Living Room Stories: Jack’s Cup

This one came from looking over and seeing that my coffee cup was empty. How it got that way I am not sure. But it was obvious to me there was a story to be found in the bottomless pit of my coffee cup.

Image by ChildishGiant from Pixabay

Of all the coffee cups on all the tables in all the seven worlds, this had never happened before. Jack’s Coffee Cup was empty.

Though Jack had traveled far and wide from Old Cathay to Timbuktu, his Cup had never been empty.

Though Jack had experienced adventures even Christopher Columbus would have envied, his Cup had never been empty.

Though Jack consumed more coffee than the student body of a university, his Cup had never been empty.

How had this come to be? Wasn’t the Universe aware of the Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt never ever let Jack’s Cup run dry.” What had led to this life-and-death dilemma? Why was it so important that the Cup never run dry?

It all began with a cow. Not just any cow. A cow named Bossie. One morning Jack went to the barn to milk Bossie. Bossie kicked Jack in the leg, not once but three times. Now this wasn’t like Bossie. Bossie had never liked Jack pulling on her teats for the liquid gold the cow produced morning after morning after morning. She especially hated his singing, “One teat. Two teat. Pull.” But she had not protested so vigorously before. We could blame it on age but Bossie was only two years old. In human years, that wasn’t even middle age. No, it must have been those little green men who had visited her the last three days.

“That’s the third time,” Jack’s Mom said. “We can’t have that in a cow. Pretty soon our insurance will refuse to reimburse us for the injury. Take that animal down to the cow auction and get a good price for her. And buy us a gentler sort of breed.”

Jack protested. He was just as masochistic as Christian Grey and he loved the pain. But Mom was insistent. Bossie had to go.

He loaded Bossie up on the bed of his red Ford truck and headed for the auction. Down at the intersection, he took the wrong turn and ended up in a dead-end.

“Oh, my gosh. I’ll be too late. Mom’s gonna kill me.”

From the side of his truck, Jack heard, “Are you Jack?”

Jack looked in his side mirror. A rather small man all outfitted in green with a top hat approached him.

“You are Jack?” the man said in the Irish-est accent you ever wanted to hear.

“The last time I checked my birth certificate I was Jack.”

Jack jumped out of the truck.

“My name is Seamus. Not the Ulster Seamuses but the Dublin branch.” The man reached out with his tiny hand and took Jack’s hand and they shook.

Jack was a friendly sort of fellow. Everybody in the Seven Counties said so. He gave the small fellow a smile and said, “Please to meet you.”

The little fellow continued, “That’s a fine cow you have there.”

“I’m taking her to auction.”

“I’d like to give you an offer for your cow you can’t refuse. Six beans.” He took six small beans out from his wallet and passed them over to Jack.

The beans felt warm in Jack’s hand and they had a rich brown texture to them. Of all the beans Jack had seen over the years–and he’d seen quite a few–these were the most beautiful.

“No can do.” Jack passed the beans back over to Seamus.”Bossie here is the best of cows and I can’t let her go for six beans.”

Seamus laughed. “That’s not what I hear. You keep things up with Bossie pretty soon you won’t have a leg to stand on.”

Well, Seamus had Jack on that. “These are magic beans. You do know that?”

“Magic beans?”

“And because you’re driving such a hard bargain, it’ll be five beans and not one bean less.”

“You said six beans.”

“That was before. This is the present. Five beans. Take them or leave them before I can change my mind.”

Jack hemmed and hawed for the next little while. Since Seamus had won the Zig-Ziglar-Salesman-of-the-Year Award six years in a row, it didn’t take long before Jack was back in his truck and on the road home.

Mom gave her one-and-only a big hug. “What did you get? What did you get?”

Jack puffed out his chest with pride. He was so proud of himself his pride had pride. “Five beans. Five beautiful beans.”

Mom knew she had a dolt of a son. But she never realized that he could be this doltish. “Five beans? You sold our cow for five beans? Just wait till your father gets home.” Now Jack’s father was long gone to the happy hunting ground in the sky.

But the woman’s subconscious always produced the words when Jack was being a bad boy. Like that time he fell down and broke his crown. She’d warned him about Jill. And her prophecy had come true. Jill stole Jack’s pail of water. Mom should have understood that Jack was going through puberty and he just couldn’t resist Jill’s charms. She was that kind of girl.

