The Strange Tales of Cuddles the Crocodile

The First Adventure

[Tales] Tales of Tom MacRae
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- Written for Claire by Tom McRae

It all started one very dark night when I was walking home and the street lights were not working. I was walking very carefully when THWHACKOH ! I fell over something in the street, something I thought was a large tree trunk. I was winded by my fall but managed to find my little flashlight and shine it on the thing I'd fallen over .... IT WAS A GREAT BIG CROCODILE!!!!!

The monster's eyes shone at me in the light of my torch and I got ready to run away as fast as I could. Up the hill towards home I ran but behind me I could hear "Scuffley skiffley fwoop, scuffley, skiffley fwoop", as the beast came after me (the fwoop was the noise its tail made dragging behind). I reached my front door but, my hand shook so much I couldn't get the key in the lock. The horrid thing came nearer and nearer! Just as it started climbing the front steps I managed to turn the key, get inside, and lock the door. I fell exhausted into a chair, getting my breath back before I rang the police.

Outside the door I heard scratching then a loud "Oooooooo Hooooooo." I peeped out of the window and that crocodile was crying.

Carefully I opened the door a little. "What's the matter?" I asked the beast and it rolled on its back with legs in the air. I started to feel a bit braver so I scratched his tummy which he seemed to like. At least it did not seem to want me for dinner.

Dinner? Maybe it wanted food?

I opened four big tins of my cats' favourite fish platter and gave the contents to my visitor who scoffed it in no time. Then, pushing by me into the sitting room, it slithered on to my settee and went to sleep. My two cats came in and were not amused at this as he was asleep where they always spent the night. I left them to it and went to bed myself, but I locked my room door just in case I became a crocodile's dinner in my sleep.

Next morning when I had a look I could not believe my eyes, there was that huge crocodile cuddled up with my little pussies, Ori and P.B. all as happy as could be.

Soon the three of them woke up and would you believe it? The cats started washing the crocodile! I filled a large basin with cat food and all three ate breakfast at the same time then returned to settee and went back to sleep.

What was I going to do with my strange guest? Where had it come from? I rang the University but they knew nothing about the thing.

I was fast running out of cat food so had to drive to the supermarket to buy lots and lots and lots. Home again and my pets were still fast asleep. I made several notices which I stuck on walls and trees all around St Lucia. The notices said........

One very large green crocodile.
I do not know its name.
Please collect between
4 and 5 p.m.
From 149 Ninth Avenue
I waited all day but nobody came to collect the strange creature that had followed me home. Soon it was awake again and playing wild chasing games with my cats, running up and down the corridor and rolling on its back while they danced all over it. You can imagine just how much the house was shaking but what fun it all was, I began to think maybe I could enjoy having this new addition to the family after all.

After school that day Claire, the seven year old girl who lived across the street, dropped by to see the cats. She was very excited about the crocodile.

"Did it really follow you home Tom? You're always telling fibs."

I assured her my story was true and she ended up playing hide and seek with the monster. She it was who gave him his name. "Actually he is quite a cuddly thing isnt he? Let's call him Cuddles."

So we did there and then.

As the days passed Cuddles became quite useful as, once shopkeepers got used to him, all I had to do was send him up the road with a large basket in his mouth, a shopping list pasted on his back, and a bag of money around his neck. For some strange reason nobody ever stole that money, wonder why?

Then came the dreadful day when all the trouble started!

I was sitting quietly reading and Cuddles had gone out shopping when Claire rushed in shouting: "Tom! Tom! Terrible news! The police have arrested Cuddles!"

You can imagine how quickly I ran up the road after Claire to find what had happened. At the bus stop stood a large Council bus, two police cars, an ambulance, and a huge truck with a crane on the back. Even as I watched Cuddles was lifted into the truck by the crane as several policemen stood on guard.

I went up to them: "What are you doing with MY crocodile?" I demanded.

"YOUR crocodile?" said an inspector. "Should be ashamed of yourself keeping such a dangerous animal in a built up area. That horrid monster has just tried to eat up the bus driver so it did. Quite shook up he is about it too."

Two ambulance men came out of the bus and carried the driver into their ambulance. They drove off. This was terrible. Had my friendly pet gone back to being a savage beast?

