MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Now, storyteller Kevin Kling invites us on an imagined ride by that famous little monkey Curious George through hell.
KEVIN KLING: Once upon a distant time, early in life's journey George did find himself in the basement of a five and a dime. Now, how he got there is not quite clear. He remembers tearing loose from his mother's hairy hand as the escalator neared the bottom. And although the sign said step up, George's feet remained flat for he knew curiosity killed the cat, but wasn't he a primate and above all that?
Down, down, down, rolled George. Nine times his eardrums popped and when the descension stopped, a sign that said abandon hope in the land of the dead, unless your height exceeds that of the clown's head. George stretched his neck till his slanted brow cleared the red wig, until a shade in a blue blazer appeared with a poodle that appeared to be sheared by a third grader with a tunic (unintelligible).
Hello, speak the spectre. My name is Scott and I'll be your guide. Down tricks, be outside, go for a walk. Now people the ride to the horde of Hades is a bit bumpy so I'll be headed out, steaming cups of coffee. Stay in your seats. That means you, George. Foreshadowing, foreshadowing, I'm a forshade(ph). I'm a foreshade.
George got in his cart and took a sip. The cart lurched forward. He burnt his lip. Then, before his open baby blues fears, mechanical creatures from the past did appear. There was Hamlet, eating a rotten Danish. A whole of vice-presidents apologizing in Spanish. Nostradamus, Nickidemous(ph), Rasputin, Faust. Ozzy Osbourne singing an aria from the "Flatermouse(ph)."
But behind the façade, real screens were leaking. Oh, that sounds like hell, said George, and that's where I'm seeking. Back in your seats, you naughty monkey. George, quick as a hiccup ditched his guide, spied a door that said non sa grata familia(ph) and stepped inside.
Ah, this is more like it, said George. As he spied a woman with six children affixed to her six breasts, excuse me, ma'am, excuse me, said the simian. Could you tell me the sin that you brought to this condition? And she, oh, I wish I could but I forgotten all that? Oh, that's my original sin. But that's old hat. Well, perhaps, it has to do with the children? Cried the ape. Oh, no. These are my pride and joys. On the left are the girls and on the right are the boys. These boys have stayed on long past their prime. These girls bite down without reason or rhyme.
What about the two on the bottom? Said George, they seem content. Oh, no, she said, they hurt most of all for they take no nourishment. I feel their tiny lips but they won't take their part and there's nothing more painful to a mother's heart.
Well, this isn't right, said, George, this isn't good. All you know is motherhood, and as he had pondered what he had seen, his path suddenly stopped and revealed a ravine - hold onto the rope, soldier, we'll pull you through. And out of the bile, George saw a line of men walking single file. They were ragged-tag and bloodied, and damaged, holding onto a rope by whatever means they can manage. Grab hold onto the rope, you will see what I mean. The few and the proud will get you pass this ravine.
George thought who is he trying to kid. This jarhead has too many holes in his lid. But as his hand touched the hemp, suddenly appeared a glorious chimp. He had muscles and hair, and a jaw like a bucket. Whatever I was going to do, said George, I'm going to chuck it and follow this simian saint. He's all I desire. He's the end that I ain't.
But as the group pulled forward, George's tail became larger than a tree. Wait for me, he said, wait for me. But the line tumbled off the cliff worse for the scrape, got off, and followed the image that was less than an ape.
Now, George's spirit fell deeper. He long for his mother's hairy hand, and when he opened his peepers there stood a woman of such perfection. George did concur - if I would have known she would go down and combed my fur. Hello, said our charming chimp champ, what brings a Victorian Secret like you to our dismal camp? Well, said she, I'm a winter and enjoy the molten lakes. Wow, I'm a chimp for all seasons if that's what it takes.
And suddenly, as he spoke, a tiny surfer shot through the wave and a quaff. She reached for the tiny Adonis but he was through her pipeline and off. Oh, pooh, she said, missed another. And with a manicured claws she dug into her check and exposed a hole - behold and lo - George did witness beauty aids and fashion tips, how to add to the lips, take from the hips. Oh, he said, this must be a commercial. I'll just wait for the show to begin. I hope it's love boat even for TV that was a sin and should be down here somewhere.
But as he waited it appeared there was no feature. Where's the attraction? shouted the fur-bearing fellow. Dobi, dobi surf(ph), dobi ciao bella(ph), I'm out of here. And he called to a man on a purch, hey can you see your way out of here? I wish I could, said the man for what it's worth, I've been up here for so long, I've lost touched with the earth. This used to be the pillar of society but those darn children have taken all the bricks away.
Well, said George, you look familiar to me. Yes, said the man. I'm starting to see your face ring a bell that once tolled for me.
There he is. There he is. It was Scott and Trixy(ph) and from that meek little cataract pet grew three heads, gnashing teeth, putrid breath. George shot away as fast as he could, into the room with mechanical chaps, grabbed Jack's ruby slippers and gave them three taps. I want to be home. I don't want to be dead.
And when he awoke, there he was in his bed. And there was his mother and his brother, too, and his sister and his father. And then, George knew. Wasn't he smart? Wasn't he clever? There was his family more familiar than ever.
BLOCK: Kevin Kling imagines, writes, and tells stories in Minnesota.
NORRIS: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
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