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Thread: Auntie's Fairly Flailing Tales #1--"Jack, The Giant's Life Coach"

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    Auntie's Fairly Flailing Tales #1--"Jack, The Giant's Life Coach"

    Auntie's Fairly Flailing Tales #1:

    Jack, The Giant's Life Coach



    I.

    In these so-called modern times, human beings preoccupied with technological novelties seldom consider that outside the comfort of their convenience zones, monstrosities still exist. Now and then an open-minded soul or a basic cable viewer might ponder the possibility of an anomaly such as Bigfoot, a shape-shifter, or a celebrity game show host. Yet even under the influence of an unpredictable nostrum– prescription, O.T.C., legal, or otherwise-- one could never have imagined a creature so terrifying that the beast would make Grendel’s mother seem like a school crossing guard. I am referring, of course, to Jack’s old lady.

    Ninety seconds in her presence would cause one to jump off the wagon for good–-or back on, depending on the individual’s personal background and emotional history. This was an unfortunate break for the lad, who–while he wasn’t particularly great himself– was nonetheless the great-great-great-great (etc.) grandson of the legendary Jack the Giant Killer whose valiant deeds had earned him an illustrious–albeit honorary– place at King Arthur’s Round Table. This noble lineage had been inherited from the paternal side. Exactly how Jack’s pater had happened to have chosen such a mismatched mater for a life partner has never been satisfactorily explained. Let’s leave it at that. If it bothers you so much, click “Help.” Or go to “Restart.”

    Where was I? The woman who’d given birth to our protagonist would have frightened a food addict away from a buffet restaurant on All You Can Eat Night. Apart from her hideous dental condition, an effect of a general tendency to “let herself go,” she wasn’t unattractive for a woman her age. But even if she’d been a veritable knockout, no man in his right mind would have remained in the same room with her, so intimidating was her hair-trigger temper.

    Guards from the maximum security state prison would send her emails asking for advice. Upon her approach, pit bulls specifically bred and trained as attack animals would whimper and bolt in retreat. Walnuts on special at a supermarket three blocks away would crack open merely from the sound of her voice. She was the most frightening woman in the world.

    Sane men obviously avoided her but poor Jack could not escape her constant hysterical, spirit-killing harangues. The withering deprecation and capricious demands constituted flat-out child abuse continuing into Jack’s young adulthood. No wonder he actually looked forward to her sending him our on errands just for temporary respite, but, as you may well imagine, it was sheer torture returning home.

    “ ‘Bout time you showed up, you little twerp!” she screeched.

    “Sorry, Mother. The bus was late–“

    “What did it do, take a detour to Tijuana?” She stuck out her flabby right arm and wiggled her fingers. With a sneer designed to express both menace and delight, she watched Jack squirm as he fumbled through his pockets. When he finally produced a little plastic sandwich bag, she snatched it from him like a toad snatching a fly with its lightning-quick tongue.

    She held the transparent bag up to the light, the better to examine the contents. “What is this– some kind of joke? Don’t look at me as if I had five heads! You know what I’m talking about. Where’s the other one, the real bag?”

    “Excuse me, Mother, I really don’t –“

    The ogress lurched forward and grabbed her son by the neck. With her other hand she thrust the bag into Jack’s face and squeezed it into his nose. “See that? Look at the crap you bring home to me. Stems and seeds. What the hell am I supposed to do with stems and seeds?” With that she took the bag and tossed it straight out the window into the alley below. “I ought to throw you out, you good for nothing son of a – where do you think you’re going? Yeah. That’s right. Run! And don’t come back!”

    As downcast as the rejected purchase in the alley, Jack was left with no other refuge in which to flee. That the damp and garbage-strewn cul de sac would be an unsuitable place to spend the night hadn’t previously crossed his mind. For one thing, there was nowhere for him to sleep, including a discarded mattress, filled with stains of unknown origins and undoubtedly the current home of several thousand individuals of Cimex lectularius, a species which had of late notoriously emigrated to Jack’s native city. In any case their temporary quarters was not lying in its normal flat position but rather propped up against the building’s communal trash receptacle. Even so, the question of where Jack might rest his head was moot, for from the a window above another object had been hurled– this time a box of beer cans and bottles accompanied by instructions--“Hey, Useless–-recycle these!”– which hit him squarely on the back of the head, effectively knocking him unconscious and laying him belly-down on the ground, a hodgepodge of mud and the crumbled remains of paving stones.

