Who but fools?

Роза ЛИСТЬЕВА | Проза


Who but fools?

Two friends were talking while sitting in their van in a traffic jam in London on the hot day.

“Yesterday I made a proposal of marriage to a girl, but she refused. She says, ‘I would marry you only for a million pounds.’”

“Ha ha ha! I would refuse you, too.”

“I love her,” Anthony said seriously.

“Sorry,” Bob said. “What will you do?”

“Wait, clam up. Turn it up louder.”

The radio said, “Last evening, at half past six, a bear named Baxter escaped from the Funny Bear Circus. He was everyone’s favorite, and the circus is offering a one-million-pound reward for his capture”.

“Oh no, not that!”

“You would help me, wouldn’t you?”

“Who, but fools, would catch him?”

“We would,” Anthony smiled shyly. “For the sake of love… and friendship.”

“Okay, only for the sake of love. And friendship.”

“High five! I knew you are a great friend. I’ve never had a moment’s doubt…”

“Shut up!”

“I thought you’re interested in my opinion.”

“Don’t you think that Scotland Yard will do it faster than us?”

“We need to get ahead of them. Moreover, when my fate depends…”

“Shut up, now! Where do we start?”

“We need to know, where he was last seen.”

Anthony pulled his laptop out of the glove compartment and focused on the internet search.

“Well?” Bob asked.

“I’ve found it!” Anthony answered. “Today, at five o’clock in the morning, Mrs. Camerton contacted the police. When she left her house, she saw a huge bear on the lawn that emptied the waste containers and licked its dirty paws.

“What’s the address?”

“Crisp Road.”

“Would you share your reward with me?”

“I can’t…”


“Well, of course I will share it with you if something remains…”

“But, why do you want this… girl? Just think where you can go with a million pounds!”

“If I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t be sitting in the same van with you now and wouldn’t seek out some bear.”

“Sorry, bro, I feel for you,” Bob nickered again.

“You bastard!” Anthony didn’t restrain himself. “I wonder who can tolerate you.”

Driving past the upturned trashcan, they noticed the police. The policemen were animatedly talking about something with the locals. Anthony opened the window.

“Oh, it was awful! The bear was so huge, and it was growling! And then it overturned the trash container and ran out of sight! Oh, it was awful!”

“And where did the bear go?”


“Let’s drive,” said Anthony.

“There? But there is a cemetery!”

“Who cares! Do you want to get a million pounds or not?”

“I want it.”

“So, let’s go.”

“Let’s go.”


Arriving at the cemetery, they saw the watchman, who was very scared and shaking. He told them the story of how he heard the strange noises from the graveyard in the London fog at seven o’clock in the morning.

Someone growled fearfully and smacked his lips, but there was no one in sight.

“Then I saw it was a bear. I turned pale and sweaty. I couldn’t even call the police because the phone fell from my shaking hands. I screamed and the bear ran away.”

“And where did it go?”

“In the direction of Barton Road.”

“Thanks,” they shouted on the run and jumped in their van.

“Be careful. Who knows this bear?”

But they didn’t hear his words. They rushed through Barton Road towards adventures. And the wind whistled in their ears.

“I’ve never thought that all my future life may depend on some bear.”

“It’s funny that the bear gave the watchman a real fright.”

“Do you hear me at all?”

“But how would we catch the bear? Are you going to do it with your bare hands?”

“I have the handcuffs.”

“Are you a fool?”

“Why do you call me a fool? Suggest your own method.”

“We have to buy ice cream and lure Baxter into our van. All bears have a sweet tooth. So, he would be tricked. We could catch him and call the circus to tell them the good news that we’ve found the bear. And then, we could bring them Baxter, just as Santa Claus brings Christmas gifts.”

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

“But nevertheless, love is a wonderful feeling!”

“I’ve never thought that someday I would be hearing it from you.”

“Love isn’t a thing you need to hear about, you need to feel it”.

“Don’t you think it is strange?”


“That there’s nobody here.”

“I think I can smell already the bear’s scent!”

“I believed you think you can smell the money.”

“I’ve told you about beautiful things, about love, but you speak only about money! What is life without love?”

“Shut up and let me think.”

“About what?”

“Just shut up.”


Bob got out his van and went into the shop.

“A Bear? What a bear?” the saleswoman answered in amazement. “No, I haven’t seen it.”

He came back perplexed.

“Where could the bear go? I can’t imagine this.”

“So, let’s drive through the street and just look around.”

“It’s no accident.”


“There are no people here, as if they have hid themselves.”

“But, where is Baxter?”

Then they saw an overturned waste container again.

“I told, I told you! I knew!” Anthony he cried joyfully. “Go forward!”

Passing by Normand Park, they noticed a crowd of people clapping and laughing at something interesting. The friends became sad, but decided to take a closer look. There wasn’t even a hint of any bear. The clown handed out ice cream to children. The birthday girl with bows in her hair chose cherry ice cream. Then they heard a growl. Everyone fled in terror with their children. The clown also ran away, leaving his ice cream box. Bob froze for a moment and was about to dash away, but Anthony’s iron grip stopped him.

