Inert Swans In Devon
 by Rotten Rich Smibernoll

Eric awoke slowly to the sounds of clinking cutlery and aimless chatter. He looked around the breakfast table upon which he lay, at his ever-growing family. They were eating away quite heartily when a noise was heard not unlike that of someone knocking at the door. The table became silent - it usually made a low humming sound. No-one moved. No-one spoke. Again the noise was heard, only this time much louder. Somebody was definitely trying to attract attention. Eric ignored the knocking and placed his head back on the ham. Eric's father jabbed a fork into Eric's leg. He was not perturbed. Eric had borrowed the leg from a friend who insisted that legs were totally superfluous in this age of advanced technology. He lent the other leg to a golfer who had a handicap of 123. The knocking grew louder. Eric decided to open the door. He eased himself off the table, taking with him a handful of porridge which he rubbed in his hair, and made his way towards the door.

The porridge clung to his head like asparagus reindeer and small drops fell to his flaying shoulders. He passed the heap in the corner of the living room. Was it still growing? He prodded it gently with a neutron bomb and it reciprocated by squirting a foul-smelling liquid into Eric's eye. Yes, it was coming along nicely.

Eric took the door-handle firmly in his left hand and quickly opened the door. He hid behind the door for several minutes, eyeing the stranger through the crack. The stranger slouched against the door frame like a broken horse. Eric studied the rabid man meticulously. He wore papier-mâché boots, sophomore trousers and a Jekyll and Hyde overcoat. His hat span at several revolutions per minute like a toad in a bowl of rancid custard. Around his neck hung an avocado pear, three kippers, an old school tie, made in Burma, several naughty pictures of Lillian Gish and a dirty piece of cardboard with these words written on it: 'More cheese for poets'. He was obviously a salesman.

Eric stepped from behind the door and said, "what the hell do you want? I suppose you've come to rape our women and eat with pride, you loathsome wretch."

"Hello, my name's Selby", said the flatulent man, mincing like a locust, "can I interest you in the purchasing of an encyclopædia, a bunch of delphiniums, a pye-dog, or perhaps you would like a multi-storied toilet, they're all the rage in Sweden you know."

Eric swung on his kneecap and attempted to slam the door in the salesman's face. Unfortunately the pectic salesman was too quick. Before you could say 'three's enough', herds of stampeding animals came charging into Eric's living room. There were flamingoes, pelicans, kingfishers, ibises, canaries, wildebeest, moose, elks, moles, voles, weasels, stoats, okapis, gazelles, giraffes and zebras.

The scene was chaotic. Eric lay into the animals with his ex-army nissan hut and bofors overalls. Three days passed before the last animal left. All that remained was a dead gamlin, size four, which was presented to the Queen of Mojebrab on her ninety-fourth birthday as a butter token.

"That was a sneaky trick," gulped Eric, "but I should have realised you would do something like that. You foreigners are all the same."

"Yes, aren't we just," whinnied the iambic salesman. "Oh, I see you have a heap". He eyed the pulsating mass lustily and began advancing on it. Then he noticed Eric's family tucking into a part of the Isle of Wight garnished with biblical stories from the Old Testament. "How much do you want for that lot?" inquired the salesman.

"They're not for sale," replied Eric with a note of victory in his voice.

"I bet you don't have any ancient relics, do you?"

"Well, no, I must admit I'm rather short on relics, but I do have some petrified silent movie stars," retorted Eric.

"Huh! Hardly the same thing is it, you weasel in locum's clothing, said the salesman, grabbing a handful of bats' droppings and shaking them in Eric's face. "Not only do I have ancient relics but holy ancient relics, namely St. Francis of Assisi's mousetrap as used in Mrs. Loam's boarding house, Rickmansworth." Eric's eyes bulged like a tomcat's gonads.

"What else have you got in that tucker bag of yours?"

"John Milton's poetic work, 'Living on a small budget for the 17th Century Housewife' fully annotated, and a pair of sunglasses from his 'cool period'," smirked the salesman.

"But this is like warm trifle oozing through a slightly damp sponge", cried Eric as the saliva dribbled down his chin onto the rosicrucian coloured carpet.

Just then a singing Viking burst through the door carrying an Italian laggly-bap filled with dirty linen. He stood on Eric's hands, chimed five times and said, "what about the Swan?"


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