“It’s the economy, stupid.”
That’s what he’d been told when he asked why Santa’s Workshop Industries was relocating from the North Pole here, to Snotsville.
Bodgie wasn’t the sort of goblin to look a gift mole in the mouth but he’d initially been skeptical that a big multi-national like SWI would want to shift toy production from their slick digs at the top of the world to the cesspit of Snotsville; a population center where the sign at the town limits didn’t say welcome because some nasty guttersnipe had stolen it and used it for kindling. Yes, Snotsville was a wretched hive of scum and villainy, where even the reputation was stolen without permission; where life expectancy was measured in weeks rather than years and where the measure of success was not being eaten by a passing ogre or crushed under a giant’s butt.
But there could be worse places, perhaps; and Bodgie the goblin wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Of course as a goblin and not a smart one at that he didn’t think he could live anywhere else. Goblins weren’t generally sought as neighbors.
Even if he held the imagination required to think of something besides stealing from his friends or shirking work; he certainly didn’t have the courage to do something as outrageously worthwhile as move or perhaps finish primary school, or shower.
However, as fate would have it the chronically disengaged, uneducated and unemployed population of Snotsville had blundered its way into a bit of luck and the modern world had come calling to a place where progress had long ago left, turned off the light and bolted shut the door.
It was a cold, early December day when the trucks had rolled in to town, gathering a crowd of nose picking grots and grotlings to see what was happening, Bodgie had been amongst the noisy gaggle that listened to the speeches about jobs, growth and prosperity; a new age that promised to lift Snotsville out from its perpetual nosedive into economical oblivion.
Bodgie had been skeptical but the flashy marketing campaign run by the elf girls in their little skirts and tight tights had sold him, not that he’d tell the missus that; if he had a chance to perve on them at work while shirking his responsibilities then he’d sign up.
How hard could it be?
“Don’t tell me you’re going to make a smart decision for once in your life you pathetic lay about.” The missus had said in what was as close to a compliment as Bodgie could expect. “The gods know you’ve been about as useful to me and your whelps as nappies on a flatulent troll!”
He’d just nodded patiently until her diatribe had petered out and she’d directed her noisome attention to the screaming dozen or so filthy whelps that ran riot around Bodgies burrow home.
In any case he’d applied for the job. Him and fifty thousand other out of work hopefuls who had thought that perhaps the coming of the New World to the old had signaled some sort of hope for a better future; the marketing campaign with those elves in their tight tights certainly hadn’t done any harm to the general feeling of enthusiasm, or dampened the goblin men’s intent to be away from their burrows and their perpetually irritable spouses.
Bodgie remembered the initial forum where a particularly buxom elf had stood in front of an audience of thousands and smoothly run through how Santa’s Workshop Industries had transformed from an idea in a garage to the global juggernaut that it was today. A wall to wall screen had delivered a montage of images ranging from a fat bearded man making wooden toys in a snowed in garden shed to a corporate signed factory belching forth an unending line of trucks carrying the latest in children’s gifts to stores across the world, to showing artists depictions of a group of happy, smiling goblin workers sitting in comfy chairs and sketching out ideas for the Next Big Thing™.
He’d certainly been excited then, although when he’d sat the test he’d been confused at what all the squiggles and lines on the page meant, after all; goblins didn’t read; paper was something you wiped your behind with and only when a squirrel or owl chick wasn’t available.
Despite the odds being stacked against him though, he’d got the job, or at least a job. Instead of being posted to a position in a nice office with his own laptop and worm dispenser he’d been directed to a large, grimy warehouse with several thousand other goblins and sat down behind a splintered plank of wood that; he was informed, was his personal workspace.
Well, it was still better than cleaning muck of an ogre’s butt-hole and times were tough.
He sniffed a particularly viscous dribble of snot back up his nostril before it could complete its molasses slow pilgrimage to the floor. Nice one.
The missus was still relatively happy and even seemed relieved that her mate would still be suffering some level of deprivation rather than living the highlife while she stayed at home with their noxious spawn. Her pleasure was obvious to the point that she hadn’t boxed him over the head for at least an hour after he gave her the news and instead had bragged to the goblins down the hall that finally Bodgie was doing something worthwhile.
Bodgie guessed that was a fringe benefit, of a sort.
The work itself was interesting enough at the beginning. Goblins didn’t usually produce much beyond pointed sticks and now they were putting together circuits and wizardry of the type you only got stabbed with by magicians or sorcerers. He’d felt pretty good about up skilling himself but the thrill of being expected to produce twenty five yPhones minimum per day certainly wore thin after a couple of weeks.
Bodgie’s thin goblin arms ached and the minimal light in the warehouse had begun to make even a goblin squint in concentration. You certainly didn’t want to get it wrong; Fartbreath had mixed the wrong wires on one of the thingywhatsits he was making and blown himself across the room in three parts, Gobrot had thought he’d be sneaky and just fixed the empty cases together, hoping to get a bonus for working fast. The elves in tight tights had not seemed so nice when they came down and publicly whipped poor Gobrot with lengths of copper wire; they actually seemed to take a perverse glee in it although Bodgie couldn’t understand what they would have against goblins, besides them being untrustworthy, squealing, lying little thieves of course.
“Think of the pay-packet.” The goblin muttered to himself, adding to the self-reflection with a pointed investigation of his nasal cavity. After a week of eighteen hour days he had brought home at least five dollars and fifteen cents, which for a goblin he was told was an awful lot.
Naturally Bodgie wasn’t able to count but he trusted that the brass button and three mole droppings the elves gave him was actually money of a kind, he wasn’t sure; finance wasn’t his strong point, it was certainly better pay than a slap in the face with a wet skunk.
The shift siren, rang out; signaling it was time to go home to a well-earned rest. Bodgie put down his half made yPhone and stood up, his hunched back crackling in protest.
“Another day, another dollar.” Remarked Snozgrot cordially as he moved past Bodgie, wiping his nose on another passing goblin sneakily; Bodgie admired the snail trail left behind before replying.
