Jenny Merchant wasn’t her real name, but she preferred it to Wanda Buttslap. So on the day she was asked for ID when ordering a glass of water at a pub in West Burmore, she reluctantly admitted her true existence.
As she handed a little piece of plastic with a photo and some details over to a beastly looking man, she felt her dignity just up and leave. The burly barman read the name and didn’t bother to hide his snigger. He handed it back to her and proceeded to pour a glass of water for his embarrassed customer. She thanked him for the water, paid her fee and returned to her seat in the furthest corner of the pub, just next to a dying potted plant.
She stared at the small window on the opposite wall and watched as a small boy flew a broomstick to avoid being eaten by a dragon. Jenny had not realised this was in fact a television playing a film, but this didn’t stop her enjoying it all the same. After a short while, when her glass was either half empty or half full, she was suddenly interrupted by a large man standing in front of her. She confronted the man in her politest tone.
“Excuse me, I’m trying to watch a window and you’re in the way.” she said kindly. The man looked disgruntled.
“You do not know me?” asked he.
“I have never seen you before in any of my lives.” Jenny replied.
“Then allow me to introduce myself.” he said. “My name is Mole Dickson. I am CEO of a company which you have never heard of and is of no importance. I am here to offer you a wager.”
Jenny was somewhat of a gambling woman and suddenly found herself keenly interested in the stranger.
“Tell me more.” she said.
“I have in my bag an item. If you guess it after 5 questions, I will give it to you, along with £50. Should you fail, I will win permission to pour custard down your skirt.”
Jenny was astounded by the offer, but at the same time enthralled by the idea of the game.
“I will take you up on your offer.” she said, then sat in thought for a moment about her first question. She decided to first deduce the colour of the item.
“Is it blue?” she asked, hoping to eliminate a vast amount of coloured items.
“It is not.” replied the man.
She thought again, this time a bit longer. While her mind was working the man pulled up a chair and sat on it. She began to think that whatever was in the bag must be something extra-ordinary in order to be able to make a bet of it.
“Is it alive?” asked Jenny.
“No.” replied Mole.
Damn. So it wasn’t blue and it wasn’t alive. Again she thought about why the man was asking her.
“Is it something you’ve stolen from me?” she asked.
“No.” he answered.
Suddenly an obvious question appeared in her mind.
“Is it edible?” asked Jenny.
“Yes.” replied the Mole Dickson.
Although this eliminated an unthinkable amount of inedible items, it was not the answer Jenny was hoping for. This now meant she had just one more question before having to guess an edible item that wasn’t blue, wasn’t alive and wasn’t something of hers.
“Is it a fruit?” she asked, hoping it would soon become obvious.
“No.” he replied. “Time to guess.”
Jenny Merchant sat for several minutes trying to think of what it could be. She suspected it must be something obscure, otherwise he wouldn’t ask. She looked at the man hard and tried to work out some connection. Finally she gave up and asked if it was rice.
“It is not rice and you are a fool.” said Mole as he reached into his bag. “And now I shall fill your skirt with custard.” he said, as he pulled out a jug of custard, the object in his bag that he had told her from the start. Jenny could not believe she had been so blind and agreed that she was a fool and she deserved to have her new pink skirt filled with custard. But Mole Dickinson was not interested in her new pink skirt.
“Please can you bring me that pretty white skirt I saw you wearing 2 weeks ago.” he said. “This is the skirt I wish to fill with custard.”
Jenny was bemused. Not only was a stranger suggesting something ridiculous, but he had apparently been stalking her for at least 2 weeks. She decided that she had had enough of this mad man’s antics and got up from her table.
“I shall go and fetch it now.” she lied. “Meet me here in 40 minutes.”
As Jenny left, the crazy man poured some of the custard into her empty glass and began drinking it. Jenny caught the bus home and when she returned she told her cat all about her crazy encounter with a mad man. She then rung her friend, Susie Flop, and told her too. After telling her story, she went to her wardrobe, curious about the white dress the man had mentioned. When she pulled it out, however, she was stunned to find custard dripping from inside it. This scared her and she let out a little scream, hurling the dress across the room.
She ran out of the house and caught the bus back to the pub she had not long left. When she arrived, she found that the man was no longer at the table and there were no signs of any custard anywhere. She stumbled up to the bar and asked the barman where the man with the custard had gone.
“What man with custard?” the barman, whose name was Tim, asked her.
“The one who was sitting just over there,” she said, pointing to the empty table in the furthest corner of the room, “Where I was sat about 30 minutes ago.”
“I haven’t seen anyone there since you left.” he said.
“But there was a man… You must have seen him talking to me.” she said, now sounding quite worried.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t see any man.” he replied.
By now Jenny was getting quite angry with the barman, who she thought was lying or playing some silly joke on her. She grabbed him by the collar and spoke more aggressively to him.
“Listen here sunbeam, I was sat over there talking to a crazy man who wanted to pour custard down one of my old skirts, and now I need to know where he is!” she hissed.
Before the barman could answer, his manager came over and broke up the conversation. He told the woman to calm down and he would speak to her in private. While she was waiting to speak to the manager, he was behind the bar ringing the police, who soon arrived and took Jenny away in their car with the flashing lights.
Jenny Merchant now lives in a home for mentally challenged people, spending most of her days talking about custard. Whether Mole Dickinson really did exist is still a matter of debate. I have researched extensively and found no evidence of any such person, though I suspect if he is real then he will have undoubtedly used a false name, as he would have with any other victims.