The Boy Then Turned, and Flew South

There was once a boy with monsters for hands. One monster was a little ectoplasm blob which was covered with mouths, constantly eating.

The boy had to keep this hand gloved, or else he could not type or hold things, as the mouths would eat anything upon which they were set.

When he forgot to glove them, the hand mouths ate pencils, chair arms, the tails of kitties that the boy petted.

He had to sleep with this hand thrust into a sack of rice, so that the mouths would be sated. They made tiny crunching noises all night long. Obnoxious crunching noises, like when someone is trying to eat lobster gracefully. (Everyone knows that the only thing to do when eating lobster is to give up.)

The other hand was actually a tiny robot devil. The robot devil set up a desk on the boy's forearm, and he typed memos there all day long.

This made the boy's forearm tired, as the weight of the devil and his desk bore down and down and down.

His days and nights blended into a bird twitter symphony of typing and crunching, a constant pecking and chipping away at nothing in particular.

The hands presented many challenges to the boy. If he wanted to feed himself, he had to convince the mouth monster to share its food with him. This was impossible, as the mouth monster was like an eyeless grub or earwig, both of whom are known for their resistance to persuasion.

He was forced to resort to asking kindly fishwives to place food directly in his mouth. But the fishwives were very busy, as all they did all day was beat huge salmon against the rocks over and over again in order to kill them, and this took quite a bit of time and effort.

So they only had time to give him scrips and scraps - an oxtail here, a carrot top there, and they shoved these quickly in.

This was embarrassing to him, so he had to find interesting ways to ask for the feeding, in order to preserve his dignity. Here are some tactics he tried:

1. "Do you want to feed me? Because I'm not sure I even like eating. It makes me nervous. You can feed me if you want, but I have to go in like ten minutes, okay?"

2. "Don't you think it's funny that I'll never be able to hand-craft anything? Sometimes I look at labels that say "hand-crafted," and I think it's a personal attack on me, or maybe a prank. Are you going to eat that tail or what?"

3. (Training stray cats to procure the food for him, and to use their paws to inch it towards his mouth.)

The boy could still type and hold things, as long as they were not food, but the devil hand criticized his technique and dexterity to the extent that he did not want to.

If he had had a job, he would have hired a servant; without a servant, he could not get a job.

He thought this Catch-22 hilarious, but the degree depended upon his mood. Occasionally he got tired of cracking jokes about it, just to make other people comfortable.

One day he cut off both hands, and threw them down a well. For the first time, he heard silence.