UPDATED TALES: Jack and the Beanstalk

Maybe there's a beanstalk in there somewhere.
Somewhere in Iowa lived a kid named Jack Dahg, who lived with his mother, Daisy Dahg, and two twin siblings, Harry Dahg and Emma Dahg.  They were the poorest family in the region.  Jack’s father, Digger (the one Daisy called “Dirty Dahg”), had died and left everything to his other family in Missouri.  The Iowa Dahgs and the Missouri Dahgs had not been aware of each other, but they had made each other’s acquaintance at the reading of the will.  The lawyer and the sheriff were still in therapy.  The two families hated each other.  Being related wasn’t their idea.

Jack was a teenager and his two siblings were in the Second Grade, so he had to help support the family.  Mrs. Dahg had a minimum wage job at a local Chick Fil-A, so the family needed a second income to keep them just below the poverty line.  Jack was allergic to work.  It gave him a rash.  He decided to help support his family by becoming a burglar.

After his fifth arrest, Jack started to believe that he had no talent for breaking and entering.  He fainted at the sight of blood, so becoming a professional assassin was not an option, either.  He was sitting on the front steps of his home one afternoon, when Old Man Caruthers walked by and saw him.

“Hey, Jack!  Why so glum?” said the old man.  Old Man Caruthers was the kind of perpetually cheerful guy who made everyone want to punch him in the throat.

“Oh, let’s see,” said Jack.  “My father died.  He left everything to his other family.  Harry and Emma need dental work.  We have had nothing but potatoes for dinner the last three nights.  I can’t make it as a burglar or a hitman.  Life sucks.”

“Ah, don’t feel bad,” said Old Man Caruthers.  “Tell ya what.  I been savin’ this, figurin’ I’d keep it myself, but you need it more ‘n I do.”  He reached into his coat pocket, pulled something out and showed it to Jack.

“That’s just three bean seeds,” said Jack.

“Yeah, but they been shot with Miracle Gro.  They’re guaranteed to grow taller and thicker than any others.  You and your family will have all the beans you can eat and you can sell the rest to schools and prisons.  You can use the gas created by the beans to power up an electric generator so you won’t get an electric bill.  Just make everybody fart into a vacuum cleaner bag, then attach the bag to your generator and let all the gas out into it.  You give me your Mom’s old genuine cow leather recliner chair and I’ll give you these.”

“Thanks,” said Jack.  He reached for the seeds.

Jack took out his cell phone, called a couple of friends and asked them to come over.  The friends moved the heavy recliner from the living room and carried it the two blocks to Old Man Caruthers’ house.[1]  Old Man Caruthers gave Jack the three seeds, then danced down the sidewalk after the two friends, anticipating a cozy evening of falling asleep in front of his big flat-screen TV[2], watching movies on Netflix.

Jack planted the three seeds in his mother’s flower garden, between the snapdragons and the bachelor buttons.

When Daisy came home from work she found her recliner chair missing.

“Okay.  What did you do with the recliner?” she demanded.

“You’re gonna be happy when I tell you,” said Jack.  He proceeded to tell her the whole story about the three bean seeds and Old Man Caruthers, including the suggestion of the use of bean gas to generate electricity.

“Are you insane?  You gave a genuine cow leather recliner for three bean seeds!”

“Well … yeah.  I thought you’d be thrilled.”

“Thrilled!  How’s this for thrilled?”  She slapped him on the back of his head, hard enough to make him stagger.

“Ow.”

“Go rob a 711!  Get arrested again.  Give away all our furniture!  Break my heart and kill me!”

“Shit!  Try to do something nice and this is the thanks I get!”

“Watch your language, you little f**k!”

Jack went to his room, shut the door and stayed put all night without coming down for dinner.  The next morning, he went down to the kitchen and found his mother and two siblings sitting at the table, staring at him.

“You’re gonna get it!” said Harry.

“What did I do now?” asked Jack.

“Take a look out the back door,” said Daisy.  She was using her calm-before-the-storm voice, soft and monotone, which sent a tornado warning into Jack’s brain.

Jack opened the kitchen door and stepped outside.  There, among scattered and broken flowers, stood the biggest plant he had ever seen.  It was thick, and so tall he couldn’t see the top of it, which disappeared in a cloud.

“Whoa!” said Jack.

Daisy’s voice shot into his head from the kitchen and traveled down his body, paralyzing his nervous system.  “You have one hour to get rid of that monstrosity and get my chair back!”

Jack took a startled leap and landed in the back yard, on his butt.  He stood up, grabbed his sore buttocks and flew over to the massive beanstalk.  He grabbed a branch and scrambled up onto it, hoping to climb high enough to hide until he could come up with a plan to get out of trouble.  He kept climbing.  When he reached the top of the cloud he looked around.[3]

There was a long driveway leading to the biggest mansion he had ever seen, even in pictures.[4]  The grounds on either side of the driveway were well kept, and of such brilliant green that it hurt Jack’s eyes to look at them.

“I don’t think I’m in Iowa anymore,” he said.

