Jack & the Bean Stock
Having reached the end of the laneway, I took a few minutes to check out this bean stock. It appeared to be extremely tall, with very long, thick vines twisted and wound around it. From what I could see, it seemed climbable, but what lie above my view of sight was questionable.
The hour had indeed grown late and darkness was not far away. Camping out for the night seemed the most plausible of solutions, since trekking home and returning the next day was out of the question. I had no idea how I had even found this place to begin with. The hollow ‘log’, presumably some sort of branch from this bean stock, appeared to be empty and without any large or multilegged habitants. Definitely not the comfort of my own bed, but it would do.
Song birds and morning dew dripping onto my face woke me the next morning. It was time to start the adventure of finding Tiny.
By noon, I was beginning to wonder if this climb would ever end. Suddenly the clouds parted and I found myself facing a ledge of beautiful grass and very large boulders. Ahead of me was an enormous house with a gigantic woman outside feeding ostrich size chickens. Dashing to the house, I was suddenly scooped up and felt myself being lifted high above the ground, to stare into the face the woman I had seen.
“You’re lucky those chickens didn’t eat you. Little thing like you running across here, they would of thought you were some kind of bug. Then again, if my husband sees you, you will wish the chickens had got you.”
I very quickly stammered out the reason for my being there, and although she still looked upon me with quite some trepidation, she did consent to talk to her husband on my behalf.
Hiding in the bottom of an empty sugar bowl, I was privy to their entire dinner conversation. For a while it seemed that Mrs. Tiny was not having any luck at convincing her husband to speak with me. But suddenly he had a change of heart and decided that if I was willing to tell his side of the story, it couldn’t do any more harm than what the age old had done. My china refuge soon shook and rattled as I was dumped out onto the table and left staring into the face of the legendary Tiny himself.
He motioned for me to have a seat in his teaspoon, which caused a little unease in itself. If the big guy chose to slam his gigantic hand down on the handle of the spoon, I could very well end up attached to the sticky fly paper that hung in the kitchen window across the room.
“So, you want to hear my story.” He said. “That Jack was a good for nothing lying cheating, thief, flat out and simple; he broke into my home and stole from me. Apparently, he was wheeling and dealing in some agriculture scam that ended up with him having to unload some odd beans he had gotten stuck with. Wouldn’t you know one of those beans led him up here to me? Well I guess when he found the bean stock, he figured where ever it went to it would serve to hide his sorry fanny from the guys were out to get him.”
“I was at work when he snuck in here, then wandered around at his own free will like he owned the place. Everyone in that town knew that golden goose was mine; did any of them try to return it, or call the law on him? No of course not, they just let him use those eggs to buy up real estate and businesses. They all wanted a piece of that easy money.”Then he got himself into a bit of trouble dealing with the wrong people, and owed a lot of money that the goose couldn’t give him fast enough, he came back here and broke in again!
Course I was at work and the wife was out shopping so he took his own time again and found my safe. There is no question, he’s a crook by nature because he managed to crack that safe and took my bag of prize gold coins. Mint condition coins they were, and he took every last one of them then skedaddled back to town. But I knew it was him that had been here. The fool left his wallet on the floor when he emptied out his pockets to fill them with MY gold!”
“According to the old story, he returned again and got a harp. With the goose and all that gold, why did he risk coming back?” I asked. “Surely he must have known you would be waiting for him.”
“Jack was a lot of things, smart wasn’t one of them. From all these shady deals he kept getting himself into trouble with, you would think he would just give up and be a farmer like his momma, but no, he thought he would hit the deal of the century one day and retire a millionaire.”“Anyway, he took that gold and paid off whoever it was owed to, and then got this bright idea that if the town had a museum they could get people from all over the country to pay to see what was on display and it would make a fortune. Well after a couple months, everyone from three towns over had paid and seen his collection of junk farm equipment, a two headed calf, (that one was rumoured to have the second head glued on by Jack himself), and a few other weird contraptions that he supposedly found in exotic places, but were suspicious to say the least. Nobody was showing up anymore, and the town was after him but good for back taxes, rent and unpaid utilities bills. There wasn’t anything in this ‘collection’ that was worth a dime, so it was his hide they were looking to take it out of. I think they had pretty much lost their patience with ole Jack.”
“So that little creep snuck back up here again, intending on stealing more from me. He had posted some kind of nonsense up all over town, boasting that the museum would be featuring giant items and articles straight from a faraway land of giant people. Pfft, faraway land, no farther away than that cursed bean stock right in his own back yard!”
“So up he comes, only he wasn’t expecting me to be home that day. He spent a few hours, collecting odds and ends, spoons, and an old sugar bowl, some of the wife’s sewing needles, and a few scarves and handkerchiefs. He would drag them to the edge of the bean stock and toss each one down then come back for the next thing. Then he spotted my harp. She was singing her beautiful song, and I’ll bet he nearly wet his pants when he thought of what he would make off that one. But this time I was waiting at the bean stock for him. I chased him halfway down, got my harp back and the next thing I knew that bean stock was shaking like the world was coming to an end. I knew he was cutting it down so I come back home."
"From what I heard after, the things he had already tossed down got him arrested for public mischief and scamming good people out of their money. The city officials decided that the spoon was nothing more than a huge mining shovel, the scarves and handkerchiefs were some kind of flags and tent material, that sugar bowl was the big old cauldron used to water crops over in the next town and the rest were construction materials stolen from some place that’s building the first skyscraper. So he was charged, spent some time in jail and when he got out, he was told he had to spend the rest of his life tending to his mommas’ land to make sure no more bean stocks grew. A lifetime of community service.”
Tiny looked confused for a moment as he sipped his coffee. “How you get up here anyway, that bean stock’s been down now for years. It’s still lying down there, dead and hollow.”
“I don’t know, there was an old hollow log that I slept in last night, but I climbed a bean stock to get here.”
“Hmm, well that’s my story, you tell it just the way I told you. Jack’s long gone now, but every so often we still hear of someone telling HIS version and it still hurts. And do something about that bean stock will you? I don’t want nobody else getting no ideas.”
I thanked Tiny and his wife for their hospitality, but as I got to the edge of the bean stock, Mrs. Tiny stopped me.
“This is a good thing that you are doing; telling our sides of those old stories. You should talk to Bernard Buttersworth Wolf. He had quite a nasty time with some pigs. He just lives down the way, in a little stone cottage, it’s not hard to find. Stay on the twig path till you see the Straw Hill Mill. The cottage is just past there. Now you be careful going down that bean stock and good luck with your journey.”
At the bottom of the bean stock, I dusted off my pants, and then turned around to see where the twig path was. Picking up my notepad, I turned again for one last one look up the famous bean stock. It was gone, only the old hollow log remained, lying along the road as it had done last night when I slept in it. I walked all around where it had been, searching for the trampled grass where I had stepped to climb it. There was nothing. Confused, but relieved that I wasn’t facing the chore of cutting it down, I set out to find Bernard Buttersworth Wolf. But that would be an adventure for another day.
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