The rain! Oh, the rain! It descended in torrents and sheets and buckets, seemingly determined to drown the world outside my doors. Glancing outside I couldn’t even see the front sidewalk through the downpour. The entire world, as seen from my doors, seemed to be dark and drear and uniformly gray, desolate of light or life or merriment of any kind.
And the noise it made! It hammered on my rooftop and beat at my windows so! It was as if Nature Itself were trying to beat it’s way into my home, intent on mayhem most foul.
Wisely, I decided to forgo my morning constitutional down to the newspaper shop (since indeed, my rain slicker was at the dry cleaners), and spend a quiet morning at home inside where it was quite dry and cozy.
In preparation for my mornings pleasure I had lit many lamps about my study and kindled a merry fire in the hearth, bringing a wholesome and cheery glow to the room. A steaming kettle of water and a goodly supply of my favorite Chamomile tea along with some fresh scones with small pats of butter sat on the table beside my chair.
Several days before I had finally received my long awaited copy of John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” and I had fidgeted ever since, awaiting the time where I could settle in and lose myself in this engaging tome.
Now was the time! Let the merriment begin! I poured myself a cup of tea and waited patiently the requisite three minutes while it steeped, admonishing myself not to be impatient and nibbling on the corner of a scone in the interim. At long last, my cup was ready, steaming the fresh enticing scent of chamomile throughout the room. With a happy sigh, I settled down in my chair and opened my book to the first page and began to read…
I had no more gotten to the first sentence when such a loud banging came at my door that I started and sloshed tea into my lap. Before I could even set my book down it came again! And again before I could rise from my chair. It was as if someone were trying to batter down my poor front door with his fists.
“Coming, I say! I’m coming! Oh, do stop banging on my door! I just had it painted!”
I hurried to the door and opened the small viewing window set cleverly in the door to see who exactly it was. All I could discern through the blowing wind and rain that there seemed to be some sort of monstrous apparition on my doorstep. It could have been a bear or one of those great shaggy mountain monsters that the native have reported in Tibet. A Yaki, or something. A great mound of beast almost the size of my doorway. And it was standing there waving a paw at me!
And then it spoke!
“Aargh betterment sputnik grease pole!” It cried, waving a hand at my door.
“I say…. What?”
“Millennium hand and shrimp, Bugrit!”
“Bugrit!” It cried. “Bugrit, Bugrit, Bugrit!” Both arms were now waving in the air, slinging water everywhere. The poor creature was positively soaking wet in the downpour.
Although I really did not want such a huge thing in my home, I was nearly in tears at the thought of turning anyone or anything away from my door during such an inhospitable night. Far be it for anyone to say that I, William Winesap Wetwhistle III was anything but hospitable. Especially to those less fortunate that I.
So with no small amount of trepidation I unlocked the door and opened it wide, bowing slightly as I said “Please do come in and get warm. Can I get you anything? A towel, perhaps?”
The apparition stepped through my doorway and I could see in the light that instead of coarse fur as I suspected, the being was wearing what seemed to be a wool coat of enormous dimensions and great disrepair. I could not see a face as much as the hint of two beady dark eyes sunk deep behind layer after layer of sopping wet clothing.
“Yard beagle meant spunky cheese holes!” Came the muffled voice.
“I’m sorry. I don’t quite understand you.”
With a growl of frustration, the enormous being began fumbling with the buttons of it’s coat and after a moment, threw it off, revealing another coat inside of that one. It immediately began unbuttoning the coat underneath that one and again tossed it to the floor revealing another coat as underlayment.
I watched in fascination as layer after layer of clothing was shed in an ever growing pile on my parlor floor. Coats and jackets and scarves and mufflers and neck warmers and a succession of hats that was almost astounding.
And as the pile of cast off clothing grew, my visitor visibly shrank. Layer by layer and garment by garment.
For nearly five minutes I watched my visitor rid himself of layer after layer of clothing until with a final shrug, he divested himself of an enormous cable knitted maroon sweater with a large yellow “R” stitched into the design. And there, standing before me, was a youngish man of about my size. Pale and ginger haired. Panting a bit from the effort it took to divest himself of his home made rain gear. I could only imagine the time and effort he took putting all of that on in the first place. Looking a bit hot and disheveled but quite dry, despite the rain. I guess it hadn’t time or even so much as dared to try and soak through all of those layers of clothes.
“Yardley Michael Sheepsoul?” he said.
“Aren’t you Yardley Michael Sheepsoul? The bloke with the patent crop rotator for sale?”
“Oh good heavens, no.”
He looked around in confusion.
“Isn’t this 221B Baker Street?”
“Not at all. This is 221B Bleeker Street. Baker street is north of here. Across town. Easy enough mistake, I suspect.”
He looked around in growing horror at the mounds of clothing laying about in piles and drifts at his feet. His already pale face grew paler and just before he fainted dead away he cried “I came to the wrong bloody house…………….?”