Twisted Fairy Tale
Fairy tales always make you smile. And leave you with a fuzzy warm feeling like a heartfelt hug. Because they remind you that sometimes life can be wonderful and as dream-like as you wish it to be.
We’ve all grown up with fairy tales. But sometimes, when we’re older we like to imagine how these would be if they were given a different twist!
Prompted by H.E.Ellis that’s exactly what I did with the story of Pinocchio – you know what the story of the wooden puppet is, right? Well, you think you do! You haven’t heard this version of it before!
So go ahead, read this! And don’t worry, your nose won’t get bigger! 🙂
Pinocchio (with a twist)
Once upon a time, Mastro Antonio, a renowned carpenter was looking for wood to finish off the delicately carved dining set he had been commissioned to make. He was on a deadline so he had to go out into the forest immediately to find more wood.
It was a dark, thunderous afternoon like no other. As if a sorcerer had whisked his wand over the forest. Thunder and lightning struck, literally carving off a piece of wood from one of the oldest trees in the forest and falling right in front of Mastro Antonio, as if with a flash instantly heralding his missing piece.
This piece of wood was every carpenter’s dream. It was so ideal for carving that Mastro Antonio thought that he could gain a lot more money if he sold it. He recalled the poker game he had been invited to and remembered it was that evening. With the wood underarm he set off for the illicit gambling bunker. But on the way he could swear he heard a moan. As if someone was protesting against what he was about to do.
As is usual with gambling, you win some you lose some. And as we know, the house always wins. So Antonio lost the piece of wood in exchange for a few gold coins that he won. However, another carpenter, an old man named Giuseppe (or Geppetto to his friends) was lucky enough to win the much desired piece of wood. Geppetto didn’t have much and he was thrilled that out of this wood he could finally craft the puppet he so longed for to keep him company.
So the next day, Geppetto began to carve his puppet. The eyes were the first to appear. They blinked! But Geppetto thought it was simply his hunger playing games with his mind. Then he shaped a mouth, which appeared to smile at him. Then it started talking! Geppetto thought he was hearing things, so he tried to ignore it. But then he kept hearing a voice saying “thank you for finally giving me a form!” And as soon as its hands and legs were crafted, the puppet sprung to life. He hopped off the crafting table and ran into the street. “I have to call him back,” thought Geppetto, “but he doesn’t have a name yet.”
“Puppet! Puppet!” he yelled.
But the puppet was too enthralled in his new-found liberty to care about rules and code of conduct. He rushed into the street and was nearly run over by a horse-drawn carriage which slid sideways falling onto a cart parked on the side, breaking it into pieces that were scattered like pebbles in the cobbled-tiled street. Luckily the carabinieri were close-by and witnessed the entire racket. They saw the old man run after the wooden puppet and helped him catch him. “Keep him under control, will ya?” they told him handing the puppet over. “I’ll try,” he responded wearily.
Geppetto took the puppet indoors, sat him on the work bench and scolded him. “What you did is not proper! You can’t just go running amuck like that! Especially without any clothes on!”
He quickly fashioned a trousers, shirt and boots from his own old clothes and soon the puppet was a fully dressed wooden boy.
“Now you need a name,” said Geppetto.
“Wood Boy!” cried the puppet.
“No. Something more original.”
“Super Wood Boy!”
“How about Pinocchio?” asked Geppetto, drawing inspiration from the puppet’s deep brown eyes of pinewood. “Pino, for short,” he smiled.
“Sounds good,” said the puppet. “Not as good as mine, but it will do,” and gave Geppetto a smile. “Thank you pápa”, he said giving him a hug. Geppetto fought back the tears in this embrace.
Geppetto was truly happy. His wife had passed away before she had a chance to bear a child and this still remained his unfulfilled dream. Geppetto was willing to offer his new son everything so that he would manage to succeed in this world. He even sold his only coat to buy Pino his first reading book so he could go to school, just like any real boy would. Pino on his part was willing to be good and proper to please his father. After all, he did breathe life into him.
So the next day, the puppet boy was off to go to school. He was ready to learn to read, write and count so as to help Geppetto. But if only his will was as strong as his desire…
On his first day of school Pino met Pike – a boy as tall and thin as a pole, who had a tendency for truancy and tried to draw others into it. Pino was new, he didn’t know better. He was tricked into being Pike’s new accomplice in practical jokes played against their teachers and other students. Pino thus got into trouble from his first day. And he was soon to learn that bad companies lead you down the wrong path.
