Jack and the Beanstalk: Twenty-first Century

March 5, 2012
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Once upon a time, not long ago there was a boy named Jack who lived with his mother. They had never been rich, but they had lived comfortably all the same. There was only one season which they both hated, and that was tax season. One year, Jack’s mother decided that she didn’t want the stress of finding the money and so she decided to tell Jack to bring some of her old jewellery to the pawn shop and figured that that would take care of the taxes this year. She sighed and clicked on the TV, happy that she and Jack wouldn’t have to be fighting with the tax man this year after all.
The next day Jack was walking down the street with an envelope in his jacket containing his mother’s jewellery. He stopped and leaned against a wall leading into an alleyway to reach down and tie up his shoelace. After he did so, he stood up again and put his hand inside his jacket, pulling out the envelope, just to make sure nothing had fallen out. He jumped as he noticed a hobo-like man standing right in front of him.
“What’s in da envelope?” asked the hobo-man in a gnarly voice. “Ya know it’s not good for young boys like yourself to be in dis type of business, ya know. But y’are so let’s get down ta bus’ness.” The hobo-man led Jack deeper into the alley. Jack knew he really shouldn’t be going with this man but he was curious to see where this was going. Then it occurred to him -- the hobo-man, thought that he, Jack, was a junkie.
“Uh, sir, well you see, I don’t think that I’m the person that you’re looking for…”
“O’course you’re the person I’m looking for. Giant sent you right? Must be a newbie, you are kinda young, but he’s getting them younger and younger these days,” he rattled on. “Listen I don’t have a whole lota dough on me right dis minute, so will these suit you okay?” He held out a few pills in his hand. “Now, give me that envelope o’ yours.”
Jack looked at the man, then at the grimy hand with the pills. His mother had always told him not to take drugs, so had all the teachers at school; in fact that was what the assembly at school was about last week. The presenters had told Jack and the rest of the student body what drugs did to you, and how they affected your state of mind. They said that kids thought that drugs would make you feel all free and that you would forget about what whatever your problems were, but in reality, drugs would ruin your life…
“What—are ya chicken or something? Just give me that envelope!” The man interrupted Jack’s thoughts.
“O-o-okay,” Jack stammered, “here’s the envelope”. He snatched the pills and ran out of the alleyway as fast as he could. He could hear the man yelling after him as he ran. Jack thought that the man must have looked inside the envelope and just found a few odd pieces of gold jewellery.
Jack found himself in the park near his house; he sat down on a bench and looked at the pills in his hand. “I’m not a chicken,” he told himself. “I’m not a chicken,” he told himself yet a second time. He then popped the pills into his mouth. All the while he was trying to go over what just happened in the alleyway with that man. Jack figured that Giant must have been a dealer who had sent someone with a “package” to the man who Jack had just met. “…Except,” Jack thought, “a chicken, or well, me – I came, and took, or you could say, stole what would have been his, in exchange for an envelope filled with some lousy gold jewellery.”
It was obvious that the pills were starting to take effect. All Jack’s thinking was getting muddled together. “Giant, chicken, gold…” Jack was starting to talk aloud to himself; soon his thoughts became even more confused. “Giant, gold, chicken, steal… Steal, gold chicken, giant.” People were starting to look at him. A mother with her child took one look at him and turned around to take a different path.
All of a sudden Jack jumped up from the bench that he was sitting on. “Oh no!” he cried, “I stole a gold chicken from a giant!!” Jack looked nervously all around him. “I’ve got to get away – I ate the pills that giant should have had. Now he’s going to eat me!” However, the drugs did their duty and Jack was no longer frightened. Then Jack grinned and began to relax. “I can go home now and tell Mom that I have a golden chicken, we’ll be rich and Giant won’t bother us.” Jack walked unsteadily back to his house and opened the screen door. His mother was sitting on the couch looking at him expectantly.
“Soooo…” she said, “what did they give you?”
“A golden chicken”, Jack blurted out “see look Mom, real gold!” As he said that he handed her an invisible chicken. His mom looked at him.
“Are you okay Jack? You look different. Did you go to the pawn shop like I told you to?”
“That’s it! Pawn… pawn, that’s like a trade, right?”
“Uhhh, yeah Jack, that’s it, why?”
“Can’t talk now Mom, gotta go”. Jack ran into his mother’s room and crawled down under her bed and pulled out a purse. He then emptied its contents onto the ground. Out came five dollar bills, ten dollar bills, and some twenty dollar bills. This purse was where his mother kept her secret stash of money in case, for some reason, they ran out. Jack figured that if he somehow found Giant, he could give him the money and everything would be all figured out. He just hoped that he could find Giant.
Jack went out into the living room where his mom was sitting. He was clutching onto all the money. “What are you doing with all that money, Jack? That’s my money. Jack, what happened at the pawn shop? Are you okay? Where are you going with all that money?” But it was too late for her to do anything because he was already leaving out the door. The only thing that she heard him say was that he was off to find Giant.
Off Jack went. He decided that he would go to Giant’s house and leave the money there, but first he would have to find the man he had met that morning so that the man could give Jack directions. But he would have to be discreet, Jack thought, so that the man wouldn’t think that Jack had just cheated him into handing over the pills. This time Jack found the man on a different street corner, talking to a rough-looking man. Jack crouched next to a tree and strained to hear what they were saying.
“What do you mean you already got the package, and it was the wrong one too?”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry G. what do you want me to do now?”
