A Trumped-up Tale
By Kit-Bacon Gressitt
Once upon a time, a girl child who appeared older than her years in her eponymous red and hooded cloak sashayed into the autumn forest to bring cake and wine to her Crooked Granny. And it was the granny’s bad liberal judgment that had put Little Red Riding Hood on the road alone, with a basket of booze.
Skipping along the trail, Little Red noticed Mr. Wolf expounding his many virtues and heaping promise upon promise onto a gathering of lowly forest dwellers. Although she couldn’t put her finger on it, he had a certain je ne sais quoi. Maybe it was his commoditized tan, the classy platinum and diamond cufflinks, his audacious howl imparting words she’d never dared whisper in public. She was uncertain, but the sight of him left her both wanting some of that and well entertained.
Mr. Wolf, meanwhile, having espied Little Red and her skin so fair, noted the symbolism and slicked down his fur. He grabbed her elbow and spoke cooing words, offering her an insider’s detour from her appointed path to the hugest flowers of the forest, on land he owned and had recently cleared of tree-huggers.
Although a bit trampled during the ecogeeks’ ejection, the flowers were of much greater appeal to Little Red than Crooked Granny, whom Little Red never much cared for, anyway. And she felt entitled to the blossoms. So it was that she happily abandoned her responsibility to pursue the pleasures of ephemeral gratification, with nary a thought of the consequences.
Little Red’s distraction allowed Mr. Wolf to arrive at Crooked Granny’s first, determined to sever the ugly old lady’s influence on Red’s lily-white, PC-battered family, even if he had to say something extremely rough to convince her. He was, of course, totally the only one capable of stopping her.
Crooked Granny, lacking keen sight, saw only a buffoon, assumed hers was the predominant perception across the land, and responded to Mr. Wolf’s entrance into her refined-yet-understated cottage with an eye roll.
Offended by her mean dismissal, Mr. Wolf did what any millionaire revenge artist and member of the lucky sperm club would do: He forsook negotiation and took the consumptive route, gobbling down the crooked crone—because he was certainly no schmuck, because it felt good, and because it was smart to be shallow. Then he bundled into Crooked Granny’s bed and sniffed at her sleepwear. The linens’ thread count was deplorable, but he knew he’d be sleeping in his own gilded forest canopy soon enough, so he settled in and awaited the naif’s arrival, eager to continue reciting the glib promises of greatness he would deliver upon her and her family.
Little Red skipped in as the sun was setting and the sky hinted of a hoary frost, but her cheeks were as rosy as her hood, inflamed with the joy of claiming the forest’s flowers.
Mr. Wolf looked at her, imagined a 10 beneath the red riding hood, and invited her to warm up under the comforter.
Although Little Red was curious about what had befallen Crooked Granny, she was more concerned for herself. In the forest, she’d seen other creatures receive countless special considerations—wings to fly, claws to climb, tongues to slurp termites from tree stumps, not that she’d ever eat termites—but she needed to think of herself first. She could not worry about others. So Little Red climbed into bed with Mr. Wolf and laid her head on his chest, confident that he would keep her warm.
Mr. Wolf, however, was still stinging from Crooked Granny’s nasty rebuke and he was a bit hungry. He contemplated making Little Red his unfortunate dessert or maybe just homing in for a grab, but his considerations were interrupted by Heroic Huntsman. He was yodeling by the cottage with his mighty sword in hand and satellite dish on his back. Mr. Wolf called to the huntsman to come in, invited him to sit in Crooked Granny’s rocker by the fire, and let loose an audacious howling, rich with sound bites and swagger.
Calculating the remunerative facts of the scene, Heroic Huntsman did sit. He put down his sword and took out pen and paper. And he wrote “The Ballad of Mr. Wolf,” which, come morning, he carried forth, following Mr. Wolf’s paw prints to all points of the compass, helping entice a huge minority of the populace to lend their ears to Mr. Wolf’s howls and applaud them, every one.
And Mr. Wolf lived happily ever after.
Little Red and Heroic Huntsman, it turned out, not so much.
With apologies to Charles Perrault and Brothers Grimm
About Kit-Bacon Gressitt
Spawned by a Southern Baptist creationist and a liberal social worker, K-B inherited the requisite sense of humor to survive family dinner-table debates and the imagination to avoid them. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, with an emphasis on narrative nonfiction, and has taught Women’s Studies in the Cal State University system. Her political fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry have been published by The Missing Slate, Trivia: Feminist Voices, Ms. Magazine blog, San Diego Poetry Annual, New Moon Girl Media, San Diego Uptown News, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, American University’s iVory Towerz, Chiron Review, and others. She is a prose editor at www.WritersResist.com.