Did Someone Say Galumphing?

You have three characters: 

Rico, the owner of a pizza parlor who wants everyone to think he’s involved with organized crime.

Bertha, a girl who was always picked last for volleyball in high school and is now running a second-hand clothing store.

Athelstane, a granite statue in the park who has consciousness.


Possible Plot Points: 

–The ants in the park are planning an uprising.

–Athelstane has no idea what pizza is.

–There is a two carat diamond in the pocket of one of Bertha’s second hand dresses.

–The tomato crop failed this year.

–Rico’s neighborhood is changing, and everyone now wants jalapenos, chorizo, and tomatillos on their pizza.

–The pages is too small to hold these guys, and Athelstane is planning an escape, but he needs help.

–Hey, whatever you want!!

21 responses to “Did Someone Say Galumphing?

  1. I’ll post this “Off Topic” as I work on my Pizza Hut/Second Hand Store with a Granite Statue standing guard on the sidewalk.

    I realize that this is akin to blasphemy coming from an Elkhart County resident at this time of year, but I am not a 4-H Fair kind of person. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not anti-fair; I am simply anti-heat and humidity, and anti-big crowds and loud noises.

    Some of my best friends are 4-H Fair fans and volunteers. And I have, through the years, helped my friends with their fair activities. I’ve been stuffed in a little, sweltering booth selling tickets for a friends’ sorority. I’ve registered voters, handed out information about Jesus for my church and even helped babysit a prize bull overnight.

    I did these tasks not out of love for the fair, but out of loyalty and friendship.

    I can trace my aversion to the fair back to my freshman year in high school. I was madly in love with a tall, dark and handsome sophomore who wanted to take me to the fair. Although I could easily resist the lure of the midway, I could not resist the charms of my Mr. Wonderful, so I consented to a double date.

    I really had no idea that there would be so many torturous, spinning, twisting, turn-you-inside-out-and-upside-down rides. And I had absolutely no idea that sophomore guys needed to ride on all of these monstrous contraptions to prove their prowess.

    My date and peers were pressuring me to join them on a ride called “The Whirley Shirley.” They claimed she was “quite gentle.” I finally agreed to go, on the condition that if I didn’t like it, they would tell the ride manager to stop and let me off.

    We stepped into the brightly colored capsule, took our seats, fastened the seat belts and waited for the “gentle” fun to begin. The music started and our capsule began to turn, slowly at first, but as each new stanza of music began, the spinning became more rapid. Not only did that cramped little cell of fun spin, it also began to move up and down at ever increasing speeds.

    I was not designed to take that kind of G-force. I screamed for my date to stop the ride, but he claimed he couldn’t hear me. I stomped on his foot as hard as I could to get his attention, but he just laughed and we kept going.

    Finally, that mini centrifuge was whirling and jumping so rapidly that my nose began to bleed. None of my companions noticed until the ride stopped. When we finally stumbled out of Shirley, all of us were so covered with blood that the people waiting in line bolted for the safety of the hog barn.

    I’ve been told that the following day they renamed the “Whirley Shirley” the “Bloody Mary.”

    Now I’ll go Galumphing ……

    • galelikethewind

      Sorta been there done that on carnival rides.. Thanks for the vivid images.. I think.
      Time for your Gallump.

    • You’ve inspired me to enjoy the Fair. I wish I’d been there to see everyone bolt for the hog barn! Good image!

  2. The ants in the park were pissed off. It was bad enough when the tourists were stomping around, stepping on the hard-built ant mounds as they scribbled their graffiti on the base of that god-awful statue the city council decided had to be right in the midst of the ants’ territory, but now that goof-ball from the shop across the street—the guy who smelled of garlic and chorizo and anchovy—had started digging a hole under the base of the statue, right in the spot Elsie had chosen for her new colony.

    Elsie was a favorite among all the worker ants, and we’ll say no more about that. After all, the queen of any colony is deserved some respect and certainly should be protected from any voyeuristic prying into her one and only reproductive assignation. However, one day when Elsie was scouting for locations, Anchovy Guy came schlumping over from his shop with a brown paper bag in his hand.

    Elsie and the worker ants (all those minions of sterile females) had just started excavating the new nest. Elsie was pregnant with a few thousand eggs and needed a place to deposit them, and it’s no exaggeration to say that time was of the essence. The first horde of workers had just outlined the inch-deep entrance to the new nest by grasping grains of sand in their mandibles and stacking them on top of a growing circle.

    All except for Doofus Dora, of course, who never took her load to the top of the ring, but tried to take a short cut and stick it onto the inside of the rampart, where, of course, it promptly plummeted back into the hole when another ant accidentally dislodged it. One time when they were working on Elsie’s mothers’s nest, Doofus Dora was responsible for seven ruptured metasomas, four badly contused legs, and three concussions—not to mention all the additional work her laziness caused. There was also all that unfortunate pheromone spill to deal with, which is pretty much like listening to the Siren’s Song if you’re an ant.

