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Archie and Horatio's Road Trip
by Liv

*********

Hornblower and Pellew are sitting in the kitchen in Pellew's enormous
holiday mansion. Pellew says "I have something very special I want
you do to for me, Mr Hornblower."

Pellew leads Hornblower to the garage and opens the shutter door. A
shiny, black Lamborghini is sitting there.

"Ever had a Lamborghini, Mr Hornblower?" boasts Pellew.

"No Sir, not even a Station Wagon" replies Hornblower humbly.

"Well, all that's about to change for the moment at least" says
Pellew, hoping Hornblower will catch on.

"Sir?"

How innocent the boy is sometimes! thinks Pellew, and he explains:
"I want you to drive her across the Spanish border to the English
Hotel called Posh Palace. Here are the keys" and he tosses them at
Hornblower.

"Drive? Drive your Lamborghini?" says Hornblower in anxious disbelief.

"Yes, drive Mr Hornblower. It's very simple. It's when you turn the
ignition on with the keys, put your foot onto the accelerator and
turn the wheel with your hands. Think you can manage it?"

Hornblower nods slightly, but before he can protest Pellew
says "Good! You drive tomorrow." So Hornblower knows he has to obey.

****

"NO WAY!!!" shrieks Archie when he hears about Hornblower's good
fortune. "Oh, you really are too lucky, Horatio."

"Yes, well, it's only until I get to Posh Palace, Archie. It's not
like it's really my car" says Hornblower, trying to sound modest,
although secretly he too is brimming with excitement.

Then Archie has a whiz bang idea: "Let me come with you" he says to
Hornblower.

"Why?"

"My sweetheart, Clara, lives right next door to Posh Palace. I'm sure
she would love the sight of me pulling up in a flash Lamborghini."

Hornblower thinks this is a good idea, as having Archie as company
may relieve some of his anxiety about crashing the car. It would also
do good for Archie to get him out and about after his recent ordeals.

Archie is looking at him eagerly. "Well, Horatio?" he prompts.

"Alright, you can come."

"YEEEEESSSSSSS!!!!" squeals Archie with delight, and pounds the
wooden desk with his fists.

********

Hornblower and Archie are cruising down a long stretch of road with
the music of Village People blaring from the stereo speakers. Archie
knows all the words and sings all the songs at the top of his lungs:

In the Navy yes you can sail the seven seas.
In the Navy yes you can put your mind at ease.
In the Navy, come on now people, make a stand.
In the Navy, can´t you see we need a hand.
In the Navy, come on, protect the motherland.
In the Navy, come on and join your fellow, man.
In the Navy, come on, people, and make a stand.
In the Navy, in the Navy.

When YMCA starts playing, Archie turns to Horatio and asks "Do you
know what YMCA is an acronym for, Horatio?"

"Young Men's Cricketing Association?" says Hornblower, "I'm not
really sure."

"It stands for You will Marry Clara, Archie" says Archie, and they
both burst out laughing.

Then Hornblower has to slow down because they see a car up ahead of
them that is travelling at a snail's pace. Eventually they catch up
so that they are sitting right behind the slow car, which is a rusty
old Datsun. However, Hornblower can't overtake because the road is
too narrow and curving round a cliff, so they just have to sit it out.

That doesn't prevent Archie, though, from screaming abuse out the
window: "MOVE YOUR FREAKIN' ASS YOU IMBECILE!! GET MOVING OR GET OFF
THE BLOODY ROAD!!" Hornblower joins in with an angry toot of the horn.

Once the road widens a little the car in front obligingly pulls over
to the left to give way. As the black Lambourghini surges past,
Hornblower and Archie look over to see who the imbecile is and
discover it's Captain Keane, looking very red faced.

Archie and Hornblower take the Lord's name in vain and being swearing
out of sheer panic. Hornblower doesn't stop, but keeps driving and
looking back to check and double check if it really was Captain Keane
in the car.

"LOOK OUT!!" cries Archie suddenly, as a cattle herd with a farmer is
seen up ahead.

"HELL!!" shouts Hornblower, and to avoid hitting the cattle, swerves
sharply to the right. The car veers off the road and plunges down a
valley at impetuous speed, where it eventually slams into a tree.

Silence. All but for "You Can't Stop the Music" blaring from the
speakers.

Archie and Hornblower are unharmed, but naturally are totally shocked
and stunned. As soon as his brain signals him to the situation,
Hornblower scrambles out of the wreckage to inspect the damage. When
he sees the car is a total write off, his ears and cheeks burn with
horror, shame and embarrassment.

