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11 Jun

Episode 36 – Spring Festival – Part 5 – by Eugeniusz S. Lazowski

SEASIDE PARK – SPRING FESTIVAL – LATE MORNING OF 2ND DAY .

The marble of the fountain is crumbled by Byjove’s armored vehicle, which continues its unstoppable march, covered with marble dust and the little white angel, first on top of the monument, and now on top of the tank.

“A marble angel walking around the park…” comments Wright in astonishment.

“And on top of a tank…” adds astonished Naive.

“No way…” stammers Richardson.

“Out of the way!Get out of the way! Move out of the way! What are these stalls and tents even doing here? It’s a park, there should only be trees!” booms Byjove’s voice.

CRASH!

“Good grief!” exclaims Richardson. “The donut vendor! He’s my cousin…”

“Looks like he survived, rest assured…” tries to reassure Blanco. “But you can’t say the same about his food truck…”

The tank, now also covered in donuts, continues to flatten everything it encounters, inanimate or animate…

“The geese, the geese!” Naive is just in time to shout, a moment before the armored vehicle enters the yard of those cute bipeds.

The feathers of the run over geese cover the armored vehicle, along with the donuts and the marble angel.

“Stop him! Stop him!” orders Richardson to all the party volunteers present, as the military’s tank continues to crush bushes and small trees.

“Newly planted trees, new trees, no…” is the event organizer’s lament.

“Runway! Get out of the way!” shouts Byjove. “What are all these people doing here? Stay home!”

The tank marches through trees and bushes heading towards a new target….

“No, not the botanical garden…” is Richardson’s plea.

The armored vehicle enters the garden, shredding everything it steps on, and throwing it into the air with the movement of the tracks.

A rain of courgettes, eggplant and carrots falls all around, while Byjove’s tank spares nothing.

“Make way! Gangway! Get out of the way! But how many shacks have you put up here, may I ask?”

Another wave of lettuces, tomatoes, and spinach rises into the air, along with dirt from the crawlers.

“My goodness, the botanical garden, our garden…” whines Richardson in despair.

“The geese, those poor geese…” continues Naive’s grief.

“The chickens, those poor chickens…” is Bell’s regret.

“What a disaster, how much damage…” murmurs Blanco.

“he never hits the right target…” agrees Moore, turning to Super Dan.

The tank roars, aiming for the final finish line.

“Runway!” thunders the general’s voice. “Move the finish line! Move that shack! Move the park!”

The caterpillar vehicle crosses the finish line, the banner is knocked down and the wooden awards stage reduced to sawdust….

An explosion of wood shavings falls on the heads of those present, while the cups intended for the most beautiful cars fly everywhere. The cup for the first classified lands on Byjove’s tank, which ends its run.

Security and rescue officers rush in with our heroes.

A head in a Marine helmet pops out of the tank’s turret….

“I came in first, see? There’s also the trophy…” says Byjove smiling, pointing to the finished prize on the armored vehicle.

“General!” blurts out Blanco, still upset about what happened. “What on earth has he done?!”

“Our botanical garden…” whines Richardson.

“I attended the classic car parade…” the military man replies nonchalantly.

“You participated? Say rather that you ruined the parade…” growls Wright shocked.

“Our poor geese…” is the lament of the local organizer.

“Destroyed?” asks Byjove surprised. “That’s right, by the way, who the hell put up all these shacks? This is a park, by golly!”

“But it’s the Spring Festival…” replies Bell incredulously.

“And all these people, what the heck are they doing here? What is this, a hippie hangout?” the military man continues to mumble.

“But, General, it’s a party…” stammers Blanco incredulously.

“Our poor chickens…” mutters Richardson dejectedly.

“But what’s the fuss?” blurts Byjove. “It sounds like a broken record! Who’s complaining?”

“Our fountain…”

“It’s not Bell! Strange…” says Byjove, looking at the party leader.

“It’s Richardson, he’s making the damage list,” Moore interjects. “By the way, my good Richardson, you forgot bushes, brambles, shrubs and the new trees…”

“What a disaster, what a disaster…” the local organizer continues to fret.

“And this monster, where did it come from?!” asks Bell distraught.

“Monster? What monster?” cries Byjove, rushing out of the tank and unsheathing his saber.

“General,” Moore interjects, “I believe Bell was referring to your mechanical vehicle…”

“Ah, that…” replies Byjove proudly. “Have you seen my little jewel?”

“Jewel?!” murmurs Richardson with the little breath he has left.

