Hokey Croaky

 

Ripples spread out across the surface of the lagoon, sparkling in the starlight, as the girl surfaced from under the water. Trailing behind her, there bobbed up a coloured glass lantern, sealed around the edges with a grey, clayey substance. Well, this dress has probably seen its last dance, she thought as she swam for the shore. The lantern came floating along with her. 

In the distance, coloured lights glowed and strange music played out across the night. The dance goes on, as they say. Carefully, she lifted the lantern out of the water and hauled herself up onto the rocks. There was a kind of dull tap on the glass. A frog peered out at her. It was a bit hard to see through the coloured glass, but something about its eyes and the way it looked at her was somehow … human. She scraped away some of the clay with her nails and twisted. ‘Alright, buddy,’ she said, her voice coming out as a hoarse whisper, ‘you want to explain what’s going on?’

Ribb-et, said the frog, peering up out of the open lantern.

‘Very funny …’ she wheezed. ‘This is … serious. Why am I’ – she coughed – ‘losing my voice?’

The jar started shaking. Something was happening to the frog. It hopped in one great leap past her and— Poof!

As the smoke cleared, it left a young man in a torn suit, with bruises running up and down his face and showing through various rips and tears. There was a nasty gouge near one eye. He looked kind of dazed and confused, one hop short of a leap, so to speak. What happened to you, she thought. She watched as his eyes slid into focus again.

‘I … don’t know— I was … there was this … and a drink … with a little umbrella in it.’

‘I had to run for my life, and ruin my best dress,’ — she found herself coughing, tears running down her cheeks, blending in with the seawater – ‘for that! Because you … got soused? How come— … how come you’re a frog?’

‘But I don’t … I don’t drink—’

‘Then how come you’re a frog … !’ Stupid coughing fit. She must have swallowed some seawater or something. And her voice was getting fainter and fainter. And she was shivering. Crimity, but she was cold. Tears streaming down her face. She was aware of something being placed around her shoulders. She opened her eyes again. A torn jacket. The boy who had been a frog was kind of staring at his bare feet sheepishly, as if he didn’t know where to look.

She actually felt grateful for the jacket. At least it was dry, somehow. She blinked through her tears and rested a hand on his shoulder for a moment. He jerked up with a haunted look and—

*

—suddenly they weren’t there on the rocks anymore. She wasn’t sure where she was. She looked down at her hands. Except they weren’t her hands. They were his. There was firelight nearby, and drums and tropical music, and strange, fuming smoke that got into your nostrils and— What was going on here?

There was … a mask. A huge, carved mask, moving through the smoke in strange dancing motions. Her – his – limbs and whole body ached as though someone had been using him for a punching bag. And there was blood pouring down over his face. It felt like he— Arms grabbed him from behind. The feel of ropes tying him to a post. A strange song rising up over the night. The mask got nearer. Witch doctor – no, witch doctress. You couldn’t see much past the mask, but the way she moved it was clear she was smirking. Snake-like and sinuous and— a coconut shell was being pushed to his lips. It was sloshing. Sure enough, there was a little paper umbrella in it, with a bright red candied cherry on the end, she noticed light-headedly — a burning sensation in his throat — then the world went funny. She – he – was falling. Shrinking. Down, down, down … Riiiibb-ettt …—

*

riiibbettt! He’d turned back into a frog again. And he was … kind of dancing up and down on the rock like it was too hot. It almost looked comical. You put your left hand in, you put your right hand out, dance the hokey-croaky and— Salt, she thought in a panic, and scooped him up as gently as she could and slid him quickly into a jacket pocket so as not to touch him too much with saltwater hands. The salt would mess with even an enchanted frog, surely? Wasn’t it supposed to be dangerous to them?

She had best conserve her voice, but … ‘You all right in there?’ she whispered. A faint croak answered. She felt a sudden overwhelming sense of relief. Her own head was kind of hazy, now she thought about it. That was odd. She tried to think back. What had she been doing when she – concentrate now, this is ridiculous … She patted the strangely reassuring presence in the jacket pocket, almost as if just to make sure he was still there. What had she gotten herself into this time …

There are 25 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Tags are even better than the story, and it’s great.

    • #1
  2. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller
    @AndrewMiller

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Tags are even better than the story, and it’s great.

    Why, thankee kindly. :)

    • #2
  3. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    I do the hokey-croaky every morning.

