Last Saturday, I was walking in the woods, when I heard a noise from
I ignored it and turned to carry on.
'Psst, hey you.'
I turned and walked back to the tree that I thought was talking to
A bear stepped out from behind the tree, looking around nervously. 'Hey
mate,' he said. 'Have you seen the woodman?'
'You're a bear,' I said.
'But not only do bears not talk,' I replied. 'They are no longer native
to this country.'
'Tough shit mate,' the bear said, still looking around nervously.
'You're in a fairy tale now. A different bleeding reality,
'Oh shit, not another fairy tale. The doctor told me that if I laid off
smoking that stuff it wouldn't happen again.'
'It's nothing to do with what you've been smoking, mate,' the bear said
with an element of disgust. 'Some dozy sod's been arsing around with
the whole space/time continuum whatsit. Everything's gone to buggery.'
The bear sat down on a convenient tree stump. 'Take last week, they
only had me - me - up the castle giving that Sleeping Beauty a kiss. Do
I look like a sodding prince?'
'Well....' I said carefully, noticing the size of his claws.
'Anyway, like I said. Have you seen the woodman?'
'What do you mean the one that used to leap out from behind the trees
and show the girls his chopper?'
'Naw,' the bear said. 'I can see you haven't been here for quite a
while. The fairy godmother soon put a stop to that - it was ruining the
whole reputation of fairy tale land that was - she banished him from
the magical forest. Last I heard he'd gone into politics.' The bear
spat in disgust.
'No, I haven't seen the woodman. Why do you want to know?'
'He's after us - me and my mates.'
'You've heard of Goldilocks.'
'Who hasn't,' I spluttered. 'Is she still...?'
'What, the forest bike?' The bear said.
'Well, I wouldn't put it like that,' I said. 'Anyway, I never believed
those stories about her. The only time I went out with her I never even
found out if she was a natural Goldie.'
'Oh, she is, she most definitely is.' The bear nodded his head
'Anyway, what's the problem?' I said. 'The Goldilocks and the three
bears story I head didn't sound too serious - as far as I recall
everyone lived happily ever after.'
'Weeell....' The bear shifted uncomfortably on his stump and scratched.
'I think I might have a hair up my arse,' he said.
I took a couple of steps back. 'Yes?'
'Well, you know the Daddy Bear, Mommy Bear and Baby Bear bit?'
'Our agent's idea. She thought three male bears sharing a cottage deep
in the woods, flowers around the doorway, rustic antique furniture and
so on.... "Sends entirely the wrong signals," she said. We could see
her point, fairy tales have been getting a declining market share ever
since Watch with Mother, and since those bleeding Teletubbies stitched
everything up... Well, a bear's got to eat, and we've all got families
back home, y'know?'
I nodded. 'Go on....'
'Well, a bear gets lonely too, y'know... far from home. We do a bit of
moonlighting on the side... black market honey. Well, these days every
bit helps....' He sighed. 'Anyway, there we are all three of us hanging
around one morning, reading the papers, talking about who we think'll
get the England managers job next. Y'know... just three bears with a
bit of spare time on our paws....' He shifted on his stump again. 'Do
bear's get piles, do you know?'
I shook my head. 'I have no idea.'
'My arse is giving me some gyp this morning,' he said. 'I think it is
all this shitting in the woods.' He shifted himself again. 'Anyway,
where was I? Oh, yes. She came to the door, y'know - you could see she
was up for it, peasant blouse unfastened right down to her... leaning
on the doorjamb, you get the picture?' He shrugged. 'I mean we are
normal bears, y'know... with a bear's needs... a long way from home and
our families... and she was more than willing, y'know?'
'Yes.' I nodded. I knew what Goldilocks could be like when she was in
the mood. Trouble was she was only in the mood on days with a 'y' in
them and she could be hotter than the jam in a microwaved
The bear could see from the look in my eyes and the submarine surfacing
in my trousers that I knew what he was talking about. 'Well, you know
the bit in the story about the broken furniture?'
'Well, you know one girl and three bears, a chair is not going to last
long is it?'
'Or a bed come to that.'
'No.' I hesitated. 'The porridge?'
'I don't have to draw a picture, do I?' The bear said. 'Suffice to say
it wasn't too hot for her to swallow, if you see what I mean?'
The bear sighed. 'So there you are then.'
'But, what does this have to do with the woodman? He's not her father
'He's not he lover, brother husband, fianc? or anything either?'
'Oh no... let's just say he swings his chopper the other way, shall
we?' The bear put his paw on his hip and fluttered his eyelids. 'Know
what I mean?'
The bear stood up, brushing down his fur. He looked over my shoulder.
'Oh, fuck! It's him. I'm off, see you.' The bear dropped down to all
fours and began to run.
'But why is he after you? ' I called after him.
'It was his bloody cottage and we wrecked it!' The bear called back
over his shoulder. 'He's after us to pay for all the bloody
And with that, the bear was gone, with the woodman chasing after him,
crashing through the thick trees. A moment later I saw the pope emerge
from the trees, pulling his robes back down as he stepped back on to
the path that led from the woods.
I took the other way out.