Captain Caplin escapes the makeshift hammock hanging off the side of the zeppelin only to discover a
flock herd bunch of alligators snapping at his heels. Bond flies onto Caplin’s hat as he enters the Schist Castle and reports back to Moneypenny at the end of the party.
Don’t even think about starting to read this story here. We’re only one part until the end! Start at the beginning like a normal person. The cast of characters is helpful here as there are far too many actors in the mix. Recommended snack: Make yourself a nice dessert table: petits fours, jello, donuts, a plate of cookies. Soundtrack: Gravity
Bond flew in the window. “I’m sending the squirrels up. That fire burned a big enough hole in the cargo net that Caplin started chewing, too. He’s nearly out.”
Cu, Sali, and Tix scampered in through the window and went straight to their mom.
“What a meanie!” Said Sali. “That capybara is crazy!”
“He’s had a rough couple of days,” said Sylvia. “Cut him some slack.”
“That’s exactly what we did!” Said Cu.
“He started to come out of the hole we chewed, so that’s why we came back,” said Tix. “Can we go home, now? Dobby promised us root beer floats at home.”
“Hang on, we’re getting ready to ascend. For real this time,” said Bianca. She had abandoned her roosters and moved up to her chair near the helm. “Seatbelts on please, tray tables up, refreshments will be served as soon as we are back on the ground and motoring.”
Gari ignored her announcement as he chewed the last of the cargo net free from the window struts. “Caplin is standing up, free of the net.”
Crackity splat! Dobby turned to grin at the passengers. “I’m pretty good with porcupine-fruit, too. Those durian make a crazy mess when they hit. They kind of split and ooze. I got an alligator right on the schnozz! That’s the good news. The bad news is they are close enough that I can hit them with a durian from here.”
“Oh boy,” said Gari. “Caplin is brushing off his jacket, straightening his badge sash. Doesn’t he know about the alligators? I guess he can’t see them, they’re behind him! Now he’s flicking invisible dust off his hat. Well, he is going to a party I guess. Without pants.”
Crackity sploosh! Dobby lobbed another durian at the closest alligator. It was a big one, but he bellowed when it hit, and the stench of the fruit wafted into Newt’s salon. The alligator rolled the spiny fruit over and took a little bite.
“I think Caplin heard that durian hit,” said Gari. “He’s looking around. Whoa, he looked up! I don’t think he could see the zeppelin before when he was underneath, but he has seen it now. I repeat, Caplin has seen the zeppelin.”
Crackity splaagh! “I don’t think I told him about the zeppelin, did I?” Said Dobby. “you were there. Did we talk about it?”
“I can’t remember. I don’t think so. Usually Caplin blathers on about himself and nobody else gets to talk. Okay, looks like he’s onto the alligator situation. He can probably see them crawling up the sides of the moat.”
Crack sploosh! “We’re pretty high up now, it’s harder to aim these durian,” said Dobby. “The alligators are starting to eat them, I guess the watermelons were only an appetizer. I could have guessed that alligators would like fruit that smells like dirty socks drenched in turpentine. Do you think it’s going to swell up in their bellies?”
“Caplin’s on the move,” said Gari. “He’s racing for the castle door, now. Pulling the rope bell. Starting to climb up the door, now!”
“Capybaras can’t climb doors. You gotta be a squirrel,” said Tix.
“The alligators are heading his way,” said Sali. “He better give it a try.”
Sylvia gingerly moved toward the pile of durians and started heaving them at the alligators.
Crack splat sploosh crackity clunk!
Suddenly, Bond flew out the window. He landed on top of Caplin’s hat just as the castle door swung open. A capybara dressed in black stood at the door and greeted Caplin.
“Guys, you all gotta see this!” Said Gari. “Come quick!”
Everyone lurched to the port side facing the castle door, now well below the zeppelin. The airship listed and then started to tip. Ordinarily, zeppelins are quiet, almost silent, and that is their charm and their utility. However when all of the passengers stampede from one side to the other, trying to stabilize the ship, the spell is broken. They dodged the football-sized spiny fruits tumbling in their own random ballet across the aisle and back. Various shouts, clicks, chatters and cackles accentuated the dance like a malfunctioning pinball machine. Only Bianca remained seated primly, eyes wide open, silently clutching the aircraft safety card.
“So, did anyone see that?” Said Gari. A passel of pale-faced passengers slowly came to rest, retaking their seats, the formerly swinging Newt behaving properly. Prince Dobalob didn’t look so hot. He lay back down on his couch. Roosters started gently rolling durians over to Sylvia and she tossed them out. They could be heard cracking open on the drawbridge way below.
