rabbits- acrylic on wood
“But why we gotta go NOW?” asked Ripkin, who was- somehow- clutching a beer; his blue paper bum making no impression whatsoever on the stained old faux-suede couch, but feeling oh-so-comfortable nonetheless.
A5er shot Ripkin one of his “Don’t crumple with me” looks.
Ripkin sighed. The cricket was on in 10 minutes and all.
A5er was small, but feisty. And sharp. Oh yes. He could give the stiffest of bunnies a papercut with a narrowing of his eyes alone.
Marbiggles resented the authority A5er seemed to have gradually siphoned away from him over the past months. A5er had the enthusiasm, alright, but he was a cocky young buck; lacked humility; grace; class. Still, Marbiggles knew the kid was right. They had to go. And sooner rather than later.
“Bottom line is: we need some-” A5er stopped and pointed his paper paw around the room. “Look around; what do ya see?”
Ripkin’s eyes dutifully followed A5er’s paw around; the rest of his face blank as a fresh sketchbook. His blue paper bottom fluttered gently as a pocket of air escaped its careless valley folds.
“The three of us!” Spat A5er in frustration. “And that’s it. Strength in numbers, boys. And what’s our number? Three. How the hell are we supposed to rule this place with an army of three? I’ve heard word from the chatterboxes up north that the Cranes are verging on one thousand now. To say that we’re vulnerable to attack would be an understatement! We gotta get our numbers up. Pronto. I’m talking kits. Baby bunnies, gentlemen. And without being crude, I think you know where baby bunnies come from….and it’s not Ripkin’s arse, thank Christmas card.”
Marbiggles snorted in spite of himself. Ripkin continued blanking.
“So, ” continued A5er. ” We gotta Get Busy, if ya catch my drift. Find ourselves some fresh ream; get us some folds ‘n’ creases, yeah? Some mountains and valleys, ya get me? Some lady-makin’ for some baby-makin’. Some origaminion populatin’” He winked at the lads, leeringly.
Marbiggles winced at A5er’s crassness. He took a deep breath. When he exhaled, though, it was not without some staccato about it. Against his will, images of semi-transparent vellum paper and delicately patterned Washi bending and folding seductively flashed through his mind. He wiped his forehead before any lasting damage could be done.
Ripkin swigged a sip from his tinny. Beer dribbled down his front, making his chest soggy. His big, dumb eyes stared nowhere in particular.
A journey to The Stationary Cupboard sounded good in theory, sure. But…it was SO far away…..and none of them had even seen it. For all they knew, it didn’t even exist. Reams themselves were probably nothing but a mythical fantasy. And if this were the case, Ripkin was perfectly happy to leave it that way. He had origami manuals and a right paw. Why mess with an efficient system?
“Can’t I just stay here?” He implored.
With a rustle, A5er swiftly leapt over to the old couch and leant in until his nose was level with Ripkin’s. He lowered his voice to a whisper- oh, how menacing A5er was when he whispered- and, looking directly into Ripkin’s eyes said simply:
“No. You can’t. You’ll do as the rest of us do, Rippikins. Or I’ll feed you to the shredder. And by ‘shredder’, I don’t mean Jimi Hendrix…… because he doesn’t eat paper, and is no longer alive. Just like you’ll be, if you continue. To waste. My time.”
Ripkin still didn’t understand why he had to come along, but he wasn’t about to argue with a whispering A5er, especially when shredders were mentioned, no sirree. He clutched his tinny with an increasingly damp paw, and shifted the nonexistent weight of his increasingly damp, blue buttocks, wishing he could just flatten himself like a greeting card and go find an envelope to slide into for a while.
“Moving on…” came A5er’s voice- abruptly restored to its regular volume. “As luck would have it, a certain Napkin Swan (who shall remain nameless) has most generously provided us with a map of The Biglands….” He produced a rolled up document from his left ear and held it victoriously aloft.
Marbiggle’s eyes widened. A cooperative Napkin Swan… that sounded too good to be true. Was this map the Real Deal? He glanced over at Ripkin, but Ripkin was nonplussed, noticing only the rolled up map’s resemblance to a joint. Now that was something for a day like today…
A5er unrolled the map and stepped toward Ripkin. “Give us a paw, Rips,”, he ordered, motioning toward the bowl of peanuts and the empty packets of kale chips littering the coffee table. Ripkin promptly obliged; sweeping the chip packets onto the floor, and moving the peanut bowl into his lap.
“Give us that,” commanded A5er- referring to the bowl. “And that,” he added, this time referring to Ripkin’s half empty beer can. Ripkin obeyed, and A5er carefully positioned the bowl on one edge of the map, and the beer can on the other, to prevent it from rolling in on itself.
“Now. The Stationary Cupboard lies beyond Mount Desk; east of Laptop. It’s accessible by foot….. but there are obstacles. Dangerous ones. Mount Desk is littered with dead pens, and other heavy junk which sometimes tumbles down the mountainside faster than a souped-up paper fighter jet . If you’re not quick on your pads, it’s wastepaper basketville for you. Now it’s also rumoured that a giant, whiskered beast with claws as sharp as thumbtacks roams the entire breadth of The Biglands, preying on anything that moves. So we gotta have our wits about us…”
Ripkin wasn’t really listening. He gazed wistfully at his beer, which was no doubt getting warm. He figured he could at least maybe grab a handful of peanuts without causing any undue drama. It’d make A5er’s talk less boring, at any rate. He reached for the peanut bowl, but as he did so, his generous, soggy girth dragged across the coffee table- knocking over the beer can and sending its warm, lightly foaming amber contents spilling across the map’s landscape like a golden tsunami, reducing roads, rivers, and mountain ranges alike to a meaningless, smudgy blur. Utter annihilation. Total bevvystation.
