THE SHERIFF'S TALE

A MODERN ADAPTATION OF THE REVE'S TALE FROM CHAUCER'S CANTERBURY TALES

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THE SHERIFF'S PROLOGUE

All laughed at this ridiculous tale just told
Except the sheriff, separate from the fold,
Who still stood at the bar nursing his drink.
"I don't give two horseshits what you think!"
He blurted out, obviously quite drunk.
"What we've heard is just a lot of bunk!
None of you know life beyond the veil
Of decency, which is itself a tale
We tell ourselves to make it through the day.

But now I'll tell a tale about the way
Life is lived here in America --
Of the Moose and his Angelica,
And a moment of epiphany
That ought to turn to ice the energy
The New Age idiots babble on about.
This will shut them up, I have no doubt."

"Now just hold on!" the bartender complained.
"The point of this is to be entertained.
Tales ought give us truth admixed with play
So we have art instead of everyday."

"Well, here's my truth!" the sheriff growled. "The kind
That leaves not one sweet bit of balm behind.
The baker said through tales we can know well
Another's truth. So welcome to my hell!
It's what life is like in our time,
As Christianity gives way to crime,
And drugs become the quintessential good
Investors can make profits on. I would
Not want you to go on with shuttered eyes,
So here's the truth I live, with no disguise!"

THE SHERIFF'S TALE

Once there was a dealer in hard drugs
Who used to kill his enemies with hugs.
He'd snap your backbone like a walking stick,
Or merely crush your ribs and make you sick.

They called him in the neighborhood the Moose
Because he was as big as a caboose,
Six-foot-six, three-hundred-and-fifty pounds,
All muscle, and his avarice knew no bounds.
He'd always shortchange customers on weight,
And any who complained soon met their fate
Within the jaws of death that were his arms.

Among his many other well-known charms
Was his jealousy about his wife,
The one soft spot in his granitic life,
Whom like a vicious dog he would protect,
Warning away all who would inspect
Her opulent treasures, openly displayed,
So all would know where he alone could wade.

She loved him, too, her mountain of a man,
And often passion strongly in her ran,
But she knew well how well to stoke his fire
And then as well to satisfy desire.
So these two would several times a day
Be at it like two pigeons hard at play.

This Moose's wife was named Angelica,
An angel to him, and, in character,
He was a god to her, both strong and wise,
Colossus that bestrode her paradise.

One day a dealer that the Moose supplied
Sent two couriers to go inside
The Moose's house to watch him weigh the stuff
And make sure that for once they got enough.
For everyone knew well the Moose would weigh
His finger with the stash they had to pay
For by the ounce. So these two men intended
To see that they received what Moose contended.
Al and John they were, two tough young birds.

When they came, the Moose and they had words,
They insisting that they had to stay
While Moose their many purchases would weigh;
The Moose insisting he had naught to hide,
Eventually allowing them inside.

As he weighed, Moose bragged about his wife,
How she was the story of his life,
How hot she was, and what she oft would do
To pleasure him. But these young toughs well knew
The strategy: To make them look at her
When she came in, at which time Moose could err
A bit here and a bit there in his favor,
While they his wife's sweet hanging fruit would savor,
Looking where their real concern was not.

Among the stories told to make them hot,
Moose described each afternoon's delight:
Angelica, in scanty top bedight,
Would lean upon the windowsill upstairs
While Moose behind would take her unawares
While she stared at the parking lot below,
Face expressionless, that none would know
The glory that was going on behind
As Moose thrust in and then began to grind.
"I'll tell you, boys, that wife of mine's a treasure!"
Moose said. "There's none on earth like her for pleasure."

But when she entered, dressed in very little,
Just briefs and halter, naked round the middle,
Al and John just stared at Moose's scale
As though they were both hammering a nail
Right into the center. So the Moose
Stopped weighing weed and told them to hang loose
For just a moment while he made a call,
Then left the room, leaving them with all
The millions in illegal drugs unguarded.

Al and John exchanged a look, then started
To take a little here, a little there,
While Angelica resumed her stare
Out the kitchen window at the back,
Then asked them whether they came in the black
Lamborghini that was parked outside.

"Why, yes," they said. "We took it for a ride.
Our boss, the Butcher, told us to impress
Any chick we might want to undress."
"Well, take another look," she said. "It's gone."
And in a New York minute Al and John
Were racing out the door to see their car
Spinning left out to the boulevard.

"Shit!" they said. "Our ass is grass!" And ran
To get a cab quick, and the mean streets scan,
While Moose weighed out their purchases as he
Saw fit; that is, not quite religiously.

When the boys returned, they said they'd found
The Lamborghini in a marsh, half drowned,
And had their boss's tow truck pull it out.
"Sorry, boys," Moose said. "Without a doubt,
You shouldn't park a car like that out here.
These teenagers run wild, without fear.
They'd shoot you in the head just for your shirt.
So on your way out, be on the alert."

Moose laughed as Al and John went out the door,
No two ever wanting vengeance more.

The very next day the Butcher had a plan
And sent Al and John back in a van,
Which they parked beneath the second floor
Window in the afternoon. They saw
The Moose come over to investigate
And shot him with a tranquilizer straight
Into his chest, enough to stun a bull,
And while he was staggering, they pulled
Him into the van and chained him to the wall
Hands and feet, so he couldn't move at all,
Then stuffed his mouth with rags and covered his eyes
To keep him still and suffocate his cries.

When he came to, he pulled with all his might
Against the chains that held his body tight
Against the van wall reinforced with steel.
But, unlike Samson, no God would reveal
Himself to him to add faith to his strength.

So even Moose was forced to yield at length
And hang like meat, defeated, from the wall
While Al told him in vivid detail all
That was to follow, so that he might suffer
The full torment that this hell had to offer.
And when Al made the horror of it clear,
He slashed the Moose's throat from ear to ear.

Next John slipped inside the unlocked door
And quietly tip-toed to the second floor
Where Angelica was in the shower,
Preparing for the still-appointed hour
When Moose would take her from behind, while she
Stared out upon the world expressionlessly.

At last she came out in a scanty top
As John peeked out a closet door, then propped
Herself against the sill, her lovely face
Emerging as the sign all was in place.

Al tried to pull the Moose out of the van,
Struggling with the weight of that huge man.
He tugged and pushed and tugged with all his might
(Even dead, the Moose put up a fight),
Afraid he'd be too late, while John above
Entered the sweet precincts of his dove,
Feeling her wet passion as she came
Against him, muttering the Moose's name,
By which time Al had got the Moose around
Far enough to dump him on the ground.

Moose lay on his back, his glassy eyes
Staring vacant straight up at his wife's,
Who, looking down, could not at first take in
The fullness of the truth unraveling
Around her. Then she met her husband's stare
And screamed a scream no one should ever hear.

Yet hear it still we do, day after day,
As life goes on in the old modern way
In this, the century we call 21.
Here I rest my case; my tale's done.

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