It was early in the evening when the leathery little chap in the crepe paper suit first approached me as I was walking through the park. He did not do so directly, but instead walked past on my right hand side, circled around behind me, and then sidled around to my left. He gave me a cheery little wave in way of greeting, and grinned a wide, gummy, grin.
â€œHellay!â€ he said.
I nodded in reply.
â€œI wonder if I may bother you for a moment,â€ he asked, with another toothless smile.
â€œYou are bothering me quite enough already,â€ I snapped, having no wish to spend the evening being accosted by little men in strange clothes.
He looked momentarily crestfallen, but brightened up before I could take any satisfaction from it.
â€œIt will be worth your while,â€ he said.
I frowned at him and continued walking. He fell into step beside me, looking up expectantly and wielding his hideous grimace at me the whole time.
â€œReally,â€ he said.
â€œI very much doubt it, strange little man,â€ I said. â€œI am very choosy about the people with whom I keep company and my current criteria for conversation does not extend to leathery little men in paper suits. Good day.â€
â€œAh, but it is a good day,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s the best of all possible days.â€
Something in the earnestness of his voice caught my attention and I stopped. While waiting for him to cease grinning inanely and get to the point, I surveyed his peculiar apparel. His suit was most definitely crepe, pale blue with little veins of white running through it. The bottoms of his trousers were ragged where the paper had soaked through and torn. From his sleeves and trousers there protruded naked white extremities. His head was wholly bald and his eyes sparkled like nuggets of amber in his jovial face.
â€œToday is the day,â€ he began, â€œwhen your problem shall be solved.â€ He finished this with a flourish of his hands and a little pirouette.
â€œAnd why, pray tell, will all my problems come to an end?â€ I asked.
He smiled knowingly and reached into his paper jacket, producing a small strawberry coloured parcel tied with wool.
â€œBecause, my dear friend, I have a crepe paper suit for you!â€
I gaped at the wizened fool with astonishment.
â€œWhat on earth would I want with a paper suit?â€ I cried! â€œBegone! Avaunt!â€
â€œHear me out, sir,â€ he pleaded. â€œListen to what I have to say!â€
â€œI have listened to what you have to say, and it is readily apparent that you would have me dress like a buffoon! A buffoon like you, sir!â€ I cried.
Without giving him a second glance I began to stride down the pathway, but after a few steps I heard little leathery flaps as his little leathery feet slip-slapped along behind me, no doubt bringing his little leathery body with them. I stopped in annoyance and turned around.
â€œSir! Will you kindly find someone else to bother! I am in no mood to have clothing of inappropriate construction foisted upon me by a grinning imbecile. Please, depart at once.â€ I stood straight, pointing to the east.
His gaze followed my finger for a moment and then travelled back up the length of my arm to my face. I was horrified to see huge, glassy tears standing out in his amber eyes.
â€œYou unspeakable fiend!â€ he wailed! â€œHow could you? Why would you?â€ He spun around in a grief stricken little circle and flapped his little white feet up and down a few times. When he turned to face me, his look was dark and angry.
â€œThis,â€ he said, thrusting the strawberry coloured parcel in my astonished face, â€œis too good for the likes of you! All I was trying to do was help! But, oh no! Youâ€™re much too grand! Much too proud to wear the humble coat of crepe! Much too arrogant to wear the gentle raiment of pulp and dye! A pox on you, Sir! A pox on you and your silly nose!â€
I allowed him to vent his wrath and watched with some bemusement as he zig-zagged his way back along the path, stopping every now and then to regale a passer-by with tales of my unspeakable cruelty. He eventually disappeared from sight and I turned and carried on my way, trying to enjoy what was left of the evening.
When I reached the park gate, I found the policemen lying in wait, as they always did.
â€œThere he is!â€ one cried.
â€œGet him!â€ said another.
I loped off in the opposite direction, enjoying the feel of the cool air on my naked skin.