Megan Hicks, Night 2 | 13th Annual Kansas City Storytelling Celebration

Uploaded by MCCKansasCity on 29.01.2013


(Megan Hicks) So many fairytales that I grew up with started with 'Once Upon a Time'
and they ended 'And they all lived happily ever after'.
This fairytale has a very different beginning and very different ending.
This one starts...
Davey hated fish.
[audience chuckling]
Everything about them made Davey sick.
The way they felt when you held them, the slippery sliminess of them, the way they smelled,
the way they tasted, the way those big eyes would look up at you,
the way their mouths gaped when you pulled them out of the water,
everything about them Davey hated fish.
And this was unfortunate because Davey worked on a fishing boat.
It was a small town there were no other jobs to be had.
And it was Davey's job to sit there on the deck of the boat in all weather all day every day
while the captain was up in the cabin safe and warm,
Davey would watch the big nets come over the rail, drop a load of fish right there at his feet,
and then he had to pick them up one by one.
With a sharp knife he'd slit their bellies, he scooped out their guts,
threw the guts overboard as bait to catch more fish, he chopped their heads off,
throw their bodies into a barrel.
The barrel collected the fish all day long and at the end of the day the ship would dock,
the captain would take that barrel full of fish, sell it for money,
and give Davey a little bit of what he collected.
All day everyday this is what Davey did, pick up the fish, slit the bellies,
scoop the guts, toss the guts, chop the head, pitch the body.
Davey hated fish.
And one day Davey was sitting there on the deck doing his job.
Thinking, "Is this how I am going to spend my life?
"Is this all there is?
"Am I going to grow old doing a job that anybody could do, a job that I hate?
"Is this what life is about?"
And at that moment Davey looked down on the deck...and there was a big fish lying at his feet.
And for the first time in his life Davey really looked at a fish.
For the first time in his life Davey noticed fish.
He saw how the scales of that fish fit together
as if they had been crafted by a master jeweler.
He noticed the opalescent sheen coming from its body in the dim light.
He noticed how strong it was when he picked it up.
He noticed that big eye looking at him and he would swear that eye was imploring him.
Davey held the fish in his hand and he was getting ready to slit its belly
and that's when Davey felt that fish's heart beat against his thumb.
And Davey knew this was one fish he was not going to kill.
So he put it to his side and he waited until he was certain
that the captain up there in the cabin did not see him
and then he picked that fish up, took it over to the rail, dropped it overboard,
and watched it disappear in a flash of silver.
As it happens Davey was mistaken about the captain, the captain had seen what he did
and the captain came storming down out of the cabin, onto the deck.
He said, "I saw what you did there Davey.
"Now listen to me boy I do not spend my time
"and my money bringing these heavy nets up out of the ocean
"to have my worker take the fish that I worked so hard to catch
"and turn them back into the ocean.
"That's as good as stealing Davey.
"Now I've known forever that your heart is not in this job, it's obvious
"so you might take comfort in this fact.
"Tonight when we dock you walk off my boat and you will never set foot on my boat again.
"You're fired!"
"Fine," thought Davey.
"Wonderful, I don't ever have to do this again.
"Oh my god," thought Davey, "I don't have a job.
"How am I gonna pay the rent?
"How am I gonna buy food?
"What am I going to tell my wife?"
Well there was Davey feeling relieved and feeling anxious.
Feeling mad, feeling glad.
Feeling sorry, feeling delighted.
Davey was in a state of confusion and in this state of confusion he forgot himself
and he did the one thing you must never do if you are on a boat in the open sea.
If you're on a boat on the open sea
you must never whistle a tune, that's what Davey did that day.
He forgot that whistling a tune on a boat in the open sea
means that you are whistling up the wind of a killer storm
or you're whistling the devil up from hell.
Well, later on that day the boat docked, Davey walked off.
All of his gladness, all of his relief,
and the euphoria he might have felt drained away
and he was left with nothing but worry, anxiety, sorrow, regret.
He thought, "What am I going to tell my wife?
"We'll be turned out into the streets, we'll starve to death, what are we going to do?"
He was so full of his own anxiety and confusion
he didn't even notice that he had company on the road.
It was a little short man leading a cow.
A little short man with crusty boots,
with-with woolen slacks that fit him badly,
with a baggy woolen coat that was shapeless.
If Davey's eyes hadn't been clouded with tears and his mind clouded with confusion
he might have noticed the little horns sticking out of the man's head but he didn't.
And the man walked up to Davey and he said, "Davey boy..."
" look like you got the weight of the world on your shoulders."
Davey looked at him and said, "Well, I feel like
"I've got the weight of the world on my shoulders,
"I've lost my job, I don't know what I'm going to tell my wife, we'll be homeless,
"we'll starve to death, I don't know what to do."
The little man just grinned.
He said, "Davey..." [laughing]
"...if you had this cow, if you had this cow your troubles would be over.