“I see you’re familiar with it, Richardnoon.This is an M26 Pershing, ninety-millimeter cannon, seventy rounds available, year of construction 1945, weighs almost forty-two tons, a little toy, I mean…”

“Richardson, my name is Richardson…”

“General,” Super Dan asks, “would you like to explain to my better half that I knew nothing about your little gem?”

“Absolutely nothing!” snaps Byjove to attention. “I wanted it to be a surprise…”

“And you succeeded, General, believe me, you succeeded…” comments Moore.

“A surprise?!” is Richardson’s heartbreaking wail.”You razed half the park to the ground…”

“Oh, don’t be so tragic now, Richardcrying. Four trees and a couple of chicories will plant in no time…”

“But the poor geese,” Naive points out, still upset, “and those poor hens…”

“And what are you complaining about? It’s all extra meat for the barbecue! Am I right, Mr. President?”

“Of course!” replies Super Dan instinctively, immediately zapped by his wife’s gaze. “Um, I mean, I mean, those poor defenseless animals…”

“What a disaster, what a disaster…” the local organizer continues to complain.

“Bell, make yourself useful,” Byjove mumbles, “take your fellow sufferer and take him for a walk to the cemetery with you, so he can whine all he wants…”

“What?!” exclaims the Secretary of the Treasury.

“General!” interjects Blanco decisively, who takes the organizer under her arm. “Richardson, don’t do that, you’ll see that we’ll fix everything. Come with me, listen to me…”

“That’s it, go take a walk yourself…” mutters Byjove. “What people! You can’t take an initiative, they immediately complain…”

“An initiative?!” exclaims Wright.

“What would you call a parade of old jalopies going slower than a wheelchair? A dead end, that’s what it is! I was just trying to liven things up a bit…” Byjove tries to justify himself.

“And you succeeded, no doubt about it,” Moore interjects. “I don’t think they’ll forget this event so easily…”

“Do you? Thank you Moore, I knew you would at least understand…” replies Byjove with a smile.

“But has anyone ever explained to him the meaning of the word irony?” murmurs Moore to Wright.

“Very well,” mutters Byjove happily, “shall we proceed to the award ceremony?”

“Award ceremony? What award ceremony?” asks Wright in amazement.

“More importantly: on what awards stage?” adds Moore.

“But how!” jumps Byjove in amazement. “They didn’t even set up an awards stage? What kind of organization is this?”

“It’s not possible…” murmurs Bell, pulling his inhaler out of his pocket.

“General, do you remember when you crossed the finish line?” asks Moore.

“Of course! A moment ago, the moment of triumph…”

“You know that nice wooden construction, located a few yards past the finish line, off to the side, on the grass?”

“By a thousand bayonets! Of course I remember it! Who the heck got a kick out of planting shacks in a park?”

“The organizers. That shack, in fact, was stage for the awards ceremony…”

“What, that was the stage for the awards ceremony? And that’s the place to build it? With all the space in the park, right in front of my tank you had to put it there?”

“That’s not possible…” keeps muttering Bell, now attached to the inhaler with both hands.

“General, you disintegrated it…” stammers Bell, detaching himself from his inhaler for a moment.

“Four planks of wood, and you have the nerve to call it a stage!” blurts Byjove. “Next time I’ll bring along the marines and show you how to build an award stage worthy of the name!”

“Good grief, General…” retorts Wright, immediately interrupted by Moore.

“Blanco and Richardson are on their way back. They’ve been talking about the damages to be paid, so be sure to be tactful with Richardson…”

“Well gentlemen,” Blanco began, “Richardson and I have been talking about the damage and we think it’s only fair that our administration compensate for it, even if unofficially, perhaps in the form of a grant.”

“A very good idea. Richardson, everything will go back to the way it was, you don’t have to worry…” approves Wright.

“And by the way, General, don’t you have anything to say to our Richardson?”

Everyone looks silently at the military man, from whom they expect an apology. In vain…

“Of course! How can you think of putting a wooden shack after the finish line? And to call it a prize-giving stage! A hovel that should have the honor of hosting the winner as well as the owner of the glorious M26 Pershing tank from 1945!”

Silence fell among those present, the only noise to be heard being their breathing….

“Either way, what’s done is done,” Byjove continues swaggering. “Don’t take it too hard, Richardgoing, but next time try to do better, you hear? And now, let’s move on to this blessed award ceremony. Where is the cup? Ah, here it is…” says the soldier grabbing the trophy that ended up on the tank.

