Saturday, March 8, 2014

#35 - Mo and the Tree of Want - The Story

Since the beginning of this project, I have been very aware of the influence of fairy tales and folk stories in my writing about Bartholomew and his friends.  At times I stick very close to typical formats of folk tales: things come in threes, characters become stereotyped or simplified, there is an emotional aspect to the story that is acted out, and oddities and peculiarities do not have to be explained.  At times I swerve away from these techniques or try to make them more subtle.  In Mo and the Tree of Want I return to blatant fairy tale format.  Mo is a bit slow and dimwitted, unexplained things happen, and Mo is acting out his desires.  AND... there is a moral to the story.  It's not spelled out but fairly obvious.

This incident with Mo also puts in motion events that lead us to the end of The Book of Bartholomew.  Yes, this is story number 34.  There are only 14 more stories after this one.  Mo and the Tree of Want will be published on January 27, 2012.  Here is an excerpt:

Mo peered through one more window and saw Hump-Pug blankly staring back at him. For a moment Mo thought he saw something else in the window, something shiny and gold. It took him a moment to realize it was a reflection. He assumed it was from one of his many rings or necklaces or maybe his gold tooth. But the reflection seemed to be something else. He looked behind him at a gigantic old tree in Bartholomew’s back yard. There in the lower branches was a shiny gold object.

He went to the tree. He grabbed hold of the first branch and pulled himself up. It was dark out and Mo was afraid of heights, but he had to see what this was. It was a rather easy tree to climb with branches at even intervals as far up as he could see in the dark. He only had to climb three or four branches before he was at his destination: a small mesh bag of gold pieces. Mo thought that this was an odd, but fortuitous, placement of a bag of gold pieces. There were eight to ten pieces in the bag, which was heavy for its size. Mo unhooked it from the branch and put it in his pocket. “How lucky I am,” he thought.

He started down the tree but caught a glimpse of something else in the corner of his eye. It was another shiny object much bigger and much further up the tree. “Hmmm,” Mo thought, “that one is much higher. I don’t like heights. I better let it go. But… it is much bigger than this little bag in my pocket. It must be worth much more than this.” Because Mo wanted wealth more than anything else, especially wealth that took little effort, Mo climbed on.

The branches were easy to reach until he was about twenty-five feet off the ground. Suddenly, Mo wasn’t sure how to proceed. He made a few attempts at the higher branches, but, being afraid of falling, didn’t try anything difficult. One branch was almost in his grasp. He could touch it with his fingers, feel the ridges of its bark, but couldn’t quite get a hold of it. In the trunk of the tree was a bump, a canker, that if he put his foot on it, maybe he could reach the branch. But it would mean letting go of the tree with both of his hands. He panicked a moment at the thought and held close to the tree.

“Xavier would think I was such a woos for not trying,” thought Mo. “I can do this. I know I can.” Then with all his adrenalin pumping, he stepped on the canker and swung his arms upward. It worked. His hands grabbed around the branch and then he scampered up. “Well, Mo ain’t no woos after all,” he said to an Xavier who wasn’t there. He rested on the branch for a moment and then continued his ascent.

Mo reached the next object a few minutes later. It hung in a large mesh bag tightly tied to a branch. It was impossible to untie the bag from the branch, so Mo pulled the very heavy gold object out of the bag. It was a vest made of gold chainmail. Mo estimated it weighed about forty pounds. “What the heck?” said Mo as he pondered this object being hung so high in the tree. It looked like it was his size, so he wrapped his legs around the branch and he very carefully tried it on. It was a little small and he almost fell when his elbows were stuck in the arm holes. It was so small, in fact, that once he had it on he couldn’t get it off.

“Crap!” said Mo.

Resigned to wearing the golden vest, Mo began to climb down. He went very slowly, worried about the added weight. “How lucky I am,” he thought as he knew the golden vest would be worth a fortune. Then he caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye. It was something a bit higher up in the tree. From the glimmer of moonlight he could see that it was something encrusted with jewels. He could see green sapphires, red rubies and clear bright diamonds – lots of diamonds. This one object alone would be worth more than all the gold Mo had found thus far.

“Crap,” said Mo.

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