Biggles and the Tiger

 Biggles crossed the great divide and flew into the unknown, or as was more commonly known - he broke into the Women's Auxiliary Air Force dorm with a bottle of Irish whisky and an inclination that couldn’t be scratched. He was cornered in an airing closet by  major Daphne Bodice-Splitter, whose double-barrelled name was the stuff of legends.
“Captain Biggles!” she yelled as she surrounded him with two signals WAAFs armed with fire extinguishers. “Put down lieutenant Higginbottom, she’s on active duty!”

Biggles and Higginbottom collapsed in a puddle on the floor. Higginbottom tried to salute but her hand was caught in Biggles’ flight suit and Biggles was upside down. Biggles tried to stand up but couldn’t decide which direction that was and kept sticking his head in a basket of unwashed nether garments and only succeeded in covering his head in stockings and bras. Eventually they righted him, sat him on a stool and demanded he explain his actions.

“Isn’t this bomber command?” he looked about in drunken perplexity. “Could have sworn I had a pre-flight briefing here today.”

“The only briefs are on your head!” Daphne snapped.

“Odd looking oxygen mask,” he held it up. Daphne grabbed one of the fire extinguishers and hosed him down. “Crickey! It’s Flak!”

“Captain Biggles explain yourself or I will call the sergeant-at-arms!” It was three in the morning and  major Daphne Bodice-Splitter was dressed in a terry-towelling ensemble that left everything to the imagination. She was in no mood for drunken airmen fossicking in her ironing room, and if he weren’t the famous Biggles she would have shot him.

Blearily Biggles waved his arms around and tried to hold the room up.

“It’s like this,” he said and gave a three minute incoherent ramble about Mussolini not returning his dress suit back in 43’, after he had had parachuted out over Rome during a failed bombing run and gotten lost in the Colosseum for a week, finishing with, “…it’s nothing like Three Coins in a Fountain with Audrey Hepburn – Audrey!” he shrieked out.

Daphne blinked several times and ordered him thrown out a window. Biggles landed in a flowerbed before wandering off through the night haranguing several stop signs he met on the way.

He woke up in the morning with an Iraqi gardener poking him with a rake. The sun was shining, the air was crisp with sand and Biggles had a headache that could have threatened world peace if it ever escaped the confines of his ever-shrinking brain.

“English,” the Iraqi gardener poked him again with the rake, “are you ill?”

“Never better,” Biggles stood to his feet and promptly fell over, this was followed by a brief ejaculation of vomit. Once this subsided, he stood up again and gave his credentials. “I’m an officer in the Royal Air Force, this is how we normally wake up in the morning. Where am I?”

“Baghdad Zoo,” the gardener returned to sweeping bomb fragments. “You are in the tiger enclosure.”

Biggles found three Bengali tigers staring intently at him from shadows, he also found he was locked in the cage with them.

“I don’t suppose you could let me out?” Biggles rattled the cage like a disgruntled baboon.

“That is up to the judge who put you there,” the sweeping continued.

“Why would he put me in the tiger enclosure?” Biggles rolled his eyes in amazement, “I mean, I am Biggles after all.”

“We can no longer afford prisons, every time we build one, either the Americans blow it up trying to blow up Al-Qaeda, or Al-Qaeda blows it up trying to blow up the Americans. You may have noticed there has recently been a great deal of blowing up in Iraq.”

“What about the tigers?”

“They are all suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from all the explosions and are too afraid to do anything,” then the gardener grinned, “Also they save on prison guards.”

“And why am I in here?” Biggles scratched his head and looked for fleas.

“English, I was told you were caught pissing in the Tigris. Ironic is it not, from Tigris to Tigers.”

“Have you seen how polluted the Tigris is?”

“That is why we have so many laws against pissing in it.”

Biggles spent the morning grooming a five hundred pound Bengal tiger until the provost marshal arrived to investigate the charges.

“It says here,” the provost marshal flipped through a clipboard, “you not only tried to steal a milk float, but you also drove it at high speed through the streets of Baghdad screaming Marco Polo, Marco Polo, defying anyone to cross the street and pelting the residents with ice slurpies and frozen yoghurt.”

“Must have been a good night, jolly what?”

“Yes, indeed,” the provost marshal wrote this down, “have you any defence?”

“I have no memory of any of this.”

“No memory,” the provost marshal sighed, “care to make a statement?”

“I’m British.”

“That’s your statement?”

“It says it all.”

“Wouldn’t care to elaborate?”

“Where would the world be without cricket?”

The provost marshal took a deep breath. “Alright, since no witnesses are willing to testify, as witnesses have a tendency to disappear if they do, and since you have no memory of anything, I’m forced to let you go.”

“Can I take Riley with me?” Biggles pointed at the giant tiger purring next to him.

“Don’t see why not, not on the clipboard.”

“Jolly!” Biggles was ecstatic, “if this doesn’t put me in the good books with the WAAF’s then nothing will.” 
     The look on the tiger could only be described as startled.

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