“Well, the cup to the winner. The classic car parade is over. What’s next on the agenda?” asks Byjove as if nothing had happened.

“The food stand…” stammers the incredulous Richardson.

“Great! After such a walk through trees, farmhouses and shacks, a pit stop is in order! What do you say, Mr. President?” asks Byjove.

“I totally agree! After so much exercise it’s only fair to regain our strength…”

“Of course dear, let’s go ahead and regain our energy,” the First Lady promptly interjects. “Ms Brontenserious, let’s go with my husband and sample the local delicacies, aren’t you curious to see what they’ve prepared that’s so good?”

“Jawohl!” SWISH!

Super Dan, escorted by his two faithful women, sadly heads off to his lunch break, resigned to vegetables and broths, while the others try to hearten Richardson, still shocked by the incident.

“Here we are…” announces Blanco, standing by the side of the increasingly dejected party organizer. On the grass tables and benches, with a large camp kitchen and a marquee.

“Very good, reminds me of the old days of military exercises!” exclaims Byjove. “A field kitchen, wooden tables and benches, simple stuff, like real men…”

“Sniff, sniff. And that lovely smell, what’s that?” asks Super Dan.

“It’s the local specialties,” Richardson replies. “See those women at the kitchen? There are others in the tent. They make every single dish…”

“Which you’ll just smell, my darling…” interjects the First Lady, who hides a fiery gaze behind her smile.

“But, my dear, haven’t you heard our good Richardson? Those women are working so hard, and it doesn’t seem fair that…”

“…that no one appreciates their efforts,” Moore cuts him off. “Our beloved President is right, as always. And that’s why he is going personally to congratulate them, accompanied by our lovely First Lady…”

“Great idea, Moore. My husband, Ms Brontenserious and I will go and shake the hands of those women who are working so hard for this crowd of people…”

“What?!” squints Super Dan.

“While on the other hand, if the First Lady agrees, we’ll be in charge of honoring the culinary efforts of these accomplished cooks as best we can. Sort of a division of labor…”

“Moore, your proposal is indeed a wise one. To each his own task…”

“No, one moment…” tries in vain to oppose Super Dan, still interrupted by the Chief of Staff.

“General, do you approve of this division of labor? To our gallant commander and the first lady, the institutional task of thanking those tireless cooks on behalf of the government, while we do our best to appreciate their dishes…”

“Moore, this idea of division of labor sounds simply brilliant to me!” says Byjove exultantly.

“But, I…” stammers Super Dan.

“Besides, just as our President must take on the heavy institutional task,” Moore continues, with mock solemnity, “we too will have to sacrifice ourselves to give credit to the culinary works of those willing women. Are you ready to sacrifice yourself, General?”

“Always ready to sacrifice!” snaps Byjove to attention.

“Will you face the dishes with a spirit of self-denial?” continues Moore pointedly.

“I have never backed down in the face of any enemy!”

“Can I count on you then, General?”

“Yes sir!”

“Mr. President, milady, as you can see the local culinary specialties are in good hands, you can face your institutional obligations….”

“Moore…” growls Super Dan, before being taken by his wife’s hand and dragged toward the kitchen.

“Richardson,” Blanco takes the floor, “shall we sit at the table?”

The group is led to the table specially prepared for the occasion, with the agents of the escort around.

“Look at our President,” observes the biting Moore, “how many hands he’s shaking…”

“Oh yes, a real leader!” comments Byjove. “Then again, to each his task…”

“Yeah, and when does ours begin?”

“Task? I don’t understand…” the party leader replies confused.

“Richardsing,” Byjove interjects nonchalantly, “these blessed specialties, when are they going to start filling the table?”

“Oh, lunch, you meant. Wait, I’ll go and make arrangements. And, by the way: my name is Richardson…”

The organizer gets up, and when he returns, after a few minutes, the volunteers serving the party, begin to bring the first courses…

“Here’s the pasta, made by the women of Italian descent…”

“Holy women…” comments Byjove.

A little further on, the President continues to shake hands and congratulate the cooks, closely marked by his consort and the Austrian housekeeper, while waves of heady scents envelop his nose…

“Mr. President,” a cry rises in the air, “is everything going well?”

“Moore…” is the grunt that comes out of Super Dan’s mouth.

After the Italian dishes begins a flurry of trays, coming from the barbecues not far away: mutton, chops, chicken, sausages, skewers and lamb. And it’s precisely at that moment that Super Dan, flanked by the two women, returns to the table.

“Mr. President,” Moore welcomes him back, “did everything go well? Milady?”

