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Solar Prestige A Gammon

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Bernard Taupin, or Bernie, as he'd preferred to be called, lived alone in a shack near the sea, somewhere at the end of the world. He had been looking after himself for a while, even though he was just barely older than a boy.

There wasn't anyone around him for miles. His uncle passed a few years ago. Ever since then, it had always been him. Sure, he went to the marketplace to sell his fishes and buy other products once in a while, but he couldn't say he truly knew anyone there. It was too far for him to hang out with the kids there regularly. He preferred his meagre collection of books and his daydreams, anyway.

Bernie lived a simple life. Every day he went out to the ocean, caught some fishes. Some he ate, some he dried to sell. Then, in the afternoon, he just laid under a tree, reading a book. He loved words. He loved to read and sometimes write. His favourite stories were about cowboys, which might have been weird for a fisherman like him, but he dreamt of riding across the lands, saving people like some of his heroes. Or he could be a wandering poet, writing beautiful poems that told beautiful tales.

 


 

One evening, just when Bernie finished his reading for the day, he looked up to the normally empty sky and saw a shooting star.

"Hey! Can I get some friends? Just one is fine too, but he has to be a good one!" He shouted at the star, grinning. There was no harm in trying, right? About time he got some luck. "I promise I'll be good to him!" Bernie added to his bargain.

He didn't expect the shooting star to come so much closer and then crashed into the ground just a slight bit off from where his shack was. It must have been the length of only two full coconut trees away.

Bernie came closer to the crater to inspect the thing that almost ruined his whole livelihood. It was a round, shinning thing. Sparkly, even. His imagination told him that it was like a carriage from the sky, for someone important.

The object shook as if someone was pushing at it from the inside. Bernie hesitated. What if there indeed was a being inside? He had read books about creatures coming from the worlds outside. He didn't like them much if he was honest with himself. What if the creature inside is going to kill him? That'd be the end of young Bernie Taupin, die before he even set foot outside of his town.  Roy Rogers wouldn't be such a chicken, be like him, Bernie steeled himself with that thought.

He approached the metal carriage carefully, still undecided on what to do once he was there. When he was finally close enough and heard the muffled sounds of distress coming from inside, plus what seemed like the door being kicked, Bernie figured that the creature was stuck inside.  Heroes would never leave anyone to die , he thought and ran to help, yanking the door by the latch from the outside. It took quite a bit of effort from both sides, but finally, they succeeded in removing the offending object.

The creature crawled out of the chamber, yet, he couldn't really stand up on his feet just yet, still trying to catch his breath. Bernie noticed that this outer-world being looked  human . He looked just like any other human with two arms, two legs and a completely normal, human torso. He even had brown hair just like an earthling! Even the sounds of him gasping for oxygen was human.  And he breathes oxygen too!

What made this stranger stand out from anyone else Bernie ever knew was how  strange  his clothes were. He was wearing something in various shades of orange, heavily bejewelled with gems that glowed brightly. His shoes were pointy and strange. His cape shone like the daylights on one side and sparkled like the night sky on the other side. His hat looked like the sun, yet his glasses were like the moon adorned with stars. The whole outfit seemed like something a jester would wear but made with craftsmanship reserved for kings. An inter-galactical jester king?

When the strange man finally stood up, Bernie extended his hand, "H-hello? How are you? I'm Bernie."

The stranger looked at his extended hand, up to his face, then back down to his hands again, bewildered. "Solar prestige a gammon?" He said meekly.

"Huh?" Now it was Bernie's turn to be confused.

"Solar prestige a gammon?" The stranger asked again as if that would help at all. "Kool kar kyrie kay salmon." He seemed worried.

Why did I think that a man from the stars would understand English? Bernie fumed internally. So, he tried to be friendly, showing both his hands and smile. Then he pointed at himself, "Bernie," he said, then at the ground, "Earth!"

The stranger stared at Bernie for a while, trying to decide if Bernie was about to harm him. Then, at Bernie's inaction, he seemed to relax a fraction. He turned to look at his steel carriage, still smoking, then back to Bernie and sighed. He gestured at the thing, then at himself, "Rrrr."

"Rrrr? That's your name?" When the stranger didn't react to his question, Bernie pointed at the man. "Look, it's weird calling you that. I'm going to call you Reggie. Alright?" He gestured to himself, "Bernie," then to the man "Reggie."

