Beppo’s Banishment

Beppo was banished to a pompous land where he knew nobody. At the docks, under Kleig lights, for they disembarked from the boat in the middle of the night, his chains were taken off by the skipper himself. Mussing Beppo’s filthy hair, the skipper reminded him that he was now in a land of much pomposity, and forbidden to leave it for forty years.

Beppo saw little pomp at the docks. He saw crates and stevedores and container ships and much else one might expect to see at docks in any land. Never having hung around any docks before now, Beppo was smitten by the novelty of the sights and sounds and smells, and he stayed put. He sat for hours on a bench on the docks watching ships and sailors and crates. He begged for bloaters from the crews of smacks which brought their catch to the docks. He found shelter under a neglected tarpaulin and rubbed unguent into those parts of his flesh where the chains had chafed it. He gawped at floozies roaming the docks in their satins and silks. A floozie with a cloche hat befriended him and talked of the pomposity of the land beyond the docks.

After one hundred days at the docks, Beppo nerved himself to leave. His cloche hatted friend convinced him to go to the capital city, where majestic buildings scraped the sky and the blades of helicopters whirred and the paving slabs along the boulevards were free of grime and grease. But she forgot to tell him about the pompous sentries at the city gates whose lips curled in sneers at Beppo’s approach.

Beppo explained that he had been banished from his own land and that he had come to the capital city to get work piloting a helicopter. His plan, which he did not divulge to the sentries, was to become fat and to grow a moustache and to pilot a helicopter back to his own land where he hoped his new fat moustachioed appearance would deceive his banishers.

The sentries chuckled pompously and marched Beppo off to an area of disused railway infrastructure, where they tied him to the rails. They got this idea from watching a number of silent film serials starring Pearl White (1889-1938), including The Perils Of Pauline, The Exploits Of Elaine, The Iron Claw, The Fatal Ring, The House Of Hate, and Plunder. The sentries overlooked the fact that, the railway being disused, no locomotive would come hurtling towards trapped Beppo as he struggled with the cords that bound him.

The sentries’ knot-tying skills were lamentable, and Beppo managed to free himself within minutes. Then he wandered off along the disused railway track, skirting the capital city. He hoped to find a spot where he might breach the massive granite wall, a spot without sentries and where a certain amount of crumblement had occurred.

Alas! When Beppo found such a spot he discovered that it was used as a conduit by feral, zombie-like ruffians. These creatures had once been full citizens of the capital city but had been shunned due to their lack of pomposity. They now lived in a twilight world, staging raids into the city through the crumblement zone and setting upon passing wayfarers outwith the wall, such as Beppo. They sheared the hair off his head and sprinkled the cuttings on to the soup in their billycans. They made him wear a foolish hat. They poked him with pointed sticks and drooled upon him. His humiliations ceased at nightfall when searchlights from a patrolling helicopter picked out the ruffians and made them flee. The helicopter landed in an adjoining field and Beppo was bundled aboard.

The flight to the helipad in the pompous capital city was a short one, but halfway there the helicopter was engulfed in thick, thick fog, fog so thick that visibility was zero. On 15th December 1944, Glenn Miller took off in an aeroplane from RAF Twinwood Farm in Bedfordshire, en route to Paris. The aeroplane, and Miller, vanished without trace over the English Channel. Beppo met a similar inexplicable fate.

He has a headstone in the graveyard of the capital city of that pompous land. It is marked with an X, and the earth beneath it holds no bones.

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