Tag Archives: bag lady

Story Soup 1.20

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Welcome to Story Soup! If you need to catch up with the events so far, you can read the whole story in chronological order here. Thank you to everyone who voted for what happens next. Someone (obviously enamoured by my poetry in the previous instalment) opted for ‘a musical number’, and certainly it crossed my mind to orchestrate a song and dance complete with flash animation; however the winning choice, with 60% of the votes is for the other Gregory to turn back into stone.

The next instalment will be posted in the next week, but if you want to be reminded, then please subscribe using the links on the top left of the site or by joining the Story Soup Facebook page.

Gregory Bedcarrots and the unwitting policeperson.

Gregory felt his heart sinking. “I had forgotten about him,” he muttered.

“Me too,” whispered Penny, looking quite weary.

“I hadn’t,” the bag said most unhelpfully. It gave a little tutting sound, sniffed, and then rolled over, feigning lifelessness.

In the next garden, the other Gregory was being positively mollycoddled by an anxious Mrs. Bedcarrots as the twitchy-eyed Daily Mail reporter hovered over him like a ravenous vulture.

“How are you feeling my sweetie pie?” his mother was asking.

“Alright I guess,” the other Gregory said with a shrug. “My head feels a bit heavy and it feels like I have sand in my ears.” He was looking a bit crusty around the eyes; like a life-sized gingerbread man with a crunchy face and a sugary button nose.

With a wave of her hand, the reporter pushed Mrs. Bedcarrots aside. “Tell us more about this impostor,” she demanded. “What did he look like?”

“He looked like me,” the other Gregory said. “Well, maybe a little bit uglier. He said we were brothers and that my name was James. Penny was with him— unless she was an impostor too.”

Mrs Parsnip let out a little squeal at the mention of Penny.

“And who is Penny?” the reporter continued with a simper. “Is she your girlfriend?”

The other Gregory blushed and said, “Sort of.”

The real Gregory grimaced and silently cursed himself.

Beside him, Penny was positively beaming, though Gregory did not see.

“I mean,” the other Gregory corrected. “I hope so. I just haven’t summoned up the courage to ask her yet.”

“Stop talking, Stupid!” Gregory begged himself mutely, glaring daggers at himself.

And then the other Gregory did something very odd. He opened his mouth to speak and nothing came out. He gave a cough and a whimper and gestured violently to his own throat.

“What’s happened?” the reporter asked with glee, pen poised hungrily over her notepad.

The other Gregory shrugged and simply shook his head.

Mrs Bedcarrots began to panic.

Mr Bedcarrots let out a growl, “Kids today!” he muttered angrily. “This sort of thing was unheard of in my day!”

The other Gregory was opening and closing his mouth in frustration. He shook his head wildly and, as he did so, made eye contact with the real Gregory. Horror etched onto his face as he turned instantly back into stone and, as his eyes glazed over, he toppled noisily onto the Daily Mail reporter. The reporter let out a scream and appealed for help but the rest of the gathering were far too consumed with their own panic to come to her aid. Following the gaze of the stone Gregory, they turned and saw Gregory and Penny.

“The impostor!” Mrs Bedcarrots shrieked.

“He’s got Penny!” Mrs Parsnip cried hysterically. “Let her go at once you monster!”

She began to run towards them but Mr Parsnip held her back, exclaiming, “Keep back, Jane! He could be capable of anything!”

“I’m alright,” Penny yelled to her parents. “This is the real Gregory!”

“It’s me!” Gregory added, waving nervously to his parents. “I’m Gregory!”

“I liked the other one better,” said his father, who was rather careless.

“But at least this one isn’t stone,” said his mother, who was quite fickle. She began to mop her brow as she wobbled anxiously over to Gregory. “It’s alright, darling. Mummy’s here.”

“Are you insane?” Mr Parsnip bellowed. “What if he’s an armed alien?”

Mrs Bedcarrots stopped and looked at Gregory in horror. She brought a hand to her mouth and began to sob. “Toby, I’m scared!” she blubbered to her husband.