“Thank you Moore, all is well. Richardson, those women are priceless. My compliments again…”

“Thank you, milady!”

“Mr. President,” Moore continues, “you missed the Italian specials, but you’re just in time for the barbecue…”

“Well…” barely manages to say the first citizen, before his wife shushes him.

“For the three of us, a chicken leg each, with a side of lettuce.”

“Honey, don’t you think you’re overdoing it a little?” asks Super Dan pleadingly.

“Milady, the President is right. You’re depriving him of the best produce on this earth…”

President Kramp is incredulous, for the first time Moore seems unwilling to sabotage his appetite.

“…the vegetables and greens!” concludes the mocking Brit.

“You’re right,” agrees the First Lady. “Is it possible to add a side of spinach and courgettes?”

“Moore…” whispers Super Dan, gritting his teeth.

Over the next few minutes, diners sample the various courses, while Byjove looks like a bulldozer in action, chewing and swallowing whatever meat comes his way, leaving trays and mugs empty around him.

“Would General like some more beer?” asks Moore cruelly, watching Super Dan out of the corner of his eye.

“Thank you, Moore, gladly!”

“Then let’s get a few mugs of each color in, just so we’re not mistaken, shall we, General?”

“I say that’s a great idea, Moore! Beer for everybody, and every color!”

“For everybody?” asks Moore with mock naivete.

“No, not for us, thank you, natural water is just fine, isn’t it honey?” the First Lady interjects decisively.

“But, really,” Super Dan replies cautiously, “a little drop of beer never hurt anyone…”

SWISH!

Aahhh!!!

“What’s going on?” exclaims Richardson in surprise.

“Nothing,” replies the First Lady with a smile, “my husband has just been convinced of the goodness of my choice. Please, just water for the three of us…”

“Still water, if I remember correctly. No bubbles, right?” asks the cocky Moore.

“Exactly.” replies Gwendoline cordially, while from her husband’s eyes come lightning bolts aimed at the Chief of Staff.

Trays, plates, and mugs alternate on the table, landing mostly in General Byjove’s area as the diners chat pleasantly. All but one…

“And now, I would like you to taste our women’s omelettes, along with their pies and the best cheeses in the area…”

“And we will taste them, won’t we, General?” is Moore’s wicked question.

“Of course! We certainly wouldn’t want those holy women to be offended…”

“Mr. President? Milady?” asks Moore with a smile.

“Yes, thank you an omelette certainly can’t…” are the only words Super Dan manages to utter, before his wife’s stern gaze and Ms Brontenserious’s whip reach him.

SWISH!

Aahhh!!!

“What’s going on?” exclaims Richardson once again.

“Mosquitoes.” replies Moore. “The first mosquitoes of spring seem to be the meanest, don’t they, Mr. President?”

“Moore…” grunts Super Dan.

More trays, more plates, and more mugs, in a flurry of omelets, pies, and cheeses….

“And now, the grand finale!” proudly announces Richardson. “The desserts! We are now going to enjoy several fruit pies, accompanied by Grandma’s cream, prepared according to tradition…”

“Richardcook,” exclaims Byjove, with more beer than blood in his veins, “I must congratulate you! For a picnic, it was really not bad at all…hic!”

“Not bad?” murmurs Wright to Blanco. “But if he ate more than a platoon of marines?”

“Not to mention the beer…” retorts Blanco.

“Richardson, my name is Richardson…”

“Hear that, Mr. President?” asks Moore mockingly. “Now comes the desserts…”

“Which we shall admire,” Gwendoline promptly interjects, “with deep gratitude to the women who created them.”

Super Dan makes no further reply, his dull gaze now fixed on the empty trays around Byjove….

Finished the hearty meal…

“Well,” Blanco takes the floor, “now we must address the afternoon’s business. My good Richardson, what awaits us now?”

“Now we are gonna visit a space reserved for children’s games and street performers. Jugglers, fire-eaters, tightrope walkers, in short, all the best street performers are here for us today…”

“Well,” murmurs Super Dan, “at least a restful engagement for once…”

“Street performers!” exclaims Naive excitedly.”I’ve always liked them, ever since I was a little girl!”

The group walks slowly through trees, between chatter, greetings to the crowd, and a few sobs. “Hic!”

Upon reaching a clearing, here are the children’s games, from the inflatable enchanted castle to the slide. A cheerful hubbub testifies to the success of the games, with a swarm of children and parents.

“So many children!” exclaims the romantic Naive. “And where are the performers?”