    Continued below///
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 06-30-2012 at 04:09 PM. Reason: misplaced modifier

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    "Jack, the Giant's Life Coach," part 2 of 4

    II.

    Despite his tumultuous home environment, Jack had never been known to be a light sleeper; a brass band could march within inches of his head and he’d never move a muscle. Yet all that night the lad half-consciously experienced bizarre sensations. For one thing, he perceived on his abdomen a subtle tickling sensation not attributable to the aforementioned bedbugs. Even more strangely, his body seemed to undergo a certain vertical movement, gradually lifting him above the cold ground, as if from some theatre across town a performing shaman had levitated him by remote control.

    Throughout it all, Jack never fully awakened until daybreak. The morning sunshine seemed brighter and warmer than normal, and there was something peculiar about the air, so thin that it made him feel light-headed. Having extended his arms for a good, healthy stretch, he began to get up on his feet– -which had gotten the message long before his brain-- that he was about to fall. Instinctively Jack lunged at something to which he could anchor himself, but the object in his grip was slippery and damp, not suitable for sustaining his weight. Now with his eyes fully opened he could see that he’d grabbed what appeared to be a feathery frond or a bract, the fifth section of a digitately compound leaf, one of many identical quinquefoliate structures extending from an ancillary stem, hundreds of which were attached to a main stalk, about three feet in circumference, within an arm’s reach and thus a relatively safer anchor for bracing himself. Then Jack did exactly what seasoned adventurers always advise against: he looked down.

    The view below him was completely occupied by white clouds, prompting Jack to believe that he had died and, mirabile dictu, had gone to what conventional wisdom visualizes as “heaven.” But presently the clouds parted and far, far below he could just make out the terra firma from which he had arisen. He wanted to put one of his hands over his eyes for a better look, a la Native American style, but he dared not remove his other hand from the giant plant’s stem to which he was desperately clinging-- as the saying goes-- “for dear life.” Looking up Jack could make out the terminus of the giant weed, a metaphorical hop, skip, and jump from his current position. At that point, Jack realized he had but one of two choices: he could take his chances and attempt to climb back down to his former hardscrabble existence dominated by a raving harridan, or he could ascend. Though he was no celebrated genius, Jack knew enough to choose the latter.

    So as quickly as safety allowed, Jack shimmied up the uppermost portion of the building-sized weed, which managed to get its final licks in by having the leaves of each remaining branch whack the kid in the face as he climbed by. Finally, Jack arrived at the apex, marked by a cluster of flower-like, green globes, each the size of beach ball, but large enough to allow him to step off and land on what appeared to be solid ground. What to do now?

    In every direction there appeared to be nothing but endless miles of a desolate plain, only sporadically broken up by clumps of more bizarre flora on steroids: yellow blossoms of dandelions the size of hubcaps, mushrooms bigger than promotional tents in used car lots. Since Jack could think of nothing better to do, he shut his eyes tight and spun himself around. After the seventh revolution he stopped. Then he opened his eyes and headed into the direction he faced.

    For hours and hours Jack walked across the alien landscape, and all the while he wondered what would finish him off: sheer exhaustion or the excruciating boredom. He considered resting for a spell in the thigh-high vegetation but immediately thought better of it, with the certainty that once he’d sat down, he’d never get up again. Thus, onward he trudged.


    Finally, just at the moment when he was certain his knees would buckle and his femurs would collapse like those of a post-menopausal crone with osteoporosis, an unprecedented sight stood off in the distance. It was a structure-- a veritable castle!-- albeit with nothing enchanted about it–for it was just as gray and utilitarian as any industrial building. Nonetheless, it was vast, the area of the Boeing factory and the Mall of America combined.

    Certainly Jack was aware of his situation as a stranger in an even stranger land, but nonetheless he allowed for the possibility that the structure could indeed be occupied, optimally by humans. Perhaps they’d provide some information regarding his present location, whether it would be a suitable haven away from his miserable home life or whether he should return whence he came, in which case Jack could ask directions, so to speak, back to his native planet, the return to which--he most fervently hoped–would not involve any daredevilry such as skydiving. Maybe the castle’s inhabitants would be gracious enough to offer him a place to rest in so that he could plot his next move.

