Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, Urban Legends, Young Adult

Good fer Evil

Once there was a wise man who was walking along, minding his own business and preoccupied with his deep, deep thoughts, when he happened upon a coiling python caught in a trap.

“It isn’t right,” he said to himself, “to leave the poor creature to die in pain. I will release it.”
He promptly freed the serpent from the trap, but, to his surprise, it immediately proceeded to wind itself around his body, preparing to eat him!

“Wait!” cried the Wise Man in terror. “You can’t repay Good with Evil!”

At this, the Serpent considered.

“True,” he said, “one should take care never to repay Good for Evil. but, I am hungry, so your logic falls on deaf ears. (Note: It can be demonstrated scientifically that snakes really are deaf.)

“Wait! Before you proceed, I suggest we gather the opinions of a few more knowledgeable sources, so as to have all the information we can before the act is commenced.”

And the Serpent (who was altogether, one can see, a most reasonable fellow, despite the fact that he was a hungry predator) agreed to this readily.

Just then, a beaten down old nag happened by.

“Mr. Horse,” asked the Wise Man, “is it ever okay to repay Good with Evil?”

And the horse (who was a sort of sad, bitter fellow) said, “I don’t suppose so. but, it is the custom around these parts. Take me for instance: I spent the best years of my life breaking my back for my master, just to be turned out when I am old and no longer of any use. Now, I am left to wander these woods until I die.”

And with that, the tragic old mare trotted off, and the Serpent opened his wide jaws very wide, and started to squeeze the Wise Man to death, so as to better be able to swallow him whole.

“Wait!” cried the Wise Man. “We have only had the opinion of one! Why, here comes the Wise Ox. He will know right from wrong!”

And so, the Serpent was persuaded to stop eating the Wise Man, and the Wise Man then asked the Ox, “Mr. Ox, is is ever okay to repay Good with Evil?”

And the Ox lowered his horned head, and thought, and then said, “No, probably not. But, it is the custom around these parts, I’m afraid.”

And with that, the Wise Ox trotted off.

And the serpent, who, by this time was famished, proceeded once more to batten upon th eliving flesh of the Wise Man, when he cried out, “Wait! we have only asked a horse and an ox! Let’s ask that young coyote over there what he thinks! Surely, his opinion is worth adding to the others.”

So the serpent was persuaded to stop his planned preying on the Wise Man for a moment, so that he might ask the coyote if he thought it was ever okay to repay Good with Evil.

“Mr. Coyote…” began the Wise Man.

After listening carefully, the Coyote asked the Serpent, “Now, how was it you were trapped in the snare when he found you. Are you sure you were securely fastened, with no means of escape? It is important, since the whole question hinges on whether or not he actually saved your life, and thus, did you Good, which you propose to repay with evil.

At the suggestion that the trap might have been a phoney, and the Serpent merely conning to capture the Wise Man as prey, the Serpent became indignant. He crawled back into the trap, and the Coyote merely looked at him and said, “Yes, I guess everything is as good now as it was before I happened upon the scene.”

And with that, the Serpent and the Wise Man walked away.

Now the Wise Man said to the Serpent, “I’ll show you that it is right to repay Good with Good. Come to my farm every morning from now on, and I’ll give you one hen and a bottle of sotol.”

At this, the Coyote readily agreed.

So every morning, the Coyote came to the farm, while the dog was tied up, and got his free hen, and his bottle of sotol. Soon, however, he became lazy, and began to demand more.

Now, one hen and one bottle of sotol was not enough for him, but he had to have double his ration.

“And you don’t dare say no to me, Wise Man! I can come to your farm and cause plenty of trouble! Besides, you yourself said it was wrong to repay Good with evil, and I have saved your life once already!”

Upon hearing this, the dog became disgusted and said, “Soon he will be demanding three times what he already gets. No, this cannto go on like this. Tomorrow, when you take him his sacks full of sotol and fresh hens, put me in one of them, and I’ll deal with him in my own way.”

And so, the Wise Man, not wising to coe to ruin either way, obeyed the very wise dog, and put him in a sack like the liquor and the hens. When he went to meet the Coyote the next day, he let first one, then another hen out of the sacks.

