Bedtime Stories For Maniacs

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Disclaimer: No own show. No make money. No want infringe or reflect on copyrighted materials.

Chapter 1

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"Everything's spinning."

"Well, then don't raise your 'ead, yeh silly sod."

A prone and miserable Andrew Carter rolled his head very, very gently to the right and opened one eye to glare at the smug man sitting beside his bunk. "I don't remember calling you names when you were down with this."

"Not my fault you didn't take the opportunity," Newkirk pointed out.

"I'll remember that for next time. You could at least try and be sympathetic, you know."

"Oh, quit yer moaning. Least I stayed, everyone else cleared off. And I offered to fetch you something to eat, didn't I?"

Carter rolled his eyes. "Oh yeah, big sacrifice on your part - you knew I wouldn't take you up on it."

"Stomach still botherin' then?" Newkirk asked. In answer, Carter wrinkled his nose and draped his forearm over his eyes to shield them from the light. Newkirk leaned forward and put his hand on Carter's arm. His voice took on a serious tone. "You know mate, if there's something you want to tell me, you can."

Carter opened his eyes again to look at him. "Tell you? Tell you what?"

"Andrew," Newkirk asked gravely, "You 'aven't gone and got yourself in the family way, have you now?"

Carter batted his friend's hand away with exasperation as Newkirk laughed. "Oh, HA HA!" Carter said. "You know it's an inner ear infection from that dumb cold and I'm only sick cause the whole stupid room won't stop turning! For Pete's sake, you had it last week!"

"Oh, my my, bit grumpy today, aren't we?" Newkirk asked, wiping a tear away.

"Hmpf. I bet you were the one who gave it to me, too."

"Oh, I was only joking, mate. No need to take on like this," Newkirk said, patting Carter on the shoulder good-naturedly. "C'mon, what do you need? You tell old Peter and I'll get it for you."

"I need another nurse."

"Well, that's a fine thing to say!"

"Are you kidding?"

"Got you a cold compress, didn't I?"

"Yeah, and now I've got the chills, thank you very much. And the shivering is making my stomach feel even worse."

"Complain, complain, complain…The compress was supposed to help with the dizziness."

"Yeah, well…just don't quit your day job, Florence Nightingale."

"Blimey, you're in a right state, aren't you? You whinge nearly as much as Lebeau," Newkirk said as he stood and pulled the blanket off of his own bunk. But as he draped it over Carter, he was pleased to see that the other man's faint trembling eased a little.

"What's 'whinge' mean?" Carter demanded.

"Whine. Bellyache. Gripe. Complain."

"Then I was not 'whinging'!"

Newkirk sat back down on the bench. "Fine, fine," he nodded. "You weren't whinging. But how about you try and get some sleep? Give us both a rest."

"I can't sleep," Carter sighed. "Even when I close my eyes, I can feel the room moving. It's like the darkness behind my eyelids is rotating."

Newkirk grimaced; he remembered that sensation all too well. "All right, then," he said, "how about I read to you to help you get to sleep?"

"You got a book in mind?" Carter asked, smiling for the first time that day. He reached up and pulled a lurid yellow paperback book out from the missing slat of Newkirk's bunk. "Like this one here?"

Newkirk stiffened and snatched the book out of Carter's hand.

" 'Nellie the Naughty Nun,' " Carter snickered. "That's quite the title, Newkirk."

Peter Newkirk gaped like a fish. "How long 'ave you known about this being there?" he finally managed to spit out.

"Oh, awhile," Carter said nonchalantly. "Wasn't as good as the last one, though," he giggled.

Newkirk yelped with disbelief, "Last one?"

"You know, the one with the castle. What was it? Oh yeah, 'The Wicked Wenches of Wellesley Hall.'"

Newkirk sputtered and smacked Carter playfully with the book. He didn't like being caught out, but it was hard to keep from laughing. Even if the book was nothing but a cheeky romp with a bit of eager, jolly bed-hopping thrown in and hardly naughtier than the joke postcards his Gran brought back from her trip to the seaside, the surprise of Carter blithely stealing a look, added to the raised eyebrows and 'got you' smirk on Andrew's face, was enough to get him going. "You…!" he said, pointing at Carter with the book. "I always felt you'd turn out to be a ruddy dark horse!"

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"Never you mind! And I am NOT reading you this book!"

"That's okay by me. It's a bit of a relief, honestly," Carter said. "It's not the kind of thing you want to hear coming out of the lips of another guy, after all. If you know what I mean."

Newkirk snorted and shook his head. After he stood and made a show of shoving the book back under his mattress in a spot where it wouldn't poke through the missing slat, he offered to get another book.

"No thanks. To tell the truth, I don't really like being read to. It makes me feel like awkward. Like some kind of helpless invalid," Carter explained. "One time, my aunt practically locked herself in my room with me and forced me to listen to 'Wuthering Heights', and all I had was the sniffles!"

"Blimey!"

"You got that right!"

"All right, so 'ow bout I tell you a story, then?"

Carter gave him a dubious look. "What, you mean like a bedtime story or something? Geez, don't you think I'm a little too old for that?"

The sceptical and slightly questioning look Newkirk gave Carter earned him a fist being shaken in his face by a scowling patient. "Newkirk…" Carter threatened. "You had better think I'm too old for that!"

"Maybe 'too old' is the problem! I should think after Nellie you could do with something clean and wholesome," Newkirk scolded. "So how would 'The Princess and the Pea' suit you?"

Carter blew a raspberry. "Awful! I never liked that one."

"What's not to like? Pretty princess, wealthy prince, happy ending…"

"Pushy mother-in-law who thinks people need to be tested to see if they're good enough to marry. Not to mention a girl who can feel a tiny little pea under twenty mattresses! Good luck keeping that one happy, boy!" he sniffed.

"Now that's hardly fair, Andrew. Perhaps the prince needed a bird who'd be able to get worked up about pea-sized things."

"Huh?"

"Maybe you should give Nellie another look-through."

Carter's eyes narrowed. "Just what in the heck is that supposed to mean?"

"It means you're no fun when you're grumpy. Fine, so no fairy tales, then. What about I make something up?"

"Oh, all right."

Newkirk thought for a few minutes and then started in. "So we start off with our intrepid hero, whose name just 'appens to be Peter Newkirk - "

Carter snorted. "Intrepid hero. That's a hot one."

"Do you want to hear this story or not?"

"All right, all right. Geez, somebody's a little sensitive."

"Then shut yer gob and let me tell it. Now where was I?"

"Our intrepid hero," Carter recited sarcastically.

"If you're going to be that way, I'm not going to tell the story."

"Sorry."

"Fine. So we start off with our intrepid hero, Peter Newkirk. Intelligent, brave, charming, debonair, and devilishly handsome - "

"Oh brother! I think I've changed my mind. Is it too late to get a refund on my ticket to this cornball show?"

"Here now, enough of that! I'm trying to do something nice for you."

"Oh, I am sorry! Please do go on, Mr. Intelligent, brave and devilishly handsome."

"I will. And you forgot charming and debonair."

Carter rolled his eyes and Newkirk began.