|For the emotionally underdeveloped humanoid in your life.|
Here's one now. Because I might be invited back to "Read Across America" at a Willard Elementary school, and that's basically the apex of my social life.
The Curse of Dewey Groder
Dewey Groder was a mean kid, with one big eyebrow and yellow, horsey teeth. He looked like he may have had a bit of goblin blood, or a Norwegian troll for a grandmother. His family lived in a house, and Dewey lived in the garage, because his parents were frightened of being very close to him. He had already punched everyone in his family hard in the stomach, including his mother, twice—once when she was pregnant! But even a mean kid has to love some things. He loved popsicles, root beer, dirt clods, pills (the kind that turn into foam animals when dropped in water), video games, and ninja stuff.
One day Dewey was over in the neighbor’s yard, hitting their dog with their cat. They just went limp; they were used to it. The dog actually liked it, at least much better than the cat did.
Then Dewey spotted a grasshopper on his favorite corduroy pants. He wasn’t wearing the pants—they were hanging out on the clothesline to dry in the breeze. He was in his underwear, which had two holes burned in them right where Superman’s eyes used to be. Yes, Dewey is the one responsible for the holes. Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with Superman’s heat-ray vision.
“Aha!” he said to the grasshopper, keeping a grip on the cat’s tail. “Now I will feed you to this cat!” Dewey grabbed the twitching insect. “Then I will grind everyone’s bones for my bread!” He was pointing all around, to the whole neighborhood. His troll heritage was coming out stronger than ever.
The grasshopper was actually a witch, out sunning herself on a warm day. The problem with turning into a creature for recreational purposes is that you can become very relaxed, and begin to actually TURN INTO the creature. In this case, the witch had been corduroy-lounging for hours in the soothing warmth of the sun, after drinking sweet beads of dew off clover leaves all morning. It’s enough to make anyone go soft and stupefied, like when you eat too many Cheetos and forget how to stand up.
“Wait!” cried the grasshopper. “Please don’t let the cat eat me! Their teeth are so pointy and their tongues are like sandpaper!” Was Dewey surprised at a talking grasshopper? Maybe a little, but he wouldn’t be coaxed out of his fun. In fact, finding a grasshopper with a shrieking little intelligent voice made this even better for him.
“Shut up, victim!” he said. “I don’t negotiate with the terrorized. Although, you do give me an idea….” Dewey, with the cat dangling from the tail, was momentarily drooling backwards.
The witch was beginning to come to her senses, but still had a ways to go before she could muster anything but threats.
“This will be tricky,” he said, “I only have two hands.” Maybe if he sat on the cat, he could pull the grasshopper’s legs off. The witch could see the look on Dewey’s face, and it was bad news.
“Let me go, and I will grant you one wish!” She was no genie, so this was a lie—she had no power to grant wishes.
“If you could really grant wishes, you should be giving more than one. How about one for each leg you don’t want me to pull off?” He went ahead and pulled one of the grasshopper’s legs off. “That should leave me one-two-three-four-FIVE wishes, right?”
“OW! You horrible beast!” The witch was now quite alert, and changing her strategy. “Don’t you DARE pluck my legs, or I will curse you to the rue-point, and BEYOND!”
“What’s the “rue-point” again?”
“The point where you really regret it! I will curse you, mean creature!” Now, the witch was quite handy with curses, so this was no empty threat, unlike the thing with the wishes.
“I think curses are funny, so go ahead,” said Dewey. “Bad words from a tiny bug? So-o-o-o-o-o-o SCARY!” And he ripped off another bug leg!
“GAHH! You punk!” Now the witch was getting warmed up and ready to go. She remembered her name was Znshindapi, and then she recalled one of her favorite spells. She clicked two of her remaining feet together and said, “Butterfingers!” She was not one of the top-rated witches in North America (she wouldn’t have even made the big leagues in Europe or Asia), but she had more than enough juju to scuttle a screwball like Dewey Groder, no matter how much stinky troll blood he had in his circulatory system. She slipped from his fingers, which had become greasier than a doorknob at a potato-chip factory.
“Butterfingers? How weak! I’ve heard worse curses on Sesame Street.”
But Znshindapi squeezed through a chain-link fence as she swelled to the size of a hot dog bun and her regular human face came back, saying, “We shall see, young creep-o. ‘Butterfingers’ is actually one of my more loathsome incantations, and you deserve it, picking on little animals this way! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some body parts to regrow… I’ll have to spend a lot of time as a newt or something.” She flapped off as a football-sized grasshopper with a doll-sized woman’s head. Then her hair got tangled in her wings, so she crashed into a garage, said non-magical curses, and ended up stealing some kid’s bicycle to get away—no easy trick without arms, but she was still a witch.
The cat ran for cover as it slipped from Dewey’s grasp. He was beginning to see the problem with having hands that ooze butter. He wiped his hands on the grass, but they instantly beaded up with slick, yellow butter.
“I’ll kill you, butter-bug-lady!” Dewey screamed.
“No, you won’t!” the witch yelled back from a long way off.
In the days that followed, Dewey learned just how miserable it can be having actual butterfingers. He spilled his root beer and dropped his popsicles in the dirt. His clothes were greasy, and he saturated his bedsheets with melted butter. If he picked his nose, he sneezed a spray of grease. He had to hold down the button on the drinking fountain with his elbow. He got pimples wherever he touched his face. All his comic books and magazines were translucent and stuck together.
Worst of all, his favorite video games were impossible to play—the controller shot right out of his fingers every few moves, and after a while, all the dripping butter ruined the device completely. He would never set another high score on Dr. Shotgun 3, or Powermad Munchkinauts, or Devil’s Dogcatcher 2, or Harsh Ninja. And forget about ever being a ninja in real life—he couldn’t even manage a zipper, much less deadly combat skills.
But every problem has a bright side. Dewey soon found that the neighbor’s cat and dog were very excited to lick his fingers, and they became his most dedicated buddies. He could get them to perform tricks and funny sounds, in exchange for a few finger licks.
At school, Dewey was less popular than ever, and his grades went from lousy to embarrassing, because now he could barely hold a pencil. But he learned to entertain himself in new ways. He could go down the slide faster than ever by sitting on his hands, then watch all the other kids butter their butts. He could throw dirt-clods that became greasy shirt destroyers—but his aim was terrible, for obvious reasons.
He also enjoyed making and eating buttered toast. If his mother opened the bag of bread for him, he could insert the bread in the toaster, push the lever down with a wooden spoon, then handle the toast and eat it. He found it rather delicious. He said, “Here is something I like,” chomping the toast. Even the crust was buttery, thanks to his disgusting digits. His mother moved the toaster out into the garage so he could toast without limit.
“Dewey, you have a phone call,” said his mom. She held up the phone to his face so he wouldn’t have to grab it and drop it.
“Weird, no one ever calls me,” he said. “They’re all too scared. Buncha wussies.”
“I think you’re enjoying that toast too much, LARDfingers,” said the witch through the phone. “No, wait—VASELINEfingers—now with vinegar!” Then she hung up. Dewey’s toast popped out of the toaster. For the first time in his life, he began to cry.