The Big Black Dog: A Fable

Cane Corso Dog 3A little old lady built a chicken coop in her backyard. She painted it red, and in the evening, when the paint was dry, she went to see a farmer and bought twelve hens and a rooster.

After loading the chickens into the back seat of her car, she drove down the highway, and they all flew into the front seat! It was like a tornado!

When the little old lady got home, she put the chickens in the coop, closed the door, and locked it with a hook.

“What a long day!” she said.

She felt so tired, she went straight to bed.

The next morning, the little old lady collected the eggs that the hens laid in the nesting boxes.

She fried two eggs for breakfast, and the rest, she put in a carton. “When I have a dozen,” she said, “I’ll sell them to my neighbour.”

The following day, when the little old lady delivered the eggs, her neighbor wanted to give her a dog: a poodle with white, curly hair. “I don’t have time to take care of him,” he said.

But the little old lady didn’t know if she wanted a dog.

The poodle promised, “I’ll stand guard each night and protect your chickens.”

The little old lady smiled. “You’re a good poodle—and brave.”

Then she took the poodle home with her.

A week went by without incident, but early one morning, the chickens were frantic. The hens were clucking outside the coop, and the rooster was crowing on the roof.

The little old lady counted them, and one hen was missing!

“What happened to my hen?” she asked the poodle.

“I slept with one eye open,” the poodle replied, “but I saw nothing, and I heard nothing.”

A hen named Martha was hysterical. “A large paw opened the door and grabbed Bertha. It was a big black dog!”

Then Martha fainted.

The poodle shook his head. “Dogs are kind and caring animals, and would never hurt a chicken.”

The little old lady agreed: “Yes. It must have been a fox.”

In the afternoon, she put a chicken-wire fence around the coop. And before she went to bed, she closed the coop door, and locked it with a hook.

The next morning, when the sun came up, the chickens were in a frenzy, running and flying around the yard.

The little old lady went to the coop and counted them, and another hen was missing!

“Did you watch the hens last night?” she asked the poodle.

“I saw a fox jump over the fence,” the poodle confessed, “but I was so afraid I couldn’t even bark.”

The rooster, named Roger, said sadly, “I was awake when its paw reached inside. It was a big black dog, and he stole Henrietta—the chicken I loved.”

The poodle shook his head. “Dogs are friendly and loving animals. They would never hurt a chicken.”

The little old lady knew what to do. That night, she closed the coop door and locked it with two hooks. Then she went to her bedroom, turned out the light, and sat by the window.

At midnight, when the moon hid behind a cloud, she saw a black figure climbing over the chicken-wire fence.

It made its way to the coop and slowly lifted one of the hooks with its paw.

With her heart pounding and hands trembling, the little old lady grabbed her broom, ran outside and threw open the gate.

The creature had a hen in its mouth. BAM! She hit it on the head until it let go of the hen.

It was the poodle!

The little old lady grabbed him by the collar and yelled, “You killed two of my chickens! Why?!”

The poodle answered weakly, “Because I’m a dog.”

The next morning, the little old lady was in a much better mood.

She fed the poodle as many eggs as he wanted for breakfast. Then she put on his leash and took him for a walk.

And gave him back to her neighbour.


This story was published in The Donkey King and Other Stories

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Three Traits of a Naive Person: The Brides of Dracula (1960)

the_brides_of_dracula_12A naive person is “deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment”1, “too willing to believe that someone is telling the truth,” and “that people’s intentions in general are good.”2 In Leo McCarey’s The Brides of Dracula (1960), Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) is naive. She lacks knowledge of threats to her safety, trusts everyone she meets, and presumes that people are good until she is convinced otherwise.

Marianne’s lack of knowledge is ironic given that she is a French teacher who has an education. She has moved to Transylvania, yet has never heard of the “cult of the undead”. Her lack of knowledge of vampires puts her in grave danger when Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) offers her a place to stay. The Baroness brings young women to her home so her vampire son can feed on them.

Upon meeting the Baroness, Marianne immediately accepts her offer of hospitality. Marianne is quick to trust and believe strangers. No one has to earn her trust; they are given it freely. She tells Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) that the Baroness “seemed so kind.” However, when Marianne meets her son the Baron (David Peel), who is bound by a chain, she believes he has been mistreated by his mother. Believing him to be good, she helps the Baron escape.

Marianne believes people are good based on mere appearances. She believes the Baron is a good person because he is handsome and soft spoken, but she is deceived. He is a vampire, and after releasing him from his chains, he turns his mother into a vampire. However, when Greta (Freda Jackson) shows Marianne the dead body of the Baroness, Marianne does not believe the Baron killed her. Marianne is in denial because she loves the Baron. She believes that the way he acts outwardly is a reflection of who he is inwardly. She does not realize that appearances can be deceiving.

Marianne presumes that people are good until she has indisputable evidence they are bad. When Van Helsing tells her that the Baron has turned three women into vampires, she says, “No; I won’t listen to you.” It is not until she sees the Baron’s fangs that she accepts he is a vampire. Marianne’s error in reasoning is presumption, believing something is true until it is proven false. We shouldn’t judge anyone as evil without evidence, but neither should we presume that everyone is good.

A naive person fails to recognize people who will take advantage of them. Marianne’s lack of knowledge and experience makes her naive, and because of that, she misjudges people, believing both the Baron and the Baroness to be good. Before moving to Transylvania, she never faced any real threat or danger. If she had, she would have exercised greater caution when meeting strangers.

