"Diver" Tim Ento
This story is supposed to be the beginning of a series of stories about one Tim Ento, also known as "Diver". As you may have guessed, I started with the character's name, and after a while I had something that sounds interesting enough to be written down. Obviously, Tim would have to be a diver or something like that - maybe a not very popular one? Which raises the next question: Why isn't Tim popular as a diver? Perhaps because he belongs to a people or race that traditionally aren't divers? Well, it occured to me that this point would be more clear if the story was done as a "funny animal" comic strip; then Tim could be an animal who (according to tradition) doesn't like water. The most obvious choice would be a cat, but somehow I wound up with a lion instead. I can't remember why I made that choice initially, but I soon got some ideas that matched (?) it, so it would be hard to change it at this point. Take the title, for instance. In case you still haven't figured it out, it's part of the punch line (?) from the fable about the animals quarreling about who had most children at once. When they asked the lioness, she answered: "I only have one. But he is a Lion!" I plan to use this line at the end of the story, but first I have to get started on it! I have an idea for the opening panel: Tim (about six or seven at that time) stands in front of a large aquarium, gazing dreamily at the lazy movements of the fish, almost mesmerized by the flickering light. In the background we see his parents reacting to his reactions. His father looks angry and on the verge of running over to drag his son away from the treacherous water, his mother looks more worried. The narrator tells us that "Ever since he opened his eyes, Tim Ento had been fascinated by the sea." There's probably a bit more narrative in that panel and the following ones too, but I haven't worked out so much detail yet. A panel or two later Tim's father takes his son and an umbrella for a walk along the river (It's near the sea, and some ideas I've got (such as the fact that the prota- gonist is a lion!?) requires the climate to be subtropical or tropical.). While they are walking, Tim's father tries to explain how unnatural this water business is for a lion, but either he can't find the right words or his son doesn't understand the ones he does find. They have just come to a place where a dog sits fishing on the bank, when Tim's father decides to try a different approach: "Okay, then I'll show you why not. Dog!!" The dog jumps to his feet and answers: "Yessir!" (This is a normal reaction to being addressed in a commanding manner by a lion at least in this scenario, though there are exceptions that we will see later.) Tim's father points to the river and says: "Jump in!" The dog repeats: "Yessir!" and jumps into the river. Tim's father then orders him to climb back out of the water and (after opening the umbrella and holding it between himself and the dog) shake himself dry. Tim's father then feels the dog's almost dry fur, lets Tim do the same and says: "That's why not." Tim apparently still hasn't got the point, so his father lets him repeat the same exercises only to find that he can't shake himself dry the way the dog did. His father explains that lions and other cats are not built for getting wet, and that's why they shun the water whenever they can (Fact!). As they start walking slowly homeward (Tim would prefer to run home and find a towel as soon as possible, but his father makes him walk slowly be- hind him - he obviously wants Tim to learn his lesson as thoroughly as possible), he starts elaborating this and various other points (one gets the impression that he is talking not so much for saying things that haven't been said already, as for an excuse to keep Tim with him), and soon gets so carried away by his own arguments that he doesn't notice what his son is doing. What, you may ask, is Tim doing? As they walk slowly down the street, Tim notices an electric appliances shop (or whatever those places are called) with a sign in the window announcing that hair dryers are 50% off this week. While his father continues up the street, Tim disappears into the shop. For some reason I picture this scene in a somewhat unusual way. Rather than following one of the two, the "camera" just stops outside the shop, and soon all we can see of Tim's father is a trailing word balloon to the right (Maybe the letters are getting smaller as he moves further away?), while Tim and the clerk's lines come floating out through the open door. We hear the clerk ask Tim what he can do for him, and Tim answers that he would like to try one of the biggest hair dryers. There is a loud WHOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSHHH, and when it dies out again the clerk asks Tim how he liked the dryer. Then Tim is seen walking out of the shop again - now completely dry - while he answers that it's great, and he'll buy one when he gets rich. After running a couple of blocks, Tim catches up to his father just as the old lion turns his head to see if he is listening, and is of course very surprised to see what has happened behind his back. Tim answers the unasked question with a smiling shrug and "No problem!", then he runs off down the street (as it looks like his father hasn't got anything else on his mind). Tim's father stands scratching his mane for a while before he comes to the conclusion that Tim is