The curious case of a fl.., p.1
The Curious Case of Mr. A. Fly, Esq.
By L. J. Anderson
Copyright 2011 L.J. Anderson
Yes, yer Honor. The old lady swallowed me right down.
'scuse me, yer Honor, I'll stop flyin’. I was just lookin' 'round yer lovely courtroom here. Lot's of interestin' smells, pine 'n' oak 'n' people, yer Honor, an' a fly lives for smells.
I can’t spec'late her motives, yer Honor. There I was, flyin' around this pile of flesh —- meaning no disrespect, that's what all humans look to flies — when I caught scent of something tasty. I land on the pile, um, the old lady, when I hear a bump, a slurp, 'n' things went real dark. Of course, I dunno what the carrion is goin' on, so here I am, flyin' ‘round, bumping into strange bouncy walls. Lastly, I figger that I've been swallowed, so I set down on one, um, wall, to cross my legs, so to speak, 'n' think things over.
Quite frankly, yer honor, I figgered I was swallowed by a frog. Frogs sneak up when you ain't looking 'n' shoop! you're gone. But I ain’t no frog ‘round the hut, only the old lady, 'n' when I washed — you don’t want to know how, yer honor — anyway, when I washed myself, I couldn't smell no frog taste on me, 'n' I know frog smell, believe you me. So I thought maybe the old lady was a frog in disguise, maybe. You humans don't swallow flies. Just ain't done.
As I was thinkin', I heared a scream 'n' a bump. I jumped, almost tearin' my feet off, 'cause I was still stuck to the wall by my feet, yer honor. So, I got set down from this little jolt, I called out a who's there?
"Antonio?" comes the reply. "That you?"
"Adolphus! Yeah, it's me." I relaxed a bit. Adolphus is a spider of my ‘quaintance. We got a little understandin'. He don't eat me, I don't let other flies know of his little web in the corner of the hut.
"Weird, ain't it?"
"What?" Dolphus is a little slow at times, partic'lary after a good meal. Which he had just had, 'cause of our agreement. Too bad, I kinda liked that little stranger in our hut. But I say every fly fer himself.
"That old woman swallowin' us."
"Yeah." We sat 'n' spec'lated for a minute.
"Partic'larly what she said."
"Oh?" When Dolphus didn't talk, I asked. "What’d she say?"
"Well, I dunno what she told you, but she told me to catch you."
"Oh?" My antennae went up.
"Which I ain't gonna do, seein' as you are who you are, Tonio."
"Thank you, Dolphus." Spiders like a little grovelin', they're ‘most as small as us flies, but they like to feel ‘portant.
"So I think I'll just set up camp in this corner."
I heared this shoop, shoop, which meant he was spinnin’ his web, 'n' I was glad I couldn't spy him, considerin' where that web came from.
"We should be kinda thinkin' of a way to get out, Dolphus."
"How're you plannin' to eat down here? You think this old woman's gonna eat any more flies?"
"Oh. Well — there's you —" His voice sounded a ways away; he was hangin' 'n' a‑thinkin', goin' back up his thread.
"We got an ‘greement, Dolphus."
“Yeah.” I didn’t like the way he said that. "Well, I'm still gonna do this web. I can't think without a web."
True. I sat, listenin' to him work, tryin' to think of a way out. . . 'n' couldn't figger a thing. I weren't goin' back up the way I came down, no, sir! And I weren’t goin’ down. Down was death.
Suddenly, somethin' breezed in ‘side me. Somethin' all startled chirps 'n' feathers. I sat real still 'cause I didn't know whether this was friend. This bird could’ve chomped both of us.
It thumped, then it was quiet, then I heared low swearin'.
"Albert?" Dolphus said. Dolphus was much braver — or more dumb — than me. I thought it was Albert— every hut has a bird 'n' he's ours, but I wasn't fer sure, 'n' I weren't gonna be eaten fer no reason.
"Of course it's Albert," the angry voice said. "Adolphus, what have you gotten me into this time?"
I relaxed. Al's a bright little bird, colorful, cocky, noisy, a veg'tarian. I liked Al, what I seen of him.
"Wasn't our fault," Dolphus said.
"Who else is down here?" Quick one, Al is.
"Me," I said. "Antonio. I was the first one. Dolphus was sent down to eat me."
"And I was sent down to eat Dolphus," Al griped. He shook himself ‘n' he rustled his wings. I felt a wind.
"This's a stink," I muttered, "The old bat's got an idea. Who's goin' to be next?"
"Next?" Dolphus said.
Al done went real still. "Next," he whispered.
I shivered 'n' I rustled my own wings. "You see what I see?"