The Coyote quickly pounced on them, gobbled them up, and finished the meal with his bottles of liquor. Then, feeling stuffed and drunk and greedy, he wiped his dripping snout with his paw and said, “Well, what else have you got for me?”

The Wise Man then opened the third sack,a nd out jumped th angry, ferocious dog. The Coyote, too drunk and stuffed to run away, tried to scramble to safety, but the Dog was too swift for him. The Dog bore down on the Coyote with killing intensity, and, before he died, the Coyote cried out to the Wise Man: “B-but what about your unwillingness to repay Good with Evil?”

To this the Wise Man merely laughed.

“Oh si, Senor Coyote, but, you see, it is the custom around these parts!”

And the moral of this story is?

(Source: Mexican folktale.)

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The Peacock and the Crow

Originally posted on Passages:

Once, all the animals of the forest got together to have a beauty contest. Among them were the Crow and the Peacock. Now, in those days neither of these fine birds were very much to look at, so, knowing that in their present condition they could, neither one, hope to win the beauty contest, they devised a special plan.

“We will paint our feathers merry colors, and make ourselves more beautiful for the contest. Thus, one of us will be assured to win. Come, you shall paint me, and then I shall paint you.”

And so the two birds both gathered pots of paint, and the Crow took his time making the Peacock as beautiful as he possibly could, painting him with a rainbow of bright, vibrant colors. Thus, the Peacock became a most impressive sight to behold.

Then, the Crow said, “You must paint me now!”

But the scheming…

View original 123 more words

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, Young Adult

Crockett’s Moon

Of all the great stories and legends that swirl around Davy Crockett, none is so amusing as that of the time he lost his powder horn to the Moon. (Well, maybe one or two is a darn sight more impressive, but for the sake of this story, let’s just pretend, okay?)

Crockett was out in the deep woods of his native state of Tennessee, hunting bear and coyote, but, not finding many wild animals that wished to tangle with him, he quickly grew tired and lay upon the earth, his head resting upon his arm and his feet propped against a rock. in a short time, he was fast asleep.

He had many wonderful dreams of adventure and romance (we must assume), but soon he was roused to wakefulness by the mournful cry of a whippoorwill. Getting up, he quickly donned his coonskin cap, and picking up his rifle, started back out to find his prey. It was just then, however, when he noticed a tragedy in the making: his powder horn had vanished!

Well, Crockett was most troubled by this turn of events, and said to himself, “I shall look high,a nd I shall look low. Feller has to have his powder horn, and keep his powder dry.”

And so he looked high,a nd he looked low, and he looked over hill, and under tree, and over dale, and under rock, and in every bush and shrub, and in every nook, crag, and cranny. Still, the night wore on and on, and he couldn’t find his powder horn.

“Reckon some danged varmint has run off with it,” he said to himself.

Then, looking up at the sickle moon, he suddenly smiled big. For, looking up, he knew exactly what had happened to his powder horn.

“That varmint Moon is the culprit!” he laughed.

On the tip of the crescent moon was hanging his powder horn, suspended by its old leather thong. He reached up to the Moon, just as quick as he could, and retrieved it. Then, Davy Crockett went about his way.

And so that’s why, in certain towns and villages, a crescent moon is sometimes referred to as “Crockett’s Moon.” (Actually is isn’t, but for the sake of our fiction, we just thought we might add that.)

(Source: American Folktale.)

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, Young Adult

The Peacock and the Crow

Once, all the animals of the forest got together to have a beauty contest. Among them were the Crow and the Peacock. Now, in those days neither of these fine birds were very much to look at, so, knowing that in their present condition they could, neither one, hope to win the beauty contest, they devised a special plan.

“We will paint our feathers merry colors, and make ourselves more beautiful for the contest. Thus, one of us will be assured to win. Come, you shall paint me, and then I shall paint you.”

And so the two birds both gathered pots of paint, and the Crow took his time making the Peacock as beautiful as he possibly could, painting him with a rainbow of bright, vibrant colors. Thus, the Peacock became a most impressive sight to behold.

