The Pervert And The Piss-Pot
The Pervert And The Pisspot; Or, A 21st Century Fairytale
A very long time ago, there lived a farmer and his wife and their two children, Ivar and Ingrid. Ivar and Ingrid were as close as any brother and sister, and though he loved his little sister dearly, Ivar found himself frequently annoyed by her competitive nature.
His annoyance with her was sometimes out of love. One summer, Ivar wanted to learn to jump higher and farther, so he practiced by jumping over a piece of his father’s fence where the top rail was missing. Although he did his very best to discourage her, Ingrid tried the same feat, but her foot caught the railing Ivar had jumped over and she promptly broke her leg.
Sometimes, though, his annoyance with his little sister’s competitive nature was more selfish. The following summer, he wanted to improve his throwing arm and practiced by throwing small rocks he found in his father’s fields. His little sister again copied him. But because she couldn’t throw the rocks as far as her big brother, Ingrid decided she would learn to throw rocks more accurately — and she used him for her target.
If Ivar swam a stream three times across, Ingrid would try to swim it four — and Ivar would have to pull her out before she drowned halfway through the fourth crossing. If Ivar climbed halfway up a tree, Ingrid would try to climb to the very top — and then Ivar would have to climb behind her in case she fell, and that of course would have been a calamity for them both.
As patient as Ivar was with his little sister, though, no one’s patience is infinite; especially so not the patience of little boys. It was a game of hide and go seek that did it. Ivar had suggested it as a prank on his Ingrid, and hid where he knew she could not fail to find him easily. After she had finished her gloating, Ivar said, with the most innocent look. “Your turn!”
He counted on her competitive nature to drive her perhaps into a cubby hole or to one of the sheds that bordered the fields. He wore a smile as he imagined her tucked safely away for an hour or two while he fished peacefully, or maybe just enjoyed some quiet time to himself.
But the hour came and went in a bliss of peace and quiet. Then the second hour. Nearing the third hour, Ivar began to worry. Surely his little sister should have grown bored by now. He stirred himself and began to search in earnest.
She was not in a cubby. She was not in a shed. After another hour’s search, the sun made searching more difficult as it moved toward its rest, casting long shadows. Ingrid was not on the farm at all. Ivar began to panic. Not merely for himself, though of course she was his responsibility, but because as irritating as she could be, she was his sister, after all.
It was not simply that Ivar could not find Ingrid that was the problem. The season posed the more serious problem. Early spring had brought warmer days — but the nights had not become more forgiving, not yet. Worse still than that was that the warm days had brought rain storms with them. As Ivar felt a fat drop of rain land in his hair, then another, his heart squeezed itself in his chest.
He retrieved his winter cloak and hat from their hooks beside the front door to the family cottage; he feared that at any moment mother or father would swing that door open and call out to their two children to come indoors for supper, but to his relief he was spared the shame of making a confession to them for a little while longer.
So he set out on the path he could only guess Ingrid would have taken in her competition to best him at hide-and-go-seek. He walked with watchful eyes and ears sharpened by growing panic. He did not see his little sister. He did not hear her. Not a giggle, nor a rustle of leaves, nor even the sound of breathing. Soon, though, the light of the sun had gone. Worse, no moon showed, for the rain clouds hid the cold pale light and shed only cold rain down through the treetops.
Ivar’s heart was heavy in a chest tight with fear and grief now; yet in a moment he seized wisdom beyond his years and turned his course to home with only this thin sliver of hope to cling to: perhaps Ingrid had truly been nearer than he imagined and, just perhaps, she had gone back into their parents’ cottage when sun fell and rain followed. But the wisdom he seized was this: if indeed such hope was false, then it were better for his parents to lose one child than two.
So, grief-burdened, he trekked back the way he had come. But had he? The clearing that should have showed him the family’s cottage would not come. The rain soaked his skin through his clothes where the cloak could not cover him. Cold water rolled from the brim of his hat, yet it had likewise passed through the crown to chill his scalp and drip into his eyes. Ivar had never before in his young life felt so alone or so helpless.
His feet began to ache; so, too, the rest of him. The rain refused to relent, and the wind lent weight to the deluge, whipping it one way and another. With his body so wracked with discomfort and his heart so heavy with dread and grief, Ivar despaired that he would soon lose the drive to move any further.
It was then that he spied light through the rainswept trees. His heart leapt, refreshed, and he squelched his way to the light.
But it was not his family’s cottage. It was small and homely by comparison; its construction was solid and fine, but the angles where walls joined together under eaves, and where the small wooden door met its frame, hurt Ivar’s eyes somehow. He could hardly bear to look too closely at the cottage. The sight of it rolled his stomach and closed his throat upon itself and he could not have said why.
But he was mindful now of the wild tales he and his sister had heard from the children of the Earl; tales of wisps and wights, of mists that spoke to lone travelers, and birds seen with laughing human faces that would light on the highway stones, that shrieked laughter and mad rants at the unwary traveler. Ivar shivered.
