My good friend Martin Goss is a poet, writer, teacher and saxophonist, and he often reads his poems and stories at clubs and poetry circles. He is considering starting his own blog, but as a ‘dry run’ he wanted me to publish his remarkable new take on an old tale, Rumplestiltskin, whose mid Atlantic slant may well appeal to my US friends.
So here is the story of Rumplestiltskin, and if you’d like to make any comments, Martin’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Personally, I think historians gave Rumplestiltskin a bum deal. After all, it was the girl’s father who got her into trouble, making those wild assertions about her spinning abilities. Turn straw into gold indeed, whoever heard of such a thing? So the king locks her in the tower, threatening execution if she don’t deliver the goods. Lets face it, without Rumplestiltskin she was in trouble big time. That king was monstrous, a madman whose piles always made him sour. And to cap it all, she then marries the guy. A typical dumb broad, that girl, no understanding of the male psyche. She thought she could change him into a kinder, more understanding king, but no chance. The guy was a fruitcake, chopping off heads whenever it suited him, which was way too often.
Of course, I’m not saying Rumplestiltskin was a great guy or anything, he had his faults I know. But he had his problems. Being a dwarf ain’t easy. From a kid he’d been teased about his diminished stature. That giant who lived in Beanstalkville used to pick little Rumplestiltskin up and dangle him upside down until he told his name.
“Come on, tell us your name, little man,” he’d boom. Little Rumple would squirm and wriggle, and all his blood would go to the end of his little elfin ears.
“Shan’t, shan’t,” he’d scream back, but he always did. Dangling little Rumple upside down was one of the few things that kept that giant entertained; he had no conversation.
Rumplestiltskin hated his name, wouldn’t let anyone know it. When it came to the school register and his name was called out, he’d just sit there, lips pressed together like Snow White’s thighs at graduation ball. Though she certainly changed later, it was her that hooked Dopey on crack, but that’s another story.
Anyway, when Rumple went back that last night to help the dame, she had nothing left to give in exchange for his technical wizardry. She’d given him some cheap trinkets on nights one and two, but now her largesse was exhausted. She had nothing left to give but herself, so to speak. And that’s the bit that gets left out of the official version.
Anyway, you all know what happens. It was in all the papers.
“If you become queen, the first born is mine,” he says, and spins her some more gold out of straw. Loads of the stuff, like it was going out of fashion. That’s one thing you got to say about old Rumple; he could spin gold like a master. But he had no intelligence when it came to the futures market. If he’d bought bonds, he could have cashed in. With all that gold around, the bottom would have dropped out the market. All the smart money would have hit the bond market like a tornado. There was no alternative after the crash in the gingerbread house market, what with wolves blowing them down and those three pigs and their jerry building. But like I say, Rumplestiltskin was a born loser.
So anyway, the dame has her baby and Rumple goes along to collect, and she gets all weepy. I can understand her point of view, mind. A bearded midget with insanitary habits
would not be my choice of a foster parent either, but a contract is a contract. Personally I have my doubts as to whether any court would have ruled in Rumple’s favour, but it never came to that. Rumplestiltskin had a heart of gold, which is where his great power came from, and he was moved by the lady’s tears. Mind you, the get out clause was a tough one.
“Guess my name in three days and you keep the baby.”
And that’s another thing, what the hell did Rumple want a baby for? Perhaps he was lonely, wanted another little person to play with, someone his own height. Who knows? Certainly he’d be no good changing nappies, it was quite obvious that frequent changing into clean underwear was not a priority with him.
Anyway, we all know what happened. The birds hear him singing that silly song about his name, and for a small payoff in birdseed they divulge the information to the royal messenger. Personally I think the bird’s sold the information too cheap, but that’s birds for you, cheap.
When, after a little momentary teasing, the queen gives with his name, Rumplestiltskin loses the plot entirely. Stamps his foot into the floor so hard, he has to pull his leg off to move, and poofff he disappears into nothingness. That was another thing about Rumple, he needed help with his anger management. But that’s how he was, leaving the dame with this rather unattractive leg bleeding profusely over her carpet.
And that was that, except for one thing. That baby was always very small, no bigger than table top height even fully grown, and his personal hygiene always left a lot to be desired. So maybe Rumplestilskin spun more than gold that final night.