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6

Bear Faced Cheek.

By two a.m. the infra-red surveillance system had been set up and exhaustively tested until it met Calorie's exacting standards. The moment he was happy with it, Calorie curled up in front of the fire and fell asleep, purring softly. Dredly and Sage sat on swivel chairs in front of a bank of six television screens. Each member of the team wore a lightweight walky-talky head set. When the bear came, Sage would go down to the kitchen where Albert had set his trap, while Dredly kept them informed via the two-way. He and Calorie (who would be awakened the moment the bear was spotted) would be the eyes and ears of the soldiers on the ground. Sage looked proudly at the impressive array of equipment.
"We're going to spot this bear a mile off." He said smugly.* 

Calorie surveying the CCTV screens in one of the humor books at Dredly.com*The innacuracy of this statement is staggering. The fact is that although you’d think that it would be easy to spot a roving polar bear, it's not. They are masters of disguise and have been known to pick off unsuspecting Inuits by posing as gas meter readers and Jehova’s Witnesses. The bear that Sage and Dredly were dealing with was no exception.


At about four-thirty something stirred on one of the TV screens.
"This could be it..." Dredly whispered. "Wake Calorie."
"Okay." Sage whispered and went over and gave Calorie a prod. The cat yawned, stretched, hopped up onto his chair and slipped his headset on.
"Miaow?"
"Reading you loud and clear, Cals." Albert's voice crackled through the ether.
Three pairs of eyes - two human, one feline - scrutinised screen four.
“What’s a miner doing in the middle of London?” Sage asked.
They looked at the blackened, sweaty man as he walked down the back lane towards Albert's house.
“I don’t know - give me audio!” Dredly demanded.
Calorie flicked a switch and they were immediately assailed by “We’ll keep a welcome in the hillsides” being sung in a thick Welsh accent.
“What’s a Welsh miner doing in the middle of London?” Sage looked to Dredly. Dredly shrugged. Dredly looked to Calorie. Calorie shrugged. Down in the darkness of the kitchen, Albert shrugged even though the question wasn't addressed to him.
Suddenly Dredly sat forward in his seat. “That’s no miner - look at his hat!”
“A fedora?” Exclaimed Sage.
“Exactly! A classic polar bear mistake. Their disguises are always perfect except for the hats. Remember the one that masqueraded as Dan Quayle? It couldn’t spell, couldn’t walk and talk at the same time, had perfected the smarmy smile and vacuous stare, but...”
“Got caught because it kept wearing a sombrero. Of course! So this is our man - er… Bear.”
“Yes.” Dredly rasped. “Is the trap ready?”
“I’ve got something special for him!” Said Albert with cunning.
Sage laughed a low, gurgling laugh, which owed more to the bubblegum he’d just accidentally swallowed than to his evil intent. Once he’d coughed it up, he positioned himself by the door, ready to dash to Albert's aid if needed. Meanwhile Dredly talked Albert through what the bear was doing.
“He’s approaching the back gate. He’s stopped singing... Opening the gate... Bending down... He’s eating the daffodils...”
“Bastard!” Albert hissed.
“He’s dumping the disguise - that’s our bear all right. I’d recognise that ass anywhere...”
“Er... Dredly, is this really the time or place to discuss your fantasies?” Sage didn’t want to be dragged into that conversation again!
“Sorry... Okay, he’s entering the back passage now...”
“I thought we agreed we weren’t discussing your fantasies...”
“Ssh! He’s opening the back door now... Coming up to the fridge... Go! Go! Go!”

They watched the screens as Albert leapt into action. He hadn’t told anyone what his plan of attack would be and nothing prepared his friends for the gruesome sight which flickered across the bank of TV’s. He jumped into the kitchen with a loud “Ha!”. The bear stopped dead in its tracks and it was in that moment of weakness and hesitation that Albert sprung his trap. The butterfly net swished down onto the bear’s head, twanging cruelly upon its nose. The two looked at each other for a second - the bear, its eyes black as pools of pitch, looked vaguely nonplussed; while Albert gleamed with the thrill of the catch.
“I’ve got him!” He cried.

Albert catches the polar bear in a butterfly net in one of the humor books at Dredly.com

 

Then it was the bear’s turn. With a flick of his mighty paw, he rent the net in twain.
“Cripes!” Albert screamed, but too late. In a moment the bear had picked him up and, bouncing him around the kitchen floor like a basketball, ended up slam-dunking him into the top-loading washing machine. It closed the lid and started looking for the washing powder. Sage dashed for the kitchen and Dredly followed, realising that greater force was needed to subdue this most cunning foe.
"Don't worry, Cals. We'll bring our boy home!" Dredly cried as his tailcoat swept round the side of the door. Calorie's paw went to the half empty packet of Woodbines on the desk. They were Albert's cigarettes and Calorie hadn't had one for years, but it was a desperate moment and he needed one.
Sage and Dredly entered the kitchen as the bear was pouring the powder into the machine.
“Hey, matey - I think you’ll find that’s the wrong compartment.” Sage hissed.
The bear swivelled, trailing powder onto the floor. It turned visibly pale - well, paler, anyway - when it saw the two men standing in the doorway. They had the drop on the bear and no mistake. Calorie had designed a special defence system for just such a circumstance, which consisted of four M60 machine guns, in a two and two over and under formation, rigged so that both triggers could be pulled using a single lever in each hand. Two men, eight guns, three thousand rounds of ammunition a minute. Dredly broke the stillness.
“Now, put the washing powder down, and no-one will get hurt.”
“Okay, hey - okay... Be cool, man.” The polar bear stammered in an inexplicable female Dutch accent that sounded startlingly like the singer Marijne van der Vlugt. “It’s down, it’s down!”

