A Jack and Danny Story (separate from the chronicles)
Forsooth, what magic was this? I could scarce believe my eyes; I stared in wonder, moved almost to tears at sight of such beatific sweetness. Love, nay, lust stirred deep within me. I must have possession of them or surely go insane with desire. I looked about me, seeking to locate he who could grant my wishes and make gift of these marvellous jewels unto me. My eyes raked the plebeian market crowd and at last came to rest upon the tall noble figure of my beloved lord, who was deep in thoughtful counsel, considering the merits of one kind of merchandise against that of another. He would I knew, choose wisely. I discreetly sought to turn his attentions from the merchandise in his hands to my small, but perfectly proportioned person.
“JACK, HEY JACK, OVER HERE!”
My discreet attention seeking seemed to have a startling affect on my beloved, I really rather worried about his nerves sometimes. The tins of cat food he’d been deliberating over dropped from his hands, bouncing across the supermarket floor and jamming themselves under the trolley wheels of a woman who was speed shopping, thus bringing her to a sudden and abrupt halt. Consequently she shot over the handlebar of the trolley, bowling into a display of canned dog food and sending them flying like ninepins. Jesus! I blushed furiously. Much as I loved Jack, he did seem to attract disaster sometimes. It was getting to the point where I was afraid to go out with him. I watched as with typical old world courtesy, he helped the bemused lady to her feet and with much apology parked her safely behind her laden trolley once more. She steered a rather erratic course towards the checkouts.
Jack, on the other hand, steered a very straight course in my direction. Grasping my elbow he manoeuvred me into the only deserted aisle in the shop, the one where all the no fat, low sugar, Vegan friendly, healthy option products were shelved. My ears flattened themselves against my head as he assailed them with a scorching lecture about appropriate supermarket etiquette and consideration to other shoppers. At last he ran out of steam and I was able to insert a small, but sincere, “sorry Jack.”
He ran a hand through his hair, “what was so important that you felt you had to break the sound barrier in order to get my attention?”
“You have to see this, come on,” excitedly grabbing his hand I dragged him over to the display that had so entranced me. “Look,” reverently picking out a packet from the display I held it up to him, saying in breathily hallowed tones, “isn’t it marvellous?”
Jack blinked, “it’s a packet of chocolate Malteasers Danny, what’s so marvellous about that?”
Was the man blind?
I shook the bag at him with a seductive air, “not just ordinary Malteasers Jack, look at them closely. They’re WHITE chocolate Malteasers. What will they think of next? They’re a miracle of confectionary.”
“Danny my pet,” disappointingly un-seduced, he gently took the bag from my hot little hand and placed it back in the display dumper. “I don’t care if they’re multi coloured and in line for Papal Beautification, you’re still not having a packet, not now, not ever.”
Sarcasm with a religious theme, lovely. I scowled at him, “that’s not fair Jack. It’s Saturday and we agreed that Saturday was my let my hair down, forget healthy eating, stuff my face with junk of my choice day.”
“True,” he nodded agreement, “but not Malteasers. Malteasers, as you know only too well, are permanently off limits.”
“Please Jack, I have to try these.” I gazed at him, trying to emulate the appealing look on the face of the pup that adorned the pack of toilet roll in our shopping trolley…though why they used a puppy to promote toilet roll I have never understood. There was another brand that claimed to be kitten soft, the whole concept caused me deep disturbance, seeming to suggest that advertising agents had experimentally wiped their arses on a variety of small furry animals before settling on a puppy and kitten as being softest and therefore most likely to successfully sell toilet roll. Speaking personally, I wouldn’t have risked wiping my bum with a kitten, not with all those little needle claws they have. You’d end up with a hissing, spitting sporran dangling from your bollocks. The whole thing was a disgrace really; it made you wonder if the RSPCA were doing their job properly, allowing helpless little creatures to be so misused. I’d a good mind to write to my MP about it, whoever he/she was, or maybe even Rolf Harris and the Animal Hospital crew, they could do a special feature on it. I might even get to make a guest appearance: ‘Daniel Macintyre highlights disturbing animal abuse by advertising agencies.’ I could end up with my own Watchdog programme, possibly assisted by Dale Winton and that antiques guy, the one with a face like a beige hush puppy…bugger, I’ve lost my thread, where was I? Oh yes…appealing puppy dog looks had little effect on Jack, he was unmoved, heartless swine that he is.
