By Ken K. Gourdin
In response to an invitation calling for puns on Mormon Dialogue and Discussion, I posted both of the following:
The king needed to get an urgent message from one side of his kingdom to the other. The two sides were separated by a river which was spanned by a bridge. Ordinarily, such a circumstance would be of no consequence, but this river was home to a giant yellow monster. Often, the king’s attempts to communicate with the other side of his kingdom via messenger were thwarted by this monster, as it rose up out of the water to molest, harm, or perhaps kill the king’s messengers. This particular message, however, was of singular importance, and it was vital that it be delivered to the other side of the kingdom. Knowing the long odds, the king chose his bravest knight as messenger. Undaunted, the knight donned his armor and mounted his trusty steed. He rode throughout the night, approaching the bridge at full gallop. As he began to cross, suddenly, a giant yellow hand came up out of the water and pulled the brave knight and his trusty steed to the dark depths below, where they met their tragic and untimely end.
The king was deeply saddened when word of the knight’s death reached him, but there was little time to grieve. As I said, it was of singular importance that this vital message be relayed to the other side of the kingdom. Thus, the king chose his second-best knight as messenger. Undaunted, the knight donned his armor and mounted his trusty steed. He rode throughout the night, approaching the bridge at full gallop. Alas, just as had happened with his predecessor and fellow brave knight, as he began to cross, suddenly, a giant yellow hand again came up out of the water and, again, pulled the brave knight and his trusty steed to the dark depths below, where they, yet again, met their tragic and untimely end. Yet again, the king grieved when word of the knight’s death reached him, but there remained the task of delivering this singularly-important, vital message to the other side of the kingdom.
Realizing that he could no longer risk his best knights (no matter how gallant and brave), not to mention the kingdom’s best horse flesh, to this risky venture, the king decided to try a different tack. From among his servants, this time he chose, not a brave and valiant knight, but, rather, a lowly page. And this time, the messenger would not approach the bridge at full gallop but, rather, on foot. This time, it took the lowly (but valiant) page two or three days to reach the bridge. Gathering his last ounce of courage as he approached, he inhaled deeply and began to walk across. Again, the giant yellow hand rose up out of the water, the monster ready to claim yet another victim. Expecting yet another gallant, trusty steed at full gallop, however, this time, the monster’s timing was thrown off, and he narrowly missed grasping the lowly (but valiant) page and dragging him down to the dark depths below, where he would have met his tragic and untimely end (no doubt to be mourned by the benevolent king when word of his death reached the castle). Instead, the page was able to proceed calmly to the other side of the kingdom, where he delivered this singularly important and vital message. Moral of the story? Let your pages do the walking through the yellow fingers.
* * *
Many of us are quite afraid of snakes, and, in many cases, not without good reason. In his travels in the dead of winter throughout the city, Bill chanced upon one such serpent. He might’ve reacted the way many of us would have, recoiling in horror; instead, however, he found himself fascinated by this snake’s unusual ability. As he looked upon the snake, it began speaking to him. The cold-blooded creature was in a truly poor state given the low winter temperatures, and it asked Bill, “C-c-could you s-s-spare a c-c-coat or a b-b-blanket?” Ordinarily, Bill might not’ve been disposed to take pity on such a creature, but he recognized the unusual opportunity presented by this one’s apparently-unique ability. “I can do better than that,” Bill said. “Why don’t you come to my house and warm yourself by a nice, cozy fire.” The snake was most grateful. “Th-th-thank you!” he said. Of course, it wouldn’t do to have a mere nameless stranger under Bill’s roof, so he introduced himself. “My name’s Bill,” he said. “N-N-Nate,” the snake replied.
What might’ve been a brief visit turned, instead, into a more long-term relationship, as the more Bill and Nate talked, the more they realized they had in common with one another, and they became genuine friends. Bill and Nate became inseperable, as Bill took his new serpentine friend everywhere: Out to eat, to the movies, to work, to the pool hall he often frequented after work, or even to church. Given that they were inseparable, it was inevitable that many of Bill’s friends became Nate’s friends, too, of course. One night, the two friends were watching a late-night newscast in which a bulletin was broadcast about a dangerous lever that was reported to be somewhere in the city. Reportedly, if the lever were pulled (whether inadvertently or on purpose) a bomb would go off, destroying a significant portion of the city.
Their sense of civic pride and duty to their home city welling within them, Bill and Nate felt they had to do something about the lever. They had to at least try to find it before someone with malevolent intentions did, or before another curious, unwitting, unwary citizen chanced upon it and triggered it out of curiosity. They thought their chances would be better if they split up, so that’s what they did, and of course Nate’s litheness allowed him to wriggle into many places the bigger, less agile Bill could not go in search of the dangerous lever. They searched diligently for several hours before Nate rounded a street corner not far from the duo’s house and, lo and behold, found the lever. Nate quickly sidled up to it. Not long afterward, Nate saw Bill’s very recognizable car turn the same corner. Realizing the acute need to warn his friend of the impending danger, Nate jumped up into the air and used his body to begin spelling out letters like mad:
Alas, though Bill knew something unusual was afoot, as sometimes happens, he was unable to put two and two together quickly enough to figure out exactly what. Though this choice may have been borne less out of conscious thought than out of instinct, by the time it dawned on him that it was his friend trying to warn him of the lever, Bill was faced with a choice: He could either hit the lever and harm a significant portion of his fellow citizens, or he could sacrifice his friend and save them. On instinct, he did the latter. Crestfallen, Bill got out of his car to survey the damage, his deceased friend’s body now splayed across his windshield. A mutual friend of the pair had seen what happened, and went over to console the snake’s best friend.
“I saw what happened,” the mutual friend said. “I know that you and Nate were great friends,” he continued, “and it’s never easy to lose a friend, but, well,” and here he paused, searching for the right words before finishing, “Better Nate than lever.”
* * *
The King knew that treasure was buried somewhere in the kingdom, and he suspected one of his Counts knew, as well. Alas, “gentleness, and kindness, and love unfeigned” had not succeeded in his attempts to persuade the knowledgeable party to share his knowledge, and in circumstances such as those, the king certainly wasn’t above using … Ahem! … other, less pleasant methods. When he decided that less extreme methods would not work, the King turned to his executioner, the Marquis de Sade. One by one, the Counts were called in; one by one, they were threatened with the most extreme punishment if they did not divulge the treasure’s location; one by one, since one cannot divulge what one does not know, each of them met his untimely, unpleasant end under the sharp blade of the executioner’s guillotine. Down to his last few Counts, the King summoned the next victim. Just as the others had been, he was interrogated; just as the others had done, he denied knowledge of the treasure’s location; and just as the others had been, he was placed in the correct position on the guillotine, his untimely end imminent. But this time, just as the switch was thrown, the Count cried, “Wait!” But it was too late. Down came the blade, and off came his head, knowledge of the treasure’s location now forever lost to the king due to this botched interrogation. The King, of course, was furious. “You idiot!” He berated the executioner. “How could you do such a thing! How many times have I told you? Never hatchet your counts before they chicken!!!!!!!!!!!!”