Originally written as a stand alone, I’m going to Seagulla and French fries into a second Riff and Raff story
Seagulls and French fries
Riff and Raff were more than a little surprised when their friend, Taffy, asked for ten orders of French fries in the ferry’s cafeteria. “You know something we don’t?” laughed Riff.
“That’s an understatement, not a rhetorical question,” laughed Taffy, as the troika headed out to the ship’s deck to soak up some sun.
“You expecting us to capsize? In this perfect weather?” enquired Raff.
“No, no, no. Nothing as dramatic as that,” Taffy answered with a smile. “I’m gonna prove to you cynics, once and for all, that humans are an introduced species to this planet.” As soon as the kids had plunked themselves down on the deck and opened their food bags, a small flock of seagulls appeared above them, squawking. When the seagulls swooped down on the kids, Raff and Riff shrieked, pulled out their wrist-rockets and prepared to defend their food.
“Put those things away, you idiots,” Taffy laughed, as she started lobbing fistfuls of greasy potatoes at the birds. “This isn’t a Hitchcock movie. They’ve come to collect their rent.”
“Rent? What the hell are you talking about?” asked Raff.
“Sit down, shut up and listen,” Taffy commanded. As Taffy continued to lob fries to the winged scavengers she explained:
“A very, very long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a small planet was on the brink of destruction. All the creatures on the planet got in their spaceships and blasted off into the stars, in search of a new home.
“One of the ships found their way to the planet we know as Earth. As the spaceship got close to Earth it ran out of energy and crash-landed in a potato field on the shores of the biggest of five really big lakes. It was cold. Really, really cold. One of them, a guy named Prometheus, went to talk to the Gods of the planet.
“The Gods were busy at a cocktail party and had not noticed the spaceship landing on Earth. Prometheus grabbed himself a drink and mingled with the Gods until he worked up the courage to ask, in a very casual way, if there was anything that could be done to make Earth a little warmer. ‘Yes, there is,’ answered one of the Gods. ‘It’s called fire, but it is forbidden on Earth. None of the creatures of Earth need fire. Fire is very bad for the Earth creatures. We have provided them with everything they need to survive. Why do you ask?’
“’Oh, no reason, really. Nothing at all. Just curious. You know – everyone’s always talking about the weather but nobody’s ever doing anything about it.’ The Gods thought Prometheus a bit odd but harmless.
“’Fire? Fire? What is it? How do I get it?’ Prometheus mumbled to himself. Prometheus, it must be noted, was a kleptomaniac, hopelessly attracted to shiny baubles. He was big on the bling bling. So, as he wandered around the party mumbling to himself, Prometheus was subconsciously and compulsively stuffing his pockets with all sorts of this and that. Stealing from the Gods was not necessarily a smart thing to do but they were all fairly fuzzy-boozy, so none of them noticed.
“’Well?’ asked Prometheus’s shipmates.
“’Something called fire. We need something called fire,’ answered Prometheus, swinging the bottle he had pilfered.
“’Fire? What is it? How do we get it?’
“’I don’t know. They wouldn’t tell me. It’s forbidden here,’ replied Prometheus, as he emptied his pockets. From his pockets Prometheus pulled not one, not two, not three but seven lighters. Prometheus, of course, was completely ignorant as to what the lighters were: he was completely unaware that he had stolen fire from the Gods.
‘As the others gathered round him asking questions about fire, the Gods, and the contents of the bottle he had brought back with him, Prometheus began to examine his ill-gotten booty. The curious kleptomaniac grabbed a lighter, pushed the button and out came fire. Prometheus, of course, did not know it was fire but he did know it was hot. ‘Ouch! That hurts,’ shrieked Prometheus, when he held the flame to his hand. The others all took turns burning themselves.
“’That’s hot. Maybe it’s fire,’ reasoned Prometheus.
“’Yeah? Well, if it is, I can see why the Gods keep it away from the creatures. It seems very dangerous.’
“But soon Prometheus and his friends had mastered fire – to them, fire was a good thing. It kept them warm. It made it possible for them to eat the potatoes that grew in the fields all around them. Then they discovered a spring of cooking oil. Soon they invented French fries.
“The smell of French fries attracted seagulls. Lots of seagulls. Lots ands lots and lots of seagulls. Seagulls love French fries. Prometheus and his friends had a seemingly never-ending supply of potatoes, so they happily fed their fine-feathered friends all the French fries they could eat. The seagulls were very happy. Seagulls love French fries.
“Then, one day, Prometheus found the bottle he’d stolen from the Gods. It was a bottle of whisky. Prometheus and his friends drank the bottle of whisky. The whisky made them crazy. And goofy. And funny. And obnoxious. And stupid. And sick. And hungry. And sleepy. But before they fell asleep, they decided to make some French fries. Sadly, tragically, they fell asleep when the French fries were cooking. You can guess what happened.