Then, the Crow said, “You must paint me now!”

But the scheming Peacock had another idea. “Come here, my little friend, and I will paint you as a bird has never been painted before.”

And the Crow went to the Peacock, and closed his eyes. The Peacock began to paint; but, instead of using the full range of colors as the Crow had done when painting him, he used only the color black. Thus, the Peacock felt doubly certain that he, and only he, would win the beauty competition. And, of course, that is exactly what happened.

And the moral of this story is: Never leave your fate in the hands of another. Or, never let another do what you can do for yourself.

And maybe there is still another interpretation?

(Source: Native American Folktale)

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, Urban Legends, Young Adult

The Simpleton and the Shopkeeper

Once, a man entered his favorite store, and, unthinkingly, managed to break a delicate glass object. Feeling terrible, he straightway confessed it to the proprietor, who, sweeping up the mess, patted the man on the shoulder and said, “Eh, what is it to me? You are my best customer. Come, let’s have a drink together. I’ll cover the cost.”

And with that, he got his best bottle of schnapps, and proceeded to drink with the customer who had broken the precious glass item.

Now, also in the store at the time,and over hearing this, was a simpleton, who was much given to drink and profligate living. He said to himself, considering, “Hm. That man broke an expensive glass item, and the store owner has treated him to a glass of schnapps. If I broke the store front window, I suppose I would be treated to an entire bottle of schnapps!”

And, to test out his hare-brained theory, he went outside, found the biggest loose paving stone he could find, and tossed it through the store window.

The huge glass pane shattered in a million pieces.

To the Simpleton’s surprise, the store owner came rushing out in a murderous rage, beating the Simpleton with his fits until the vagrant lout begged him to cease.

“Why are you beating me? That other man broke an expensive glass toy, and you treated him to schnapps. Me, I broke a huge and expensive glass window, yet, you beat me!”

And to this, the Store Keeper replied, “Of course I beat you! That man is my best customer! If he breaks a small item, so what? What does it matter to me? But you? you break a HUGE item, and you have never earned me a single nickel. Tell me: What have you ever done for me to be forgiven for committing such a stupid, pointless error?”

And so, this story was told by a rabbi to a young scholar, who had questioned the prophets, and invoked the opinions of Moses Ben Maimon to justify his heresy.

His rabbi reminded him of the greatness of Moses Ben Maimon, and told this story to illustrate that, while Moses Ben Maimon might be forgiven a small heresy because of his great devotion and contribution to the faith, the young Talmudic scholar had done NOTHING himself to justify or excuse his “breaking the shop window” of their religion.

So the moral of this story, perhaps is: don’t point out the wrongheaded ideas of great men to excuse the wrongheaded ideas of the petty. Or?

(Source: Jewish folklore)

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, Urban Legends, Young Adult

The Elephant’s Carcass

Once, when the Bodhisattva was reborn into this life, he came back as a wild jackal, driven by strange cravings.
Now, the Jackal was a greedy creature that went to and fro in the forest looking for prey. One day, as he was walking by the river, he came across the carcass of a dying elephant, that had dropped while taking water.

The Jackal quickly seized the opportunity, pouncing upon the still-warm carcass. However, he found that he could not, try as he might, chew through the tough trunk, which was like trying to chew through a huge serpent. Likewise, the tusks were like chomping down on bone.

The head and eyes appealed very little to him, and the feet were solid and too chewy to be enjoyable. There was too much belly for him to even contemplate where to begin, so the jackal found himself in a quandary.

Of course, being what he was, he could just abandon the carcass to the other predators, and go find some smaller, daintier morsel. But his greed got the better of him; he couldn’t stand the thought of going and leaving all that meat behind. So he went around to the rear of the creature and…aha!

He began to eat his way inside from the rear, chomping and munching all the tasty innards, and washing ti down with thick, syrupy elephant blood. Then, like Jonah in the whale, he found himself in the belly of the beast, but was quite content to curl up and take a little nap while his food digested.

“I am quite comfortable and warm in here tonight,” the Jackal said to himself, “so why should I leave?”