Mom took one look at the five beans and out the window they went. Then she went to her room, crying. There would be no supper for Jack tonight.

That night there was a huge noise behind the kitchen. It was like three flying saucers were landing. They weren’t. It was those beans, sprouting into a giant bean stalk.

The next morning, at five a.m., Jack put on his overalls and grabbed his pail and went out to the barn. No, Bossie. Where was she? Panicking, he ran back to the house and woke his mother up. “Somebody stole Bossie.”

Two slaps across the face brought Jack to his senses. “Oh, the beans.” He shook his head. “Bossie may have been a pain but she sure gave good milk.”

Jack looked out the kitchen window. He saw the bean stalk. “Oh, geez. Look, Mom.”

Mom gave the bean stalk a incredulous gander. “What the….”

“I’ll double that and raise you a What the f***”

Mom and Son stepped out onto the back porch. Their eyes were giant saucers. Finally Jack said, “Well, there’s nothing to do but climb.”

After a large bowl of porridge, Jack dressed in his lederhosen and his lederhosen hat and his lederhosen boots. He said his farewells to Mom. “Don’t wait up. I may be late.” Then he took his first steps up the bean stalk.

A half day later he was climbing.

A day later he was climbing.

A week later he was climbing.

He was tempted to look down. Knowing he had vertigo up the ying-yang, he did not look down.

Then, after taking a break for the Sabbath, he found his footing on land. He stepped out through the clouds and saw the most magnificent sight ever. This was Oz and Shangri La and Machu Picchu and Versailles and Buckingham Palace all rolled into one. Needless to say, it was a big WOW. And it left Jack breathless. He fell to the ground to keep from passing out from all the splendor.

After sitting on the ground for about a half of a millennium, he recovered and got to his feet. He stepped onto the brick road. It could have been the Yellow Brick Road. Only it was a rainbow of colors.

After a long time and the accumulation of several callouses on his feet, he reached a large wooden door. Just as he was about to knock, a cow approached him. “Don’t do that.”

Now Jack had seen the re-runs of “Mister Ed”. So he knew that horses could talk. But a cow. He slapped his face several times to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.

“You’ll be sorry if you knock on that door.” Cow gave Jack a huge cowish grin.

“You’re a cow. You can’t talk.”

“Now you tell me.” Cow gave Jack one of those I’m-going-to-have-to-be-patient-with-the-boy looks.

“Why shouldn’t I knock. It’s rude not to knock.”

“I’m telling you it’s not something you want to do.”

“Why not?”

“Oh, here’s the why-not. There’s always a why-not. Nobody ever listens to Cow. You think the Wicked Witch of the West and Ultron were bad asses you ain’t seen anything yet.”

“What do you mean?”

Cow finally had gotten Jack’s attention. “You-know-who resides inside and he don’t like visitors.”


“No, silly.” Then Cow leaned over and whispered, “Giant.”

From inside the building came a voice. A big big voice louder than a hundred loud speakers. “Fie fih foh fum. I smell the blood of an American.”

Another voice yelled at the big voice, “No, stupid. America hasn’t been discovered yet.”

“Oh. Fie fih foh fum. I smell the blood of a Frenchman.”

The voice again. “Come off it. We’re not in France.”

“Oh, right. Fie fih foh fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman.”

“Good boy.”

Cow passed over some cologne. “Spritz yourself with this. Quick.”

Jack shot each of his underarms and passed the bottle back over.

Cow motioned for Jack to hide in the bushes.

The wooden door opened, and out stepped Giant. He was so big he would have put Cyclops to shame.

“Well?” a cuckoo bird said from the Giant’s shoulder.

“It’s just Cow and that smell. That p.u. smell. I hate that smell.” Giant turned and went back inside.

Cow put one of his hooves inside to keep the door from completely closing. Then Jack heard some music.

“That stinkum-delight smell has got to go.” Cow spritzed Jack once more. “This one is the no-smell spritzer.” Then he pushed Jack inside.

“What should I do?”

Cow handed Jack a list. “Get these and your future will be made.”

“Why am I stealing a Forever Cup?”

“It’s what makes the other stuff work. And please make sure it has coffee in it. If it’s empty, everything goes kaput-sky. ”


“Yes, and you’ll have one heck of a run of bad luck. And I mean bad.

