Little Jack Horner...Not So Little Anymore: Short Fiction
Little Jack Horner
Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner
Eating a Christmas pie.
He stuck in his thumb
And pulled out a plumb
And said, “What a good boy am I.”
That must be the hundred millionth time I’ve heard those words read by a mommy with Georgie and adorable Susie sitting beside her on the couch. They point at Little Jack Horner and giggle. That picture was from years ago when I was a kid. I took this gig then just so I could have some pie. Now, look at me? Five feet eight inches tall, chubby from too much pie with nothing to show for my life but a purple thumb.
All my friends have the same problem. There’s Little Red Riding Hood. Man, that lady has issues. The wolf kicked off years ago, but she still drags the skin around playing both parts.
Mary had a little lamb. That’s ancient history. Now she has a flock of sheep that need to be tended. At least she has an income from the wool. The poem went into public domain a long time ago, so there aren’t any royalties. Such is the life of a childhood nursery rhyme star.
The three blind mice sit on Main street begging every day. Jack Spratt finally ate the fat. That’s a sad story. Now he can’t even jump over the candlestick. Yeah, same guy. The other Jack stopped by a couple of months ago. He’s the one who climbed the beanstalk. He tried to pawn some beans off on me. I felt sorry for him so I swapped three plums for three beans. They haven’t even sprouted yet. Little Bo Peep just wanders around aimlessly looking for her sheep. I’m pretty sure Mary coaxed them into joining her flock.
I’ve been thinking about starting a support group. Before I do that, though, I need to get rid of this pie. I can’t sell it. Nobody wants a pie with thumb holes all over the crust. Maybe there’s another way…
“Hey, kid. Yeah, you. Come over here. Don’t worry, I’m not a stranger. I’m Little Jack Horner. Everybody knows me. What’s your name?”
What did I expect? “Could I interest you in a job? It comes with all the pie you can eat.”
“Wow! For real?”
“Yeah, and all you gotta do is just sit here poking your thumb in the pie, like this.”
“What do you want for it?”
“Not a thing, kid. It’s yours.”
Look at him. That was me years ago. Big smile. Popping plums into my mouth nonstop. Well, that’s his life now, not mine. It’s a big world, and I’m going to see it all. Maybe I can get Mary to go with me. Lord knows I’ve had my eye on her for years. I used to follow her to school every day...behind the lamb, of course.
Hollywood might be a good place to start. Maybe some producer will be interested in our stories. That’s it! We’ll trade this small time nursery rhyme schtick for the big time, the big screen, like Bogart and Hepburn—Bogart and Bacall, geez, that guy had it going. Yeah, Jack and Mary.
There she is now with sheep in tow. She looks sad. I wonder what’s wrong.
“Hi Mary, how are you this fine day?”
“Oh, I’m not doing so well, Jack. These sheep are wearing me out. Feeding, shearing, leading them to water, caring for lambs. It’s become too much work.”
“Are you saying you want to sell your sheep?”
“Not exactly. How is your pie?”
“My pie is in good hands...thumbs, I mean. Anyway, I’ve decided to start a new life. I was thinking about traveling.”
“That’s interesting. I’ve been thinking the same thing. Why don’t you come over to the house this evening, and we can talk about it over dinner.”
“I’d love to come for dinner. But about your sheep...If you don’t sell them, how would you travel?
“It’s a long story. Let’s wait for tonight.”
“That sounds good. I’ll bring a bottle of plum wine.”
“Perfect. I’ll see you about six.”
A date. I have a date with Mary. And she wants to travel just like I do. Life is looking up, and all it took was the courage to walk away from what was holding me back—that damned pie.
Mary had a little lamb,
Mary had a little lamb.
Its fleece was white as snow.
Everywhere that Mary went,
Everywhere that Mary went,
The Lamb was sure to go.
Followed her to school one day,
School one day,
School one day.
Followed her to school one day
Which was against the rules.
Later That Evening
“Jack, come in.”
“That smells delicious. What’s for dinner?”
“L-Lamb? Did you say—Lamb?”
“That’s part of the long story, Jack. I figure I’ll eat them until they’re gone. Then I’ll start traveling. Since you’re free from your pie, I sure could use some help with the sheep.”
“Do you mean caring for them or...you know.”
“I have to admit I’m surprised you could do this. You know...Mary had a little lamb—”
“Oh, please, stop with the song. I swear, if anybody sings that song around me ever again, I’ll fleece them.
“I promise, Mary. I feel the same way about my pie.”
“Maybe we could travel together, Jack.”
“Who would have thought that Jack Horner and Mary Lamb would one day be an item?
“I always hoped for it.”
“So did I. The lamb smells wonderful. You know, this adds a twist to your story?”
“It does? How?”
“Let me put it this way. Mary had a little...slice of...lamb.”