“Further on, come along,” replies the organizer.

Here are the jugglers, tossing now pins now colored balls into the air, some dressed as clowns. And then the tightrope walkers.

“Mr. President,” Moore asks with a smile, “have you seen how it’s done? It’s not that hard. Do you want to try it again?”

A grunt is the only answer that comes out of President Kramp’s mouth.

Stilts walk among the people, throwing candy for the little ones, and finally there they are, the fire breathers.

“My favorite…” comments Wright.

“Favorite? If anything, dangerous! Can’t you see the fire?” observes Bell, intimidated.

“Exactly! As a kid I always wondered how they did it…” replies Wright.

“How? A nice can of gasoline, a big gulp and go!” replies Byjove confidently.

“But is he really sure that’s how it’s done?” asks Blanco.

“Look!” exclaims Naive happy as a baby. “A fire-breathing wader!”

“A fire-breather on stilts. I hadn’t seen that one yet…” admits Moore.

At that moment Naive greets the wader with a smile, who, enraptured by the beauty of the young secretary, stands spellbound looking down at her, head down. And it’s just down, without seeing where, that he spits a blaze from his mouth, which lands on Super Dan’s toupee.

“Oh my God!” cries the First Lady. “My husband!”

“The President’s hair! They’re burning the President’s hair!”

“Save the President!”

“Save his hair first!” shouts Moore.

Security officers rush in, but the fastest of all is the unflappable Byjove.

“Fire! Commander, I’ve got it!” shouts the soldier grabbing Super Dan by the neck and dragging him towards a stall, where a barrel seems the ideal solution.

Without a moment’s hesitation Byjove shoves Super Dan’s head into the barrel and…

It was a stall selling mulled wine, and the barrel was full of it….

Thrown backwards, to the ground, the two are rescued by the escort men.

“Good grief! The President!” shouts Blanco

“My husband!” shouts the First Lady.

“Maybe this is it!” murmurs Moore.

The two of them, lying on the ground, cough, their faces and clothes blackened, while on the first citizen’s head is a smoking disintegrated rag, once his toupee.

“Mr. President!” exclaims Richardson. “How do you feel?”

“Cough! Cough! What happened?” asks Super Dan groggily, as the escort men render him aid.

“We don’t know. Your hair was burning…” Stammers Bell.

“What?!” exclaims the first citizen, placing a hand on his blackened head.

“By a thousand bayonets, what a bang!” exclaims Byjove.

“The fire,” Wright tries to explain, “the fire-breather on the stilts hit the President’s hair by mistake and…”

“Wrong?” blurts Byjove, his face smoky. “This was an assassination attempt!”

“General,” the party organizer interjects, “I know the street performers well, and they are good people. I can assure you that that stilt walker is…”

“A Bolshevik! A bloody Bolshevik, that’s what he was!”

“Bolshevik?!” stammered Richardson. “But if he’s from around here…”

“But of the Bolshevik faith, I’ll bet!”

“Actually, he’s a Flying Angels fan…”

“Where did he go? Soldiers, to me! Find the Bolshevik!”

“General,” Moore interjected, “don’t get so worked up, after all you’re both all right. Look at our President, one ash-colored tinge and he looks like someone else. Even his hair has gained…”

“Moore!!!” is Super Dan’s cry, the veins in his neck dilated.

“Well, there, actually, I don’t know, I don’t know much about nuance…” replies Byjove puzzled. “But you really say our President is better off?”

“Well,” Bell replies, “from a chromatic point of view I would say that this slight ebony layer helps to soften the rounded shades of the face and…”

“Bell!!” is Super Dan’s shout, which makes even the trees shake.

“Mr. President,” Moore interjects again with mock candor, “the general and Bell were merely concerned about your appearance…”

“General and Bell worry about their looks, I’ll take care of mine!” cries Super Dan.

“Hear that?” continued the British man, bitingly. “General, you don’t have to worry about our commander’s condition anymore!”

“Yes sir!”

“Mr. President,” suggests Naive, “don’t worry, you’ll see that a little make-up will get you back to your old self. A little concealer, a touch of powder, a little blush…”

“Definitely, right General?” insists Moore cheekily.

“Definitely! Two two strokes of the brush, a swipe of paint, and it’s good as new!”

“General, but what did you mistake me for, a wall?!” blurts out the first citizen.

“Yes, but a brick wall, strong and sturdy, don’t you agree general?”

“Absolutely!” snaps Byjove to attention. “Our commander is more solid than the Chinese wall! A little scratching with sandpaper, a little spackle, and like any wall it comes back as good as new!”