Word had gotten to Geppetto by the time Pino returned home. One of his teachers had IM-ed him. Geppetto was furious. And a bit embarrassed. “I thought I’d raised you better,” he began. “But I was just born yesterday,” justified Pino. “Oh, right. Well, still. I thought we had an agreement!”
Yet despite the promises Pino made, he continued with the same behaviour for months. He befriended Pike to the point of being inseparable, despite being prompted otherwise by everyone. Geppetto’s patience was running out and he could not understand how his boy could so easily be led astray. He thought if there was one person who could help that was Rose, the young and eccentric school adviser.
The next day he rushed to her office seeking help. Rose had been out clubbing late the previous night and was still struggling to make a cup of coffee, despite it being 11am. She was young with short pink hair and knew how to enjoy life, although at heart she had lived and seen a lot. Surely she could get through to Pino. “Rose, you have to help me talk some sense into that boy. He has to understand how the world works and that it’s not all fun and games”. “I went through a phase like this and I know exactly what to do,” said Rose. She sleepily opened her top drawer and took out a glittery blue shoebox. Geppetto stared expectantly. Rose pulled out a wand. She muttered something that was supposed to be a spell and out of the box hopped a small cricket suited up with Armani from antennas to toe-webs, twirling a cane in his right hand. “At your service,” he bowed and introduced himself, “William Cricki is the name, but you can call me Will”. Rose smiled and explained that what the boy lacks is a conscience, and that is what Will would come to fill. He was so small, he would fit right into Pino’s shirt pocket. Geppetto excited took Will in his palm and headed homewards.
When Pino arrived and Geppetto explained the origins of his new pal, the boy was outraged, taking this as a violation of privacy and as Geppetto’s ultimate attempt to control his life. “I will not stand this anymore!” he yelled. “You gave me life but it’s up to me how I live it. And after all, I’m not hurting anyone. What right do you have to assign me a chaperon?” Those were his last words as he slammed the door on the way out, before Geppetto even managed to utter a single counter-argument.
Will on the other hand had successfully managed to sneak into Pino’s pocket. His conscience was with him.
Pino was out on the road, having in his run already reached the next town, determined to find out what life as a real boy was all about. He recalled of a magical land during his mischievous talks with Pike. It was a place where children played around all day, without chores, obligations or rules, and above all, without grown-ups telling them what to do. It was known as the “Land of Rascals”, if he remembered correctly. “That’s where I’ll go!” he thought. But before he concluded his thought, a resourceful cricket jumped out of his front pocket and wacked him on the head with his wooden cane. “What the…” said Pino, rubbing his head. “What are you doing here?” “I’m your conscience. I’m supposed to make you think right”. “I can think very well on my own, thank you very much. And I’ve decided what I want to do”. And with that Pino grabbed Will and stuffed him back into his pocket. “Not another word!” he instructed him. “Otherwise I’ll feed you to the cats”. A meow was heard from a bunch of cats scavenging for food nearby and Will crouched even further inside the pocket.
Moving swiftly along, Pino ran into a familiar face. Pike almost fell onto him. He had heard of Pino’s quarrel with Geppetto and went to find his partner in crime. It was the perfect opportunity to form the duo bandit gang he dreamt of. Pino told him of his plan to go to the “Land of Rascals” and Pike informed him that a wagon would come to pick them up along with any others willing to go. It would pass by that evening. But the fare was three gold coins and they were both broke. “What do we do now?” asked Pino puzzled. “Don’t worry,” replied Pike. “We’ll just pick a pocket or two”. Pino felt a strain coming from his pocket but he decided to ignore it. When it persisted, he made it stop by slightly pinching his pocket.
Pike led Pino into the town’s crowded marketplace. It was full of people busily going about their purchases. This was a bustling town centre and according to Pike, the perfect setting to “work”.
Pino was still somewhat innocent. He had never stolen anything before. But Pike assured him he would learn in no time. Pino looked around trying to figure out how to do this. Pike was nowhere in sight and Pino started to feel a bit lost. Then suddenly Pike reappeared with a big grin on his face and two gold pieces in his palm. Pino gasped in awe. “It’s easy,” said Pike. “Just make sure no-one is watching you directly and make no sudden moves. There, try that one,” he said, pointing to an old man who was examining fruit at the grocer’s bench. Pino approached feeling timid. He tiptoed behind the man and could see the sparkling of a coin in his trouser pocket. Making sure no-one was observing him, he stood behind the tall man and gently slipped his hand inside the trouser pocket. The coins felt cool and solid. He drew them out gently and turned around as though nothing had happened.
