Okay, so I messed up when I posted the first chapter and mentioned there were a total of four. Turns out there was a fifth I hadn’t scrolled down far enough to see. This one features a rare appearance by a famous movie star.
CHAPTER 5: LIMERICKS IN THE DITCH
Bulbous strolled along at a leisurely pace; he truthfully didn’t much care what was happening to the Dwarves behind him, mainly because it hadn’t yet occurred to him that he probably could never find his way home without them.
The mountain range’s vast flatness held only a few trees and some low bushes, so the hobnob could be seen by anyone passing nearby. This situation was one that hobnobs by nature avoided, so Mr. Big’uns kept a sharp eye out for hiding places, shelter, and buffet restaurants. Late in the day he did finally come upon a sort of muddy-bottomed gully that ran off into the distance. It looked as if a river had made an attempt to form there, and though it had ultimately failed, it had left behind enough moisture to allow for the growth of a fair amount of vegetation on its banks. Thus it provided enough cover for the hobnob to remain hidden from view, if he wasn’t averse to getting his feet muddy. As it turns out, though, mud is a favorite thing for hobnobs to walk through; they often deliberately line the floors of their homes with it.
As the sun began to set, Bulbous came to a wide part of the ditch, bordered by the tallest and thickest shrubbery he’d yet seen in this area; the spot seemed dark and gloomy. In a dry patch at the center of the gully was a small hovel made of mud and straw. Outside the hovel, a very odd little creature was climbing into a mud-bound boat.
The hobnob watched as the pointy-eared green thing lifted an oar and, with a series of grunts, began a doomed effort to row the boat toward Bulbous. Finally, after several minutes, it threw down the oar in exasperation.
“Come over here, will you, so get this over with we can?”
Bulbous didn’t see the point in stalling, so he nodded and slogged his way over to where the green being waited. As he drew closer and got a better look, recognition dawned.
“Hey, aren’t you-?”
It sighed a long and irritated sigh, then rolled its eyes and complained, “Yes, yes. One major role I took and suddenly typecast I found myself. Now as fantasy creatures and frogs only can work I find. Drama I wish to perform, and my own talk show to have, but nooo…”
“Well, it’s nice meet you, but I’ll just be moving along now, mister…”
“As in golly gee, I think you’re right?”
“No, as in Golly my name is. Wrong you are and move on you cannot until done with me you are, or this book and many others you will make impossible to write.”
“Alright then, what shall we do?”
“A contest we must have,” he said, “a contest, yes… <ahem> my precious.” He forced out the last words.
“Just something I’m supposed to say a lot it is. Along you will please play!”
“What will be the prize for winning this contest?”
“When win I do, eat you I will.”
“But you’re smaller than me, and unarmed, and I have this pointy magical elven fork.”
“A good point you have there, yes.” Golly sighed again. “Very well, when win I do, poke me with a fork you will not. If win you do… ha! If win you do, this magic ring you may keep.”
Golly unceremoniously tossed what looked like a bread tie twisted into a circle unto the deck of his boat.
“Oh, very well, but let me at least choose the contest.”
“As you wish.”
Bulbous sat and thought; he could think of no talent of his with which he could win a game of skill against this green beast. Yet life in Hobnob society had taught him that victory came not from harnessing one’s own internal strengths, but rather from finding an opponent’s weak spot and (sometimes figuratively, sometimes not) repeatedly driving a sharp stick into it.
“Limericks,” he said finally. “We shall have a limerick contest. The first one who cannot come up with a limerick is the loser.”
“What is limerick? Eh, what is limerick, precious, mean I.”
“A limerick is a five-line poem where – well, an example would be:
There was a young dwarf-lass from Luin,
Whose whiskers just never quite grew in.
What was even more weird
Than her lack of a beard
Were the things the dwarf men had her doin’.
“Ha! Fooled you I did! Know I what a limerick is, but now used one up already you have before begun the game has!”
“Alright then, since you’re so clever, you can go first!”
“Lose you will,” Golly laughed, “and win I will! My first one here is:”
From Nantucket a man there once was,
“Wait, no, not what I meant to say that was!”
A man from Nantucket once there was,
“Ah! Get it this time I will!”
From Nantucket there once a man was,
At this point the speech centers in Golly’s brain seemed to be undergoing a rapid meltdown.
From there Nantucket was once a man,
The creature was growing confused.
Nantucket from man once a there was
Bulbous knew opportunity when he saw it; he snatched up the “magic” ring and crept away quietly.
From a man once there was Nantucket –
There was from Nantucket a man once –
A Nantucket man was once from there –
As the hobnob scurried away under the starlight, for night had now fallen, Golly’s voice could be heard off in the distance.
Nance there Tucketa from was one!
* * *
Unfortunately, as he fled from Golly, Bulbous lost his way in the dark and managed to double back to where the Gobblers were now surging forth in pursuit of the escaped dwarves. The beasts were upon him before he knew they were near; the rumble of stampeding feet and cries of rage that rang out across the mountains had made it impossible to concentrate on watching for the subtle hints that would have suggested to the hobnob that danger might be approaching.