Once upon a time, there was a nice boy named Dun­can who lived in in a nice town with his nice fam­i­ly.  One day while walk­ing home from school, Dun­can decid­ed to take a short­cut through the woods. ” What could go wrong” he thought as he skipped through the spooky, spindly trees. Sud­den­ly, Dun­can came upon two strangers in an angry con­fronta­tion. ”

What did you just say ?!?!” The man in the cow­boy hat shout­ed to the man in the clown suit. “I…I.. I said TWO DIMES FOR A NICKEL” boomed the clown, blow­ing defi­ant­ly into a kazoo.

Well, that just enraged the cow­boy even more, and their fight became even loud­er and more intense.

Dun­can was star­tled to say the least and hur­ried home to tell his moth­er about the strange fight he wit­nessed on his way home from school.

HEY, MOM!!!” Dun­can shout­ed to his moth­er, who was putting away dish­es in the sun­l­it  kitchen.  “MOM, the WEIRDEST THING JUST HAPPENED.…” Dun­can rushed to tell his Moth­er the whole sto­ry, and she lis­tened patient­ly if a bit absent­mind­ed­ly.  Just as Mom was mak­ing men­tal note to remind Dun­can not to go through the woods on his way home from school, she heard him say a hor­ri­ble ter­ri­ble thing. “…two dimes for a nick­el..”

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!”  Duncan’s Mom imme­di­ate­ly freaked out, drop­ping all the plates she was hold­ing, bare­ly reg­is­ter­ing when they shat­tered on the kitchen floor.

I CERTAINLY DID NOT RAISE MY SON TO SAY SUCH THINGS” she screeched, lit­er­al­ly clutch­ing her pearls.

But.…but, Mom” Sput­tered a star­tled Dun­can, “I don’t even KNOW what… I’ve nev­er even HEARD.…”

But Duncan’s Moth­er just would not lis­ten “Go straight to your room! Just wait til your Father gets home!!”

Dun­can sat in his room ner­vous­ly wait­ing for his dad to come home. Dun­can felt ter­ri­ble for upset­ting his moth­er so, but at the same time, he felt elec­tri­fied by the inten­si­ty that this phrase, which he had nev­er before heard, inspired. He knew based on his mother’s bal­lis­tic reac­tion that he would be in trou­ble when his father got home, but he hoped that his father could at least explain what two dimes for a nick­el meant.

Lat­er that night Dun­can heard the front door open with a click. His heart start­ed pound­ing as he strained to hear his mother’s heat­ed retelling of that afternoon’s events. Soon the voic­es down­stairs qui­et­ed and Dun­can heard his father’s heavy foot­steps clomp­ing up the steps.

Ok, Son,” his father said with a sigh, “tell me exact­ly what hap­pened.” Dun­can told his sto­ry, the walk home, the short­cut through the woods, the fight, the yelling of “two dimes for .….”

STOP” Com­mand­ed his father with a queasy look on his face. “I didn’t want to believe it was true, but I heard it with my own ears…” Dun­can tried again to protest “I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TWO DIMES FOR A NICKEL MEANS, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON.…”

Before he knew it, Dun­can was being thrown out of his house like DJ Jazzy Jeff’s char­ac­ter Jazz on the best sit­com ever The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire. “We sim­ply can’t have you cor­rupt­ing lit­tle Mary-Beth” they cried at the front door.

Now Dun­can was just plain mad! He didn’t have his back­pack or home­work and would now have to spend the night in the school play­ground. “And besides” thought Dun­can, “Mary-Beth is just our dumb house­cat.” Set­tling in on top of the Mon­key Bars, Dun­can decid­ed to just let it go and nev­er say those stu­pid words again and may­be soon his par­ents would for­give him.

The next day in school, Dun­can was a total mess he was wear­ing an old t shirt that read IT IS  TUESDAY even though it was Wednes­day, he had for­got­ten all of his assign­ments, and he could bare­ly keep him­self awake dur­ing class. At the end of the day a friend­ly, hip teacher pulled him aside to ask what was wrong. Dun­can was so tired that he retold the whole ter­ri­ble sto­ry to his teacher. You can prob­a­bly guess what hap­pened next, Dun­can was tak­en direct­ly to the principal’s office and the prin­ci­pal imme­di­ate­ly called the police.

As he was being sen­tenced to ten years in jail, the judge dron­ing on and on about how he had” nev­er in all his years heard such unspeak­able lan­guage from a boy as seem­ing­ly nice as Dun­can”, Dun­can real­ized that he may nev­er know what two dimes for a nick­el meant, and to be hon­est he didn’t real­ly care, he just want­ed to for­get the whole thing and move on.

Ten years lat­er, Dun­can is indeed ready to move on with his life. As he walks down the streets of his old town for the first time in a decade, he takes a deep breath and real­ly notices his sur­round­ings . As he gazes across the street, he sees a bill­board with huge let­ters spelling out TWO DIMES. Dun­can gasped, the rest of the bill­board was cov­ered up by a bus wait­ing at a red light. Soon the traf­fic began to creep along and Dun­can saw more and more of the bill­board TWODIMESFOR.… A …NIC .…

Dun­can saw the phase that had destroyed his life and couldn’t keep the old curios­i­ty from bub­bling up inside. May­be now he would know why the phrase held so much pow­er.  And as he crossed the street to get a closer look, Dun­can was hit by a bus.

The End

Isn’t this the best/worst sto­ry ever!!! I told this sto­ry many times as a camp coun­selor and heard it many more times as a camper. It’s great because a good sto­ry­teller can stretch out the saga in a num­ber of imag­i­na­tive ways to keep the lis­ten­ers on the edge of their seats …or you know their patch of grass around a camp­fire. It’s also super fun to tell the sto­ry and see every­ones anger about the way it ends.

Try it out this week­end for Nation­al Sto­ry­telling Week­end! Or you know… you could tell a bet­ter sto­ry, I don’t know! It’s up to you! That’s the thing about great sto­ry­tellers whether they are har­ness­ing their Lar­ry David angst to punch up a sto­ry about a Star­bucks run or cre­at­ing some­thing new they keep their lis­ten­ers ful­ly engaged. Three cheers for sto­ry­telling!

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