Somewhere, there is a seaside town where there is an office with a door on which a sign says,

Moose & Goose
Private Investigators
 and  Solvers of Tricky Problems

No problem is too big or too small,
too difficult or too easy,
too weird or too obvious.

On this particular Monday morning, Moose and Goose (private investigators and solvers of tricky problems) were sitting in their office, each sipping a cup of Darjeeling tea, when the phone rang.

Moose answered it, “Hello”.
“Is that Moose and Goose?”
“Yes”, said Moose.
“This is Sammy. I have a tricky problem for you. Are you available?”
“Yes”, said Moose, clicking his fingers at Goose as he switched on the speakerphone.

(At this point, its worth knowing a bit about Sammy. He is a very successful entrepreneur in the town, who owns several of the businesses there. Full name, Sammy Seagull. Most people assumed that was just a nickname, but Moose and Goose were among the very few people who knew that Sammy was, in fact, a seagull… Don’t ask. Its too complicated to explain.)

“Right”, said Sammy, “I have a problem. I own a zoo in town, as you know, and it’s been getting a bit quiet. Not many people are visiting. They seem a bit bored with it. We want to do a re-launch, generate lots of publicity, get more people to visit. You know the sort of thing. We need a theme, something interesting, something exciting, something that will get this town buzzing. I’d like you lads to come up with some ideas for us, and can pay, oooh, say £100 per day. What do you say to that?”

“We say yes, that sounds like a nice challenge”, said Goose, “And we would also say, £200 per day plus expenses.”

“Ouch”, winced Sammy, “but it’s a deal. Have a chat with Reginald. He’s the zoo keeper.”

Moose and Goose then did what they always do in cases like this: they went and had a look, on their bicycles.

Leaving their bicycles by the zoo gate, they wandered round the zoo. The zoo keeper came up to them and introduced himself, having been warned by Sammy they were coming.

Reginald showed them all the new animals like the pygmy hippo, the dwarf rhino, and the skunk. He showed them the new, enlarged enclosures, where Sammy had bought land next to the zoo and they had expanded into it. And he showed them the new café with its automated cookie oven for baking fresh cookies.

“No big animals?” noted Moose.
“No”, agreed Reginald.
“Hm”, said Goose, “big animals would generate big headlines”.
“This is only a small zoo”, said Reginald.

Moose, Goose, and Reginald wandered over to the café for a cup of tea. Goose got out his note book and said “Right, let’s throw some ideas around”.

Moose and Goose started making lots of suggestions, writing everything down. (When you are thinking like this, it is important to write everything down and not ignore anything, no matter how silly it sounds at the time. Every idea is a good idea, even though Reginald got a bit worried about just how silly some of these ideas were, thinking maybe Moose and Goose were trying to ruin his zoo. He soon relaxed and began to enjoy the process)

  • Can we pretend there is an elephant? (everyone looked quizzical)
  • Pin the tail on the hippo? (Reginald blinked)
  • paint a target on each animal and give each visitor a paint gun (Reginald looked cross)
  • disguise an animal as an elephant? (Reginald shook his head thinking it would not look very realistic)
  • animal races
  • let the animals run loose through the town? (Reginald’s eyes went very wide)
  • dressing up an animal as an elephant as a joke? (this seemed to be quite funny)
  • how about dressing up all the animals as elephants? (everyone leaned forward)
  • how about … Elephant Day!

And suddenly, Moose, Goose and Reginald were looking at each other with big grins on their faces. Now that was a fine idea. They imagined all the animals dressed as elephants. Thinking about each animal in turn, it did seem doable.

But something was missing. Goose was not completely satisfied. Elephant Day was a good idea, but it needed an extra … something. Just then, a new batch of cookies emerged from the cookie oven and clattered into the collecting tray. Goose went over and studied the machine.

The oven sucked up some dough from a big bowl, chopped the dough into chunks onto a conveyor belt, baked them as they glided through an oven, and dropped them into a tray at the other end of the oven.

Moose, who knew the way Goose thought, got the same idea very quickly. He drew a picture to explain it to Reginald. They could disguise the cookie oven as an elephant too, making the dough slurping end look like a head with a trunk, cover the oven with a grey cloth, and put the whole thing up on a table with four big grey legs. Reginald nodded. He understood.

Moose, Goose and Reginald sat back down and drew up the plan for the zoo re-launch. When they presented this plan to Sammy, he was very pleased, and work started straight away. A date was chosen. Advertising posters were designed and put up all over town. Elephant Day was coming.

The day arrived, and Moose and Goose turned up early to help dress all the animals. It was not easy. Hippos and rhinos don’t like having big ears. Birds don’t like having little trunks stuck onto their beaks. And you really do not want to make the skunk angry as you try to put a little grey coat on it. Dressing the cookie oven was easy, and Moose and Goose added a couple of extra gadgets to it (that they had not told Sammy or Reginald about).

The opening hour arrived, and the crowds were let in. There were lots and lots of people, taking pictures everywhere. Sammy walked round, observing, and was very pleased. He stayed pleased until he heard a loud fart noise followed by lots of voices going “eeeeew”. There it was again: fart, “eeeeew”. It was coming from the café.

Sammy saw the disguised cookie oven in action for the first time. It noisily slurped up some dough with its trunk. There were some rumbling and belching noises coming from inside its tummy. And then, much to his surprise, it lifted its tail, made a loud fart noise, and cookies dropped out into a bucket. All the watching children screamed “eeeew” delightedly.

The children loved it and raced round to queue up to buy the elephant poo cookies. The parents looked on, trying hard not to smile. Sammy looked on too, quite cross that he hadn’t been told about this, but everyone was enjoying themselves so much (and buying cookies), it was obviously good for the zoo.

And so, Elephant Day was a big success. The zoo was popular again. Even after the costumes were removed, large posters were put up showing the animals dressed as elephants.

Moose and Goose got a nice bonus when their fees were paid: a big jar of cookies, and free tickets to visit the zoo whenever they liked.

THE
END


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Pin The Tail On The Hippo
(from The Moose and Goose Stories)
by Chris Gathercole
http://stories.upthebuzzard.com, RSS
published: 05 October 2011
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This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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