The Punch Line

The Discover writing prompt today is BITE

As the prompt site says, this word can be used in many ways. I thought of the line, “I’ll bite,” when someone’s telling you a joke and you know the answer will be a groaner, but you’ll risk it.

So here’s my dentist coming home from work…

“Did you have a good day,” the dentist’s wife asked when he got home that night.

Shark.Merio
Image by Merio — Pixabay

“Yeah, pretty good,” he answered. “And my last patient was that guy with all the one-liners. Here’s his latest: What you call the soft tissue between a shark’s teeth?”

“I’ll bite” she answered. “What do you call it?”

“A slow swimmer.”

She groaned. “I should have guessed.”

“Then when I told him he needed two fillings, he said, ‘You need to tell my wife that. She’s always telling me I need to diet.’

😉

 

Rethinking the Woodpile

Firewood pile

Fandango’s challenge for today: ACCOMPLICE
Ragtag Community Daily prompt: GROOVE

Which brings to mind a short tale I once read, one that goes back to the days when every rural home had a wood stove in the kitchen, a tree stump that served as a chopping block for splitting logs, and a pile of firewood near the house for easy access in winter.

The Seventh-grade boys put their heads together at recess one afternoon. They were feeling kind of bored and wanted to think of something fun and different they could do sometime. Several ideas were advanced and vetoed.

Then someone offered the suggestion: “Why don’t we get together after dark some night over at old man Haskell’s place and play some trick on him.” This suggestion piqued the interest of the others.

‘Old man Haskell’ was their community’s equivalent of Oscar-the-Grouch. Living just out of town, gruff, abrupt, and somewhat crippled, he didn’t have a lot of patience for young boys. He grumbled when they cut through his yard to go fishing and if he saw them hanging around town he’d scold them for being idle. They should be working hard like he always had to, and so on.

At school the boys sometimes mimicked his mannerisms. Grabbing a stick for a cane, hunching over and hobbling along, they’d turn and scowl at the other boys just like old man Haskell would. They never let teacher catch them at this, though. Teachers were pretty strict about respecting your elders.

“But what trick could we play on old man Haskell? Upset his outhouse?”

“Nah,  that’s old hat. But I have an idea,” said Len. “Let’s un-stack his woodpile.”

The others looked at him curiously. “We can scatter his firewood all over his old yard,” Len explained. ” I think that would be a great trick to play on him. He’d have to pick it all up. That’d keep him busy for awhile and he wouldn’t have time to gripe at us.”

One of the other conspirators beamed. “Yeah, let’s! Wouldn’t that be fun – and serve him right for being such a grouch.”

The fourth conspirator, Rudy, scuffed his toe in the dirt. He didn’t really see the fun in tossing wood for hours, but did see possible consequences. “What if we get caught,” he asked. Much as he wanted to be part of the gang, it niggled at him how his dad would react if he heard this? Rudy had been taught to respect older folks and other folks’ property.

“It’ll be dark,” Len retorted. “Old man Haskell will never see us. And for sure he’ll never catch us — you know how slow he moves. What do you think, guys? Let’s meet in front of his place at nine tonight and have some real fun.”

That evening four boys crept away from their respective homes. Just after nine o’clock Len and his three accomplices slipped into Haskell’s yard and began tossing firewood off the pile. It became a game to see how far they could throw it. Still, there was an undercurrent of tension. They worked quietly, glancing often toward Haskell’s shack to see if the curtain moved or the door opened, though they knew he was hard of hearing.

With four pairs of hands working, the woodpile was soon scattered all over the yard. When they were done, Len rubbed his hands on his pants. “Okay. Let’s beat it, guys.”

“Won’t it be a joke when old man Haskell gets up in the morning and sees this mess? Wish I could be here to see his face. Ha ha!”

Rudy had been quiet most of the evening, his conscience stirring uneasily. He made his way home again, hoping he could slip in without his parents hearing him? But could he face his Dad in the morning? His dad was pretty sharp.

He tried to not make a sound but his father heard him come in and questioned why he’d been out so late on a school night? Rudy was evasive, but finally revealed the prank. “But old m…I mean Mr Haskell is such a grouch. We thought he deserved it.”

“Yes, Mr Haskell does seem cranky, but you boys don’t know what he’s been through in life and what he’s suffering now with his health issues. It’s going to be extremely painful for him to gather up all that wood and put that pile back together.”

Dad looked at him quietly for a few minutes and Rudy blushed under his silent disapproval. Suddenly Dad stood up. “So let’s us play a good prank now — and a joke on your school mates at the same time. Come on. Let’s get your brothers up.”

Dad called Rudy’s two brothers and he and his three accomplices went back to old man Haskell’s place. Working in the light of the moon for several hours, they not only put his woodpile back together, but stacked all the wood much closer to the house so he wouldn’t have so far to go to fetch his firewood come winter. They were enthused about the task and made good time once they got in the groove. When the job was done, they surveyed the neat yard and exchanged satisfied smiles. Near as they could tell, Mr Haskell never heard a thing.

“Now, boys,” Dad said, “Isn’t a prank like this a lot more fun than just making trouble for an old man? When Mr Haskell gets up in the morning and looks out, instead of seeing a huge mess he has to clean up, he’ll see his woodpile has moved twenty yards closer to his door.”

“Oh, yeah. Wish I could see his face when he gets a gander! That’ll be a neat joke,” Rudy’s younger brother said as they turned toward home again.

Rudy’s older brother nodded. “One he’ll appreciate right well, I reckon.”

Rudy grinned as he thought of Len’s reaction. “Len’s eyes are going to bulge right out of his head when he hears about this.”

“Let’s not tell anyone we did it though,” Dad cautioned. “Let them keep guessing who came here after they did.”

“That’ll be the best joke of all.” Rudy imagined the shock the other un-stackers would get when news got around. He knew Mr Haskell would never keep quiet about his walking woodpile.

Canada Beaver Tale

One morning a Calgary police officer was cycling along on his usual beat when he saw a middle-aged man walking down the street. The man was dressed like a lumberjack and waddling along the sidewalk behind him was this beaver, eh.

The policeman braked and got off his bike. “Excuse me, sir, but what’s with this beaver and why is it following you around?”

The lumberjack looked back at the beaver. “He’s my pal, eh. I’ve brought him along with me so he can see what the big city looks like. But he’s having a hard time keeping up.”

“Listen,” said the officer, “we can’t have wild animals roaming around like this here in the city. You should take him to the Zoo.”

“That might be a good idea,” the lumberjack replied. “Where can I find it?”

The policeman gave the lumberjack instructions on how to get to the Calgary Zoo. “You’ll have to take the bus from here, but watch out that beaver doesn’t bite anyone along the way, eh?”

“Don’t worry. He won’t bite anyone unless they’re made of wood.” He chuckled, then turned to the beaver. “Come on, pal. We’re going to the Zoo.”

The next morning the policeman was patrolling his beat when he saw the lumberjack again. This time he was going in the opposite direction — and again the beaver was waddling along behind him.

The officer stopped short. “Hey, mister. I thought you were going to take that animal to the zoo?”

“I did.” the lumberjack replied. “And my little pal liked it so well I decided today I’d take him to the Stampede.”

🙂

This tale derives from an old English joke I read in an old Friendship Book of Francis Gay.
Since it’s Canada Day tomorrow I’ll give it a little tweak and serve it up to you. They say beaver tales tails are very tasty. 🙂