By Nathan Cromwell.
A youth in a park spotted a queerly outfitted old man talking to pigeons. “Hey, coot, what are you supposed to be dressed up as, a popinjay leprechaun fop?”
The man waxed cross. “And I suppose you are something special?”
The youth knew different, unless receiving the most fatherly lectures per waking hour counted. “I may not be, but you aren’t, either.”
The bag of crumbs exploded. “Whippersnapper, I’ll have you know that I can poop gold.”
“Look at the expensive cut of my greatcoat, my diamonds-for-buttons spats; regard the opulent band of pearls encircling my top hat. How can you doubt? Apologize, and I will chalk your impudence to youthful ignorance, and will even grant the ability to you.”
The lad was not so sure that the man was telling the truth, but greed trumped caution and he apologized. The man smiled, accepted, and, accompanied by an arcane gesture, told the youth he could poop gold.
The youth, after seeking out the old man daily, happened upon him talking to pigeons at the same bench on the same weekday as previously.
“I do not poop gold, you old liar.”
“Hmm. Have you been eating gold?”
“Then how do you expect to poop it?”
The lad flushed at how easily he had been made a fool, and expressed his dismay to the old man in the vernacular of the day.
“I see you are disappointed. Still, if you apologize to me for the coarseness of your manner just now, you will be able to poop gold after eating normal food.”
The youth considered, and decided that he could see no trickery in this. After the apology, the old man waved his hand and told the lad to be off and trying.
This time the lad did not waste days looking for the old man, instead waiting until the usual day and time. He stormed to the bench.
“Still, sir, I do not poop gold,” he said in approximately those words.
“Do you eat gold with your regular food?”
“No, I do not.”
“Then how do you expect to poop gold? Really, you are uncommon slow.”
The lad begged to differ, laying the wherefore on unscrupulous old men who duped innocent youths wandering the park. After he’d finished his diatribe, he added, “I will name my own request this time, and I have thought long on it: I want all the gold you ever have pooped.”
“I have never pooped gold in my life.”
“You said you did.”
“No, I said I could. Big difference. Alas, you’ve wasted your three wishes,” and so saying, he laid a finger aside his nose and vanished by walking along the path, crossing the ornamental bridge, and turning the corner to the west exit.
“He got you good,” said one of the pigeons.
Nathan Cromwell spent much of his Wyoming childhood being raised by wolves. Showing promise early he was enrolled in a private den, but was expelled along with classmate Mowgli for inciting village-trampling and a drunken night of tiger-skinning. Civilization encroached on his habitat to the extent he soon found himself in a split-level ranch house with a wife and two lovely kids, who were much relieved when the man of the house came home and drove Cromwell out. He currently works as a telemarketer in your babysitter’s attic.