wrong - there is a problem... The next scene, which is sort of the beginning of the actual story, is set a couple of years later, when Tim is in his early teens. This has nothing to do with the plot, but I've got this idea that he has started dressing a bit in accordance with the standard macho image of his people (leather jacket etc.), and he's probably started growing his mane. Maybe the idea is that he's started looking a bit more awesome. Tim's out walking on a pier, and has stopped to rest a bit on a conveni- ently placed bench when suddenly a clam comes flying out of the sea and hits him on the head. He jumps to his feet, picks up the innocent animal, runs over to the railing and roars: "WHO THREW THAT?!?" From the sea below him comes a voice: "Shit! You hit a lion! It's been nice knowing you, Harry!" In the next panel's reversed view we discover that the unlucky clam thrower must be one of three young sea otters float- ing around a couple of yards from the pier. (We're going to see quite a bit of these three in the future, but I haven't thought up any names for them yet, so I will just call them Tom, Dick and Harry for now. That's why I say there are three, by the way - there could be four of them, but not just two.) After a while one of the otters (presumably the one called Harry) turns toward Tim and says something like: "I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to hit you! I was trying to throw it to Dick, but overshot..." Tim gives him a dirty look and holds it while trying to find something better to say than "Well, be more careful next time!" In the end he gives up, says just that and turns to leave. When Harry realizes that he's going to survive after all, he calls: "Excuse me, could we have our clam back?" Tim looks down and realizes that he is still holding the object that started it all. "What do you want it for?" he asks. "To eat it." Tim frowns and taps the clam against the railing to verify that is really is as solid as it looks. Dick answers the unasked question: "Not the shell, of course - but there's a delicious animal inside." He licks his chops to underline the adjective. Tim looks at the three otters, and when he realizes that none of them are carrying knives or anything like that, he asks how they plan to open it. Dick answers: "I'll show you!" and swims down to the seabed to pick up the flat rock he dropped when Tim first appeared. Back on the surface he rolls over on his back, balances the rock on his chest and asks Tim to throw him the clam. He grabs it and bangs it against the rock a couple of times until the shell breaks, and throws the pieces away. (That really is the way sea otters open clams, honest!) He holds up the remaining parts of his prey and asks Tim if he wants a taste. Before Tim can answer, Dick throws the clam, and Tim catches it instinctively. After eyeing it suspiciously for a few moments and reminding himself that lions are supposed to be daring, he takes a big bite, chews it pensively and swallows. "How did it taste?" "Salty..." "Of course it's salty, it comes from the sea!" The sea otters appear to find this remark very amusing, and start laughing, which Tim doesn't find amusing at all. "How dare you laugh at a Lion!?" he roars. "With ease, landlubber, with ease!" "What you gonna do about it?" Dick adds, "Come out here and spank us?" Tim starts turning away because he can't think of a snappy answer, but suddenly realizes that one is not supposed to talk to a lion like that and get away with it, and besides he's not that much afraid of the water, so to everyone's surprise (his own not the least) he rips off his jacket and tosses it on the bench with the words: "Yes, believe it or not, fishface, but that is exactly what I'm going to do!" While finishing this line, he kicks off his shoes (assuming the artist has made him antrophomorph enough to wear them in the first place), jumps to the top of the railing and lunges at the last (and most offensive) speaker. ...Well, I started on this part a handful of weeks ago before I got side- tracked by other things, and now I'll have to see if I can pick up the thread again where I left off... There was a bit of dialog here (between the two spectators), but nothing worth a Pulitzer, so I threw it out again. After the fight has ended in a draw, Tim and the others (I mean the otters!) do as young people often do after a fight - they become friends (Some dialog left out here too). As they are walking homeward, they pass by the el.app. shop that we have better reasons to remember than Tim (It's a couple of years ago to him, a few pages to us). He asks the otters to wait for him outside, and we wait for him too (just like last time) as he goes inside and we hear him talking with the clerk again: "Hello, I'd like to try..." "Wait, let me guess! One of our biggest hair dryers, right?" "Uh... Yes." "Well, I'm sorry, Sir, but we're sold out. Perhaps you'd like to try one of our new microwave ovens instead?" A moment later Tim comes grumbling out again (He does not seem to have appreciated that joke either...), Tom asks what's the matter, and Tim (we have to do something about those names...) answers that it's nothing, just some friggin' clerk whose memory is too perfect for his own good. He is about to say something else when he notices something. After stroking Dick's arm to verify what he sees, he puts it into words: "Hey! You're all dry!" "Right. My fur is naturally waterproof. Pretty good protection against a number of other unpleasant things too. My uncle used to say that nothing sticks to an otter... (his smile fades) Nothing, except for insults. "Fishface", for instance..." After a few seconds' fumbling for the words (being a lion, he's not used to apologizing) Tim answers that he didn't really mean that, it was just because Dick called him a landlubber. <At some random point during this exchange, Harry notices that Tim is still soaked and starts leading the whole group down the street and around a couple of corners.