    • #3
  4. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller
    @AndrewMiller

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    I do the hokey-croaky every morning.

    ♫ “. . . and that’s what it’s all abooouut!” ♫ :)

    • #4
  5. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    I cough my right lung in, I cough my right lung out
    I cough my right lung in, and it shakes me all about
    I do the hokey-croaky and it puts me in the ground
    And that’s what it’s all about.

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    I cough my right lung in, I cough my right lung out
    I cough my right lung in, and it shakes me all about
    I do the hokey-croaky and it puts me in the ground
    And that’s what it’s all about.

    And then he has his first cigarette.

    • #6
  7. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    Your stories remind me of Kurosawa’s Dreams. The beginning and end have been mislaid, and the middle is fascinating.

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Well done, Andrew.

    • #8
  9. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller
    @AndrewMiller

    Juliana (View Comment):

    Your stories remind me of Kurosawa’s Dreams. The beginning and end have been mislaid, and the middle is fascinating.

    Thank you. And thanks for reading. One day I’ll probably get round to what it’d be like as a longer story. Though I suspect it might end up rather different. :)

    • #9
  10. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller
    @AndrewMiller

    Percival (View Comment):

    Well done, Andrew.

    Thank you. Hope you enjoyed it. :)

    • #10
  11. Al French, Count of Clackamas Moderator
    Al French, Count of Clackamas
    @AlFrench

    Andrew Miller: Crimity, but she was cold.

    According to @She, you Brits are supposed to say “crimenutly.”

    Another great story.

    • #11
  12. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Al French, Count of Clackamas (View Comment):

    Andrew Miller: Crimity, but she was cold.

    According to @She, you Brits are supposed to say “crimenutly.”

    Another great story.

    Not so fast.  “Crimenutely” comes from my former (American) boss, a wonderful, wise, smart man who (to mangle Churchill a bit), got up every morning, mobilized the English language, and then went into battle against it.  Other favorites are “bringing things to few-trition,” and “the crust of the matter.”  He was my boss for 20 years, younger than I, shorter than I, and one of the most secure and “manly men” I’ve ever known.  (He needed to be, sometimes).

    • #12
  13. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller
    @AndrewMiller

    Al French, Count of Clackamas (View Comment):

    Andrew Miller: Crimity, but she was cold.

    According to @She, you Brits are supposed to say “crimenutly.”

    Another great story.

    For some reason, I tend to go with crimity (which seems to come out as “crime-ity”).

    And thank you. Really appreciate it. :)

    • #13
  14. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I have it on good authority that frogs are racist.  

    • #14
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I have it on good authority that frogs are racist.

    Criminently! Let’s not even go there.

    • #15
  16. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Arahant (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I have it on good authority that frogs are racist.

    Criminently! Let’s not even go there.

    That’s how you spell it.

    • #16
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    That’s how you spell it.

    It is supposed by some to be an exaggeration of “criminy.”

    • #17
  18. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller
    @AndrewMiller

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    That’s how you spell it.

    It is supposed by some to be an exaggeration of “criminy.”

    Possibly an echo in the Criminently Wars (which may or may not have actually happened), and their leading general, Jiminy Cricketts. 

    player characters GIF

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):
    Possibly an echo in the Criminently Wars (which may or may not have actually happened), and their leading general, Jiminy Cricketts. 

    Well, criminy!

    • #19
  20. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    That’s how you spell it.

    It is supposed by some to be an exaggeration of “criminy.”

    Criminy

    Criminently

    Criminentlest

    They’re all wrong.

    • #20
  21. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    And from the Department of Eternal Verities:

    • #21
  22. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller
    @AndrewMiller

    She (View Comment):

    And from the Department of Eternal Verities:

    […]

    Those fellers have been after me for years. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment in the Bermuda Triangle, or where was it . . .  :)

    Books Library GIF

    • #22
  23. Al French, Count of Clackamas Moderator
    Al French, Count of Clackamas
    @AlFrench

    She (View Comment):

    And from the Department of Eternal Verities:

    You beat me to it. I got time zoned.

    • #23
  24. Hank Rhody, Missing, Inaction Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Missing, Inaction
    @HankRhody

    • #24
  25. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller
    @AndrewMiller

    Hank Rhody, Missing, Inaction (View Comment):

    Carry on . . . ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪ *Dancing — all right, well, hopping — off* “You take the Limey and the coconut . . . ribb-ettt . . .”

    • #25

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