Billy Gates Gruff
For years and years, in a far off land by the sea, a wealthy merchant prince ruled a vast yet ever-expanding kingdom. But no matter how big the prince's kingdom became, he wanted it to become bigger and bigger still. In fact, what the prince really wanted was for his empire to be the only empire in town.
Now, this prince's name was Billy Gates Gruff, and he came by his name fairly. For Billy Gates Gruff was very gruff, indeed though you wouldn't guess it to look at him with his farm-boy haircut and aw-shucks sweaters. But Billy was, in fact, an arrogant, ruthless monarch, cruelly destroying other, smaller kingdoms. Kingdoms that were just starting out. Kingdoms that threatened his own. Or that he thought might. Possibly. Down the road.
This selfish, predatory behavior went on for quite some time, until, one day, not so very long ago, a fearsome and mighty ogre (when non-Gruffians tell the story, the ogre is not an ogre at all, but a brave sentinel) mustered all of his considerable powers and in one blow rent the prince's kingdom in two. This made the spoiled, gruff prince even more surly and blustery than usual.
"This isn't fair," he fumed to his princess, sitting in their sumptuous but still-under-construction castle. "It's all of you who will suffer," he grumbled at his minions. "I've been unjustly singled out by the Department of Ogres," he griped to the professional scribes at his hastily called decree conference. "Go kick that ogre's ass and don't come back until you've got my whole kingdom," he barked at his royal litigators.
As fate would have it, however, not every single person throughout the land agreed with everything the merchant prince was saying. Not everyone accepted the enlightened, reasoned, irreproachable (and highly selective) point of view he'd worked out for and disseminated to them, in terms simple enough that they the rabble, for God's sake should have been able to understand but apparently did not. This dreadful state of affairs this not seeing things in the same way the smartest man in the world (i.e., Billy Gates Gruff) saw them was totally and completely unacceptable, blinding Billy Gates Gruff with rage, making him huffier and puffier and "I've-had-enough"-ier and gruffer than anyone had ever, ever seen him before.
And it was good.
The Littlest Cell Phone
There once was a cell phone named Minnie Qualcomm who was very technologically advanced and therefore very, very tiny. In fact, she was so tiny that all the other cell phones that shared her display case at Circuit City looked bulky and dated by comparison. Which made them extremely jealous. And because they were so jealous, they teased Minnie unmercifully.
"Try not to get lodged in an ear canal," said crusty old Moe Torola.
"Didn't I read somewhere that you're a choking hazard for children under 3?" chided Eric Son.
"The phone in Barbie's Dream House would be easier to dial than you," taunted mean Mr. Audie O'Vox.
All of which made Minnie Qualcomm very sad indeed. She considered suicide, but was under warranty and felt certain she'd be brought back to life by technicians. She considered running away, but she was already activated for demonstration purposes and had been assigned a phone number, so she could be traced and tracked with a simple call.
Then, just as she was at her most desperate, an unexpected solution arrived. She was sold as a floor model and removed from the display; she left her wisecracking comrades behind without so much as an "I'm losing you."
Now, thought Minnie, I shall be an essential, adored and coveted accouterment. I'll help strike high-powered million dollar deals. I'll transmit the badinage and bon mots of the privileged. I'll participate in the swift resolution of emergencies.
Mostly what Minnie was in on was, "I'm running about 5 minutes late, but I'm on my way," and "I have to drop off your sister, then I'll pick you up," and "I'm in the salsa aisle right now. What do you want? Ortega, Old El Paso, Red Gold, Arriba they've got that in green and red Chi-Chi's, Pace...." By week's end she longed desperately for the smart, though spiteful, banter of her old displaymates. Alas, in her microprocessor of microprocessors, Minnie knew a return was not to be. Knew she'd spend the rest of her days enabling her owner to escape some frightening silence.
Thank God I'm giving this idiot brain cancer, she thought. This can't be over too soon.
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