    This time, however, before Anchovy Guy messed up everything, Queen Elsie had issued her first royal declaration: Doofus Dora was assigned clean-up duties in the old nursery. This was met with much joy amongst the worker ants who, though they were secretly jealous that Elsie was fecund, immediately decided that Elsie was going to be a queen to be reckoned with.

    Then along came Anchovy Guy dragging his feet, looking over his shoulder as if he was being followed, and scuffed out the provision trail to the picnic tables where the ants obtained a continual supply of bread crumbs and other goodies. “More work,” the lady ants sighed, and went back to hauling grains of sand from the ever-deepening adit. What followed was nothing short of disaster.

    Anchovy Guy knelt down at the base of the god-awful statue called Athelstane and started scooping out handfuls of sand. Worker ants Madeline and Marjorie and Martha (the ants always worked in alphabetical order) were crushed by his knee. Meghan and Myra escaped injury by scurrying into the hole and had to dig themselves out with the help of Lura and Lydia, and Natalie and Nora, all of whom were rewarded with extra hot dog bun crumbs later that day, not that Nora needed any extra food, you understand, which was why she was lagging behind far enough to avoid Anchovy Guy’s knee.

    Anchovy Guy was oblivious to the chaos he caused. He went about his task and departed back to the shop across the street. Elsie dispatched some of the worker ants to inspect what he had buried under the statue in case it was edible. Alas, they reported that it appeared to be a handle with a round cylinder containing six holes, and a long tube sticking out from those. They also said it didn’t smell very good, having a smoky, acrid scent, and indeed was not edible.

    There was talk of mounting a challenge to Anchovy Guy if he ever showed up again, maybe a mass formic acid spraying. Queen Elsie was anxious about the lack of a new nursery and quelled any thoughts of uprisings, and the ants, conditioned as they are after eons of incest, went back to work, all the while whining about the extra work Anchovy Guy had caused.

    Athelstane, the statue, rumbled something, but his rumblings were far outside the range of hearing in the ants, and they never did understand a thing he had to say. He occasionally seemed to shift his weight, as if wanting to move away from the ant neighborhood, but in the decades the ants had been living there, he hadn’t managed a fraction of an inch, though sometimes his efforts resulted in another sand avalanche in the upper reaches of the nest, and the worker ants would sigh in unison, “More work” and go back to work as ants do.

    One day when the ants were harvesting a bounty from under the picnic table where a couple with six children were eating their picnic lunch, a female of the human species parked her shopping cart full of old clothes off the trail and approached the statue. Suddenly the ants heard her laughing. “Athelstane the Unready,” she snorted. “You lost Rowena to Ivanhoe and the throne of England to the Normans and now you’re struck here in this silly park. Well, all you really wanted was an idyllic bucolic life, anyway.”

    The woman sat down on the pedestal, carefully placing her feet so as not to disturb the ant mounds nearby, thereby immediately earning the love and respect of the entire interconnected ant colony. Queen Elsie issued an order and all the ants began digging out the sand from around the curious object Anchovy Guy had stashed.

    What followed the unveiling of the paper bag was difficult for the ants to follow. The Laughing Lady pulled something from her pocket, punched it a few times with her opposable thumbs (causing envy in the worker ants but not in any way lessening their appreciation of her), then spoke into it. Within minutes, a black and white vehicle showed up. A blue man got out of it and removed the paper bag from under the statue.

    “I thought he was lying,” said the lady to the guy in blue. “I guess now he was bragging. He shouldn’t have told me about this, though. Pretty stupid, if you ask me.”

    Late that night, across the street, after the dripping candles on the red and white checkered oilcloth table covers had been snuffed out, multiple black and white cars converged on the Anchovy Guy’s shop. Dozens of blue men ran inside and soon emerged with Anchovy Guy, who was struggling to walk with his hands bound behind him.

    And forever after, the ants happily lived out the 45-to-60-day lifespan allotted them, no longer bothered by Anchovy Guy kneeling on their mounds but enchanted with Laughing Lady’s daily visits, complete with bread and cookie crumbs falling from the sky.

    • Argh:

      “…dragging his feet…which scuffed out the provision trail….”

      “In the shop across the street, after the dripping candles on the oilcloth table covers has been snuffed out late that night, ….”

    • galelikethewind

      Gully, Bravo. I loved the world of ants that you created. I could see fat little Dora scampering among the alphabetical hordes. So many great personalities in such a short piece.
      I can see the Animators at Pixel putting life to these guys as they pull that gun out from under the statue.
      Thanks for a fun Gallump.