“And the paint, General, don’t forget that the wall always needs a fresh coat of paint at the end,” Moore continues.

“Oh, right! And a coat of paint…”

“And of course!” roars Super Dan. “And while we’re at it, call in a restoration crew, too!”

“Oh no, that will just need the First Lady’s unparalleled touch. You’ll be a new man in her capable hands…” replies Moore.

“Thank you, Moore, I am going to take care of my husband. Honey, let’s go back to the fist aid caravan. Ms Brontenserious…”

“General,” Blanco asks, “but you’re not going with them? You’re in the same condition as the President…”

“Me, make-up? I’m a soldier!”

After about half an hour, Super Dan and Byjove return with the group, with a few more band-aids on their heads and faces.

“There they are, our heroes!” the Chief of Staff welcomes them back. “I see that our First Lady has performed a true miracle…”

“Thank you, Moore. It really wasn’t easy…”

“Well, sure, with a subject like that…”

“What?!” blurts out Super Dan. “What do you mean?”

“I meant that, given your condition the First Lady’s job seemed really arduous.  Rather you, General, what treatment did you use?”

“Water, soap, two band-aids and forward march!”

“How are you,” asks the acceding Richardson, “have you recovered?”

“Why, don’t you see them?” asked Moore wryly.

“Well, judging by the number of patches…”

“Richardfire, get a Bolshevik fire-breather to spit on your head, stick your head in a barrel of mulled wine, and we’ll talk about it later!” blurts Byjove.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to disrespect you. And by the way, my name is Richardson…”

“What else awaits us now?” asks Wright.

“There’s a race, which has its roots in the countryside…”

“How nice,” Naive exclaims, “another green-related initiative…”

“Which surely our President will want to honor, with our general, you understand,” adds Moore.

“Absolutely!” clicks his heels Byjove.

“No, wait a minute…” stammers Super Dan still scorched.

“The donkey race!” explains the organizer.

“Richardson,” Moore interjects lightning-fast, “but do you know that at the meeting we held, our President and General volunteered to participate? Do you think it was even on the record…”

“Really! Great…” exclaims Richardson.

“Nooo…” is Super Dan’s grumble.

“Always on the front lines!” asserts Byjove. “Where are these donkeys?”

“Follow me, please…” leads the way Richardson.

In a clearing not far away, a crowd of people and donkeys await our heroes….

“Here we are!” exclaims Richardson.

“Mr. President,” Moore interjects mockingly, “don’t you feel at home?”

“What do you mean? That with all these donkeys I’d be at home?”

“Far be it from me to think such a thing,” answers the Briton.”I was referring to the atmosphere of the race, a fighter like you…”

“And you’re right!” confirms Byjove. “Our commander is a leader, and when he smells adrenaline, no one can stop him!”

“Really?” asks Richardson. “Wonderful! It’s going to be a race to the death…”

“Well, now let’s not get ahead of ourselves…” tries to calm expectations Super Dan.

“Our President is always too modest, isn’t he, General?”

“Like any true soldier!”

“Right.” reiterates Moore. “Action first, talk later!”

“Exactly!” agrees Byjove.

“First the battle and then the medals!” insists Moore.

“Absolutely!”

“First the donkeys and then the glory!”

“Yes sir! Um…I mean…wait a minute…what do you mean donkeys first?” stammers Byjove confused.

“Moore…” growls Super Dan, immediately interrupted by Richardson.

“That’s the signal! You have to get ready for the race! Quick, go pick out the donkey, you have little time!”

The two make their way to the animals, accompanied by applause and encouragement, “Be sure to pick the biggest donkey for our President!”

The contestants get on the animals and are escorted to the starting point, where the speaker explains the few rules and then gives the signal.

“Ready? Start? Go!”

The competitors sprint up the animals, trying to cheer them on in every way.

“Hooah!” shrieks Byjove, pummeling the poor quadruped with the heels of his army boots.

“Good, good…” is Super Dan’s encouragement to his donkey.

In the crowd, a child with a sling takes careful aim and throws a stone right at the butt of President Kramp’s donkey. The animal, bolting, starts kicking and braying, taking off at a run.

“Look, the president took off like a rocket!” exclaims Blanco.

“I told you this was his race…” comments Moore.

“Stop! Stop!” shouts Super Dan.

“Come on, commander, that’s the way to do it!” yells Byjove. “Let’s show everyone how to win! Hooah!”

