I was shocked. I was utterly bamboozled. I was firmly perplexed. Yet, above all, I was drenched in water from head to toe. My only consolation was that water had been the liquid of choice. Ypres had thrown a water balloon at me with the casual ease of a lobster on an afternoon stroll. Words failed me.
The only situation that could come close to describing what I felt during those humid seconds was when Caesar, of salad fame, was stabbed by Brutus. I know this first hand because I once saw Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at the Globe Theatre with Uncle Edward. He was scouting the surroundings as a potential business opportunity. He figured that since the Globe had no roof it would be a perfect target for umbrella insurance, which his firm, Vasa Assurances, specialises in.
I was struck by the scene where Caesar was going along being himself, as a chap does, when dark destiny fell upon him. He checked his diary for the Ides of March. If I remember correctly, it was to schedule a business lunch with Cleopatra, but it was too late. In a fit of murderous ambition, conspirators met him in the Roman Senate and stabbed him repeatedly. The first to strike was his trusted son Brutus.
Here I was, feeling exactly the same thing. Ypres had struck. Perhaps I had underestimated the impact of my short shorts. Perhaps, it had been too much, and, in a blood-curling display of vengeance, Ypres had struck. I did not know how to answer such hostility. I needed a Shakespearian quote that was appropriate. The Vasa mind went rattling, and finally settled on a suitable one liner.
I delivered the line with the appropriate gravitas. It was uttered in glamorous defiance as my graceful frame finely fainted into the arms of a bemused Michael two names at my side. At least, that was the plan. I was halfway through “Et tu, Ypres!” when I realised the Canadian had not picked up on my prompt. In any event, gravity kicked in and I lay on the ground like an apple on top a severely concussed Isaac Newton. Ypres bravely came to my rescue. Her combination of murderous intent and chivalry sent mixed signals.
“Ypres! How could you! Words fail me. I was searching for the appropriate Shakespearian quote. Only ‘Et tu, Ypres!’ came to mind.”
Ypres helped me back up.
“Perhaps the following quote would do: ‘Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus; and we petty men walk under his huge legs, and peep about to find ourselves dishonourable graves.’ It ties neatly into your preoccupation with legs.”
“Please don’t be facetious, Ypres. I ask you to use your knowledge for good.” I removed a strand of wet hair from my face. “In any case, I am drenched. Meanwhile Mr. Westmount over there is still wearing…” I did a double take. I looked down at my shorts. They were aubergine.
“Ypres! My shorts! They are aubergine! The colour changed when you wet them.”
“Indeed. To the outside world it does not appear as if you are wearing the same pair of shorts as Mr. Beaconsfield-Outremont.”
“It even hugs my form better. Ypres, you know me well. You are a genius in your own way. A clumsy genius perhaps, but a genius nonetheless. You aquatic outburst was done out of a sense of duty to my fashionista status.”
The Canadian jumped into the Vasa-Ypres dialogue uninvited. His manner reminded me of a chubby teenager who cannonballs into a lake while one is trying to enjoy a lemonade straddled on a pool noddle.
“Are you saying, Miss Vasa, that you are happy that this woman has deliberately thrown a bulging water balloon in your face? The end result of which was a change of colour in your shorts.”
I was not going to let such an accusation go unanswered. I cat walked to the offender. “You are obviously a neophyte when it comes to fashion. Wet is good. In fact, being wet is at the height of fashion. I am wet…” Ypres released a couple of coughs. “I am wet, therefore I am fashionable.” My point was proved beyond rebuke when onlookers who had become bored with the woman fainting into the Serpentine situation rallied beside me.
Michael of Montreal was a quick thinker. In a flash he pulled a water balloon out of nowhere. Like a furious kamikaze before the Star-Spangled Banner he struck. He threw the balloon high up in the air and positioned himself on its landing path. Eyes were averted. A hydraulic detonation was heard. Michael lay drenched for all to see. Defiant, he declared: “Now I’m wet too!”
Such a vivid display led to people believing the water balloon squabble had commenced. Water began to fly in all shapes and sizes. I even saw one of those animal balloons one sees at carnivals hit a King’s student in the head with a watery boom. I had never heard water go boom before. Soon all were wet, negating my fashion advantage. All was lost. My debut was ruined.
I was going to admit defeat. Luckily, Ypres sprang into action. She went over to the Canadian and whispered something into his ear. She waited twenty seconds, and whispered something again. Soon he was running for the tube like a sprinter on his way to collect a gold medal. I had won.
“Ypres, how did you do it?”
“I offered Mr. Beaconsfield-Outremont strawberries.”
“I hope that is not a euphemism.”
“No. I walked over and invited him to eat some strawberries from the ones we had brought for a snack. Purposefully, I neglected to offer him a napkin. As such, he had nothing to wipe his figures with. He naturally wiped them on his shirt. When I then pointed out that there were red marks on his shirt he excused himself to go change.”
“Brilliant, Ypres! Not only am I the only one in these Lexington Redcoat red summer short shorts, but am I the only one in wet Lexington Redcoat red summer short shorts.”
All was well with the world. I could return to the water balloon squabble with peace of mind. I was about to pelt a French tourist from behind with aquatic ammunition of the one-litre variety when a thought struck me. Why had Ypres not offered strawberries to Michael from the get-go? Indeed, she did not need to hit me with a water balloon like a maritime inclined Brutus. My shorts dilemma could have been solved sans water, as it were. It is almost as it Ypres wanted to hit me in the face with a water balloon all along. I had to clear up whether this was merely momentary treachery or premeditated regicide.
“Ypres, I have a question to…” The next thing I remember was lying front first on the ground, the back of my head drenched in water. I slowly removed myself from the crater my body had formed. There were skid marks by my feet. I felt as if the back of my head had been blown off. I was about to unleash a torrent of ladylike expletives when I recognised a familiar face.
“Vanessa, darling! I did know who were attending the water balloon squabble,” said Lanky Ella Lanesbury. “Look,” she exclaimed pointing in my direction, “we’re even wearing the same Lexington Redcoat red short shorts.”
Vasa and Ypres’s first full length adventure, Vasa and Ypres: A Mayfair Conundrum, is available on Amazon. If you enjoy Vasa and Ypres, please share on social media. Vasa and Ypres is on Twitter. You can also join over 830 WordPress followers. Stay tuned for updates! A full-length Vasa and Ypres adventure is in the works.