> Dick tells Tim (after getting Tom between them just to be sure...) that that wasn't an insult - he is a landlubber. After mulling over this for a while, Tim admits being a landlubber, but he'd much rather be a sealubber - whatever that is. He is about to start explaining this when Harry, who is still leading the way, suddenly stops in the middle of a block. Tim doesn't understand at first why they are stopping right there, but then he feels a stream of hot air coming out of a mesh-covered opening in the wall nearby. "Air conditioner outlet," Harry explains. "You'll dry faster here." Tim steps closer to the mesh and starts turning slowly. "Clever," he remarks to noone in particular. "Not really - it's just a question of knowing it's there." "Well, would you answer to 'Observant' then?" "Actually it would be more remarkable if I had never noticed it; I grew up in this area!" At this point Tim gives up trying to find suitable compliments for some- one who doesn't want them anyway, and changes the subject: "That's right, now that you mention it I remember seeing the three of you around here quite often..." "That's mutual," Dick interjects. "We have seen quite a lot of you down here too. And if you don't mind me saying so, 'Mister Lion', that's a bit stranger than us being here." "Right! (That's Tom for a change) I've seen you sitting on the pier or other places and staring at the sea, counting the waves or something. As a matter of fact I tried talking to you once, but you didn't seem to hear me. Why do you find the sea so fascinating?" Tim laughs. "What?? You ask me what's fascinating about the sea? Now look who's asking silly questions!" "Well... I know how I feel, of course. But a lion sharing my feelings..." "Point taken. I guess I'm the exception that proves the rule or something. You see, I've always been fascinated by the sea. Down here, the time I don't spend counting waves, I waste on the rather futile mental ex- ercise of wishing I was a seal or something." "What's wrong with sea otters?" Dick bristles. "Nothing. Just didn't think of them before. Come on, I did say 'or some- thing', didn't I? Well, that something includes you..." After about a panel's worth of deep thinking, Dick makes a decision. "Well, it's a bit late to become a seal, but if you add three letters and some hard work (and a bit of waterproofing) you could become a 'sea lion'!" "Huh?!?" "Well, would you answer to 'water lion' then? What I'm trying to get through, is that when I think about it (which I just did), I'm sure almost any animal can become a sea creature with the right training and proper mo- tivation. You've got the motivation, and we can supply the training. Just for a start, how would you like to learn to swim - properly?" "Who do I have to kill?" "Noone - just some old prejudices..." After looking at Tim for a moment, Dick adds: "There is just one thing you must do first." "What's that?" Cut to next scene, which is supposed to show the answer rather than have Dick spell it out. We are in a sport equipment shop (?), and the proprie- tor, an old goat (literally), has just decided to devote his attention to the new customer who just walked in - Tim. "Can I help you, Sir?" "That's what I have come to find out. What have you got in swimming trunks?" "Swimming trunks?" "Yes, you know, for swimming..." The proprietor decides not to pursue the subject any further and shows Tim what's available. While Tim looks over the possible choices, the goat for some inane reason tries to get the conversation going again: "Is it a gift?" "No, it's for myself." "But you're a lion!" Tim sighs. "Yes, I've noticed. What's the matter, you want me to behave like one?" "Well..." "Okay!" Tim reaches up and grabs the proprietor's beard (You did wonder why I made him a goat, didn't you?), pulls him down to his own level and snarls into his face: "That's none of your business, coinslot-eyes! (Actu- ally that was the reason...) You wanna sell me this trunk (the one he's holding), or do I punch your face and take it?" "Yessir... I mean nosir... uh... that'll be one dollar fifty, Sir!" Tim lets go of the beard, throws a couple of coins on the counter, says "Here. Keep the change!" and heads for the door. "But there's only one fifty here!" "Yes, that was the price, wasn't it?" "But you said... Never mind..." -=oOo=- Time passes by, and all of a sudden it's a couple of years later (in my life, not in the story - yet!). I haven't been thinking much about Tim in all that time, so most of the ideas I haven't written down yet are old ones. Now let's see if I can remember them... When Tim comes out of the shop, he meets Tom and Dick who compliment his "joke" with the nonexistent change. He shrugs and asks where Harry is, and Dick answers that they are supposed to meet outside the drugstore - "He said something about taking care of another of your problems." A couple