A creature with a bald pate and beady eyes sat at one end of an immensely long wooden table.
By Suzanne Kelly.
Damian Baits lived in a kingdom by the sea called the Shire; it had rolling green fields, sandy shores, meadows and hills. Deer grazed in fields, great birds flew overhead, and precious flowers grew.
In the centre of this great shire was a city of silver. Well, granite anyway.
In the heart of the city was a little green park in a valley, sheltered from the harsh winds and verily it was a trap for the sun.
The people had many ways to earn their keep, and young Damian was no exception. In fact, he had a calling in life for he was a journalist, and his newspaper was read by the town crier so people throughout the kingdom knew what the skinny was with the local burgermeisters at the town hall.
Alas! There just wasn’t that much money in the news business. Damian had high ambitions; he wanted to be like the lords and barons who lived in castles. He knew eventually he’d find a way to succeed. And it came to pass that his opportunity arose at last.
Now Damian had kept an old cow for some years; but he had grown tired of her (although some say it was mutual). He decided to trade her in for something new. Walking to the market with the poor cow to sell, Damian’s path crossed with that of a man in a suit.
“Good day sir, nice to meet you.” the man smiled at Damian. “I am an accountant with well-respected firm PriceHousewatercooper. Or, as the common folk would say, I am a bean counter.”
“How exciting that must be!” said Damian, for he knew that beancounters counted other people’s money, made wild predictions for the future, and got handsomely paid for it.”
“Why yes it is” said the suit, “In fact, I am just now doing some work for one of the giants, have you heard of Sirian of Wood? He is a giant in these parts, and I’ve just made some calculations for him on one of his projects.
“Sirian says he can make the townfolk billions of gold dubloons every year, and that millions of visitors from around the world will come to buy the produce of our little hamlet. All we would have to do is put a few wee modifications into yon city centre garden. It will be nearly as wonderfully profitable as all the money I’ve predicted farmer Tesco will make this year.”
The stranger had a lopsided smile, and somehow didn’t seem to be that honest looking, but Damian was now thinking of dubloons. The stranger took a small pouch from under his three piece suit, and shook its contents out, revealing three little beans.
“Here are five magic soya beans – probably the most valuable thing in all the shire! I got them from one of my clients called Montsantto; he is a wizard who creates strange hybrid creatures. Says it’s all perfectly safe. I’m taking these beans to market to sell, wife says she won’t have them in the house.” said the stranger.
“But you’ve only got three beans there – look” said Damian.
“Och well, I’m an accountant” said the little man “we can’t always be expected to get all our figures right. Tell you what I’ll do – I’ll trade you these 8 beans for those two cows you’ve got there” the man offered.
“I’ve only the one cow, and you’ve only three beans” explained Jack.
“Done!” cried the accountant, and he disappeared in a flash of smoke with the cow.
‘Guess I should have asked whether I’m supposed to plant these or eat them’ thought Damian. To be truthful, he was not the most swift-thinking journalist in the land. He decided to take them home and plant them by his front door, which he did. He went to sleep that night, glad to be rid of the old cow, wondering what the beans would grow into.
Damian could not believe his eyes; overnight a beanstalk appeared where the beans had been sown, and the beanstalk was enormous! It reached higher than the highest Tree for Every Citizen by miles.
‘Forsooth’ Damian thought. ‘I will climb this beanstalk. Perhaps there are stories and adventures awaiting that the people should know of.’
Damian set out, using his best and most well-honed climbing skills. He paused once to look back and was astonished to see how far his climbing had taken him. He could see the green fields, the rivers and the beautiful sea shore of the shire. Two friendly peregrine falcons circled for a moment before flying back to the tower they lived in near the city centre park. Pausing for a moment to consider the shire’s great beauty, he then resumed his quest.
He climbed and climbed and climbed; the clouds grew thick above him, and an eagle soared far below. Suddenly he was aware that out of the clouds a small castle had appeared; there was a long drive leading up to it; misty vapour along this drive seemed to clear as he took his first steps along it.
‘My goodness’ Damian thought. ‘It seems to me that this driveway is heated! What wonderous magic is this?’