    It took about forty minutes to reach the castle, but having been motivated by a distinct destination, Jack didn’t mind, until he actually found himself standing in front of what appeared to be the “entrance.” There was no crocodile-infested moat nor guarded drawbridge to daunt him; the stumbling block was the door– a full twenty feet above Jack’s head. So much for that: he’d had enough climbing for one day.

    He was about to turn around and head off in a different direction to try his luck in a new location, when he heard a creaking sound. The middle panel of the huge door, which was two or three feet taller than his own height, opened like a doggy door, invisibly hinged at the top. What emerged was not a large, snarling pet but a girl, slightly shorter and younger than himself. In no time she was standing in front of Jack with her arms folded, as she sized him up. There was nothing welcoming nor cordial about the expression on her face.

    “Excuse me, Miss, I’m lost and I was wondering if. . .”

    “Don’t tell me – your cell phone isn’t pulling a signal.” The sarcasm in her voice could fell timber. “What did you expect – way up here in the stratosphere? You don’t see any land lines either, do you? So forget it.”

    “ Well, I have to admit that I’m in no great hurry to get back where I came from. Nevertheless, I am curious. Where am I?”

    The girl threw back her head and laughed; no demure ladylike giggles from this one–she let out a guffaw as might be heard in a bar room frequented by longshoremen. “No matter how bad it is, wherever you came from is a hell of a lot better than here!”

    Jack shook his head. “Oh, I can hardly believe –“

    “No? Maybe you should see for yourself.” With that the girl pushed the doggy door open the other way. “Be my guest – but don’t say I didn’t warn you!”

    With that, Jack was inside the castle, where he followed the girl, whose leadership skills seemed more like that of a drill sergeant than a tour guide. She marched him through cavernous hallways which answered back their footsteps with smart-mouth backtalk. She finally stopped when they entered a massive room. In the corner–itself the size of a Manhattan block– stood a bed the size of a commuter jet where from under the covers came a thunderous noise that brought to Jack’s mind a math problem from his school days: How long would it take for a freight train going west from New York at x miles an hour to catch up with a passenger train going east? The sound was louder than both of those trains, plus the 3:10 from Yuma as well as the Acheson, Topeka, and the Santa Fe. Such was this snore, which made the castle walls, despite their thickness, tremble and crack.

    The source of the noise stirred, which again caused earthquake tremors throughout the castle. From underneath the acre of the blanket there emerged a enormous head and a torso of otherworldly size. No other word to describe it but “big”. Really, really big.

    Jack’s jaw dropped, as he stood gaping at the giant. He wanted to run-- run like hell-- but fear froze his feet. And then the thunder and the two trains running headlong into each other were joined by an exploding volcano:

    “Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum– I smell the blood of an Englishman!”

    Uh-oh. Jack could make the case that, strictly speaking, his nationality wasn’t British, but he couldn’t deny the heritage of a thousand generations of Celts, Picts, Romans, Jutes, Danes, Vikings, Anglos, Saxons, and Normans whose of blood that had flowed in his distant ancestors before filtering down into his American veins. How such consanguinity could actually be detected by the giant’s olfactory senses was anybody’s guess.

    “Be he –something, something—hey, Alyson, what’s the rest of it?” the giant bellowed. Having been suddenly aroused from a sound sleep, he was understandably grumpy. “You know what I mean. The one that ends ‘I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!’ “

    Again, the girl laughed, this time much more quietly. “See?” She whispered. “What did I tell you?”

    Jack glanced at the girl, stole another look at the giant, and then back at her. She was slightly-built and delicate, five-five, five-six at the most in her stocking feet. How in heaven’s name could she be this giant’s ----? No way! Even though it’s been said that opposites attract, the logistics alone would be insurmountable. It was all too much for his limited brain to take in.

    At the same time, the unnatural size and girth of the creature fascinated Jack; he couldn’t help staring. Part of him actually felt sorry for the poor thing and shuddered at the thought of the kind of childhood the giant might have had, with the endless teasing over his size, always too large for school desks and playground equipment, or suffering the loss of self-esteem from finding himself left out of every social occasion, including the senior prom for which he would never have found a compatible date, no matter how high the heels of her dancing shoes.

    The giant sat up fully in bed. As he rubbed his eyes, the sleepers that fell out were like boulders. He swung his colossal legs over the side of the bed, and when his feet hit the floor it shook from wall to wall. He stood up, his Mt. Rushmore size head barely missing the ceiling, and started moving, slowly and deliberately, like a piece of heavy construction equipment whose operator was being paid by the hour.