“Yep, well at least while I’m here the wife isn’t giving me grief.” He snickered and the pair of workers shared a conspiratorial laugh.
“Looking forward to the holidays?” asked Snozgrot.
“Yeah, nah; you know.” Began Bodgie, “One gobbos’ holiday is another gobbos’ thingy.”
Snoz nodded at the sage remark. “You’ve got a way of putting whatsits so I know exactly what you’re talking about.”
Bodgie grinned in approval. “Well, them’s the benefits of edumacashun. I tell the runts that if they study hard and things, then great things await them.”
“I didn’t think you finished school.” Quipped Snozgrot.
“Nah, I didn’t but I stole a book once, I might have picked something up by accident.” Grinned Bodgie.
“You’re a good dad, Bodge” chittered Snozgrot.
“Yeah, I know.” Replied Bodgie, completely oblivious to the sarcasm of his co-worker.
The goblins scampered towards the press at the door, eager to get out. An elf in particularly tight tights watched the gibbering throng from atop a platform, sneering at her charges bickering and poking each other as they left.
Bodgie had to admit, she was the prettiest thing he’d ever seen. The haughty stare, the pointed ears and long auburn hair, even the little red bodice she wore made him all tingly inside.
Not that he’d ever admit that in front of another goblin, the snitches would quickly tell the missus and Bodgie could expect a hammering from his much larger partner. Still, he couldn’t help himself but favor her with a wink and a grin as he passed by her.
She scowled at him with all the warmth of a polar storm.
‘Oh yeah, she likes me for sure.” Bodgie tittered to himself as he stepped into the open air.
It was raining.
Not that rain was unusual for Snotsville, it was just that it was raining giant pee.
Around the town, standing on the slopes of the surrounding mountains were the giants of the Rockbiter tribe, two dozen of the colossal creatures bellowing with gales of big, stupid laughter as they showered the goblin settlement with stinking yellow urine, a weekend tradition for them.
“I guess that means its Friday then.” Muttered Snozgrot, his wormy tongue licking the putrid liquid from his face.
“Yep.” Growled Bodgie and he grimly set off towards home without another word.
The walk home was uneventful besides the splattering of pee in yellow crossing streams above him, Bodgie only got bitten once by a passing ferret which for him was almost a record; he was sure the slinky critters sought him out just so they could nip at his legs and chase him from one end of the town to the other as he howled in pain and frustration.
Perhaps the weekend wouldn’t be so bad after all.
As he stepped through the door into a choking cloud of acrid cooking smoke, he knew it was going to be one of those weekends.
Immediately he was accosted by a pair of his runts, screaming hideously as they attempted to bite and claw at one another.
He tried to calm the two before their antics attracted any unwanted attention.
“Bodgie?” yelled the missus from the kitchen. “Get your useless hide doing something and control your whelps.”
Right on cue then. He’d better try to manage them.
To be truthful Bodgie wasn’t even sure they were his whelps, they looked distinctly different to him with their particularly bat-like ears and grey green hide, Bodgie was sure his was a much nicer forest green; although their color could be a throwback to cousin Newtgut’s side; perhaps they were Newtgut’s entirely, Bodgie wouldn’t put it past the sneaky git, couldn’t trust his mother’s side of the family, or was it his father’s? Goblin lineage was often difficult to keep track of.
He slapped the closest whelp across the head, “Ugh” Bodgie sighed as the whelp’s giggle became a klaxon loud wail of utter anguish and a clatter of saucepans announced the missus’ intervention.
She hove into view like a bear lumbering out from hibernation; a grotesque quivering lump of belly fat and sagging, sweaty flesh topped by a head like a smashed cabbage. A tobacco pipe stuck out from a corner of her snuggle toothed maw, jiggling around like an oar in a row boat.
“What’d you do to the kids?” She demanded, looming over the much smaller Bodgie and assaulting him with the full stench of unbrushed teeth and a fondness for onions.
“I’m sorry my darling.” Sniveled Bodgie, attempting his most obsequious cringe.
“Did you get paid today? Did you bring me my money?” hissed the missus, her belly pushing Bodgie back towards the burrow door.
“Next week, precious; I get paid every month.” Bodgie said, smiling weakly as he risked a glance at his greatest oppressor.
“You said that last week you maggot riding dwarf fondler.” Roared the Missus. Bodgie began to shake and it wasn’t just an act, she genuinely terrified him and especially when she expected to be getting her grubby hands on his hard earned cash.
Bodgie knew he hadn’t said he’d get paid today but it was pointless arguing with she who must be obeyed. Nonetheless it niggled him that she would be bragging about how cowed he was down at the Country Goblin Women’s Association tomorrow and he could expect a chorus of gibes and giggles at his expense at work on Monday.
“I know my princess.” He sniveled instead. “I’m a stupid goblin and I don’t deserve you.”
That seemed to mollify the enormous monster, she pushed his head down and turned, breaking wind towards his face. The whelps clustered around her ankles shrieked in delight at his humiliation and scampered away as she batted them this way and that with kicks from her great flat feet.
Bodgie sighed again and made his way to the lounge room, turning on the idiot box; since there wasn’t any power in the burrow nothing happened but he liked to think that just having the contraption made him somehow better than his fellow goblins.
But even staring at the black screen couldn’t block out the caterwauling of his many offspring and on a Friday after a long work week, a goblin needed some peace.
“Perhaps a spot of fishing.” Bodgie said to himself, trying to block out the continuous racket of the whelps hideous wailing in the background.
It took all of three seconds or so of deliberations before he decided that one bad idea was as good as another and since he was always short on ideas he may as well go with the first one.
Fishing it was then.
He didn’t bother telling his missus where he would going, she’d only take the opportunity to call him a lazy loafer and box him around the ears so he quietly slipped out the burrow door and scampered through the now muddy streets of Snotsville to where he kept his fishing pole hidden.
He passed Snozgrot’s missus and a horde of her whelps as he made his way.
“Lovely day, Mrs. Snozgrot. Good the rain has stopped.”
