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Thomas Mc Rae
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The Strange Tale of Cuddles the Crocodile

A Story Written for Claire
by Tomas Mc Rae, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, ©2008

It all started one very dark night when I was walking home and the street lights were not working. I was walking very carefully when THWHACKOH! I fell over something in the street, something I thought was a large tree trunk. I was winded by my fall but managed to find my little flashlight and shine it on the thing I’d fallen over …


The monster’s eyes shone at me in the light of my torch and I got ready to run away as fast as I could. Up the hill towards home I ran but behind me I could hear “Scuffley, skiffley, fwoop, scuffley, skiffley, fwoop” as the beast came after me. (The fwoop was the noise its tail made dragging behind.) I reached my front door but my hand shook so much I couldn’t get the key in the lock. The horrid thing came nearer and nearer! Just as it started climbing the front steps I managed to turn the key, get inside, and lock the door. I fell exhausted into a chair, getting my breath back before I rang the police.

Drawing of a crocodile

Outside the door I heard scratching then a loud “Oooooooo Hooooooo!” I peeped out of the window and that crocodile was crying … Carefully I opened the door a little. “What’s the matter?” I asked the beast and it rolled on its back with legs in the air. I started to feel a bit braver so I scratched his tummy which he seemed to like. At least it did not seem to want me for dinner. Dinner? Maybe it wanted food?

I opened four big tins of my cats’ favourite fish platter and gave the contents to my visitor who scoffed it in no time then. Pushing by me into the sitting room, he slithered on to my settee, and closed his eyes. My two cats came in and were not amused as he was stretched out where they always spent the night. I left them to it and went to bed myself, but I locked my room door just in case I became a crocodile’s dinner in my sleep. Next morning when I had a look I could not believe my eyes. There was that huge crocodile cuddled up with my little pussies, Ori and P.B., all as happy as could be.

Soon the three of them woke up. And would you believe it? The cats started washing the crocodile! I filled a large basin with cat food and all three ate breakfast at the same time, then went back to sleep together on the settee. An amazing sight! But I wondered what I was going to do with my strange guest. Where had it come from? I rang the university, but they knew nothing about any missing crocodiles.

As I had run out of cat food I had to drive to the supermarket to buy lots and lots and lots more. Home again I found my pets still fast asleep, cuddled up together. I made several notices which I stuck on walls and trees all around St Lucia. These notices said …

One very large green crocodile! I do not know its name. Please collect between 4 and 5 p.m. from 149 Ninth Avenue ST LUCIA

I waited all day but nobody came to collect the strange creature which had followed me home. All too soon it was awake again, playing wild chasing games with my cats, running up and down the corridor and rolling on its back while they danced all over it. You can imagine just how much the house was shaking but what fun it all was. I began to think maybe I could enjoy having this new addition to the family after all.

After school that day Claire, the seven year old girl who lived across the street, dropped by to see the cats. She was very excited about the crocodile … “Did it really follow you home, Tom? You’re always telling fibs.” I assured her my story was true and she ended up playing hide and seek with the monster. She it was who gave him his name. “Actually he is quite a cuddly thing, isn’t he? Let’s call him ‘Cuddles’!” And that is what we did there and then.

As the days passed Cuddles became quite useful as, once shopkeepers got used to him, all I had to do was send him up the road with a large basket in his mouth, a shopping list pasted on his back, and a bag of money around his neck. He’d soon come back with what I’d ordered and have correct change in the bag. For some strange reason nobody ever stole that money. Wonder why. All was well until the dreadful day when all the trouble started! I was sitting quietly reading and Cuddles had gone out shopping when Claire rushed in shouting “Tom! Tom! Terrible news! The police have arrested Cuddles!” You can imagine how quickly I ran up the road after her to find what had happened.

At the bus stop stood a large council bus, two police cars, an ambulance, and a huge truck with a crane on the back. Even as I watched Cuddles was lifted into the truck by the crane as several policemen stood on guard. I went up to them. “What are you doing with my crocodile?” I demanded. “Your crocodile?” said an inspector, “Should be ashamed of yourself keeping such a dangerous animal in a built-up area. That horrid monster just tried to eat up the bus driver, so it did. Quite shook up, he is, about it too, I can tell you. Your croc is for it, Mate.”

