Guilt and Gullibility
I wrote this a couple of years ago for a competition. I have now re-edited and expanded it slightly.
The postmaster, Jonas Sligh, doubled as a tour guide. He was showing a large group of tourists around his picturesque village when they came across Barnaby sitting outside the post office. ‘And this is Barnaby our village idiot’ he said. He’s a harmless soul and he always tells the absolute truth, which can be hilarious at times.’
As a demonstration of Barnaby’s honesty, the guide asked ‘how long is your willie, Barnaby?’
‘Nine inches’ replied the lad enthusiastically, ‘you wanna see it?’ He put his hand to his flies.
The crowd laughed as the tour guide vigorously waved away the offer ‘No thanks, Barnaby, we’ll take your word for it, we know you never tell lies.’
‘No, I never tells lies, folks, it’s naughty you see.’
Warming to his task the guide said ‘now watch this’ he produced a one-pound coin and a fifty pence piece. ‘Here, Barnaby, which of these two coins do you want?’
Barnaby examined the coins, a vacant smile on his face, then he picked the fifty pence piece ‘Oh, this one, please’ he said pocketing the coin.
‘Why that one Barnaby?’
Barnaby gave an inane laugh ‘It’s the biggest one and it’s the shiniest, too.’
The tourists tittered and produced coins of their own. Barnaby, a confused look on his innocent face, always took the coin of least value.
Leaning against the post office wall were two bicycles. ‘Just watch this,’ the tour guide said, ‘I received a brand-new bicycle this very morning and I still have the old worn-out one.’ He presented the bikes with a showman’s flourish. ‘Now then, Barnaby’ he said with a wink at the crowd, ‘you can choose one of these bikes and keep it forever.’
‘Really?’ said Barnaby beaming. He gave a lop-sided grin to the crowd ‘Oi can ride a bike yer knows’ he announced proudly, thrusting out his chest.
‘This one is brand new, Barnaby, but the old one is used to being ridden and is used to the lanes around here ‘cos it’s the one I used to deliver the mail.’
‘Oh Arrh?’ said the simpleton ‘that’ll be the one for me then.’ He promptly mounted the machine and rode it around the village green waving madly to the laughing tourists, both hands off the handlebars. So keen to show off was he that he took his eye off where he was going. Barnaby hit a kerbstone causing him to wobble furiously and cry out in panic before pitching headlong into the village pond.
The tourists fell about laughing as Barnaby emerged coughing and spluttering with waterweed clinging to his hair like Neptune’s toupee. But all appeared well as he held the bike aloft crying ‘I is OK, folks, an’ I could do with a bath anyways.’
The laughing group continued their tour as a bedraggled Barnaby limped home to change.
Later, seeing Barnaby alone, one guilt-ridden lady tourist split from the group and approached him. She apologised for having taking advantage of his gullibility. Thrusting a twenty-pound note into his hand she said ‘Hi, Barnaby, may I have a word?’ She explained that people were taking advantage of his good nature just so they could mock him. ‘The pound coin is smaller but it’s worth twice as much as the fifty pence piece’ she explained, and you could have had a brand-new bicycle, too’ she added sympathetically ‘bicycles can’t remember their way around.’
‘Oh, arrh, I knows that ma’am’ said Barnaby with a happy grin ‘but it ain’t all bad being the village idiot. Take the widow Jenkins, now. She invites me to tea three times a week and everyone in the village thinks she’s a good soul for taking pity on me. But she fucks me every time, ‘cos she likes my big willie.’ He smiled broadly. ‘I never tells anyone so she thinks I can’t remember, see?’
‘Oh, I see’ said the embarrassed tourist.
‘And another thing, the tourists would soon stop giving me money if I took the pound every time, wouldn’t they?’
‘Ah, I understand now’ said the lady, smiling warmly ‘thank you, Barnaby, I feel better for knowing that.’
She was making her way back to the tour bus when the postmaster, guiding duties done, passed by on the other side of the street.’
‘Hi dad’ called Barnaby ‘how did we do this morning? I just got another twenty quid.’
The shocked tourist turned around looking open-mouthed at Barnaby.
He grinned at her ‘There’ll be another group of you daft buggers coming this afternoon’ he said ‘T’aint Oi that’s gullible Missus.’