Friday, May 25, 2012

John - the alternate ending

The Spring 2012 issue of The Baum Bugle featured a little surprise to all Baum fanatics: a previously unknown short story named "John." However... Does anyone else think that Baum was being a bit too nice to that girl who was going to rob her parents and run away with a slick scoundrel?

I think Marcus Mébès was in a very odd mood when he wrote this alternate ending.

WARNING: Little bit of language and rampant silliness. Plus, a spoiler if you haven't read the original story yet...

“Oh, John,” she whispered, sobbing upon his broad breast, “can you ever forgive me?”

At that moment John was more frustrated than by any event of that adventurous morning, but he nevertheless had the courage to speak what was on his mind.

Grasping both her trembling shoulders in his large hands, he pushed her away from him and looked deep into her teary eyes.

“Skank ho, you pushed my affections aside for that scoundrel, and were ready—and willing!—to run off with him.” Registering the shock on her face, and with a modicum of satisfaction, John continued. “Do you expect me to believe that you knew nothing about the money? Oh, sure; you fought him off to protect me... but that’s only because we were making enough racket to wake them up.” He gestured to her parents, both of whom were standing now on the doorstep, aghast. “Think they bought your act?”

Lavinia’s face was contorted in agony and despair. “Oh, oh John... you’re absolutely horrid! How could you even think that?”

“Six years, bitch. Six years I’ve been falling in love with you. It took one week to fall out of love with you.” John narrowed his eyes to slits and looked her over appraisingly. “And you, so mercurial, would run to me when your knight in armor is no where to be found. Did you even pay enough attention to realize that I’d unfriended you on Facebook three days ago? No? Too busy with that prat?” He spat on the ground at her feet. “You disgust me.”

Lavinia burst into tears and tried to run into her father’s arms, but the farmer had turned to face his wife. “Mother! Daddy! It’s not true!”

Mr. Harkins’s jaw moved, but his voice seemed to have left him. He stared wide-eyed at his daughter, then back to his wife. “Our own flesh and blood...” he murmured, wiping away a tear from Mrs. Harkin’s cheek.

Lavinia, seeing no harbor in this tempest, grabbed her bag and stumblingly ran down the road in the direction Sanderson had fled. “It was fake anyway!” she called over her shoulder, choking on her sobs. “It wasn’t real money! And I wouldn’t have let him cash that check! Oh, you’re all three horrid! I wish we’d gone sooner! We will cash that check! You’re screwed, you old fogies!”

“I’ll stop payment, dumbass!” called farmer Harkins in retort to her threat. “Just try’n do it! Hah!”

John and the Harkinses watched Lavinia stumble and stagger down the lane with stone facades. It took much time and much theatrics and hysterical commentary before she disappeared from view in the early morning. The sunrise shone its rays, blotting out the dark events that had occurred.

“Well,” sighed Mrs. Harkins, “I s’pose I ought to get the griddle cakes started. There’s work to be done.” She turned, her shoulders slumped, and headed back into the house. “There’s a good episode of Oprah on later today. Mind you don’t disturb me when I’m watching it.”

“Y’think she’ll be back?” asked John, still staring down the road.

“She’s too naive to make it far. I’d give her ’til nightfall. If she ain’t back by then, she’s sure to be back by to-morrow.” He looked sidelong at the hired man. “You still wantin’ her for a wife?”

John chewed his bottom lip and spat. He stared at the sunrise for a moment, then looked at Mr. Harkins. “Nah. I think I had enough of her. If you folks don’t mind, I’d like to stay on a bit longer, though. Just ’til I can get settled on that property I got.”

“Cow needs milkin’. Can work on the fields later on after breakfast.” Harkins sat down on the stoop and shook his head morosely. “I guess if she don’t come back, you could just stay here; take her room.” He gave John an earnest look. “Don’t think I could convince you to stay on, could I?”

John shook his head. “We’ll be neighbors, though. You folks are like family to me. I’ll always think of you that way.”

“Our boy, John,” mused Mr. Harkins sadly. “Sounds about right.”

“She farted too much anyway,” commented Mrs. Harkins from inside, where she was preparing griddle cakes. “Always blamed it on the dog... but we hain’t got one. Curdled the milk somethin’ fierce. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.”

“Should’ve never taken her in from that traveling circus,” added Mr. Harkins. “They said she was trouble, but we really felt it in our hearts to take her in after she got hurt with that donkey. Doin’ such stuff! ’Tweren’t natural. At least, not at her age.”

“You mean t’tell me she weren’t your natural daughter?” demanded John, aghast. He recalled Mr. Harkins saying something along the lines of “our own flesh and blood,” and said as much to the old farm couple.

“Heck no. Was a figure of speech. I just can’t get over how easily she fell for that vermin, and how easily she turned on us.” Then Mrs. Harkins added, “Thank goodness! We can finally air out the house. Even the skunks didn’t smell that bad. What was she eatin’? The way she pooted, was like some critter crawled up her bum, curled up an’ died!”

“Think it must’a been all them vegemite sandwiches,” mused John. “The way she made ’em with pickles and onions, I’m amazed we didn’t all die from carbon monoxide poisonin’.” He shook his head, clearing it from the groggy haze he had been living under for six years. “Dang! I wanted to marry that?”

“Where the heck do you get vegemite in America these days?" demanded Mrs. Harkins, annoyed. She had been requesting it from CostPlus World Market, but the store never had any fortune in special ordering it.

“What’ll happen with that prat Sanderson?” wondered John, ignoring her question. He knew that Lavinia had been ordering her stores of vegemite off a seller on eBay, but felt that the older generation might not understand the complex machinations of such transactions.

Mr. Harkins found a Yankees baseball cap hanging on the door-frame and donned it backwards. “I'mma call my posse, get ’em to bust a cap in dat ass!” He held up two fingers, then pointed downward. “Word to yo’ motha, Dawg.”

John pulled his cell from his pocket, checking it for messages. Seeing none, he replaced it and looked up at the sky. “Well, let’s get to work!”

1 comment:

Marcus said...

Oh. My. Gosh. I wrote that. What was I on? Please, i must very conceitedly concede that the alternate ending is a bit of brilliant... if I may be so bold. Sorry! :)