Four generations were seated around a table: a great-grandfather; his son (the grandfather); the son's son (the father); and the son's son's son, who was still a young boy. The occasion was a celebration dinner for the newest lawyer in their family, the father, who had just graduated from law school.
"Tell us the 'Crazy Story'!" urged the boy to the eldest among them. It was tradition within this family upon the minting of a fresh attorney.
Great-grandfather smiled. Scooting his chair up, he adjusted his voice for dramatic delivery, and began the famous tale, "Once upon a time, in a land far away, a lunatic was elected president." The air grew serious, for this was an important story.
The little boy, already a thinker, promptly inquired, "But how could a lunatic become president?"
Great-grandfather nodded, and responded, "To this day, no one knows."
So the little boy looked, naturally, to his father―who shrugged. Next his grandfather―who did the same.
'No one knows.'
Great-grandfather spread his arms, and continued, "This lunatic claimed to be smarter than everyone else. Smarter than the intelligence service. Smarter than the military. Smarter than the politicians. Than the media. Than the business people. Than the doctors." Great-grandfather paused for effect. "Smarter even than the lawyers."
On cue, grandfather scoffed, "Hmph! Not possible."
Great-grandfather half-chuckled. "That's why it's just a story."
Their little thinker interjected, "You mean it's not real?"
"Of course not," contributed the father, following script. "There's no way something like that could ever happen. It's just fiction."
The little boy's eyes sparkled, his young brain challenged, his mind wrestling to decipher the subtext.
Great-grandfather went on, "One day, along came a virus."
The little boy knew sufficient science to know that this was not good.
"It produced a terrible scourge," recounted great-grandfather. "This microbe, transmitted person-to-person by respiratory mechanism." (The father explained what that meant to his little boy.) "Many were killed. Not only medical professionals, but large numbers of citizens too."
The little boy was quick. "They didn't know how to protect themselves," he surmised.
"Oh, but they did," great-grandfather informed him. "A simple mask of a certain type would have saved countless lives."
The little boy had a good heart, and upon hearing this, he smiled. Joyfully, he said, "So they wore these masks?"
"No," great-grandfather answered.
The little boy was now very puzzled. "Why not?" he asked in confusion.
"Because this same president refused to use his power to force manufacturers to make enough masks for everyone."
Which only further perplexed the boy. It didn't make any sense. "But why if he was so smart?" the child queried.
The three adults remained silent―to allow this lesson on lunacy to dawn independently on the boy. A quiet moment later, it did. Softly, and bearing an expression of great sympathy, the boy asked a final question: "Dad, what happened to all the people?"
His father studied him for a moment. Then replied, "They died happily ever after."
There wasn't any need to add, 'The End'.
The parable's narration was complete. The gaze of the ancestral trio zeroed in on their descendant, a precious and compassionate boy whose responsibility it would become to apply the moral.
© 2020 Kyle Doda