The Garbage Can Fairy


Bob Flicker



         Once upon a time ... in a broken-down house, where nothing worked   -- not even the father whom we will come to know further along in this story -- not the electricity, not the gas, not the running water, not even the cockroaches, there lived a family by the name of Hopeful. There was Father (unemployed) Hopeful, Mother (with child which meant that part of Father Hopeful still worked) and their eight Hopeful children (too numerous to name in my fairytale).


         If I had started this story two years sooner I would also have described Grandma Hopeful and Grandpa Hopeful but they may have died when part of the roof collapsed over their bedroom while they were sleeping. Father Hopeful could not afford to have the debris cleared away and so Grandma and Grandpa Hopeful are presumed dead allowing that they have not proclaimed their aliveness since Christmas two years ago and their presents remain unopened which is just as well considering that they were bananas. 


         Despite their abject poorfullness (my word-invention) Father and Mother Hopeful were as honest as the next persons in their miserable social environment, which means, for lack of opportunity they were forced into quasi-honesty. Lacking the good luck afforded to rich people who could indulge themselves in all sorts of profitable dishonesties, they wallowed in their poverty-riddled honesty until one day, while gathering empty bottles and cans (to be redeemed for cash) from one particular garbage can, they discovered a very old, crippled hag (I decided to resurrect the term in place of ugly old woman) buried alive beneath a treasure of returnable empties. How she got there may be the subject of another Grownup Fairytale but not this one.


         Father and Mother Hopeful were faced with a painful decision. If they helped the hag out of the garbage can she could, rightfully, claim the deposit bottles and cans that the Hopefuls had taken from on top of her. Father Hopeful weighed the hag on his mental scale of necessity against the cash they would receive from the bottles and cans that had buried the old woman.

           He placed the lid on the garbage can and started to walk away when Mother Hopeful took hold of his dusty, moth hole-riddled sleeve and insisted that he reconsider.


         Mother Hopeful was a reader, of sorts. She read fairy tales from fairy tale books she found in a trash can some time ago. Could, she wondered, that old hag really be a fairy in disguise? She knew about the Tooth Fairy although she never, as a child, had a visit. Could the old hag be, in reality, the Garbage Can Fairy?


         Lifting the garbage can lid she called down to the hag at the bottom of the garbage can, “ Are you the Garbage Can Fairy?”


         “I am.” replied the old hag. “Pull me out and I will grant you three wishes.”


         Now Mother Hopeful, having read many fairy tales, knew all about the granting of wishes. It was always three wishes. What could you do with just three wishes, particularly if you had eight kids and one on the way?


         “Three wishes are not enough.”


         “How about four?”


         Father Hopeful considered himself to be very shrewd since he almost got jobs on four different occasions. “Let me handle this.” he said to his wife, pushing her to one side. “Four wishes for pulling you out of the garbage can is not nearly enough.”


         “How many are enough?”


         Father Hopeful knew that opportunity had finally arrived. For the first time in his life, he was in control and he would make the most of it. The problem was that he had no idea how many wishes would be enough. One hundred came to mind. Could he and his wife think of 100 wishes? What could he wish for? Everything! What could his wife wish for? Everything! Too bad Grandpa Hopeful was not alive. He was good at wishing for things. No, he was good at demanding. Always demanding! Well, the collapsed roof ended those demands. Anyway, back to wishes and wishing for everything!


         “How many are enough?” repeated the Garbage Can Fairy from the bottom of the garbage can.


         “What are you waiting for?” Mother Hopeful said, nervously. “Tell her how many wishes we want.”


         Father Hopeful came to a decision. He would ask for one hundred and worry about what to wish for after he got them.


         “I want 100 wishes.”


         “Granted! However you must agree to one condition.”


         “What condition?” interjected a suspicious Mother Hopeful?


         Father Hopeful turned to Mother Hopeful, annoyed by her interference. “I thought of 100 wishes so I will take over.” He turned to the Garbage Can Fairy at the bottom of the garbage can. “What condition?”


         “You will be allowed 30 seconds to decide what each wish will be. If by the end of 30 seconds you have not made a wish it will be gone.”


         “What is so hard about thinking of a wish in 30 seconds?”

Father Hopeful said, turning to Mother Hopeful.


         “There must be a thousand wishes we could make without even trying.” she replied in agreement.


         “We agree. Let’s get started.” Father Hopeful said to the Garbage Can Fairy at the bottom of the garbage can.


         “First, pull me out of the garbage can.” replied the old hag.


         “If we pull you out, how do we know you will keep your word and grant us 100 wishes?” replied Father Hopeful, suspiciously.


         “I always keep my word, but if you need more than that you can keep the deposit bottles and cans you took from this garbage which are rightfully mine.”


         That was good enough for both Father Hopeful and Mother Hopeful and together they reached down and pulled the Garbage Can Fairy out of her imprisoning garbage can only to be surprised by what magically came with her, a huge base drum with a pedal, a bagpipe and a bonging grandfather clock.


         “What’s all that stuff for?” demanded Father Hopeful, seeming not to be surprised by it.


         “It is wish accompaniment apparatus.”  replied the Garbage Can Fairy who still looked like an old hag to Father Hopeful. “Are you ready for wish number one?”


         Father Hopeful and Mother Hopeful both nodded. “I will make the first wish.” said Father Hopeful, nervous with anticipation.


         The Garbage Can Fairy blew into her bagpipe and placed her foot on the pedal of the base drum. “There will be 30 bongs from the grandfather clock, each bong is one second. You must make your wish before the 30th bong ends.”


         Father Hopeful had so many wishes he wanted to make, he had trouble deciding which would be first. It would be—


         They sounded together, the BONG, the base drum, and the bagpipe with such volume that they wiped the first wish out of Father Hopeful’s head. The 30th BONG and its accompaniment ended without a wish being made. Wish number one was erased. “There are still 99 wishes left.” he muttered aloud to Mother Hopeful.


         Mother Hopeful had the same experience with wish number two. And so it went until wish number 100 was erased without a single wish being made.


         Father and Mother Hopeful took their bag of deposit bottles and cans knowing all was not lost, at least, they would have the deposit money from the Garbage Can Fairy’s bottles and cans.


The End


 © robert 2014