“Go die in a fire.” Replied the warbling lump of fat and gristle as she swayed left and right along the footpath.
Bodgie grinned inwardly at her warmth. “Still go it Bodgie my boy.” He whispered and held himself a little straighter, which meant his knuckles only brushed the ground rather than dragging furrows in it.
He found the sewerage pit where he had hidden his fishing pole; he’d learned not to keep it at home as the missus knew full well that a long, whippy pole made a perfect lash with which to beat annoying spouses. He checked his pockets for bait, the half-eaten sausages and attendant maggots would do fine down at the creek.
Bodgie began to feel happier straight away. He wasn’t at home or work and the chances of him being hit, beaten or bitten had decreased dramatically as a result; life was good.
The trip down to the creek proved uneventful, the streets were relatively empty but for the soft echoes of domestic violence issuing from burrow mouths and the occasional passing ogre carrying bags of manure down the street in preparation for cooking the Christmas feast.
Bodgie reached the creek and unlimbered his pole in readiness; the muddy brown water bubbled around piles of discarded trash and cascaded over the miniature waterfalls of the eroded creek bed.
A perfect spot to catch filth eels.
Jamming a maggot onto the rusty hook he’d fashioned from a stolen paperclip Bodgie settled down on a slime covered rock.
“This is the life.” he breathed.
“What’s the life?”
Bodgie spun around at the sound of the voice, not simply because he was surprised, but because he was surprised at who the voice belonged to.
It was an elf.
More importantly it was an elf in tight tights.
More importantly it was his elf in her tight tights.
“Ummmm.” Managed Bodgie as he licked cracked think lips and tried to dislodge yesterday’s diner from between his front teeth before she noticed it wriggling there.
“Not so plucky now are you Bodgie?” smiled the lithe vision in front of Bodgie.
“Ummmmm.” Continued Bodgie, still flabbergasted that an actual elf was talking to him personally.
She stepped forward and he tried to look at her eyes rather than the straight length of her legs that went on and on and up and up into a vision of……
“Eye contact please, Bodgie.” She insisted.
Bodgie blinked and did his best.
“Do you know why I’m here?” she asked.
“Ummmmm.” Stammered Bodgie and his eyes started to wander again.
“Oh for Santa’s sake.” She muttered and clipped the goblin across the ears, frowning in disgust as her perfectly manicured nails on a perfectly smooth handmade contact with his grimy scalp.
“Yes? I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.” Tried Bodgie, truly unaware of any reason the elf would have to talk to a festering snozball like himself.
“The boss wants to talk to you.” Said the tight tights, no; it wasn’t the tight tights, it was their wearer. He looked up at her.
“Ugh.” She sighed. “Just come with me.”
She began to walk away and in the parts of his brain less clogged with stupidity, spite and dreams of being the king of Snotsville Bodgie made sense of what she had said.
“The boss? Me? Talking?” he said to her as she strode away.
“Yes, yes.” She replied. “Now come along.”
Her name was Elina’thanessa’vashena’kwalai; but after Bodgie’s fifteenth or so complete mutilation of the pronunciation she told him to call her Eli.
He still took the next five tries to get that right, calling her Eelee, Earli and Arlee before her darkening gaze helped him get it right lest he cop another whack across the brow.
They’d made their way to a waiting limo, the sort that goblins weren’t allowed near and another elf, a male perhaps but Bodgie couldn’t be too sure due to their general similarity in size, opened the car door and ushered him inside.
Of course he wasn’t surprised that the elves had coated the backseat in stain resistant plastic to prevent the grime that covered Bodgie staining the upholstery; in a way he was proud that they’d realized his stench was not that of an ordinary goblin.
Things were looking up.
He’d expected Eli to sit in the back seat with him but she slid in the front passenger side with the driver and Bodgie watched with a little sadness as the dividing screen rolled up, separating him from the new object of his affection.
The limo started away and Bodgie looked at the passing vistas of Snotsville; the filthy whelps, the arguing matriarchs; the piles of steaming turds waiting to be collected by the ogre trash collectors. This was the city of opportunity.
He would have liked to wind down the window and taunt his fellow goblins with his new found importance but of course the limo’s child locks prevented that and Bodgie was resigned to pulling faces that the other goblins couldn’t see through the tinted glass.
The limo left the slurry and mud of Snotsville and began the winding trek up Big Deal Mountain, which was of course named because it was impressive and goblins weren’t usually allowed there, hence why it was a big deal.
Bodgie had tried to climb the mountain once when he was a whelp, like most whelps did; but he’d been caught and roundly thrashed by the trolls that patrolled the slopes to keep out the riff-raff. He gaped in awe at the large houses, set above the ground rather than being burrows like his own; more impressively they were made of wood rather than clumps of sod and straw packed manure like the mayor’s house was down in the town itself.
“Cor, it’d be nice to live there.” Muttered Bodgie to himself.
His limited imagination immediately soared away to picture him floating in a turd filled pond, being served drinks by Eli in her tight tights and not having to worry about his multiple whelp children. He dreamed of helicopters coming down to pick him up and fly him somewhere nice although where that would be he had no clue so his daydreaming was rather short on details.
The limo stopped and Bodgie pushed his lumpy face against the window, his nose bending and slathering snot across the glass.
What a place!
He was looking at a mansion that his eyes and tiny brain struggled to actually comprehend. Three stories of clean white stone, a red tile roof and a garden with trees manicured to perfection in the shaped of some sort of leaping deer.
Bodgie reckoned they’d taste pretty good if they weren’t trees, no one wanted to eat plants; yuck.
His door was opened by the driver elf and Bodgie favored him with a toothy grin.
“Cheers cobber.” He said with a wink.
The elf merely raised an eyebrow and walked away, completely ignoring Bodgie’s heartfelt show of camaraderie.
Bodgie’s brain had a thought.
That in itself was impressive enough but it was the content of the thought that stunned him the most.
What if he was in trouble?
What if he wasn’t being rewarded but was instead being prepared for the monster of all monstrous punishments?