Mrs Parsnip was shaking and crying and had begun to wonder if maybe Penny might be an alien too.

Mr Bedcarrots gave a disgruntled snort and appealed to the three policemen. “Are you going to arrest these aliens?” he asked flippantly.

“We’re not aliens!” Gregory cried in frustration.

“It’s really us!” added Penny angrily.

“If you don’t arrest them,” Mr Bedcarrots continued angrily. “I will!”

“Dad, please!” Gregory was torn between embarrassment and horror as his father rolled up his sleeves and came bounding over the fence.

“Mr Bedcarrots,” Penny said weakly. “It’s really us!”

“You’re not really Penny!” her own father accused with a sneer. “Your clothes don’t look right!”

Penny pulled off the ridiculous pink scarf that she had been wearing all this time. “That’s because we’ve been away,” she spluttered frantically. “We went back in time…”

“We can explain,” Gregory added hurriedly, holding his hands up in defence as his own father threatened to wallop him.

But before they could appeal further, there came a cough from one of the policemen, or perhaps I should say policepeople for upon turning around it was apparent that they weren’t all men after all; one of them was in fact a woman with a rather masculine haircut; the kind of haircut that nobody actually asks for but grows by mistake.

“Now then,” the policewoman with the bad haircut said. “Let’s have a bit of calm please.”

It was Penny who noticed first and she exclaimed with a hasty splutter, “The bag lady!”

The policewoman raised an eyebrow and said sternly, “I beg your pardon?”

Gregory looked up and gasped. He, however, was rather more polite in his address. “Alberta Anne!” he cried in shock as the policewoman’s face came into full view.

They could hardly believe it. There before them, the cause of their whole adventure; Alberta Anne the bag lady. Except she wasn’t a bag lady. She was a normal lady who had never been given Einstein’s brain. An average woman who had lived an average life, achieving average academic success with the brain she had been born with. But of course she did not know this.

“Have we met before?” she asked the children suspiciously, pulling out a recent crime log from her pocket as she strode tensely across the garden with her two colleagues.

She was so serious and un-bag-lady-like that Gregory and Penny could not help but laugh in surprise.

“We did it!” Penny whispered to Gregory. “We actually did it!”

Mr and Mrs Parsnip were calling for their quick arrest and Mr Bedcarrots was almost purple with rage but Gregory ignored them. “Do you remember us, Alberta?” he asked boldly.

The policewoman raised an eyebrow. “That’s Police Constable Henry to you,” she said sternly.

“Henry…” Gregory blinked at her as the cogs worked quickly round his brain. “You don’t mean… Professor Harvey’s assistant, Henry?” He gave a whoop of excitement. “Professor Henry adopted you!”

The policewoman looked at him in surprise. “Do you know my father?”

“We certainly do!” said Gregory. “He was a scientist in America…”

“He nearly took our brains out!” Penny chipped in.

“Then he came with us to the Congo,” Gregory finished proudly.

P.C Henry took a long deep breath and eyed them most curiously.

“Shall I send for back up?” one of the other policepeople whispered.

“I think you’d better,” P.C Henry replied.

“You’re not going to arrest us are you?” Gregory asked in horror.

P.C Henry ignored him and muttered something to her two colleagues.

“We saved your life!” Penny cried in disbelief, as one of the policepeople came and bound her wrists with handcuffs.

P.C Henry turned to the four parents. “We have a padded police van on the way,” she assured them.

Penny protested a while longer before Gregory shook his head at her and said resolutely, “There’s no point! She has no idea who she might have been!” Then a sudden bewildering thought struck him. “Hold on a minute! If this is her without Einstein’s brain… what’s he doing still existing?” He cocked his head towards the bag. “I thought he said the bag lady made him.”

At this the bag, which had been feigning lifelessness all this time, perked up and gave Gregory a sly wink. Reaching deep into the pouch which contained his sewing supplies, he pulled out something small and shiny.