The man from the stars sighed again but shrugged. Bernie took it as a sign of acceptance and waved at him so he'd follow Bernie inside. It was getting cold.

 


 

It turned out that Reggie was good company. He couldn't speak English, of course, but he was still chittering all the time when he followed Bernie every day. Gutting fishes and digging for worms scared Reggie, so he ran away and hid somewhere when Bernie got to doing those tasks, but otherwise, he would be there. Sometimes Reggie would even mimic the sounds of birds singing. Sometimes, Bernie sang when they were out at sea, and Reggie mimicked him too. It kind of made Bernie feel bad, because while Reggie could not pronounce sentences correctly, his singing voice was so much better.

Reggie loved flowers. He picked up flowers from the trees around the place. He even tried to cultivate some himself. Some days, when work was done, they had a dandelion blowing competition to see who could spread those little fluffy white things higher and further.

Bernie felt like Reggie was slowly picking up simple English, understanding when Bernie called for him or said a simple sentence. However, he still replied in that strange language of his.

"Cod ee say oo pay a loto."

"Hair ring molassis abounding."

"Common lap kitch sardin a poor floundin."

Bernie had no idea if Reggie's language was full of random words that sounded like names of fishes, or if Reggie learned those names from being around Bernie and was trying to tell him something.

At night, he read his books out loud for Reggie, trying to act it out when he could, so that his friend from the stars could follow. Reggie seemed like he enjoyed the stories a lot too, listened intensely and sometimes cheering him on.

All in all, Bernie was thrilled. He wished upon a shooting star for a friend and a friend he got.

 


 

One day, Bernie took Reggie along for the trip to the market. He felt that Reggie was already used to the ocean shack enough; it was time for him to see more of Earth. He felt like it would make his friend happy.

And Reggie was ecstatic! He beamed at everything and everyone. Dressed in Bernie's fisherman's clothes that were a tad too short for him, Reggie looked like an overgrown child seeing the world for the first time. A child that was still wearing his way too shiny necklace and some of the rings made of strange materials. They did not fit with the rest of the outfit at all, but Reggie refused to take them off.

Reggie did not notice the glances people threw at him, too busy admiring the houses, the colourful items on display and the fancy-dressed people. When he passed by a shop that sold musical instruments, he was entranced. He kept standing there, listening to the sounds. Bernie relented and took him inside, asking the kind older gentleman to let Reggie try out some of the instruments inside by making up some sob story about how his sad cousin just lost his family. Reggie was terrible at the violin and the guitar, but he took to the piano like fish to water. Bernie felt awful when he had to drag Reggie away, as they did not have enough money to buy it. The kind shopkeeper saw how sad Reggie was and told him to come by anytime. His tunes were a welcome change.

They travelled the rest of the way to the fishmonger. The place did not smell pleasant, Bernie had to admit, even for him. That meant it was horrible for Reggie. Bernie told him to stay outside and wait for him.

He tried to do his business quickly but came out to find the sun had already set. Reggie was gone.

Bernie panicked. Reggie was never left alone for long, especially not among strangers. He ran around the market, shouting Reggie's name.  Please let my friend be safe,  he prayed.

Then, he heard "B-Bennie!" from the back of an alley. It was Reggie's voice. Bernie picked up a sturdy looking tree branch and ran over. When he saw a boy he knew to avoid due to his shadiness, he promptly told the delinquent to get lost.

"Awww, we were just having a bit of fun, aren't we, strange boy?" The shady boy drawled, he gave Bernie the creeps.

Reggie tried to break free from the hand pinning one of his shoulders to the wall, he shook his head vehemently while looking at Bernie, pointed at the bully and then his necklace, yanking it lightly.

"You were trying to rob my brother, weren't you? Get lost before we punch your face in. Let's see how the girls at the tavern like you with a broken nose, huh?" Bernie meant the words he said. He was pissed off. He took Reggie to the market so he could see other good people on Earth, and this delinquent just had to show up.

The boy sneered and walked away, deciding it wasn't worth it. Bernie dragged Reggie out on the main street, picked up his cart, and both of them went home.

Bernie was annoyed with Reggie too. If he didn't wander off, this wouldn't have happened. When they were finally inside the shack and sitting around the fire, Bernie admonished Reggie, "You did not wait."