“It’s no good looking at me like that Danny, I’m not going to change my mind.”
Having failed in the appealing puppy dog look category, I launched straight into another puppy dog trait, whining, “I don’t think you appreciate the momentous nature of this situation Jack. You’re not being fair, I mean they’re white Malteasers, Malteasers coated in white chocolate, that’s two of my favourite things in one event, white chocolate and Malteasers, together, a marriage of perfection, and look, it says on the display, they’re a limited edition. I may never get the chance to try them again, it would be a tragedy, please, just this once. I’ll never ask for anything else ever again, ever, I promise, not ever, or hardly ever, maybe once a month, but no more than that, not even if I really want to.”
Jack folded his arms, “finished?”
I nodded, feeling I’d stated my case as well as it could be stated at this juncture.
“Good,” Jack smiled, then, swiftly unfolding his arms, leaned towards me with a look of gentle menace in his eyes. “Watch my lips Danny, the answer is NO, that’s two letters, N and O, together, spelling no, not yes, not maybe, but no, just that, NO, which, as well as being the chemical symbol for nobelium is also a word used, as in this case, to state denial, disagreement or refusal.”
Great, I stared at him sourly; he’d obviously been reading the Collins Concise Dictionary on the loo again. I opened my mouth to interject, and then closed it again, after all, we were in a supermarket, and there might be a bylaw or something that prohibited interjecting in public. I didn’t want to get arrested, not again.
“Look,” he indicated the stocked shelves with a lavish gesture, “there’s dozens of other types of confectionary to choose from, go for a nice big bar of white chocolate if your tastes are leaning that way.”
“I don’t want a bar of white chocolate,” I risked a small stamp, hastily turning it into a ‘rubbing something off the floor,’ movement as Jack eyed me with one of his, that had better not be a stamp, looks, “I want a bag of white Malteasers.”
“Tough, either pick something else or do without, I’m not prepared to negotiate on this. Malteasers are banned, end of story.”
“I promise not to toss them. I’ll eat them responsibly Jack.”
“I’m sorry Danny,” Jack shook his head, not looking in the least sorry. “I know you, the temptation will prove too much, before you know it, you’ll be hurling them in the air and turning blue before my very eyes. I’m not having it. Choose something else and let’s get home.”
“So,” I folded my arms, determined to make a stand, even though I was useless at any kind of craftwork. Sometimes, Jack just needed me to be firm with him, “that’s a definite no to Malteasers then, are you absolutely certain about that Jack? I mean you can reconsider. I won’t think any the less of you, in fact far from it, I’ll admire your courage in embracing an alternative philosophy.”
Jack rolled his eyes, philosophically grabbed a bar of chocolate from the shelf, threw it in the trolley, and shoved it, and me towards the checkouts.
“Do you intend to sulk all the way home?” He gave me a measured glance as he climbed in the car and pulled on his seat belt.
“I’m not sulking,” I folded my arms in a dignified manner, “I’m being quietly contemplative.”
“Which translates as you sulking over not getting your way over those sweets,” Jack turned the key in the ignition and we headed home, “why are you not allowed Malteasers, is it because I’m an ogre who gets a kick out of depriving you of the things you enjoy?”
“I could have said a lot to that, but I chose to remain quietly contemplative and soulful.
He trotted out his favourite word again, “why…why are they forbidden Daniel?”
“It was a fluke,” I stopped being soulful and quietly contemplative to glare at him, “just a fluke, and you got me breathing again. I don’t see the problem.”
