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Misery

Posted on January 21, 2017 at 9:40 AM

MISERY (Adapted from an old Russian Fairy Tale)

 

In a certain town there lived two brothers; one was poor and alcoholic and the other was well off with no alcohol problem.  The rich younger brother lived downtown in a big house, and belonged to the small business association.  But the poor alcoholic brother often had not even a piece of bread in his house, and his little children sometimes wept and begged for some food to eat.  Day after day he struggled, but he never brought home any money.  One day he said to his alcoholic wife: “I will go to town and ask my brother for help.” He came to the rich brother and asked: “brother, can you please help me a little in my misery; my wife and children go hungry for days on end.” “Work in my house all week, then I will help you.” What could the poor man do?  He set to work, swept the yard, washed the car, cleaned the rugs and the basement.  At the end of the week the rich brother gave him some food to take home and some AA literature. “This is for your work!” he said. “Thank you even for that,” said the poor brother; he hugged his brother and was about to go home.  “Wait a minute!  Visit me tomorrow and bring your wife with you.  Tomorrow is my birthday.” “Little brother, I don’t belong here, you know it well.  Your other guests will be merchants in expensive clothes, and we wear peasant clothes.” “Never mind. There will be a place for you.” “Very well then, brother, I will be there.”


The poor man returned home, gave the food and literature to his wife, and said: “Listen, wife, we are invited to a get together tomorrow.” “A get together?  Who has invited us?” “My brother.  Tomorrow is his birthday.” “Very well, then, we’ll go.”  The next day they went to town;  They parked down the street and walked on up to their rich brother’s house, congratulated him, and sat down on a bench.  Many prominent guests were already seated at the table.  The host served them all abundantly, but fearing that his alcoholic brother and sister-in-law would ruin the party, he did not offer them anything to drink; they just sat and watched the others.  The dinner was over, the guests began to rise from the table, and to thank the host and hostess.  The poor man too rose from his bench and hugged his brother.  The guests went to their designated driver's cars, drunken and merry; they were noisy and sang songs.


The poor man, however, walked to his truck feeling somewhat depressed.  He said to his wife: “Let us sing a song too.” “You blockhead! The others are singing because they drank their fill.  What gives you the idea of singing?” “Well, after all, I have been at my brother’s party;  I am ashamed to walk without singing.  If I sing, everyone will think that I too had a good time.” “Well, sing if you must, but I won’t.” The alcoholic began singing a song and heard two voices.  He stopped and asked his wife: “Was it you who accompanied me?”  “What is the matter with you?  I wouldn’t think of singing a note!” “Then who was it?”  “I don’t know,” said the woman, “but sing again in the truck, I will listen.”  He sang again, and although he alone sang, two voices could be heard.  He stopped and said: “Is it you, Misery, who are singing with me?"  Misery answered: “Aye, master, I am singing with you.”  “Well, Misery, let us ride together.”  “We shall, master.  I will never desert you now.”


The alcoholic came home, and Misery asked him to go to the tavern with him. The man answered:  “I have no money.” “Oh, alcoholic!  What do you need money for?  I see you have a new coat, but of what use is it?  Summer will be here soon, you will not wear it anyhow.  Let us go to the tavern and sell the coat.  The alcoholic and Misery went to the tavern and drank away the new coat.  On the following day Misery began to moan that his head ached from drinking, and he again called upon his master to go drinking.  “I have no money,” said the alcoholic.  “What do we need money for?  Take your tools—they will do.”  There was nothing to be done, the man could not rid himself of Misery; he took his tools, to the tavern, and drank them away with his companion.  The following morning Misery moaned even more and called upon his master to go drinking again.  During the next few days, the alcoholic drank away all his electronics and household appliances.  Before a month had gone by, he had squandered everything; he had even pawned his pickup truck to a neighbor and taken the money to the tavern.  But Misery again pressed him: “Come, let us go to the tavern. No, Misery, do as you like, there is nothing more to sell.” “Why, has not your wife two dresses?  Leave her one, and the second we will drink away.” The alcoholic took one dress, drank it away, and thought: “Now I am cleaned out!  I have neither house nor home, nothing is left to me or my wife!”


Next morning Misery awoke, saw that the alcoholic had nothing left to be taken away, and said: “Master !” “What is it, Misery?” “ Listen to me.  Go to your neighbor and ask to borrow the pickup truck.”  The alcoholic went to his neighbor and said: “Give me the truck for a short time; I will work a week to pay you for the hire of it.”  “What do you need it for?” “To go to a meeting in town and to haul some wood” “Very well, take it; but don’t overload the bed.” “Of course I won’t, my benefactor." 