The animal runs and kicks, jolting the first citizen as the military man tries to catch up.

“Look, the general’s no joke either…”

On the way, Super Dan’s belly and toupee jerk in unison, the former bouncing off the donkey’s rump, increasingly annoyed by these continuous and rhythmic blows, the latter jumping more and more to his forehead, pointing dangerously toward his eyes.

“The president looks wild!” comments Wright.

“His donkey, on the other hand, won’t last long if the President keeps jumping on it like that…”

“Something’s wrong…” the First Lady points out.

“She’s right,” agrees Bell worriedly, “look at the donkey…”

“Which one?” asks Moore with a grin.

“The one underneath…”

“It’s true, he runs and kicks, it’s not a natural run, maybe he’s sick…” agrees Blanco.

“Maybe it’s the weight of his rider…” suggests Moore.

“Moore, does it seem like playtime to you? Something is really wrong…”

Meanwhile, along the way, Super Dan keeps hopping on the poor animal’s rump, while his toupee has now slipped in front of his eyes until he can’t see a anything.

“I can’t see a damn thing! Stop, you damned beast, stop!”

“The President’s hair!” shrieks Naive.

“He can’t see anything anymore!” adds Wright.

“The donkey’s bolted! Stop him! General, stop him!”

“Here I am!” replies Byjove ready as ever. “Commander, what are you doing? Pull up your hair, you look like a hippie!”

“I can’t see anything!”

Byjove jumps in pursuit of Super Dan, spurring the poor donkey even more, already tested by his sweet weight.

“Yippy-ya-ye! Run, damn quadruped, run, we must save the President!”

Super Dan’s donkey is totally out of control, he gets out of the way and starts running and kicking on the grass, into the crowd, who run away in fear.

“I told you something was wrong! He got out of the way!” shouts the First Lady.

“Get people away, quick!” orders Blanco to the security men.

On the grass, meanwhile…

“Stop, you damned beast, or I’ll put you in front of a firing squad, you hear?” roars Byjove’s voice.

Super Dan’s donkey runs over a dried fruit stand, sending nuts and almonds flying all around.

“Oh God, not the stalls again,” is Richardson’s lament.

“I command you to stop!” screeches Byjove. “put the President down!”

It’s the last thing he manages to say before demolishing the ice cream stand.

“No, not another stall…” is Richardson’s wail.

Byjove unsheathes his saber, waving it in the air, still launched in pursuit of Super Dan.

“Take that mule down!” is his cry.

“Good heavens, where are they going?” asks Naive frightened.

“Not the vegetable stalls, save those at least…” pleads Richardson.

A rain of asparagus, courgettes and carrots falls around on the grass and on the people present, while the two unfortunates, covered with chicories and tomatoes, continue their wild ride.

“Not the fountain!” yells Richardson. “Save this fountain at least!”

Super Dan rushes past the fountain, grazing it and continuing on past it, while Byjove points straight at it.

“Stop! Damn beast, there’s the fountain! Stop, that’s an order!” is Byjove’s last cry before the donkey suddenly comes to a halt, inches from the fountain, sending the soldier flying into the water.

The landing and especially the size of the general empty the fountain, causing a small tsunami that drenches the people around.

Security officers rush toward the military man.

“The fountain!” exclaims the organizer. “The fountain is intact! Miracle!”

Super Dan, meanwhile, continues his mad dash….

“Make way, runway!” is Moore’s cry. “Let the king of donkeys through!”

The mule continues its race through the grass, until it suddenly brakes in front of a large bramble bush, full of thorns.

Super Dan detaches himself from the donkey and begins to draw, with his body, a semicircle in the air.

The scream, now familiar to park-goers, caused the last remaining yellow leaves on the trees to fall, just as that very round figure was just as familiar to everyone as it soared through the air.

His landing inside the large bramble bush is followed by a shriek similar to an elephant’s barb.

The security men struggle to extract him, trying to untangle himself from the thorns of the plant.

“There he is! They got him out!” exclaims Blanco.

Super Dan, in his torn suit, is full of thorns everywhere, especially on his buttocks, with the toupee on his face, also full of thorns.

“My goodness!” exclaims the First Lady.

“It looks…it looks…” stammers Bell.

“A pincushion…” comments Moore seraphically.

“Moore…” still has the strength to mutter Super Dan, supported by the men of the escort.

“Mr. President!” blurts out the incoming Byjove, wet from head to toe.”How are you?”

“He’s alive…” replies the Chief of Staff with a streak of sadness.