      • Thanks, Gale. Rather fond of the little critters myself. Learned a lot about ants from this prompt.

    • Leave it to you to write about the ants. Who knew they were so interesting. Have you read E.O. Wilson on ants? Try his autobiography first. Loved the nicknames. Always a pleasure, Gullie!

    • I just got to read this one. Superb.

  3. Written in the spirit of Galumphing, I think…

    Rico, the owner of a pizza parlor who wants everyone to think he’s involved with organized crime.

    Bertha, a girl who was always picked last for volleyball in high school and is now running a second-hand clothing store.

    Athelstane, a granite statue in the park who has consciousness.
    Rico’s black hair, combed sharply back revealing his receding hairline held in place with oil, black and grimy like that drained from a diesel engine of a cattle transport semi carrying the dirt from west Texas feedlots, shined in reflective silver streaks in the sun as he walked across Cedar street in full view of the granite statue of Athelstane, unaware of her speckled grey eyes following him, unblinking, step by step toward Second Hands resale shop.

    On any given day the pizza box he carried, balanced on the extended fingertips of his right hand, would contain any one of many unremarkable pizzas topped with chunks of sausage bought from the discount bin at the Mighty Mart, cooked by Rico with additional basil and salt to cover the odor of meat sold days after its expiration date, and left unused in the refrigerator for too many weeks thereafter.

    The opening of the front door of the shop was announced by the rusty tinkling of a dented silver-plated bell as old as the store itself, and the door’s movement stirred an airborne current of camphor swirling with dust motes and the aroma of clothes, old and moldy, riding under a mist of cheap air freshener sprayed only moments ago by Bertha as she readied the store for business.

    Rico, with cunning care and stealth, closed the door with his free hand, and in a twisting motion rivaling the slight-of-hand of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a beaver top hat, flipped the OPEN-FOR-BUSINESS sign hanging by a faded pink ribbon to the closed position, and strode with silent steps toward the polished brass register with its black and white keys arranged like round mosaic tiles in numbered sequences.

    He pushed the NO SALE key and stopped the cash drawer as it began to spring from its closed position, before it could make its cash register chime, before it could warn Bertha of its intrusion, its pillage, its violation at the hands of the morning intruder. With greedy hands washed clean of flour and nails scoured clean of pizza sauce, Rico pulled the bills from their slots; a twenty, three tens, four fives, and seven ones, representing the sales from the previous three days, the week beginning on Monday, as the shop was closed on Sundays, and slipped them into the empty pizza box.

    Without taking his eyes from his duty he closed the drawer and walked back to the door, returned the OPEN sign to its previous position, opened the door, gave it a curt slam and hollered out, “Pizza Delivery.” Bertha stepped from her preoccupation in her office and looked at Rico with a curious squint and replied, “I didn’t order a Pizza.”

    Rico feigned innocence and answered, “I’m sorry. I guess I made a mistake.” He turned to the door, exited to its tinkling bell, and headed back to his shop, again under the watching eye of Athelstane who witnessed everything through the shop front window.

    For seventy-five years, her arms held frozen in position, one across her breast, the other outstretched with finger pointing skyward, moved the later, now pointing in the direction of Rico’s pizza shop, in case anyone asked her if she had witnessed the theft.

    • “Athelstane the Tattletale.” Good take. And good galumphing.

    • galelikethewind

      Jeff, I could see Christopher from The Sopranos pulling off this heist.
      Well done and entertaining.

    • I always enjoy the idea that something we accept as static, timeless, and unmoving, can suddenly be completely different. Oo-ee-oo (Twilight Zone music). Athelstane is there to turn reality on its head. Yay to that!

  4. galelikethewind

    Aethelstane looked down upon his small domain from the pedestal on the western edge of the town park. He had to get out of here. A King in 8th Century England had no business watching over such a crummy piece of real estate – even if this burg in northeastern Wisconsin was named after him..

    He had tried to move for over a hundred years, but even with every fiber of his concrete being, he had only managed to move his right foot one centimeter, hardly enough for any of the fools that inhabited this park to notice. The degradation was almost too much for him to bear. Ants climbed all over his base in the spring. Ants ! And when that couple began courting on a blanket on the lee side of his base. Well, the idea.! If only he could drop his scepter on them.

    The man was an oily haired heathen descendant of Rome, and the woman, a wonderful specimen of Anglo-Saxon femininity, who had let her self go to the point that she was no better than a common wench. Aethelstane watched for hours on end as the Roman one plied his trade of smelly Italianate foodstuffs across the street. He felt his heart go out to the woman as she dealt in articles of used vesture, stooping to the level of a street beggar.

