The Penguins at Number 39: a Seasonal Story

With love at Christmas: Doncaster, 2015

With love at Christmas: Doncaster, 2015

Some December fiction for you

The Penguins at No. 39

“…so here it IS / Merry XMAS / Everybody’s having FUNNNN….

Bang! Bang! Thump!


Jack Spratt reached out one long, lean limb to try and steady himself, missed, and ended up, a tangle of long skinny arms and legs, on the crisp-strewn carpet.

“Now see wot you done,” slurred an enormous woman, as she stretched a ham-sized arm toward her slender husband, missed, and collapsed into the sparkly tree.

Their guests alternatively laughed, snorted, or ejected alcohol out their nostrils, depending on where their drinks were relative to their mouths.

“Oh, Mama,” sighed a twenty-something girl who was built rather like a Christmas pudding topped with a pudgy face, and trimmed with podgy arms and legs. “You’ve fallen into the tree, again.”

Not this tree, mind you ... or the other one, or ...

Not this tree, mind you … or the other one, or …

“’s’like a family tradishun,” slurred her brother, who was a slighter, somewhat shorter version of his dad.

“Never mind that,” said Spratt Senior, who had managed to crawl over to a chaotic-looking buffet table. “Help your mother up, there’s a good ‘un.” And with that, Jack picked up a nearly empty dish of tomatoes, and proceeded to lick the platter clean.

Bang! Thrump! Bang! Bang!

“I’ll go see who it is,” said a blond young neighbour, who was also named Jack. He handed a pail to his sister, Jill, then went out into the hallway. From the floor near the upended tree, Mrs Spratt called out, “If that’s Peter, tell ‘im we’ve run out of pickled peppers!”

“Will do, Mrs S!”

“’When the snowman brings the snoooow!/ When the snowman brings the snooooow’!” the junior Spratts warbled tunelessly into the karaoke machine’s mic, whilst their friend Jill drummed loudly on the upturned pail.

A somewhat poorly snowman

A somewhat poorly snowman

In the uproar caused by the young Spratts’ singing, Jill’s drumming, and Mrs Spratt’s querulous conversation about how one-size onesies did not fit all, and if that Mary from two doors down didn’t stop being so bloody contrary, she, Mrs Spratt, would see to it that Mary was thrown out of the party tooth sweet, at first no one noticed that young Jack had returned to the sitting room, followed by two penguins wearing green tissue party hats.

Mr Spratt was the first to spot the strangers. They had, he decided, the most disapproving looks he had ever seen on aquatic fowl. Of course, Jack didn’t know that many birds: just his neighbours Henny Penny and Turkey Lurkey, and of course old Mrs Goose, who had been like a mother to him. All three had declined the Spratts’ party invitations, once they realised that it was going to be a full hot and cold buffet, rather than a simple and potentially less fatal finger one.

The smile on the face of the penguin

The smile on the face of the penguin

“This is Mr and Mrs Ping-Yoo from Number 39,” young Jack said, naming one of the adjoining terraces.

Jack swayed as he spoke. He was normally a temperate lad, with a fondness for dairy produce, and was drinking eggnog rather than the beer, lager, and other alcoholic items available. The nog was supposed to be alcohol-free. It wasn’t, of course. Nancy Spratt, who fancied him, had spiked it, with the help of the Peter Piper, who was making his way from party to party, and consequently was quite pickled.

“Mrs Ping-Yoo, Mr Ping-Yoo,” said Mr Spratt. He held out a hand in greeting, but didn’t bother getting up from the floor, where he had just polished off an enormous dish of carrot sticks and celery.

Mr Ping-Yoo looked at Spratt (Senior)’s rather dirty hand with distaste.

“Charmed, I’m sure,” said the penguin, with the sort of voice you could manufacture creamsicles with.

Mrs Ping-Yoo smiled nervously. It was a toothless grin which Mr Spratt, who had seen some pretty weird shit, found distinctly disturbing.

To be continued …

Floristry by Lord Hurst, one of my favourite Doncaster teashops

Floristry by Lord Hurst, one of my favourite Doncaster teashops

If you enjoyed this story, check out my short story collections “What! No Pudding?” and “Koi Carpe Diem“, both currently available on e-book from Amazon. A print version of “Koi Carpe” is available locally from myself.

Comments are closed.