    No big whoop. As terrifying as the big galoot was, he was a cupcake compared to Jack’s mother. For Jack there was really no point in hiding.

    “Ah-hah!” the giant thundered. “There you are! Prepare to be grist for my mill. Before the day is done, you’ll be two halves of a sandwich!”



    Continued below////
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 06-30-2012 at 03:59 PM.

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    "Jack, the Giant's Life Coach," part 3 of 4

    III.

    Refusing to cower, Jack stared straight up into the into the eyes of towering figure and smirked. “A sandwich, huh? Make it on ‘wry.’ “

    His hostess meanwhile, having fully expected the newcomer to bolt or at least hide behind her skirts, looked at him with a fresh perspective bordering upon admiration, if not awe.

    “Who said that?” the giant roared. He turned his massive head from side to side, swatted his arms as if pestered by a fly, scanned the floor as in pursuit of tiny vermin. “Where is this impertinent pipsqueak? Where are you, you-- [ethnic slur referring to a certain green-colored citrus fruit.] Show yourself so I can drop you smack dab into the bone-chopper.”

    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Big Guy. It’s one thing if you’ve got a calcium deficiency, but adding human bones to your diet is really risky.”

    The giant’s single-minded purpose had been contaminated with confusion. “What’s that you say? What’re you, some kind of doctor?”

    Jack shook his head. “I don’t even play one on TV. But I read a lot.” This was true. Every morning, Jack had the habit of leaving his mother’s apartment early enough to arrive at the Public Library as soon it opened in order to get on a computer before the crowd of homeless folks hogged them all. Surfing the Web initially had been a way to pass the time-- a literal “escape,” but over time he managed to learn a thing or two. (Or so he believed.)

    The giant squinted down at the bold little trespasser. “What’s keeping me from devouring every last shard of your skeleton?”

    “Three words– mad cow disease.”

    “You bet I’m mad, Shorty! But who are you calling a cow?”

    “Or scientifically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It turns your brains into a hunk of Swiss cheese, but with more holes. You can get it by eating meat from infected cattle, but there’s another way. A more direct way.” As Jack went on with his explanation, the young lady’s regard for him gradually grew. Jack’s apparent knowledge and intelligence had begun to impress her, almost as much as it surprised Jack himself.

    “The human form–assuming that you are, indeed, human-- of this malady is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. They’ve found traces of it in the DNA from the skulls of – - cannibals. Hey, no offense. I don’t know how to tell you this, but --”

    “But what?” the giant bellowed

    “It only takes a little bit of the virus–and scientists aren’t even sure it IS a virus– to infect you. And the symptoms might not show up for decades. Ordinarily, I’d advise you to go completely vegan starting right now, BUT-- if you’ve been noshing on people bones over the course of a long time -- say your whole life -- it’s probably too late. Sorry.”

    The giant reared back as if he’d been shot by a missile-sized bullet. He groaned as if in actual physical pain. From under the bed he picked up his stash of wine stored in an elephant’s-- rather than a goat’s–- skin.)


    The girl tugged on Jack’s arm in a reassuring way. “You can relax now. He’s preparing to take a nap. He does this every time he gets upset, because nine times out of ten by the time he wakes up he’s forgotten everything.”

    With the back of his hand the giant wiped his mouth and in the course of putting the elephant skin back under the bed. While there, he pulled out three more items.

    “What’s he doing now?” Jack whispered.

    “It’s a ritual. He won’t go to sleep until he makes sure his valuables are secure.”

    First the giant picked up a leather bag. He poured out a number of gold coins and let them run through his fingers. The next item was a kind of bird cage; after springing the latch, he lifted out its tenant: a regular-sized goose whose neck the giant held between his thumb and index finger. With an irritated but loud honk, she scrunched herself down and popped out a perfect golden egg.

    “Why do I suddenly feel like I’m watching some weird version of The Price is Right?”

    “Shhh!”

    The third and final item was a harp. It was the standard-sized concert model, but in the giant’s massive hands it looked no bigger than a toy ukelele. Yet when stroked with a few beefy fingers, it produced delicate, indescribably beautiful music. Essentially, the harp “sang” him to sleep, the blessed state into which he instantly fell, as deeply as that of a normal-sized baby.

