Jack and the Sidewalk


Jack and the Sidewalk

(“Jack and the Beanstalk”)

Once upon a time, there was a poor widow who lived with her son, Jack, in a small apartment in a very poor town. Jack was a good boy, but he was very lazy and careless and didn’t try to get good grades in school or help his mother at home. One day, Jack’s mother had returned from work and found she had nearly no money.

“Son, we will have to sell the fridge if you want to eat!” Jack’s mother cried. Jack looked over sadly at the Milky White fridge and sighed. “Take it to the flea market and try to get a good price for it, Jack. Don’t get ripped off!” his mother yelled.

Jack arrived at the flea market and was immediately approached by the town’s butcher, who was known for being a bit odd.

“Jack!” said the butcher in a friendly voice. “I will give you twenty dollars for that fridge!” Jack looked less than pleased.

“You’ll have to offer me more than that if you want my fridge.”

“What if,” the butcher whispered, leaning in close to Jack, “I offered you thirty-five, and threw in some magic beans!”

“Magic beans?” repeated Jack excitedly.

“Well, they can be used in food and they will never run out! You can live off these beans for a lifetime!”

“I accept your offer!” smiled Jack, eager to see the look on his mother’s face when he told her about what he got for the fridge.

“You did what!” squealed Jack’s mother when he showed her the beans. “How could you be so gullible to except beans? And he only paid you thirty-five dollars? That won’t even cover the rent!” She screamed, grabbed the beans, and threw them out a window. Jack winced as he heard the click of the beans on the sidewalk. His mother sighed, “Jack, go to bed. It’s getting late. You have to run your paper route tomorrow anyways.” He nodded and sulked back to his room.

The next day, Jack sprang out of bed, slipped into the kitchen, ate a piece of toast, and then tiptoed out front to grab his bike.

“That’s new,” he said quietly to himself as he climbed onto his bike. “I’ve never seen that before!” Before him lay a new stretch of pavement that he had never laid eyes upon, and right where the new sidewalk began, the beans lay, exactly where his mother had thrown them the night before! Ever the adventurer, Jack rode onto this new path.

The walkway was a rather long one and it gradually changed from city into countryside. He kept riding and riding for what felt like hours, until he finally saw a large house in the distance. He was riding along when a lady, garbed in red robe with faux fur and long, black frizzy hair spilling out of a hat that matched the dress, jumped out of the bushes. Jack yelped, slammed on the brakes and narrowly missed the lady. The woman had a funny look in her eyes, like she was magic or crazy or something of that ilk.

“Hello, Jack!” said the woman. Jack looked slightly unnerved at how she automatically knew his name, but simply nodded.

“Hi there,” he said slowly.

“Want to know who owns that mansion!”

“Umm…Okay.”

“Well, y’see, there was this lady a real long time ago, and her husband was this guy who hit it rich in stocks, ‘cause he…Well, that’s beside the point. Anyways, she and her husband and her baby lived in that big house over there,” she pointed behind her to the estate in the distance. “And they were all happy. But then, this big shifty guy got real jealous of the stockbroker guy, and broke into the house one night and killed him dead! But, the mommy was away, she was at her maid’s house, and when she heard from the neighbors that her husband was murdered, she ran away with the kid and had to live in poverty. Sad, ain’t it?”
“And you’re telling me this…Why?” said the boy, eyeing the lady, who he presumed was just some crazed homeless.

“’Cause the lady’s your mom!” yelled the woman, jumping up and down, her eyes wide. “And you can get her home back if you just steal back the credit card that gives you thousands of dollars when you put it in any ATM, two bags of gold, and an MP3 player that talks! When you do, you and your mother again can live in the mansion and will live happily ever after!”

“Listen lady, you’re batty! Gone nutty, that’s it! You can’t rig an ATM to give you dough, that’s illegal, and MP3 players don’t talk, and there is no such thing as a ‘happily ever after’. Now go do yourself a favor and go down to the soup kitchen or something, okay?” said Jack, rolling his eyes. He wiggled rode off speedily so she would not catch up to him.

“Listen, Jack!” yelled the lady, who was getting more and more distant by the second. “I’m a fairy, see! I can do magic! Come back, please, come back!” Jack simply rolled is eyes and rode on.

After a few minutes Jack reached the house. He leaned his bike up against a tree and began walking up to the house. He stopped for a moment and pondered; What if the crazy lady in the road was right? Well then he would eat his hat. Psycho seniors were known for invented weird tales just to get the whippersnappers to sit down and shut up. But, the story would explain why his mom would never talk about why they were poor, or about his dad. He shrugged off his worries and rung the doorbell of the house. A woman in her mid-thirties answered; she was very tall and strong, and wore a brightly colored dress with that looked like a hippy’s Do-It-Yourself-Tie-Dye; she had a tattoo of an eye right in the middle of her forehead, giving her the appearance of three eyes, which frightened Jack.

