's bound to be dinner mints, somewhere.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Cutting A Corner

Victor, you aced it! says Sweezus. Character is destiny. Where'd that come from?

Police officers manual, says Victor.

No way, says Sweezus.

Okay, says Victor. But it's in there somewhere. Or something like it.

Yeah but it sounds like what Heraclitus would say, says Sweezus.

I know, says Victor. That's why I chose it.

Reckon it's true? asks Sweezus. What's my destiny?

Well, you seem rather lazy, says Victor. And unfocussed. And you neglect Terence, in spite of the fact you're his guardian..

That's my character, says Sweezus. Not my destiny.

It's meant to be the same thing, says Arthur.

I hadn't finished, says Victor. 

Shouldn't we get this ladder through the fence and get moving? asks Kierkegaard. 

Yeah, says Sweezus. We should.

Let me do it, says Arthur. Thales is the ladder man.

Okay, says Sweezus. What was your mathematical discovery again?

Watch this, says Arthur.

He drags the ladder to the fence. Stands it upright. Then tips it over.

Now the ladder is on the other side of the fence, forming an angle.

See that, says Arthur. That's a right angle.

Where? asks Sweezus.

The angle of the fence to the ground, says Kierkegaard. But it's always there. One doesn't need the ladder.

Pedant, says Arthur. But you're right. We don't need the ladder.

Was that your discovery? asks Victor.

No, it's a new idea, says Arthur. Leave the ladder here, and go on to the lighthouse without it.

Yeah you're right. We don't need it, says Sweezus. We can knock on the door.

I thought we were doing a re-enactment, says Victor.

Just cutting a corner, says Sweezus.

Everyone agrees, after thinking about it.

They don't need the ladder.

They get on their bikes and cycle the rest of the way to the lighthouse without it.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Character Is Destiny

Sweezus and Kierkegaard have reached the Flinders Chase entrance. It's closed.

They wait for Arthur and Victor, who are not far behind, with the ladder.

Ring! It's Sweezus's phone.

Hi boss, says Sweezus.

Hello, says Vello. When will you be back in Adelaide?

Pretty soon, says Sweezus. How'd the quarantine go?

Don't remind me, says Vello. You do know the Tour Down Under was cancelled?

Yeah, says Sweezus.

But we're having a Festival of Cycling, says Vello. A bit Mickey Mouse, but that's the sporting life these days. 

Yeah I know. I'm coming back for it, says Sweezus. Soon as I've finished up here.

How's that story progressing? asks Vello. 

Everything's cool, says Sweezus. Kierkegaard's helping.

He's no minor philosopher! says Vello.

I know, says Sweezus. We've got two actual minor philosophers, bringing up the ladder.

Who are they? asks Vello. 

Heraclitus and Thales, says Sweezus.

Well done! says Vello. Are they with you now? May I speak with Heraclitus?

He's a bit out out of breath, says Sweezus.

Well Thales then, says Vello.

Sweezus makes an agonised face at Arthur. 

What? says Arthur. 

The boss, mouths Sweezus. Wants to talk to Thales.

He hands Arthur his phone. 

Elloa, says Arthur.

Pardon? says Vello.

Elloo-aa! says Arthur.

Is that you, Arthur? asks Vello.

Nooo-a, says Arthur. Ee arm Thales.

Sweezus kicks him on the shin.

Arthur drops his end of the ladder.

Sweezus grabs back the phone.

He's dropped the ladder, says Sweezus. Can I call you back later?

No, I'll be busy. Let me talk to Heraclitus. He must have his breath back by now.

Sweezus hands Victor the phone. 

Heraclitus speaking, says Victor, in a disguised voice, much better than Arthur's. 

(He enjoys undercover work).

How fortunate that you just happened to be on Kangaroo Island, says Vello.

Not at all, says Heraclitus. I come often.

But I'm guessing you don't often take part in a rescue, says Vello.

Wrong, says Heraclitus, I have my Mobius ladder. 

I hope Sweezus isn't writing this up as a comedy, says Vello.

I would not allow that, says Heraclitus. It is a serious matter. We are about to enter the deadly precincts, though a hole in the fence. It involves a few ups and downs with the ladder. We must be allowed to get on with it. 

All right, says Vello. Good luck with the rescue.

No luck involved, says Heraclitus. Character is destiny.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Parrot Thinks About Socks

Take my toe off, says Terence. And glue it on again.

It's not that simple, says Gaius. It's dried.

Undry it! says Terence.

I'll need a solvent, says Gaius. Nail polish remover is best. I'll ask Carol.

He goes off to find Carol.

You should keep it like it is, says Charitchi.

Why? asks Terence. It'll scrape when I walk. No more sneaking.

Do you go in for sneaking? asks Charitchi.

Lots, says Terence. I never sleep, that's why.

What about a sock? asks Charitchi.

What about one? asks Terence.

You could wear one, says Charitchi. Or two if you want to look normal.

You're so smart, you should think about being a parrot, says Terence.

No way, says Charitchi. I never think about parrots. Ai! Too late now! 

It IS too late now. Charitchi is riding a parrot.

Yay! says Terence. Ask it what it thinks about socks.

It doesn't think, says Charitchi.

I do, says the parrot. But not about socks.

Start thinking, says Terence. (He's used to giving orders to parrots).

Gaius appears with a pair of low-cut aquamarine socks, with tiny swimsuit-clad figures engaged in aquatic activities woven into the pattern.

They are Carol's. She doesn't wear nail polish.

Try these, says Gaius. 

Terence tries on the socks. They are loose round the heels, but stay on.

Everyone admires them, including the parrot.