Alternate Universe - RNLI
Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.
Note: Beted by Firefox. Feedback always welcome.
Buck woke to the sound of his phone ringing, his landline phone, not his pager, not his mobile. He frowned at the digits on his alarm clock; it was two twenty in the morning.
“Hello?” he answered in some trepidation.
“Buck mate, it’s Pete Cornell.”
Buck sat up a little; Pete was a member of the lifeboat crew and also a police sergeant. “Problem?” he asked.
“Favour,” came the reply.
By now Buck was more awake. “What do you need? …. Okay …. You’re kidding me! … What about Chris’ place? …. Oh, yeah, well I guess you’re right.”
As Buck pulled himself out of bed, Mac lifted his head. Seeing that his master had none of the haste the dog was used to when his sleep was disturbed in the night, he was confused, was it perhaps time for his morning walk? Stretching lazily he stood up and jumped down from the bed.
“No,” Buck told his dog firmly. “Bed.”
Looking up, head cocked to one side, Mac hesitated, but then retreated to the welcome warmth and comfort of the bed. With Mac safely on the bed, Buck tip-toed past JD’s room and down into the kitchen. Stopping only to pick up a carrot, he pulled on his wellingtons and picked up a torch, then headed out into the darkness. Making his way to the bottom of the garden he opened the gate at the far end and waited. Some twenty minutes later he spotted the tell-tale sight of the flourescent flashes on a police uniform walking towards him. As they got closer he spotted the small form walking beside them.
“Thanks for this,” Peter said by way of greeting.
Buck shone his torch on their charge, a small, pale donkey, with the biggest eyes Buck had ever seen.
“Oh man she’s cute,” he exclaimed. “Hey there sweetheart.” With that he held out the carrot, which the donkey was happy to follow into the garden.
“Someone will come and pick her up in the morning,” Cornell assured.
Buck locked the gate, fed the donkey some more of the carrot and was heading for bed when the back door opened.
“What the hell is that?” JD asked, standing in the doorway in his pyjamas.
“Very funny, what is it doing here?”
By now Buck was at the door. “Cops called, asked if they could leave her here overnight.”
JD frowned at him. “Okay, and again, what is she doing here?”
Buck smiled, “Some guy’s car broke down at the bottom of Mill Lane. Since there’s no mobile coverage down there, he walked to that cottage, you know the one, down the lane by the bridge?” JD nodded, although he knew where the cottage was, he’d never seen it and had no idea who lived there. “Right, so he gets down there and the lights are on but no one answers so he looks though the letter box and he can see someone on the floor at the bottom of the stairs.”
“Oh shit,” JD exclaimed softly.
“Right, and fair play to the guy, he ran all the way to the top of the hill and called 999. Turns out the man that lived there was dead, probably natural causes. He’s was a bit of a hermit, I mean I’ve seen him maybe twice, no idea what his name is.”
“Donkey? JD prompted.
“Oh, right, well the house and the back garden was full of animals, cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, ferrets, all kinds. They couldn’t leave them there, it wasn’t safe and the RSPCA didn’t have enough people to deal with all of them, so they asked me to take the donkey until they have someone with a horse box who can collect her.”
“Why you? Why not take her to Chris’?”
“I asked that, but that would mean getting Chris to bring his trailer down though the town in the middle of the night, whereas they could walk her here. I got the feeling, that by the time they called me they were so tired they just wanted a quick fix for the night.”
JD stepped down into the garden and walked up to the little donkey. “What’s she called?”
“They didn’t say.”
“Well we can’t just call her ‘donkey’.”
“JD we are not keeping it, she’s leaving tomorrow.”
“I know, but still…”
Rolling his eyes, Buck walked back into the garden, where the donkey was now eating the grass. “Fine, we’ll call her Sybil.”
“You’re too young to remember Fawlty Towers; Sybil Fawlty had this laugh…”
“Are you kidding, it’s a classic, we used to watch it in the union bar at uni!” JD exclaimed with laugh. “Perfect name.”
By now the newly named Sybil was munching the flowers in the borders. “Oh no you don’t,” Buck declared, grabbing her head collar and bringing her back to the grass.
Seeing the problem and working as fast and as quietly as possible, Buck found a long rope - the washing line, and JD retrieved the screw dog tether they offered to customers whose dogs were too big and boisterous to be safely tied to a garden table. Finally, with Sybil secured in the middle of the lawn and a large bucket of water placed on the edge of her range, the two of them headed back to bed. What they had forgotten was, that they should have left Inez a note.
In the morning, after checking their new guest, two men and one dog went for a jog. They returned to be met by Inez ranting on in Spanish about a burro. It seems she had gone out in to the garden to put up the washing line only to find it attached to a donkey. She wasn’t pleased. Apparently, the fact that neither of them had fed the burro made it even worse. No amount of protesting from Buck that the damn donkey had munched away half his garden would placate her. Eventually a compromise was agreed upon, in which Buck shovelled up all the manure in the garden, accepted all the blame and made breakfast. JD always thought it was hilarious that these arguments always ended with both parties believing they had won. Inez was confident she had exerted her authority and was right and Buck thought he’d won because he’d let Inez have her way and so she would like him more. JD didn’t care, so long as Inez always decided he was innocent and needed protection.
Of course before Sybil was collected, some of their friends had turned up to discover their new guest and the story needed to be told all over again.