"Are you sure it was my crocodile?" I asked the inspector. "Can you see any others round here, Mate?" replied the policeman. "Anyhow there were fifty passengers in that bus and they all saw what happened, it was YOUR crocodile. Maybe well charge you as well. Name and address please, Sir."

I gave him my details. In the end, although they shouted a lot, and waved their arms, they let me go with a warning to chose pets more carefully in future. Deary Me, I had kept a savage monster pretending to be nice in my home, even fed it regularly. How soon would it have been before it ate me and the cats? Maybe even Claire!

When the police had taken down the stories from all the bus passengers they got into their cars and drove away with the big truck following them. All the passengers had to walk for the police forgot to phone for another bus. They blamed Cuddles for their problems.

"Make it into crocburgers!" shouted one fat man, as he walked angrily away.

Things really did not look good at all for the huge beast who had come to my house some nights before. What would they do with him now?

I soon found out poor Cuddles fate. Next day an RSPCA man came to see me. He told me how the `wicked crocky' was chained to a post in the jail's swimming pool. All the poor prisoners were very angry as this meant they could not have their daily swim. Even worse, the annual swimming carnival was on Saturday and they'd had to cancel it.

Cuddles became the most hated creature in Australia but I still went to visit him. Poor thing was crying all the time and the police said his trial would be in three weeks.

Mr. Catt, the RSPCA man, was the only person who reckoned things may not be as bad as they looked. We'd see when the trial started. And start it soon did!

One wet and cold Monday morning the courtroom was crowded with people waiting to see an evil monster get its just desserts. Luckily, as the owner of the monster, I had a reserved seat. When I arrived, up came the RSPCA representative and a little man with a long beard,

"I will be conducting the defence," said Mr. Catt the RSPCA man.

And this is the famous Professor MacGregor from Glasgow, "Don't worry. We shall get this poor innocent creature off."

They went down to the front of the Court, I sat down and was just getting comfy when the Court Usher yelled out, "All Rise!"

We quickly shot on to our feet, I can tell you, just in case we were sent to jail for staying seated.

Into the room came Judge Durance, who was supposed to be the toughest judge in Australia. He glowered at us all and sat in his throne-like seat.

"All be seated!" shouted the Usher and we all quickly sat down again, just in case the last person on his feet got arrested.

Judge Durance put his glasses on the tip of his nose, straightened his wig, glowered at us all again, coughed, and said, "Bring in the prisoner."

Oh, my poor Cuddles! A policemen brought him in on the end of a long steel chain and, helped by another cop, he stood him up in the dock, fastening the chain to the bars. Two more police with rifles stood beside the dock in case Cuddles escaped. He just stood in the dock crying crocodile tears.

The judge hit the table with a wooden mallet that went "BANG!"

"Let us give this horrid villain a fair trial then send him to jail forever," he smiled.

"Right Your Honour." said the same policeman who had made the arrest, Inspector Lockem.

"We'll soon settle this case and I shall prosecute. Call the first witness."

The Usher yelled for someone called James Lamb, and into the Court Room came a little man in a brand new Council Uniform. Prompted by Inspector Lockem, he identified himself as the bus driver.

"It was really a horrible thing that happened, Your Honour. This here creature got on my bus. I asked it where it was going to and quick as a flash it jumped on me and started eating me up. If it had not been for the fifty passengers who came to my rescue, I'd have been a real Lamb dinner I can tell you."

Everybody started laughing, but the Judge thumped his mallet and yelled, "Silence in Court or I will jail the lot of you!"

Inspector Lockem stood up saying, "Thank you, Mr. Lamb, you can go now."

"No, he can't!" shouted Mr. Catt the RSPCA man. "I am defending this poor innocent creature and there are things to be cleared up."

Judge Durance looked very sad. "Oh well, I suppose you better defend the beast before I send it to jail. Get on with it! We haven't got all day, you know."

Mr. Catt bowed to the Judge. "Your Honour, I call on Professor MacGregor of Glasgow, an expert on Africa, to question the driver."

The Professor rose to his feet and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, first a little demonstration."

Turning to Cuddles he said, "Werd dya wan, BUTTUM."

Cuddles suddenly stood up very straight, put one of his front legs across his breast, and fell on the floor legs up, eyes closed.

"Oh Dear, it's died!" said everybody.

"Silence in Court or else!" shouted Judge Durance, banging away with his mallet.

"Werd ya wan, CHA," said the Professor. "Cuddles stood up in the dock again.