The drive led to the small castle; and two henchmen appeared. Damian was sore afraid, but they almost seemed to be waiting for him.
“This way Mr Baits, we’ve been expecting you.”
The men wore dark suits and talked into small strange boxes; a voice seemed to emanate from these bewitched items.
“Is that Baits arrived? Bring him on in.” A man’s voice squeaked.
Damian was led into a main room where he feart the giant must be lurking. A creature with a bald pate and beady eyes sat at one end of an immensely long wooden table. But as Damian approached he realised this was no giant after all.
‘Why this wee mannie’s no giant after all’ Damian thought to himself., ‘In fact it looks like wee Stewart, the kitchen fitter. Is he wearing lifts? I wonder how he comes to be in this castle?’
The little mannie spoke:
“Fie Fi Fo Fum
“I want to build a stadium
“I may wear lifts cause I’m not big
“But honest gov, that’s me hair not a wig.”
Damian had no answer to that, and remained silent.
“Have a seat Damian – may I call you Damian?” The little man enthused. “I’ve been expecting you. You can call me The Chairman.”
The henchmen pointed to a little chair; Damian realised that sitting in it would make him seem very small compared to The Chairman who sat on a throne with a booster seat. Damian sat, and so did his mysterious host.
“How did you come to find your way to me then Baits?”
“Someone offered me some magic beans; I thought they’d be like the magic mushrooms I had the once, but a beanstalk grew instead. I climbed and climbed and climbed, and then through the mist, I saw the road to your castle. The steam and mist seemed to spring from the road as if by magic and it seemed to me I was meant to come done the path.” Damian explained.
At this The Chairman chuckled.
“That would be my heated driveway, don’t you know. Very ecologically sound. In fact, they let me re-design this castle. It may be vibrant and dynamic now, but it was terribly old fashioned before.”
The henchmen withdrew.
“Now Damian, I’m really a very nice guy, but some of the peasants don’t like me. In fact I think the peasants are revolting. It’s been said I’ve tried to bribe the city planning elders one year with whisky – in fact this outlandish tale appeared in your very own newspaper. We’ll have no more of that I think.”
The man pulled out a small sack of gold and put it on the table. Damian’s eyes grew wide.
“The people also think I want to steal their lands and the lake at Loirston where the birds drink, swim and feed. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’ve also said that I wanted to steal the people’s park in the town centre for my own ends. Such lies! In fact, I merely wanted to enhance the lake and the fields – with a few hundred parking spaces, a stadium and the like.
“As for the townspeople’s park, it’s not at ground level, and I’m sure a few layers of parking for their coaches and carriages would be preferable to the empty green space that is there now. It’s mere coincidence that I owned the lands across the great road, and needed space for carriages. As to those peregrine falcons that used to live in the ancient tower on my land, they chose to fly away.
“Of course, I put in spikes and lights to ‘discourage’ them, but verily I never forced them to go.”
Damian looked at the sack of gold the whole while.
“Chairman, I should love to help you; whatever service can I perform to help?”
“To start with, there will be no more tales in your news that make me look badly in front of the people” The Chairman continued.
“Perhaps some nice photos of me with my winning football team will make the people happy, and thus distract them from worries that would only trouble them. After all, I have used all my footballing skills these many years to build up the best team money can buy. If the stadium I built is apparently falling apart, and we need to move to a green field instead of rebuilding, that’s hardly my fault.”
“And as a little incentive to you, for every good deed you for me to enhance my reputation with the good people, I shall send you advertisements and gold. Your newspaper needs advertisements, does it not?”
The Boss leaned forward at this point; Damian saw the gold reflected in his eyes. ‘Surely those are the most kindly and honest eyes I’ve ever seen’ thought the young reporter.
“Verily I thank you for your kindness to the people and myself – these souvenir autographed photos of you are lovely and so is that yon sack of gold. Forsooth! I am in. Call me.”
At that moment a high-pitched squawking started from a far corner of the room. A goose sat on a nest, and seemed in distress. A moment later, the henchmen appeared. Taking the goose off the nest, Damian thought he saw the gleam of gold, and in an instant, a bowing henchman placed a beautiful golden egg before The Chairman.