of minutes (and one panel) later Harry comes out of the afore- mentioned shop to find his three friends (or maybe he's even more closely related to Tom and Dick? Just a thought; I haven't decided yet) waiting for him. He hands Tim a bottle a tells him that it is a non-toxic and hypo- allergenic water repellant (or whatever it's called). If he uses this on himself, he may not get otter fur, but at least he should be able to aquaint himself with the water without getting totally soaked. Tim is (understandably) a bit sceptical about whether the chemical will work on fur, but Harry points out that according to the label it does work on wool, and that's sort of sheep fur, isn't it? Well, I don't really have so many ideas for the rest of the opening sto- ry, only that Tim - rather anticlimactically - starts hanging out with the otters a lot and learns everything they know about water and the sea in particular. (By the way, the water repellant does work pretty well.) Finally the great day comes when Tim passes some kind of final test (ope- ning a clam, perhaps?), and everyone suddenly gets very serious. Harry tells them to stand up and form a circle, and then he asks Tim about his full name. They know his family name is Ento, but does he have any nicknames? Tim answers that his mother used to call him a couple of different things when he was smaller, but nothing he wants to keep at his age. While they are discussing this, they are interrupted as a seagull dives into the sea to catch a fish some distance away. Watching the seagull's ascent, Harry looks like he gets an idea. Tim notices, and makes it clear that if they even consider starting to call him "Seagull", that will be the end of a beautiful friendship! [A rather graphic way of doing this would be that when Tim notices the light bulb over Harry's head, he swats it away...] Harry answers: "Perish the thought! I just thought you might like to be called "Diver"..." After Tim has thought this over and accepted his new name, the circle re- forms, and Harry sets his voice to "Solemn" and announces: "Diver Tim Ento! By the authority that will never be mine if I keep squandering it in this way, I hereby declare you an Honorary Sea Otter!" The idea is that this line is spread out over the last 3-4 panels of the story, an in the same panels (showing the group from different angles and ending with a closeup of Tim looking very proud) the narrator goes through a short version of the fable I mentioned at the beginning (As the fable is a bit longer than Harry's line it might be an idea to let it start a little earlier?). [Later addotion: I did not seem to make that quite clear, but this "initi- ation" scene (and the preceding test) takes place at sea, about waist depth.] -=oOo=- Thus endeth the first story about Diver Tim Ento, but I have some ideas for what happened later as well. Just one thing first: After I got these ideas I have discovered that lions have weak hearts - they get exhausted very quickly. This means that if we are to remain true to what is known a- bout lions (just ignoring the fact that real lions are nonintelligent quad- ropeds and all that...), some of my ideas just won't work. Well well. I'll tell you what I've come up with anyway, and then we can discuss it later. At the start of episode two (which, by the way, has a different title - "But he's a lion" just ended...) Tim's father has found out what his son has been up to lately, and is discussing the problem with his parents (i.e. Tim's grandparents), who surprisingly enough turn out to be a bit more understanding than their son (maybe they remember what he was like at that age?). Grandma puts an end to the discussion with a Solomon: "If I get this right, the problem is that this Harry character has made a declaration that he has no authority to make, right?" "Uh, well... Yes, that's right." "Well, if he couldn't do it, then he hasn't really done it. So Tim isn't an H.S.O.! End of problem..." Of course this doesn't really solve all the problems with Tim, but at least it makes his father lose the thread and give up the discussion for the time being. His father then assures him that all this water business is probably a passing fad, and that if he'll just leave Tim alone, he will get other interests when he grows older. As a matter of fact he seems to remem- ber someone else who was pretty wild as a cub... This last remark in particular puts an end to the discussion, and soon after Tim (who's been listening to the whole thing and become terribly bored) and his father break up and head for home. Suddenly Tim "remembers" that he "left" something in the flat (?) they just left and has to go back for it. As you may have guessed from the quotemarks this is just an excuse for getting a word with his grandfather under four eyes, to tell him that even though he is the head of the clan (or something) and everyone has a lot of respect for him, Tim just has to tell him that this time he is wrong - Tim and the sea really are unseparable now. To his great surprise the old lion answers with a sly wink: "I know that - but don't tell your father!" Later Tim discusses his grandmother's logic with the otters and turns out to be a bit disappointed at not really being a Honorary Sea Otter after all, but all three assure him that it was real enough for them, and as far as they are concerned he really is what Harry said. It's summer again, and Tim has reached the age when his