Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
by Mark Bate
There once lived an old charlatan who made his living moving across the land pretending to cobble dreams into reality for anyone who would trade away their treasures. The Dream Cobbler, as he became known, would show up in a village with his Cart of Many Wonders, plying his tricks.
On a particularly bitter day, after the seasons had changed and winter descended, the old scammer ambled into a very remote town where few people lived and even fewer ever left. Upon passing several shabby farmhouses and their equally shabby inhabitants, he came upon an old woman sitting on a log. In a well-rehearsed voice he bade the old woman good morrow and asked what troubled her. With tears in her eyes, the old woman thanked him for his attention and said her family was starving and she could not feed them. With a great flourish, the man waived his hand and theatrically announced that she not fret, for he is The Dream Cobbler and would gladly assist her in exchange for her daughter to wife. A pittance, he told her, when your family is starving. With a twirl, the old shark rummaged through his cart for a box. The box was magic he said, and would produce all manner of fruits in infinite supply. Being shamelessly fraudulent, the man had lied. The box was not infinite, but was old and near the end of its bounty. Convinced, the woman tearfully traded away her daughter for the box.
A few days and further along the road, into another town far removed, the old grifter had his newly acquired bride bring the cart to a halt next to a lake where sat a young boy on the verge of tears. In his oily voice, the old pretender bade the young boy good morrow and asked what troubled him so. Holding back tears, the young boy thanked him for his attention and expressed himself distraught that his dog was ill and would die. With a grand flourish, the man waived his hand and theatrically announced that the boy not fret, for he, The Dream Cobbler, would gladly assist in exchange for the boy’s fingers. A pittance, he said, when your faithful friend lies at Death’s door. With a twirl, the old hoaxer rummaged through his cart, mixing a flask full of a medicinal smelling yet worthless concoction and gave it to the boy. Then the old man took the fingers for his stew that night and departed.
More days passed and more snow fell until the old swindler came upon yet another depressing village in the middle of nowhere and encountered a woodcutter sitting upon a stump. Commanding his wife to stop the cart, the cheater mustered his most ingratiating tone and bade the woodcutter good morrow and asked if he woodcutter could use his help. The woodcutter thanked him and expressed himself at a loss with a most vexing problem. The old mountebank waved his hands and told the woodcutter that for every problem there is a solution which he would give in exchange for the younger man’s winter coat. Instead, the woodcutter, having recognized the Cobbler’s wife for his cousin from a not-too-distant village, and knowing she would never marry a man such as this, asked how she came to be here. The girl told him all that had transpired. The man, seeing the old man for what he was, produced an axe and cut The Dream Cobbler into pieces for deceiving his aunt and nephew only days before. In the days that followed, the woodcutter returned his cousin to her home with the meat of the Cobbler to feed her family and sewed the Cobbler’s fingers to his nephew’s hands before returning home and living happily ever after.
Mark Bate, who resides in Southern California, started writing as a standup performer. Later evolving into a staff writer for sketch comedy shows like B-Movie Bastards, The Comedy Bunker and the late night soap opera Ambition. His contributions to serial theatre shows in Los Angeles have included UFO: Undeniably Funky Objective and Kung-Fu Jesus for Sacred Fools Theatre as well as various monologues performed for Eclectic Voices. Recently, he has completed two full-length plays: I Love A Rainy Night and Ghostwriter.