“Anyone?” said Gari. “The capybara witch opened the door! It was her, I’m sure. Caplin went in quickly, you know, alligators bearing down on him and all. She leaned out the door, waved her paw, and the alligators stopped, spun around, and went back to the moat! They were running! Then the door shut. Caplin is in there with the witchybara! Good thing he’s Guardiã Principale or we might feel obligated to re-rescue him.”
“And Bond,” said Cu. “He landed on Caplin’s hat and I think he went in too. Will he be okay?”
“Bond can take care of himself,” said Rodney. “I’m glad he’s in there. He’ll find a way out and report back to us. Eventually. Do you think the witchybara saw the zeppelin?”
“I don’t think so,” said Gari. “We were way up high. She might have heard the ruckus, though. Sorry guys, but I really wanted you to see her. And the way she dismissed the alligators. It’s like they are her pets or something. No fear at all. So we abandon Caplin to his fate?”
“What if she locks him up in the dungeon again?” Said Bianca.
“We call the Guardiã Principale. I’m not doing that particular rescue again. Something else maybe but we’re fresh out of cargo nets,” said Sylvia. “So, how long do you think it will take him to notice that he arrived at his Mom’s birthday party with no trousers on?”
The zeppelin soared over the forest in silence. Exhausted passengers decorated the plush furniture like mussed antimacassars. Only the little squirrels sat at attention, in rapt expectation of further turmoil. Dobby sat up slowly and hung his head, deep in thought.
“What’s up, my Prince? Feeling guilty are we?” Said Sylvia .”Caplin is at the party and you aren’t?”
Dobby looked at his porcupine friend in awe. “How do you know these things?”
“I am a daughter, a sister, and a mother.”
“I always resented Caplin for abandoning us. I’ve always felt I should make up for him by being a good son. I don’t think I have ever missed a party, and he misses them all. Now I am missing my first one and I’m quite certain he never felt like this. Why is this so hard for me?”
“It’s hard because you are a good son. Is this really the first family event you have missed?”
“Yes, and even though it would be dangerous for me to attend this particular party, I still feel so guilty I am physically sick.”
“Call your mother and tell her that,” said Sylvia. “It’s true, and this time Caplin is there to distract her. Call her right now, before she notices you aren’t there and starts to worry.”
“Sylvia’s right,” said Conchita. ”Always make a pre-emptive strike, if possible. Catch her off guard.”
“Conchita knows your mother better than Sylvia does,” said Gari. “But they’re both right, you know. You should call her. She’ll do all the talking, anyway. It will be easy.”
Dobby pulled his phone out of his waistcoat and stared at it. All of the passengers stared at Dobby. He scowled and scrolled to his mother’s profile.
“Hi, mom, it’s Dobby.” A few minutes of silence. “I know, but I’m feeling sick, so—.” He held the phone away from his ear and looked at it in astonishment. He looked at the passengers and grinned. Turned to Gari and gave him a thumbs up with his free paw. He motioned to the passengers to shush, and he set the phone down and put it on speaker. Everyone listened to Queen Bonnie sympathize with Dobby’s sudden illness. They heard about his handsome and attentive older brother, albeit a bit quieter than usual. The decorations and refreshments were out of this world. Finally she spoke at length about the three perfect daughters, their doting father King Schist, and their devoted mother, Queen Bella. Prince Dobalob picked up the phone as a break in the monologue seemed imminent.
“Mom, I gotta go. I’m glad you’re enjoying the party. I’ll call you tomorrow and see you soon. I have a gift for you!” Dobby held the phone away from his ear again, and winced. A few more minutes and he said goodbye and stabbed at the red X to end the call. Passengers stood and applauded. Prince Dobalob stood to take a bow, turned a bit green as the zeppelin swung, and abruptly sat back down.
Saturday nights at the Palace of Bolabod had quickly escalated, now that Sylvia and Company were usually on site. A lavish banquet, live music, square dancing, and a game room livelied up the night. This particular Saturday, Queen Bonnie’s birthday gift officiated from its prominent position high in the great hall.
“You’re not really giving that beautiful painting to your mother, are you,” said Sylvia. “It’s so perfect here, and then, it’s you and Gari isn’t it? And Caplin? You all look so dignified!”
“This one does go to her, but I am getting one for myself, too. I think Gari wants one for his villa. Do you want a small print for the treehouse?”