Reggie looked like a child that got caught eating all the dessert. "S...s...", he struggled, "Ssso...rry." That surprised Bernie enough to make him forget about what he was supposed to be mad about. Then Reggie pointed at the general direction of the market, "H-he," then he mimed the movements of playing the piano, then cupped his hand together "sss...mall", then pointed at himself.

"He had a toy piano box, and you wanted it?" Bernie asked, surprised. Reggie didn't say a word of English for months, other than the strange fish names. Now they were actually communicating.

Reggie nodded bashfully.

Bernie sighed. "Look, Reggie. Humans are good. But not all. Some are bad, don't trust everyone, alright?"

Reggie nodded again, looking sad. Bernie hoped that wherever Reggie came from, there were good and bad people too. He'd hate to think that someone from a planet with only sincere people such as his friend would have to learn about unkindness from Earth.

They proceeded to eat quietly, both lost in thoughts. After a while, Bernie asked, trying to lighten the mood. "What were you, before you came here? Work, I mean? Like me," he gestured to himself and mimed the act of pulling nets, "I'm a fisherman."

Reggie did not say anything for a while. Bernie thought he was being ignored, but then his friend stood up and gestured. He pointed at the direction of the steel carriage he came in with, now more or less a pile of junk, saying, "B-bigger. Much." Then, he picked up the cane he brought in from the ship and stood up straight, like you'd see an officer do, then started pointing at the stars.

"You led a big ship in the sky?" Bernie guessed. Reggie nodded. "You were a captain?" Reggie smiled and nodded, agreeing with the word.

"That's fantastic!" Bernie exclaimed, "I'm friend with a space captain!" Reggie laughed out loud at that.  No wonder why his clothes looked so extravagant when he crash-landed here , Bernie thought.  He must have been used to being treated like a prince . Then he realized the state of the shack they were in. "Hey, I'm sorry you landed near the home of the poorest man on this planet," he apologized.

Reggie shook his head vehemently. "No." He said with all his conviction; then he pointed at Bernie's chest. "You... Are... R... Rich?"

The fact that Reggie wasn't sure about the word and made his strong statement sound like a question caused Bernie to smile. It was such a kind thing to say, however, so he didn't want Reggie to misunderstand that he was being laughed at. "Thank you, really appreciate it!" He patted his friend on the back. Reggie seemed confused at the big word, but he got the general meaning.

Since they were sharing stories, Bernie asked something else that had been on his mind for a while. "You seem to be excellent at music." Reggie nodded, looking smug. It seemed that this was something Reggie was proud of. Bernie pressed forward. "Were you born that way? Good at music?" Reggie nodded again, pointing at his ears and then temple. "I get it, good ears and memory. Did someone teach you where you came from?"

"Yes. Many." Reggie grinned, then he pointed at his own chest. "Love music."

"That much, huh?" Bernie knocked Reggie's shoulder with his own in a playful way. "I love music too, but I am bad at it. I don't have money to see people playing music when they came to town, either. But I can write poems! They can be made into music! Or I hope they are good enough that someone wants to write music to them. I always want to be a travelling poet, bringing my words from one town to another. It would be easier if people can sing to those words."

As usual, Reggie paid full attention to his words. He nodded in agreement but remained silent even after Bernie finished talking, seemed to be thinking a lot about the matter.

"Hey, don't worry about it. It's all just a dream right now. How about first, we save up to get you a small piano?"

His friend perked up. "R-really? Thank you!"

Bernie had to laugh, "Thank me when we have it! Then, I expect you to have my back when I'm travelling around the world. Play the piano for my poems, will you?" he joked, hoping his friend got it.

Reggie reacted really well to the idea. He grinned, then mimed playing the piano while headbanging hard and then raised his hands in the air. "YEEAAHHH", he shouted after he was done giving the imaginary performance.

"Great!" The excitement was shared. "We can call ourselves Captain uhm... Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy! Yes! From the end of the world to your town!"

"Yeah! Captain!" Reggie punched the air. Bernie extended his own fist toward his best friend and taught him to do a fist bump.

 


 

Later, while Bernie was outside checking up on his fishing tools, Reggie stayed inside and recalled what Bernie said. He tried to repeat a particular sentence over and over. "C-Captain Fantastic. And the Brown. Dirt Cowboy. From the. The end. Of the w-world. To your town."

Eventually, when he could say the whole sentence without having to break and think. He switched to singing.

"Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.

From the end of the world to your tooowwnnn!"