Notes

  1. Merriam Webster, s.v. “Naive,” accessed April 26, 2017, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/naive
  2. Cambridge Dictionaries, s.v. “Naive,” accessed April 26, 2017, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/naive

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The Rabbit that Wasn’t Right in the Head: A Fable

grey rabbitLong ago, a young girl went for a walk through a dark forest. She wore a long red coat with a red hood, and because she wore it all the time, everyone called her Red Riding Hood.

As she turned a corner on the path, she came face to face with a rabbit. The rabbit looked at her; she looked at the rabbit, and the rabbit started to run.

“Don’t be afraid!” Red Riding Hood called out. “I won’t hurt you!”

She ran after the rabbit, weaving around trees and bushes, and they both jumped over a stream.

The rabbit ran as fast as he could; however, Red Riding Hood was the fastest girl alive. (The previous summer, she ran away from a wolf.) As she caught up with the rabbit, she reached to grab him, but he leaped into a bush—and BAM! He smacked head-first into a boulder, fell on the ground and did not move.

Red Riding Hood dropped to her knees and said, “Oh, my! I’m so sorry. I only wanted to be your friend.”

Picking up the rabbit in her arms, she hurried home to her Grandma who lived in a house a mile from the forest’s edge.

When Red Riding Hood reached the house, she opened the door, and found her Grandma sitting at the kitchen table, drinking tea.

“My goodness!” Grandma said with wide eyes. “Did you kill a rabbit for dinner?”

“No,” Red Riding Hood sighed. “I ran after him, and he hit his head.”

Then Red Riding Hood started to cry.

“Don’t worry,” Grandma reassured her. “We’ll help him get better.” She folded a blanket, placed it in a wooden box, and Red Riding Hood laid the rabbit down.

A week went by, and they nursed the rabbit back to health. Day by day, the rabbit lost his fear of humans, and he and Red Riding Hood became good friends. She named him Thump.

The two friends played tag, had running races, and when they were both tired, they sat by the garden and ate carrots and celery.

Then one day Thump said, “I miss my two best friends.”

Red Riding Hood took a deep breath and forced a smile. “I’ll take you back to the forest tomorrow.”

The next morning, Red Riding Hood walked with Thump to the forest. When they reached the forest’s edge, she got down on her knees and hugged him.

“I’ll miss you,” Red Riding Hood said sadly.

“I’ll visit you again soon,” Thump promised.

Red Riding Hood waved goodbye as the rabbit hopped away and disappeared into the trees.

When Thump found his friends—Lucky and Big Ears—they were both happy to see him.

“We thought you were dead!” Lucky said.

“I hit my head on a boulder,” Thump explained. “And then I was rescued by a girl, and she and her Grandma took care of me.”

“What?” Big Ears said. “I don’t believe it. People are bad.”

Lucky agreed. “Yeah, they want to eat us.”

But Thump said, “No, that’s not true. People are good. The reason they don’t like us is because we run away from them. That makes them feel rejected.”

Big Ears said, “That’s crazy talk! People love killing animals. They think it’s a good thing.”

No matter what Thump said, he couldn’t convince his friends that people were good, so he said, “I’m going to prove it to you.”

The next day, Thump and his friends hid in a bush beside the forest path until a boy walked by. Thump jumped out of the bush and said, “Hello!”

The boy stopped and said, “Hello there.”

“Would you like to pet me?” Thump asked.

“Okay,” the boy replied. And Thump sat still while the boy petted him on the head.

After the boy was gone, Thump said to his friends, “I told you! People are good if you are good to them.”

But Lucky said, “That was just a little person. Big people are bad.”

“Alright,” Thump said. “Let’s wait for a big person.”

The rabbits hid in the bush again and waited until a young woman walked by.

Thump jumped out of the bush and said, “Hello.”

The woman stopped and said, “Hello to you.”

“Do you have anything to eat?” Thump asked.

The woman reached in her bag and gave him a carrot. Then she said, “Have a nice day!” And she walked away.

After the woman was gone, Thump said to his friends, “Do you believe me now? People are good.”

Big Ears said, “Okay. Maybe women are good. But not men.”

Lucky nodded his head. “Men are evil.”

Thump sighed and said, “You don’t know people like I do. Let’s wait for a man.”

Thump’s friends didn’t want to stay, but they agreed to hide in the bush one more time.

The rabbits waited until an old man walked by. Then Thump jumped out of the bush and said, “Hello!”

The old man stopped and said, “Hello, rabbit.”

“My friends are afraid of you,” Thump said. “But I’m not.”

The old man, who was a hunter, held a rifle in his hand, but it wasn’t loaded. “Don’t run away, rabbit. Just sit still.”

“Why would I run?” Thump said with a smile. “If I’m nice to you, you’ll be nice to me. I believe animals and people should be friends, not enemies.”

“That’s beautiful,” the hunter replied. “I couldn’t agree more.” He hadn’t eaten all day, and his hands trembled from low blood sugar, which made it difficult for him to load his rifle. He dropped one of his bullets on the ground and picked it up.

Thump said, “I love people, and I love you!”

The hunter finished loading his rifle. “And I love rabbits!” He raised his rifle, took aim and shot Thump in the head!

The two rabbits in the bush were horrified. Their friend was dead, but they didn’t have time to cry. They both ran for their lives.

The hunter took aim at the running rabbits, fired several shots, but he missed, and the rabbits escaped.

“Oh well,” the hunter said with a shrug. “At least I got one.” Then he rubbed his belly. “I’m starving!”

He picked up the dead rabbit, put him in his knapsack, and when he got home, he made a big pot of rabbit stew.


This story was published in The Donkey King and Other Stories