“Not bad, eh?” asked The Chairman.
Damian’s eyes were as wide as saucers now.
“My goodness – what magic is this?” he asked.
“That dear boy is my goose that lays the golden eggs. I call her Council. Council has given me gold many times and in many ways. Council found lands in the Western Hills for me, and gave them to me for a song; I then started to grow rich. Council did even better, and by enchantments I was granted three properties to develop for 10,000,000 coins of gold.
“Had I not had the lands, I would not have had the leverage to be the lowest bidder among those bidding to develop those properties. Every now and again I am given further gifts.”
As The Chairman continued, Damian was entranced.
“Council made a magic circle for me; it is called AXSEF. AXSEF is a few, well – like-minded people – people like you and me, Damian, who want to help the city and shire grow smart and successful. And AXSEF even made me its king for a time.
“AXSEF does help – it’s helping me and my fellow giants as much as it can to get the townspeople on side and to bag that empty park the townspeople seem so fond of. and Damian, I think you may be able to help us with that too. Here, have a golden egg, and a free souvenir AFC coffee mug.”
The boy reporter was thunderstruck by the riches laid at his feet.
“I’ll be in touch soon dear boy” said the former kitchen-fitter, “do come back tomorrow; there is another giant who’d like to meet you and all.”
The henchmen already had Jack to his feet, and were escorting him and his new treasures off the property.
‘Wow’, thought Damian, ‘What a nice guy; just a little misunderstood. I am sure I can get him out of the stew he’s in – and get a little gold in the process.’
Climbing down the beanstalk and back into his small but stylish home that evening, Damian filed a story or two about the shortage of coach parking and the need for more football stadiums before falling soundly asleep, golden egg secure beneath his pillow, and a fist full of coins in his tighly-clutched hand.
Damian could barely sleep that night. He thought more stories he’d write to say what a nice guy The Chairman was, but it was this next giant that fired his imagination. ‘I wonder who he is and what he has in store for me?’ Surely I will do what’s right for the townspeople – of course – but maybe this is just another misunderstood fellow too?’ – that’s what Damian thought as woke that morning, the gold warming in his hands.
The sun was bright and bonny as Damian wandered towards the beanstalk. He climbed and climbed and climbed. In truth he was turning into quite an accomplished little climber. Once more he turned to look to see the shire. But what was this? The great loch, once home to bird, beast and flower was covered in earth moving equipment, and fences were going up nearly as quickly as the skeletal iron building frames. The animals were nowhere to be seen.
‘Oh well, we can’t really waste space in today’s world, that’s not ‘value for money’ Damian thought. He climbed and climbed and climbed – he was getting better at being a climber every day. But no friendly falcon flew to greet him today ‘I guess the bird got ‘discouraged’ and went to live somewhere else’ he thought.
This time when he reached a break in the cloud he could see a far grander castle than the one The Chairman lived in. Despite having the right to roam in the shire, there were fences blocking Damian’s way. A great jaguar sat in front of the castle, an X type it was. A blonde haired woman stood in the doorway, a broom in her hand. She wore a black gown – and Damian was afraid she might be a witch.
Sensing his fear, the lady spoke.
“Greetings Damian – be not afraid; I’m just wearing my university gown for verily I have been put by my lord the giant in charge of a great seat of learning. I’m Jenny Claw” she said.
She was rather tall Damian thought, and he wondered what great academic qualifications she had for so high-powered a post.
She led him to a great hall hung with tapestries.
“These are scenes from my master’s life you see” she explained.
There were scenes of a tall, gaunt grey-skinned giant in a fishing boat on one wall hanging, for that had been the giant’s first line of work. In another wall hanging, a most curious illustration of the people’s gardens was depicted – but it was somehow changed. Damian could identify the gardens from their location in the town, but they were transformed by some form of sorcery or other. He recognised the town centre garden, but in this tapestry, the grass had been replaced by stone.
Strange nonsensical shapes seemed to arch out of the ground, rising to dizzying heights over the concreted garden, and then down to the ground they descended. The centre of the gardens had a statue which seemed to be the giant Sirian Wood.