    The young lady put a finger to her lips and led Jack back through the drafty corridors to a room that appeared to be a kitchen. In a cozy hearth occupied one of the brick walls; a fire was already well underway below a proverbial black kettle in which an unidentified substance was audibly bubbling. He sat down in a normal-sized chair at rough-hewn wooden table, more or less making himself at home, until he caught a frightening sight in the corner. Immediately he jumped up and scurried around in search of the nearest exit.

    “Wait! What’s your hurry?”

    Jack pointed a shaking finger at a machine unmistakably designed for grinding.

    The girl shook her head. “Relax. It’s for coffee beans.” With that, Jack’s sigh of relief could have been heard far below in the realm from which he had come. “You’re safe-- for now,” she said. “I’m Alyson, by the way.”

    “Jack.” When he stuck out his hand, she did not shake it. He’d try a little small talk. “Nice place, considering. . .”

    “Considering what? That it’s not an old set from Land of the Giants? Actually, the kitchen is more or less my kingdom. He never comes out here.” She let out a little gasp. Again he jumped. “Oh, honestly, where are my manners? Can I offer you something? A beverage, something to eat? I could roll you a smoke, if you’re so inclined. Lord knows we’ve got bushel loads of that stuff. You should see how tall those weeds get around here.”

    “No, thanks.” If he’d ever wanted to indulge, all he’d have to do is hang around his mother and in no time would contract what’s known as a “contact high.” Even so, it wouldn’t have made hanging around her any less unbearable.

    “I don’t blame you, “ Alyson said. “I never touch the stuff myself.”

    The thought of their bearing a common dislike for gage was the first pleasant thought Jack had experienced all day. “Let me ask you something,” he said. “I don’t want to pry, but– how did you happen to become the lady of the castle? I mean, what did you ever see in him?”

    Alyson shot him a quizzical look and then–as if the full import of his inquiry had suddenly dawned on her– broke into hysterical laughter. “You thought that –“ she jerked a thumb toward the giant’s boudoir–“and I were–oh!” She was laughing so hard that it was difficult to get the words out. “That he and I were husb– and–oh!” At that point, the laughter was so intense that it was silent; she clutched her stomach and banged on the wooden table with her fist. “Oh my g– that is so, so funny!” Then, when she had finally composed herself and could speak normally: “No, the big galoot is not my husband. Nor my boyfriend. Nor significant other. Strictly my employer.”

    The truth made Jack wildly happy, but with all his heart he tried not to show it. “Oh. Why, that’s very --interesting, Alyson.”

    “Actually, it happened by necessity. I was a poly sci major, and this is the only job I could get.”

    “So what do you do for him? Cook? Clean?”

    “Yeah, that and just about everything else. I practically manage his whole life.”

    “You mean you’re like his his personal assistant?” At that moment, the little wheels inside Jack’s brain started revolving so furiously that one could almost hear them turning.

    “I guess you could call it that–“

    Jack stood up and clutched both of her shoulders. “Alyson, you’ve given me the idea of a lifetime! This is our lucky day! “ Now it was Jack’s turn to jerk a thumb toward the sleeping giant’s room: “And his, too.”

    When the giant first awakened, the sight of the little man staring into his eyeball so startled him that his massive body sprang up. The bedding undulated like a cataclysmic tsunami. Jack, who just a few seconds previously had managed the trick of standing upright without becoming completely engulfed by the preternaturally soft thunderhead of a pillow, nearly failed to hang on while the bed furiously rocked from side to side. At the last split second, the intrepid opportunist grabbed the edge of the mattress and limberly climbed back up with a new-found agility acquired with his recent experience with the overgrown stalk.

    “Who in blazes are you?” The giant’s voice, groggy and thick with sleep, nonetheless reverberated off the stone walls.

    “Aw, come on, Big Guy. You know me. “ Jack assumed the genial patter of announcers he’d heard on late-night infomercials. “ We discussed it right before your nap. I’m your new life coach! Don’t you remember? Of course you do! You’re a smart gi–er, man.”

    The giant scratched his head. Then he pointed his index finger, like a battering ram, toward Jack. It missed smashing his face by a mere inch. Once again the giant roared. “Bones.”

    “Absolutely right! We realized that eating bones is bad for you, and we agreed--remember?– to change to a healthier diet. Fruits and vegetables. Whole grains. Dairy in moderation, free-range chickens, no red meat–“

    Still confused, the giant frowned, the resulting furrows resembling miles of dunes on the Sahara. “This true, Alyson?”