"Now everybody watch this. Werd ya wan HOOCH."

MacGregor started whistling a Highland Fling tune and that crocodile put one paw on its hip, stuck the other in the air, and started a wild Scottish dance.

"With the right music, he'll even do ballet," laughed MacGregor.

The crocodile stopped dancing and even Inspector Lockem joined in the applause and cheers.

BANG BANG BANG went the Judges gavel. "Silence in this Court, you're all under arrest. Usher call the police!"

"Hang on Judge," said MacGregor. "I shall now explain everything. Have any of you ever seen a crocodile like this one in Australia before? No? That's because he comes from Cabombaland in the middle of Africa. He's a genuine Cabombaland Greeny if ever I saw one."

The Professor then told us an amazing story. It seems that the Cabomba tribe were sheep herders. Grass became hard to find so they, their sheep, and their herd dogs came to this fertile land with rivers and lakes to keep green grass growing in huge quantities.

Trouble is, where there is water in Africa there are crocodiles and the ones here decided they liked dog meat very much. Sheep they couldn't stand for the wool got stuck in their teeth. Cabomban elders worried about what they could get to herd the sheep until some body said, "Why not train the crocodiles?"

And so they did. Over many years, they taught the beasts that they must always obey human commands. Soon they had sheep crocs that were much better than the dogs.

They trained them even more and they learned anything they were taught. Two or more pushing a canoe could make it speed up a river, while on land people sitting on their backs were quickly transported from place to place.

They taught them to dance, to harvest crops, even used them as racing crocodiles at Saturday race meetings.

The crocodiles loved human company and every Cabomban had several around the place. Everybody was happy and Cabombaland is still a great place to live. That is unless you happen to be a dog."

"So thats my story," said Professor MacGregor some time later "Now you, bus-driver Lamb, can you remember what you said to this beastie when it got on your bus?"

Mr. Lamb rose to his feet. "Not a problem Mate, same as I always says to folks gettin on. `Where d'ya wanna go?'"

The Judge thumped his mallet, "That settles it. Performing crocodile from Africa or no, this thing is guilty. "Fifty Years!"

MacGregor said, "Respectfully Your Honour, the Jury has still to give its verdict, and I've yet to finish my evidence. If you don't let us do our jobs, we'll have YOU arrested for contempt of Court."

Judge Durance got very red in the face and went "Splither, Splother, Sloother. Sorry let the trial continue, but...make it quick. It's nearly lunch time."

He didnt even bang his mallet, he was so shook up.

Professor MacGregor smiled at Mr. Lamb "My friend, let me give you a lesson in Cabomba language. You'll recall whenever I gave the crocodile an order, I said, `Werd dya wan', which means `Excuse me please.' Now na means eat and go means me and that explains what happened. Just remember this poor crocodile saw the first bus it had ever seen. Curious it got on and you, like the highly trained driver you are, asked your usual question, `Where dya wanna go?' Trouble is what you said was Cabomban for `Excuse me, please eat me.' And this beastie, thats trained to obey all human commands, and knows no English, had to eat you even though it didn't want to.

Professor MacGregor turned to the Jury, "Ladies and gentlemen, from my evidence you can see this poor beast is quite innocent of any crime. I rest my case."

Immediately all the members of the jury stood up and said, "Not Guilty."

Judge Durance banged his mallet, "Right now I can pass sentence 75 years!"

"You can't do that, you silly old man," laughed Mr Catt the RSPCA man. "This crocodile is now free to go home so get lost."

So it was that I took Cuddles the crocodile home in a taxi truck. He was welcomed by Claire and the two cats and soon afterwards Professor Macgregor and Mr. Catt came by. We had a marvellous party that lasted until late.

Cuddles did dances from all over the world, Professor MacGregor sang Scottish songs, and we all ended up very tired but very happy.

I now make lots of money as I put Cuddles on television, I need it as he eats so much. He even has a fan club with Inspector Lockem as President and always travels free on Mr. Lamb's bus.

So all ended well but there remains one mystery. Where did Cuddles come from?

We'll probably never know the truth but there was a student at the University from Cabombaland who lived in St Lucia while he was here. Maybe Cuddles strayed and had not been found by the time this chap went home and became President. Who knows?


Copyright (C) 1998; Tom McRae
Published with kind permission of Tom McRae, Brisbane, Australia

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