He returned to Pike with his chest pumping and the cricket protesting in his pocket. Revealing the two gold coins, Pike jumped and exclaimed “You’re a natural!” Soon the boys had their fare’s worth in hand. As they were ready to leave the crime scene, all of a sudden they heard a voice yelling “My coins! Someone stole them!” The boys froze at the spot. They could feel all eyes staring at them. Immediately they started to run. Two policemen began chasing after them, but Pike, innovatively mischievous as always, began throwing things in their way to obstruct them – a barrel, a box, a wheel, a cat, a broom, a small cart. And it worked! Soon the boys were away from the crowd and onto the forest path.
Catching their breath, they looked around their new surroundings. Tall trees engulfed the stone path, while a shimmer of red light appeared at the far end. “What’s that?” asked Pino, as they both made their way there. At the clearing the illuminated sign appeared brighter: “Foxy’s Lair”. Presuming it was an inn of sorts, the boys entered.
Will was huffing with rage inside Pino’s pocket but he couldn’t do much as he was already bruising all over from the constant pinching.
Inside, the lights were dim and sensual music was playing. There were tables and chairs scattered around the room and in the centre an elevated stage rose up. It had three poles sticking out and young girls, hardly dressed, were swinging round them. Glancing around, the boys realized the customers were all men drooling over the dancing girls. The waitresses were equally exposed and Pino thought perhaps they were lacking money for clothes.
“Let’s sit over here,” said Pike, climbing onto a stool at the bar. The bartender looked suspiciously at them. Then asked what they wanted to drink. “Do you have apple juice?” asked Pino innocently. The grim, chubby bartender broke into hysterical laughter, overpowering the music and even causing the girls to stop still for a moment. “He’s joking,” intervened Pike, trying to save himself the embarrassment. “We’ll have two Scotch, please, neat”. The bartender poured a brownish-looking liquid into two small glasses and slid them over to the boys, watching them expectantly. Pike downed it in one gulp and asked for another. Pino on the other hand took a sip and nearly choked, but at the prompt of Pike downed it quickly (“it would be less painful”, he was told) and squirmed his eyes for a minute to recover. They must have had a couple more of those, because soon Pino had no sense of reality or what was going on. He seemed to remember some semi-nude girls coming over and Pike getting up and leaving with one of them. Even Will had peeked out of the pocket to take a look. But he simply uttered “Oh, the decadence!” and fell back inside. Then everything went black. The next thing Pino remembered was waking up in the forest. Alone. With only one gold coin left. Not even Will Cricki was with him anymore.
Pino felt scared, but this simply augmented his determination to make it on his own and get to the “Land of Rascals” as he originally intended. He was wood-stubborn after all. He had no idea where Pike was, but he hoped he would meet him there. So off he set on the road once again.
The forest path was cool and quiet. Only a few birds could be heard tweeting on the tall trees that arched over the stone road. Pino felt alone and hoped he would exit the forest quite soon. But all of a sudden, around the bend, there appeared two shadows. They were approaching rapidly and Pino stood still trying to determine whether they were friends or foes. It was a limping fox with a bushy unkempt tail and a one-eyed cat with a pirate’s eye-patch. They were smiling, which made Pino feel at ease. “Hello, there dear friend,” said the fox. “What brings you to this part of the forest?” “I’m going to the ‘Land of Rascals’,” answered Pino. “Do you know the way?” The cat and fox looked slyly at each other. “Why yes. Everyone knows the way there. But there’s a toll to pay. Do you have any money with you?” “I only have one gold coin. I had more but I lost them.” “Well, you know how you can get more, right?” asked the fox. “How?” asked Pino, genuinely intrigued. “There’s this place further into the forest,” began the cat. “It’s called ‘Wondergold’. You can simply take that one gold coin of yours and double, triple, or multiply it as many times as you like. We can show you where it is, if you like,” said the cat, rubbing its whiskers. “Yes!” shouted Pino all excited. “Let’s go now!” So the three ‘friends’ set off for “Wondergold”.