“It was not a fluke,” he returned my glare with interest, “it was sheer recklessness. Had it happened once it would have been bad enough, but it happened twice, even though, after the first time, you assured me you’d never do it again. I told you then that I felt I was justified in banning Malteasers permanently, because you’d proved you couldn’t be trusted with them. You’re not having them, not today, not tomorrow, not ever again, so resign yourself.”
Honestly, I scowled at my reflection in the car window; Jack was so pedantic about some things, making a fuss just because I’d nearly choked to death on a Malteaser a time or two. He’d performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on the first occasion and I’d been fine, granted, it had taken the Heimlich manoeuvre in conjunction with the kiss of life to bring me round the second time, but that wasn’t my fault. As Malteasers go that one had been a freakishly big bugger, lodging itself in my windpipe like a billiard ball. I’d been really upset when he decided it was in both our interests if he banned me from eating them for the rest of my life. They were totally my favourite sweet, combining the pleasures of eating chocolate with a competitive indoor sport. I was good too, I practised for hours, there was no one could toss a Malteaser the way I could, many had tried, and many had failed. I was the Tony Hawk of confectionary, performing daring stunts with breathtaking skill, and let’s face it; all sports have an element of danger attached to them. It’s part of the attraction.
Jack pulled into a service station to fill up on petrol and I got out of the car, unable to face the boredom of sitting still for several long minutes as he carried out the task. I wandered over to the kiosk to browse the newspapers and magazines. Jack shouted over to get a copy of The Guardian and I picked one up, almost staggering under the weight of Saturday supplements contained within its achingly tedious pages. Why the hell he couldn’t read The Sun along with the majority of the population was beyond me. It had the same news, just with fewer syllables and more pictures of tits. I heaved it over to the counter to pay for it.
“I’ll put the shopping away Jack,” I gave him a look of loving concern as, single handed, he lugged six laden carrier bags into the kitchen and plonked them on the table. “You look tired, go and read the paper. I’ll bring you a cup of tea.”
He gave me a look of deep suspicion, placing a large hand against my forehead, “are you sickening for something, have you got a temperature?”
“Ha-ha,” I gave him a bleak look, “do you want me to put it away or not?”
“Yes, most certainly, not least because it’s your turn anyway, and try to concentrate on what you’re doing this time. I don’t want to find bleach in the fridge and the milk under the sink again, not to mention scouring pads in the teabag jar, let’s face it Danny, teabags just don’t make efficient pan cleaners.” He suddenly smiled, cupping my chin in his hands and kissing me, “and yes, thanks, a cup of tea would be very nice.”
As soon as he’d departed for the sitting room, I shoved all the shopping away as fast as I could and banged the kettle on, before extracting something from my jacket pocket with hands that trembled slightly. On reaching the counter to pay for the newspaper at the garage, my eyes had fallen on a strategically placed promotional display of white chocolate Malteasers. A toddler in a pushchair had also espied them, and a screaming tantrum had ensued, which thankfully scared the little horror off from reaching for the last pack in the box. I had snatched up the goodies and paid for them in the twinkling of an eye. A sudden sluice of guilt swept over me for having allowed temptation to override my normal good sense. Jack wouldn’t be pleased if he knew what I’d done, I’d get the whole ‘no means no’ speech, and probably something worse in the form of his hand on my nether regions. I could almost hear my brain preparing to send a note of condolence to my buttocks. Going over to the waste bin I virtuously dropped in the unopened packet of sweets. I was getting to be so sensible it was frightening.
“I’m just going to make another pot of tea Jack, would you like one?” I drained my mug and got up, almost over balancing as the liquid in my stomach swilled heavily around.
“Another one?” Jack lowered his newspaper to look at me, “that’ll be the fourth in less than an hour. What is this sudden obsession you have for tea?”
