A Peculiar Fable

Originating on June 20th of 2001…

The Fable of the Ugly Penny

Once upon a time, a man found a penny. He picked it up and immediately grimaced. It was green and tarnished and even felt slimy.

“Gross,” he said and dropped the penny into a nearby trash can, wiping his hand on his pants leg.

Suddenly, a band of trolls came out of the woodwork. They cackled amongst themselves and this is what they said:

“He has so much money, he can afford to throw it away!” said the one with the wart on its nose.

“Ha! Yes, one day,” the one with the eye patch said, pausing to hack up a hairball,
“He will find himself one penny short of a fortune—.”

“And where will he be then?” interrupted the one with the long strands of hair coming out of its nose.

They cackled and, slapping each other on the back, faded back into the woodwork.

“Hmmmmm, they’re right,” said the man who overheard this strange conversation, “It’s dirty money, but it’s still money.” And the man dug through the trash, picking up rotting banana peels, and sticky aluminum cans, and used tissues until he finally found the ugly penny.

Suddenly, once more, the band of trolls appeared out of the woodwork.

“Ha!” one roared between large, messy bites from a bucketful of live frogs. “He’s so poor, he must dig for pennies from the garbage.”

“Down and out—poor human!” cried another troll tearing into hideous cackles that caused nearby pigeons to scurry, frightened, away.

As the first troll laughed even harder he started choking on a particularly large frog, which still croaked in his throat.

“Hold on to that penny human—don’t spend it all in one place!” laughed another troll, in one hand holding a young squealing pig, the other trying to wrench it’s head off.

Then the band of trolls disappeared off into the woodwork trying to revive the one choking on the frog, but were unsuccessful. Instead, the troll died of asphyxiation.

The man shook his head in disgust, clasped his fists together in anger, bit his lip and hurled the penny as far he could throw. But instead of flinging it very far, it slipped from his hand, due to the slime, and hit a beautiful young woman who happened to be reading nearby.

“Ouch!” she cried. “How rude!” Red-faced, the beautiful young woman picked up her book and stomped off in a huff.

The man left, his hand still stained green, and returned to his home and cursed the day that he ever saw the ugly penny.

Moral: Never bite off more frog than you can chew!


Story Time Yet Again

Another story begun in December of 1993. The 7th to be exact. It’s called…

The Story of Five More or Less Normal Lookin’ People

This is the story of five more or less normal lookin’ peop­le. As it so happens one of these people was just a tad taller than the othe­rs, enough of a tad so much so that the rest of the people could­n’t look ’em straight in the eye and they couldn’t shake his hand rightly so.

Now, there also happened to be, amongst these five otherwise normal lookin’ people, a little man, somewhat smaller than all the others, very much smaller than the tallest man, but we need­n’t mention that since you’ve probably figured all that out by the fact that since you always keep your calculators handy for just such an occasion, and this man was just a tad bit smal­ler than the rest of the normal lookin’ people just enough so that they could­n’t quite look ’em straight in the eye and they really could­n’t shake his hand rightly so.

Well, this was all disturbing to the remaining fairly normal individuals and they scratched their heads, warmed up their newly overhauled miniature calculators with new batteries in ’em and everything, jogged around a bit and were attempting in their own way and in their own solutionary method to arrive at a suitable solution to this remarkable dilemma which they indeed began to remark upon.

“Well, I can’t rightly say,” said the one, “but I think we might come to an agreement if we went ahead and gave the little guy some stilts. That way he could be just as tall as us, he could look us straight in the eye and we could shake his hand rightly so.”

“Seems like a reasonable idea,” the others said. So the smartest one of the group, the one with the solar calculator that didn’t ever need any new batteries, got together with the one who was pretty good at whittling wood and they put together some decent stilts for the shorter man and everyone was reasonably happy.

“The problem I still see,” said one of the other mostly normal lookin’ individuals, clearing his throat, “is, ahem, excuse me, is that we still have the problem of, uh, well,” he pointed to the taller man. “You know.”

The others nodded their heads.

After enough time went by for the one who was pretty good at whittling wood had whittled a little baby rhinoceros or some crazy lookin’ animal of some kind unknown or, well, it looked more like a big ol’ horny toad or maybe a ballerina with her foot up and no arms. Something. Anyway, enough time went by so the gears in their noggins ground out, in their own way, a method for this startling dilemma to be solved once and for all and someone spoke up.

“I know just the solution,” said one of quite normal lookin’ individuals, smiling and picking his teeth with the edge of a nice shiny and sharp pocket knife. “Let’s cut his legs off just above the shin. That way he could be just as tall as us, he could look us straight in the eye and we could shake his hand rightly so.” He smiled some more.