He froze, one step out from the door and without moving his face his eyes frantically sought an escape route.
Security guards, check; cameras, check; big scary dog; check.
No way out.
“Come along goblin.” Sighed Eli motioning for Bodgie to follow her towards the mansion.
All fear forgotten he scuttled along behind the leggy vision, his tongue beginning to loll to the side as he watched every lithe, languid step.
By the time he was able to concentrate again he had followed her all the way through the big red front doors and into an auditorium where another busty elf sat behind a desk, her cute little face topped by a little red cap.
“Oh, you’re finally here.” She said with a pleasantness that Bodgie had never been greeted with before. “The director is waiting for you.”
Bodgie took a couple of seconds to move as he wondered if the receptionist was wearing tight tights as well, but remembered that he was really here for something else and he’d better get to it; whatever it actually was.
Eli stepped into a waiting elevator and ushered Bodgie inside, normally there was no way a goblin would let himself get into a little box with only one escape route but the little room did allow him to be very close to Eli’s legs so Bodgie made an exception.
A tendril of drool, rolled away from Bodgie’s lips, splattering loudly on the floor.
“Ugh” sighed Eli.
The elf pressed a button and the doors slid closed, causing Bodgie’s anxiety to skyrocket. By the time they’d reached the third floor he was shaking in terror and was finding it hard to prevent his bowels from collapsing.
The door slid open with a little “ding!”
Bodgie relaxed and gratefully loosened his sphincter, a long tortured toot slid out.
Eli looked at him disgusted.
“Sorry.” Apologized Bodgie, but he actually felt very relieved.
They were in a very large room and taking pride of place was a very large desk, behind which was a very large man.
A very large man indeed.
With a full white beard, horn rimmed glasses and a fur trimmed suit, Bodgie knew there was only one person it could be.
“Ronald Mc Donald?” he gasped.
The man behind the desk raised an eyebrow in askance and looked at Eli.
“I see you weren’t joking about him then.”
Eli shook her head and sighed. “I’m afraid not Santa, this may be the most stupid, self-aggrandizing, filthy and lecherous goblin we have in the entire company; and considering how wretched goblins are in general, that’s saying something.”
Bodgie didn’t understand the big words but he knew that if he was standing in front of Ronald McDonald then it was a big deal, perhaps they were going to give him a free cheeseburger. He hoped so.
“What do you have to say for yourself, Bodgie?” asked Santa, his voice deep, gruff but apparently not angry.
“I don’t like pickles.” Replied Bodgie. “You are what you eat and I don’t want to be a pickle, I’ve already got enough lumps and the missus say’s I’m sour enough as it is.” He tried his best grin.
Santa sat back and let out a big sigh, then pursed his lips.
“Bodgie, we’ve been watching your work performance for some time now.” He began.
Well, that sounded hopeful thought Bodgie, although what the boss of a hamburger company had been doing at Santa’s workshop he had no idea.
The penny dropped.
“Oh, you’re not Ronald” tittered Bodgie, noting the man’s full beard and Santa began to sit back relieved.
“You’re George RR Martin!” exclaimed the goblin.
The man’s face spasmed and grew as red as his suit.
“No, you dithering idiot of a goblin. I’m Santa.” He roared.
Bodgie wasn’t sure why the old bloke was getting angry, it was a simple enough mistake to make.
“Oh, you mean Santa from that Bible book?” he said, “I always thought you’d have horns like a goat and maybe a tail. I guessed the color right though.”
The old man looked ready to explode. Eli put her dainty hand on his shoulder.
“It is okay boss, he has this effect on pretty much everyone.”
Santa regained his composure. “Well I guess that’s why he’s here.”
Bodgie wasn’t sure who they were talking about now so he took the opportunity to clean out his nose; no point in interrupting their conversation; he thought.
“Bodgie” Santa started again. “We’ve been watching you for some time and we’ve come to a conclusion.
Bodgie stopped searching for nuggets mid-pick and tried to concentrate on listening.
“You are without doubt, the laziest, most inept, and cowardly and ultimately worthless employee that Santa’s Workshop Industries has ever had.”
Bodgie’s brain decided that didn’t sound so good after all, he started to cringe.
Santa continued. “We’ve got you on camera stealing stationary, filling our yPhones with dirt instead of circuitry and coming back from your five minute break two hours later, then saying that you were rescuing babies from burning houses.”
Bodgie remembered that incident, he’d actually gone fishing and fallen asleep on the creek bank.
“Further, you’ve blamed co-workers for problems with packing, stolen lunches from the fridge and photo-copied your butt….” Santa stopped and leafed through some files until he found what he wanted. “Fifteen thousand times.”
“I thought something was stuck up there.” Explained Bodgie.
“You are the most wretched and useless of all of our employees Bodgie the goblin and as a result something needs to be done.”
Here it comes, thought Bodgie, he was going to get a hammering from the missus when she found out. Perhaps he’d run away and never come back; perhaps he become a hobo and live on the land…..
“We’re promoting you to middle management.” Announced Santa.
“What?” sniffed Bodgie.
“You’re being promoted Bodgie.” Said Eli as Santa took out a pipe and stuffed it. “Every multi-national company needs people who can be blamed for its failures and who frustrate the attempts of customers to raise legitimate complaints. You are the most annoying and useless employee we could find and you’re perfect to be a manager of production standards.”
“What’s a standard?” asked Bodgie.
Eli continued, ignoring his question. “You’ll be required to wear a suit and we’ll give you a free yPhone, access to the coffee machine and corporate bar and of course a pay rise.”
“A pay rise?” shouted Bodgie, causing Santa to drop his pipe. “How much, how much, how much?”
Eli rolled her eyes but continued, doing her best to be patient. “We’re increasing your pay to two copper pieces and a brass razoo.”
“Cor, thanks boss.” Bodgie tittered in Santa’s general direction, his gaze flicked to Eli.
“Bodgie, concentrate.” Huffed Eli.
“Sorry.” Apologized the goblin, again not with any sincerity at all.
