The Despicable Beast of Marrakesh

Part of The Tall Tales of Tiberius O’Donnell

My dear friends, Ladies and Gentlemen of this fine establishment next to the Royal Zoological Society in London, I ask for your patience as I tale you my story. I warn those of a weak disposition, especially those of the fairer sex, you may find the need to cover your ears.

But before I begin, I wonder if one of you could get an old man a dram of whiskey to warm the throat? Thank you.

It was in this very bar some three months ago I first heard of the “Despicable beast of Marrakesh”.

I had been chatting to a rather interesting businessman by the name of Horatio Pippin who had told me of his recent expedition across French Africa. Whilst he amazed not just myself, but others at the bar with his many tales, it was not until he and I were alone in the smoking room he told us about the beast.

As sunset comes across the city and night begins to fall is when this creature comes out. They say its seven foot high with teeth like razors and a thick black coat of fur. It’s territory is that of the roof tops of the city, only coming down to feed on cattle and small children!

After listening to Pippin’s tale, I decided at once I must go there and capture this travesty of nature and bring it to the Royal Zoological Society so they can do what they do must.

The very next morning I booked my passage on the RMS. Silvana from Southampton to Casablanca. I knew from the start this would be a most dangerous trip. As most of you are aware my money is heavily invested in the Zeppelin industry so I had to make this journey without my manservant. I was alone. . .

Arriving in Casablanca eight days later, the heat was unbearable. Ladies you may wish to cover your ears here. I found myself having to remove my collar and tie and dare I say unbuttoning my top two buttons to have any hope of surviving the heat. The Colonist, however, are a delightful bunch and I was able to arrange transport with little fuss. The natives though, well sooner they learn the Kings tongue the better.

Moving onto Marrakesh, I booked myself into the Hotel Bristol and waited for nightfall..

The concierge was a most helpful fellow. For not only did he find me a guide to take me around the city itself, but in also sourcing a gramophone and a pressing of Scot Joplin. For why it is said in the street that the beast is attracted to music.

The guide informed me that some two days previous, some droppings had been found in a street in the Kasbar area. I decided that this is where I would set up base, on the roof of a small shop nearby.

I sat on the roof top and waited as night came and the moon illuminated the sky. Lighting my pipe, I had realised I had made one fateful error in my planning. The wine I had bought with me was a 1878, not a 76. How could I have been so careless? I tossed the bottle aside and pulled out my hip-flask instead.

A little after 3 am I heard the unmistakable sound of an animal breathing. I took from my case the finest Sheffield steel padlocks one can buy and three metres of chain.

My plan to calm the beast was with Dr. Dean’s Amazing Sleep remedy. A quart to knock out a man is the usual dose,but here I was not taking no chances, I filled a syringe with a full pint!

The sound of breathing grew louder and I could hear it getting nearer, Gordon Bennett! The music seemed to have done its trick ! I positioned myself in the corner and readied myself with the syringe.

BANG! It was on the roof with me. In the darkness I could make out its large eyes, it was aware I was there too! I stepped forward and attempted to plunge the syringe in.

Before my arm was out straight, the beast leaped forward sending me flying and sadly, the syringe too. I felt around and grabbed the chain, my last chance! I swung at the beast with all my strength. Sadly it resulted in nothing more than the padlock flying off the end.

For a moment we stood perched on this roof, neither of us moving. Silence.

My gaze drifted to the gramophone that I could just make out in the darkness. From the corner of my eye I could see the beast heading towards the player as the record came to an end. Without the delightful ragtime sounds, I wondered what the beasts next move would be.

Do please entertain my nonsense here, for I was certain there was a look of sadness on the creatures face if such emotions could exist in the animal kingdom. Composing my courage I began to move closer and then whoosh!. The creature was gone.

Not before doing me the injustice of breaking the gramophone I might add.

In the darkness I did my best to retrieve to the pieces of the broken player, but alas could not find the speaker cone. Tired, I headed back to my room at the Bristol. I dreaded having to tell the concierge I would require another player in the morning.

Turned out this most reasonable and helpful fella up until now was most displeased and refused me help in sourcing another.

Without music, I fear I had little chance of catching the creature. Having come so close I headed back to Casablanca and on the first available ship back to England. Which is why you now find me here.

I have come to ask your assistance in raising funds to take a brass band over with me on my next attempt, Now who is with me ?

More to come

The Despicable Beast of Marrakesh

Robert St-John Smith

Leeds, United Kingdom

  • Artist
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