vacations are longer than his parents' (actually he's been that old for a couple of years already...), and so he faces the two usual problems: What to do with his parents, and what to do without them. Like most youngsters waiting for their parents to quit work for the sum- mer, both Tim and the otters start looking for a way to have fun and make a bit of money at the same time. One day Tim starts thinking about pearl di- ving (one reason I placed him in that part of the world). He finds out where the local pearl divers hang out and immediately goes there to see them. "Strangely" enough they are not as enthusiastic about the idea as he is - in fact, they find the idea on taking on a lion as an apprentice (even if it's just for a few weeks) so ridiculous that they won't even discuss it with a Lion! (That is, they won't even listen when he tries to "lion" them.) A bit later Tim discusses his latest disappointment with the three friends we know so well by now, and after a bit of heavy thinking Harry (he seems to be the idea man - I mean otter - of the group?) remarks that as far as he knows there is no monopoly on pearl diving, so there is nothing to stop them from trying it on their own! The idea sounds great until someone remembers that there is one thing that could stop them - the closely guarded secret of where the oysters grow... This time it's Tim who gets an idea; it has something to do with lions being more sly than most other animals (in this scenario at least!). After being thoroughly instructed by their leonine friend, Tom, Dick and Harry go to see a young friend (well, aquaintance at least) of theirs - a girl we could call Jenny for instance. She is a couple of years younger than Tim and the otters, but she is a sea animal (not necessarily an otter) and a pearl diver's daughter. Tom opens the conversation by asking how the pearl business is, but be- fore Jenny can answer Harry interjects: "Why do you ask her about that? She's no diver - they won't even let her row the boat!" The ruse works. Jenny, who doesn't expect an otter to be a trickster, gets angry and assures them that she does row - and dive as well! And if they don't believe her, why don't they come and see for themselves? "Alright, we'll come down to the harbour and watch you row - big deal!" Jenny is still upset, and without realizing that she is giving away an old secret she tells them that if they come to Sakai Island before daybreak they will see more than that! At that point the otters strangely enough seem to lose all interest in quarreling with her, and find an excuse to leave... That night our friends find a hiding place on Sakai Island and spend the next couple of hours (until daybreak) discussing the gullibility of the opposite sex. A brand new idea I just got: Tim remarks: "Why shouldn't I "gull" her? You once considered calling me "Seagull", remember?" "Yeah, and you gull'em at sea alright!" Morning comes, and our friends spend the first part of the day watching the pearl divers as promised. In the afternoon the uncamouflage their boat and take it out to the spot that was most crowded a couple of hours ear- lier. This is where Tim runs into another little problem: He hasn't got any di- ving gear yet, so he has to stay in the boat while the otters search the sea bed. They soon find a lot of oysters, but alas! no pearls in any of them. Fortunately they know that mother-of-pearl is also worth something, and so they load all the shells into the boat and head for home. Here's a point where I must admit that my characters know more than me. Do pearl divers extract the m.o.p. from the shells (and how is it done?), or do they sell them as they are? Well, our friends wisely decide to leave that part of the job to someone who knows how it's done, and start looking for a buyer. A little sidetrack idea I got here: Our friends find out that the mer- chant who buys and sells pearls and their parents prefers buying large batches, so when they show him what he thinks is a sample batch he asks them how much they've got altogether and is a bit disappointed to learn that this is all they've got. Do they take him for a retailer, or what? Our friends are disappointed as well. They had already decided to get Tim some diving gear before going out again, and now it looks like he'll have to spend another week guarding the boat... Then Tim gets one of his strange ideas. If the merchant won't buy their small batch, perhaps he could lend them some money? They can leave the shells as security... The merchant, who is a bit less of a fool than Jenny, realizes that this would be practically the same as buying the batch anyway, and is so impressed by Tim's twisting of the rules that he decides to break one of his own and buy a small batch after all. So now our friends have some money for the first thing they want to spend it on, and head for the shop last seen at the end of episode one. This time the proprietor sees them coming and asks his daughter to mind the shop while he, uh, makes a phone call. "And don't ask any silly questions!" Enter Tim. "Good morning, I'd like to look at some diving gear!" "Diving gear? (Oops, was that a silly question?)" Deep sigh. "Yes, you know - for diving. (I seem to have been through this before...)" Tim waits a couple of moments for a sensible answer and sud- denly anticipates the next couple of questions: "No, it's not for someone else. Yes, I'm a lion. And no, that is none of your