Unfortunately for the Jackal, though, a torrential rain came pouring down, and by the time he awoke, the blazing sun had shrunk the elephant skin until he found himself wrapped, like a bug in a cocoon, i n tough hide. And the weather became sweltering!

he found he could barely breathe, and he began to panic from being so imprisoned. He struggled and struggled, but to no avail.

Finally, exhausted and gaspong for air (and no doubt parched from thirst), the Jackal gave up,a nd quit struggling and resigned himself to a slow, terrible death.

Luckily for him, though, another monsoon swept through, loosening the taut, dried flesh until, awakening with a start, the cafty Jackal soon realized it would, indeed, be possible for him to escape.

He fought his way, with a tremendous struggle, tearing bits of flesh as he went, out the mouth of the elephant carcass, and onto the muddy, dirty ground.

The heavy rain and fresh air never seemed so good to him. he quickly said to himself, “I have learned a significant lesson: I will never ever let greed get the best of me again, or cloud my judgment.”

And he never did.

And the moral of the story is: Greed can make prisoners of us all.

(Source: Indian folklore)

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Books, Famous Serial Killers, Fiction, Hardboiled, Murder, Short Stories, Urban Legends, Weird, Young Adult

Bluebeard

Once upon a time, there lived a young French girl who feared she would never, in all of her life, find a husband.
For some reason, even though many considered her quite lovely, the young men of her village did not flock to her in droves as they did her sister. Instead, she was, more often than not, ignored.

So she waited and pined away for loneliness. Then, one dark cold day approaching winter, a strange man rode up to the gates of her family estate, and asked to see her father. He as, perhaps, the strangest man the servants had ever seen, as he was terribly ugly, and, to crown this, he possessed a long, pointed beard of deep, dark blue!
“I am here to see the Monsieur De B!” he stated emphatically, and the little maid winced just to look at him, but she turned on one foot and went down the hall to fetch the Master.

It was not many hours hence when the two young girls were called into their father’s study, and their father, seated comfortably in his chair with his pipe, rose and announced the visitor to his two daughters. He then went on to inform them, much to their shock and amazement, that this man was an old friend and business associate’s of their father, and that this man had come seeking the hand of one of his daughter’s…in marriage!

At this both of the girls were aghast! Even though the man looked like he was exceedingly wealthy, neither of them could fancy becoming the wife of so hideous a specimen. What to do?

“Oh, you don’t want me for a wife,” said one. “I’m a vain, petty, and constant woman! Take my sister, instead; she’s truly agreeable.”

The other replied, “Oh, sister, you flatter me! Why, I’m one of the most atrocious shrews who ever lived! Why, I’d hound and henpeck any man I marry to an early grave! Don’t believe anything my sister says about me, sir. It’s really her you want to marry, not I.”

And both of them continued in that vein for several minutes, until the strange, blue-bearded man cried, “Enough! Listen to me: I’m going to throw a tremendous banquet for some friends of mine in a fortnight, and both of you must attend. However decides to marry me can decide then and there, and I will announce it at the feast. However, one of you MUST choose, as your father owes it to me based on a very old favor I once performed for him. Now, I must bid you adieu!”

And, with a dramatic swish of his long black cloak, the strange man was gone.

Well, the sisters waited on pins and needles for the fateful day, al the time being groomed carefully by their father to be proper ladies. he went so far as to have special dresses made for them, and spent lavishly on their accoutrements for the party.

Then, the day of the grand feast was upon them, and the girls were taken by a special coach through the dark, ghastly forest and into the jagged peaks, until, finally, in a remote section of the country they had never before seen, they came upon what at first appeared to be the ruins of an old castle.

“Oh, it’s not a ruins, though,” said one of the sisters, “listen, and you can hear the sound of voices and music coming from within!”

Indeed, they knew they had finally reached the ancestral home of the man with the ugly blue beard. They disembarked from the coach and entered the gates, were greeted by a servant in livery, and ushered inside.

They were dazzled at what they saw: here, unmistakably, was the sign of great wealth and station. Famous faces darted in and out from behind masks, costumed exquisitely for a masquerade ball. An enormous table was heaped with every sort of choice delicacy, and enough wine flowed to wet the valleys and deserts of the world.