Everyone nodded, thinking that it’d be just the thing to do.

“I’ll go get the ax,” said another practically normal look­in’ individual and was about to go when–

“Excuse me for just a second,” said the tallest man hearing all this. “I don’t mean to pry into anyone else’s business, but do you think that chopping my legs off at just below the shin will be all that wise an idea? I mean, all that blood and all.”

So, to make a short story a tad bit shorter (with no one gettin’ hurt in the process) that was the end of that idea. And the shorter man decided after awhile that he didn’t after all like the stilts. And even sometimes the taller man would let him ride awhile on his shoulders until he got tired of it (and even some of relatively normal lookin’ people got their turn) and so everyone lived relatively happily ever after and no one actually, really had that much trouble lookin’ each other in the eye or shaking each other’s hand rightly so after all.

Another Story

This one began on December 18, 2003. It is…

The Tale of the Thirteen Wizards

Not so long ago, there were thirteen very powerful wizards from thirteen parallel dimensions, each with the desire to rule the mortal world. Each had written a book. The book was to be used to govern the many great lands of the world and the people would abide by the words written in the book. The book would become the Eternal Law.

However, only one book could be used. There were, instead, as stated in the first paragraph of this tale, thirteen separate books.

So, the most powerful of the wizards told the others, “Using no magic, we will draw straws. The short straw will go first and so on until the longest straw, who will go last. In this order each of us will go, one by one, to the Throne of Empire, where the Book of Law will lie. Each of us will set down our book onto the throne. The book that remains on the throne when we have all set ours down will become the Book of Law.” Let the greater magic prevail.

The other wizards contemplated this suggestion. None said anything for a moment. Then, each agreed. The plan seemed fair and would avoid needless wars that would only mess up the carpet.

So, the wizards drew straws and when they had all found their order by the drawing, each wizard entered into the Room of the Throne of Empire, one by one.

The first wizard walked to the throne and set down his book in the seat, centered perfectly – he pressed it firmly into the crimson red cushion for extra measure. Then, he left the room, intoning an incantation that the book might stay.

The second wizard walked into the Room of the Throne of Empire and removed the first wizard’s book, tossing it aside with ease onto the marble floor and placed his own book on the seat instead. He, too, left the room uttering a magic spell to ensure that his book would be the one left on the throne.

The wizards, each in succession, followed this form, until only the most powerful was left, for he had, by some strange coincidence, drawn the longest straw. He walked into the Room of the Throne of Empire, saw the other eleven books scattered over the marble floor and the twelfth sitting on the seat of the throne. He took the twelfth book and tossed it effortlessly to the floor to join the others.

When the other wizards returned to the throne room, they were aghast. How had this happened? They watched as the thirteenth wizard was just placing his, the thirteenth book, onto the seat of the throne, firmly centering it, and, as did all the other wizards, pressing the book firmly into the crimson red cushion for extra measure. As he did this, the seat of the throne gave out, for the books had been exceedingly heavy, each and every one being heavier than the last.

Suddenly, the entire room burst into flames – for an even more powerful wizard, upon the founding of the Empire, had put a curse on the throne many years before that if the throne was ever destroyed (or damaged), the entire Empire Palace would burst into flames for insurance purposes.
The most powerful wizard chuckled to himself as the flames engulfed the thirteen books.

“So much for that,” he said. Then, he and the twelve other wizards vanished in a puff of smoke, returning to the dimensions from whence they came. And so that is why, to this day, there is no Eternal Law in the land.

Short, Short Story Time

I started the following short, short story on January 6, 1993. It is called…

The Tale of the Man with the Fork

He wandered in the bright city streets, being bumped and bruised by the busy passers by. He had no sunglasses, just his hand to shade his eyes from the searing heat that hit his skin and browned it browner than the brown mother nature gave him. In his hand he held a fork. With it he would poke and poke until the people moved from out of his way. They would let out a yelp and hop to the left. They would let out a yelp and hop to the right. They would let out a yelp and hop, hop, hop to the front, front, front until they finally moved to the right or left so the man with the fork could get through. Eventually, nobody messed with the man with the fork. They would always get out of the way.