“Do they have one that’s a dartboard?” Said Cu.
Sylvia shot her son a stern look. Dobby winked at her and responded to the little stinker.
“How about a puzzle, instead?”
Sali and Tix started to hop around and squeal with delight. Sylvia shooed them away. She flinched as a squirrel shaped bullet shot from upper branches of the hall and landed on Dobby’s shoulder. It was Moneypenny. She bounced around and squealed with importance as she gushed the news. Caplin had returned to the cottage. Bond was with him and had filed a report from one of the surveillance cameras in the cottage. A couple naked mole rats were monitoring and recording from the IT office. Dobby and Gari stepped around the guinea pig cleaning crew on their way to the room full of monitors.
“Short story?” Said Dobby. “Is he still groggy? Blaming Sylvia for the kidnapping?”
“He’s changed his tune, somewhat,” said Moneypenny. “I can get the video clip for you, but here’s the thing. When he saw Bella dismiss the alligators he sobered right up. That didn’t make any sense to him. The other guests were another part of the mystery. Your mother and father were there, the five Schists, and then a whole bunch of strangers, an odd lot, as he told it. We know this because he called the Guardiã Principale as soon as he got to the cottage. We only have his half of the conversation, but he was barking out commands without really waiting for an answer. He’s ordered them out to the Schist Castle in the morning for an arrest! He seems to understand it was the Schists who kidnapped him.”
“I would never have given him that much credit,” said Dobby. “Should I stash Sylvia somewhere? Are they coming after her, too? Do you think the roosters are safe here?”
“The only danger to Sylvia is from the Schists, and only if they figure out that the Guardiã Principale is coming for them in the morning. Bond has an interesting perspective as well, but he’s staying at the cottage. It’s a long dark flight home.”
“Is Bond safe,” said Dobby. “Should we send for him?”
“That’s the strangest part. He was on Caplin’s hat, and he thought Caplin hadn’t noticed him. But Captain Caplin went into full military action once he was in the castle. He was kind of captive to his mother at first. She was very excited to see him and made a big deal of dragging him around to each princess. His dad stood by himself at the punchbowl and ignored everybody. He seemed even more distant than usual. Then you phoned your mom and Caplin was able to slip away. That’s when he started talking to Bond. Scared him at first, but he asked Bond to come with him while he did some reconnaissance. He wanted to look at the dungeon. Bond said Caplin stood in that dungeon for a long time and stared up at the window from below. He asked Bond if he knew how he got out, and of course, Bond knew the whole story. Caplin asked a lot of questions about the zeppelin and was very impressed! You’re kind of a hero!”
“I don’t believe it! Caplin has never given me credit for anything before. So how did he get to the cottage?”
“Bond hid inside the plume on Caplin’s hat and they went back up to the party. They watched the guests and tried to figure out who was involved. Bond tried to explain the bird seed connection and the stolen fields, but Caplin was more interested in the roosters. I guess that makes sense, but it all seems kind of connected to me. Anyway, his mother dropped him off at the cottage on the way home. His dad didn’t talk, just stared out the window of the carriage.”
“And the alligators?”
“Bond didn’t mention them.”
“You’re sure he’s okay there with Caplin?”
“Yes, in fact they seem to be working together on this. Caplin realizes he has some major memory gaps, and Bond has seen the whole thing. After Caplin called the Guardiã Principale, he started to write up his report. Bond had to fill in a lot of blanks,” said Moneypenny. ”He’s no fool, though. He’s perched way up high on one of those big rods in full view of the camera.”
“Did Bond say anything about my mother? Is she involved? Suspicious? I’m guessing oblivious.”
“He didn’t say, but if she had been involved, Caplin’s call to the Guardiã Principale would have instructed them to go to her palace, too. Tomorrow’s raid is all about the Schists.”
“Well, breakfast will be exciting. I’m going to check out the dessert table now. Come with me?”
“Maybe later. I want to keep an eye on Bond.”
To be continued . . .
The almost but not quite complete Cast of Characters:
The Capybara Club by Will Bullas is available here. I have a framed print hanging in my living room and I smile every time I look at it!
This story needs so many more illustrations! Select an event from this story (how about a capybara without pants?), draw a picture of it, and send me an email. I’ll reply so that you can attach a digital copy of your masterpiece to it. I’ll add it to the story!
Or, if you’d rather help with the glossary, send me the list of words you had to look up (or should have looked up, but didn’t!). Someday, I will start putting together the glossary. Is “livelied” a real word? Can you tell what it means?