A full orchestra entertained as costumed revelers danced to and fro across the glittering ballroom.
“Oh sister, look! Have you ever seen such a grand spectacle?”

The unpopular sister was quite obviously impressed. Finally, the blue bearded “Master of Ceremomies” put in his appearance, wearing a mask that covered his eyes but left his blue beard swinging in the wind for all to see.
“Ah! How good of you to come!”

The sullen sister started to say, “I didn’t think we had a choice in the matter,” but decided to keep her mouth closed. (Which, on the whole, is oftentimes the best course of action for anyone.)

As the hour drew late, the blue-bearded man took them aside and asked them pointedly, “Well, have either of you come to a final decision as to which one of you will be my wife?”

Well, one sister looked at the other, and both of them hung their heads in shame. The man had been so generous and kind, and they both now felt obligated to him. Doubly so, because they knew their father wanted that at least one of them should betrothed to the rich stranger.

The eldest sister looked the blue-bearded man over and, quit softly and truthfully answered, “Were it in my power to say yes, after all the kindnesses shown to us tonight, i would certainly do so. Alas! I find I simply cannot bring myself to be your wife.”

At that, the blue-bearded man crossed his arms across his chest, looked disdainful of the honest sister, and then looked at the younger. He asked, “Well, do you feel the same way, or, shall you consent to be my wife?”

At this, the younger sister hung her head in sorrow, disheartened that she should be forced to marry a man so repulsive to her sensibilities. Finally, she peeped, in a tiny, tearful little voice, “Yes, m’lord, I shall be your wife.”

At this, the blue-bearded man was overjoyed. He laughed maniacally, danced about the room, clapped his hands together, and kicked his legs up high, exclaiming, “I’m going to be married! I’m going to be married! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hooray! Soon comes my wedding day!”

Many months went into the preparation of the wedding, and no expense was spared by the very rich man. He was determined to make it an occasion that would be talked of for years and years to come.

In truth though, many of the local villagers began to grumble that this was not the first wedding the strange nobleman had thrown, and, where in the world had his other wives disappeared to? Certainly, as ugly as he was, they didn’t all leave him for errant knights? but, these grumblings were soon quashed, and locals were just pleased to be invited to a free party, where rich, sumptuous food and good wine would flow.

After the wedding, the couple went on a lavish tour of Paris, London, Berlin, Vienna…all the capitals of Europe. As exotic and luxuriant as it was, however, the young wife always found herself melancholy and out-of-sorts; though, to her credit, she always tried to put on the best face for her increasingly exasperated husband.

Returning to the castle, the man took his wife aside one day and said, “Here are the keys to all the rooms of this castle. Use them whenever you like! I must go away for a little while. Now, inside each room, you’ll find my vast, vast hoard of riches, spread out all over the floors and flowing out of every cupbard and closet and shelf. I am a man rich beyond your wildest dreams! So, don’t be so downcast all the time!”

He continued, “er, however, there is ONE room, down below the basement stairs, that you are NEVER to enter, under any circumstances. Do you understand? Never. if you disobey me in this, I shall know, and you will be out the door, and your father will hate you forever! Understand?”

And he grabbed her roughly, and peered into her eyes with his own burning, white-hot orbs. And she nooded meekly, saying, “Y-yes! I…understand.”

He smiled, an expression that did nothing to alter his unsavory appearance.

“Good,” he said. “Now, I must be off. Remember, you may enter any room, except the one at the bottom of the cellar stairs. Never enter that room, for any reason. Now, my love, I must bid you adieu!’

And with a swish of his cloak, he was gone.

Well, day after day, the yon wife entertained what guests as she could convince to come calling. However, it all rather bored her, and her life fell into a dismal pattern of teas and mild parties and little visits from frumpy dames with more money than wit. The servants were a dull, quiet lot, and provided scant companionship.

Finally, one riny day, the Devil himself must have crept inside of her, as she found herself wandering down the cellar stairs to the door hidden beneath; and, as she crept, she also found herself fidgeting with the key ring.

