Aesop Revisited

Muldoon Elder

D Press 2007 Sebastopol
28 pp hand sewn

Artwork by Muldoon Elder & Hammond Guthrie


One time a very purple Sea Urchin, by the name of J. Thaddeus Suckbottom, asked a passing Sand Crab if she knew how his tide pool partner, the Sea Anemone, had gotten her name.

  The Crab thought a while, then replied in a rather hesitant and uncertain manner, that she really wasn't too sure about it but perhaps it came from the fact that Anemones that grow in the sea resemble, in an odd sort of way, another sort of Anemone, the beautiful and delicate flower that grows on land.

  "Listen Spike," went on the crab, now extending her thought and gathering momentum and confidence with each new syllable from the Sea Urchin's apparent interest in her analogy, "you don't suppose that you're called an Urchin because you're like a troublesome, dirty-faced little boy?" In case you wondered, "Spike" was Thad's nickname but being a proper sort of fellow, he preferred the more formal label of "J. T." and thus the Crab's presumptuous intimacy stuck in his craw to the nth degree and put him in a terrible huff. "What an outrage!" he mumbled, fuming under his breath, "to think I'm being spoken to with such condescending informality and on top of that I've just been compared to a trouble-making little ragamuffin. What nerve!" But the crab ignored the Urchin's indignation and rambled laboriously on and on about, what the heck, she herself had gotten her name because she always complained so much.

  To make matters worse, a high-handed Hedgehog happened to come along, on his way back from seeing his aunt off on a departing freighter on its way to Borneo, at that very moment and overhearing the conversation and being a bit of a pedant, he haughtily informed the Sea Urchin that he was much too lowbrow a creature to be named after human beings no matter how scurrilous they might be and that as a matter of fact, the little mischievous boys were actually named after the Hedgehog's ancestral kith and kin because of the prickly nature of nasty little boys. Sure enough, when J.T. checked his dictionary, the original meaning of the word urchin was indeed hedgehog. "Well," said the Sea Urchin, a little bit taken aback, "I guess these analogies do hold after all. So I'm a Sea Hedgehog am I? Well, since then we're cousins of a sort, how about having a little friendly duel? En garde!"

  "That might be fun... " riposted the Hedgehog bristling a little at the challenge but nevertheless keeping his cool as he casually devoured the Crab, grabbed a rock and offhandedly tossed it at the Urchin as he swaggered into the tide pool. But before he could finish his sentence the neighboring Sea Anemone who had been silently listening all along, caught him by the toe and slowly pulled him in for dinner, bristles and all.


For the Hedgehog: There's a lot of power in a flower; if you're hep, be careful where you step! For the Sea Urchin: When someone's taunting and rockin' ya, there's always a deus ex machina. For the Sea Anemone: Help from one's kith is not a myth, when you're searchin' for dinner, an urchin's a winner. For the Crab: There's absolutely no telling where you'll finally be dwelling.

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