‘What manner of witchcraft is this?’ thought Damian Bait; ‘these stone arches seem to have no purpose but to go up and then down again. Verily, it puts me in mind of the market stall where Farmer McDonald sells his hot beef sandwiches’. Noticing Damian’s blank puzzled expression the blonde witch Claw said,
“Interested in the garden project? You’ll be hearing about that soon enough I expect. Isn’t it just the most transformational thing you’ve ever seen?”
“Er, sure it is.” said Damian, still a great deal perplexed.
The witch continued to escort Baits through the castle; indeed he thought she made a great escort.
Suddenly, a wailing woman’s voice was then heard elsewhere in the castle, and a man’s voice could be heard moaning as well.
“Whatever manner of horror is this??” Master Baits gasped
“Oh, that’s nothing” said witch Claw unphased, “that’s just my master’s wifelet taking her morning exercise with her gymnastics instructor.”
“Isn’t she your mistress then as well if she’s your master’s wife?” asked a puzzled Damian.
“There’s only one mistress around here – or there’d better be – and that’s me” said the witch with a wink.
They entered a great hall. And there sat the giant, Sirian Wood.
Sirian barely noticed Damian’s approach, he was busy with a retinue of what seemed like lawyers and politicians. With a wave of his hand they withdrew eventually. The blonde turned to go as well, and Damian imagined that Sirian gave her a swift wink. Sirian the giant then spoke:
“Fie Fi Fo Fum
“If there’s money going, then I want some
“I know nothing about black fish
“The granite web is my dearest wish.”
Damian had no answer to that, and remained silent for a moment. Changing the subject seemed a good idea though.
“Wow, this is some place you have here” Damian enthused
“But surely you cannot fence in your property to the exclusion of the peasants; there is a right to roam in the land”
“Don’t you worry about any rights my boy; I never do.” the giant murmured.
“This place – ‘tis like heaven!” Damian exclaimed, thinking of the castle in the clouds and the huge mounds of gold sitting in a big pile behind the giant Sirian.
“Well, it is a kind of heaven; a haven if you will, a tax haven.” the giant responded.
The room was rather shabby, except for the pile of gold behind Sirian’s throne, which was enormous.
“You’re looking at my gold” the giant noted.
“That’s 50.4 million gold dubloons I’ll have you know. I’m keeping it for a very special gift which I wish the peasants in the city and shire to accept from me. Either that, or I’ll grow some tea in Africa, and help make the plantation owners richer, with my friend the Giant Saintberry. It will be a great gift to the city – as long as they do exactly what I say, when I say and how I say with my gift.”
“Wow!” Damian was awestruck, not fully understanding the logic of this ‘gift’ – but gold glinted in his eyes making him dizzy.
“What kind of tax must there be on this great wealth?”
“Don’t you worry about any taxes my boy; I never do.” the giant murmured. “Now let’s brass tack this.”
Sirian leaned forward.
“I want to give the people a statue of me, an outdoor theatre to enjoy all year round, rain, sleet and snow, and some beautiful arches of the finest granite. The people will be able to walk up one end of the arch, and down the other. This way they will be able to get from one side of the parking lot – er I mean garden – to the other. I will give them all this connectivity, people from far off lands will come here to shop.
“My accountants at Pricehousewater Coopers have done all the calculations as I’ve told them to do, and will make everyone rich. All I want in exchange for the money, the arches and the statue is that the townspeople give the park land to my good friends Crosby, Smith and Massie to, er, take care of. Now, you can’t say fairer than that – ”
The giant leaned forward close to Damian’s face.
Damian was swooning with thoughts of gold.
“If there were only some way I could help you.” Damian sighed.
“Oh, that’s very kind of you indeed.” said Sirian.
“Since you mention it, it would be very nice if the newspaper you write for could proclaim throughout the land my great generosity in making this gift, how great it will be, and how important those arches are – more so than a bunch of peasant owning a big grassy gathering place in the centre of town.” I’m sure you’ll come up with something – but just in case, here are a few dozen articles that my servants have prepared. Two a week ought to do it.”