Two ambulance men came out of the bus carrying the driver, into their ambulance and driving off. This was terrible. Had my friendly pet gone back to being a savage beast? “Are you sure it was my crocodile?” I asked the inspector “Can you see any others round here, Mate?” replied the policeman, “Anyhow there were fifty passengers in that bus and they all saw what happened,. It was your crocodile … maybe we’ll charge you as well. Name and address please, Sir.”

I gave him my details but, in the end, although they shouted a lot and waved their arms, they let me go with a warning to chose pets more carefully in future. Deary me! I had kept a savage monster pretending to be nice in my home, even fed it regularly. How soon would it have been before it ate me and the cats? … maybe even Claire! When the police had taken down the stories from all the bus passengers they got into their cars and drove away with the big truck following them. All the passengers had to walk for the police forgot to phone for another bus. The silly people blamed Cuddles for their problems, not the police. “Make it into crocburgers!” shouted one fat man as he walked angrily away.

Things really did not look good at all for the huge beast who had come to my house some nights before, what would they do with him now? I soon found out for next day a man from the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) came to see me. He told me how the wicked crocky was chained to a post in the jail’s swimming pool, the poor prisoners were very angry as this meant they could not have their daily swim. Even worse: the annual swimming carnival was on Saturday and they’d had to cancel it. Cuddles was the most hated creature in Australia, but I still went to visit him. The poor thing was crying all the time and the police said his trial would be in three weeks. Mr Catt, the RSPCA man, was the only person who reckoned things may not be as bad as they looked. We’d see when the trial started. And start it soon did!

One wet and cold Monday morning the courtroom was crowded with people waiting to see an evil monster get its just desserts. Luckily, as the owner of that monster, I had a reserved seat. When I arrived up came the RSPCA representative and a man with a long beard. “I will be conducting the defence,” said Mr Catt, the RSPCA man, “And this is the famous Professor MacGregor from Glasgow. Don’t worry! We’ll get this poor innocent creature off.” Innocent creature indeed?

The two men went down to the front of the court. Me? I sat down and was just getting comfy when the court usher yelled out, “All rise!” We quickly shot on to our feet. I can tell you just in case we were sent to jail for staying seated.

Judge Durance, who was supposed to be the toughest judge in Australia, entered the court room. He glowered at us all and sat in his throne-like seat. “All be seated!” shouted the Usher and we all quickly sat down again just in case the last person on his feet got arrested. Judge Durance put his glasses on the tip of his nose, straightened his wig, glowered at us all again just for luck, coughed, and said, “Bring in the prisoner!” Oh, my poor Cuddles! A policeman dragged him in on the end of a long steel chain then stood him up in the dock, fastening the chain to the bars. Two more police with rifles stood beside it in case Cuddles escaped. Poor beast just stood in the dock crying crocodile tears, very sorry for himself … The judge hit the table with a wooden mallet that went …


“Let us give this horrid villain a fair trial then send him to jail forever,” he smiled. “Right, Your Honour,” said the same policeman who had made the arrest, Inspector Lockem. “We’ll soon settle this case and I shall prosecute … Call the first witness!” The usher yelled for James Lamb and into the court room came a little man in a brand-new council uniform. Prompted by Inspector Lockem he identified himself as the bus driver. “It was really an ’orrible thing that happened, Your Honour. This here creature got on my bus. I asked it where it was going to and quick as a flash it jumped on me and started eating me up. If it had not been for the fifty passengers who came to my rescue I’d have been a real lamb dinner, I can tell you.”

Everybody started laughing but the judge thumped his mallet and yelled, “Silence in court or I will jail the lot of you!” There was silence immediately. Inspector Lockem stood up saying, “Thank you, Mr Lamb. You can go now.” “No, he can’t!” shouted Mr Catt the RSPCA man “I am defending this poor innocent creature, and there are things to be cleared up.” Judge Durance looked very sad, “Oh well, I suppose you better defend the beast before I send it to jail. Get on with it! We haven’t got all day you know.” Mr Catt bowed to the Judge, “Your Honour, I call on Professor MacGregor of Glasgow, an expert on Africa, to question the driver.” The professor rose to his feet and said … “Ladies and gentlemen … first a little demonstration.” Turning to Cuddles he said, “Werd d’ya wan, buttum?” Cuddles suddenly stood up very straight, put his right front foot across his breast, and fell on the floor legs up, eyes closed.