I shrugged, “I’m thirsty that’s all, and I think it might be a sign of maturity, you know, craving tea instead of coke. Do you want one or not?”
“No thank you, and I think you ought to consider making this your last. It may not have as much caffeine as coffee, but it still has some and at the rate you’re drinking it, you’ll be going through the roof presently.”
He went back to his paper, and I sloshed off to the kitchen. My virtuous turn of mind had lasted about ten minutes. While sitting drinking tea and supposedly watching television, the only thing my eyes could focus on was an inner vision of the luscious forbidden fruits residing in the kitchen bin. Making a second cup of tea had proven too much for me, I had raided the bin and retrieved the goods, salving my conscience by telling myself that Jack wouldn’t really mind as long as I ate them in a sensible manner. Glancing furtively over my shoulder, I sneaked the bag out from behind the bread bin and popped another delectable chocolate ball into my mouth, sucking off all the chocolate before crunching the honeycomb centre.
It was no good, I sighed miserably, setting the bag down on the kitchen table. They tasted nice enough, but the experience just wasn’t as satisfying as I had thought it would be. Something was missing; there was no excitement, no adrenalin rush, and no buzz. Malteasers were just not designed for conventional modes of consumption. Getting up I paced around the kitchen and then returned to the table, fiddling irritably with the bag. One of the sweets rolled out and Misty, who was sitting on the table, watched its progress with interest; shooting out a paw he walloped it, sending it skidding across the table. Instinct set in and before I knew it I was on the other side of the table, deftly reaching out to catch the ball before it could fall to the floor. It landed on the slightly cupped palm of my right hand, the perfect position for the Malteaser tossing equivalent of the skateboarder’s half pipe. With a twist of my arm and flick of my wrist, I sent the sweet soaring up high behind my back, did a quick pirouette, threw back my head, and opened my mouth in preparation for catching it on its downward descent…OH YEAH! Danny boy was still the undisputed Malteaser Catching King! Only, as the sweet hurtled towards my facial orifice, a sudden memory flashed into my mind of what it had felt like the last time a Malteaser had somehow lodged in my throat. I recalled the panic that had consumed me at being unable to eject it, and the hideous sensation of not being able to breathe. Closing my mouth with a snap, I righted my head…almost suffering cardiac arrest at sight of the dark brooding presence filling the kitchen doorway. “JACK, I didn’t hear you sneaking up on me!” The Malteaser smacked accusingly against my scalp, fell to the floor and rolled to a halt at his feet. He bent to pick it up, holding it between thumb and forefinger like evidence at a murder enquiry. I had a sudden suspicion that it was my backside on trial.
His face had that Judge Dredd look about it, backed up with a death sentence voice, “I trust you have a VERY good explanation for this Daniel?”
That was one of the things I loved about Jack, the touching way he placed his trust in me, and of course it wasn’t misplaced. I pointed at the cat. “He made me do it!” Misty gave me a wounded look and baled out, hastily exiting through the cat flap. I would have liked to join him; only I knew from experience that I’d only get jammed in the wretched contraption.
“I refuse to accept for a single moment that the cat played any part in this affair,” Jack gazed at me sternly, “I’m waiting for an explanation as to why you went against my express wishes Daniel?”
‘Express wishes!’ Oh shit, this was bad. He was bringing trains into it now; high speed ones too, there’d be no chance of jumping off at the next station. My buttocks began praying desperately to whoever the patron saint of Malteaser transgressors was. Whoever he was, he took pity on my plight, striking me with a sudden thought. I released it from captivity, setting it wild and free. “BROWN ONES!”
Jack’s eyes narrowed, “that had better not be an innovative attempt at swearing, because if it is, you’d better believe I’ll wash your mouth out as well as spank you for disobedience.”
“No, no,” I wasn’t trying to say shit without saying shit Jack, honestly, you know me, when I want to sh…”
“Yes, thank you Daniel, I think we can stop that train of thought right there, before it carries you down the line to deeper trouble than you’re already in.” He grimly took my hand and led me across to the kitchen table, pulling out a chair from beneath it.
