Albert and Jarvis part 36

a tale in weekly parts


This story is open for suggested continuations. I will publish here, with links to your own blog, all I receive. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) the next episode of this collaborative tale.

You can see the full story so far at this link.

Episode 36

Xander spent one full day in bed, being waited on hand and foot by his mother, but on the second day, which was Sunday, he decided he couldn’t take any more of her fussing. He magnanimously allowed her to bring him breakfast in bed (such a martyr, that boy) before getting up and joining her downstairs about an hour later.

“Hi, Mum,” he said.

“Aren’t you supposed to be in bed, Xander?” she asked, “Your father will be annoyed if he knows you got up.”

“Where is Dad, by the way?”

“He’s working on’t allotment this morning, then he’ll be training’t whippet till tea time.”

Mum!” Xander said, his voice, again, more than tinged with exasperation. “Dad doesn’t have an allotment or a whippet. What’s this all about?”

“I’m sorry, son. Like I told you before, I can only say what’s been written for me.”

“Okay, Mum. So; off-script, where is he?”

“His firm put on a team-building day at the local zoo today. He said it was compulsory. Well; you know your father; no way would he volunteer for one of these things.”

“That’s true,” Xander said then, with perhaps a little too much glee, “I’ll bet he’s hating it.”

“So do I!” his mother said, equally cheerily.

“Straight face,” Xander instructed himself, changing his expression by symbolically pulling his hand down in front of his head, “what time will he be back?”

“He said about six.”

“Okay, Mum. I’ll be in the front room reading.”

“What book?”

“Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.”

“No, really. What will you be reading?”

“Really. A Brief History of Time.”

“I’m impressed. Good luck.”

Xander muttered a thank-you and sloped through into the lounge, where he plopped himself into a chair and assumed a reading position that could only possibly be achieved by a contortionist, a primate with a prehensile tail… or a teenaged boy. His mother neither saw nor heard anything from him until she called him for lunch. He had, by then, read and digested the entirety of Professor Hawking’s celebrated work.

“What’s for lunch, Mum?” he asked.

“Sardines on toast,” she replied.

Xander couldn’t understand why a voice in his head uttered a doleful “Oh, no!” at hearing that. He had no doubt, though, that Albert, the source of the voice, would explain it to him at some later stage.

He ate, and enjoyed, his fishy lunch, then went back to read the sequel – The Universe in a Nutshell – and The Future of Spacetime, a series of essays by the Professor and some of his peers.

By the time his father returned, Xander had devoured both of these books, and was watching some cartoons on the television.

“Are you comfortable like that, lad?” his father asked, seeing him upside-down in the chair, he head where his rear end should have been, his legs draped over the seat-back and his feet barely inches off the ground.

“Course,” he replied nonchalantly, “wouldn’t be sat like it otherwise, would I?”

“I don’t know, son; I don’t know at all. You tell me!”

“I did, and I am. You want your chair?”

“No; you’re right for now. I’ll be wanting it after I’ve had my dinner, though,” he said finally.

“Sound like Mum’s ready to dish it out now, Dad,” Xander said.

“How can you hear that?” his father asked. “How can you hear that?” he repeated. “You got supersonic hearing, too?”

“No, Dad,” he said (he did have super-sensitive hearing, but he wasn’t about to admit to it as having it secretly gave him some advantages), “it’s just that I’ve been listening out for it; I’m hungry.”

“Did you have lunch?”

“Yes.”

“What did you have?”

A voice in his head – Albert’s – begged him not to say the words again, but he did anyway, “Sardines on toast. And very nice they were, too.”

No they weren’t; they were disgusting, the voice in his head screamed.

“What’re you laughing at?” Al asked Xander.

“Nothing, Dad. Just remembering something funny.”

“Tell me.”

“You wouldn’t get it.”

“Suit yourself.”

Dinner, you’ll be relieved to hear, wasn’t sardines. It wasn’t roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, cabbage and all the trimmings, either. It was a traditional boeuf bourguignon.

“This is rather posh, Mother,” Al said, “how long did it take you to rustle this lot up?”

“Not long,” Madge confessed, “I had to pull the top half off the packet, then give it five and a half minutes at full power.”

Having just spent a day that, to Al, closely approximated to Hell, you can imagine how pleased he was to learn that his wife had devoted just five minutes to making his dinner. That’s right, he was not a happy chappie.

“Do you mean to tell me,” he started, “after the day I’ve had—”

“Dad! Leave it,” Xander interrupted. “It’s a nice dinner. Just enjoy it, then park yourself in front of reality TV and veg out for the evening.”

Al muttered something incomprehensible; it’s probably just as well it was, given his mood.

Dinner over, Al and Madge wandered through into the lounge and vegetated in front of the idiot box, while Xander said he was tired and went to his room.

Once there, Albert’s voice said to him, “Fancy getting up to a bit of mischief on the moon?”

“What’re we going to do?” Xander asked.

“You’ll just have to wait and see…” Albert replied.


This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.