The Muzzle Puzzle

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ONCE upon a time, in a sleepy little village in the north of England, there lived a feisty Red Lakeland terrier called Jack. Sometimes, for all his intelligence, he didn’t half get himself in a pickle.

One day his owner noticed him acting in a manner that was quite out of character and called him over. Jack jumped on to his master’s lap with an odd grimace across his chops. He was almost cross-eyed. The dog, that is, not the owner.

All efforts to prise Jack’s mouth open were to no avail. At first it looked like the dog was clamping it shut but it soon became apparent that both sets of teeth were fused together with a brown paste that closely resembled congealed sawdust. With each attempt to ease his jaws apart, the wee fellow winced. So the mistress of the house rummaged around for some implement that would help. She found a large nail that was about the right size and passed it to her husband. It was a long process teasing the inexplicable goo from around Jack’s canines, but eventually his jaws were free. The poor lad was overwhelmed and wagged his tail with relief.

The lady of the house spent the remainder of the day scratching her head. That is until she arrived at the house of the local postmistress to post a package. To make conversation, she recounted what had been the most noteworthy event of the day. Then, as she watched the postmistress affix the stamps, she had a flashback to the brown envelope from the taxman that had landed on the doormat that morning, the one that was half missing.

Indignant that her darling mutt had suffered at the hands of HMRC, she growled “How much gum do they need on these effing envelopes?”

 

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2015

A Matter of Convenience

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A COUPLE rented a weekend retreat on a Scottish island of which the woman was a native. She thought it best not to tell her other half that the lower level of their holiday apartment used to be the gents’ public toilets. Upstairs was the control room of the old ferry terminal.

During their first night she awoke to find him staring at the ceiling. He informed her that there was a bunch of people standing around the bed. She went rigid.

“What do you mean? You mean standing around the bed looking at us? Or just standing?”

He was matter of fact. “Just standing. In a line.”

“What, as in ghosts? I don’t see anything.”

“Yes. I can’t exactly see them but I know they’re there.”

“So what are they doing?”

“Just standing. Like they’re in a queue or something.”

The woman shut up for a moment and closed her eyes. “I don’t feel anything. If this place was haunted, I’d sense something. Besides, the dog would be acting all weird but he isn’t.” It was true, the dog hadn’t moved from his cosy spot on the end of the bed.

Although she knew that this was most likely another one of his wind-ups, for the remainder of the night the woman was tormented by images of rough chain-smoking hairy blokes smelling of motor oil and relieving themselves against the back wall.

II

THE WOMAN was determined that she would only tell her other half where he had been sleeping on their return home. But she cracked. And he handled it much better than she had anticipated. Eager for evidence of some kind of window into the local past, she pushed for more detail about what the avenue of men was doing. More specifically, where were their hands?

In the end, she had to spit it out. “ Could they have been doing, you know, what people normally do in public conveniences?”

“Of course not. Don’t be so bloody stupid. I made the whole thing up. And at what point did I ever say they were all men?”

III

ON THE final day of their vacation, the woman telephoned the landlord to let him know when they would be leaving and that they would put the key through the front door. As she was about to hang up, one thing was still niggling her.

“Just as a matter of interest, this building, it used to be the ferry terminal, didn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“And the living room on the first floor, with the fantastic view overlooking the harbour, that used to be the control room?”

“Yes.”

“And the bedroom downstairs, that used to be the gents’ toilets, yes?”

“No.”

“No?”

“Yes, no. The gents was next door. The bedroom used to be the ticket office.”

 

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2015