Tragic Stories (disguised as jokes) is a collection of tales told by a monster to a demanding little girl.
Monsters are unlucky in love. Cupid explains. Some monsters are closer than others. There is a monster who only dines on one half of any available loving couple, A specialty. You can judge a person by their hat. If you want to protect your children (and see them less) you send them back in time. Hungry lions. The suicide machine built with love. Hate mail. Oscar Wilde judges the beauty pageant.
A bouquet of thorns. Falsely called the black book.
The Rabbit needed a place to rest. And the safety in the open was a matter, as usual, of grave importance. So he claimed the right of the land and began to dig. Down. Sloping down. Into the cool and welcoming Earth. Some creatures were displaced, with as much grace as could be administered in the circumstance, and a network of tunnels joined the network of tunnels that formed the local underground. A refuge of perpetual night.
One digs to escape, dig it?
There were Moles in the underground.
It was to be expected. As the rabbit was relaxing after a cool dig, in the cool splendor of his new digs, one of the moles literally tripped over him.
“I say, who’s there?” shouted the Mole in a horse whisper.
“I am just an adventurer,” said the Rabbit. “I am not a fighter.”
One digs to escape, dig it?
“Well, sir,” said the Mole, “You are a malingerer! Hiding away from the troubles of the world! A shirker. What do you say for yourself?”
“At the moment,” said Rabbit, “Nothing.”
The accusation was not without some merit.
“Deadly silence,” said the Mole.
And there were dim eyes all around. The underground. Moles in the underground. Suspicious. For good reason.
One digs to escape.
“We are the consolidated underground,” said the Mole. “We are what is left of those who came before. Scraps. Bits and pieces.”
“Where will you go from here?” asked Rabbit.
“Onward,” said the Mole. “To the inevitable ending. We fight no longer to win, no longer is it personal survival which drives us. We fight especially hard when we cannot win, for then our actions matter even more. For then it is a matter of righteous history.” He shrugged his slight shoulders. “We travel the underground. It provides escape routes and comfort. Comfort is, you know, fleeting in this world.”
Among the Moles were scattered others. To the far side was a Shrew. Her eyes illuminated and flickered reflecting the Rabbit’s light.
“Now,” said the Mole, “We construct the story of our glory. Battling against great odds we keep true to our ethics. And hope that our ideals emerge victorious. You see young Vanja. She joined us after her village was destroyed. We have scattered into cells and travel the tunnels. We emerge one at a time and tell our story at random locations, to random listeners. Then we retreat back underground. It is the only way. Vanja is particularly adept at this kind of warfare. It is like starting a thousand fires. It is uncontrollable. It is unconquerable.”
“Have you heard,” said Vanja, “The song of the traveler? It is reverberating everywhere. The traveler landed in a field. Fell out of the sky. And arose. It was a celebratory feast the traveler had landed on the outskirts of. There were park benches and food. Flowers. And merriment. But the traveler saw above the festivities hung the body of a man, dangling over the events. Still. And no one else gazed toward the sight. Instead children played and lovers fraternized, even quarreled over trifles, while above the man twisted in the happy breeze. And the traveler said, ‘Who is that man? Why does he hang around here?’ And the crowd turned ugly. For it was not a topic for polite conversation. And words were minced. And there were misunderstandings and malice. And the traveler left, for it was not the destination, you see, but afterward people kept looking at the hanging man, who they had previously forgotten. And they were ashamed. But they did not know what to do about it. And that is how the picnic was spoiled, but there were disagreements about why.”