“Oh dear! It’s died!” said everybody. “Silence in Court or else!” shouted Judge Durance banging away with his mallet. “Werd ya wan, cha?” said the Professor, and Cuddles stood up in the dock again. “Now everybody watch this … Werd ya wan, hooch?” MacGregor started whistling a Highland Fling tune and that crocodile put one paw on its hip, stuck the other in the air and started a wild Scottish dance. “With the right music he’ll do ballet,” laughed MacGregor. The crocodile stopped dancing and even Inspector Lockem joined in the cheers and applause …

‘BANG BANG BANG’ went the Judge’s gavel … “Silence in this court! You’re all under arrest. Usher, call the police this minute!” “Hang on, Judge,” said MacGregor “I shall now explain everything. Have any of you ever seen a crocodile like this one in Australia before? No? That’s because he comes from Cabombaland in the middle of Africa. He’s a genuine Cabombaland Greeny if ever I saw one.” The professor then told us an amazing story … It seems that the Cabomba tribe were sheep herders. Grass became hard to find in their own country, so they, their sheep, and their herd dogs came to a new land where rivers and lakes kept green grass growing in huge quantities. Trouble is where there is water in Africa there are crocodiles and the ones in this country decided they liked dog meat very much. (Sheep they couldn’t stand for the wool got stuck in their teeth.) Cabomban elders worried about what they could get to herd the sheep when all the dogs were gone until somebody said “Why not train the crocodiles?”

And so they did. Over many years, they taught the beasts that they must always obey human commands and soon had sheep crocs that were much better than any dogs. They trained them in more skills until two or more crocodiles could push a canoe to make it speed up a river. On land people sat on their backs and were quickly transported from place to place without buying petrol. The humans even taught the crocodiles to dance, to harvest crops, and even raced them at meetings on Saturdays. The crocodiles loved human company and every Cabomban had several around the place. People and crocs were happy, so Cabombaland is still a great place to live. That is unless you happen to be a dog.

“So that’s my story,” said Professor MacGregor some time later. “Now you, bus-driver Lamb, can you remember what you said to this beastie when it got on your bus?” Mr Lamb rose to his feet, “Not a problem, Mate. Same as I always says to folks gettin’ on: ‘Where d’ya wanna go?’” The Judge thumped his mallet, “That settles it. Performing crocodile from Africa or no, this thing is guilty … Fifty Years!” MacGregor said, “Respectfully, Your Honour, the jury has still to give its verdict and I’ve yet to finish my evidence. If you don’t let us do our jobs we’ll have you arrested for contempt of court.”

Judge Durance went very red in the face and went, “Splither, Splother, Sloother … Sorry. Let the trial continue, but … make it quick! It’s nearly lunch time.” He didn’t even bang his mallet, he was so shook up. Professor MacGregor smiled at Mr Lamb, “My friend, let me give you a lesson in Cabomba language. You’ll recall whenever I gave the crocodile an order I said, ‘Werd d’ya wan …’ which means ‘Excuse me, please.’ Now ‘na’ means ‘eat’ and ‘go’ means ‘me’, and that explains what happened. Just remember this poor crocodile saw its very first bus, curious to learn more it got on and you, like the highly trained driver you are, asked your usual question, ‘Where d’ya wanna go?’ Trouble is what you said was Cabomban for ‘Excuse me, please eat me,’ and this beastie, that’s trained to obey all human commands, and knows no English, had to do what you asked even though it didn’t want to.” Professor MacGregor turned to the Jury “Ladies and gentlemen, from my evidence you can see this poor beastie is quite innocent of any crime. I rest my case.” Immediately all the members of the jury stood up and said, “Not Guilty.” Judge Durance banged his mallet, “Right! Now I can pass sentence, 75 years!” “You can’t do that, you silly old man,” laughed Mr Catt the RSPCA man, “This crocodile is now free to go home. So get lost!”

So it was that I took Cuddles the crocodile home in a taxi truck. He was welcomed by Claire and the two cats, and soon afterwards Professor Macgregor and Mr Catt came by and we had a marvellous party that lasted until late. Cuddles did dances from all over the world, Professor MacGregor sang Scottish songs, and we all ended up very tired but very happy.

I now make lots of money as I put Cuddles on television. I need all that money as he eats so much. He has a TV fan club with Inspector Lockem as president and always travels free on Mr Lamb’s bus. So all ended well, but there remains one mystery … Where did Cuddles come from? We’ll probably never know the truth, but I’m told there used to be a Cambomban student living at St Lucia. Maybe Cuddles strayed from his unit and the chap went home without him when called to be the president at short notice. Who knows?


[Click here to read what happens next.]


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