Friday, April 30, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: In the Nature of Scorpions and Tortoises

The tortoise was just coming to shore when the scorpion scuttled by. It stopped in the pebbles and waited for the tortoise to approach.

“Pardon me,” said the scorpion, “but could I have a ride to the other side of the river?”

“I don’t know,” said the tortoise. “I am going back there this evening, but I heard there are some very shapely turtles sunning up by the road on this side. I wanted to ogle them.”

“That is a noble cause, but I hear there are some very shapely scorpions over on the other side of the river. I’ve never seen the shape of a scorpion over there, you know. Lived here all my life.”

“That is a shame,” said the tortoise, trying not to look the scorpion in the face. Unfortunately at their level, there was very little else to look at.

“As someone with the gift of aquatic travel, I hoped you would see fit to help a brother out.”

“How long is a scorpion lifespan again?”

“Not impressively long. I’d very much like to ogle a decent scorpion before I die.”


“You’re not afraid, are you?”

The tortoise stirred. “No. What?”

“Good. There’s a terrible stereotype about scorpions stabbing people with the least temptation. Only rednecks believe in it.”

Scorpions can be very pushy, and any tortoise hates being called a bigot. He wound up rationalizing out loud. “Well, it’ll only be a minute. I’ve been swimming a lot faster lately. Cardio training from a race with a rabbit.”

“Is that so?” the scorpion inquired as he scurried up the tortoise’s shell. He paused at the top, his tail quivering.

The tortoise eyed him. Since scorpions have much more complicated eyes, he couldn’t tell if the scorpion was staring back at him.

They dipped into the water. The scorpion’s legs coiled inward as though he were dying.

“Are you alright?” asked the tortoise.

“I’ve never been over water before. I guess I’m nervous.”

The tortoise could not tell, but it seemed the scorpion was staring at his shell. He swam a little faster.

“Are you licking your lips?”

“I don’t have lips. I’m an arachnid.”

His tail bobbed, as though nodding in agreement. With every bob the thorny tip drew closer.

“Almost there,” said the tortoise.

The tail drew as far up as possible. It quivered for an instant.

“I’m sorry,” gasped the scorpion.

“Sorry for what?”

“It’s my nature!”

The scorpion struck down with all his might. His barb snapped against the tortoise’s shell.

“Oh, is that your nature?” asked the tortoise. “Mine’s a carapace.”

They didn’t talk for the rest of the trip. The scorpion got off with his head down, and the tortoise barely looked at him. He slipped back into the water with a mutter that sounded like, “Dumb ass.”


  1. effin' hilarious... A smart and modern update to the classic fable.

  2. This is brilliant, I loved way it built up. I'd love you to submit a non-animal fable for my Modern Fables contest, it'd definitely win because it'd be the only entry.

  3. Haha! Silly scorpion. I particularly liked the licking lips comment, but the dialogue as whole was quite entertaining.

  4. my favorite line:

    “I don’t have lips. I’m an arachnid.”

    Very creative and well executed. Clever.

  5. Ha! Well, I suppose you can't blame the scorpion, with such a short life span he doesn't have time to learn about shells or go to self-help classes. :-) Cute!

  6. I cracked up at the ending. Perfect. A tortoise calling a scorpion "dumb ass" is perfect. I love it.

  7. You do dialogue and funny so well!

    Favorite: “Oh, is that your nature?” asked the tortoise. “Mine’s a carapace.” Ha-Ha...

    Great, John, just great.

  8. This was very funny! So many great lines. I loved the "help a brother out" line. How many guys have tried to get their buddies to help them out with women with that line? Great story!

  9. Very good. It reads like a fable, but you had a twist at the end. I thought the scorpion was going to get him, but I was wrong. Good story.

  10. Thank you all! Brings great cheer to see favorite lines and such. I love writing wacky dialogue and if it makes people laugh, then it worked.

    Barry, hard to believe there aren't any submissions for that yet. And yet, I've had a difficult time figuring out just how a non-animal modern fable would work. Guess I'll put more mindpower to it this weekend.

  11. "No tortoise likes to be called a bigot." That's only one stellar line from this story that's full of them. Totally hilarious.

    I loved this. It's a pleasure to read.

  12. Somany great lines in this one. "dumbass" made my day!

  13. The fox & the gingerbread man meets the hare & the tortoise and the tortoise wins yet again!

    Loved the sound of the line "“As someone with the gift of aquatic travel," that just rattles around my head as a reader and makes me punch the air and yell "YES"!

    marc nash

  14. Brilliant! That scorpion's gonna be the laughing stock now with a broken stinger.

  15. Hilarious! Scorpions are indeed stupid! Enjoyed the whole thing, especially the tortoise admitting he wanted to ogle some lady tortoises!

  16. Superb. Very witty. I liked the part about the tortoise getting cardio training for the race with the hare. :)

  17. (snort)

    YOU make me laugh more than other writer.


    thanks. and peace...

  18. I think this one is my favorite so far!

  19. Fantastic, one of the funniest things I've read for ages. I really like the protagonists' personalities, and suspect I may get on quite well with the tortoise!

  20. Ahh, I love this. Great twist to the fable.

  21. The tortoise wins again! Woo. So the moral of this story is don't bite a brick - whether it's the nature of the beast or not. Wait, that's a different story.

    I so enjoy reading you.


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