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Story Soup 1.3

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Thank you to everyone who voted for what Gregory should do with the poor bag lady. ‘Other’ suggestions included ‘take her home for tea’, ‘switch clothes with her so he can spend a day being a crabby old woman’ and ‘learn to play the saxophone’, but a massive 46% voted for Gregory to conceal the bag lady in the tree.  (I love that absolutely nobody voted for him to do the honest thing and phone the police!)

The next instalment will be posted later in the week, but if you want to be reminded, then please subscribe using the links on the top left or by joining the Story Soup Facebook page.

Gregory’s day gets a little bit worse.

Gregory felt awful. Of all the stupid things he could do he had gone and knocked out an old lady. Not just once but twice. He beat his head with his fist, blinking back tears as he muttered, “Idiot! Idiot! What have I done?”

He felt that perhaps he should stay and try to wake her, but he could not bear to look at her, afraid that at any minute she would open her eyes and say his name again. Racked with guilt, he was about to run away when a sudden, more terrifying, thought came to mind. If somebody found the bag lady and managed to wake her, she would be sure to say, in that eerie rasping voice of hers, “Gregory Bedcarrots did it!”

What awful bad luck to assault a stranger who already knows your name!

“Who are you?” Gregory whispered fretfully, “How do you know my name?”

But the bag lady lay ominously still.

Gregory looked around frantically, searching helplessly for an answer. His friend, the apple tree, seemed to beckon like a loyal ally. In a blind panic Gregory hoisted the old lady onto his shoulders and dragged her over to the hollow trunk. He shoved her inside the tree; pressing her in as far as she would go in the hope that nobody should spot her before she came to her senses.

Gregory stepped back and shuddered. The bag lady looked truly gruesome.

A small note in the bag lady’s defence: She was not really as frightening as you might imagine. She may have smelt funny and had a creepy face but she was actually a rather jolly bag lady. She could make a box into a bed in ten seconds flat, she could tell you what time it was without ever looking at a watch, and she knew several good jokes about a man with a dog. On a good day, she might look something like this:

But on a day when she has trudged through a muddy forest, been punched in the face, and then stuffed into a tree, she looked understandably worse for wear.

Gregory’s next thought was to hide the old lady’s bag. He reasoned with himself that he was actually doing a kind thing; keeping the old lady and her possessions safe until she awoke. And where better to awake after an assault than in the safe hug of a cosy tree trunk? Gregory turned and reached for the bag. But, to his horror, the bag was gone. A sudden terror took hold of him and he spun around wildly. It was nowhere to be seen. A chilly wind began to blow through the forest and Gregory shivered with fear as the leaves fluttered round him and tickled his ankles. The trees no longer looked warm and inviting. They seemed to point at him in accusation. Even his friend, the apple tree, appeared to leer at him as if to say, “I give you sanctuary all this time and this is how you repay me?”

Gregory gulped and began to run. He ran so fast that he was frightened he might turn himself inside out. It was a terrifying run, the kind of run I hope you never have to endure, where everything around you threatens to attack and consume you. His chest hurt wildly and he had a stitch in his side, but still he ran, never once looking behind him. He ran so fast that he nearly threw up Penny’s pie and barely noticed when his shoes fell off. By the time he got home he was sweatier than a soggy southerner sweltering at the World Sauna Championships.

Blinking back tears, Gregory dragged himself up his street and breathed a small sigh of relief. He felt as though he wanted to have a long bath and wipe the whole sorry episode from his mind. But as he walked up the garden path, an astonishing sight met him. There on the front porch sat the armadillo bag.

Gregory gaped at it in shock and muttered in a panic, “How did you get here?”

To his utter surprise the bag snapped back, “Same as you, Idiot! I ran!”

Gregory’s heart leapt into his mouth and he almost collapsed in shock, but the bag kept on speaking.