    One evening in late summer, the couple laid their threadbare blanket on the grass directly behind the grand thirty foot statue.
    “Rico, my darling,” cooed Bertha, “I have a surprise for you.” As Rico laid down beside her, and put his hairy arm on her delicate shoulder, she pulled a small piece of cloth from her dress pocket. She slowly unwrapped the contents and held it up for Rico to see.
    “My God, that must be at least two carats.” gasped the Italian.”Where did you get this, dear Bertha?”
    “I found it in the pocket of a dress, one that was brought into the shop months ago. I have no way of finding the owner.”
    “Find the owner? Are you nuts? Sweetheart, this is our ticket out of this God-forsaken place.” Rico, grabbed the ring, and stood up.”Grab the blanket, baby, we are outta here.”
    Aethelstane, hearing this conversation felt his concrete turn green with envy. If only I could get so lucky he mused. At least he didn’t have to witness their ugly hugging and kissing anymore. Now if he could only do something about those damn ants!

    • Wisconsin! I never knew there was a town called Athelstane. You did a great job of turning the statue into one ornery, frustrated guy. He’s got potential!

  5. Well done! You got all the elements in and from a different viewpoint.

  6. Bob MacDonald swung his one-ton Chevy crew cab truck into the diagonal parking slot in front of Bertha’s Second Time Around shop and shut off the engine. He sat a moment, rehearsing his speech.

    Bertha was moving back and forth in the shop, but MacDonald paid her no mind, nor did he notice several men in gaudy polo shirts and sunglasses exit Rico’s Pizzaria next door, munching down slices of taco pizza.

    He took a deep breath, let it out, and stepped out of the vehicle. “Time to face the music,” he said aloud, but not loud enough for anyone to hear, even if there had been anyone close enough to hear. He walked past Bertha’s, past Rico’s, and past Ed Allen’s barbershop. He briefly considered a haircut and shave, but decided that might project the wrong image, so he continued on his way.

    “Morning, Ralph,” MacDonald said to the uniformed guard inside the double glass doors of Great Plains National Bank as he entered the building. He tipped his ball cap to the young lady at the customer service desk and asked to speak with the manager.

    George Hayes, all gussied up in a business suit and bow tie, greeted MacDonald and invited him into his office. They settled in chairs and Hayes asked after MacDonald and his family. The small talk lasted less than a minute.

    “I’m in a bit of a spot here, George,” said MacDonald, fiddling with the green John Deere ball cap in his hands. “Blossom end rot got most of the crop. Don’t think I’ll net enough to make my annual payment to the bank. Wondering if I can get an extension. Kids need college money and all, Mary needs a new washing machine, and I have to order next year’s seed. Dagnabit, things are a bit tight right now.”

    “Well, Bob, I’m right sorry about your tomato crop. I heard things were looking pretty grim out your way.”

    “Yeah, seems we all got hit with something this year. Mac McGregor—he’s down past my south forty—he lost mosta his crop to rabbits and voles. Sat up nights with a 12 gauge loaded with bird shot, but them things still managed to sneak off with almost all his vegetables. ‘Cept the zucchini. Still got lots of zucchini, but a little zucchini goes a long way, you know.”

    “Oh, tell me about it,” said the bank manager. “Martha swears all the neighbors close the blinds and lock the doors when she tries giving away zucchini from our garden, and we don’t grow anywhere near what McGregor does. Well, Bob, let me take this up with the board when we meet later this week. I’ll put in a good word for you, you know. You’ve been one of our best customers. This is the first time you’ve been unable to make a payment, so that’ll go in your favor.”

    “I’d rightly appreciate that, George. I surely would. Kinda embarrassing coming in here with my hat in my hand.”

    “Know how you feel, Bob, know how you feel. By the way, you still collecting royalties from that advertising agency?”

    MacDonald jerked his head up and stared intently at the banker. “You ain’t having me on, are you George? Making fun of a man down on his luck?” he said with steely suspicion in his voice.

    “No, sir. No, sir, I am not,” George replied. “Just hoping you’re making enough off that ad to get you through the winter.”

    The sunburnt old farmer continued staring at Hayes, then said his goodbyes and left the bank.

    If he’d had the guts to look back, he’d have seen the banker doubled over with a handkerchief over his mouth to smother the laughter because on the TV set in the banker’s office that commercial was playing.

    There was Bob MacDonald, dressed in overalls and with that battered John Deere cap on his head, standing behind a microphone on a stage. Only thing missing was a long blade of grass stuck in his mouth.

    Spell ‘cow,’” said an off-camera voice.

    And this is where the estimable banker lost it, but the touchy farmer was already outside the bank and out of earshot.

    “C-O-W,” said MacDonald into the microphone. And then, “E-I-E-O.”

  7. You’re on a roll. We’ll have to have a spelling bee soon. You’re giving me ideas!

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