Barry’s big brother Neville had been staying over for a few nights but he was beginning to feel restless and confined, preferring open spaces and seeing the stars than four walls and a ceiling

His constant pacing around like a caged animal was beginning to get on Barry’s nerves, even when he was quiet, he wasn’t – forever sniffing, coughing and mumbling to himself.

“Come on Nev, lets go down the pub?”

“Ok, thats a good plan Baz…but I’m a bit short at the moment.” As he emptied his pockets, 15p and half a pack of dusty Woodbines tumbled out.

“My shout, you can owe me one.” Barry said knowing that may not happen for a long while.

“I’ll try and get you on the bins with me, we’re a lad down since Arthurs accident.”

“Cheers.” Although Neville was hoping for a musical related job rather than hard graft.

In the back bar of ‘The Jolly Sailor’ sat Burt quietly mulling over the remnants of his last pint, he perked up when the boys burst in.

“Two pints of Best, Cheryl….and a pint for my mate Burt” Barry was feeling generous, it was the day after payday and he still had a wad in his pocket.

Burt, Barry and Neville toasted each other, awkwardly the conversations started then stumbled as Neville was only giving one word answers, eventually Barry asked Burt a leading question to rev up his storytelling yarns.

“Have you ever been shipwrecked Burt?”

“Have I ever….it was late summer when a freak storm hit our boat….”


As the salty sea waves crashed over the crude raft, a recumbent figure was drenched for the umpteenth time. Not a flicker of life was to be seen as the sea birds circled above hoping for a tasty titbit.

Dawn had broken revealing a calm horizon after the furious tempest that raged all last night.

Burt was lying unconscious, as the raft was gently carried on the prevailing tides, he had no idea how long he’d drifted; only aware of his gnawing hunger and overwhelming fatigue as each day gradually became night.

As if in the far distance, the familiar sea sounds drastically changed as he fell in and out of consciousness, the waves became louder as they rhythmically pummelled the soft yielding sand and withdrew fulfilled swirling spume and shingle until the next one rushed in.

Over the beach the girls playfully chased and dodged each other while they enjoyed the first day of their weekend break.

Giggling and splashing along the shoreline in the soft sand and shallow warm waters, they stopped in their tracks at the strange sight; half scared and half inquisitive the girls approached the raft, desperately hoping not to see a gruesome sight.

“Is he dead?”

“How should I know, poke him.”

“No you poke him”

The recumbent figure didn’t look dead, just very wet and a bit sunburnt, as the girls argued about what to do now, whether to call the police or coastguard?

His head felt heavy and was throbbing incessantly, the high pitched sounds pierced his eardrums as Burt gradually came to with a grunt.

The noise continued as the girls squealed their surprise at his sudden movement.

“Oh my gosh, he’s alive!”

“Are you alright?”

“No,” grunted Burt hoarsely, he suddenly became aware of how thirsty he was, his mouth was drier than a crisp packet.

All Burt could see was a lithe pair of firm tanned female thighs.

‘Am I in Heaven?’ He blinked tightly and tried to focus again.

“Oh you poor thing.”

“Let us help you.”

Burt was so weak and his legs were wobbly, between both the strong strapping girls they managed to support his manly form and slowly he limped back to their beach encampment.

Stacey was quietly reading her book when she spied her friends returning.

“What the devil! You girls are fast worker.” She chuckled, thinking at first Burt was drunk.

“We saved him!”

“Yes, he would have died if we hadn’t have rescued him.”They seemed very pleased with themselves, although Burt was close to collapsing again.

” Wat – er… water.” He whispered weakly.

“Oh dear, we’ve only got beer and some bottles of Lambrini.”

Then Burt knew he really had died and this was his heaven. Glugging down a small bottle of beer, then another and another to quench his incessant thirst was the last thing he remembered.

“Aw, he’s gone to sleep and we don’t even know his name.”

“He must have an exciting tale to tell, wonder where he comes from?”

“Do you think he’s a natural blonde, lets check?”

“Barbie! Leave him alone.”

Burt suddenly sat bolt upright and alert,

“Where am I? How did I get here?”

“We were going to ask you that.”

“…and where is my shirt?” Barbie just tittered while she rubbed sun lotion into his arms and back, “Oh what firm muscles you have.”

” …and that’s how I first met Stacey.”

“What happed then?” Barry was curious, Neville was silent.

“Er, well that’s the tricky part.” Burt explained, “I was reported as missing presumed dead…and I still am where the official records are concerned.”


“Bit like me, under the radar.” Muttered Neville, more to himself than a general statement.

©Juliette Dodd 2019



Burt was having a friend for a sleepover, while they laughed and relaxed in his Trophy room, Stacey sipped her scotch and looked around this intensely masculine space.

Filled with trinkets and souvenirs from Burt’s extensive travels, she laughed at the funny looking hat slung up on some stag antlers and asked to try it on.

