6. Hark, the Terror Turkey Brings, Gobbling Sounds and Other Things… Including a Snood!
In which Binky’s thrilling adventure – and oh, so quirky –
Finds him face to face with a beserky Christmas turkey.
The snow was still falling but less of a blizzard now, as Binky Blowbottom pursued the pernicious proprietor of a steroidally-stimulated gizzard. Charting a course for Pobbleton, he realised he was too late for the train that wasn’t stopping; it had ripped through the village minutes earlier.
And there it was!
In the distance, thundering along the tracks. All it lacked was a plume of smoke, but sadly, this was not the days of yore, when cats were sent up chimneys to earn a hardy crust.
Binky had to assume the blasted bird was already aboard. And, if it knew the pecking order, it would be studiously avoiding an altercation with the ticket inspector, rail pass or no rail pass. So, Binky deduced, the winged freak would either be in a freight compartment or on the roof. Which was where he proposed to touch down.
Binky’s finely-honed sixth sense, the one that could detect a potential meal continental shelves away, had not deserted him. For there, indeed, atop the 21.30 from Porstock Point, was the brawny bantom.
Such was Binky’s single-mindedness, his passion for a plate of its palatable plenitude, that he had paid nary a thought to the logistics of arranging said feathered fiend in a manner that would facilitate roasting it.
In other words, he had no idea how he was going to shoot the turkey, or otherwise deprive it of life.
Now, as he came into a surprisingly expert descent, taking account of head winds, side winds and the rattling to and fro of the train itself, practicalities began to vie for attention. He had bitten of more than he could chew (metaphorically, of course – Binky had the capacity for a turkey twice this one’s size, provided he showed perseverance and took the occasional breather or rest period)? How ever would he truss up this turkey like a turkey?
‘You’ve bitten off more than you can chew, gut bucket.’
It was Christmas dinner, rearing up before him, as yet uncooked and with a horrible, maniacal gleam in its horrible, beady little eye. It was a turkey possessed, so it was, and it was standing astride the roof like a great gobbling goliath.
Binky disembarked from the drone and inched gingerly towards his budding lunch. Having a low centre of gravity enabled him to keep his balance with relative ease. He figured, being the disarming and downright endearing personality he was, he would use his powers of persuasion on the looney bird. If that failed, he would try Plan B: pushing it off the roof and hoping the fall would break its gangly neck.
‘Me?’ said Binky, with an air of false bravado. ‘I’m not the one who just put an entire village’s noses out of joint. Speaking of noses, nice snood, dude.’
That one went out to Masticat.
The turkey was clearly immune to being buttered up with cheap compliments, and ignored the second part. Indeed, it launched into a tirade, as if it had a speech prepared. Which it had.
“It was a funeral pyre. For my fallen comrades. A mark of respect. And I’ll do the same in every town the length and breadth of this land ‘til they let my people go, I tell ye.’
‘You’d better hurry up, then. You’ve got a small window before no one much cares about turkey again for another year. Then you’ll be left whittling your wattle with nothing to do.’
‘That still leaves ten months vacant. I think you need to face facts. You’ve been incredibly selfish. All that good, succulent, wholesome, nutritious, succulent–’
‘You’re drooling, cat.’
‘–scrumptious food gone to waste. And for what? So you can satisfy some misplaced sense of justice? You do know those turkeys sacrificed themselves willingly, don’t you?’
‘No, I do not. And neither do you. Did you go and ask them?’
‘Well, no. Not exactly. But if I was a lovely, fat, fulsome – not that I’m not lovely, fat, and fulsome – supremely tasty turkey, which I’m not, vis-à-vis the last part, then it’s what I would want. With all my heart and very soul.’
Binky crossed his heart and hoped not to diet.
‘And if you were shut in a cage, in a darkened room, fed detritus and plied with performance-enhancing chemicals, only to then have your neck wrung, would you still be so eager, do you think? Well do you, cat?’ The turkey’s beady little eyes were probably bulging in their sockets, but being beady and little, they betrayed no trace of a tremor. In sharp contrast, the veins on its neck were bulging, its snood was shaking and its wattle was wobbling. This turkey was terribly upset.
‘I concede, you have a point…’ Why didn’t this overfed pheasant just give up and accept its destiny? It was way past Binky’s bedtime. ‘Have you ever given a thought to going organic?’
