• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 07

Itchy Peter Robinson
and the River People

The river people tried to break out of the river while Itchy Peter Robinson did his most hideous face to keep them afraid. He was 13 years from retirement and itchy as hell.

‘Worm whiskers!’ one of the river people shouted, and Peter shook and trembled.

‘You’re not scaring them at all,’ Bethany hissed in his ear. Bethany was Peter Robinson’s first daughter; she was riding his back and refused to wear the little cloth saddle that Peter had provided for her, so her bristly leg rubbed back and forth on his sore skin.

Itchy Peter Robinson roared and trembled: ‘Fear me, river people! Listen to my roaring!’

Peter’s second daughter was Sandra. Sandra liked to float alongside and shout nasally about strategies for scaring. Sandra wanted Peter Robinson to wear red lipstick, and Bethany thought that he should wear bells in his hair. Peter was 13 years from retirement: he had been scaring river people for 200 years, and now he had bells in his hair, and he could taste oily lipstick on his fangs.

‘Rarr rarr!’ bellowed Peter; he was furious with the river people, who were laughing at him, and his skin was incredibly itchy.

One river person was hunched over, shaped like a shoe, and he came out of the river and said, ‘You look stupid, Peter Robinson.’

And Peter had to use his flaky white coils to slap that shoe-shaped-river-person back into the water.


Itchy Peter Robinson
and the River People

‘Shake your bells,’ Bethany commanded. She was eating a punnet of peaches, and the juice ran down her arm to the elbow then dripped onto Peter’s itchy back.

‘You’re not doing it right,’ Sandra whined, tossing her red skirts around.

Itchy Peter Robinson was 13 years away from retirement when he stopped making the river people afraid. He lay down beside the river, and very quickly, all the river people came out. Sandra and Bethany were screaming, and Peter waited for the river people to kill his daughters, to feel their slimy wet fingers at his hair and mouth and eyes. But the river people simply clambered up the banks and hobbled quickly past him into the night, disappearing behind trees and clouds and plant pots and going about their business.

Once the last river person had disappeared, hopping astride a small goat and trotting away, Sandra said, ‘Dad, why did you spend 200 years or more keeping those people in the river?’

Peter didn’t remember, but he thought not to say so to Sandra and Bethany, who were standing with their hands on their hips, shaking their heads.

Bethany started to reach to take the bells from her father’s hair. ‘Those are my bells,’ she said.

Itchy Peter Robinson moved his itchy body towards the empty river, and his remaining bells tinkled. And when he got there, the water soothed him, and Peter Robinson swam away.