But the shiver the cold wind driven rain sent through him was stronger, and so he reached out and rapped his knuckles against that door. He huddled within the little comfort of his cloak as the water poured before his eyes from the brim of his soggy hat and the wind gusted wickedly. Then the door opened and he breathed a sigh of relief for two reasons.
He had expected to be greeted by… he did not know what. But the face that peered from the lamplit room was like the face of his grandfather. Elderly yet kindly, time-worn yet with more wrinkles made by smiles than by scowls. The little old man’s white hair was wispy and wild. Behind him, after a moment, a little old woman came into view to show curious eyes.
But it was who else Ivar saw behind the little old man that gladdened his heart; for there, huddled under a thick woolen blanket, sat Ingrid with a bowl of stew in her hands. “Ivar!” she cried happily to see him. “I won!”
“Yes,” said Ivar presently. “You won the game. And nearly lost your life, too! Our parents will be having fits now, I should not wonder.”
The little old man smiled to Ivar. “Get your filthy arse in here, you stupid whelp, and warm yourself by the fish fucking fire already.” Ivar had not quite made out the words before he found himself inside as well, and by the time he was certain of them, he was too busy shivering in his icy clothes to get much done except to chatter his teeth. All his superstitions about the little cottage had evaporated by the time a towel was brought, and a thick blanket, and a bowl of stew set by.
He had not thought of his hunger all through his fearful journey through the rain-blighted wood; but now it set upon him. He was given to step out of his sodden clothing, and that was hung near the fire to warm and dry.
“Ay, this is a healthy one.” the old woman remarked of Ivar in the moment he stood naked before the fire. His face flushed red but he said nothing. He was too cold and damp to make hay of it then. He accepted the thick, dry woolen blanket, draped it on his bare shoulders, then folded it around himself. These people were strange, but it had not yet dawned on him in full. His superstitions were forgotten.
“Where have you been?” he demanded of Ingrid. “You were meant to hide for an hour perhaps, why did you come so far into the woods?”
“To win the game, of course!” said Ingrid.
“Ha!” crowed the old woman. “What a viciously witless question! Why else but to win?”
“Such merry fucking games, ay!” said the little old man with a laugh. “See their strands, old woman! This one,” he pointed with a thumb to Ivar, “to grow to be a fishwife’s pervert! And the little bitch there to blossom into a ploughman’s piss-pot!”
“You are being callous!” accused Ivar. “Ingrid might have died in this wood tonight! So too might I have done!”
“How fortunate, then,” spoke the little old man, “that we seized you brainless brats from the blood crushed jaws of Death, hey?” he and the little old woman had a merry laugh at his wit.
But Ingrid took it with eyes widened by fear, and Ivar’s temper grew sore to see that. “See here!” he pointed. “Your language is wicked! You are but a filthy old man with a fat little wife!”
“That is so.” allowed the little old man.
“No doubt about that.” agreed the little old woman.
“Don’t you care?” Ivar demanded in outrage.
“Well,” the little old man pondered this question. “No. Why do you?”
“You have frightened children with your wicked language! And to compound that wickedness, you haven’t even remorse over it! You are villains! Villains!”
Ivar’s accusation rang from the walls, so passionate was the fire in his voice.
The little old man stroked his chin with his thumb. The little old woman patted at her hair as if deep in thought.
“I suppose it is true what you say.” the little old man confessed. “But if we are villains, we are certainly poor villains. We have taken you in from the elements. We have clothed you after the poor fashion for which we are able. Clothing is a skill at which we are not well schooled. We have fed you though we have little enough to eat ourselves. If we are villains, we are certainly doing a bad job of our villainy.”
Ivar thought a moment to give voice to remorse himself at hearing these things, but where in one instant his righteousness had been aroused, now his pride held his tongue.
After a long moment of silence, the little old man stood and bowed deeply to Ivar and Ingrid, remorse showing after all in his wizened face. “I was not sure myself, nor the woman. But you little ones are owed an apology; we have failed you. Our misdeeds have been second rate. We have not been proper hosts. Let us now make our amends.”
And with that, the cottage vanished.
Gone were the old man and the old woman; gone was the warm fire. Gone were the bowls of stew from which Ivar and Ingrid had supped. Gone were the lamps, the blankets, the rods on which Ivar and Ingrid’s clothes had been drying, the clothes left to drop to the muddy forest floor. Back was the biting wind. Back was the icy rain.
And the two small bodies were found next day with clouded eyes and lips the color of hearth smoke. The bereaved parents mourned, for a time; but following years brought more children. And when those children went walking in the woods, did they know what Ivar and Ingrid never learned?
You will know a measure of a man by what he does, not by what he says; ugly words may yet accompany a good spirit; most importantly, true wickedness does not distinguish between an accusation… and an invitation.
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