Story Soup 1.2

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Welcome to the second Story Soup instalment and thank you to everyone who voted for who or what was following Gregory! There was an awful moment when the poll first opened and the only vote was ‘Other— Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys’ which would have led to much necessary research and confusion. Perhaps he will pop up at some point though… Other suggestions also included ‘a block of cheese’, ‘a barrel on legs’, ‘A girl’, and ‘his neighbour after the pie Gregory had stolen’. It was all incredibly close and it looked like Gregory might be meeting three people at once, but a spurt of more than twenty votes came in overnight and a clear winner emerged! So with 52% of the vote, let’s see who was following Gregory…

The next instalment will be posted later in the week, but if you want to be reminded, then please subscribe using the links on the top left or by joining the Story Soup Facebook page.

Gregory chooses an unfortunate moment to be brave.

Gregory had not been in the apple tree for very long when he heard a scuffling from somewhere close by. He strained his ears to listen, wondering if it was his neighbour, Penny, who had begged him earlier to show her his hiding place in exchange for some pie. Gregory had refused but had stolen the pie anyway, sprinting off with it under his arm before Penny had had time to fetch her shoes. Gregory quickly wolfed the pie down and waited to be found. But as the scuffling came closer he realised with a jolt of fear that the footsteps did not belong to Penny. In fact, they did not sound human at all. He held his breath as the sounds came closer. He had no idea what kind of animals might lurk in this forest and a whole host of gruesome creatures immediately sprang to mind.

Pretty soon, the mysterious animal began to circle the tree. It would not be too hard, Gregory realised, for the creature to climb into the tree trunk and devour him. He began to tremble in terror at the thought.

But many minutes passed and the creature, whatever it was, showed no signs of tearing down the tree to eat him. Round and round the tree it went, grunting and wheezing, and dragging something heavy (its tail, Gregory imagined) behind itself. Perhaps it wasn’t anything dangerous after all. Perhaps it was a friendly wombat, or a shy woodland deer, or a miniature diplodocus that had lived unseen since the beginning of time. In a moment of excitement, Gregory wondered if maybe he was on the brink of discovering a whole new creation. He would name it after himself and everywhere it went people would exclaim, “There goes a Gregory! What a wonderful creation!” Of course, if the animal looked anything as hideous as the beasts above, then Gregory would soon regret having it named after himself. ‘As ugly as a Gregory’ is not the kind of saying one would like to be known for.

Gregory edged towards the crack in the tree trunk to attempt a peek but he lost his nerve and shrank back again. He counted to ten and tried again, but once more fear got the better of him. The time went on and Gregory started to feel less curious and more infuriated. “It’s probably just a badger,” he scolded himself angrily. “I’m so stupid to be hiding from a badger!” He took a deep breath and rolled up his sleeves and determined to be bold. So in a moment of spirited daring and sheer unadulterated madness, Gregory leapt from his hiding place with a mighty roar and pounced upon the mysterious creature.

“Yeeehaaaaah—!”

In the instant before he landed, Gregory caught sight of his target, gave a yelp and tried to abort his fall. But it was no use. He landed heavily on the creature and it dropped lifelessly to the floor. It was an old lady.

She lay perfectly still and heavy dread filled Gregory’s heart as he thought frantically, “I’ve killed her!” He stood up, heart beating fast and sickness rising in his throat, and assessed the situation. He saw straight away that she was some kind of beggar or tramp for her clothes were filthy and torn and she smelt of smoke and vinegar. She had the kind of face that makes you want to cry and she looked like a regular bag lady, apart from her bag itself which looked like a stuffed armadillo.Gregory stood over her, blinking back tears and murmuring over and over, “I’ve killed her! What do I do? What do I do?” He wondered whether he would go to jail for this and shook with fear at the thought of being branded a murderer and locked away with violent convicts. Tears started to stream down his cheeks as he whispered over and over, “I’m so sorry, it was an accident…”

Eventually he decided he would write a little note explaining what had happened and leave it by her body. Hopefully she would be cleared away by the weekend and he could return to his tree to hide. He was just about to run home and consult Google, when suddenly the old lady opened her eyes and said in a deep rasping voice, “Gregory…”

Gregory gasped and leapt backwards in fright.

“Gregory,” the lady repeated. “Gregory Bedcarrots…”

In a panic, Gregory lunged forward with a punch and the bag lady fell unconscious once more.