Fops arrived to the tune of calliope music and virtuosic slide-whistling; 'ching-ching' bells were attached to the handlebars of their velocipedes to add the necessary degree of whimsy to their otherwise workaday coxcomb counterpoint. They rode high in the seat, trotting their bicycles around in a blended display of pedomotive showmanship and Broadway arrogance. They used one arm to steer; the other arm was used to brandish badgers (Taxidea taxus).
They came because of the stevedores (estibadoris profundis).
The stevedores came to town two weeks earlier in a Norfolk wherry, unloading themselves into rowboats and sculling to the docks. Stevedores in worn wool caps and experienced dundrearies alighted from the rowboat and produced from their coats devices fashioned out of platypus bills; blowing through them, they summoned the others to port. After docking, the stevedore's that piloted the wherry flung themselves over their own shoulders and tossed themselves overboard where they were neatly stacked on a pallet by the other waiting men.
Then the stevedores took to town, stealing whiskey, hoisting bordellos right off of their foundations, and moving them closer, to within a more convenient swaggering distance from port. Two stevedores, high on corn syrup malt, tossed the post office into the bay and as it sunk, plumes of letters floated to the surface and stuck to the side of their boat like stamps on a tourist's trunk.
Stevedores have a taste for honey and, lacking steady employment, often resort to stealing it from suburban apiaries or from the backs of unattended honey delivery vans.
They were often seen in the morning, poised, stealing Mr. Vulpine Nash's honey. One would be sitting on the apiary, his calloused hands golden with honey, while the second stevedore, on lookout, scanned the perimeter with the morose squint of a paranoid school marm.
Mr. Vulpine Nash used to dig ditches in his yard, line them with a honey substitute, and cover the holes with picnic blankets. In the morning he'd find two or three stevedores stuck together, covered in ants.
But the stevedores adapted.
They started using their longshoreman hooks to swing from tree to tree and then slowly drop onto the apiaries from above like willow monkeys. Mr. Vulpine Nash would watch them from his breakfast nook, peaking over the unsteady rim of his café brulot. Scored by salt and fistfights, the stevedores would spread their lips to form gaping seaside smiles that revealed several rows of surprisingly pristine teeth; there were sweet teeth, degenerate lamb teeth, and four pairs of very business minded honey incisors that could snip the buttons off of a tailor's vest. They smiled at Mr. Vulpine Nash, their teeth webbed in honey.
This morning, upon hearing the calliope music, they cocked their heads and scuttled up a nearby tree using only their longshoreman hooks and raw shoulder strength.
Calliope music means fops. Fops mean danger.
Their teeth chatter so loudly that the fops say to one another, 'Listen to those woodpeckers fuck!'
From the safety of the oak tree they watch the grand parade. These are no ordinary fops, they decide. Look at their morning-coats, remarks stevedore one. They are resplendent! And their lace cravats; yes, particularly fearsome, replies stevedore two. We mustn't let them bite us.
The fops make a self-indulgent zigzag through town and on towards the park where they stop to picnic on clover and celery sandwiches. Pints of dandelion tea are swilled with foppish abandon. A fop in a purple frock coat picks his teeth with a longshoreman's hook, a deliberate taunt, and more fops fashion a makeshift badger pen by leaning their velocipedes against a wall, allowing each cycle to slightly overlap the other.
The fops lay out saucers of 'crème-de-leche' for the badgers to lap up, but the salty badgers overturn them just as soon as they are laid out.
These aren't frivolous badgers.