All for Threepence?

Short Stories Dec 02, 2020

“He’s doin’ it ‘gain, Mummy! Wobbie keeps wolling his eyes at me when you’re not looking. Go ‘way Wobbie! ”

Three year old Jamie bellows in frustration, not towards his Mum or Robbie, more in the direction of the brownish fly coil suspended limply from the ceiling. Robbie doesn’t go away, but Fuddy, the languid family labrador, sullenly stands, yawns, stretches, flops 3 or 4 feet further away from Jamie’s plastic pottie, licks his nether regions, then closes his eyes again. Jamie had been unceremoniously plonked onto the pink throne by his increasingly worried mother. It was going to be a long day for Jamie and his doggie pottie. The doggie pot, so named because of its plastic dog’s head shape at the front, was usually housed underneath eight year old Robbie’s bed. It was handy at night because the alternative was a visit to the outdoor dunny in the dark. In 1954, only dunny carters, swamp creatures or careless kids would be outside after dark.

But I digress. Today is Boxing Day. Jamie’s howls of protest stemmed from the Christmas dinner incident yesterday. Although it had been a stifling December scorcher, the steaming traditional Christmas pudding had been sliced and served into everyone’s bowls. Mum had carefully washed 6 threepenny coins and inserted one discreetly into each slice before pouring over the custard sauce so that everyone would be a winner! She’d reminded the family to eat very carefully because some lucky people might find “Christmas treasures” in the pud. Mum, Dad, Nanna, Pop, and Robbie all nodded their heads sagely then five serious faces turned towards Jamie muttering their agreement about chewing each mouthful carefully.

Being only a three year old, Jamie had been the slowest to finish. Each of the family had “surprisingly” found a threepence in their Christmas pud. But not Jamie. Mum had become a little concerned and checked around the sides of the plate and amongst the circle of food debris below Jamie’s chair. No threepence.

“You sure you chewed carefully Jamie? Did you feel any hard bits of pud in your mouth? I knew he’d be too young for this…”

“No. No hard bits Mummy.”

With Mum’s eyebrows knitted together anxiously, Jamie’s Dad had weighed in unhelpfully, “It’ll pass. No worries. I’ve swallowed worse when I was a kid.”

“But what if it causes a blockage?” Mum asked with an irritated voice.

The grandparents suggested that the parents monitor Jamie’s future bowel movements, and dissect each stool with a kitchen fork until the elusive  threepence emerged all shiny and new looking. When Mum had suggested summoning Dr Neville, Dad had reminded her that old Doc Neville would be three parts shot by now after his Christmas luncheon and numerous eggnogs.

Robbie continued to tease his little brother mercilessly while he was banished to the pottie on Boxing Day. There had still been no movement.

“C’mon Jamie, be a good boy and do poopers in the doggie pot. You can have some leftover pudding if you do. Try hard. Push, push,” Mum urged.

“But I can’t make a poo, Mummy! There’s no poo there!” Jamie kept bellowing.

Sauntering over to the pottie, Robbie pointedly told his little brother that if he didn’t poop he’d explode. He sniggered loudly and Jamie burst into tears. Mum shouted for Robbie to not be so cruel, then ordered him to his room. Robbie dawdled away muttering inaudibly that Jamie deserved all this for having taken his birds’ egg collection without asking, and breaking his two best magpie eggs when he’d dropped the box.

After several fruitless days, the deconstruction of Jamie’s stools was abandoned. The perplexed parents pondered the possibility that Jamie had dropped some pud on the floor for Fuddy the Labrador on Christmas Day. However, I know the truth and bear witness to the crime. From my elevated position, circulating annoyingly around the luncheon, my multiple fly eyes watched silently as Robbie had acted swiftly and furtively. Jamie’s threepence, which had been protruding slightly from his portion of pud to facilitate easy discovery, was neatly removed in a flash and concealed in Robbie’s side-pocket. I was so shocked by this act of brazen behaviour, I slammed straight into the spiral of suspended fly paper and became instantly stuck fast. Damn! If only I had a voice, I’d raise it emphatically from my sticky entrapment to end Jamie’s unjust humiliation on the doggie pottie. Seriously, his brother did this all for threepence?

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