“You’ll start tomorrow, Bodgie.” Grunted Santa, putting a match to the pipe bowl. “There are some documents that need to be read and signed of course, but we’re expecting big things from you and by that I mean a continuing train wreck of ineptitude and stupidity. None of that really matters though as long as our profit margins increase.”
Bodgie decided that since he was one of the big boys now he might take a seat, he swaggered over to a plush lounge.
“Bodgie.” Said Eli firmly.
“Yes?” replied the goblin with his best lecherous wink.
The trip back to Snotsville wasn’t as glamorous as the one to Santa’s mansion with Bodgie being dropped off at the town limits to walk the rest of the way home. Still, nothing could dampen his mood. He was now an up and coming goblin, the world was his oyster, up and at them and all that.
As he passed by other goblins he made a point to sneer at them along his nose, tilting the parsnip shaped organ high into the air and causing Bodgie to have difficulty seeing where he was going.
He decided to celebrate, so rather than heading for his burrow he made his way to the best bar in town; the Snooty Fox.
Although considered a bar of some standing by goblins, the Snooty Fox was little more than a collection of cardboard boxes propped up against an abandoned shipping container, various attempts at decoration smeared its surface, some more organic than others. But for Snotsville it was the very pinnacle of class and style and Bodgie kept his nose high as he pushed open the front door and sauntered over to the bar.
The bar goblin, a thin and perpetually sniffing chap by the name of Bongo eyed Bodgie as he came close.
“You got cash? We don’t give credit ‘cause you never pay it back.” Sneered the barman before Bodgie could place an order.
“Well, it just so happens I do.” Sneered Bodgie, dragging a mole dropping out of his pocket and slamming it onto the counter top.
“One of your best, barkeep.” Ordered Bodgie, still trying to keep his nose in the air although his neck was starting to ache a little bit now.
Bongo stared at the nugget of mole poo on the counter and his expression almost changed to a smile.
“As you would have it, good sir.” He sniffed and rushed off to fill a bowl with whatever slop he could find out back.
Bodgie looked around at the establishment, a pair of particularly obese lady goblins sat squeezed into a booth nearby, studiously avoiding the attentions of lecherous goblins leering and gawping in their general direction.
There was a guy with a hood trying to look dark and mysterious in the corner, he called himself Strider but everyone knew he was just a homeless bloke with a broken sword.
Finally though there was a youngish gobliness cleaning the tables with a filthy rag that she periodically moistened by rubbing it across her nose. She certainly wasn’t as noteworthy as Eli in her tight tights but for a goblin she was less than unpleasant, with minimum wart coverage and a tangled mass of thinning black hair.
On her upper lip.
The barman returned and Bodgie slammed down the disgusting brew fast, then ordered another.
“Make it a double.” He said, loud enough for the waitress to hear him talking tough.
Bongo tittered and took the rest of the mole poo before pouring a double shot of some lumpy puke into the drinking bowl.
Bodgie made his best tough guy face and stared at the wall, then tilted the bowl and slurped down the whole stinking mixture; trying not to wretch as he did so.
“Ahhhhh” he breathed, the vile liquid burning his throat and his eyes starting to water.
But it did the trick and the usually pathetic goblin felt full of vim and vigor, he stood up from the bar-stool and approached the waitress as she continued to clean.
“Come here often?” Bodgie asked, trying to make his thin squeaky voice as deep and masculine as possible.
“I work here you idiot.” She snapped. “Now get out of my face before I bite ya.”
Bodgie stepped back before he remembered that he was probably drunk and as a result shouldn’t be allowing common sense to determine his actions.
“I ain’t seen you around here before.” He tried again, sticking his thumbs in the ragged rope he used as a belt.
“That’s because you ain’t ever been in here before you useless loafer.” Snapped the girl, digging an elbow into Bodgies ribs as she pushed past him.
Bodgie could tell she was into him, even if she wasn’t he wasn’t the sort of goblin to take no for an answer; especially not now he was climbing the corporate ladder, especially not when he had a double shot of liquor under his fraying belt.
But to win this girl over he needed to be smart, he needed to be smooth.
“How about we get a room?” he smiled, trying his best line.
The waitress turned to him, fists balled.
“How about I shove this booze soaked rag up your bum and set it on fire?” She snarled.
Bodgie immediately shrank into his most pathetic whimpering cringe, shaking and dribbling snot for all he was worth. Just as it had won the missus over all those moons ago it worked here and the waitress grabbed him by the ears and dragged him to the back door.
Despite the shooting pain Bodgie couldn’t help grinning to himself.
“Best day ever!” he chittered as he was flung headlong outside to land in a puddle of cold yellow rain water, smacking his bulbous head on a discarded half brick.
He awoke half covered by an itchy blanket, a louse sitting between his eyes as if it were a triumphant mountain climber. This wasn’t his bed, he didn’t have a bed; he usually slept in a shallow dirt depression next to the missus’ shuddering, snoring bulk.
“I got you something to eat.” Said a scratchy, irritating voice.
It was the waitress.
Success! Thought Bodgie, although his head pounded and he couldn’t remember any details that certainly wouldn’t stop him bragging to all the other goblins at the warehouse about another sexual conquest.
That’s when he remembered; he didn’t work at the warehouse anymore, he was a big boy; a corporate lackey on the road to moderate success.
As he basked in his own importance the waitress shoved a half-eaten meal worm in his face.
“I saved this for you.” She said. “Also, um some trolls came in here in the middle of the night and stole all your money. I don’t know who they were either.”
Bodgie narrowed his eyes, trying to detect if she was lying but was distracted by her bust and quickly forgot what he was suspicious about.
“You gotta go to work now, darling.” Said the girl. “Remember to come home to Gitsi.”
“Who’s Gitsi?” asked Bodgie, genuinely perplexed.
The girl looked like she was ready to hit him and Bodgie shrieked before hiding under the moth-eaten blanket but when the blow didn’t eventuate he peeked out through a hole.