A huge scroll of papers was put into Damian’s arms. He barely had time to think. Then again, thinking hadn’t really come into any of his adventures in a positive way so far. There was just one niggling doubt he had.
“So, these are then press releases? I should read them, then investigate, then write my own story?” a puzzled Master Baits asked
“No need for that dear boy; press releases, articles – why confuse the simple townsfolk and peasantry? No, it’s all researched; we even did a poll that proved they want some underground parking, shops and a web. My boy, I will give you some magic gold. Before you know it, you will be going to all the important balls and banquets that the town’s grandees hold. You’ll love it. You’ll be meeting more and more interesting people that you can help, and that can help you back. In short, just print the stories as they are.”
“Here is a tiny token of my thanks to you, you’ll be hearing from my people in due course.”
The giant drew out his sporran. It was covered in cobwebs. As he opened the clasp a great cloud of dust arose. He handed Damian a single gold coin. Damian tried to hide his disappointment.
The grey-skinned giant continued, “It is a great deal of wealth of course in and of itself, and there’s more to come, for this is magic gold. More gold will flow to the coffers of your newspaper as I advertise for strong men to work for me in the seas and in the office blocks we’ll keep building. But mostly, keep this piece of gold, and when people know you have had gold from Sirian, then they shall fall over themselves to help you, knowing how important a person you must be to know me. ”
The giant arose; the door at the end of the great hall opened, and there was that blonde witch again. She stood in the doorway, one hand stretched out to the top of the door opening, the other on her hip.
“Right, er, it’s time for my, er afternoon nap” the giant said; Damian thought he was perhaps blushing.
“Before you go, have you heard of the giant Trumpo? He is a great wizard; he can turn muck into money, and he can fly over the oceans. Where he goes, red carpets and pretty girls appear. He is also a great scholar just like me and my assistant Jenny – I mean Ms Claw. I know this, because I own the great seat of learning called Robbie G’s, and it coincidentally gave Ms Claw a great job, and gave Trumpo a degree, making him an honorary doctor.
“You’ll love him. Climb the beanstalk tomorrow at the same time; you’ll be driven to his castle in the clouds. The Mary MacLeods to be specific.”
The giant waved his hand, and his servants appeared again, bustling Damian out of the hall. From the corner of his eye Damian thought he saw the giant wrapping his arms around his assistant Ms Claw, but before he knew it, Damian was back on the beanstalk, on his way back home.
That evening Damian had quite a bit to think about. When he arrived home, all sorts of invitations awaited him – dinners and parties and feasts galore. ‘I must be a pretty important guy’ he thought. He put his one gold piece from Sirian on his mantle piece, thinking ‘I want everyone who comes here to see this’.
He fell asleep while reading the many stories about the gardens which would be turned to stone. Words like “vibrant, dynamic, connectivity, transformational” circled around his head. Once when he was about to nod off he realised he hadn’t asked the giant how much it was going to cost to make this grand web – or what it was for. ‘I must remember to do that sometime’ he thought as he fell asleep.
Despite his many trips up and down the beanstalk, Damian was filled with trepidation about his pending audience with the Great Trumpo The Donald. Trumpo was greatly feart in the city and shire alike. His fierce temper, his bellowing voice and his giant sized face with cavernous mouth caused the people to tremble. Damian was awestruck to learn that Trumpo could indeed fly.
Some townsfolk whispered that Trumpo had also caused burgermeister Alex to fly as well, for Trumpo came from a faraway land and Alex visited him for great banquets. It was said by some that Trumpo the Donald was half bear and half giant. This explained the tufts of hair on his head, his roar, his slavering jaw, and huge appetite to get his paws on anyone and anything he desired. Then again, these traits might just as well be due to the fact he was American.
Damian wore his best kilt, and made his way up the beanstalk. Things were different. Was this a dark cloud he was passing through? No, it was in fact smoke billowing from one of the many motor carriages and wagons that lined the roads. A new great ring road was springing up, and Damian could see that the field where horses once pranced and played was now a construction site.
‘All for the best, or so the giants tell me. I’ll trust it to them for verily they are rich – and some even have fancy university degrees!’ he told himself.
