By Joe Cunningham
(I wrote this in college, bascially just because I "always wanted to do that.")
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a king, of course. And the king had a son - the prince, of course. The prince was dastardly, mischievous, and would always play tricks on everyone; tricks that would often hurt someone. So one night, as the king tucked his son in bed, the king said to his son:
“Son, I am going to tell you a bedtime story you will never forget.” And so, he did.
“Once upon a time,” the king said, naturally – the prince sat up eager and impatient, “A very, very long, long, long, long time ago there lived a young prince. He was a very happy and mischievous fellow, always playing tricks on everyone in the castle and the like and laughing his chin off about it when he did it and such and so forth; but he was not every happy enough about his tricks so he set off one day – without telling his parents, the king and queen of the land, of course, of course, in search of the mightiest, most dastardly trick human minds had ever worked.
“He was on his way when he bumped into a very tall thin man with a crutch, a slight crick in his back, and a mysterious grin on his face.”
‘Gu-daye,’ said the man with the crooked back. The boy stared up at him with interest and a bit of fire in his eyes. After all, he was the son of the king you know, and that means a prince, and princes are by nature very bold.
‘What’s so good about it,’ said the little prince, for, in addition to being bold, the little prince was quite a bit rude.
‘Wha-eye tit’s the ‘appi-est day ‘a yor li-ife,’ said the bent man, ‘Aye ‘appen ta’ knowe yor lookin’ for a moast ingeanious, terrible trick any man’s ever played, and aye ‘appen ta’ knowe it.’ The boy was dumbfounded, both with joy at the chance of knowing the trick this close in the journey, and because he didn’t know how this tall bent fellow knew anything about his quest. So anyway, he stopped thinking about that and nodded his head to the tall man.
‘Well, go on then,’ he said, ‘Tell me it.’ And so, the old man told him.
‘Well lemmere see if I remember it all now; it was some, some time ago I came-mupon it, out on the waves of the scurvy sea. I was but a wee lad like ya’are I was, a wee lad and already spent more time at sea than in me own land. I remember the cap-pin a’that certain ship used to sing us sailing songs and tell many a sailing story. Aye, it was this one story that he told that had the spell in it. And he told it like this:
“There once was a quiet poor strong sailing man,” ee’ said, “Whose ship went down and his whole crew was washed ashore on a desert island in the middle of bloody nowhere. Well, when I say his crew, I mean only four of them: him, and three of his mates. Well, they really wasn’t his mates ‘cause all a’ the men onboard that ship just hated ‘im; probably because he was quiet and maybe because he was strong and quiet, heaven knows. Well, in any case, here they were washed ashore and making fires and calling for help and the like, and all the quiet strong one wanted to do was sit and say and do nothin’. So the other three got around him, just to annoy him like and began tellin’ him a story. And it went like this:
‘A long time ago there was this stupid quiet bloak Joovie, and Joovie was silent and stupid. Well, one day Joovie steps on a nail and screams his bloomin’ ‘ead off. And ‘ee was talkin’ all the tyme. ‘N ‘ee was sayin’ all sorts ‘a things like, “Polly wanna cracker,” an’, “Gosh I forgot where I left my panties,” an’ shit like that. Until one day ‘ee loses ‘is ‘ead ‘n starts goin’ off on a wild tangint, like:
“On a wisky wasky Wednesday, in the foremost month of march, and young lofty feller by the name of, oh, Wing Wan walloped his way into the Worthington House in the land of Wally Wally. Wright. So there he was, standing at the dinner table, filled with worthy guests and there he is, unworthy. So Willy Wing Wan (Willy was his christening name, it was) began a speech that lasted quite some time as an attempt to worthy himself to the meal. After all, he was very hungery, coming in from, well, wherever he had come.
‘Ladies and fine gentlemen,’ he said, ‘May I introduce myself I’m Worthy Worthy (that was the name his friends called him – though most people called him “Useless” – and he was feeling quite necessarily friendly at the moment), and this is most awkward, you see I’ve come a long way and was able to make it here just in time today to give you the sheer honor and grace of my presence. No, no, don’t get up; it’s quite allright, yes quite allright. I’ll be spelling that correctly for you in a moment. Now the first thing is for me to explain to you the tidiness of the situation. Allow me to narrate to you the account of my journey here and the reason of its supreme importance for this moment. All right, now I shall begin:
‘We – my late friends and I – were frolicking down the road one day in Palm Springs when a certain blue jay began annoying us in a most inconsiderate fashion. Are you following me here? Yes – a blue jay. Most inconsiderate animals. Hm-fa, ar-a ye-es. Well there we were when one of my fellows, a late fellow I must confess, unfortunate you know, starts rambling on about the time it reminded him of in Sing Sing.
“I was there,” he said, “From 1497 to 1945,” of course that made our mouths drop, “in the years of the most pretentious of weather. It was always sunny, then rainy, then foggy, and it snowed – all in a day, everyday, every year. I remember the first time the sleet came down, it was like a fiasco: prisoners, running around, nothing but shorts on, getting hit by large chunks of ice coming down at great velocities. But you wouldn’t know it though, that it was terrible weather, terrible indeed. It was just finally different than anything we ever had that it got us all up for a little jig outside during kick-boxing classes. Yes, a fine afternoon I do say, though we lost half the men to sleet fractures and abrasions – a fine place for the warden to be in; I think he got a promotion. The politicians were always complaining about no more room in the jails. So this one day comes and we receive a new warden: short, skin and bones, baby-face - doesn’t look a day older than fourteen. So we’re lined all up and he begins to speak over the mike there and tells us all a thing or two:
‘On the first month of the fourth year of the third prison I was ever warden of, a prisoner escaped from my prison by the name of Bottle-mouth Garmen. Bottle-mouth ran through the Chesapeake Woods like there was no tomorrow and he was damn right, he was. By nine the next morning he was back in his cell: his bottle-mouth head stuck on a pike in the middle of the hall so all could see; his body I left rot behind bars for three weeks, not letting anyone out of their cells for that time. The stench was so terrible, that thirty nine of my guards quit and I had to bring in noseless mole rats to deliver the food.
‘At the end of the torture, several of the men had gone and lost their minds and inevitably, one of them we had speaking incessantly for all his life. He would go like this:
“All around the mulberry bush the monkey chased the weasel. Why the monkey ever chased the weasel in the first place, nobody knows. It remains a fact though that the weasel ended up running ‘round the corner so fast that he buffeted into the future, where he met a certain mischievous man with a pen who said the most mysterious enigmatic seven words ever written in a short spot after the weasel sneezed like this:
‘Ah-CHOO!’ ” ’ ” ’ ” ’ ” ’ ”
I have always wanted to do that.
So ends the story the enigmatic man once told in the future to his mischievous little son, the prince, of course, ending his annoying little escapade for the near future and delivering peace to all the land; until the next morning, of course.