Jack tippy-toed inside the massive building. The hall was large. Big. Humongous. In fact, it put the huge in humongous. Giant-sized furniture was everywhere.

He fell dizzy on the floor from the awesomeness of it all. But he soon recovered, knowing that danger was only a giant away.

Jack checked Cow’s list. The items were written in an elegant cowish script. Then he went looking. He found the ice creamer maker in the kitchen along with the Forever Cup. He knew it was the Forever Cup because it had Forever Cup painted on it. And yes, it had coffee in it. The blackest, nastiest coffee you ever wanted to taste.

Finally it was the goose’s turn. You’ve heard the term, “cooked your goose,” before. When he picked it up, the goose woke from a sound snooze. Not knowing what was going on, it started crying out, “Thief. Thief.”

Cuckoo heard the goose and woke Giant.

Jack put Goose under his arm, the ice cream maker under the other arm and the Forever Cup into his backpack. He headed for the door as fast as his legs would carry him. Cow held the door open for him.

Once Jack was outside, Cow slammed the door shut. Knowing how sensitive Giant was to smell, he did a humongous poop-a-rama right there on the doorstep.

“Jump on my back,” Cow said.

As Cow and Jack galloped off into the sunset, Cow yelled, “And a hi-yo Silver.” And down the bean stalk the two went. Then touchdown, and Jack ran for the barn. Back with an axe, Jack went to work chopping the stalk down. Unfortunately he lost the barn. Giant crashed on it, turned over and took his last breath. Cuckoo surrendered.

For the next fifty years, Jack prospered. He made the best ice cream throughout the Seven Worlds. He paid for the ice cream materials with Goose’s golden eggs and Cow became a big Wall Street hedge fund manager, manager of all of Jack’s money.

Every thing went hunky-dory until Cuckoo escaped and went about the countryside causing mischief. And his greatest act of evil was draining the Forever Cup, leaving Jack with only one message.

Near 500 words: Fairy Tale U

Now that Little Bo Peep has found her sheep and Humpty Dumpty has been put back together again, Mother Goose is devoting her time to a new project. Education. She is opening a school of higher leaning for those who wish to be fairy-tale endowed. Here’s some of the outstanding courses she’ll be offering at Fairy Tale U.

1.Prince Charming 101. Prince Rupert teaches the gentlemanly ways of wooing yon fair maiden. Without looking at her shoes.
2.You-tube phenomenon Cinderella will be giving her world-famous Housecleaning Techniques.
3.You won’t need a Fairy Godmother in the clothes department after you take Fashion Consciousness by The One-and-only Fairy Godmother. “It’s all in the shoes.”
4.Baking with Hansel & Gretel and their um-um good recipes.
5.Repunzel lets her hair down with Hair-styling 101.
6.Big Bad’s Huff-and-Puff Way to Real Estate Success.
7.For those in the weight-consciousness mode, the “Just Right” Diet by Goldilocks and the Three Bears is perfect.
8.Child Care by Rumpelstiltskin
9.Relationship Secrets by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
10. Flying Etiquette with the Wicked Witch of the West introduces students to  proper broom-riding techniques. Come and hear her say, “Eat your heart out, Harry Potter.”
11.Jack’s Course on the Bean Stalk Methodology of Survival.
12. After rescuing Grandma, Little Red Riding Hood joins the University with her Tips on Elder Care.
13.Beauty’s Taming your Inner Beast shouldn’t be missed.
14.Puss-in-Boots will share his secrets on How To Be Successful In Business Without Really Trying.
15.And for the meteorlogical-minded, Dorothy and Toto will be here for Storm Chasing Procedures.

The Fairy Tale Blues

Rapunzel has her hair,
Cinderella has her shoes,
Goldilocks has her bears,
And I’ve got the Fairy Tale Blues.

My name is Prince Charming,
But you can call me Prince.
My teeth are pearly white,,
And I know how to dance.

I can do the Quickstep,
My Cha Cha is so fine,
I’m Mister Twist and Tango,
I can Minuet on a dime.

I kissed Sleeping Beauty.
She said, “I’m taking a nap.”
Snow White ate an apple.
It was me who took the rap.

They say I stole the beans
Jack got for his silly cow.
I took it on the chin
When Jack hit me, and how.