He looked down. The fields of green weren’t so green now. The Hill of Tullos was barren – there were no deer, no dame’s violets, no foxes and no gorse. ‘Good’ thought Mr Bates ‘those animals were vermin, the dame’s violets were garden escapees, and that gorse was invasive, serving no other purpose than to shelter the deer, the birds and the foxes. Trees – now that’s where money is – or that’s what my new friends tell me anyway.’
But all he saw was glimpses of tiny fledgling trees engulfed by weeds. The other fields nearby now sported more construction sites or glass and concrete office blocks. ‘What did I ever see in those fields?’ Damian asked himself ‘grass is just empty space that does no good’ he reasoned. No pesky peregrines or irritating eagles came to circle him today either.
Damian did wonder what turning he would take through the clouds on the beanstalk to find Trumpo – but he needn’t have worried. As the clouds cleared, far off loomed the largest sign he’d ever seen, announcing ‘TRUMPO’S GOLF COURSE AND TEMPORARY CLUBHOUSE. THE WORLD’S GREATEST GOLF COURSE. CASH WELCOME.’
The mist cleared; green grass and a road were visible – speeding down the road towards Master Baits was a white van. ‘Acme Security Company’ it said on its sign. Two men – nearly giants themselves – jumped out and raced towards him.
“Halt! Who goes there! Where’s your ID? What are you doing here? I’ll smash your camera!” said the first guard.
“Hold on a minute there – this is our expected guest to be sure, tis Mr Baits hisselff!” exclaimed the second, extending a hand of welcome. “In ye pop and we’ll take you to the boss himself.”
Damian was bundled into a van and sped down a beautifully smooth path. He was driven at speed past huge mounds of earth, topped by dead and dying fir trees. ‘Well, that’s different’ he thought.
The van parked by a mysterious gate. It was wood painted brown; it sat at the end of a huge coach and carriage park. Either side of this gate was neither fence nor barricade, just more mounds of earth. ‘I guess that access code business doesn’t hold much weight up here at the dizzying heights these giants live at’ Baits thought, as he realised only the fittest and slimmest climber would be able to pass that gate.
They got out of the security van, and there stood an amazing sight: it was the biggest clock Damian had ever seen. It stood 20 foot tall – perhaps Trumpo was so big he needed a big clock Damian wondered – either that or he was compensating for something. On closer inspection the clock seemed even more wonderous – it had four different faces. ‘Trumpo must be very wealthy indeed – and look, each side of the clock has a slightly different time. Perhaps that shows what time it is in the magical realm he’s from, and other realms too.’
The temporary clubhouse was not quite as grand as one might think the world’s greatest golf course’s clubhouse would be. A wooden and glass shack, with some round tables and chairs met Damian’s eye.
A voice boomed from far away.
“Bring in the prisoners!”
The voice struck fear in everyone’s hearts – the guards’ and Damian’s too.
Damian and the two guards entered the clubhouse. A gigantic figure of a man with something on his head sat at the far end of the room. Two of the town’s constables entered, each dragging a man in chains before Trumpo.
“Sir, we caught these two men talking to one of your managers” one of the constables started.
“It’s a breach of the peace, sir. They were asking when yon peasants in the farmhouse will have their water supply fixed – you know, the one we accidentally cut off the other week on purpose. This one’s called Anthony of Baxter; the other is Richard of Phinney. They claim to be journalists.”
The policeman shoved the two chained men forward in front of the giant and stepped back
Trumpo’s face was like thunder. Aesthetically, this was an improvement. He stood and shook his fist. Surely now Damian would hear the kind of oratory and wisdom that a doctor from Robbie G’s school would be expected to employ. Trumpo spoke:
“Hey! Whaddya think youse guys is doing, comin inta the world’s greatest golf course and taking pictures and talking to my fellers. Wadddya two wiseguys tryin ta pull already? Jeez!”
The tall slender man in chains answered,
“We’re journalists. We want to tell the townsfolk what you’re doing here. You can’t treat people like this – cutting off their water supply, and arresting journalists! Journalists need to be free to let people know what’s going on in the world, you can’t bribe us, you can’t silence us. And by law, you can’t arrest us!”