“I’m Gitsi.” She purred. “Your wife, remember?”
Bodgie certainly could not and let’s face it; one vicious, violent wife and a dozen whelps was enough.
“Yeah, nah. Sorry, I wasn’t looking for a relationship.” He tried.
Her face went red. “You what?” she screamed.
“It was just some fun.” Answered Bodgie, looking around for an exit.
Gitsi struck a melodramatic pose. “You lied to me Bodgie, you said you’d be my bloke forever; you were my first!”
Bodgie doubted that very much, goblins were about as chaste as an ogres were scientists.
“Would you abandon me like a common street walker?” cried the waitress, “to fend for myself and feed our whelps without a father?”
“Huh?” said Bodgie.
As if to demonstrate Gitsi flung open the room’s cardboard door and a half-dozen mewling grots tumbled into the room, punching and pinching and biting one another.
“They ain’t mine.” Bodgie protested.
“Oh yes they are, look at them; they’ve got your eyes and this little one you named yourself, Bodgie Junior.”
The runts did have coloring similar to Bodgies and their eyes were the same mixture of muddy brown and yellow. Still, he wasn’t convinced.
“How’d you have them so quick?” he questioned, trying to be as cunning as possible.
“What? You think it was quick?” retorted Gitsi, “I struggled in labor for hours to have your whelps I did and this is the thanks I get. You’re a no good thingywhatsit, Bodgie. I was wrong to think you’d ever be the goblin of my dreams.”
The tirade was confusing for Bodgie, he actually had no idea how long it took goblins to have whelps, they’d always just turned up at inopportune moments and well, this was inopportune so maybe that was how it was supposed to be.
“I can promise you that your other wife is gonna hear about this.” Gitsi threatened, rubbing a slice of onion on her eyes as she did so and forcing out some crocodile tears.
A shock of fear ran through Bodgie’s crooked spine, the missus would kill him if she found out he’d been less than faithful. She might not look limber but the old toad could put on a turn of speed like a trash avalanche down a hillside.
“Aw nah, no need to do that; my love.” Pleaded Bodgie. “I’ll look after ya and the little ones, after all I’m a business grot now, and I’m moving on up.”
Gitsi looked at him through narrowed eyes and used her feet to shovel the screaming whelps back through the door before slamming it shut.
“See that you do, or I’ll have yer guts for garters.” She hissed.
Hearing the word garters just made Bodgie’s tiny brain think of Eli in her tight tights, but he got the gist of the threat and slinked towards the door, pulling on his grimy pants as he went.
Bodgies first big day was a bit of a blur. He’d been presented with an off the rack suit that was far too big and sent to shower. When he couldn’t figure out what the taps did he was washed down by a pair of disgusted looking elves that stood on the far side of the room and pummeled Bodgie’s skinny frame with blasts from a high pressure hose. There was a first time for everything but Bodgie certainly hoped that would be the last time he was required to bathe.
Climbing into the suit because he couldn’t get the buttons undone; Bodgie took a couple of minutes to appraise himself in the change room mirror. His hands disappeared in the jacket’s sleeves and his head poked out between the shoulder pads like a winged Brussels sprout. His shoeless feet flapped on the floor under a pool of pants fabric.
He was the best dressed goblin in the whole stinking town.
An elf came along to show him to his office, a goblin sized room that he was going to be sharing with two mops, a dust pan and a non-functioning fax machine. He was pretty impressed that it was as big as it was; in total it was twice as big as his own burrow at home.
As he took a seat behind the fax machine a gnome with a neat little white beard and one of those red caps marched up and deposited a large stack of papers in front of him.
“Smith wants these checked and signed before lunchtime, have Robertson send them off to accounting and then make sure you notify Jacobs downstairs.” Snapped the gnome before marching off again.
“What?” asked Bodgie, but the gnome was gone.
The goblin looked at the stack of documents, every one of the paper sheets was covered in squiggles and dots in what Bodgie assumed was some kind of typed print. He actually didn’t know and nor did he really care. He wasn’t here to do drudge work and he certainly wasn’t going to take orders from a gnome of all things.
He hated gnomes.
Didn’t everyone hate gnomes?
He decided to go for a walk.
The hallways of head office were busy with gnomes and elves rushing this way and that. Bodgie often had to step to the side to avoid being run over by trolleys carrying herbal teas between board meetings or frenzied gnomes with stacks of manila folders held in their stubby little arms.
Bodgie strutted along, deep in his own sense of self-importance taking in the view and generally trying to avoid thinking about whatever it was he was actually being paid to do. Surely some underling would deal with it; as a manager he couldn’t expect to deal with the banal trivialities of running a business.
He came to the refectory and poked his nose inside. The smell of freshly baked breads, fruit platters and delicate wines assailed his nostrils as he saw elves and gnomes in their corporate attire chatting and eating amicably.
“Disgusting.” Snorted Bodgie. “Who would want to eat that filth?”
His outburst caused a passing she-gnome to circle wide around him and Bodgie scowled in her general direction. His mood was flattened to the extent that he decided to return to his office and sulk for a while.
He sulked for a very long while in fact, so long that when the gnome who had dropped off the papers earlier returned Bodgie was still sulking.
“Oh, you’ve stacked them up for me as well.” Said the Gnome in surprise seeing them in the neat pile where they had been left.
“Huh?” said Bodgie, confused what he was talking about.
The gnome’s smile turned to shock as he skimmed through the documents.
“These haven’t been signed, nothing has been ratified or notated; did you even look at them?” he trilled, anxiety spilling off him in waves.
“What? Read what?” answered Bodgie, not understanding what the fuss was about.
“Yes, did you complete any of the documents I gave to you this morning?” hissed the panicked gnome, his little white beard quivering and his eyes set wide.
“Well, I took a dump and wiped my bum with the bit at the top.” Smiled Bodgie, “I put it in there.” He continued pointing to where a defiled document was stuffed into the feed of the broken fax machine.
“Oh, by Santa’s red sleigh.” Gasped the gnome. “Never, can I….”