damn business! Just show me what you've got, okay?" "Uh... okay..." I had a couple more lines around here, including one I remember as parti- cularly brilliant (What do you mean, as opposed to everything else?), but I have forgotten them... Anyway this visit to the shop turns out to be a bit less fruitful than the previous one. For some reason or another, diving gear for lions isn't a stock item (or whatever you'd call it)... Fortu- nately the proprietor (who finally found the courage to return to the scene) knows about a retired fisherman who spends most of his time repai- ring and overhauling gear for divers, and who may be sufficiently skilled to either adapt a set or even make one from scratch. Tim asks what kind of animal he is, and is pleased to hear that he is about to deal with a rhino- ceros. Another land animal with ties to the sea will probably be more likely to understand him and refrain from asking stupid questions... Well well... Our friends have got hold of an address that looks promi- sing, but there is one thing about it that's a bit awkward: The last line. The retired rhino lives in a different town, and the bus connection is a bit less than daily... Our friends are hanging around in the city square looking rather dis- gruntled when fate steps in in the form of a young woman I haven't decided a species for yet, but she is a distant aquaintance of one or more of our friends. She is also a freelance journalist, and gets rather curious at the sight of four long faces at the same time. When they tell her their story, she smells a distant scoop (she's right; more about this in about three pages) and decides to help them - which turns out to be rather easy because she happens to be on her way to the same town our friends are trying to reach, to interview someone. And she's got a car all on her own... (By the way, her name is Jessica or something...(No, she's not married to a rabbit!)) For the next couple of pages things go rather smoothly. Our friends reach their destination and meet the old rhino, who has no objections to the suggested job as long as they can pay him what he asks. He even spends a bit of time to give them an estimate of the costs right ahead, and it doesn't look too bad. In fact everything goes quite well until our friends find it's time to head for home. When they return to the town square, Jes- sica's car is gone... The mystery of the disappearing journalist is soon solved. An innkeeper (who keeps his inn nearby...) comes over and hands Tim a note from Jessica. It says that she had finished the interview early and had intended to wait for them, but then she got a phone call about some really important event that just had to be covered, and since being a freelancer means she gets paid for each article... She is really sorry for having to leave them like that, and even more sorry that she won't have time to return for them later either... End of episode two. Episode three (or whatever) should obviously start with some explanation of how our friends got home again, but I haven't managed to come up with something more exciting than a long night's walk. This is followed by some more anticlimaxes until Tim returns to the other town (on the day the bus runs) to pick up and pay for his custom-made diving gear. On the next day all four of the water maniacs start diving for pearls (and parents) again. Everything goes well until the other divers move elsewhere, and Tim & Co. are surprised to find that there are still lots of oysters left. The expla- nation comes when Jenny's father suddenly turns up to have a word with Har- ry. He tells him that "someone" has been working the same oyster fields as his crew, and now they are worried that "someone" may wipe out the breeding stock. He explains that the pros always leave a sizeable population in each field to make sure that there will still be oysters there when they return in a couple of years. An amateur who doesn't know this might just wipe out the whole population. Harry tries to explain that an amateur who only knows about one oyster field doesn't really have a choice, but unlike his daugh- ter Jenny's father does not rise to the bait. So our friends have a new little problem, and have just started thinking seriously about finding another pastime - they have already got quite a bit of money out of it anyway - when the whole thing becomes irrelevant. The adults start their vacation, and everyone goes somewhere else until school starts again... Tim's father turns out to have some special plans for the summer. Grandpa Leon (?) has assured him that Tim will eventually find other things to waste his time on, but it wouldn't hurt if he tried pushing a bit in the right direction, would it? By the kind of coincidence that is only found in comics, Tim's father happens to have a cousin who lives far inland and has a daughter about Tim's age. So he decides that this year the Ento family will spend their vacation in the countryside, far from the sea and close to other attractions (though he doesn't exactly say it that way, of course..). A few days later Tim meets his third cousin, a rather attractive and charming lioness named Lea. His father's plan seems to work well at first, as Tim and Lea soon start spending a lot of time together, going for walks in the forest and along the river... So! You noticed the river? Well, that's why I put it there! One day the two youngsters are crossing the river on a