Deep into the heart of the forest, there appeared a massive building shaped like a single gleaming gold coin. It seemed like it was hovering off the ground and Pino wondered why there were no visible windows. The entrance was a drawbridge with chains and as translucent as diamonds. The fox and cat pulled Pino who had stopped and was gaping at the building in awe. “It’s even more impressive inside,” said the fox. They hurried inside where Pino discovered what money heaven would be like. At the right side of the entrance there was a transparent safe filled with gold coins flowing from a fountain. The room was huge, filled with tables with dice, poker chips, roulettes, and coins. Lots and lots of gold coins. At the left of the entrance there were numerous machines lined up against the wall where people were pulling side handles and watching images of fruit align themselves in threes – if successful, gold coins would roll out the bottom. And there were waitresses dressed as geishas, serving drinks. For free! Pino was enthralled. Never had he seen or even imagined something similar.
The cat directed them to a table lined with a shiny green cloth. “Let’s try this,” he said. “All you have to do is reach 21 and win”. “Simple enough,” thought Pino and was assured so by the fox who appeared behind him, winking at the cat. Pino set his single gold coin on the table. The dealer shuffled the cards and dealt. Pino had a 10 and a 3. The dealer had a 10 and an 8. Pino, having immediately entered into the spirit of the game after observing those before him said “hit me!” The dealer turned him an 8. “21! I won!” shouted Pino. “Great!” said the fox. “Why don’t you play again and make it four coins?” “Let’s!” said Pino. He found the game easy as he won another five times in a row. He now had 64 gold coins! But just like for all other gamblers that was still not enough. Pino was blind to his surroundings and for that he did not see the fox and cat signal a black crow watching them from the floor above. “You double this and you’ll have money to last you a lifetime,” said the fox, prompting Pino to bet all his coins. Feeling lucky, Pino did so. After all, if he won it would mean 128 gold coins – a life of riches! What he didn’t consider though was that if he lost he would have nothing, not even the single gold coin with which he had begun. The dealer gave Pino a King and a 7. For himself he turned an 8 and a 5. “Good enough,” said Pino, confident he would win and motioned he would stay. But the dealer turned for himself another 8, summing up to 21. Pino had lost. It took him a moment to let it sink in, and only realized what had happened when the dealer swept away all his gold pieces.
The room was spinning around him. Pino looked for the fox and cat but couldn’t find them anywhere. He fell to the floor with a thud and amidst his swollen eyes he thought he saw the fox and cat laughing alongside a black crow who was wearing a t-shirt saying “the real Black Jack”. They were counting gold coins. Their booty. The fox was not limping anymore and the cat’s eye-patch was gone. He should have known better than to trust a pirate.
Pino wearily dragged himself out of the building and into the midst of the forest once again.
He felt like he was walking for days when he reached a harbour. Big ships were coming and going and the place was as busy as a bee hive. Pino began asking around if anyone knew how he could earn some money to take him to the “Land of Rascals”. A sailor proposed he went on board as a ship-mate. He would also get to travel and see the world, he told him. Pino’s eyes sparkled at the thought and hastily accepted. He mopped the floors and assisted the sailors in their chores, while he was given food and accommodation and a view of the world like no other. He might even come across the “Land of Rascals” in his voyages, and so Pino persevered on board.
One day, however, the bright sun was covered by a carpet of black clouds that rushed across it. Then a storm hit. Thunder and lightning replaced the so far calm days that Pino was used to. The ship was in trouble. Waves as big as whales were smashing against the ship’s hull. Pino started feeling wheezy. The sailors were in panic. They said this was the biggest storm they had ever experienced. And the most frightening. Winds of over 100mph struck the tall, sturdy mast and broke it in half as if it were a toothpick snapping between a person’s fingers. Soon after, the entire ship was capsized. It was every sailor for himself now. Pino was lucky he was made out of wood. At least he could stay afloat. The currents drifted him to a nearby island. Once again alone.
Or so he thought…
Exhausted and soaking wet, Pino was washed ashore. He was now a castaway.
The island seemed deserted. The sandy beach appeared to spread for miles, while the inland was covered with a thick, bushy forest. There was not a soul in sight.