He didn’t finish his sentence and instead rushed away sobbing as Bodgie peered out from behind the fax machine, watching the passing elves and gnomes being hopelessly productive.
“It’s good to be a boss.” He quipped and settled in for a nap.
The rest of the week went well with Bodgie shirking his responsibilities and making excuses about having to work late instead of going home. He had actually started frequenting a little bar on the upper side of town and was getting quite a reputation as a ladies’ goblin.
Of course the innocent partying soon descended into farce with Bodgie being kicked out of the bar on account for stealing bottles of Mudbrown Champagne and drinking it out of a shoe, not his shoe mind you but somebody’s.
At work he spent most of his hours nursing terrible hangovers and trying not to listen to the complaints from the gnomes about how he wasn’t completing his paperwork on time. Eli had visited him twice and commented on his shonky behavior but Bodgie felt bulletproof and wasn’t worried about her opinion too much anymore.
“You’re not the only girl with tight tights around here.” He’d slurred after she’d woken him up one afternoon. She’d left without another word being said.
Life was good. He’d made sure he’d called past the old workshop every day, just to rub in how awesome he was compared to the other goblins and was pleased to hear they were complaining about him behind his back; to a goblin, being hated by your friends and family meant you on top of the heap.
So it was that two weeks into his new job Bodgie was called into Santa’s offices; the morning before Christmas, to give a report on how his office was doing.
Bodgie wasn’t actually sure how to present a report; he wasn’t sure what a report was in the first place although he guessed that “presenting” was when you give someone something, preferably something they wanted.
That would be difficult for Bodgie because as a goblin, anything that anyone else wanted certainly shouldn’t be shared in the first place and the only proper way to get something you wanted was by stealing it or cajoling it with threats.
Eli walked him to the office on the top floor where Santa spent his time.
“Bodgie, today’s an important day and could it is important that you prove you’re everything we hoped for.” She said, not unkindly.
As usual, Bodgie had no idea what she was talking about but his ego had swollen to the point where he was no longer entranced by her tight tights and could concentrate on his own self-importance.
“Don’t you worry about a thing.” He quipped. “Everything and wotsit is under complete control.”
A pair of elves opened the door to Santa’s boardroom and Bodgie waltzed himself inside, taking a seat without being asked.
“Whassup Fat Man?” Bodgie chittered, giving Santa two thumbs up.
Santa, in the middle of eating a cheese and pickle sandwich, choked a little at the goblin’s temerity but recovered well enough to gasp out a greeting.
“Bodgie, good to see you; how are things in your department going?”
Santa coughed a couple of times and knocked back a shot of whiskey to clear his throat.
“Not bad, not bad.” Smile Bodgie, placing his dirty, bare feet on the hardwood table and leaning back in his chair as Santa took another bite of his sandwich. “I sacked the gnomes in finance though.” Said the goblin absentmindedly; “I didn’t like the way they were doing their job.”
Santa choked again and between gasps managed to get out. “The gnomes in finance? What ones?”
Eli looked shocked and a couple of the elves attending the room scurried out in a hurry as Bodgie picked his nose before flicking a booger towards the windows.
“All of them.”
Santa gasped for breath and his eyes bulged. Eli stood up and strode over to the reclining goblin, apparently furious.
“It’s the morning before Christmas and you’ve sacked our finance department? How in the North Pole are we supposed to balance the books?”
Bodgie looked at her as if she were stupid and tsked in annoyance. “Simple, see you’ve being paying those stupid gnomes to balance books when I could have done the whole lot for ya for next to nothing. Take a gander at this.”
Vaulting off the chair and stepping over to a bookshelf filled with lists of naughty and nice Bodgie took down two books and held his arms out wide, one in each hand.
“See, books balanced.” Said the goblin confidently.
A loud crash rang out and Eli and Bodgie looked towards Santa’s chair. Two, red clad legs stuck up in the air and the contents of his bottle of whiskey was dribbling onto the floor.
“What’s with him then?” asked Bodgie as Eli rushed over to the prone man.
“He’s dead.” Whispered the elf, her face growing pale.
“Huh?” asked Bodgie confused; “How’d that happen?”
“It appears he choked on a pickle.” Muttered Eli, “It’s lodged in his throat.”
“Well, that’s why I don’t eat pickles.” Remarked Bodgie, picking up Santa’s sandwich and removing the pickles to eat the remaining cheese. “Never trust anything greener or sourer than a goblin, that’s just asking for trouble.”
“By the poles Bodgie, we have to do something.” Murmured the now greenish looking elf.
“Yer starting to get a bit of color in your cheeks there, Eli.” Said Bodgie between bites of cheese. “Sure you’re not a fan of gobbos?”
“Bodgie, I’m serious.” Scowled the elf. “We have a whole world’s worth of presents tonight and no one to deliver them.
“What?” slurred the goblin, completely unable to comprehend what she was talking about.
“If we don’t deliver these presents the company will go under and we will all lose our jobs.” Eli screamed.
“Oh” said Bodgie, the slow gears in his mind slowly working over the information.
“Oh” he repeated a couple of seconds later as Eli slumped into a chair in shock.
“Oh” he shrieked as he realized that if he lost his job he would need to tell his two wives, eighteen whelps and the rest of the gobbos at the pub that he was, once again; in the gutter.
Not that he minded but he’d be stuck with the hoots, jeers and backhands from a never ending line of goblins who’d love to pay him back for his unending bragging.
Something in Bodgie’s brain snapped and a never before part of his limited intellect struggled forward past the throng of dumb ideas and malicious plans.
It was his conscience.
Bodgie, it said; you’re a no good, low down ratfink and if you never did anything worth doing in your life no one would be surprised, or care.
Bodgie nodded to himself as his conscience continued.
But you’re in the thick of it now. Santa’s dead and you’ve got a chance to make a name for yourself and perhaps show the world that not all goblins are waste of space fart collectors on social benefits schemes.
That was a bit harsh, though Bodgie; but his conscience continued on.