I crashed Kind Cole’s party.
Dumpty’s gone to pieces.
The Kingdom’s overrun.
I’m blamed for all the meeses.

All this means but one thing.
Of this I am assured.
Time to get out of Dodge.
I’ve given them my word.

I’m off on vacation.
Permanently so.
I shall never return.
Where I go I do not know.

Maybe greener pastures
Will be waiting down the line.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Kansas will be just fine.

What’s it all about?

After watching the final episodes of “Game of Thrones,” I have done some deep thinking about the whole darn thing. Several questions come to mind. Just what the heck was all that precious time devoted to? Would it have been more suited to watching “Seinfeld” episodes for the one-hundred-and-tenth time? Was that eighth season as bad as some fans say? Was it as much a disappointment as, say, the final episode of “How I Met Your Mother”?

Last things first. It was not as disappointing as the “How I Met Your Mother” fiasco. We can all rejoice that Cersei got her just desserts. Poor Jaime, he deserved better. Unfortunately he couldn’t resist drooling every time Cersei walked into the room. But I got to say that she wasn’t that bad with her clothes off. And I’ve seen her with her clothes. In fact, there weren’t any of the main characters I didn’t see naked.

And I came up with a good answer to the question, “What was it all about, Alfie?” It was about furniture. One particular piece of furniture. A chair. The iron throne. Was all the killing and sexing and hanging out with dragons worth it? After all, who would want to sit on the darn thing?

There’s a rumor going around the television channel that gave us “The Sopranos” that everybody who sat on the darn thing was given combat pay. After all, Joffrey could not sit down for a month after a couple of hours sitting his tush on it. Only Cersei could take the difficulty. That’s because everybody in the kingdom called her “Queen Iron Butt”.

As I considered the “Game of Thrones” dilemma of what was it all about, I came to some other conclusions. One of them being that the thing most super villains pine for is jewelry. Just look at the list. Sauron wanted a ring. Sure it wasn’t just any ring. But still it was jewelry. And Thanos, what did he want? Gems. Which is another word for jewelry. What did Lex Luthor want? Kryptonite. Which was just some green jewelry. Maybe he should have gotten in touch with Green Lantern.

Then there are the fairy tales. Just think Cinderella. All she wanted was a new pair of shoes. She ended up with a prince with a foot fetish. And talking about shoes. If Dorothy had surrendered those ruby reds, she would have avoided beaucoup amounts of trouble.

The Big Bad Wolf was a real estate developer trying to evict the Three Little Piggies. And Little Red was out for Granny’s real estate as well. But Big Bad got there first.

And what can you expect when you ask a Mirror who’s the fairest in the land? Fake news. The fairest may not have been the Queen. But neither was Snow White. That honor went to Sleeping Beauty. After all, she had Hollywood’s Best doing makeup when she won Miss Fairy Tale 2018.

As you can see, our heroes, our villains and our fairy tale folk are all after the same thing we ordinary mortals want. Furniture, clothes, real estate and beauty pageants. Why else do we play the lottery?


Spoiled Rotten

Madeleine Snipe was one spoiled rotten little girl. I’m here to tell you she was spoiled rotten to the core. So spoiled she’d get down right persnickety if’n a body called her Maddy. It was Miss Madeleine to regular folks, and Madeleine to her nearest and dearest, thank you very much. And what Miss Madeleine wanted Miss Madeleine got.  ‘Cause her daddy was the richest man in five counties. Come to think of it, he was the richest man in the whole darn state.

When Miss Madeleine was nigh on three years old, she decided she had to have a tricycle. And not just any tricycle. It had to be a hot red tricycle with a motor on it. She didn’t see the need in peddling. That was a complete waste of her time. Peddling was for them who needed their exercise. Being she had the waist of a goddess, why would she be in the need of exercise?

When she started school she demanded a servant to follow her around, carrying her books and such and responding to her every need. Not just any servant either. He had to be a tall, dark and handsome fellow. And he wasn’t about to wear any old thing. He had to wear a tuxedo. This, she believed, would make others mind her status as someone who was to be looked up to. Then, from her pedestal, she could give out her blessings upon the truly deserving.

