The Lonely Lemon
Inspired by the Illustrations of
Chiu Kwong Man
There was a little lemon boy, how he came to be Nobody NoseÉ
In the dark recesses of the Leonotis Forest, Lemon Boy sat high above the ground on the roof of Nobody NoseÕs house, wondering why he had no friends. The population was rising, and Nobody Nose, his keeper, had sanctioned the recent influx of female Comfort Squirrels whose fur was as soft as silken tofu. Still, he was ignored despite the Nobody Nose had often told him how she had saved him from Ņa fate worse than deathÓ – exile. Due to their sunny dispositions and zesty nature the other Hesperidia had been banished from the forest. The Pink Grapefruit Tribe were the unluckiest of the race, all were deseeded and squeezed until eventually nothing remained. Their bloody carcasses left for fruit bats to nibble. Lemon Boy was aware that he was the last of his kind causing a deep yearning to stir in his heart. Once he exclaimed how happiness might override his innate bitterness if he had left with his kinsmen, or was able to strike up conversation with the Animales that lived in the forest.
ŅBitterness, my little one, is the only real emotion,Ó she said ŅHowever, everyone knows a forest full of bitter Animales would cause anarchy. That is why I am the overseer and you my lonely little lemon are my assistant.Ó
Nobody Nose had housed and fed him for many years, he knew in his heart it was not due to kindness. No one with such a nose as hers could be trusted, he often dreamt of cutting it off and tossing it into the river.
ŅDo you keep me around because IÕm full of bitterness?Ó he asked her once. ŅIÕve no friends; perhaps IÕm too tart to have friends.Ó His thirst for answers often kept him awake at night.
ŅI keep you around little lemon, simply because I cannot stand touching those stupid Animales. I hate them, but they are required for entertainment and without sentries on the rive we would be overrun by undesirables. The Elixir of Diplopia keeps them docile for master Ximon, with your acidic nature you are the perfect for administering the drug. My nose is too sensitive to get close to their beastly odours. Both naturally happy Animales and Animales that are too resentful and aggressive cause chaos, the status quo must be maintained at all costs. It is about balance, it is our job to keep it that way. Now, now, stop thinking so much. It is bad for your brain and my nose. I must get back to the preparations, Ximon will arrive in due course and IÕm having trouble with a bear.Ó
Lemon Boy pondered whether his destiny was to be her apprentice, bowing and kowtowing. Would the Animales become his friend if he helped them to see clearly? He thought perhaps the time had come to act, no more pithy excuses for being a lonely slave. With Ximon The FifteenthÕs visit taking up much of her time, Nobody Nose been distracted, failing to notice that he had stopped administering the Elixir to some of the Animales. Lemon Boy wanted to see how they reacted when sober and with single vision, instead of the false one created by the Elixir. Unfortunately, he had little control over the ensuing behaviour of the few Animales going mad without the drug. The unusually hot weather, in addition to an absence of a weaning period to Ōcome downÕ off the potent drink, resulted in the Animales becoming overly bitter and violent.
Using her third eye bonnet, Nobody Nose sensed unexplained ripples of discontent amongst many of the animales. She wondered how a bear of endless patience had surprising, loss his patience. Bare Jocular was acting manic, roaring during performances, and had on one occasion, unprofessionally mauled to death a Comfort Squirrel, who had simply wanted a tete-a-tete about the hot Spring weather whilst showing him her nuts. Nobody Nose had specifically programmed the hairy mammal to prance about for the amusement of others in gaudy costumes made of red taffeta and velour. The bear would have to be put down if it continued to act in such an erratic way, she thought.
When the head of state Ximon, came to stay in the forest annually after the Spring Equinox, he always brought with him entourage of other fragmented body parts. It was common to see Peepulls hopping or sliding along the Grove looking for unsuspecting Squirrels whose tails were stroked and nether regions poked. Ximon was, as his name suggests, the fifteenth leader of the Frangere Peepulls, a fragmented race of powerful body parts that subjugated all around them. Previously, during massive Equinox feasts, Bare Jocular had performed gaily for hours. However, with this latest onset of bad behaviour, Nobody Nose was at her noseÕs end. She could smell trouble, and on this occasion, it smelt slightly citrusy. Called before her master, she knelt at his chin and listened to his protestations.