When he regained his strength, Pino took to exploring his new environment. Along the beach he found an S-O-S spelt out with big rocks. “There’s someone else here,” he thought somewhat excited. Moving inland he found the remnants of a small fire. Then he heard a crack and looked up. Someone had artistically crafted a small tree-house. Complete with doors, windows and all. “Hello?” enquired Pino, in an attempt to find the craftsman. “Pinocchio?” he heard a familiar voice behind him. “Pàpa!” he shouted and ran, embracing the man tightly. It was Geppetto. He had set out to find his son after Will the cricket informed him of what had happened at “Foxy’s Lair”. But his raft was capsized and destroyed in a storm and he was washed out on that island. He was so happy to have found Pino at last.
In turn, Pino began to narrate his own story. But he left out the part that he became a pick-pocket and simply said that he had initially ‘found’ the money. When Geppetto asked if Pino had done something bad to gain the money in the first place, Pino replied ‘no’. But at that very instant his nose began to grow. And with every lie he told, it grew even more, reaching the size of a snooker cue. “What the…!” yelled Pino in fright. Before he even managed to finish his sentence, a bright glow descended from above the tree tops and landed right in front of them. It was Rose dressed like the pink fairy she was. “Pinocchio, you’ve been bad,” she scolded him. “And every time you tell a lie, your nose will grow”. “I’m sorry!” he cried. “I won’t do it again. I promise! Just bring my little nose back the way it was!” He told them the true version of the story, while Rose summoned five woodpeckers to chisel down his nose. “Be good,” prompted Rose, “and you will be even better than a real boy”. And with a smile she disappeared.
Geppetto was disappointed that Rose didn’t help them escape the island but he believed that she may have taken care of that otherwise when he saw the figure of a dolphin skimming across the sea. “Look Pino!” he said, pointing at the dolphin rapidly approaching them. “Hoorah!” said Pino as they both rushed to the shore. The dolphin whistled them on as the two men climbed on its back and held onto its fin. Soon they were skidding across the ocean and before they realised, they were back home.
“Shame I never found the ‘Land of Rascals’,” Pino said as they were setting foot on land. “But that land doesn’t exist,” said the dolphin. Pino was startled both by the news and by the fact that the dolphin could talk. It had been silent during the journey. “It’s all a sham,” it continued. “It aims to lure children away from home and on the wrong path. Hundreds of children have disappeared looking for it. You’re lucky to be reunited with your family,” said the dolphin as it playfully waved its fin goodbye.
Geppetto and Pino arrived home tired but happy. They made their peace with each other and agreed to be more understanding of each other’s needs. A warm embrace ended the day and Pino fell asleep in Geppetto’s arms.
The next day, Pino set off to school. He was determined to make things right. He had learnt his lesson. Accompanying him to school, Geppetto went to find Rose to thank her for her help. In her office he found Will the cricket, serving as her assistant. Will was happy to see Geppetto well and beaming with joy that Pino was back. “Have you any news of Pike?” asked Geppetto. “Well,” said Will, “last he was heard of he was forced to work as a woodchuck in order to sustain his former stripper wife and his soon-to-be family”. Geppetto smirked. At that moment Rose glided through the door, smiling widely at the sight of Geppetto. He thanked her repeatedly for all she had done for them. “My pleasure!” she replied. “As long as I can keep the boys on the right path, I would do anything!” “There’s one last favour I would like to ask,” uttered Geppetto timidly. “I would like for us to be a real family with Pinocchio. He feels different being made of wood and all. Can you help us?” “I’ll see what I can do,” smiled Rose cheekily, having sensed Geppetto’s urge.
The school day ended and Pino hopped back home where full of excitement he told Geppetto all about his day and what he had learnt at school. “I’m going to be the best student!” he proclaimed. “And I’m going to study and work hard so I can help you”. Geppetto was proud of his son.
A knock on the door announced the arrival of Rose. Bright and glistening with fairy dust, she approached Pino and said “You have learnt your lesson well. I’m delighted to see you work so hard to take care of your father and for that I will grant you the wish you both long for – to be a real family”. And with that she whisked her silver wand in the air, filling the room with sparkles.
Pino looked at his hands and legs. Nothing had changed. He then glanced over to Geppetto. He had turned into a full-grown wooden puppet!
“Pàpa puppet!” he joked. Geppetto smiled brightly and they both laughed, joyfully dancing around the room.
Geppetto and Pinocchio were a real family. And they lived happily ever after. For as long as wooden puppets can live.
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