"What?" Dolphus said. "I can't see a thing."
"I think so," Al whispered. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"What?!" Dolphus said.
"Yeah." My wings drooped.
"What!" Dolphus yelled, 'n' I heared his web tear a bit. He swore. If it hadn't a'been so serious, I woulda laughed.
"Dolphus, you're a‑bigger 'n me, 'n' Al, you're a‑bigger than Dolphus."
"So?" Dolphus sounded far away. I think he was fixin' his web.
"So the next thing she sends down will be bigger 'n Al."
"Like a cat." I could feel Al droop.
He was silent. "The old lady doesn't own a cat, does she?"
"I never seen a cat," I said. "Wish she did. I kinda like sour milk." I was hungry.
Al paced. I heared him. He ruffl’d his wings when he walked. "We gotta do something!"
I had an idea that maybe we could dig out, but when it was just the two of us, there weren't no way to do it. But here was Al, >n= maybe we could do somethin= now.
"Can you scratch 'n' peck the walls?"
In my mind, I saw Al cock his head 'n' stare at me with one eye. I done got a good 'magination, when I let it loose. "You think we can dig out?"
I dropped my wings, which is the fly way of shruggin’, which was dumb, 'cause Al couldn't see me, then said, "Couldn't hurt."
"That's what they told the one and twenty blackbirds they baked in a pie."
"What?" Dolphus said. "Who?"
"Never mind. Couldn't hurt." Al whistled a cheery tune as he scratched the walls. Then he grunted. "What?" I said, then groaned. Dolphus done had me sayin' it.
"This old biddy has a cast‑iron stomach. I'm not even making a dent. In fact, I think I'm bending my beak."
"Well, keep trying." I couldn't do nuthin', so I was the cheerin' section.
"Easy for you to say," Al muttered.
We heared a rush of wind, 'n' Al stopped with a squawk.
"Where am I?" said a new voice
"You two know each other?" I whispered.
"We've. . . met." Al didn't sound happy.
"I'm not going to eat you now," the cat said. "I'm not hungry." Which, knowin' cats, could change any moment. But, still, it were good news.
My wings were stiff; I was ready to fly. I let 'em drop again 'n' sighed.
I heared rough tongue over fur. "That old woman ruffled me."
"Swallowed you, too," Al said.
"Irrelevant. My fur is most important." Cat kept on with his bath. "Who else is here?"
"Adolphus Spider 'n' Antonio Fly."
"Ah," the Cat said. "Charmed, I'm sure." He kept on with his bath. Which’s good manners fer a cat, from what I hear.
"Cat," I said. "We were workin' on gettin' out."
"You mean, I was working on getting out," Al groused.
"I was helping," Dolphus said.
"What can you do?"
"'bout as much as I can d
"Moral support doesn't help my beak."
"But 'loysius can."
The cat stopped washin’. "Why?"
"Because we're trapped."
". . .trapped. . .?" I heared 'loysius go real still.
"Now you've done it," Al said.
"Trapped? trapped!" I heared the cat scrabble 'gainst the walls 'n' run madly ‘round the room.
"See?" Al said. He was pantin'. "Cats hate being trapped."
"Hey!" Dolphus yelled. "You're ruinin' my web!"
"Do something, Al!"
"Like I can stop a panicking cat? Are you nuts?"
"You got a better chance than we do."
"All right. . . let me try something." I heared him take a big breath, then he let out a most godawful screech.
Dead silence. Fer about five minutes. I can't say what the others were doin', but I was tryin' to get my legs untangled. It done blew me ‘gainst the wall.
"I'm better now," the cat said in a small voice.
"I'm sorry, Cat," I said. "I don’t mean to scare you."
"That's all right." I could ‘most hear him puff up. “I wasn’t scared, I was — concerned.”
"Ok, that's enough," Al said. "You've kissed and made up. Let's work on getting out of here before she sends something else down."
I heared a distant howlin'. "Too late, I figger. Everyone 'gainst the walls!"
The howlin' got louder, then deafenin', then ended with a thump.
"Dog," I said.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he yipped. "Who's there?" He started sniffing.
"We done got a. . ." I couldn't think of the word.
"Truce," Al said.
". . .a truce going on here. We're tryin' to get out."
"Cat," Dog said. "I can smell the cat. I was told to get the cat."
"You just try," the cat said lazily. "I'll scratch your eyes out."
"Boys," I said.
"I'm not a boy," The dog sulked. "I'm a girl." Her tail wagged. I could hear it poundin' against the wall. "I'm Anastasia."
"Oh." Well, I didn’t know. I ain't no doggie expert, 'n' besides, it were dark. "Dog, can you help us get out?"
