< Previous   |   Next >
Return to PROSE Page
Stephen & the Snake HOME page
*****
The Cranky Yankee - reprinted from the South Shore Puzzle Journal, Issue No. 38 - May, 2009
By Stephen Martin

      "Did you color this egg for Easter, Grandpa?" the young boy asks.
      "Nope," replies the Cranky One, whittling contentedly on the back porch. "It came like thet."
      "Well, what kind of egg is it?"
      "A robin's egg."
      "How can you tell?"
      "Because it's robin's egg blue."
      There's a long moment of silence, during which the child thinks about that and Cranky whittles.
      "There's nothing inside, and there's a little hole in the end."
      "Ayup," says our hero. "Your grandma sucked the egg right out through thet theyah hole."
      "Yuck!" says the boy. "Grandpa?"
      "Boy?"
      "I saw a great big egg up on a shelf in your den. Will you please show it to me?"
      With a faint sigh, the old man puts down his knife and the stick, which is beginning to look suspiciously like yet another letter opener. He stands, flannel shirt blazing scarlet in May's bright morning sun, and leads the boy into the cabin.
      The den is dark, having only a small window at one end, and is presided over by a giant moose head taking up almost half of the opposite wall. A stuffed great horned owl glares down from atop the bookcase. The boy doesn't like to enter the den alone.
      Next to a high roll-top desk stands a high wooden cabinet with a glass front, behind which are Cranky's treasures. He opens the door, removes a palm-sized wooden box with a glass top and shows it to the boy.
      "It looks like a bean."
      "Ayup."
      "Is it an egg?"
      "Ayup. Thet theyah's the smallest bird egg in the world, laid by the smallest bird in the world."
      "The hummingbird! And what's that great big one? Wait. The biggest bird...an ostrich egg?"
      "Well, ain't you a fiyacrackah?" the elder allows, tousling his progeny's hair and placing the giant ovoid in the child's hand. "But that's nothing, compared to this: Up until only about foah hundred yeahs ago, theyah lived in Madagascah the last of the prehistoric Elephant Birds. They were ten feet tall, weighed half a ton, and laid 27-pound eggs." He replaces the egg, closes the cabinet, and heads back out. He picks up two multicolored eggs from a basket on the kitchen counter, and gives one to his grandson. Back on the porch, the eggs are quickly devoured, knotty fingers return to their task.
      "What are you whittling, Grandpa?" asks the boy.
      "A stick," says the old man. There'll be no more answers this morning.
*****
< Previous   |   Next >
Return to PROSE Page
Stephen & the Snake HOME page