The man was either brave or foolhearty – or indeed he was a journalist and therefore a little of both.
Damian took a step back. After all he was a journalist on the most popular newspaper in the land. Something seemed wrong to him somehow – was he doing a good job as a journalist? He felt vexed.
“Boss, you can’t arrest ‘em it’s true to be sure” said a security guard. “But I’ll bet you can throw them in the prison for a day or so, and teach ‘em a good lesson. If we give ‘em a caution, that’ll shut ‘em up.”
“All right, all right – just ged ‘em outta here, I’ve got an appointment with a real journalist guy any minnit now.” Addressing the two writers, with his hair flopping in his beady eyes Trumpo said.
“Youse two, you keep outta the joint – this is the world’s greatest golf course after all.”
“Oh no it’s not!” said Anthony and Richard
“Oh yes it is!!” said Trumpo
“OH NO IT’S NOT!” said the defiant journalists
“OH YES IT IS! NOW GED ‘EM OUTTTA MY SIGHT.”
Baxter and Phinney were dragged from the clubhouse in chains.
“Now I’m in one of my rare bad moods!” roared Trumpo the Donald.
“There’s only one thing for it – bring me my golden harpie.”
The fearful giant clapped his plump hands.
The security guards returned with the most beautiful thing Damian had ever seen: a beautiful harp with the face of a beautiful girl. ‘Hold on, I know her!’ he thought. The giant Trumpo spoke:
“Fie Fi Fo Fum
“She’s rather pretty if rather dumb
“Useless for golf, but good arm candy
“A girl like this comes in handy.”
“Hey Sarah honey, I think you know my visitor Damian Baits here, dontcha?” Trumpo asked his harp.
“Why yes, when I was but a girl, he plucked me –“ she started.
“I’ll bet he plucked ya sweetheart! Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!” the giant said, roaring with laughter at his own double entendre.
The guards looked at each other for a moment, one nudged the other in the ribs with his elbow, and they started laughing loudly at their boss’s joke as well.
The harpie blushed.
“Oh er, I mean he plucked me from obscurity, and crowned me ‘The Fairest Face of The Shire’” the harpie explained, hastening to add “It was truly a great honour – but not as much an honour of course as working for you. It’s real fun planning 900 homes, two golf courses, hundreds of homes and a clubhouse.” the harpie hastened to qualify her answer.
“Tell us whatcha know about golfing and project management, honey.” Trumpo demanded.
“Well, there are little balls. There are little holes, and er, you build stuff and then sometimes ask to get permission for the stuff you’ve already built, and… well it’s the largest sand dunes in the world out there.”
“Oh no they’re not!” Damian said before he could stop himself. Counting on his fingers he continued, “There’s the Sahara, the Empty Quarter, Death Vall-”
“OH YES THEY ARE! ARRRGH! Did you not see my plaque what I wrote by the dunes! It says the world’s largest dunes, sos that’s what they are gottit?!”
The giant rose from his seat, knocking the fake flowers out of the fake porcelain vase onto the fake wooden veneer floor.
Damian was frozen with horror at the faux pas he’d made; the whole room went silent. Thinking quickly (for him that is) he replied.
“Oh, yes, now I see what you mean of course these are the largest, greatest, bestest dunes ever anywhere – please forgive me, I need to do some more research on your beautiful golf club, and I’ll tell all the world – well everything you tell me to tell all the world” Damian stammered.
“Now that’s what I wanna hear!” the giant said; he seemed placated.
“G’wan, have my golden harpie, take her home with you, I’ll bet you can play her like a violin just like I have. Haw! Haw! Haw!” Trumpo sniggered.
“Now I’m sure you’re gonna wanna help lil Sarah harpie here arentcha Damain, and here’s some gold to keep her good looking”
Trumpo put his hand to his mouth and whispered to Damian,
“She’s a bit high maintenance, needs some work done – just like my other exes, Har! Har!”