“Are you leaving me now, when we almost caught Baxter? Take ice cream and go to the bear!”

“Hell no, I haven’t agreed to do it! I’m not ready! I’m not morally ready, do you understand?”

“I understand. Go!” Anthony gave him ice cream.

The bear took an ice cream cone out of Bob’s hands and sat down on the bench. Bob smiled perplexedly. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, camera flashes appeared.

“He has found Baxter!”

Right there and then, Bob got a suitcase with a million pounds. Anthony turned away and walked off.

“No, wait! It’s your million pounds! Take it! Just for the sake of love and friendship! Let’s call her now!”

Anthony took his cellphone out of his pocket.

“Darling, I’ve found Baxter! Marry me!”

“I joked about a million! I love you! But who, besides you, could do that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe some fools could… But what are we going to do with a million pounds?”

“And where are you now?”

“I’m with Bob in Normandy Park. We are dragging the suitcase with money to his father’s van.”

“Come to me, I have something to advise.”



She lived on the Lavington Street, and they easily got to her. They saw a beggar sitting on the sidewalk near her house and asking passers-by for spare change. Anthony gripped the suitcase, pressing it to his chest, as if afraid of being robbed. Bob rang the doorbell. A few minutes later they were met by Annie, a tall blue-eyed blonde in her early twenties.

“Hi, baby!” Bob said.

“Do you know each other?”

“We just met a couple of times.”

Anthony felt his heart struck with the harsh reality and broken.

“We should celebrate your success!”

There was a bottle of champagne on the table.

“Actually, it was I who found Baxter! It’s my money!” Bob pulled the suitcase to himself.

“Was it not you who found Baxter?”

“That’s my girlfriend and my money!” Anthony pulled the suitcase to himself.


“Hold it,” Anthony said and gave Annie the suitcase.

“You’re going to kill him!”

“Just for the sake of friendship! Just for the sake of love! I thought you are my friend, but haven’t even conscience… Cursed be the day I called you friend!”

Anthony raised his fist over Bob.

“I risked my life, when everyone ran away, when you got cold feet, when the bear looked into my eyes… Moreover, my dear, tell him…”

She held the suitcase and looked from one to the other.

“No, my boy. It’s all over between us.”

“And you are saying that after all that was between us?”

“What?” Anthony gasped.

Now it was impossible to glue his broken heart back together.

He took the suitcase from her hands, opened it and threw money out of the window. The air in the street became full of flying slips of paper. The beggar outside the window lifted his hands to heaven. Real one hundred pound notes were falling on him.

Anthony went away without a word.

“Fool,” Bob said, holding his broken head. “She loves me! And you are a fool!”

“He threw out our money…”

“Why do we need that money? The most important thing is that we are together again!”

They kissed. Then they went to bed and made love.

“But nevertheless, love is a wonderful feeling!” Bob said, hugging Annie.

The doorbell rang.

“I’ll open.”

“No, I will do it myself.”

“But what if it’s that fool?”

“Beloved, who is this?” the man with a bottle of champagne and roses, who entered the room, asked Annie.

“I’ll explain everything to you!” she answered.

“No, at first I would explain everything to him, and then to you!” Bob said.


Anthony bought a bottle of beer and cigarettes at the nearest store and went to catch a taxi. It was all over for him – love and friendship. He felt his life hung in the balance. It was time to sum up. He was so sick at heart that he decided to get drunk.

“Oh, damn,” he said gloomily.

As ill luck would have it, there was no taxi. But suddenly he heard footsteps and saw Bob.

“Why do you come? I have enough trouble without you stirring up more!”

“She cheated on me! Now she is dating superman!”

They were silent for a while.

Bob continued, “I’ve realized one simple thing, that love and friendship are more important than money. Forgive me, I have done wrong…”

“Shut up.”

“You mean you’re not angry?”

Anthony pushed his unfinished bottle of beer and cigarettes to Bob. For a while they smoked in silence. Then Bob got up and walked to the lamp post with a banner. His attention was drawn to the strange photo on it.

He read aloud, “A crocodile escaped from the zoo. Those who find it will be rewarded with a million pounds.”

“Who, but fools, would look for him?”

“We would!” Bob smiled.

“I’m not falling for that again.”

They sat and smoked. The passing by cars disappeared in the distance, causing sadness.

“Let’s go to McDonald’s,” Anthony suggested.

“Let’s go!” Bob agreed and threw his cigarette away.

About the author:

Rose Leaves is a pen name of Roza Listeva, a writer of detective novels and movie scripts. She was born March 27, 1985 in the town of Dedovsk in the Moscow Region. She graduated from the Musical-Pedagogical School. For her writing she was awarded the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Medal, 2016.

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