bridge when suddenly Lea trips and loses her purse into the water. To her great surprise Tim (who is still in the habit of keeping his fur waterproof) jumps in after it and retrieves it before it even has time to start leaking. As she hugs him gratefully, Lea notices something funny about Tim's fur, and soon after he has told her everything about being a water lion, staying waterproof and all that. The next day Lea takes a trip to the nearest drugstore, and a while later Tim's father discovers that rather than a reformed water lion he's now got TWO water lions in the family! Needless to say, he isn't exactly pleased about this - in fact he gets so upset he inadvertently reveals his true purpose for coming here in the first place... Obviously Lea's father gets even more upset at realizing what his cousin has been up to, and this could lead to a lot of trouble I haven't thought out yet. Something I have thought up is what happens after the vacation. School starts, that's right, but this year Tim has some special plans for that too. He's become quite a good swimmer and diver, and now he wants to try out for the school's waterpolo team! There is just one catch. P.E. classes are divided in water classes and land classes, and according to the rules a student must be in the water class to qualify for waterpolo (He must also be in the land class to participate in land sports, but that's got nothing to do with this plot). So how do you transfer from one class to the other? Simple - just get a note from one of your parents... At this point Tim makes a mistake: he asks his father first. When he says no (actually he says NO), Tim wants to ask his mother, but is surprised when she tells him not to ask. If, she explains, he had asked her first everything would have been alright, but now that his father has said no she can't go against him... (That's how it is with lions, you see... you can have quite a lot of liberty as long as you don't directly oppose the lea- der. At least that's how it is with my lions.) But does Tim give up? No, no, this is just another challenge... Only he can't find the solution. But then one day it finds him instead. On the way home from school he is approached by a beaver (?) who introduces himself as the captain of the school's waterpolo team and explains that he has heard about Tim and his wishes (probably from a certain otter...). He's willing to give everyone a chance, and if Tim wants to show what he's good for he can just turn up at the next training session. He won't make any promi- ses, but if Tim is good enough they'll try to think of something. Well, Tim goes to the training session, shows what he's good for and turns out to be acceptable as far as the team is concerned. Now they must find a way to convince the school and not at least Tim's father... It is, as usual (?), Tim who gets the great idea. A week later it's time for the first match of the season when one of the players suddenly tells the coach that he can't play this season. No, he isn't ill or hurt or any- thing, it's just that he has transferred to the land class, and that means he can't play on the waterpolo team, right? Well, this (a player disqualifying because of a transfer) is the kind of thing that happens now and then, but when several other players - in fact the whole A team - turns out to have transferred to the land class, it gets rather hard to not suspect something fishy (pun not intended). When asked why they want to transfer, the ex-players innocently answer that they want to be in the same class as "Diver". Aha, the coach says to himself, this is obvious. The team wants young Mr. Ento in their class, and if they don't get him the whole team will desert! Soon after Tim's father is surprised to find that it's up to him to save the school's honour - either he lets Tim transfer, or the team won't play! In the end he gives up and writes that note. When the coach tells the team about this and suggests that they hurry home and get their parents' permis- sion to transfer back to the water class (it's just a couple of hours to the match!), he is surprised to find that they have finished the paperwork for retransfer already - it turns out that most of the players got two notes from their parents at the same time! So Tim is now in the right class but still not on the team - but that is only a question of time now, so he is allowed to go with the team to wher- ever the match takes place, to watch them win (as the captain optimis- tically puts it). And then something unexpected happens... Halfway through the match some of the players seem to think it's time to show that they've been influenced by hanging around with Tim (i.e. they have learned a bit about scheming). All of a sudden, players start dropping out for different reasons, and soon all the substitutes are used up. When another player "has to" leave the game and none of the others have shown signs of being ready to return, the referee wants to stop the match because he can't let one side play with less than a full team - I'm not sure how the rules for waterpolo work, so this may need some modifications later; the point is that we reach a point where another substitute is needed and there is noone left. "Actually," the team captain tells the referee, "we do have a sort of substitute substitute out in the wings..." "What's his name?" "Tim Ento!" At this point the referee is quite understandably getting rather stressed, and