    From behind the giant’s head, Jack gesticulated and gestured wildly, and bobbed his head vigorously, but there was really no need to relay the message. Alyson was already on Jack’s side, and indeed had been there for quite some time.

    “Oh, absolutely! This is a wonderful opportunity for you, Sir.”

    “See? You won’t regret this, Big Guy. But there isn’t a heckuva lot we can do up here– not without any broadband connection, no phone service for Pete’s sake. “

    At this point the giant was as befuddled as ever, but could not think of any other reaction but to go along with the scheme, whatever it was.

    “So the first thing we’ve got to do is get ack down there,” Jack explained. “All I can think of is to go the way I came. Alyson and I will climb down the stalk, and then you can follow. I think it’s strong enough to hold your weight. At least, I hope so!”

    Oddly enough, Alyson raised her hand, as if she were in a classroom. “Or, we could use the elevator—“

    “There’s an elevator?”




    Conclusion (it's about time!) below////
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 06-30-2012 at 04:01 PM.

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    "Jack, the Giant's Life Coach," conclusion

    IV.

    It was quite a good thing that there had been alternative transport for Jack and his new business associates, for unbeknownst to the threesome their sky-ladder–the aforementioned gigantic weed --had come to an unfortunate end. Jack’s mother, too far absorbed by the sponge of her selfish cravings, had never once looked out the window, where she would have seen physical proof of her personal dream coming true. It was just as well that she hadn’t noticed it, because were she to discover the truth of the matter – that destiny had doomed the object of her desire-- the world would have suffered the brunt of her unspeakable wrath. On his nightly rounds an honorary member of the heretofore ineffectual neighborhood watch had by sheer chance aimed his trusty flashlight into the alley. The shining appearance of the verboten plant and its fantastically unprecedented growth naturally astounded the do-gooder, who nonetheless had retained enough wits about him to notify the appropriate authorities. These worthies, in turn, never known to fail to investigate and eradicate any and all illegal substances, quickly sprang to the task of destroying the offensive vegetation. Along with the regular on-duty officers who summarily chopped down and set fire to the monstrous weed, there were additional off-duty personnel who swiftly volunteered for the task of monitoring the blaze; of these, a few were quick to affirm that they had been steadfast enough to avoid inhaling.

    Meanwhile, Jack’s mother was upstairs watching an infomercial on tv when the pungent aroma of the burning bonfire was, however, too enticing to ignore. Despite the fact that her olfactory sense delighted in detecting her most favorite odor in the world, the act of physically getting up out of her chair made her grunt and curse. After tightening the belt of her bathrobe and slipping her scaly feet into a pair of rubbery flip-flops, she made her way out to the alley. There the crone scarcely breathed in one delicious whiff before an alert social worker spotted her and escorted her into a emergency vehicle parked nearby. Meanwhile, the minute our unlikely trio had arrived at the terrestrial realm, their self-proclaimed leader immediately executed his outlandish plan. The first hat which Jack put on was that of a financial advisor, and in this capacity convinced the giant to exchange his cache of gold coins for negotiable funds, thereby providing the fungible assets – the “seed money,” if you will– for the next step in Jack’s business plan.

    I won’t bore you with a summary of the process of wheeling and dealing, red tape, and legalistic hoop-jumping which the young entrepreneur--via the grace of beginner’s luck, along with tidbits of info he’d picked up on the Internet-- successfully maneuvered. Suffice it to say, the mammoth corpus of the giant had “incorporated himself” as the owner of a “small” business, with Jack and Alyson the CEO and COO, respectively. The company didn’t require need a R & D department to create new products; the giant already owned two beauts, which until quite recently had been stored among the leviathan dust bunnies under his bed.

    Jack enlisted a couple of graduate students to “reverse-engineer” the magic harp to see if they couldn’t come up a viable version suitable for mass production. The two “geeks” (as they good-naturally referred to themselves ) brain-stormed and tinkered until they came up with a prototype. They expressed regret that they couldn’t quite duplicate the celestial tone of the original, but they had managed to build a device that could “sing” a nearly-infinite variety of songs in every musical genre and style, tenor of voice, with lyrics in every known language, both human and marine mammal. The result was like an upscale karaoke machine, except it didn’t require batteries and the consumer didn’t necessarily have to be drunk in order to enjoy it. Jack was so pleased with the item that he offered its inventors shares in the fledgling company, but clinging to the belief that the Wonder Harp might merely be a passing fad, they opted instead for a straight-up fee. Experts in the field also advised Jack that the device could be much more cheaply manufactured in a foreign land, but Jack and Alyson adamantly insisted that every component of The Wonder Harp would be assembled in the land of its origin, that all the components and labor would be 100% American.