“Well now he knows too much obviously, you didn’t tell him about me did you? You didn’t say something stupid like ‘oh Giant must have sent you’, did you?”
Now the hobo-man that Jack had met stuttered uncontrollably. “Uuhh, w-w-well maybe” then he let out a shriek that sounded like a little kid as giant slapped him across the face.
“So that must be Giant”, thought Jack.
Now Giant was talking but Jack couldn’t hear him, Giant whispered something into the man’s ear. Jack saw the man gasp. “You want him what?” asked the man.
“You heard me, dead. I want him dead. Comprendo?” Jack felt a shiver go down his spine once he realized that he was the ‘him’ they were talking about. Jack patted his jacket where the money was. All he had to do was get the money to Giant, and then everything would be all right. Giant and the man stepped away from the house and into a big, fancy, black SUV, then drove away at top speed.
“This is my chance,” Jack thought. He stood up and headed toward the house. It was the back of the house and there was a screen door. Even though it was spring and warm outside, the inside door was bolted shut, with the screen door closed on top of it. Jack saw there was no possible way of getting through that way. He looked at the windows. Stepping back as he was trying to figure out how he would get himself inside the house to leave the money, Jack felt a large rock under his foot. “Perfect!” he exclaimed.
Jack stepped closer and looked directly at one window in particular. It was a few feet away from the back door and low enough that Jack could pull himself into it. Then he threw the rock as hard as he could at the window. As soon as he threw it, he realized that was probably a really stupid way to get inside because of the noise and because he saw that the windows had a latch that he could have broken. “Too late now though”, he muttered to himself. He gave himself a running start, jumped, and then hoisted himself into the house. Once Jack was inside, he wasn’t exactly sure what he was supposed to do. He looked around, and then decided to just leave the money on what looked like a kitchen table. He did that. But before he left he saw some ‘packages’ on the table. Jack figured the pills that he had already taken wouldn’t last him forever and that he would need more. “More now would be nice”, Jack said to himself; “aww, well I’ll just take a bit. Giant won’t mind”.
Jack thrust the money on the table and opened one of the packages sitting there. He took one of the pills and put it in his mouth. He swallowed it with one large gulp. “Just leave from the window now and goo... home……” Jack fell to the ground.
“Jack, Jack” Jack’s mother peered over her son anxiously. She had been at home watching Dr. Phil when the telephone nearly bounced off its hook ringing. There was a rushed police officer on the other side. “Are you Jack Benson’s mother?”
“Yes why”, she answered. She knew that it couldn’t be good news that a police officer was inquiring about her son.
“He’s unconscious right now at Sherbrook hospital. We found him that way a few hours ago on the ground of one of the biggest drug dealer’s houses in this state.”
“Oh my god, was he kidnapped or something?” Jack’s mother was on the verge of having a heart attack.
“No actually, it looked like he broke into the house, because there was glass everywhere and the window was broken. A neighbour called us because she heard a window breaking and thought that someone had broken in. She said that she was always suspicious that there was something going on in that house, and, well, she was right. Anyway it would be good to come down to Sherbrook hospital right away so that we can get everything sorted out.”
“Um, okay. I’m coming down there right now,” Jack’s mother said. She hung up the phone, and then she told herself to breathe in and out three times deeply before rushing out the door. A million thoughts were racing through her mind as she drove to the hospital. She couldn’t make sense of any of it, but what she thought she knew for sure was that it was all a mistake. It had to be.
When she got there, security officers were ready to escort her into a small office-like room. There were multiple police officers inside the room accompanied by a doctor and a nurse. “Where’s Jack?” asked his mother.
“On the third floor, we have him stabilized, but he still remains unconscious. We did lab tests and confirmed that he’s on ecstasy, and illegal uses of oxycodone. We believe he will be okay, but will need intensive rehabilitation over the next few years. It will probably be a number of years before he goes back to being his normal self – even then, a bit different.” The doctor looked dead serious as he said all of this. Jack’s mother thought about this morning, when Jack had been acting so strangely. Maybe this was why.
Now it was the police officers’ turn to speak. There was one who looked like he was in charge. He spoke first, “There are some serious consequences that will have to be addressed once Jack is more able to communicate. Obviously you don’t fully understand what has happened; neither do we, but we do know a few things. We do know Jack is on drugs, and we know that he has broken into a house, a house belonging to a notoriously infamous drug dealer who goes by the name of Giant, or sometimes just G.” The police officer paused to take a breath. He looked at Jack’s mother, “You don’t happen to know anything about this, do you?”
“You said Giant?” Jack’s mother asked, looking at the police officer. He nodded, looking impatient. Jack’s mother continued, “The only thing I know is that when Jack ran out of our house the second time, with the money, all he said was that he was going to find Giant. Or something like that, anyway.”
A nurse popped her head into the room, “He’s waking up, and you can go in now if you want”.
And so there was Jack’s mother, looking at her son, and calling out his name. Jack opened his eyes. “Huh? What’s happening?” Jack’s mother was so relieved that her son was waking up, but she was really disappointed in him. She didn’t know when the appropriate time to start yelling at him would be.
Once Jack got out of the hospital, he entered intensive rehab which would last a couple of years followed by less intense rehab, and he also got a police record. He was allowed to see his mother one weekend a month. “On the bright side” as one of the police officers said, “we did catch one of the most infamous drug dealers in this state”.
Ten years later, Jack and his mother lived happily ever after.

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