the audience has started showing signs of impatience, so he decides to accept the "substitute substitute" without further questions. He's got noone to ask them to anyway because the team's coach isn't around for the moment. And so Tim gets to play in the rest of the match - and scores enough points for his team to win. At the end of the episode he is everyone's hero... (I originally had an idea about his mother being there and quoting the lioness in the aforementioned fable in response to a journalist's question about her feelings, but I don't know...) In the next episode - a few days later - things are a bit different. A couple of league officials come to town to have a serious talk with the headmaster, the coach and the team leader. It transpires that Tim and the team have unknowingly violated a less wellknown rule for official team sport matches (or whatever the general term is): The rule which says some- thing to the effect that to play in an official match a player must be of- ficially registered as a member of the team - and Tim isn't! This means that not just the points he scored, but the results of the whole match have to be cancelled, and the team has to play against the same opponents again at a later date - without Tim, unless he has officially joined the team until then. Of course his chances for joining the team after such a scandal are rather slim, even though he didn't know he was doing anything wrong... Actually the league scandal is the least of Tim's problems. He soon finds that by getting involved in rule-stretching he has caused the Ento clan to lose face, and now he'd better think of some way to redeem his faults or be forever disgraced... I got this idea a couple of years back, and don't quite remember how I let Tim get the idea, and anyway this is an idea that probably has to go if it's decided that Tim has a weak heart (in fact I'm not even sure if we should let him play waterpolo). Well, to get to the point: Tim & Co live on a large island (I should perhaps have made that clear earlier) a couple of kilometers from the mainland, and one day Tim some way or another gets it into his head that it would be great to swim across the strait separating the island from the mainland - then he would be a hero again, and his old errors would be forgotten. Tim shares his thoughts with the otters, who think it's a great idea too. Then they contact Jessica (the journalist, remember?), who agrees to help them with some practical arrangements in return for an exclusive story. To make a long (and exclusive...) story short, Tim spends most of the next day in deep water, escorted by Jessica and the otters in a boat she has rented. As soon as they reach the mainland Jessica - who has updated her hardware a bit since the last time we saw her - writes a short article on her portable computer and modems it back to the island's local paper along with some digital pictures taken with a still video camera. A few minutes after the transfer is finished, the editor calls back and tells Jessica that they are clearing the front page for her, but need a snappy headline fast. Dick suggests VOYAGE OF REDEMPTION, Harry supplies 'DIVER' SWIMS TO THE CROSSı, and Tim remarks that if either of the two headlines is used, he is going to indulge in some nasty activity that involves his claws and soft parts of the otters... To his great horror Jessica responds by giving the editor both lines, and when they return home (all in the boat this time) they find that the editor has used both lines as well... (Footnote: ıto crawl/creep to the cross is a Norwegian expression that means to show remorse or something like that. I'm not sure if a similar expression is found in English - if it doesn't Harry's suggestions seems rather pointless...(Maybe Harry is of Norwegian descent?)) So what happens next? Well, other papers and media pick up the story, which not only means more profit for Jessica (who's got the only pictures from the trip), but also more fame for 'Diver', as everyone soon starts calling him. When the word starts getting around that there's a "water lion" living there and there, it doesn't take long before our hero starts realizing that he is not alone - there are others with the same kind of problems (that he once had) who feel encouraged by his success and are now going public with their "otherwiseness" as well... Well? I haven't got so many ideas for what happens later, and continuing from here could easily get boring, so I might as well end while the game is good, as we say in Norway. Just a little idea I can't remember the proper place for: Once Tim meets another youngster who teases him about something - perhaps being a "water lion", perhaps something entirely different. Any- way, this obnoxious character doesn't know when to stop, so he keeps need- ling Tim until the latter loses his temper and knocks the other off his feet. Then he stops dead, surprised by his own strength! It dawns on him that he doesn't know his own strength because he never had to attack anyone physically before - all his life he's just been "lioning" people who an- noyed him, but now he seems to be getting more "unleonine"... Another little piece of weirdness I just thought of: While Tim is being interviewed by a journalist, the latter remarks that "There doesn't seem to be very many of your kind around, does it?" To which Tim promptly answers: "As far as I know there's only one - "But he's a lion!"