“Fire! FIRE! Fire, fire everywhere.
“The fire destroyed the homes of millions of the creatures that lived on Earth. The creatures, which were known as animals, hated fire. When the animals learned that the new creatures – the ones with two legs, the two-legs – were responsible for the fire, they started to hate them. The fire-making two-legs became the enemy of the animals.
“Long before the two-legs arrived the animals had realized they were all dependent on one another for survival. Because of this, they decided that any big decisions would have to be approved by a majority of the animals. They called this idea democracy.
“Many of the animals said that the two-legs should be killed because they were a threat to the animals. The penguins were the most vocal about the problem and began to convince the other animals of the need to take action. ‘They have fire! They make fire! They need fire! Fire is bad. Surely we can all agree on that,’ said a penguin to a herd of wild cows (yes, back before the two-legs came, cows were wild, in fact, all animals were wild). But even wild cows are still cows and it takes a lot to make a cow mad. The cows mostly ignored the alarmed penguins, as did the sheep, dogs, pigs, chickens and turkeys. But the penguins persisted, speaking to any animal that would listen.
“’The two-legs have started to kill animals. Too eat us. For our fur. To protect them from the cold,’ said the beavers. ‘They cannot survive on our planet as they are,’ said the raccoons. ‘They are not from here,’ cried the bison. ‘They do not belong,’ said the wolves. But the seagulls had been listening in on all these conversations and they did not like the idea of the animals killing the two-legs. Seagulls love French fries.
“The penguins and wolves and foxes and beavers and dozens of other animal species ended their talk by concluding, ‘The two-legs are bad. They must go!’ The seagulls swooped down from the trees, where they had been hiding and listening, and said to the other animals, ‘Excuse us, good animals, but, according to democracy, a majority of the animals have to agree before the we can go to war against the two-legs.’ The other animals grumbled, especially the penguins, but eventually they all agreed that it was so.
“So the word went out to all the animals that an emergency congress had been called. Sadly, the majority of the animals knew little or nothing about the two-legs and the threat they posed. So, when the animal congress convened, there were no more than 10,000 animals present. All of Earth’s noble animals were present – bears, lions, elephants and rhinos etc. Absent from this most important of important meetings were the Earth’s least dignified animals – rats, buzzards and especially snakes.
“Of the 10,000 animals at the congress, none were birds. The birds were not afraid of the two-legs because the two-legs could not catch them. The birds did not care about the other animals. The birds thought of the other animals as inferior because they could not fly. ‘Two legs, four legs, no legs, what’s the difference? They have no wings. They are not like us, at all. Let them fight amongst themselves. What do we care?’
“The penguins were not at all bothered by the fact that so few animals showed up for the very important vote. The animals that did come out to vote had lived through the fire and did not like the two-legs. The debate on whether or not to rid themselves of the problematic and dangerous two-legs was one-sided. Not a single animal expressed any opposition to the idea of doing away with the alien fire-makers. ‘All in favour,’ cried a big, grizzly grizzly bear. All ten thousand animals raised a paw. ‘All opposed?’ asked the big, grizzly, grizzly bear.
“Then, from out of nowhere, 50,000 seagulls flew over the hill and into the valley where the congress was being held. The 50,000 seagulls shrieked as one, ‘Opposed!’ Seagulls love French fries.
“The smarter animals, the ones who knew the two-legs were going to be nothing but trouble, left the area for good, hoping the two-legs would not follow, and that they would be left alone to live their lives in peace. That is why there are no penguins, or giraffes, or kangaroos or tigers or monkeys living close to the five big lakes. Unfortunately for them, the two-legs followed the animals to every corner of Earth.
“Now, many years later, all the animals, even the seagulls, have come to understand that they should have chased the two-legs off the planet, or killed them all, when they had the chance. The two-legs have done many horrible things to the animals. We’re destroying the entire planet and every creature on it. All the animals blame the seagulls every time the two-legs do something awful to an animal. That’s why seagulls have no friends. And that’s why seagulls show up when the two-legs are eating French fries. Seagulls love French fries and they figure we owe them a whole lot of French fries.”
Riff and Raff put away their wrist-rockets and headed back to the cafeteria to buy more French fries. After taking a few steps Riff stopped, turned and said, “Wait a minute. Why didn’t the Gods intervene?”
Taffy laughed, “Gods. Sheesh. They all became hopeless alcoholics and died of liver disease. There are no more Gods, kids. We’re on our own.”
Raff hung her head and said, “And no one is going to stop us from destroying the planet and every animal on it, except us?”
“Now that’s a rhetorical question,” answered Riff.