"But. . ."
"What the old lady done told you is wrong," I said in my best voice. "She swallowed you."
The dog sat still. "She hurt me."
Another smart animal, dogs. I done knew there was a reason I didn't hang much around dogs.
"Tell me what to do."
"Dig at the walls. The cat 'n' the bird will help."
"Thanks loads," Al said. "Can't I sit this one out?"
"Do you want to 'scape?" I said.
"And what are you doing?" Al sounded sulky.
"Supervisin'," I said. "What can I do?"
"Hmmph," Al said.
Presently, I heared a godawful din at the wall. They were diggin', 'n' diggin' together, from the sounds of it.
There were a bump, 'n' the two four‑legs fell down. I thought so, anyway, 'cause I kept hearin' stuff like get yer paws out of my eyes, 'n' like that.
'nother bump, 'n' 'nother, 'n' 'nother. Lots of bumps. Everyone went still, except Dolphus. "Eee, eee, eee!"
"What's with you?" I said.
"My w‑w‑web bouncin'!"
"Get against a wall." Al said that, I think.
Well, he was prob'ly right. It was mighty bumpy. I thought 'n' I thought, 'n' then I thought again. "She's runnin'," I said.
"She's too fat to run," Cat said.
"Yeah, whatever," Al said. "She's running."
"What for?" Dog said.
Everyone was quiet. I didn't want to think about what she was runnin' for. What was bigger than a dog?
The old bat stopped.
"Get 'gainst the walls!" I bellowed.
"What?" Dog yipped.
"You wanna be crushed?"
"Do it, fido," Cat said.
I heared a thump, a lowin', 'n' wondered how the old bat opened her mouth that far. Presently, here came slidin' down a cow. Slidin', I say, because she apparently kept gettin' stuck. 'n' then a voice, swearin'.
"Watch out, bossy," Al drawled. "You're ruining your reputation as a contented cow."
"Reputation, hell," the cow said. "This is painful." She was silent a moment. "I seem to be stuck. — oh!"
A jerk, then a thump. The dog yipped, the cat yelped, the bird chirped 'n' the spider gasped. One more voice, 'n' we could have a singin' group. The Bremen town musicians done had nothin’ on us. I heared the cat gasp, "Move over, bossy!"
"Can't exactly," the cow said.
"Not without crushing me!" Dog yipped.
I moved my legs in symp’thy. There were a lot of good things ‘bout being a fly — like sittin' on the ceilin' in a crowded room.
"Can you scratch on the walls?"
"Huh?" the cow said.
"I can't even move my tail," the cat said.
"What'r'you talking about?" the cow said.
"Gettin' out of here," Dolphus said.
"How many are down here in this old witch's belly?"
I named names. "I'm pleased to meet everyone, under the circumstances," the cow said. "I'm Althea." She was silent a second. "The goat and the horse ran away, but nooo — I had to be friendly," she said to herself. "Should have kicked the old witch in the head when I had the chance."
She moved — I heared her bones creak 'n' the cat 'n' the dog grumble — 'n' I done had an idea. "Cow. . . can you kick now?"
"Kick. Like kick our way out of here."
"But," Althea said. "That would kill her."
"And you really care about killing her?" the cat said. "After what she did?"
"Good point." I could feel the cow shift. "Everyone out of the way?"
A bunch of yesses.
"Ok, one, two, three. . ."
Earthquake! I was almost bumped off the wall. I had a flyin' feeling, than a thump. "She sat down," Al chirped.
"Again," said the cow. "One, two, three. . ."
Meat gobbets ev’rywhere, then I saw sunlight. Sunlight! "We're out," the dog yipped, 'n' zoomed through the hole. The cat wasn't far behind, 'n' the bird 'n' I followed. I heared Dolphus ask the bird whether he could hitch a ride to town, which sounded like a wonderful idea, so I tagged along. The cow, bigger 'n' slower, fin’lly came out.
'n', yer honor, we've all done stayed friends to this day.
I'm sorry, yer Honor, I just had to smell yer sleeve. Smelled like pork. I'll go back to the stand now.
This is why, yer Honor, we were angry 'bout the old woman's family sayin' that we murdered the old lady, 'n' that is why. . . Albert, read what the lawyer done wrote. . .
"We, as the plaintiffs, have filed a class‑action lawsuit for emotional distress and physical damage. The plaintiffs — A. Fly, A. Spider, A. Bird, A. Cat, A. Dog, and A. Cow — rest their case."
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The Curious Case of A. Fly, Esquire by Lorraine J. Anderson / History & Fiction have rating 2.5 out of 5 / Based on38 votes