And so it was.
(I’ve always wanted to start some sort of writing off that way.)
Well, you may recall that this professor is good friends with The Dean and the The Deputy Head Porter from Old College.
And so it was that, one day, they came for a visit. We met up at Cashew City.
(If you haven’t checked out Lucy’s blog, do it here. Thanks, Lucy! Happy birthday, too!)
“Greetings and then some more greetings!” I said.
And this professor shook The Dean’s hand vigorously, then turned and did the same with The Deputy Head Porter’s.
“Aha! My dear Professor!” exclaimed The Dean. “I do so enjoy meeting you all over the world. You are looking in fine fettle, I must say.”
Deputy Head Porter smiled hugely and laughed a little at the vigorous handshake.
“A pleasure as always, Professor,” she said “I cannot truly believe that I’m finally here, in Cashew City!”
Then we sat down at a table.
“So…”—this professor was curious, you know—“how are things going at Old College? I remember some sort of mystery about a missing key the last time I was there.”
“Ah, well, now here’s the thing,” The Dean began, enthusiastically. “The key we thought was missing, wasn’t actually missing, it simply wasn’t where it should have been. But then there was another key that was in fact missing and I can’t remember if we found it or not but we searched for clues!”
This professor smiled at his friend with some confusion, then turned to Deputy Head Porter for a more straightforward answer.
“It was all part of a cunning ruse by Junior Bursar,” she explained. “The long and the short of it is, he killed some people and then escaped to Tuscany.”
“Goodness me!” I gasped like a snake. “I always had my suspicions about that fellow.”
“He tried to kill me twice,” said Deputy Head Porter.
“Three times, if you count the poisoned breakfast,” corrected The Dean.
“What a ratty gentleman. But…but what happened after he escaped?” I asked.
The Dean and Deputy Head Porter just looked at each other, and shrugged.
“We just sort of forgot about it,” replied Deputy Head Porter.
“We have moved on to things of far greater interest and importance!” said The Dean, with relish.
The professor nodded. “Glad to hear it!”
And then, I fear, something horrible happened.
You see, sometimes, such dastardly things do happen, I fear.
“Hi-hi-hello!” Schwarz said, sitting next to me.
The Dean turned to Deputy Head Porter and attempted to be discrete. Never an easy thing, for The Dean.
“I say, Deputy Head Porter, who are these odd-looking fellows?”
“They are friends, of sorts, of the professor’s,” she replied. “I have heard a lot about them, I think they are rather super.”
“Funny looking buggers if you ask me.”
Daddy Salami sat on this professor’s other side.
I was flanked.
And I couldn’t retreat.
“So,” Salami said, looking straight at The Dean, “I hear you’re a Dean…”
“My good man, I am not A Dean I am THE Dean and, to the likes of you, I am Sir!”
“And what,” Salami continued, obviously in a really bad and obnoxious mood, “does a Dean do? Could Ruber, me son, be a Dean?”
The professor cleared his throat. “Now, Mr. Salami, how about—”
“Shut-up, cur!” Salami yelled at me. “I wasn’t talking ta ya!”
“Now you are, chickit!” Schwarz noted.
“So, could be me son be a Dean?” Salami asked.
The Dean turned a worrying shade of purple as he decided whether to be outraged or appalled. It seemed that he settled on his more usual state of barely concealed rage.
“The very idea! The role of The Dean is one of carefully disguised intellect and subtle ferocity. A man needs a stern stomach and keen eye. And a love of whiskey, of course. Ruber? A Dean? Whatever next!”
Salami wasn’t pleased in the least. “It seems to me that you, cur-face, hold a worthless job!”
“Uh-oh,” Schwarz commented.
“How about, we all have a nice cup of tea?” Deputy Head Porter suggested, tactfully.
“An excellent idea, my friend!” the professor said. “And… some nuts! Nice, calming nuts.”
But The Dean was not to be waylaid so easily. He fixed a beady eye on Daddy Salami and puffed out his chest.
“I would challenge your understanding of the work of a great academic,” continued The Dean. “And also your understanding of the concept of a job!”
“The role of Dean is not so much a job as a…position of high office,” explained Deputy Head Porter in an attempt to quell the mood. “Sort of like, academic royalty, if you like.”
“Oh I get it–it’s a worthless job!” Salami replied, gleefully.
“Now, just wait a minute—tell you what!” Schwarz was looking at Salami. “What do you do exactly?”
There was a pause.
And it was quite scary, I must say.
Salami was glaring at Schwarz, who seemed quite happy with his question.
“I’ve done me many things,” Salami began to answer. “I’ve been a professional weeder, wrestler, knight, boxing champ, daddy, wrestler, boxing champ, weeder…”
And he continued on, but this professor wasn’t listening. I leaned over to The Deputy Head Porter.
“So sorry that we were joined by these two,” I whispered. “I do hope The Dean isn’t too cranky about the proceedings.”
“Oh, you know The Dean,” replied Deputy Head Porter, waving a hand dismissively. “He loves any excuse for confrontation.”
“He certainly has an appetite for it,” the professor agreed. “I don’t know where he gets the energy.”
“Whiskey, I think.”
“Whiskey would do the trick, for sure. Now, young lady, this professor is very annoyed that someone was trying to kill you. You should have told me; I would have come over with my katana, and cleaved him in two like a banana.”
“Thank you, Professor, but there really was no need. I’m fine now.”
“Old College sounds rather dadblame dangerous these days. You should think about arming yourself, you know. Carry a spear or something.”
Deputy Head Porter appeared to give this serious consideration.
Salami was still going strong.
“…military man, knight, dragon, rapscallion, mushroom—”
“Enough of this buggering nonsense!” The Dean interrupted. “What do mean, mushroom? That isn’t even a job. It isn’t even a vocation! Buggers like you wouldn’t know a real job if it jumped up and bit you on the kneecap. Or worse!”
Salami’s eyes went wide. “Do ya think being a knight is easy?!”
“How many times have you jousted?” Schwarz asked.
It was the wrong question.
“Knights don’t do that!” Salami hollered. “Noodle-brain.”
“Sure they do!” I said.
Salami stood. “Hehaha. I’ll see you later!”
And with that, he was gone.
“He’s so chickit weird,” Schwarz noted.
Deputy Head Porter laughed and said to the Professor,
“You know, he’s just like I thought he would be. But even better!”
“This is no laughing matter, Deputy Head Porter,” growled The Dean. “That strange chap there is quite clearly deluded. And very rude. Professor, you need to be mindful of the company you are keeping.”
“I should be, too,” Schwarz said. “You know, I shouldn’t be here with you all right now. Chickit no!”
We all ignored him.
“I for one rather like him,” said Deputy Head Porter
“You see,” this professor began, attempting to help Salami’s case a bit, “some say that he lost his mind long ago–sorta like what happened to me.”
“Hmph!” said The Dean. “I do not want him anywhere near College grounds, and that’s for certain.”
“So, how about some cashews everyone?” I asked.
“Hurrah!” declared Deputy Head Porter. “Make mine extra salty.”
And it was later, when we were leaving, that we found our cars wouldn’t start.
“Must be a bee in the engine,” Schwarz said.
It was, after all, a good assumption.
As our cars were being towed away, I thought I heard Salami laugh.