Saturday, October 28, 2006

keep digging, watson

When I was eight or nine years old, I read a bizarre short story in our third-grade reading book. I think that it was an old Mexican folk tale, but the memory is hazy, the details sketchy. Here's how the story goes:

There was a bad little boy whom no one could control. One day he threw a rock at another little boy and accidentally killed him. He then propped up the dead boy in the middle of a road where a horse and buggy soon came by and struck the dead boy. The townspeople blamed the driver for the boy's death and either jailed or executed him.

Somehow the bad boy ends up dying (don't remember how). St. Peter takes pity on him due to his age and lets him into Heaven. Big mistake, as the boy commences to torment all the angels. St. Peter then sends the boy down to Hell. The boy torments the demons there even more, nailing crucifixes inside their houses (even at my young age, I chuckled at the idea of little bungalows in Hell, as if the damned had merely been relocated next to a steel mill).

So the boy ends up before St. Peter again--Lucifer must have lodged a complaint with the eternal housing board. St. Peter says that the only solution is to turn the boy into a stone. Rude to the end, the boy insists that he be a stone with eyes. Thus, there is now a stone with eyes as part of the Pearly Gates.

I know what you're thinking: what sick, twisted individual would think that such a story is appropriate for third-graders? Remember, this was the seventies. There was no such thing as political correctness--in choir one year we sang the actual lyrics to the theme from M*A*S*H, Suicide Is Painless, and we also used to sing John Lennon's Imagine. Damn, I miss the seventies.

Anywho, I've been trying to track down this wicked folk tale for years with no luck. That's where you come in, dear readers. Has anyone else ever read or heard of this story? Any idea who wrote it or where I could find it?

Let's make this a contest. I have an extra copy of Blood Sugar by Nicole Blackman. Tell me what this story is, and I will send you the book along with my heartfelt thanks and maybe a surprise gift or two. Please help me solve this decades-old literary mystery!

1 comment:

Audient said...

I have never heard of this story, but I love the idea of a hell-raising kid nailing crosses to the walls of home in hell.