“The old boy’s asleep alright. I just tried giving him a nudge. Nothing.”
“Great! What’s the plan, Stan?”
“We’ll carry on as normal, so if he wakes up he won’t suspect anything. I’ve got a special job for you, Nobby. And stop calling me Stan. My name is Beki and you know it.”
“Yeah. Beki,” the young primate shouted.
“Who’s Beki?” the troop asked.
“Stan!” Nobby replied.
“Who’s Beki? Stan!” the troop chorused.
“So to us, you’re Stan. Stan the man with a plan,” Nobby added, his face approximating a grin. Or was it a grimace? Or a leer? .Or possibly even a threat posture. Never mind. It worked. “So what’s the job you’ve got for me — Stan?”
Beki assumed an air of unconcern that fooled nobody. “I want you to go to the keepers’ store and pick up the things on this list.” He handed a short list to Nobby.
“I can’t read,” Nobby said, “how am I supposed to know what to get?”
“Give it back; I’ll read it to you. Will you be able to remember a list of things?”
“Okay. I’ll read them out one by one and you repeat them back to me. One artist’s palette…”
“Never mind what it is; can you remember to ask for it?”
“Call it back.”
“One artist’s palette.”
“Good. Three paintbrushes: One inch, half inch and pencil-tip.”
“Three paintbrushes: One inch, half inch and pencil-tip.”
“Excellent.” This to-and-fro continued until the list was complete and memorised. Finally, Nobby repeated the entire list in one go before scooting off to the keepers’ store.
“Do you think he’ll remember it all?” asked Broken-Tail, a mid-life female named after … well, I can imagine you’ll guess how she acquired that sobriquet.
“I can only hope,” Beki replied, “We’ve done what we can; it’s in Nobby’s hands now.”
“That’s what’s worrying me,” Broken-Tail said.
“Have confidence – he’s your son.”
“That’s what’s worrying me,” Broken-Tail repeated, causing something of a titter from the rest of the troop – every one of whom was fully aware how scatter-brained Nobby could be when he put his mind to it – or, rather, when he failed to do exactly that.
Time passed. The troop went about the serious business of picking parasites off each other’s pelts. The old boy stayed asleep.
Finally, Nobby returned with the things he had been charged with obtaining. Beki checked what had arrived.
“Excellent,” he said, “you did good, Nobby. You will no longer be called the nincompoop of the troop.”
“So I’m no longer stupid and useless?” Nobby asked, excitedly.
“Oh, you’re still that, and some,” Beki replied, “We’ll just stop reminding you every ten minutes.”
“I’ll take that.”
“Let’s get started, then. Three of you take a brush each. Without disturbing the old boy, whoever has the thickest brush, take the red paint and do his nose, around his mouth and eyes. Pale blue with the medium brush and dark blue the thin one; and I want parallel stripes from his eyes to his nose. When that’s done, Nobby will stand the mirror in front of him whilst we wake him up. Let’s see how he reacts when he thinks he’s turned into a Mandrill in his sleep!”
This was written in response to Kreative Kue 322 published on this site.