    The Wonder Harp (the home version ) began production in time for the holiday shopping season. To Jack and Alyson’s amazement, its first run completely sold out before most Americans had thawed out their Thanksgiving turkeys. For Jack, Alyson, and the giant, not only did the Wonder Harp (“Now with “Air Harp Hero!”) sing for their supper, it brought them their first hundred million.

    The other item in their product line did not require any tweaking, merely marketing. In no time, the first of a series of commercials hit the cable channels: an animated goose waddles upon the banks of a waterway populated with a menagerie of cute cartoon figures and begins to honk. This continues for approximately 0:04 seconds when a (presumably) human voice-over–-well, voices over: “Friends–do you worry about your nest egg? Are you worried that someday your retirement savings won’t be worth S#@! ? Do you want to hold on to something that’s valuable RIGHT NOW? Then take a gander at this!” The scene switches to a golden egg gleaming on a velvet pillow, while the same announcer, talking much more quickly now, tells the audience how this “gorgeous,” 100% 24-carat golden egg can be theirs for just 14 easy installments of $19.95, plus shipping and handling.

    “Shipping and handling” indeed provided the majority of the company’s profits, even though the goose had from the very beginning had provided her eggs to the giant completely free of charge. Almost literally the company had become the proverbial “overnight ”success generating plenty of buzz in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and Fortune, and supplied fodder for features on the financial news networks. Just as with other rapidly-emerging companies, the unpredicted profitability had sparked media interest, but what set The Golden Egg, Inc. apart from the others was the buzz over the mysterious, reclusive owner, which whet the insatiable appetite of the country’s pop culture and even kindled the imagination of the most reasonable thinkers among empirical minds. Any vestigial doubts Jack might have retained about that vanished as soon as the Wonder Harp and the Goose began to inspire frequent “name checks” by late night comedians.

    What the blind spot in Jack’s vision had failed to see was that there is such a thing as becoming “too successful.” Of course, the goose’s owner had, of course, accumulated quite an impressive number of these shining ovals, stored in their own warehouse behind the castle. Yet, as with many successful enterprises, it look little time for the demand to outpace the supply. The goose, trying to accommodate her employers by doubling and eventually tripling production, seemed ready to drop from exhaustion. It was only a matter of time before Jack would be hearing from any number of animal rights organizations. Because of the unique character of the golden egg , not at all a “natural” product as we have come to know it, nor was it yet an object that could be fabricated by human or robotic hands, neither on its native shore nor overseas. The golden egg would come from the goose herself or it would not come at all. Added to that dilemma was a nuisance factor: an advertising agency and its client were threatening to sue for copyright infringement. Claiming that the cartoon goose resembled another popular logo, the spokes-duck for a different kind financial service, they argued that the airways weren’t big enough for two somewhat similar species of fowl inhabiting the same stream.

    After fulfilling all the pre-existing orders, Jack ceased production. No sooner had the last egg been handled and shipped that the net value of an individual golden egg skyrocketed, immediately becoming the primary “get” coveted by collectors and their purveyors, because, as the shills put it, “They’re not making any more of them!” But this is not to say that the company went, like the sky-high weed, up in flames. Au contraire, mes enfants! You may have heard the old saying, “No publicity is bad publicity,” as many an erstwhile washed-up entertainer staging a spectacular come-back can fully attest. Jack was savvy enough to call in the vast quantity of media “capital” the company had generated, and with his contacts at the various broadcasting venues, was able to put together a Deal: the giant–THE giant– the subject of coast-to-coast conjecture, speculation, and urban legend, actually existed. He was real, the proof of which would become self-evident with the premiere of his own reality show, “Livin’ Large.”