“I knew it!” exclaims the military man. “Our commander is unbreakable!”

“Mr. President, General, but what happened?” asks Blanco in shock.

“That stupid beast, at some point it went crazy,” stutters Super Dan.

“It was a Bolshevik beast! He wanted to kill our President!” blurts Byjove. “Where did that damn donkey go?”

“He stopped, he’s here, our volunteers have been taking care of him,” Richardson replies.

“Care???” explodes Byjove. “Shoot that traitorous donkey immediately!”

“What?! Shoot a donkey?” replies the organizer.

“This time I agree with the general…” mutters Super Dan, aching from the thorns.

“But he’s just a poor donkey…” states Naive with a veil of sadness.

“He’s a traitor to his country! To the wall!” insists the military man.

“Gentlemen calm down, I think the most urgent thing now is to take care of our President and General…” intervenes Blanco with a firm pulse.

“The first aid caravan is waiting for us, honey…” adds the First Lady, now resigned.

Later, in a new dress, a new toupee and band-aids everywhere, Super Dan shows up again, sore and angry.

“Gentlemen, earlier in the race, I clearly heard a voice shouting: move over, let the king of donkeys pass! Do you know anything about this?” asks Super Dan, glaring at Moore.

“Blanco, did you hear anything?” the Briton asks his colleague, looking angelic.

“Me? absolutely nothing!”

“I heard just fine, Mr. President!” snaps Byjove to attention. “Fear not, I’ll find out who didi it!”

“Very well, my faithful General, you are in charge of the investigation!”

“Yes  sir! I will open an investigation!”

“Very well!”

“I will find out who did it!”

“Very well!”

“And I’ll have him shot!

“Very well! Er, no, just a moment, General, we mustn’t go that far…”

“By the way, General, but how did you get your uniform dry? You didn’t even set foot in the first aid caravan…” asks Naive curiously.

“Like all soldiers: under the sun!”

“You didn’t change your uniform?” asks Bell surprised.

“Bell, I also sleep in my uniform, got it?”

“Well, since we are all still gathered, we can continue with the program. Richardson, what else is next for us?” asks Wright.

“One of the highlights of the festival: the dessert competition, in which pastry enthusiasts from all over the region participate, as long as they are not professional pastry chefs…”

“Sounds like a great initiative to me…” comments Byjove, smiling.

“I agree, a commendable initiative, my good Richardson…” adds Super Dan, smiling and hinged.

“Yeah, I can imagine…” comments the First Lady, with a wry smile directed at her husband.

“Please, I’ll show you the way…” the organizer invites them.

The group strolls across the meadows towards a new adventure. Someone chats, someone greets passersby, someone limps along.

“Here we are!” proudly announces Richardson. “This is the stage on which the jury is going to sit. The contestants, on the other hand, will present their cakes down here, at those tables…”

“And what happens after that?” asks Gwendoline in a concerned voice.

“And after that, each contestant will take the stage to submit their creation to the jury’s response…”

“And how will that response be delivered?” continues the First Lady, growing curious.

“Milady,” Richardson replies, “in the only way possible: by tasting each dessert…”

“I knew it…” comments the First Lady, with a resigned air.

“But of course!” interjects Byjove. “Is there perhaps another way to judge a dessert?”

“And if I remember correctly,” Super Dan adds gleefully, “I am the President of the jury. Of course with the invaluable help of our general…”

“Too good, Mr. President….” thanks Byjove.

“Wonder why I’m not surprised at all…” comments the First Lady. “And none of the rest of us can be on the jury?”

“Absolutely not!” replies Super Dan firmly. “It’s also been on the record…”

“Correct.” the military man argues. “Such an onerous task could hardly weigh on the delicate shoulders of you women. It takes the strong shoulders of strong men…”

“And a cast-iron stomach…” adds Gwendoline.

“Well, shall we go?” asks Super Dan.

“Of course, follow me, please,” replies Richardson. “There are three other members of the jury, but you are the chairman and vice chairman…”

Stepping onto the stage, the speaker announces the start of the competition and the participants reach the many tables set up on the lawn.

“This is it, it’s time for the dancing to begin…” murmurs Blanco.

“Let’s hope it’s a slow waltz…” whispers Moore.

Each contestant presents their dessert and its main ingredients, after which they climb the few steps of the stage to proudly place it on the jury table. Seated side by side, are Richardson’s three chosen jurors and, last, Byjove and Super Dan…

End of part five.

To be continued.

See you next episode. Ending theme!

Super Dan
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