‘And, if you, bred in top secret lab in Poultry Down military research base, to produce turkey-human hybrids…’
‘Coo, are you a turkey-human hybrid?’ Binky was intrigued now, but could see no signs of human identifiers. No Times crossword. No Apple watch. No flip-flops.
‘No, I am not.’
‘Then what were you doing there? Snack food?’
‘Budget cuts. They were breeding ever bigger turkeys, twice the size at half the cost, to fund their clandestine genetic experiments.’
‘Snack food,’ nodded Binky.
‘And if you had a chance to right these wrongs,’ continued the turkey, commendably undeterred by the constant interruptions, ‘would you not take it? Abso-definitely you would, as sure as my name’s Giblets O’Gravy.’
‘Now listen here, Giblets, it’s all very we–’
‘GIB! GIB-lets. ‘G’ for glottal stop.’
‘That seems like a pretty stupid name,’ observed Binky.
‘Oh yes? And what’s yours?’
‘Not sayin’,’ said Binky, realising the flaw in his line of criticism. ‘But you may have read my memoir, This Cat Chap Loves His Pie. It was written from the heart.’
‘Heart!’ spat Giblets, his snood shuddering and swaying. ‘Heart! GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE!’
‘Sorry, I didn’t quite catch the end bit. Did you say GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE? If so, well, that’s all very well, and you make a good case. But see, I’m famished. And it’s Christmas. And my belly is unequivocal and immovable on the subject. It takes priority.’
‘You represent EVERYTHING that is reprehensible about the world today,’ accused Giblets, furiously fanning out his tail feathers.
‘Oh don’t, you’ll make me blush.’ Binky wasn’t used to such high praise. He felt almost coy.
‘I dream of a future free from turkey dinners!’ proselytised Giblets, on something of a roll.
‘What about chickens?’
‘Chickens? Don’t talk to me about chickens!’
Binky appeared to have touched a nerve, for Giblets ceased speechifying and advanced on the tinsel-tousled kitty.
Who backed away in turn.
‘Oh, well, okay. Now, now. Easy now, Giblets. Just come quietly. We don’t want any fuss.’
‘And just what are YOU going to do about it, domestic pet? Enemy collaborator. You don’t have the stones to tussle with a regular turkey, let alone me!’
‘Why, I’m not having that!’ protested Binky, who actually was, and in no way envisaged reversing his retreat. He was, truthfully, reluctant to get his paws dirty. If only there were a helpful butcher on board, cleaver at the ready, up for doing the honours.
‘No?’ leered Giblets mockingly, towering over Binky, all but rolling up his sleeves (or wingtips).
‘No! I… I’ll have you know, I blew up a badger last spring!’
This remark seemed to momentarily off-balance Giblets, as well it might. What off-balanced him more precipitously was a rapidly approaching tunnel.
A passing duck, bound for a cosy Christmas in Cotsley-on-the-Mould, didn’t. But wasn’t heading for the tunnel, so that was alright.
On the other side, Binky had already settled himself on the drone, fully revved up and raring to go, when Giblets, covered in soot – not of the Lemington variety – and chock-full of seething rage, charged him like an angry bison.
‘GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE,’ declared Giblets, lunging at the drone as it shot off the roof and accelerated ahead of the train, making tracks along the track.
The flight of the cat and his turkey hijacker was to be short-lived, however.
Drones, even ones that double as armoured assault vehicles, are not built for such burdens, and it spluttered to a landing some miles beyond with a decisive thud.
Binky jabbed at the control, but the drone was unyielding. It had no desire to move from its spot, believing a well-earned rest was in order.
‘Say your prayers, porky.’
Giblets was upon him once more, poised to pummel with muscled wing, peck with vicious beak, sink in spurred heel and sock it to Binky with his over-sized snood.
As the terrifying turkey neared, though, Binky raised his legs, a not insignificant feat for someone who, most of the time, could not even see them, and connected with O’Gravy’s breast bone. At the same time, entirely unintentionally but, for one of Binky’s proclivities, a daily inevitability at some juncture and especially during episodes of stress, as now, he blew off. The combined force was far from insubstantial, and through propulsively potent dual action, it flipped the bird. Giblets somersaulted backwards towards a train tootling in the combatants’ direction at a breezy turn of speed, landing in a harrowing confusion of legs and wings and snoods.
