Magic Penguin, Fat Giraffe and Mystic Mouse were enjoying a few drinks in the Shoe and Phone one afternoon as they tended to do with monotonous regularity.
“So, we’re back then,” observed Mystic Mouse.
“What do you mean?” asked Fat Giraffe, “We’re always in the pub. We literally don’t do anything else.”
“Yes, but last week we weren’t in the story at all,” said Mystic Mouse.
“Oh yeah,” said Fat Giraffe, “I remember now. The story was set in a different but similarly named pub, with three characters who had the same initials as us, but who weren’t us at all.”
“It was a bit strange,” agreed Magic Penguin, “I’m not quite sure why that happened really.”
“I thought, in many ways, it was actually a little bit better than the usual stories,” said Mystic Mouse.
“I agree,” said Fat Giraffe, “I thought Mistaken Moose was really funny.”
“It’s a bit worrying though,” said Magic Penguin, “why weren’t we in the story last week?”
“Well, I’m putting it down to the snow,” said Mystic Mouse, “everything seems to stop when it snows.”
“So does that mean that we are, in fact, in the UK?” asked Fat Giraffe, “because I’m not sure if we’ve ever really established that.”
“I’m not sure” said Mystic Mouse, “but it snowed in other places, besides the UK last week, so I don’t think it’s conclusive proof that the Magic Penguin stories are set in the UK.”
“On the balance of probability we are based in the UK,” said Magic Penguin, “but if we are, then it’s a heavily fictionalised version. I mean there aren’t really any talking penguins, giraffes or mice in the UK.”
“No, that’s generally more of a Scandinavian thing,” agreed Fat Giraffe.
“I think you’re probably mistaken there,” said Mystic Mouse.
“Well, they don’t call me Mistaken Moose for nothing,” said Fat Giraffe.
“They don’t call you that at all,” said Magic Penguin, “you’re quite clearly called Fat Giraffe.
“Oh yeah,” said Fat Giraffe, “got a bit confused there for a minute.”
“It’s understandable,” said Magic Penguin, “It’s been a long time since anything made sense in these stories.”
“True,” said Fat Giraffe, “they do seem to tend towards the absurd.”
“Which would be fine if anything ever happened in them,” said Magic Penguin “but nothing ever does.”
“Although if these stories are a homage to the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ movement popularised by Beckett, Ionesco et al. then it’s perfectly reasonable that nothing ever happens.” said Mystic Mouse.
“How do you mean?” asked Fat Giraffe.
“Well it’s like Waiting for Godot,” said Mystic Mouse, “Much like Vladimir and Estragon wait in vain for Godot to arrive, we’re waiting in vain for something to happen.”
“But we’re clearly not waiting for Godot,” said Magic Penguin.
“I realise that,” said Mystic Mouse, “I was referring to that play as an illustration of my point and the situation we’ve potentially found ourselves in.”
“No, I understood your point,” said Magic Penguin, “I just mean that we’re not waiting for Godot, cos he’s already here.”
And sure enough, sitting near the bar, drinking a pint of stout and reading a battered copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, was none other than Godot.
“Hey Godot,” called Magic Penguin, “how long have you been here?”
“Since 1953,” said Godot, “I told those idiots Vladimir and Estragon to meet me here, but they still haven’t shown up.”
“Well that certainly explains something,” nodded Mystic Mouse.
“What does it explain?” asked a baffled Fat Giraffe.
“Never mind,” said Mystic Mouse.
“Well I don’t want to sit around twiddling my thumbs,” said Magic Penguin, oblivious to the fact that penguins don’t have thumbs, “I suggest that we stop waiting for something to happen and we take the bull by the horns.”
“You leave my horns alone,” said Anxious Bull.
“Sorry Anxious Bull, I was using a metaphor,” said Magic Penguin.
“Well, it’s a bit of an insensitive metaphor if you ask me,” said Anxious Bull.
“Anyway, I thought we were waiting for someone,” siad Mystic Mouse, “didn’t the last story that we were in finish on a cliff-hanger, surrounding the imminent arrival of your evil cousin?”
“Yes, but as he clearly hasn’t arrived yet, I think we should go and do something else,” said Magic Penguin, “I mean we’re a good 700+ words in at this point, so I think it’s reasonable to conclude that he’s not coming.”
“Not so fast Magic Penguin,” said the voice of a mysterious stranger who had just entered the pub.
“Who’s that?” asked Fat Giraffe, with trepidation.
“Oh, that’s just Red Herring, trying to set up another meaningless cliffhanger,” said Magic Penguin, “I think it’s safe to ignore him.”
“Not this time Magic Penguin,” said Red Herring, for it was indeed he, “this time I bring news that your cousin, Evil Penguin is about to return, and make your life very complicated indeed.”
“You already told us that two weeks ago,” sighed Magic Penguin, “we were literally just talking about that. And Evil Penguin still hasn’t shown up and this week’s story was just as pointless as the rest of them have been.”
“Oh,” said a visibly crestfallen Red Herring, “well I’m sure he’ll be along next week.”
And Red Herring might well be right. But equally he could be wrong. Irritatingly, the only way to find out is to read next week’s Magic Penguin story, which will, in all likelihood, be just as disappointing as this one was.