Jake the Facecloth

A short story of magic, mystery and a little dampness for our younger readers by Angus Von Stulpnagel Jnr.


Once upon a time there was a wee boy called Robert Ewan Alisdair Liam Llewellyn Young, but his mum would usually shorten it to Bob when calling him in for his tea, because it would be cold by the time she used his full name. Moniaive was home to Bob, his parents and his pet ferret, Dominic Alfonzo Ferdinand Terresakova, but as the ferret does not feature in this story again, his name is irrelevant and not worth remembering.

Now, Bob was a good wee boy, and as big and strong as any of his classmates, but he was extra kind and considerate to anyone he met. He was also unusually clean …for a boy anyway, and was in the habit of using a face cloth to clean the back of his neck and behind his ears. A fine collection of facecloths was in Bob’s cupboard, but his favourite was a big dark blue one.

One night as Bob was getting ready for bed, and had just washed his neck with his favourite face cloth, rung it out and laid it to the side, he thought of his granny who was ill with a fever in her wee house in Tynron. Bob loved his granny very much and shed a manly tear, because he was worried about her. Apparently it is not manly to show you have shed a tear, no matter how manly that tear is, so Bob decided to wipe it away with his facecloth.

Now, as EVERYONE knows, if a boy sheds a tear into a facecloth, at exactly the same as the sun goes down behind the horizon, on the same day as a full moon is coming up, the boy has had spinach for his tea, AND a shooting star is seen in the sky to the west of Moniaive, then the facecloth takes on magical properties. Just then Bob saw a shooting star, and all the conditions were met; his facecloth gave itself a little shake, a stretch and a large yawn.

The facecloth then looked at Bob, who stared back with his mouth open.

“Unless you are a goldfish, I would be grateful if you would close your mouth”, said the facecloth. Bob’s mouth closed with a pop.

“I think introductions are in order,’ said the facecloth, “my name is Jonathan Ignatius Nikolay Giovanni Stravinsky. And you are?”


“Then I think you should call me… ‘Jake’, and now I must be going, as there is no point in having magical properties and just hanging over the end of the sink. See ya.”

Before Bob could say anything Jake had disappeared in a puff of coloured twinkly stuff.

I bet you are asking yourself what a damp facecloth, called Jake, with magical properties would do once it had disappeared in a puff of coloured twinkly stuff. Well,…. having the tear of concern for a granny with a fever in him, Jake headed straight for Tynron and granny’s house, where he found her in bed, not looking at all well. Jake got straight to work and gently landed on her forehead. Being damp, he was lovely and cool, and quickly cooled poor, sick granny down. The following morning granny was quite well again, and Jake was back at Bob’s house ready to help him get washed before going to school.

Bob thought it was all a dream, until he wrung out the facecloth a little too energetically and it gave a little yelp.

“Sorry Jake”, said Bob as he hung him over the edge of the sink again.

“Day shift, here I come,” said Jake as he disappeared in a puff of coloured twinkly stuff again.

All day long Jake went from house to house cooling sick children and cleaning up little baby’s faces. When Bob came back from school Jake was already back.

And so it went on, except at the weekends or holidays, when Bob would go with his mum and dad to Thornhill, the zoo, or the cinema, or for a picnic, or maybe to visit granny. Then Bob’s mother would put Jake in a plastic bag and take him with them “to wipe your mouth and fingers after having an ice cream, or in case you get jam on your nose”, she would say.

This was a fine arrangement, because Jake liked going on these family outings between using his magical properties. And so things went on, for many years. Bob and Jake left Moniaive together to go to university, and came back when Bob got a job there as the doctor.

No one could understand quite how Bob’s facecloth lasted so long, or why he kept it as his favourite, even when he was grown up.

I suppose that Bob and Jake are still together; as I have not heard anything to say they are not, and therefore they lived happily ever after.

The End