"Do you know Davey this cow gives the richest milk in all the world.
"And she gives it abundantly too.
"Why if you had this cow you could make a fortune, your troubles would be over."
Davey said, "Well, I don't have that cow, you've got that cow, I have nothing."
"Doesn't have to be that way Davey," said...
[no audio]
"I've got a business proposition for ya.
"Supposin' I give you the cow for three years with the butter,
"the milk, and the cream from the milk off this cow you do what you will, you do your best.
"I come back after three years, I pose three questions.
"Now, if I get the answers to my questions you keep the cow,
"you live a long and prosperous life.
"Oh, but if I don't get the answers to my questions, Davey, then well...
"over my shoulder and down to the flames of hell with you.
"What do ya say, do we have a deal?"
Davey was young, he was no more than 22, 23 years old,
and when you're young why three years that's forever.
When you're young you think ridiculous thoughts like,
"People are what they appear to be."
When you're young you fool yourself and say,
"How hard can his questions be if he even remembers to come back."
So there on the road that day Davey stuck out his hand and he struck a deal with the devil.
He took the lead rope for the cow, he started on up the hill to his cottage,
and then he smelled something burning.
He turned around just in time to see that little man disappear
through a crack that had opened in the road and then closed.
Well, Davey took the cow up the road and his wife saw him coming.
She came out of the cottage to meet him.
She said, "Davey, what are you doing with a cow?
"You bring fish home from work, you don't bring cows, what's with the cow?"
Davey said, "Uhm, uhm, well,
"uhm, you see I've decided to go into another line of work that's what it is.
"Yes, a-a new career path.
"Darling, this cow gives the richest milk in all the world
"and-and I was thinking with the milk and the butter and the cream from this cow
"why-why you could make your famous pastries that everybody loves so much
"and we could open the little tea shop we've dreamed about since we've known each other.
"What do you think?"
His wife said, "Davey, this is amazing,
"look here in the newspaper, 'Property for rent'.
"There's a little shop on the main street right on the corner and see how cheap the rent is.
"Davey we can do this."
And so it was.
Davey and his wife opened a tea shop.
That cow did give the richest milk in all the world and she gave it abundantly.
And Davey's wife made the most exquisite breads and pastries
with the milk and the butter and the cream from that cow.
And people came from miles around just to visit Davey's tea shop.
Why in no time at all they were prospering.
In no time at all they looked at each other and realized they were happy.
In no time at all three years had passed.
Davey almost forgot all about the bargain he had struck on the road that day three years ago.
Well, on the last day of the third year he looked up from the counter,
it was afternoon, a time of day when usually the tea shop was bustling with activity,
it was empty, there was no one there,
just-just an old man reading his newspaper, finishing his tea.
Davey thought, "I'll sweep- sweep up, go home early today."
So he got the broom and he started to sweep the crumbs out the door
and as soon as he got to the door of his tea shop
a huge shadow loomed in front of him and behind him and darkened the whole shop.
Davey looked up...and there was the devil and he did not look like a harmless farmer today.
He stood to his full height.
His horns glowing and throbbing.
He had rubbed oil into his skin until it shone and gleamed a bright red.
And that tail with its cruel barb was striking sparks on the walk behind him.
Davey staggered backward.
And the devil looked down at him and said...
"Yes, Davey, I see by the look on your face you remember our bargain, mm-hmm.
"You were to take the cow for three years and do what you could with it
"and Davey I must say you have done wonders.
"Oh look at this, this is beautiful.
"Well, now it's my turn, I pose three questions.
"If I get the answers to my questions, Davey,
"you keep the cow, you live a long and prosperous life.
"But if I don't get my questions answered, Davey...
"over my shoulder down to the flames of hell with you.
"So are you ready to begin?"
Before Davey could answer the old man reading his paper and drinking his tea in the corner
looked up and said, "Yes, he is ready to begin and that was your first question sir."
[audience laughing]
Now this irritated the devil.
[audience laughing]
He didn't like being interrupted, he didn't like being disrespected.
He looked at the old man and he looked at Davey.
He glared at the old man and he looked at Davey.
He said, "Davey, will you tell that old coot to mind his own business and leave us alone?"
And before he answered Davey looked at the old man and winked
and he said, "No, I won't and that was your second question."
[audience laughing]
"Well played, Davey, well played," said the old man,
"I knew you were a bright lad, yes, well played."
This infuriated the devil.
He went over to where the old man sat, he loomed over him
and he yelled, "Just who the hell do you think you are?!"
And that old man stood up and up 'til he was eyeball to eyeball with the devil.
He took his hat off and silver hair cascaded down to the ground.
He said, "I am the king of the fishes.
"Three years ago this boy showed me mercy, he gave me my life.
"I've returned today to repay the favor so it's back to the flames of hell with you.
"Now leave this boy alone!"
[audience clapping]