Should she open that door? How would he ever know? what could it hurt to take a little peek inside? She didn’t know, but, her heart hammering in her chest, she finally found herself inserting the key in the lock, turning it, hearing the faint, bone-rattling sound of the tumblers creaking and giving way. She rattled the little door knob in her quivering fingers, pushed open the creaking door, and, her candle held high over her head, entered into the stifling darkness.
What she saw there was, truly, hideous beyond description!

It was a mad, charnel house, a place belched up from the depths of Hell itself.

The bodies of the blue-bearded man’s former wives were hanging from hooks on the wall. They looked as if they had been gutted, like animals, and hung up to dry. Their faces, frozen forever in the rictus of death, told the stories of their tragic, violent ends.

The floor was awash, in fact, with slick pools of blood. She stopped herself from screaming and alerting the servants, but, she did manage to drop the door key in the blood.

Bending over quickly, she snatched up the bloody key, and, going out of the room, closed the door behind her, her breath short with terror and shock.

Then, as if in a daze, she went to the basin in her room to wash the key.

Shr thought for a moment about what to do. just then, her sister came to the gates of the castle, and was allowed entrance by the wicked servants.

She greeted her sister with a meek smile, before relating to her, in a torrent of tears, the terrible truth of what she had found.

“Oh, my dear,” said her sister. “You must flee from this terrible place at once, and alert the authorities to what he has done!”

It was, however, too late. Just as the two women were about to quickly gather some possessions, the blue-bearded fiend came riding up on his quicksilver stallion, his long black cloak and pointed blue beard seemingly more terrible now than ever she beheld them before.

He surmised the scene and guessed, right away, what had occurred. As if to prove it to himself, he held out his long, bony hand and demanded, “Give me that key!”

he carefully examined it while the two women held their breath, terrified. His careful gaze scrutinized evey inch of it. Finally, he noticed the stain of blood that wouldn’t wash away.

“So,” he began, his voice turning icy cold while his bloodshot eyes bulged and blazed with fury, “you have discovered my secret. Alas! Now I shall have to kill you both, and hang you besides the others in my special room!”

And with that, he turned to fetch his axe. While he dove into a nearby clost, though, the two women broke their spell of shock and ran, charging up the stairs to the tower, and slamming rhe door behind them.

Crying and gasping in fear, they then piled up chairs and dressers in front of the door, while the killer husband laughed as loudly as he could.

“I’ll get you, I’ll get you my pretties! You can’t cower in there forever, after all. It’s only a matter of time!”

And so both of the women went to the only window in the tiny room, and began to cry for help. But the castle was so remote, and the surrounding forest so vast and empty, it seemed they would cry in vain!

Just then, though, as luck would have it, a troop of soldiers who were passing along the dark woodland road heard the pitiful screams for help, and followed them to their source. They looked up at the woman hanging from the window, and asked what was the matter.

“Quickly!,” she cried, “you must come inside and rescue my sister and I! My husband is a maniac and is going to take our lives as he has done to women before!”

At this, the handsome young officer and his men went riding through the gates. Then, forcing their way inside, they pushed past the servants until they found the maniac, pacing at the bottom of the stairs, foaming at the mouth, his eyes blazing as he swung his axe at the shadows on the wall. He turned and looked at the invaders, and cried out.

The young officer struck him in the face, knocking his axe from his hand. This the young officer picked up himself, and, swinging it with all his might, cut the head from the blue-bearded fiend, sending it rolling across the stone floor. Blood splattered the walls in a gruesome fashion, but at last the evil ogre was destroyed.

The men charged up the steps, freeing the women from the tower room.

The widowed sister rushed forward, threw her arms around the neck of the handsome young officer, and said, “Oh, my savior! How lucky we are that such a strong, handsome young officer and his men should have been risign by right as we needed them!”

And the young officer was so impressed by the beauty of the young girl that he proposed marriage to her then and there. And, this time, she assented happily.

The dead fiend, though, went down in legend, where, because of his awful appearance, he was forever after known as BLUEBEARD.

(Source: French fable, possibly based upon crimes of Gilles De Rais.)

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