Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Ballad of Oliver Crump

About 10 years ago, I embarked on a kid's book project about a tyrant and bully who announces people's secrets, a commentary on the growing lack of privacy. The character was Oliver Crump and he came to mind just today when I realized his name had the rhyme and cadence of Twitter-mad cyber-bully, Donald J. Trump. Metrically, the names are interchangeable.

My wife put together some lovely illustrations and we shopped the project around without success. Here is the set-up and premise and some of the artwork.

Oliver Crump, artwork Ana Fajardo

Oliver Crump

On a peak above Goodsville, on top of a stump,
In a hat lived a grump named Oliver Crump.
From the roof of his home with his thing-a-ma-probe
He would peep in on people all over the globe.

Then, from out his loudspeaker, he squeakily squawked.
To all those down below, he said, "Frankly, I'm shocked."
"My good people of Goodsville," exclaimed the news bearer.
"I've the tallest of truths!" The whole crowd shook in terror.

"Your beloved Queen Minnie has food in her teeth!
And King Vinnie's right shoe has no sole underneath!"
Crump then snickered while adding, "No need for applause,
I have readied a list full of everyone's flaws.

"I observe and I scribble and say what I please.
I see Kenny Keyes knees have fleas on their fleas!"
A few townspeople gasped while still others just hushed–
And in back of some bricks little Kenny hid, crushed.

With her brother boohooing alone among bricks,
That's when Mary Beth Keyes, who was merely but six,
Felt such anger, she shivered and uttered a vow,
"I will raise up my voice and fight back." Only... how?

With a map in one hand, the young Mary Beth Keyes
Made her way to the palace. She hollered out, "Please!
We must stand up to Crump, we must show him we're brave."
But the king and the queen merely gave a brief wave.

All their cows acted sheepish, their sheep were all cowed.
Only Mary Beth Keyes dared to speak to the crowd,
"First we jump when Crump jumps then we sneeze when he sneezes.
We allow him to spout out whatever he pleases."

Did this cheeky child mock him? Crump spoke with a huff,
"I see Mary Keyes' nose grows a purple nose stuff!
And more shocking than that, do you want to know what?"
"Me? I really don't care," Mary answered, "umm. . . so what?"

"You don't care!" exclaimed Crump with a lump in his throat.
"No one's said that before." First he wrote down a note,
Then he sealed up his hat so the lights all went black,
And he hung out a sign that read, "Wait! I'll be back."

"He'll be back," said King Vinnie, "but what can we do?
I'm still short of the money to buy a new shoe."
"He'll be back," said Queen Minnie, it truly upset her.
"We have hidden before. We'll just need to hide better."

"He'll be back," said a man to the royals in charge.
"I am Doctor Jack Pott, expert genius at large."
His pants were all baggy, his collar too snug
And Mary considered his smile much too smug.

"Worry not!" said Doc Pott, "I've you're answer right here.
The best way to fight fear is with even more fear!
With my whatchama-scope I'll give Crump a big fright."
Mary shivered and muttered, "That doesn't seem right."

Past the top of all up, on a peak above that,
Doctor Pott found a spot in an empty wine vat.
Where he crowed to the crowd from his telema-caller,
"One and all, listen up! I have truths so much taller!

"I reside in a vat with a whatchama-scope.
Crump, he hides in a hat. Just to think! What a dope!
His mind's stuck in a fog that got lost in a mist
And his brain's blown a fuse. He's got wires crossed and crissed."

Crump grumbled and cried out, "You're wronger than wrongest!
My thing-a-ma-probe is by ten times the strongest.
I have everyone's flaws on a twenty-foot list!"
"I can double your list," is what Doctor Pott hissed.

"I see failings and ailings, all blemishes, boils
And some plump juicy lumps that are oozing out oils.
I see all Crump can see, even more in reverse."
By now Mary was sure this had gotten much worse.

I feel I should cut it off here. It seems wrong to dump the entire piece on-line. Anyone interested in the finish can drop me a line and I'll send it your way.


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