"You call that a pickup truck?" said Misery as the alcoholic returned from the AA meeting.  With misery sitting on the passenger side, the alcoholic drove into the open field to gather some wood. “Master,” said Misery, “do you know the big stone in this field?” “Of course I know it.” “Then go straight to it.” They came to the stone, stopped, and got out of the truck.  Misery ordered the alcoholic to lift the stone.  The alcoholic lifted it with Misery’s help; under it, they saw a ditch filled to the brim with gold. “Well, why do you stare?” said Misery. “Hurry up and get it into the truck.”


The alcoholic set to work putting the gold in the truck bed.  He took everything out of the ditch.  When he saw that nothing was left, he said: “Have a look.  Misery, is there any gold left?”  Misery leaned over the ditch. “Where? he said. “I cannot see anything.” “But it’s shining there in the corner.” “No, I don’t see it.” “Crawl into the ditch, then you will see it.”  Misery crawled into the ditch.  He no sooner had got in than the alcoholic covered him with the stone.  “That way it will be better,” said the alcoholic, “for if I take you with me, miserable Misery, I will drink away all this fortune, even though it will take a long time.”  The alcoholic came home, stashed the gold, took the pickup truck back to his neighbor, continued going to AA and began to consider how to establish himself in society.  He built himself a large house, and lived twice as richly as his brother.


After some time, a long time or a short time, he went to town to invite his brother and sister-in-law to his sobriety anniversary celebration.  “What an idea!” his rich brother said to him. “You have nothing to eat, yet you are celebrating.” “True, at one time I had nothing to eat, but now, thank God, I am no worse off than you. Come and you will see.” “Very well then, I will come.” The next day the rich brother and his wife came to the celebration; and lo and behold, the once wretched man had a large wooden house, new and lofty, such as not every merchant has!  The alcoholic gave them a royal feast. The rich brother asked him: “Tell me, please, how did you become so wealthy?” The alcoholic brother told him truthfully how miserable Misery had attached himself to him, how he had led him to drink away all his possessions, down to the last thread, till nothing was left but the soul in his body, how Misery had shown him the treasure in the open field, how he had then taken the treasure and got rid of Misery.


The rich man was envious. He thought to himself: “I will go to the open field, lift the stone, and let Misery out—let him ruin my brother completely, so that he will not dare to boast of his riches to me.”  He sent his wife home, and rushed to the field; he drove to the big stone, turned it to one side, and stooped to see what was beneath it.  Before he could bend his head all the way down, Misery jumped out and sat on his neck. “Ah,” he shrieked, “you wanted to starve me to death in there, but I’ll never leave you now.” “Listen, Misery,” said the merchant, in truth, it was not I who imprisoned you beneath that stone.” “Who then did it, if not you?” “It was my brother who imprisoned you, and I came for the express purpose of freeing you.” “No, you are lying! You cheated me once, but you won't cheat me again!”  Misery sat securely on the merchant's neck; the merchant carried him home, and his fortune began to dwindle away.  From early morning Misery applied himself to his task; every day he called upon the merchant to drink, and much of his wealth went to the tavern keeper. “This is no way to live,” thought the merchant. “It seems to me that I have sufficiently amused Misery.  It is high time I separated from him.  But how?”


He thought and thought and finally had an idea. He went out into his broad courtyard.  He found an empty bottle, removed the cap and carefully buried all but the opening under some dirt and leaves.  He came to Misery. “Why, Misery, do you always lie on your side?” “What else shall I do?” “What else?  Come into the courtyard and play hide-and seek with me.” Misery was delighted with this idea.  They went into the yard.  First the merchant hid; Misery found him at once, and now it was Misery’s turn to hide. “Well,” he said, “you won’t find me so soon.  I can get into any hole, no matter how small!” “You’re bragging,” said the merchant. “You can’t even get into that tire swing, let alone a hole.” “I can’t get into that tire?  Just wait and see how I shall hide.”  The merchant turned his back and covered his eyes as he stood up against the large tree in the center of the courtyard and began counting "one, two, three...".  Misery located the small opening in the courtyard and crawled into the empty bottle.  After saying "Ready or not, here I come.", the merchant capped the bottle and cast it together with Misery into the nearby river.  Misery drifted out to sea.  The merchant and his wife lived again as of old.  The alcoholic and his wife kept on going to their local AA meetings and lived happily thereafter alcohol free.  

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