Friday, December 5, 2008

Hans and the Funny-nosed Boys

"How come I end up where I started?
 How come I end up where I went wrong?
 Won't take my eyes off the ball again,
 You reel me out then you cut the string."
 -15 Step, Radiohead

Hans was a very poor boy. He lived in a small village with no one in the world to care for him. You see, Hans was the brat of a witch and a troll. His parents abandoned in a ditch soon after his birth, and gave him nothing but their demented genetics to remember them by. Luckily, the local priest spotted Hans laying on the side of the road rescued him to a decrepit shack near the outside of town to live in. The priest normally took in orphans, but even at that young age Hans' parentage was obviously demonic. What a scandal to bring a demon to a monastery! Thus, Hans was a lonely, poor boy.

Hans' lived in a rather wealthy village and survived on the shoelaces and boot-leather from the too-often discarded footwear of the villagers. After years of such a tough diet, however, Hans' teeth chipped away and ground down. By the time Hans' turned thirteen, he'd already lost many of his newly-acquired adult teeth. Those that remained rotted grotesquely, badly stinking and making Hans all the more unpleasant to be with. His eyes were of a milky white color and had impossibly black pupils. His skin was tough and gray. All these facts reminded him daily that he'd never belong in the village, among regular humans, an idea the villagers certainly didn't help to dispell.

Near the center of the village lived, quite a different family, a wealthy father and his four rather unusual sons. Each of the sons were tall and slender capped their heads with pointed green caps. Most extraordinarily, however, each of the sons had very long noses, nearly a foot from tip to base. Despite their strange appearance, the boys were brilliant and strong, so the villagers lauded them with praise worthy of a king. The villagers loved the boys so much they'd buy all their tools and supplies from the father's local store, and even paid extra if one of the funny-nosed boys would help them carry their goods home. In this way the father and sons were able to amass their great wealth.

Hans worshiped the funny-nosed boys and followed them everywhere in hopes that someday they, who also looked different, might accept him as one of them. No matter how much the funny-nosed boys abused him, he persisted in trying to play their sports and jumping into any subject they began to study. At first the boys had fun playing tricks on Hans and making him the butt of their jokes, but after weeks of this they determined that Hans must go.

Early one morning, the boys with the funny noses stood outside Hans' shack and called out to him to come play with them. Hans could hardly believe his ears when he heard their cries. The boys had never come to ask him to play. Hans quickly his raggy clothes and rushed out of the house and met them. One of the boys held a large brown bag in his slender fingers. Another of the boys, addressing Hans, explained, "Hans, we're sorry that we've not treated you very well and we've brought you this magic sack to make up for it. We've filled this bag with gold from a magical fairy fortress. There are over 100 pieces in here, and we'd like to give them to you! However, you must keep a careful watch over this bag for the next hour, or before you know it the fairies will have stolen all their gold back. Hans, don't take your eyes off this bag for an hour and you'll be a wealthy man by nightfall!"

Hans jumped with joy! The funny-nosed boys chuckled with glee. The boys were not laughing with Hans, however, but with the pleasure of seeing their plan succeed. You see, the boys had not really filled the bag with faerie gold, but only fools gold they'd collected in the hills. Because they knew that Hans wouldn't dare to take his eyes off the bag they could abuse him as they pleased for a full hour. When the hour was up they'd simply snatch away the bag and tell him the fairies had taken it. Surely a joke so cruel would rid them of Hans forever.