He slid off the beanstalk, brushed himself off, slicked his hair down and straightened his clothes.  Then he started up the driveway.  He knew he should go back down and go home, but he figured that whatever was in that house up ahead was less dangerous than his mother right now.  He continued until he reached the front door.

He rang the doorbell, which played a phrase from “Big Bad John.”[5]  The door was opened by an enormous pair of red shoes – or, at least, that was how it appeared to Jack.  He looked up and saw that the shoes were attached to a 20-foot woman with bright red hair, dressed in a halter top and a pair of tight jeans.

“Whatever you’re sellin’, we already got some,” she said, and started to close the door.

“Wait!” said Jack.  “I’m not selling anything.  I’m hiding from my mother for a while and I wondered if you could give me a Pop Tart or something.  I haven’t had dinner or breakfast.”  After everything else that had happened, he wasn’t surprised to see a giant woman in a mansion above a cloud.

“Aw, poor kid!”  said the giant woman.  “Come in and have a nice breakfast.  But you gotta go back down that beanstalk before 1:00, ‘cause that’s when my husband comes down for lunch, and he gets real antisocial when he’s hungry.”

The lady giant picked Jack up and carried him into the house, where she deposited him on top of a 40-foot-long wooden table.  In a few moments, she returned with a box of Count Chocula cereal, a quart of milk, a spoon and a giant-sized shot glass, which was just small enough to serve as a bowl for Jack.

“Thanks,” said Jack.

“You’re welcome, you poor little thing,” said the lady giant.

While he was eating his cereal, Jack heard a guitar, followed by a bass voice spilling out what sounded like a good old down home country song.  The words went like this:

I knew I wasn’t the kind of man you like
That day you laughed and called me a dirty bum.
You broke my heart just like a steely spike.
Fee fie fo fum.

Jack stopped and listened to the song.  He liked it.  The voice sounded like a table being sanded, but it was interesting.  The second verse, the bridge and the third verse of the song were like the first, and the voice didn’t get any better, but Jack had tears in his eyes when the song ended.

“He sings real pretty, don’t he,” said the lady giant.  “That’s my husband.  He’s a singer-songwriter.  Trouble is, people take one look at him and run away ‘cause he’s a giant.  There’s lotsa prejudice against giants, even in the music industry.  Nobody wants us around.  We’re real nice people when you get to know us, but you can’t get to know someone when you’re runnin’ away so fast you’re makin’ a dust storm, like one guy done to me once.  All I was doin’ was askin’ directions.”

“If your husband can’t get work,” asked Jack, “How can you afford this huge mansion?”

“His father was a Wall Street giant,” she answered.  “My husband don’t hafta make a living ‘cause we’re pretty rich.”

Any mention of money and people who had it put Jack’s brain synapses into instant high gear.  A few ideas popped around, and he settled on one of them.

“Why doesn’t your husband form his own music company and put out his own songs with his own singing?  Then he wouldn’t have to worry about scaring everyone when he shows up for an audition.  And he could open his own club, right up here, and have a two-drink minimum and a cover charge and everything.”

The lady giant called her husband, who slammed the upstairs door and stomped downstairs.

“Bonnie June, what the hell do you want?” he bellowed.  “I told you never interrupt me when I’m creatin’!”

“Ashley, you behave yourself!  We got company!”

“You takin’ in stray humans again?  Don’t we have enough f***in’ trouble?”

“He’s our guest and he has a good idea for your music.  Shut your filthy mouth and listen!”

The giant glared at his wife for a few seconds, sat at the table with a huge thump that made the house rock back and forth, and looked at Jack.

“Well?” said the giant.  “I don’t have all day.”

Jack explained his idea, and the three of them wound up having a long, detailed conversation.  They worked out all the details of an agreement, with the help of the giant’s brother-in-law, who lived in their pool house and had a law degree from Cloud University.[6]  The contract was drawn up, handshakes were exchanged and Jack said good-bye and climbed back down the beanstalk, carrying his copy in his pocket.

Daisy was not angry when she saw him.  On the contrary, she hugged him, kissed him and cried about how she thought he was lost, how the police wouldn’t help because he hadn’t been gone that long, and how worried she had been.  She promised she would never yell at him or call him names again.  Jack cried, too, and promised he would behave like a saint from then on and make her proud of him.

That was the beginning of the ABJ Music Company and the stellar career of Ashley the Giant.  Jack started out as a simple agent, but ended up as CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company.  Daisy gave her boss the finger and never set foot in a Chick-Fil-A again.  She went to KFC instead.  Harry and Emma enjoyed being rich for a change.  Old Man Caruthers wished he hadn’t given up those bean seeds so easily.

There is probably a moral to this story, somewhere.




[1] Jack supervised the work, of course.

[2] The one he conned his brother-in-law into buying for him by giving him a fake stock tip

[3] I know.  This can’t be true because Jack would have frozen to death that high up.  This is a fairy tale.  Work with me on this.

[4] See footnote no. 3, above, except for that part about freezing to death.  I already covered that.

[5] Jimmy Dean and Roy Acuff, Big Bad John.  Recorded by Jimmy Dean and released in 1961.

[6] The only university that had dormitory facilities for giants.

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