If you missed the first installment of Christopher J.'s story, you can read it right here... and if you missed the second installment, you can read it right here...)
And so we continue...
I returned with my tea, curled up in the wicker chair near my nightstand, and bid Christopher J. to begin his tale. He took a deep breath and started…
“If you remember rightly, it was very warm last July 3rd. When you set me down in the forsythia near the street, I had to catch my breath and wipe my brow. I was deciding whether to be on my way or wait until the evening cooled a bit when I happened upon the lovely chap who would become my traveling companion for some time – Julius P. Crickman.”
“And Julius P. is a… cricket?”
“Exactly! And a jolly good mate as well! He was off on his own adventure, you see, as, sadly, he’d been involved in a little altercation with several other crickets. He decided simply to leave the lilac bush just down the way from the Red Shed, so as not to wind up in any real trouble, you understand.”
“An altercation? What about?” Insect altercations seem rather interesting, don’t you think?
Christopher J. continued, “Well, I don’t know how much you know about crickets, but I assume you know they chirp?”
“Of course. And loudly, too.”
“Yes, indeed. Well, only the males chirp. Did you know that? It’s true. However, Julius P. doesn’t.”
“He doesn’t chirp? Why?”
“Well, he doesn’t know why. It’s the way he is; the way he was born. But those bullies teased him unmercifully about it! They called him extremely unflattering names and called into question his… male-ness.”
“Oh, I see. Poor Julius P. For the record? Things like that happen in the human world, too.”
Yes, in the spider world, too! I, myself, had an horrific experience when two of my loutish cousins, Bubba and Jim-Bob humilia…”
“Wait," I put my hand up to stop him. "I’m sorry to interrupt you, Christopher J., but Bubba? And Jim-Bob?”
Christopher J. sighed. “Yes. Their mum, Crystal Mae Weaver, of the Brown Shed Weavers, married my Uncle Jonathan Q. Arachington.”
“The Brown Shed?” I had to know.
Christopher J. looked a bit disgusted. “Yes. You know the one… on wrong side of the garden… paint peeling… a smelly groundhog lives underneath…?” He peered at me for signs of recognition.
I realized which shed he meant. “Ohhhh. Yes. I know the one. Please go on…”
Well, the whole family knew that Crystal Mae was a gold-digger. My Granda even tried to forbid the marriage, but Uncle Jonathan was always the headstrong sort. In fact, it was being headstrong that landed him right in a woodpecker’s flight path!”
“Yes. And without anyone else at home to help with Bubba and Jim-Bob, Crystal Mae moved them all into the Red Shed. Much to MY chagrin, let me tell you.”
“I understand. So what did they do to you that upset you so?”
Our little friend’s face filled with such righteous indignation! “Oh! Oh! Wait until I tell you! My whole life they called me “Nancy-Boy” because I preferred to be tidy and well-dressed and spoke properly. As if using ‘ain’t’ and wearing dirty baseball caps makes one better than anyone else!”
I nodded in complete understanding (I know a couple of Bubbas and Jim-Bobs).
He went on, breathlessly, clearly reliving his ordeal, “Well, one night, while I was sleeping, they took tree sap and they smeared it over… over…” he stopped, his face reddening in embarrassment.
“Over what, Christopher J.?”
He mumbled something, “My spinner…”
“I’m sorry, your what?”
“My Spinneret,” he declared in exasperation. I must have looked perplexed because he went on, “You know, don’t you? It’s the… hole… in my… bum… from which I spin my webs.”
“Oh! Oh, dear! That must have been awful for you, Christopher J.! I’m so sorry.”
He nodded, the wind out of his sails. “It was. It was beyond awful. It took days to sort out. So much… discomfort! And those two brutes and their friends laughing at me all the while." Christopher J. swallowed hard. "I’ve never forgiven them. And poor Julius P. suffered in a similar way. It was completely unacceptable, it was! Julius P. is a grand chap, whether he chirps or not, and it was my great good fortune that he decided to find his own way, as he wound up saving my spider-skin on not one, but two occasions!”
“He saved your life?”
“He did. And the first time was on that very night…”
To be continued...