If you don’t do the right thing now Bodgie, I’m going to torment you every day and make sure that every bad decision you make keeps you awake at night, gives you stomach cramps and reminds you of your missus.
That was the kicker, Bodgie tried not to ever think of his missus, now he didn’t overly want to think of his second one either. The decision was made.
“I’ll do it.” Bodgie announced, standing up on the table.
“You’ll do what?” Asked Eli, tears running down her cheeks.
“Save the world.” Shouted Bodgie, and striking a heroic pose he stepped forward and pointed through the window.
“Goblins have never been liked, we have been spat on, whacked on the head and kicked in the bum because people think that we’re no good, pants stealing; good for nothing ninnies.” He declared.
Eli looked at him in bewilderment; not quite the reaction he was hoping for.
“But tonight we’re going to prove that we’re not so bad. When the world needs us most we’re going to do what’s right and make sure that Christmas is the biggest success ever!”
Eli had stopped crying, looking at him in absolute confusion.
“How, on earth do you expect to do that?” she asked. “You’re a goblin.”
“Not me Miss Tight Tights” answered Bodgie, leaping off the table and taking her by the hand “us”.
“Oh, my gods.” Eli sighed in exasperation.
Little more than fifteen minutes later Bodgie had commandeered the corporate chopper and flown into the center of Snotsville. Apart from the fact that a chopper had never landed in the middle of Snotsville, or anywhere in Snotsville; Bodgie made sure he had an audience by screaming out over a megaphone to all who’d listen.
“Free beer to every goblin with a wart in a hard to scratch spot!”
The prospect of anything free would have brought the goblins out in droves but the addition of them thinking they might be getting something their neighbors weren’t ensured the goblins in the town literally stampeded towards the muddy middle ground.
They gathered around the chopper where Bodgie stood, dressed in his suit and trying to look as important as possible.
“Look, it’s Bodgie” said one goblin.
“Cor, that’s a nice suit.” Said a second.
“You owe me whelp support!” called a third.
Bodgie decided to get started before anything else could be said.
“My fellow goblins of Snotsville” he began, shouting into the megaphone as Eli desperately tried to reduce the feedback behind him. “I’m afraid there’s no free beer, but there is something greater that I can give you all today.”
“Is it free?” called out Snozgrot. “I ain’t paying for nothing you dirty stop out, unless it’s free.”
“Nothing good comes for free” replied Bodgie, embracing his inner rip-off merchant “But you won’t need to part with a single bent copper to get what I’m selling today ladies and goblins.”
Eli had to admit the runt delivered that line pretty well and the goblins hadn’t frenziedly torn him limb from limb so that was a plus. She waited with baited breath to see what he’d do next.
“What I’m offering you all today is a chance to get something no goblin has ever had before and perhaps something that will never be available again.” Bodgie called out, his reedy voice reaching to the far corners of the goblin crowd.
“What’s that then? Is it clean underwear? I ain’t never had clean underwear.” Heckled a goblin.
“No, my good friend,” Cried Bodgie joyously “clean underwear remains out of reach; but instead today I offer you something far more valuable. I offer you self-respect.”
“How we ‘sposed to use that then?” shouted Snozgrot. “You can’t eat respect can you?”
“You don’t eat respect good goblin.” Spat Bodgie, in full flight now; “you live and breathe it, you bask in it from morning until night, holding your head high when you walk past others in the street instead of cowering like sniveling dwarves.”
The goblins liked that line, not that any of them had ever seen a dwarf sniveling; that was definitely more of a goblin sort of thing.
“Yes my friends” continued Bodgie, winding up to his crescendo “I offer you this rare gift and all you have to do, is work for one, single; night.”
The audience went silent, a ball of tumbleweed took its cue and rolled across the scene dramatically.
“Work?” sneered a fat goblin by the name of Toadlicker “You having a joke?”
Hoots and jeers erupted across the audience and someone threw some lumpy porridge in Bodgie’s general direction. Bodgie, calm and collected raised his hands for silence.
Bodgie cleared his throat before stating, as clearly as he could “I know that working doesn’t come naturally to us goblins, I know you must think a troll’s smacked me in the head too many times, but think about it. What do you have to lose?”
“A whole night’s sleep.” Jeered one goblin.
“My night with your missus.” Mocked another.
Bodgie ignored them all and instead played his trump card.
“For all those that help me out, I’ll give you a 50% pay increase, no questions asked. I swear on my mother’s warts”
That sealed the deal; goblins never lied when they swore on their mother’s warts. Goblins pushed forward screaming to sign up. Everyone wanted free money and unemployed goblins wanted free money more than most.
Eli took charge.
“Every goblin interested needs to report to Santa’s carpool by 9pm tonight, if you’re late by even a second we’ll chose someone else.” She shouted and Bodgie winked at her conspiratorially.
The two climbed back aboard the chopper and Eli flew them to the carpool where two thousand Santa Sleighs stood ready for action.
“How does he drive them all?” asked Bodgie, genuinely perplexed.
“He doesn’t they’re drones.” Replied Eli, “But only Santa knew the password so luckily they can be piloted manually.”
“That’s lucky” agreed Bodgie as the first of the goblins ran into view at the bottom of the hill. “Why don’t the elves drive them then?”
Eli sniffed and looked at him incredulously. “Are you mad? Fly around in a wooden chair, propelled by two A4 batteries and some dodgy wiring? Elves don’t live for thousands of years by being stupid.”
Bodgie nodded his head, he was learning pretty fast just how much he had to learn.
Eli leaned in close as the goblins jumped in the sleighs and took off into the sky to deliver presents across the globe. “Do you think they’ll work it out before they’re finished?” she asked.
Bodgie grinned from ear to ear, which for a goblin with a face like a football was a long way. “It’s not like I lied to them.” He said “fifty percent of nothing is still nothing.”
“Good job.” She said to him, “I have to say I’m impressed.”
Bodgie winked at her and they watched the sleighs sail off in to the night sky, delivering badly made gifts to greedy children all over the world.
It was going to be a very bodgie Christmas.