    Despite Jack and Alyson’s initial misgivings about the giant’s reaction to the hot lights and the intrusion of a camera crew dogging him 24/7, it pleasantly transpired that the big guy was a natural for show business, not to say that his oversized facial features were particularly telegenic. The production crew made allowances for the star, whose personal needs and technical considerations,-- viz-a-viz, a specially-crafted wide angle lens and a whole new meaning for the term “boom” mike-- ranged far beyond the usual perimeters for the typical television personality. Nevertheless, audiences tuned in, first motivated by a morbid curiosity, later softening into a palpable, “caring” concern for one of Mother Nature’s mutant children. In its maiden season, the show was a “sleeper” hit, and in subsequent years the ratings steadily climbed, always turning in enviable numbers on the Nielsen charts. Nothing good lasts forever, though, and at a certain point the giant decided not to resign for another season, deciding instead to leave gracefully, while he was still “on top.” He retired to a custom-built McMansion in the Big Sky country of Montana, where, thanks to a revamped, healthy lifestyle, he lived for a very long time.

    Jack and Alyson, who had consolidated their business partnership with a personal one involving mutual devotion and heartfelt vows, also experienced the rare good fortune of a fulfilling life. Thanks to shrewd investments, royalties, spin-offs, franchises, and residuals from the endless replay of “Livin’ Large” episodes in syndication, they lived comfortably ever after.

    One thing you can say about Jack – he was not one to harbor a grudge. Despite the mistreatment he had suffered in his nonage and beyond, do not for one second think that Jack was had abandoned his mother or heartlessly left her to the mercy of strangers. As soon as he had become successful, he looked her up and had her admitted into the Betty Ford Clinic, where she was treated and successfully rehabilitated–i.e.”clean”–and though her temper had moderated somewhat, she still was known to have her “moments.” Jack’s mother became a resident of a dignified retirement community near Boca Raton –but not before she had spent a brief stint at the Menninger Clinic where her case was considered an unprecedented phenomenon. The researchers were intrigued with the puzzle as to how a woman who had used so much gage on a daily basis could have been so flat-out miserable –not to mention causing so much flat-out misery to others– without ever once experiencing the “mellow” effect that this drug had for centuries been known to produce. At this writing, they have not yet found the answer.









    Words of Whiz Dumb 2012


    Thirty Poems in Thirty Days
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 06-30-2012 at 04:06 PM.

  5. #5
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Ah Ha Aunty. You have been both quiet and busy!
    I cannot read this now as its 6.30am Monday in PNG. But look forward to settling down to the story tonight.
    Best regards
    M.

  6. #6
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Dear Aunty
    Quite an odyssey. Let me say first of all that I enjoyed it. You took an old story and gave it a rebirth with ironic wit and a soaring imagination as you leapt from one rock, (or plant in this case) to another. My plodding footsteps could scarcely maintain the pace.

    As I read it, pleasant memories were evoked of aspects of a childhood akin your hero and as a small boy, of looking up to a giant of an Irish father. The wanderings described were like dreams I used to have of moving endlessly from one place to another across an unfamiliar landscape. Mind you, these last twenty years that has been more a reality than a dream!

    Take care & trust you are getting better.
    M.
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 06-25-2012 at 04:21 PM.

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    Hi Auntie,

    Well! What a wildly entertaining tale... This is a prose style of which I am something of a fan, almost Woodhousian in its humerous complexity. A well rounded, narrative blending of fairy-tales, including that of the American Dream - lol. This is definitely a keeper, although were you to seek publication I'd recommend a thorough proof read. The bit in the Giant's kitchen between Jack and Alyson seems to have a bit missing, as the part where jack offers to shake hands doesn't flow properly. Likewise, there is the odd paragraph which loses its way amid the amusing verbosity of its content, but nothing serious.

    I thoroughly enjoyed it and doff my cap to your imagination. Great fun. thanks for the read.

    Live and be well - H

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    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    Thank you both for reading and commenting on this little experiment with
    hyperbole and the tall tale. More to come? We'll see.

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    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    response to story

    Auntie,

    This piece was thoroughly enjoyable. It's not easy to take so simple a well-known tale and embellish it and bring it up to date. Wit? You have it!

    As much fun as this was, I think I'd enjoy standing in your circle of friends at a cocktail party even more, but you'd soon have to call 911, they'd be carrying me away in stitches! I'm still recovering from it as I type.

  10. #10
    Justifiably inexcusable DocHeart's Avatar
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    This was a wonderful read, dear Aunt!

    I first enjoyed it last Sunday morning, in bed, on my iPhone, slightly hungover. It made my day.

    I re-visited today after getting some bad news at work. It cheered me up no end.

    So many thanks for sharing!

    DH
    Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine...

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    Thank you Steven and Doc. You both made MY day!
    Auntie

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