Then, one day, as so often happens in stories such as this when it seems that there’s a need for a shift in plot or some type of action and so one day something happens because it has to happen or at least begin on one day since it can’t happen on two days at once, there came another man, a man for whom everyone moved out of the way. Everyone respected this man’s space. They gave him plenty of room. This man did not carry around a sharp fork. He did not poke men and women with a sharp object to get his way in the world. No sir. This man had a plate. It was a silver plate. But it was not the silver plate that earned respect. It was the fact that the plate was full of heaping, dead skunk that stunk to high heaven and kindly he offered it to everyone around him and those people were happy to run away and let him have all the space he could possibly want.

The End

Christmas At Home

A quiet Christmas. Didn’t put the tree up until Christmas Eve. Rented a storage space to take all of the stuff from Hope’s Mom’s. The lawyers are gearing up to sell the place. Mostly it’s clothes and papers, but sometimes we’ve run into priceless photos and small heirloom items. We have two nice chairs. Boxes and boxes were stacked up in the living room. Finished moving them out that afternoon.

Hope’s Mom is at Morningside, an assisted living facility. Every holiday we would go up to McLean to see her Hope’s parents and her sister. Her Grandmother was still alive when I met her and getting around alright. The house was right down from the Jordanian Ambassador’s residence, which was a bit nicer. Senator Byrd, the long-serving Congressman from West Virginia lived around the corner. Evermay was the name of the development. Nice brick houses. Just down the street was a development of McMansions, but these houses were a bit more modest, just a bit more well built and well appointed from your ordinary suburban homes.

There were three bedrooms upstairs, two full baths. There was a full size attic that you could easily fit two or three VW bugs in, if you managed to build some sort of ramp to get them up there. If it was finished off, it would make a nice apartment to a struggling artist or student.

There was an eat-in kitchen that attached to a large den. Hard wood floors everywhere. There was a very large formal living room and a sectioned off formal dining room. There was a fireplace in the living room, but there was also a fireplace in a corner of the den up on brick. It may have been gas.

Downstairs, of course, the laundry room. Then, two additional bedrooms and a large den-like main area with a bar. I’m sure it had been years since anyone had entertained. Hope and I would sleep in the basement on the sofa bed. Her father, who was elderly when I met him (82) would be in one of the downstairs bedrooms. Her sister was in the other one.

Her mother slept upstairs along with her grandmother. Once in awhile she and I would sleep upstairs in her old bedroom. The bed, though, was the same bed she grew up with and was rickety and small. I remember it was always difficult finding sheets. At some point we started bringing our own.

The problems with her mother really began early on, but there were enough people around to run interference. It got worse once her grandmother died and when her sister moved out. Then, her father died. Her mother was alone with her demons.

It would be deep in the middle of the night and her mother would still be up walking around upstairs. She would doze off mid conversation at times or begin in English and wander into Spanish. I had taken some languages in school, but was no match for a true speaker. Her mother and grandmother were from Peru. Her father from Boston. Irish. It was a Catholic household.

The furniture was all brand new in the 70’s and had the plastic coverings. It looked like that Swedish furniture with the simple design, minimal, but nice. Red cushions and the plastic had seen better days after her sister’s cats had their way with the place, which included spraying everywhere. At some point it was not a pleasant place to visit. Her mother, too, had a thing against moths, not that I like them. But the mothball smell plus cat urine aroma did not for a holiday treat make.

I blame her sister. She would never get the cats fixed. They were both males and I suppose they just competed for territory by spraying everything they could. It was disgusting.

When we would leave the house, as we took the left hand turn out of Evermay, I never had any other feeling than great relief that the ordeal was over.

It makes this year, here at home, all the more enjoyable. Though our home is more modest and we do have cats, the cats are fixed, the cushions exposed, and the sheets and blankets are in abundance.

Active Participation In An Inkling of Culture

It is a travesty of culture that non-linear TV programming is still a luxury item in America. A hard-working, ordinary American should be able to come home at whatever time, dial up programming options and select what they want to see. This is already readily available on the internet at various video clip sites. But the ordinary American who can’t afford internet or digital cable should not have to live their life around some TV schedule dreamed up by idiots who have no redeeming contribution to society other than, once in a very great while, allowing some inkling of culture to emerge from the little box sitting in our living rooms that they have control over. No longer. Put programming in the hands of the consumer at no cost. Make consumers become active rather than passive consumers of content. That is the future. Make it happen now.


An Inhuman Government

Government officials who value money over human life dominate the current political scene.  ‘No new taxes’ is the mantra.  Economic systems should serve people; not the other way around.  If our economic system does not serve the needs of citizens everywhere, it’s time to replace it with something better.  Under fascist and communist societies, the people serve the uses of the state.  In our country, the state should serve the people.  Saving money means very little when human needs are going unfulfilled.