And talk about snooty. She was not about to attend the Debutante Cotillion until she was crowned its Queen. She drove up to that Cotillion in her bright red Ferrari. When she stepped out of that Ferrari, she walked onto the red carpet being rolled out just for her in her Pierre Cardin gown. As she walked up the steps to the ballroom, the carpet was rolled up behind her. It was her red carpet, and she darn well was not going to share it with anybody. 

When it came to marrying, she would only marry a blue blood. To be her dearly beloved she hitched up with Beau Beau Beauregard, of the Louisiana Beauregards, not the Mississippi Beauregards. It didn’t matter that he had fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. The Louisiana Beauregards were descended from royalty. If Miss Madeleine cared about anything, she cared that one and all recognized her for the blue blood flowing through her veins.

Her Daddy, being happy when his precious Princess smiled upon him with those teeth of hers that were the best that money could buy, gave her a mansion on a hill for a wedding present. And it wasn’t just any mansion. At first, she insisted on the Taj Mahal. But she changed her mind when she found out the Taj Mahal was a mausoleum. For you folks that don’t know what a mausoleum is, it’s where you put dead people after they’ve died. So she had to settle for the Versailles Palace. Anything for his one and only darling daughter.

Beau Beau and Miss Madeleine returned from their around-the world-cruise-on-the-Queen-Mary-2 honeymoon. They settled into their new residence as easy as slidin’ off a greasy log back’ards. The following Saturday afternoon the creme de la creme of American society came to tête-à-tête with our Miss Madeleine and her Prince Charming. It was a chance for the high societies to get by and say their howdies. Or else.

Of all the times God would have to be off duty, it just had to be that Saturday afternoon. Seems he was on the greens finishing up a game of nine hole with Arnold Palmer and the Archangel Gabriel. That had to be the only way a tornado could slip through and head straight for Miss Madeleine’s gathering at the Versailles Palace.

That tornado went through the Palace like a lawn mower. It hit half the houses in the state and then it gave the Palace a haircut, leaving nothing behind. Fortunately Miss Madeleine and her guests ducked for cover.

Unfortunately Prince Charming didn’t have the sense God gave a billy goat. He dashed over to save the Venus de Milo sitting out on a stand for show and gave it a grab. Just as he turned to join his beloved, that tornado picked Charming up into its arms and threw him right into the state capitol building butt last.

Well, you’d think Miss Madeleine would have gone into mourning from her tippy-tippy toes to her fake blonde hair and crying all over everybody. But she didn’t. She had always wanted an occasion to wear black, and now she had one.

Once they had settled Charming his last resting place, it was time to get down to brass tacks. Miss Madeleine did what she always did. She made her demands known. And her demands were that FEMA and the Federal Disaster folks replace her beloved Versailles, and not just as good as new. Better.

“No, no, no,” Mr. FEMA said.

“No, no, no,” Mrs. Federal Disaster Aid said.

“Oh, yes, yes, yes,” Miss Madeleine said.

“We have to take care of all those other folks who lost their homes,” the head of Homeland Security said.

“Now, y’all just don’t get it,” Miss Madeleine let them know.

And they didn’t. But the folks in that part of the state did. They knew they would never hear the end of it if Miss Madeleine Snipe-Charming didn’t get her way. She’d throw a hissy fit that would make the Civil War look like a hootinanny. They started a petition. And that petition went all the way up to the Oval Office in the White House.

The President took one little gander at the petition and said, “Doggone if’n we’re gonna.”

His Chief of Staff disagreed. He too knew that Miss Madeleine would come calling on him and bawl her eyes out, then blame him ’cause she was near blind. “Mr. President, please. ‘Cause you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew.”

The President looked over and saw the desperation in his Chief’s eyes. “Well, what about all those other folks?”

“I know,” Chief said, “and they know.”

So it was lickety split, and Miss Madeleine had her new Palace. Everybody else in that part of the country ended up living in tents.

Three months later one Wednesday night, a tornado, and I mean this one was a tsunami of a tornado, went blasting across the landscape. It picked up the new Palace and slammed it down hard enough to make folks believe it was an earthquake. Then it took off for only God knows where.

When the dust had cleared, folks gathered round and saw that a house had landed on the Palace, and on top of Miss Madeleine. All that was showing were her shoes. Out of the house stepped a young girl. She looked around at all the stunned folks, then she said to the puppy dog tucked in her arms, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”