"Oh my GOD, Archie" he says to his friend, who has managed to crawl
on the grass next to him "What EVER are we going to tell Captain
Pellew?"

*****

Somehow Archie and Hornblower make it back to Posh Palace. Pellew
isn't due to arrive for another three days, so it gives them time to
come with a plausible story to explain what happened.

Hornblower, who is the more morally conscious of the two, suggests
that they should actually tell The Truth.

"The Truth!!! Are you MAD?!!" He'll KILL you certain sure" rebukes
Archie.

"Well, what do YOU suggest?" snaps Hornblower.

Archie is weary of arguing. "Tell him, Horatio" he croaks "that
instead of the cows there was a woman on the road.no, no, a woman
with a BABY in her arms in the middle of the road and we had to
swerve to avoid her."

Hornblower is not convinced. "How do we explain the swearing to a
superior officer? Swearing at a CAPTAIN for which the penalty is
HANGING? And besides, what is a woman doing in the middle of the
road? Why isn't she at home in the kitchen? And why were we driving
so fast?" Hornblower just goes on and on about their appalling
behaviour.

"Alright! Enough!" says Archie angrily "You made your point!!" But
the issue is not resolved, and on the morning of the third day when
Pellew is scheduled to arrive, they still have not come up with a
satisfactory explanation for the incident.

Pellew arrives at 10.00am as scheduled looking tanned and relaxed.

"Well, Mr Hornblower" he says, taking off his sunglasses, "I trust
you had a smooth ride from Spain to England?"

"YesSir" is all Hornblower manages to say.

"So, where is she?" Pellew inquires, referring to his beloved
Lamborghini. No answer. "C'mon, where is she?" Pellew prompts, and
jokingly adds "You haven't crashed her, have you?"

Hornblower and Archie exchange looks. The smile fades from Pellew's
face. "Oh don't tell me" Pellew begins "You can't be serious."

Hornblower starts waffling about how there was a woman on the road
with a baby in her arms, who was there because she needed to buy
milk, and also about the spider that appeared from nowhere and
crawled down the inside of his pants while driving (this was another
excuse suggested by Archie).

Archie stares at the ground while all this is being said and wishes
to God that Horatio would just shut up.

Pellew naturally is furious, but more so that Hornblower would dare
lie to him like that. His pupils shrink into tiny dots of fury, his
nostrils flare, he grits his pointy teeth, his ears turn red and he
gives them an almighty tongue lashing.

The hotel staff at reception pause in their duties as they can hear
certain phrases echoing through the walls: "WHAT KIND OF MEN ARE
YOU????YOU ARE A PAIR OF FREAKING DISABLED MORONS!!!! DO YOU
HONESTLY THINK I AM STUPID???!!"

Pellew goes on and on. When he has finished screaming, he spits out
the question: "For the last time, gentleman, who was responsible for
the damage to the car?"

"It was me" says Archie, and Hornblower looks sharply at him.

"You?" says Pellew incredulously.

"Yes methe truth is" says Archie sighing "Is that I had a fit while
Mr Hornblower was driving. I started ranting and ravingI believe I
may have even offended Captain Keane in the process, that for which I
am truly sorry. Mr Hornblower here has had little experience with
dealing with basket cases like me, and so naturally did all he could
to keep the situation under control. Given these circumstances, Mr
Hornblower did well to keep both of us out of danger. I'm afraid I'm
not much of a brave man, Captain Pellew, and all those things you
said about me being a bucket load of sea-sickness and a spineless,
pretentious, stunted, pug-nosed, baby-faced, drama-queen, mummy's
boy, whining little brat is true."

Pellew is touched by Mr Kennedy's honesty, although a part of him is
sceptical that every word of his confession is true. As a compromise,
Pellew orders the pair to spend six months of community service in
the nursing home for retired officers, including former Captains of
the British Navy, all of whom are now suffering the various effects
of old age, such as Alzheimer's disease. Although Hornblower and
Archie are allocated menial tasks such as reading books to the
patients and wiping up their vomit, they are grateful they still have
their necks, and every so often will look up from what they are doing
and give each other a smile across the room.

********
Epilogue:

Immediately after the punishment was issued, Pellew went into a small
room to calm down. He sighed, took out some dispatches from his
breast pocket, and with another long sigh tore up the dispatches that
was to transfer ownership of the Lamborghini to Hornblower for
providing exceptional service to the British Navy.