They came out of the mists and swamps, spatulas at the ready.
‘What the hell is that!’ Stoatevent Feeblegasket gasped. He pointed to the strange shape pulsating slowly in the distance, just slightly to the left of the post office.
‘I… I… don't know.’ Underwire Ladybumps whispered, stepping closer to Feeblegasket and wrapping her arms around him. He smelt, faintly, of the social worker they had dined on the previous evening. But she felt safer being close to him.
Hospice Bewilderment - the old wise man of the tribe, stumbled up behind them, gasping for breath. ‘That's the last time I leave my bloody bus pass back at the camp, I'll tell you… why at my age… Of course, I remember when all this was fields….’
‘Old man! Old man!’ Ladybumps let go of Feeblegasket and turned to tug at the garment of the old man. He smelt of… well, she didn't know quite what he smelt of, but whatever it was it has died a long time ago – at least, she hoped it had died anyway.
‘What? What?’ Bewilderment was still looking around distractedly, probably at the fields of his youth. He turned to face Ladybumps, or, rather he would have faced he, had she not been so much taller than him. He stared into her cleavage, and started to drool.
‘Old man!’ Feeblegasket grabbed the old man and pulled him away from Ladybumps, even so the old man's gaze remained on her chest and he still dribbled.
‘Of course, back in my day women had much bigge….’
‘Old man?’ Feeblegasket yelled in to the old man's ear.
‘I'm not deaf, you know.’ The old man said. ‘What?’ He dragged his gaze away from Ladybumps and looked towards where Feeblegasket was pointing.
‘Old man, do you know what that is?’ Feeblegasket was pointing right at the strange apparition that lingered, floating in the air next to the Post Office.
‘What, that?’ Bewilderment said, dismissively. ‘Of course I know what that is.’
‘What is it?’ Feeblegasket and Ladybumps said, almost in unison.
‘Why that must be the… let me see… yes… that's the… er….’ He turned back to stare at Ladybumps’ chest again.
‘What is it?’ the others cried again.
‘Why, if I remember correctly, that's a smashing pair of….’
‘Not those,’ Feeblegasket said as he turned the old man around again. ‘That!’
‘Oh, that…? That’s a book by David Hadley.’
‘A book by David Hadley?’ There was awe in Ladybumps voice. ‘I've heard the legends of course, about them, but I never thought I'd get to see one.’ She turned to the old man. ‘Can I…. Can I touch it?’
‘Of course.’ The old man eagerly began to fiddle with the front of his robe.
‘No, not that!’ Ladybumps turned away from the old man in disgust.
‘Oh.’ Disappointedly, the old man re-fastened his robe.
‘I mean can I see… touch… that book?’ She said a moment later, only turning back to face the old man once she was sure his robes were fastened again.
‘Oh, that. Of course you can, my dear.’ He sidled closer to her and began to fiddle about under his robes.
Feeblegasket clenched his fists, Ladybumps was his woman, after all. If the old man tried that again…. He relaxed in relief when he saw what the old man had taken from his robes.
‘If you want to see the all the books by David Hadley in all their glory,’ he said to Ladybumps, offering her his laptop. ‘Then you'll have to click here or here.’ The old man sighed. ‘Of course, these days, he isn’t as funny as he used to be.’
David Hadley lives in the Black Country, West Midlands, UK.