The stunned silence was guillotined clumsily by Ripkin’s blunt voice.
A5er snapped, letting out a roar that almost tore his own body to shreds.
” RIPKIIIIIN!! YOU’RE GONNA GET RIPPED!!!!”
Ripkin figured that by “get ripped” A5er hadn’t meant he was gonna get killer cardboard abs and guns of foil. Especially as A5er was now hurtling straight over the coffee-table map-ocalypse towards him. This was it. He was actually going to get ripped into pieces and die. And he’d never even get to find out who won the Test Match.
“WAAAIIIT!!!!!” Roared another voice. Thunder to A5er’s lightning.
Marbiggles raised his voice so rarely that both Ripkin and A5er had forgotten how formidable he was when he did.
Marbiggles prised A5er off Ripkin, and planted himself between the two of them, his eyes wide as paper plates.
“Control yourself, damnit! Or I’ll do it for you. You’ll not touch a single corner on this lad’s head. THIS boy,” he continued, gesturing towards poor, already half crumpled Ripkin, “may be thick as 2 pieces of 600 gsm watercolour paper; as idle as a ten tonne paperweight; as useful as braille on the inside of a paper straw…. BUT! He has been loyal; like a brother to you- and a son to me- all these years. I’ll not stand by and watch you scrunch him up like some worthless supermarket receipt over some dubious bloody Napkin map! ”
Marbiggles glared at A5er- nostrils flaring. All the resentment that had built up inside him of late was rising to the surface now like the waters of a blocked toilet.
A5er – almost frozen in shock- searched for words. The ones he eventually found were:
“You- you faded, dog-eared, pamphlet! You don’t call the shots around here anymore, old boy. A5er does! I’m A5er. YOUR LEADER! STAND DOWN AND OBEY YOUR LEADER!”
“You’re no leader, ” continued Marbiggles. “No leader of mine! For all your posturing and prancing, you’re but a standard tyrant! Selfish; cowardly; without substance. Like a crumbling, overused tissue, bringing nothing but grazes to the nose that blows! You sir, are nothing but a common piece of one-ply generic brand CRAPWRAP!…….”
(And here he paused dramatically)
“…And my finger’s just gone straight through…… ”
Of course, Marbiggles didn’t have fingers per se, but the point was made- and now sharpened, as he drew a pair of scissors from god-knows-where and pointed them at the space between A5er’s eyes.
“YOU will stand down, A5er….NOW.”“
A5er quickly weighed up his options. He was expressionless for a moment…..then the evil crease of a grin stretched across his face.
“…Or what? ”
The grin widened.”…Grandmabiggles.”
It was a mistake. Marbiggles was getting older, sure, but not weaker. He was made of high quality parchment; stiff shit. A5er stood two chances: none, and jack. The scissor blades sliced him in twain before he could even process what was happening. His neatly bisected self fell, in slow-mo silence, either side of the map-mush, onto a rustling bed of empty Kale Chip packets.
Marbiggles stood motionless for some minutes as it sunk in. He’d wiped A5er like a serviette across the mouth of death. He was a murderer. Oh god! And Ripkin- the poor kid….he’d been close to death himself- then witnessed it. In cricket season no less. He’d be traumatised for life.
Ripkin- where was Ripkin? Marbiggles scanned the room. He must find Ripkin!
There’s wisdom in the old proverb: “Don’t run with scissors”. Alas, old Marbiggles- noble, disgraced, Marbiggles- in his frenzy, had completely forgotten that he was still clutching the binary blades of doom as he dashed toward the kitchen door in search of poor, dumb, Ripkin. So instead of heroically rescuing the beer-swilling bunbun, he’d tripped and fallen- impaling himself on the deathblades.
It seemed Marbiggles and A5er would have to work things out in The Great Stationary Cupboard in the Sky.
Ripkin, who’d managed to wriggle free whilst A5er was distracted by Marbiggle’s monologue, was now safely in the kitchen, cracking open a new beer and a fresh bag of kale chips, oblivious to the gore beyond the door.
A half minute later, the oblivion vanished, as Ripkin exited the kitchen with his tinny and chips, only to be confronted by the dismembered forms of his ex-bunny-brethren.
Ohhhhh, man, this was not good. Not good!
Panic set in.
It was a mess. Oh, what a mess! And oh how Ripkin hated cleaning!
But…. hey…wait a minute. Now that there was nobody around to boss him about, he didn’t have to clean…
Panic subsided; realisation dawned.
He didn’t have to clean…. and he meant not to. Ever again! He rearranged the empty Kale Chip packets so that they covered the two bodies. A shallow grave, yeah, but as A5er had always said: “paper don’t rot, bud”. They’d flatten down nice after a few kitchen/ lounge round-trips. Sweet as! What’s more- the map on the table had soaked up most of the previously spilt beer- so win win on the not-having-to-clean gig.
Ripkin settled his soggy blue bum onto the stained old faux-suede couch and took a gulp of beer. A little rivulet of it ran down his chin and onto his already soggy belly. It’d spring a leak soon, for sure.
Ripkin didn’t care. The cricket was starting. As for Cranes, they were probably just all off to a wedding or something. He munched down on some crunchy green salty kale goodness, and lovingly wrapped his soggy paw around his tinny. His damp nether regions melded lovingly with the couch- becoming one with the stained old faux-suede. It was oh-so -comfortable. Oh-so- stationary. Yeah, stationary. As if he’d ever want to be anything else.