‘Oooh. Gor! What in Dante’s Inferno was that?’ he exclaimed, overcome with noxious vapours yet still finding it within him to strike an admirably literary tone.
Binky stepped on the gas, figuratively this time, and aimed for the trees on the verge as Giblets, waving away the toxic emissions encircling his beak, gave pursuit, gambolling and gobbling as he did.
Alas, Binky, being fat and oafish, tripped.
He buckled and crumpled onto the ground.
‘Keep back, you evil bird!’ he cried, swatting frantically with his flailing arms.
Giblets came up short, stunned at the cat’s castigation.
‘Why’d you say that? Why’d you have to go and say that?’ He sounded disconsolate. ‘I’m the bad birdie? When did that happen?’
Such are the vagaries of narrative, of protagonist and antagonist, of empathic response and point of view, that in answer to Giblets’ searching question, dear reader, who is to say? Certainly, Binky Blowbottom was not. Instead, he used this brief stay of execution to reveal an item he had appropriated from Reverend Gladhood’s kitchen. At the time, he merely deemed it might come in useful should a lovely, bronzed coating be called for. But now…
It was an item guaranteed to pour terror into the carunkles of turkeys far and wide. Even one with such far, wide carunkles as Giblets was not immune.
Giblets O’Gravy’s reaction was one of shock, dismay and, finally, pure, unvarnished fear.
‘Be off with you!’ rebuked Binky, thrusting the turkey baster under Giblets’ snood.
The effect was akin to gifting a vampire a garlic bouquet. Giblets recoiled, his neck shooting back and to the left – that’s back, and to the left – at precisely the instant the 21.30 from Porstock Point sped by the spot. The 21.30 had already struck drone, mangling it casually under wheel, and now it tangled with titanic turkey. Or rather, part of titanic turkey. Giblet’s head was sliced clean off, leaving a moderately stunned, decapitated body tottering around the tracks in the locomotive’s wake. My apologies for relating such a gruesome scene. I do so hope it doesn’t interfere with your digestion.
‘Coo!’ said Binky, impressed. ‘So it’s not just chickens, then.’
Presently, the turkey, who was toast, conclusively gave up the ghost, and collapsed in a heap of plumage.
‘Plucky guy,’ punned Binky unwisely, possibly owing to his Boxing Day affection for action-heavy spy films.
Dragging O’Gravy by the leg, he deposited the deceased on top of all that was salvageable of the drone, which amounted to a wheelbase minus the odd wheel, and pushed it along the tracks.
This had, as far as he could determine, worked out wholly agreeably. A touch more exertion than he had planned, but his appetite was now fully engaged. And the icing on the Christmas cake: Masticat’s present was obliterated. After all, if Binky couldn’t have nice things, why should anyone else be entitled?
Binky did his best to hide his glee when he arrived back at the Ratbridge Canteen.
Marmalade, however, barely gave the near-totalled assaulted vehicle a second glance. He had just closed a highly lucrative deal with the rodents, although any astute financial advisor on hand would have told him making a bargain with the denizens of the Ratbridge Canteen was liking doing business with the Wild Bunnies of Wilderfell; Marmalade would do well to watch his back, lest one morning he found himself sleeping with the fishes. Not nearly as attractive a prospect as it first sounded.
Binky and Marmalade set off for Pobbleton, serendipitously hitching a ride on the back of a tow truck, one with ample room for a turkey carcass and the remnants of a drone. A tow truck that was very slowly pulling an articulated lorry that had somehow had a nasty accident on Hazelby Road.
It was almost midnight when Binky hopped off at the turning into Palmist’s Path.
‘Merry Christmas, Blowbottsomate’ waved Marmalade merrily. ‘See you tomorrow avo.’
‘Yeah, whatever,’ replied Binky, rather ungraciously. But that was Binky Blowbottom for you. He cathandled the turkey along the path as best he could. It would only be a veritably merry Christmas when he had feasted on its flesh and accompanying tasty trimmings, and that would entail pressing his indolent master into service.
The conclusion of Binky Blowbottom's Christmas Spirit will follow
after a short (24-hour) intermission.