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Jo'Burg Days: Wider Worlds To Conquer

Not every creature enjoys going out to conquer the wide world, as Barbara Durlacher’s story reveals.

“Gotta get in somewhere cool,” he thought to himself, dropping through the opening. “Simply can’t stand this heat any longer.”

Finding a comfortable corner, he settled down and closed his eyes. “Just grab 40 winks before I go any further,” he murmured, drifting into a deep sleep.

Then - clatter, bang, jolt. He was rudely awakened by a tremendous force which lifted him bodily out of his comfortable niche. Swinging wildly, the force described a huge arc – then thumped him down with a tooth-grinding bang. The temperature began to rise, and before long, he was hot – hotter than he’d ever been. Sun was pouring through the partition, beating in through the hole above and creeping ever closer down the chimney. “What am I going to do, now?” he thought frantically, looking around for some means of escape.

But the comfortable billet he’d selected for himself earlier was now his prison, and with mounting dismay he realised that there was no way out. “Wonder what it’ll be – if I stay here much longer I’ll either fry or die of dehydration, I simply can’t see any way out of here,” he thought frantically.

Time passed. How long, he had no means of knowing. Nearly insensible with the heat, he must have dozed off again. Then it was repeated – the bang, the clatter and the sudden jolt. But worse was to come. Suddenly a fierce jet of freezing water fell on him; there was no way he could possibly escape. Taking a deep breath, he closed his mouth, eyes and ears and gritted his teeth. “I’ll just have to hang on as long as I can,“ ran through his mind, as the water swirled around, carrying him up and up towards the top.

At last, after what seemed an eternity and just when he felt his eardrums beginning to burst with the effort of holding his breath, he opened his eyes, and glimpsed a flash of blue. Kicking with his legs and arms he managed to swim to the edge. Straining every muscle and sinew, he reached – and reached – and strained his arms, until – with the last of his strength, he gave a little jump and managed to grasp the top. He pulled himself over. The water fell in a cascade behind him. “My God, just think what I missed. I might have been drowned,” was all he could think of.

Wet and bedraggled, the Parktown Prawn emerged from his favourite hiding place, scuttled down the wall and dropped onto the ground.

“That’s the last time I ever take refuge in a watering-can,” he vowed. “Next time, I’ll be sure to find somewhere cooler, drier and much, much safer – no more gardening for me!”

Turning, he made for the open veranda door – and dashed for the deliciously dark, cool area in front of him. Under the settee.

*

“Now where did I put the tv remote?” she grumbled, irritated. “Can never find the dratted thing when I need it.” She felt under the cushions, down the sides, behind the anti-macassars on the armrests. Finally, she swept her hand under the couch.

“Oh my God! Uuugh! Wha’s that? Oh, oh, it’s just too awful! Take it away…” she wailed, working herself into froth of hysteria, stamping her feet and shaking her hands, tears welling from her eyes.

Creeping gingerly out from under the settee, the Parktown Prawn took one fleeting, frightened look at this crazy woman. Making up his mind, he moved as fast as his feet could carry him. Out of the door, down the steps and into the garden where he selected the biggest, thickest, darkest bunch of leaves he could find, and dug himself in.

“No more venturing into the wider world for me!” he said, glowering out at the hostile world. “Life’s far too dangerous if you leave the places you know. Not going to listen to neighbourly advice ever again. They can keep their ideas of travel and wider horizons. I’m happy and content where I am. This is where I’m going to stay,” and shoving a couple of unresisting snails into his mouth, he settled down for the duration.

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