“What I meant Jack,” I tried to keep a note of triumph out of my voice, well, not so much a note as an entire symphony, complete with overweight Italian tenors singing in triplicate. I reckoned I had him on a technicality, “what I meant was that you banned me from eating brown chocolate Malteasers, not white ones, cos white ones weren’t around when you banned me from eating brown ones. So technically no rule infringement has taken place, ergo, I have not touched the banned Malteasers, and the ones I did eat, I ate in a boring way, so no consequences are necessary…please don’t sit down on that chair Jack. I believe I’ve just proven without shadow of a doubt that there’s no need.”
Jack seemed un-swayed by my reasoning, and he still sat down on the chair, pulling me between his knees, “a Malteaser is a Malteaser regardless of the colour of its skin. A ban on Malteasers per se, covers all variations thereof. No Malteasers means no Malteasers, whether they be pink, brown, purple OR white. Regardless of whether or not you intended to eat them in the way favoured by normal people, you buying them behind my back shortly after I had reinforced my stance on that very subject, was flagrant disobedience. And, the fact remains that, as I knew you would be, you WERE tempted to behave recklessly with them. I saw the evidence with my own eyes.”
Well, he could hardly see it with anyone else’s eyes could he, not unless he’d had a cornea transplant, which I knew for a fact he hadn’t. I scowled, fucks sake, the man was made of steel, there was no bend in him, unlike me and if I wasn’t careful I’d be bending in a way guaranteed to bring water to my eyes and agony to my botty. I tried further reasoning, “but I stopped myself Jack…please don’t unfasten my jeans in that un-sexy manner, it’s making me nervous… I didn’t go through with it in the end. You should be proud of me.” I switched from reasoning to pleading as he began to pull my jeans down, “don’t do that Jack, please, it’s chilly in here, I might catch cold, you know how prone I am…” Ignoring my plea, he lowered my jeans and boxers to my ankles and put me in one of my least favourite positions; face down over his lap.
“I’m very pleased that you didn’t go through with it, in fact I AM proud of you for taking the sensible option at the eleventh hour, but really that’s besides the point Daniel. You shouldn’t have disobeyed me and consequently put yourself in a position where you could be tempted.” He placed a large hand against my bare bottom, “let’s take it from the top, no pun intended.”
Ha-bloody-ha, he was doing stand up comedy now, only he was sitting down and it wasn’t funny.”
“What does no mean Daniel, and don’t even think about quoting the chemical symbol for nobelium back at me, because as I know you know very well, the question I’m asking is what does no mean in the context of the situation we find ourselves in at this present time?”
Honestly, he did go on sometimes. It was like living with a Sociology lecturer, someone who spoke a completely different language.
He continued his over the knee tutorial, “is it a code word for do exactly as you like, does it translate in some obscure language that only you are privy to, as do exactly the opposite to what Jack tells you to do?”
I opened my mouth to reply, but before I could get a word in edgeways, Jack’s hand left my bottom for the briefest of moments, returning with a sound like gunshot, and an answer to his own question, either that or I’d suddenly developed an amazing ability to throw my voice and do impressions.
“No means no Daniel, simple as that.”
The hand departed my backside once more, but sadly not for long, it soon returned, bringing more proclamations from Jack’s mouth. I suddenly saw a certain appeal in the ancient custom of despatching the bearer of bad news. His hand was certainly bringing bad news to my bum.
“I say no, you obey me, each and every time, you don’t improvise, you don’t develop selective amnesia, you don’t sneak behind my back…”
His voice fell silent at last, leaving his hand to carry on a lone conversation with my already sore bottom. My own voice was soon in process of giving it loud and deeply heartfelt, if rather inarticulate, reply.
Oh…BROWN ONES…why hadn’t I just chosen a Mars Bar?
Copyright Fabian Black/Cat 2009