TALES FROM THE OLD CRACKER BARREL
by Porfle Popnecker
(Note: I got tired of writing this story after awhile so I gave it an abrupt, anti-climactic ending.
One morning, I was so happy that I bounded out of bed, crashed through the window next to my bed, and fell two stories into one of those really prickly thorn bushes.
I got up, ran back inside,jumped back into bed, and then bounded out of bed again, only this time being careful to bound out of the other side of the bed that didn't have a window right next to it. I landed on my skateboard, flew screaming across the room, and crashed through the window on the other side of my bedroom.
This time I landed on top of my Dad's incredibly expensive foreign sports car and blew out both the front and rear windshields while caving in the top so completely that it smashed into the steering wheel and set the ear-piercing horn blaring.
I sat there, dazed, amidst the ruins of Dad's car, and thought about what had just happened. "I could've been more careful getting out of bed just then," I chided myself. "If I'd only practiced more restraint, none of these unfortunate things would have occurred. Or, at least, they would have been considerably less likely to have occurred."
Just then, the car's radio came on by itself and there just happened to be an important news bulletin coming out of it. "Important news bulletin!" a strident voice announced. "Today's government directive is that horses are now dogs! Repeat...HORSES ARE NOW DOGS!"
"YAAAY!!!" I screamed, hopping down off the wreckage and practically flying into the house. I ran into my parents' bedroom where they still slept soundly, and leapt onto their bed, causing them both to elevate a good two feet with their limbs flailing before flopping back onto the mattress, dazed.
Shaking his head, Dad looked at me angrily. "What's the meaning of this?" he grunted. Then a sudden realization seemed to settle into his mind. "Oh, right," he mumbled. "It's you. Never mind. Why did I even ask?" For a second, it looked as if he might start to sob.
Perceiving that a more calm and rational demeanor was now required of me, I gathered myself and spoke softly and slowly. "Dad," I said, almost whispering, "how many horses do we have?"
Dad was visibly puzzled by my question, but knew that there was no use in trying to sort out my motives for asking it. "Why, we have many horses. We live on a horse ranch, after all. We have an entire herd of horses."
I smiled, maintaining a calm exterior while bursting like fireworks on the Fourth of July on the inside. "Dad," I said, suppressing my excitement. "Did you know that horses are now dogs?"
This time he had to ask. "What...? What the hell do you mean? Why are you--"
I grabbed him by the shoulders and screamed into his face with all the sheer intensity I could muster. "HORSES ARE NOW DOGS!!! HORSES ARE NOW DOGS!!! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS??? DAD!!! IT MEANS WE HAVE A WHOLE HERD OF DOGS!!! I'VE WANTED A DOG MY WHOLE LIFE, AND NOW WE HAVE A WHOLE HERD OF DOGS!!! DOGS, DOGS, DOGS!!!"
Mom, who in her half-sleep had barely followed the conversation thus far, staggered out of bed and ran to the back window to see if something had happened to their precious horses, upon whom our very livelihood depended since Mom and Dad ran one of the leading horse ranches in the state. Peering out with her eyes squinted, she said, "Why, there's nothing wrong with those horses--"
"DOGS!!!" I screamed. "There's nothing wrong with those DOGS!!!" With that, I tired of my verbal exchange with the 'rents and ran outside, clambering over the back fence and running out into the pasture amongst my wonderful new pets. I was surrounded by dogs!
Picking up a stick, I hurled it across the field. "FETCH!" I screamed at the nearest dog. "Fetch the stick, boy! Fetch! FETCH!"
The big dog merely neighed at me in alarm and ran away, its tail swishing like a giant tassel. I ran and retrieved the stick, then tried to get up a fun game of fetch with the other dogs. One by one, they all merely neighed in alarm and galloped away, just like the first one.
I sank to my knees in the tall, dewy grass of that wide, rolling pasture and wept. Or at least I pretended to weep. I was really just squeezing out some fake "crocodile" tears designed to make the dogs feel sorry for me and come back and want to play fetch. But it didn't work.
"What do I do now?" I thought to myself. My new dogs were defective! Should I set the house on fire? Should I steal a forklift and drive it through my neighbor's ten-million-dollar mansion and into the swimming pool in his backyard? Or were there other, even more effective things I could do in the form of a protest against such an unjust fate?
Then, it happened. A rare, once-in-a-lifetime lucid thought, one which contained a precious spark of rationality, made its way warily into my head. It was as if the voice of a wise old sage had somehow wafted into my brain. It spoke to me in a calming fashion that I heeded with keen attention.
"Horses are not dogs," the voice said. "That was just one of those dumb jokes that morning radio deejays come up with. If you'd just listened to the rest of the broadcast, you'd have heard him say he was only kidding about horses being dogs now."
"Oh," I said dejectedly, regretting my failure to hear the deejay's explanatory disclaimer. "Well then, I guess all I have are a herd of plain old horses. Instead of dogs, that is."
"No," said the voice. "You don't even have a herd of horses anymore. You chased them all away."
Realizing that there was no use in putting it off, I tromped back into the house and into my parents' bedroom, where they were still lying there in shock. "I chased all the horses away, Dad," I announced. "The 'horses are dogs' thing turned out to be a false alarm. So now, we don't have any horses OR dogs."
"Well then, we're ruined," said Dad, the realization settling over his face like a shroud.
"Yeah," I affirmed. "Well, I guess I'll mosey on down to the general store. Looks like I've finally got a dandy yarn to tell around the old cracker barrel."
And that, my friends, is how I became known as the most thoughtless, impetuous, delusional, and potentially dangerous person in the whole town. Maybe even the whole county.