Sage and Dredly get the drop on the bear with big guns in one of the humor books at Dredly.com
“Now, get him out of there.” Dredly indicated the washing machine with the tips of two barrels. The bear complied, pulling Albert from the machine like some knotted, soggy washing. He was clearly dazed and stumbled over to join Sage. Dredly looked at the settings on the washer.
“A forty degree non-fast colour cycle. Looks like he only wanted to shake you up a bit.”
“Did he put the crease guard on?” Asked Sage.
“No.”
“It could’ve taken you weeks to iron me out.” Albert exclaimed.
They looked grimly at the bear.
“So, what’s your story, furry?” Dredly led the interrogation.
“Hey, I’m just a bear - what can I say?”
“Quite a lot, apparently.” Sage said coldly.
“How come he can talk better’n me?” Asked Albert.
“Hey, Mister Wrinkly, first of all I’m a ‘she’, and secondly I can talk better than you because polar bears are the most intelligent land mammals.” The bear replied.
“What about us?” Sage didn't like being dissed.
“Listen, I can speak fifty human languages - how many people do you know who can speak polar bear?”
The men looked at each other - it had a point. But then Sage had a brainwave.
“Yes, but who's got the guns?”
“Touché.” The bear conceded. They stood in deadlocked silence.
“Grizzly Adams!” Sage cried suddenly. “Grizzly Adams could speak bear - and Dr. Doolittle. He could speak everything, so there!”
“And we’ve got the guns. Sorry, we must be better than you.” Dredly was triumphant.
“Okay, have it your own way, but y’know the gun never solved anything.”
The bear was right, but they weren't about to put the guns down only to be slam dunked into the washer and put on a cool cycle.
“So, do you have a name?”
“Greta.”
“Greta? Odd name for a bear.” Said Sage.
“Like Jedec’s perfectly normal?” Dredly chipped in.
“Thanks, Salokin. There, we’re even now.”
“So your names are Jedec and Salokin?”
"Yeah, but hey, ten years of bullying at school and five years of therapy hasn't done me any harm." Dredly smiled.
"Nor me." Sage added. "Anyway, we prefer to be called Sage and Dredly. I'm Sage and he's Dredly."
"And I'm Albert."
"Miaow!" Calorie's voice was insistent through the headphones.
"And my cat's called Calorie."
“Cool!” Nodded the bear, a smile creeping across her face.
“Why have you been raiding our fridges?” Sage had had enough pussyfooting around.
“Hey, it’s boredom, y’know? Polar bears get bored easily...”
“What, and that gives you the right to break in here and eat all the ice-cream?”
“Not to mention drinking the Diet Coke.” Albert added.
"I kinda, like... y'know... like Diet Coke, y'know?"
“But why do you only raid our fridges? There are seven million other people in London.”
“Hey, polar bears have regular habits, and how many people do you know who have Nicoise salad and Cherry Garcia ice cream in their fridge? I’ve been looking for that combo for years. Once you hit pay-dirt like that you don’t ever wanna leave.”
It was an understandable stance.
“You could’ve asked our permission to raid the fridge, or left a thank you note or something.” Sage challenged.
“I didn’t know you guys were cool. For all I knew, you were fascists who only bought the Cherry Garcia to torture it with hot tongs. Some nights I’ve convinced myself that I was liberating that ice cream from a fate worse than being on a game show.”
“Oh now come on, we would never force ice cream onto a gameshow against its will!” Dredly countered.
“Yeah, but I didn’t know that, did I? How was I to know you weren’t spinning the wheel of fortune with them, or rolling them down the stairs for 'The Price Is Right'?”
The very thought turned their blood cold. Albert shuddered, as every clean-living ice cream fan should at such a degrading act.
“But we aren’t like that.” Sage interjected.
“Yeah, I can see. Boy, I haven’t screwed up this bad since I sat on that guy at a Dead gig back in eighty nine...”
“The Dead - the Grateful Dead?” Dredly and Sage exclaimed as one  - could it be they had found a kindred spirit?
“Yeah, have you heard of them? Most people in England look at me blankly when I say I’m a Deadhead.”
“She’s a Deadhead!” Sage was nearly sobbing in joy.
“Are you two Deadheads?” Greta asked.
“You bet...”
"Hey, this is so cool!" Greta was overjoyed. Smiles broke over all their faces. They moved closer to each other, shook hands and then all barriers dropped and the four of them fell together in a group hug, to be joined moments later by Calorie.

"Quangle!" Calorie grinned.

 

 

 

Deadhead polar bears! Whatever next? Phish fan badgers? White Stripes crazy fruit bats?

Find out in the next uplifting chapter...

"UP, UP AND AWAY."

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