“Yes?” she said, peering down at the small boy. “What is it that you want? You want a job? Good.” She snatched up Jack, not waiting for an answer on his behalf, and dragged him inside. She sat down wearily on a chair, sighing. “I am so tired of my life here. Work, work from morning till night. At last, I have someone to help me.* You can do my hair and paint my fingernails and even trim my toenails,” she said, waggling her large toes that smelled of cheese in Jack’s face. “Which is something I do dread doing. Let’s get started, aye?” She started to get up to grab a brush when she stopped. “Of course,” she said rolling her eyes. “I’ll have to hide you once my boyfriend gets back. He hates children, and he believes he can smell them a mile away. If he knew you were here, he might try to kill you!” Jack looked horror stricken as she continued. “Well, better get the polish. Be right back.” She got up and left, leaving Jack scared out of his wits.

Several minutes later, the Amazon-like woman returned with her hands full of spa supplies, when she heard loud, heavy footsteps.

“Quick, hide!” she whispered to Jack. She shoved him into a large pantry and stood in front of the door when the tall figure walked in.

This man was really tall; he looked near seven feet at least, and was scarred and ugly. He had a lot of scruff on his chin and had a bit of an under bite. His ears were pieced and he wore a ripped, black sweatshirt with the hood pulled up and his dirty dreadlocks hanging out. He sat down at the table and grumbled something unrecognizable. Then he sniffed the air and yelled,

“Fee, fie, fo, fum!*

I smell the stench of a smelly kid!

Be he smart or be he dumb,

I will make head skid!”

Inside his cupboard hideout, Jack shuddered at the creepy poem of the tall man. He heard the woman scoff.

“Sugar, you are getting paranoid! You have the house and the riches, and the old man is dead! Stop your worrying and eat your mutton.” So eat he did; he wolfed down six helpings before finally finishing. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve, dumped the plate in the sink, and walked out the door, mumbling something about going outside.  The woman followed and soon Jack was.

Jack bounded out of the cupboard, for his mother would be worried, so he had better loot the place pronto. He searched the house, looking high and low for valuables. He was looking for what the vagrant fairy had said: a magic credit card, two bags of gold, and a talking MP3 player.

He walked into the bedroom of the giant and found his wallet lying on a bedside table. He opened it and found the enchanted credit card. It read, “Magic Credit Card” in gold, swirling font. He grabbed it and pocketed it quickly. He walked to the other side of the room, where a large safe was. The giant man had left it ajar, so he peeked inside and saw many bags of gold. He grabbed two and scurried around the room. He peered up at a huge television cabinet. But Jack did not care about the television; he thought he spied the telltale earphones of an iPod!

Jack stood on his tippy-toes and managed to grab the MP3 player. He snatched it up and ran, for he heard the two residents returning! He scurried to the front door, and hid behind where it would open and prayed he would not be seen. The door opened and all was quiet. The two came in silently. Jack breathed a sigh of relief as they began walking away.

“Master, Master! Stop the boy!” cried the iPod in an auto-tuned voice. Jack had forgotten that the MP3 player was a magical talking one!

“Stop, thief! I’ll kill you!” boomed the mammoth man.

“Jack ran out side and jumped onto his bike and pushed his plunder into the basket. He peddled harder than he had ever peddled harder than he ever had before, the countryside whizzing by him as it changed into his urban habitat.

Jack was almost home, but the giant was on his tail! In a desperate attempt to loose him, Jack sped out into the busy street, dodging cars. The huge man thundered after him, screaming,

“Fee, die, fo, fum!*

I smell the stench of a-”

SCREEEEEE…BOOM!

Now that he was safely on the sidewalk, Jack chanced a glance backwards and saw the giant had been ran over by a red Camaro with fur trim! His eyes grew big as the giant just melted away into the asphalt. He looked at the driver, who was none other than the crazy enchantress from earlier that day! She winked at him and drove off.

Jack ran into his house. “Mamma, Mamma!” he yelled. “You’ll never believe what I-” He was stopped mid-sentence by his mother’s smothering hug.

“Jack, I was so worried! Where have you been?” said his mother tearfully. Jack told her what had happened earlier and showed her what he had stolen back from the giant robber. She smiled through tears at the heroic deeds her son had performed. Later they walked down the road and reached the mansion, where they lived happily ever.

The End

*These are taken directly from A Treasury of Children’s Literature, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, retold by Shelia Black.

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