“Ahh, my old Pith Helmet.” Burt exclaimed fondly,

“It’s for keeping your head cool in hot climates.”

“Tell me a story Burt.” Stacey knew exactly how to press his buttons, her quiet and reserved companion would once again become a man of action and adventure when recalling his past deeds.

“Well that was a few years ago now, deep in the African Congo, just before the rains….”

Burt smiled as he recalled the oppressive humidity as well as the sounds of the jungle.

Although mainly prickly and uncomfortable, if his memory was correct, there was nothing cosy in that intense warm wetness and he had immediately regretted taking on his one man mission. He’d either pulled the short straw or had drunkenly volunteered, he’d forgotten exactly how he got here but…. duty called.

Burt wasn’t even a hundred yards inside the lush jungle, there was no way he’d back out now and lose face amongst his fellow explorers; the crack team of experts sent by the Royal Society were renown throughout the world for their excellence and endurance. Every uncharted inch of the Globe had been searched except this one, Burt had a lot of eyes watching his progress – at this exact moment, none of them human.

Strange noises and rustlings high in the canopy unnerved Burt, he hadn’t come very well armed as this was a scientific mission; all his senses were hyper alert, including his imagination, making every branch look like a deadly snake.

Surrounded by weird and exotic flowers that reminded him of toilet brushes and parrots beaks, he suddenly realised how ill prepared he was for this foray, he had no idea what was poisonous or deadly so tried not to touch any of them.

The heady smell of scented perfume, almost intoxicating, wafted through the air and what at first looked like snow was actually a carpet of fallen blooms on the dank jungle floor; as he peered down millions of ants were busy amongst the flowers so the whole place writhed with life.

His heart was pumping now in excitement as he rushed up to…oh its just some flowers, crestfallen Burt carried on his seemingly endless march, careful not to pick up any unwanted passengers, aiming towards the bright light ahead.

Under his helmet was sweaty and a bit itchy as he stopped to brushed off some stray ants,

‘The little buggers bite too!’

Loud bird calls filled the jungle with eerie sounds, some seemed quite close although he couldn’t see any, this was beginning to feel a bit oppressive.

Were they birds or was something more sinister following his trail?

An open mind was needed for this adventure, brave Burt thought nothing could phase him but this tree shook the bejeebers out of his very core.

“Blooming’ heck.” he muttered, quickly side stepping a squirming mass of slimy black snakes.

‘Just roots!’

The whole tree was as rough and unholy as Satan’s tail, he quickly marched on towards a open clearing leaving the evil squawks echoing in the heavy darkness behind him.

“Oh my Burt, you are so brave, I would have been terrified.” His pretty companion shuddered at the thought of all those creepy crawlies.

As she refilled his glass, the tale continued….

“I had no idea how long that jungle trek had taken, an hour or an afternoon, time is different in Africa.”

“Oh gosh, what happened next?”

“But I did know I was getting close as all these giant carnivorous plants surrounded the clearing, like Triffids waiting to pounce.” He said, mainly for effect as she grabbed his hand in suspense.

It must have been the perfect time because the whole clearing was filled with vermillion butterflies flittering in the air; leading Burt a merry dance to capture one, he dashed to and fro, tripping and swishing his net furiously.

Success at last, a fine specimen was captured with only a small amount of swearing; although beautiful, this species wasn’t his mission, he couldn’t go back until he’d caught the holy grail of Lepidopterology.

With biting gnats and rogue ants invading his boots as well as soggy socks and blisters, all things African were taking their toll on his morale; not to be defeated Burt mustered his deep reserve of endurance and got back to the task at hand.

There it was, the Brenton Blue, one of the rarest butterflies in the world, Burt had only ever seen drawings of it but it was unmistakable by the incredible electric blue colour.

This wasn’t as easy as he’d imagined for as soon as it landed and closed its wings the creature seemed to totally disappear; Burt furtively ran around and around until he was completely puffed out.

Heat and thirst tried in vain to beat him but sheer determination drove him on.

Mustering up his last reserve of energy, egged on with the thought of fame and fortune, nothing would stop him.

Standing as still as he could in the clearing, camouflaged except for his net, held at half mast, softly softly catchee Monkey ( or in this case, butterfly)

“Get in there you little bugger.” Muttered the victorious hunter rapturously.

Either the icing on the cake or taking the Micky – depending on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, Burt was just gobsmacked.

No matter what he did they just wouldn’t leave him alone,

‘And I thought these were supposed to be rare?’ He muttered while collecting a few more specimens.

“Wow thats incredible, what happened then?”

“One of them was a strange new sub species, it was bigger than the rest so they named it after me – the Blue Burt – look here.”

“I love your tall stories Burt, lets go to bed…. and bring the pith helmet!”

©Juliette Dodd 2019