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Indians Indians Archive The Indians and the Beanstalk
Written by Jonathan Knight

Jonathan Knight

magic beansOnce upon a time, there was a poor widow named Mrs. Shaponetti raising two ambitious young boys, Mark and Chris. They lived on a meager farm next to a river that once caught on fire, and all they had to live on was the milk given by their lone cow.

But one morning, the cow gave no milk and Mrs. Shaponetti knew they had to do something quickly.

“Boys,” she called to her sons, “that old cow is starting to age and the economy is shit. We need to get something for her while we can. Take her down to the market and sell her so we’ll be able to  eat."

“You bet, Mother,” the boys said. “You can count on us!”

So they took the cow down the road and over the hill toward town.

They returned an hour later skipping and singing.

“Back already?” their mother asked. “I see you haven’t got the cow, so you must have sold her. How much did you get for her?”

“You’ll never guess, Mother!” Mark said, breathlessly.

His mother smiled. “Good boy! Was it five pounds? Ten? Fifteen? Or - my goodness - twenty?”

“Better!” Chris replied, beaming. “Before we even got to town, we traded the cow for five magic beans!”

“Magic beans?” his mother asked slowly, feeling enough rage bubbling inside her to close out a game in the ninth. “You mean to say you gave away our cow, at the very least worth her weight in hamburger, for five beans?”

Magic beans!” Mark corrected her enthusiastically. “Wait ’til you hear what these beans did at Double-A!”

Their mother put her head in her hands and began to weep.

“How could you be so foolish? You took our one source of food and completely wasted it. Now we have nothing to eat. You go back to whomever you traded with and get back that cow!”

So the boys ran back down the path and returned a half-hour later without the cow.

“I see you couldn’t find him,” their mother said, angrily.

“Oh, no, we found him,” Chris said, proudly.

“You did?” their mother gasped. “Then where is the cow?”

“Oh, we did even better this time, Mother,” Mark explained. “We took those five magic beans and traded them for three magic beans.”

Their mother’s jaw dropped and, like Tim McCarver, she was unable to speak coherently.

“You traded five...for three...”

“Yes!” Chris cried. “We sure outsmarted that rube!”

“How on Earth will five beans...”

“Three!” Mark corrected happily.

“...three beans give us enough to live on? Do they grow into a beanstalk that you can climb to find a giant’s castle from which you can steal magical treasures to keep us alive?”

The boys looked at one another and laughed.

“No, no, silly Mother,” Mark said. “We’re not actually going to plant the beans.”

“We’re going to trade them for more beans!” Chris shouted excitedly.

Their mother, by now in the frantic throes of a balls-out conniption fit, beat the boys senseless and sent them back to town, ordering them not to return until they’d gotten rid of the beans.

The boys came back just before dark carrying a decent-sized clod of dirt.

“We started out with a cow and now all we’ve got is a dirt clod?” asked their mother, exasperated.

“No, not just a dirt clod,” Chris said as he glanced over at Mark.

Their mother looked at them hopefully.

“Well, what else did you get?”

Grinning, Mark pulled out a Carlos Baerga bobblehead from behind his back.

“What the hell are we supposed to do with that?” their mother cried. “How does that help things at all?”

“His head bobs!” Mark said, and shook it. “People love these things!”

Blood started to trickle out of their mother’s nose.

The boys shrugged.

“What can we say, mother?” Mark said. “We did the best we could in a bad trade market.”

“Maybe if you’d given us more to offer...” Chris added.

Again, the mother whaled on both boys like Albert Belle after a strikeout and sent them back out, ordering them not to return until they had acquired something that could help them stay alive.

The next morning they came back pulling a rickety wooden cart.

“What have you got there?” their mother asked as she peered into it.

She jerked back when she saw a pile of bones and entrails inside, swarming with flies.

“We got our cow back!” the boys cried together.

Their mother closed her eyes and prayed for the strength not to smote down these boys with a shovel here and now.

“Admittedly, she’s not what she once was...” Chris said.

“...and she may not be able to produce anything at all...” Mark continued.

“...but remember all the fun times we had with her?” Chris finished. “Isn’t that worth bringing her back?”

Their mother opened her eyes.

“So you reacquired a dead cow rather than getting us something we can actually use?” she asked.

“We understand why you’re frustrated, Mother,” Mark said. “But this is just the reality of being a small farm in the economics of cow-trading.”

“Speaking of, we had to give up the farm to get these bones, so we’re going to have to move now.”

Their mother had finally had enough.

“Take these bones back and trade them back for the dirt clod, then take the dirt clod and trade it back for the three magic beans. And then trade in the three magic beans for the five magic beans. At least we can plant them and finally have something to eat!”

So the boys went back to town. They traded back the cow bones for the dirt clod. They traded back the dirt clod for the three magic beans. And then they traded back the three magic beans for the five magic beans.

Then they came home and planted the give magic beans in the garden.

And, of course, nothing grew.

The end. (In more ways than we'd like to think about.)

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