(An Odyssey Journal)
Told from the parents’ POV.
1. Groble and his parents open boxes and unpack their things in a new home. They’ve just moved from a heavily fortified castle in upstate New York, near Howe Caverns, to a cramped, underground condo in Philadelphia. His parents are fantasy writers; very successful. We learn from his parents’ optimistic chatter and Groble’s sullen responses that he’s been having trouble at school. He has a violent temper. It nearly got him expelled. They have spent a lot of money enrolling their small-statured son in a special all-dwarf high school–the only one in the country. They hope it will help him fit in.
He isn’t optimistic. Dwarf kids, he figures, are the same as regular kids.
No, no! Say his parents. You’ll have hundreds of friends! All Dwarfs love gold!
2. The dinner table after Groble’s first day at school. Roast mutton and barleywine. He sits on three telephone books. His parents ask him how it went, if he met any friends. He is miserable. He hung out all day with the bodybuilding jock Dwarfs, who all aspired to grow up and advertise Altoids Minis and other small versions of huge, burly things. Groble thought this was a good career. Models make money. He could afford lots of jewels and nice things, and maybe even a cavern of his own. He pumped iron hard, and kept up with the best of them! Then Groble showed them his massive gold necklace with the giant pendant letter “G” (for Groble). They laughed at him. They said only girls wear jewelery. They called him gay. It made him mad, but he held his peace. He knew how much his parents had spent on this education.
Don’t despair! says his father. So Jocks aren’t for you. Try something else!
3. The next evening’s meal. Beef stew and stout. Groble still looks glum. What happened today? they ask, dismayed.
He tried hanging out with the girls today: the cheerleader dwarfs, who aspired to be very pretty, and someday join the Lullaby League. They wore lots of jewelry–much of it given to them by their boyfriends, the jocks. He figured they’d like his pendant, at least–even if he didn’t particularly want to learn to dance, or grow up to be pretty and dumb. But the cheerleader Dwarfs only made fun of his beard and his hairy chest, and snubbed and ignored him the rest of the day. Still, somehow, he held in his temper. He tried to let it out by punching lockers.
Don’t worry, says his mother. The girls will learn to like you once they mature. Try again!
4. On the third afternoon, Groble came home beaming. They celebrate with venison steak and mead. What happened? They ask. Today Groble gave the theater geeks a try, who sat around reciting lines from Willow and gluing hair on their feet. At last, he thought! My kind of people! He whipped out his gold plated Ax and showed them the runes etched in the blade. But for some reason they all ran away screaming. That was it for Groble’s temper. Don’t worry–he didn’t bash in anyone’s skull. But he really took that Ax to some lockers. Groble got sent to the principal’s office! They took away his sword, and nearly expelled him!
His parents are shocked and angry. They demand to know why Groble was treated with such injustice.
He stops them. The principal only gave him detention. And in detention, a miracle happened! He met the gangsta rap dwarfs. They loved his “G” pendant! They explained he should shave his beard and chest hair, and buy some 76ers jerseys. They told him to trade in his Ax for a gold-plated Glock. And now he has all the friends and bitches he could want!
The parents’ jaws drop.