The funny-nosed boys shoved the bag into Hans' hands and shouted, "Come Hans! let's go play in the forest!" Hans nearly leapt out of his skin with excitement at the invitation, and, dropping the bag, rushed to go play with the funny-nosed boys. The most agile boys, however, had already snatched up the bag and hidden it behind his back. Next moment, Hans realized what he'd done and spun around to reclaim his prize. Upon finding no bag, Hans burst out into tears. He pulled his hair and gnawed on his hands. Hans roared, "Ack! Ho!! Now I'm back to my poverty! What a cruel trick, what a cruel fate to send me back to that shack!" He raged and finally laid on the ground and moaned in a sorrowful fit. The funny-nosed boys laughed at first, but laughter soon turned to panic. They'd never seen anyone act so strangely! The boy with the bag lost his nerve and, rushing to Hans side shouted, "Hans! Look! We've found your bag. You'd just dropped it behind a bush. Look Hans! Look!" Hans face immediately turned to joy! His salvation had returned!

Seeing Hans in such a happy state had a cruel effect on the cruel funny-nosed boys. "Well, if he's quite recovered," the boys whispered among themselves, "we'll continue our little game." They called Hans over to them and told him, "Alright Hans, we're happy to see you've been saved this time but you'd better watch your bag for two hours now, just to be safe!" Hans rejoiced! "I won't look away this time! I won't," he sang.

The boys gave Hans back his fools gold and led him into the forest. The boys tried to break Hans determination by taking hin through all the hardest parts of the forest and rushing through thorns and bushes. None of their tricks seemed to work, however, and Hans clung to his bag tenaciously, fiercely watched his prize. When the funny-nosed boys had nearly run out of tricks, they began to fear that Hans may actually win the sack! Their deception would surely be revealed once Hans tried to trade his fools gold to any merchant. All was on the line! It was just then the boys hear the sound of a nearby river. "What luck!" they thought. They rushed to the river and Hans ran behind them, following the sounds of their footsteps. Poor Hans was so focused on his watching and his running, that he hardly noticed the river until he was wet up to his neck. Suddenly realizing his trouble Hans thrashed his arms about and flung the bag to the opposite shore. One of the long-nosed boys, who'd already arrived at the other side, quickly snatched up the bag, feeling their reputation secured! When Hans finally struggled to the shore, the flung himself to the ground and moaned once more, "Ack! Ho!! Now I'm back to my poverty! What a cruel trick, what a cruel fate to send me back to my shack!" The boys began to panic again. Perhaps this time his heart was broken permanently and he'd die here on the shore! The boy who held the bag this time thought quick action might save Hans and, rushing to Hans side shouted, "Hans! Look! We've found your bag. It was here on the shore. Look Hans! Look!"

Hans leapt for joy! "Saved twice in what day! What luck," Hans screamed for all to hear, "I'll never take my eyes off this bag again!" Seeing Hans recovered, and hearing of his newly reinforced determination, the long-nosed boys decided they must try one last trick. "Come Hans, let us tie this rope around your waist so we can lead you through the forest. You won't have to waste your eyes or ears following us, but can focus on your bag!" they suggested. Hans didn't even make a reply.

The boys pulled Hans through the forest. They dragged him through all the forbidden paths and dangerous nettles they could remember, but nothing would break Hans' focus for a second. Finally the boys arrived at a cliff they knew, hundreds of feet tall. "Come!" they said among themselves, "Hans will never hold onto the bag if we push him off that cliff! Best of all he'll drop it far below where no one can ever find the gold and learn of our deception." The boys led Hans to the edge of the cliff, hesitated for just a moment, and pushed him off. Three of the boys braced themselves with the rope and the fourth ran to the cliff edge to see Hans drop his bag of gold. The rope went tight. The fourth boy glanced over the edge and called back to the other three, "He's... He's not dropped it!" The funny-nosed boys jaws dropped. Panic overtook them! If this wouldn't cause Hans to drop his bag, nothing would. Their plot would be uncovered! The boys holding the rope mournfully began pulling Hans back to safety. "Wait! the fourth funny-nosed boy called out. "He's dropped the bag?!" the others rejoiced in reply.

"No," whispered the fourth boy, pulling a dagger from his belt, "but he shall."

The funny-nosed boy set his knife to the rope.


1 comment:

Heather said...

Whhyyyy did you tell me this story?? This is so depressing!! What's the moral?