Trumpo thrust the harpie at Damian; Damian was smitten. So this then was him reunited with the face of the Shire. He looked at her lovely G string, and thought to himself how clever he’d been to get rid of his old cow before taking home this lovely trophy.
“Now Damian, c’mere” said The Donald, putting a giant arm around the young reporter.
“ I want we should forgets all about those two guys what you saw before – not a word about them or journalism in your little newspaper going forward, got it? Sarah here has written some great stuff about golf and the billions of pounds of investment we’re gonna have using all her brain power – she’s smart as a whip, isn’t she?” said the giant, nudging Baits in the ribs
“We’ll help you write some great stories. Here’s our first one.”
Trumpo yelled to his minions again.
“Bring in those traitors!”
Several councillors were brought in by the security guards, chained together. They looked defiant.
Trumpo the giant turned to Damian.
“These wiseguys thought they could vote against my development plans – vote against ME! Well, you know I’m a giant, but I’m also a magician. Watch this.”
As Trumpo spoke he waived his hands and a great purple smoke appeared. When it cleared, everyone gasped for to their amazement, the councillors who voted against Trump had been transformed into giant turnips.
“Damian, you’re gonna take some pictures of these knuckleheads, put ‘em on the front cover of that little evening paper ya got, and in giant letters call them ‘TRAITORS’. That’ll show the townspeople what happens when ya try and cross me. You get turned into a neep – that or you get a bit of a granite overcoat. Haw haw!” Trumpo laughed heartily, his booming voice filling the temporary clubhouse.
Damian thought he saw the beautiful harpie shudder. He too felt uncomfortable. Surely the purpose of a newspaper was to present the facts, and make clear what was an opinion and what was a fact? Surely a newspaper had to report the truth despite however much gold it was offered by industrial giants?
“Oh Damian, can we go home soon?” The harp was singing now, and Damian couldn’t remember exactly what, but a moment ago something had bothered him.
He was quite contented to listen to Sarah’s voice. Everything seemed fine.
“There’s a guy I’d like you to meet as well Damian”, Trump spoke, clapping his hands and a wizened little old man with a red face came out of the shadows.
“This is my scientific adviser, say ‘hello Bill’ – it’s Professor Bill Ritchie, from the other shire university, not the one that made me a doctor. Bill tells everyone how green and environmentally friendly we is at the world’s greatest golf course, dontcha Bill?”
Trump grabbed the little man by the back of his neck and shook him a bit. The professor seemed little more than a puppet.
Damian was astonished: this was the little old professor who proclaimed far and wide that Trumpo’s golf course would be a great place for wildlife. The professor was supposed to record for the shire all of Trump’s great environmental accomplishments, and keep an eye on things. Alas! The professor had long since stopped receiving carrier pigeons or messengers; everyone thought he was dead. And here he’d been hiding all along, with the giant.
Damian wondered for a split second as to the famed professor’s supposed impartiality.
But it dawned on him: ‘I used to think the fields and creatures were good, but now that I’ve met these three giants with such great plans for our future prosperity, I see that the animals can go find somewhere else to live, and those pesky peregrines can flock off, too. I guess Professor Ritchie just figured that out before I did. I wonder if Sirian gave him a special honorary doctorate too – or some other giftie?’ Damian realised all was fine in the realm.
“Now before ya go, here’s a little bit of gold for you, and two very special gifts.”
Trumpo seemed very pleasant as he spoke. He reached into a shiny bag that lay on the table.
‘Would it be more gold?’ Damian wondered, ‘Perhaps a wonderous gift like the harpie or the goose that laid the golden eggs?’
“This is one of my personal Trumpo the Donald neckties, made in a faraway magical land called China. And this is my book, and I’ve even signed it.” Trumpo explained.
Sure enough, inside the book ‘The Art of the Devil’ was a big letter ‘X’.
“I’ll come see you next time I fly in, my granny was from Scotland land ya know.”
Trump was off, henchmen at his side. Damian took his swag and left.
Unbridled joy was Damian’s. With the harpie on his arm like arm candy, another sackful of gold, a polyester necktie and some great stories to print, he headed down the beanstalk one final time, knowing he was truly now the success he always knew he would be.
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