ŅI was accosted today crossing the river by a creature that looked like a duck.Ó Ximon said on his arrival to the ForestÕs grove. ŅIt was most unsatisfactory that I was not recognised, my face should be known all over the Forest, I am the Head of State afterall. The duck creature was delirious, repeating - 'the war, the war, get down' - are we not able to control our sentries now?Ó His eyebrows moved into the middle of his face creating an upside down smile.
ŅIÕm sorry Sir, it will not happen again. There has been some unexplained behaviour. I know whom you talk of, Duckancova, a useless bird that cannot fly. The bitterness levels have risen in the past week. IÕll sniff out any fowl play. IÕll have him disposed of. IÕll get Lemon Boy to do it, if I can find himÉheÕs been missing all day.Ó
ŅFace it, youÕre a nobody and are failing in your task. Your appraisal will indicate my discontent. The Peepulls have for centuries been able to live the lives we have because of fragmentation and the fa¨ade we have created. Get together with me later to discuss it, two heads are better than one. I need to decide on the fate of the animales. IÕm contemplating full extinction. Bring that Lemon Boy along too, I donÕt trust him, all Hesperidia need the pith taking out of them. Now, get out of my face.Ó
Lemon Boy had not returned to Nobody NoseÕs house not caring about the repercussions. He intended to pour the remaining batch of Elixir into the river, however, as he approached he heard voices and bent down behind a bush. Bare Jocular and Duckancova were in heated conversation.
ŅIÕm angry but I donÕt know why. I canÕt explain it, itÕs not normal. I used to love dancing and hearing applause, now I cannot stand Peepulls, even other Animales make me lash out. Ó The bear began to pace up and down on the bank, crushing daffodils in his paws.
ŅI canÕt say IÕm angry like you. ThereÕs something else the matter with me. I keep having nightmares full of blood and gizzards. I see myself flyingÉand all of a sudden KAK KAK KAK - IÕm shot down. ItÕs terrible. During the day when IÕm awake I also feel sad when I see my brethren flying high. How it irks me that I cannot join themÉShhhhhhhÉduck down! I hear something!Ó
Nobody Nose armed with a kitchen knife and juicer, arrived with Ximon The Fifteenth on her back.
ŅDispose of these overly bitter Animales, after that, find that yellow traitor and juice him! Your third eye bonnet indicated he had run to the river. No one defies me and lives!Ó
Following his instinct, Lemon Boy ran from behind the bush and placed one hand into each of the ears of Bare Jocular and Duckancova. Folklore had said that all Hesperidia held a healing power inside of them more powerful than any prescribed elixir. Nobody Nose dismissed it as an old wives tale, telling him that his yellow rind was only good for holding sour thoughts and treating nose bleeds. Through his fingers he digested their bitterness, intermingling it with his own, realising that he had been duped by her lies. With the fugue state, the subsequent overload of bitterness now leaving their bodies, both Animales felt a freedom and lightness only glimpsed at in distant memories of a happier time.
Nobody Nose advanced towards them, knife raised high. On her back, Ximon shouted ŅKill them all!Ó Lemon Boy had succeeded in his task of freeing the animales of their bitterness, he fell back weary, head lolling from chronic absorption. Bare Jocular and Duckancova embodying their new sense of selves, wrestled Nobody Nose into submission and yanked Ximon from her back. Lemon Boy took the knife from his former master and cut himself in half, the juice from his head sprayed into the eyes of Nobody Nose and Ximon the Fifteenth, blinding them instantly. The Animales let them go and into the river they fell, never to be seen again.
A lemon tree grows in the heart of Leonotis Forest, its fruit healing all that eat from it.