The Illiterate Promise

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
The story of why illiteracy can have horrific consequences.

Submitted: August 01, 2016

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Submitted: August 01, 2016



If it is one thing I have learnt on the mean streets of my village in the middle of nowhere, it is that sometimes things matter. For my mate Jimmy, it turned out that things mattered a great deal. Many people would say afterwards,as they stared wistfully at his chamber pot embedded in the sports field, that he should have paid heed to the things that mattered, but really all that mattered were his choices. 

As kids, for us, everyday was a bull run growing up. Our parents used to send us through the bull field to school. They believed that strength grew from adversity, in this case it was very much one learnt of the strength to run faster than an adverse bull, or at least faster than Chubby Jetson. He really slimmed up the year he moved to our village. 

School was not much better. The teachers would drift in and out at school. The whisky being particularly strong in our region and the village kids being bastards to catch and hit with a stick for not learning. So they reasoned that if they could not get the kids to care then they best join us. 

With all of this, the results were villages full of illiterate and bad tempered young adults. The only work was in the local libraries and they could not give a Dewey Decimal unless you could read. So we spent our days sugar beet rustling. It was dirty work, but people always liked to get some sugar from us at the end of the day. 

It was through our contacts that Jimmy made his fateful decisions. With the prevalent illiteracy all deals were honoured to the verbal word. After a long summer in hospital, after being given the horn, Jimmy had actually taught himself to read and in one of the many library books had discovered a thing called a contract. Jimmy explained to me that these were like verbal words but written down and they set out what a deal was. His bright idea was to get people to sign them and their honour would mean they had to obey them. He said people had to, due to people called Litigation Bankers who would make people eat their words. With it, we could make a killing... oh howlittle he knew. 

My first response to his suggestion was to say no, that we should not meddle with things we did not understand and that verbal words should stay on the wind and not stuck to the flattened trees. Written words should be saved by the Librarians and used to feed the literal wankers.My subsequent responses were to end with me letting old Bessy into his house while he slept, so he’d get the point. I can still fondly recall how he left through his bedroom window at one am, the moonlight glinting off the chamber pot he was still clutching to his bottom, Betsy having propelled him through the panes of glass. He never did speak to me after that, even after I gave the fire service the great idea of using a tow rope and truck to pull the pot off his bottom. 

The next time I heard of Jimmy was after the fallout of his new “bright idea”. Apparently he had fallen in with a bad crowd, that of forest surgeons. Despite all their hard work and surgeries, I never saw one tree get up from their attentions. They tended to be shunned in our community as a result, their barking voices and hard demeanour often making them hard to deal with. We never used to interact with themunless you enjoyed yelling “timber!” in the local pub, downing their pints while they hit the floor and then running for dear life. 

Jimmy had gotten a tree surgeon to agree to a deal, no one can quite agree what it was, but instead of spitting on the surgeons hand and shaking it, he had them sign a deal. One in which he never had to pay them.Turns out that a tree surgeons bite is worse than their bark, as soon as the penny dropped or had not in this case, they tried to find him and “settle” the debt. Strangely he could not be found and so they wrote him a contract of their own and departed swearing vengeance. The people telling the tale said Jimmy returned soon after from his hiding place and retrieved his new contract. He read it and then burst out laughing. At the pub he had said the surgeons were all idiots and the contract gave him even more than they wanted because they could not spell. He felt safe because they had to stay true to their word. Turns out, he was correct in one respect. 

The last part of the story no one witnessed and no one sane was going to climb up the nearest tree and ask what had exactlyoccurred. But we know some of the facts, that one evening while he was showering, people had broken in, crept up the stairs, into his bathroom and up to the shower curtain. Whether he saw the shadows looming across his “best of butter 1973” shower curtain or had it pulled across for him we don’t know. But either way, he would have turned and seen those people there, standing, covered in wood chippings, angry, hate filled, out for blood, holding an adult deer from the forest. All of this before they stagged him to death with its antlers in a parody of invaders breaching the castle gates... 

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