The following is an extract from Falcon Boy: A Fairly Hopeless Hero Volume: II
The Brothers Revoltable Travelling Circus and Other Crazy Fun with Special Guests
It took a while for the stage to be cleared after Agatha’s act. Fortunately a safety-net had been put in place in front of the stage so that no-one in the audience would get hurt but Captain Lorimer got some brick dust in her right eye and Falcon Boy’s ears wouldn’t stop ringing. Nevertheless, everyone marveled at Agatha’s death-defying bravery. She truly was a stranger to danger. Rudolph Revoltable gallantly used the rolled corner of one of his red silk handkerchiefs to get the dust out of Captain Lorimer’s eye. ‘Thank you very much,’ said the Captain and she blushed as red as the handkerchief even though she only had eyes for the daredevil Agatha.
‘You are very welcome, my dear,’ said Rudolph with a small bow. Falcon Boy saw this happen and hoped that someone would ask how he was. But no one did. ‘Probably because I’m a superhero’, he thought to himself. ‘We need to be tougher and more reliant upon self-reliance than everyone else.’
With the stage swept clean and the cannon removed the lights fell dramatically dim. Only a single spotlight could be seen in the middle of the stage. In the spotlight stood a small table and on the table was an old-fashioned gramophone player. From out of the darkness Rudolph’s bewitching voice floated on the night.
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you are enjoying our preview so far?’ The crowd applauded again and Rudolph waited for it to end.
‘Some might say,’ he said rather dramatically, ‘that we have saved the best for last. Without further ado, I present to you all here and to all those watching at home, the wonder that is Thompson the Wonder Dog.’
A stagehand stepped into the spotlight leading a tired-looking Alsatian on a lead. He unclipped the lead and turned to the gramophone player. The stagehand lifted the lid and set the needle down. He turned the handle on the side. With the gramophone player fully wound the stagehand left the stage.
The speakers hissed and crackled as the old gramophone player started playing and the needle scratched the record. The music began. The sound of a single violin playing a slow and wobbly tune filled the night sky. After the first few bars Thompson lifted his head and joined in.
Thompson the Wonder Dog made a truly terrible noise. He sounded something like what would happen if a strangled howl married a painful yelp and they argued all day. Even Davey Doodah winced and his relationship with a tune has always been a slight and occasional one.
The old record kept turning and old Thompson kept singing.
‘My oh my!’ said Ellis’s dad. ‘That is really awful.’
Ellis’s dad loved to shout things at the television. This really annoys Ellis’s mum, who says things like ‘They can’t hear you, you know.’ But this never stops Dad.
‘Go on, son,’ he shouted. ‘Let it out, you hear!! Let it all out!!’
Ellis and her mum were not so sure.
‘That poor dog can’t sing a note,’ said Ellis’s mum.
‘What dog can?’ replied Ellis with profundity.
‘Once more with feeling,’ shouted Dad and he started to accompany Thompson, giggling as he did.
‘Hoooooowwwwwwwllllllllll – hahahahahahahah’
‘You can pack that in,’ said Mum and threw a cushion at him. Dad packed it in.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for Thompson. He howled and wailed his way through another twelve minutes and twenty seconds of the song. Bewilder Bird felt an overwhelming urge to cry. Councillor Footswerve was worried that he would irrevocably fracture the façade of appropriate civic responsibility by wetting himself.
(If you think that this part of the story is getting hard to read then spare a thought for the poor people having to listen to the audio version of it. As for the film; well, I guess we’ll cross that wholly unrealistic bridge when we never ever come to it!)
Finally the record stopped and Thompson fell silent. The silence was deafening. Nobody clapped. Everyone was too stunned. Everyone, that was, except for Rudolph. He started to clap his hands. Now, whether it was embarrassment, desperation, guilt, delusion, or just plain and simple relief, everyone else started clapping as well. Everyone in the stadium. Everyone at home. Everyone. Including me.