It was a bit of a shock, I can tell you, but once my heart had slowed to somewhere near normal speed I felt irritated.
‘What the hell are you doing here?’ I asked.
‘Why shouldn’t I be here?’ replied the llama.
‘Because it’s my bedroom.’
‘So bedrooms are private. You don’t just go walking into them without being invited.’
There was silence for a few minutes while he turned his head this way and that, taking everything in and grunting quietly now and then. He seemed particularly interested in the smell of the wallpaper.
‘And anyway,’ he continued, ‘I didn’t walk in here.’
‘So how did you get in?’
‘How does anybody do anything? I just did.’
And then he walked over to the chest of drawers on the far side.
‘What’s that?’ he asked.
‘That hairy thing, there.’
‘A teddy bear.’
‘Yes, teddy bear.’
‘Does it talk?’
‘It isn’t an “it,” it’s a “he.” His name is Berlioz and he’s a friend of mine. And no, he doesn’t talk exactly, but he does communicate when he feels so inclined by means of facial expressions.’
The llama said something in a low voice which I didn’t quite catch. It sounded like ‘oh dear,’ but the acoustics can be deceptive in my bedroom.
‘Do you have any eucalyptus leaves?’ he asked eventually.
‘Eucalyptus leaves. Do you have any?’
‘Of course I don’t have any eucalyptus leaves. What the hell would I want with eucalyptus leaves?’
‘They go very well with dolcelatte cheese.’
‘They do. And some Australian ones have microscopic fragments of gold in them.’
‘You’re having me on.’
‘No, I’m not. They come from trees that grow above gold seams, and tiny bits of gold get drawn up with the water. And it’s an interesting fact that gold is toxic to eucalyptus trees, so they push the metal out to the leaves in order to get rid of it when the leaves fall. Eucalyptus trees are a lot smarter than people think.’
‘Now you’re really having me on.’
‘No, I’m not. And their leaves taste excellent accompanied by chocolate mousse.’
‘You said dolcellatte cheese.’
‘That too. Goodbye.’
At that he emulated the Cheshire Cat by disappearing slowly inwards from the extremities. His right ear was the last bit to go. It flicked up and down three times before fading. It looked like a wave, but I suspect it meant ‘I’ll be back.’