Serialized stories have been popular in literature for a long time, going all the way back to the 17th century. American writers publishing in serial form over the years include Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Herman Melville. One of the most famous radio program serials was “Little Orphan Annie.” So, Little Red Bear and I thought it might be fun to bring back the weekly serial story.
Welcome to the first installment of a new weekly serial story to be published only here on the writing blog every Saturday morning over the next several weeks — “The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis.” This is a story which first appeared in daily serial form on Facebook a few years ago, which we have dusted off, updated for developments in Little Red Bear Land over the years, and are recirculating just for fun. This serialized story was received so well that it was the actual catalyst for starting this blog in order to share more creative writing and works.
We hope you enjoy and follow along every week as the story evolves. Sharing with friends and family is not only very much appreciated, but strongly encouraged. It’s always simply about the fun.
So then, here we go . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Note to Readers– In the early months of spring 2014, Little Red Bear and I had been interviewing applicants for prospective characters in Red’s upcoming first collection of short stories — “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!”, due for release in the coming months. Interviews, meetings and writing sessions had been proceeding smoothly and on schedule without incident.
That all changed upon the arrival of three ostriches who expressed interest in being in the stories, despite the adventures taking place in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri, not on the savannas of Africa. Where the ostriches came from, why they showed up on our front porch that spring morning, how they even heard about our stories underway — nobody knows. What ensued altered lives and the landscape of the backwoods forever.
As most folk are aware, Ostriches are not native to the Ozarks, but as Little Red Bear and I always try to keep an open mind for new ideas and suggestions, we decided to meet with them to discuss possible story roles. But having neither included them in any story character recruiting lists nor having done any research in advance, we were admittedly taken a bit off guard and unprepared for their arrival. And determination. Any ground-dwelling bird that exists on the open African plains alongside powerful lions, hyenas and speedy cheetahs, should not be underestimated or taken for granted. Turns out, ostriches are born into a world of conflict, do not shy away from it and may even regard it as sport. Lessons learned.
What follows is taken from the documented, blow-by-blow diary account of the events and developments that transpired over the following days. The story you are about to read is true, to the best of our recollection, mostly. Only some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
DAY 1– “And So It Begins”
If there were any readers hoping for an Ostrich to make an appearance in the upcoming “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” stories, it’s not looking good after what transpired today.
The stories about Little Red Bear and his friends are generally based in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri — mountains, farms, old mines, beautiful streams, forests, hollers, wildflower meadows, and the like. As such, the stories feature flora and fauna native to the region, as well as some interesting “imports” just for fun. And education.
Albeit surprised by the arrival of three ostriches intent on interviewing for story character roles, Little Red Bear and I thought it might be nice to go ahead and add them into the stories even though writing work on Red’s adventures was already well underway. Obviously not native to the area but unusual and interesting birds nonetheless, we felt both children and older readers might enjoy having ostriches included in the adventures while possibly learning something new about them along the way perhaps.
And must admit, Little Red Bear and I were both rather charmed and taken in by the happy-go-lucky and out-going natures expressed in the headshot photos they submitted with their Story Character job applications. Their motivation to appear in the stories seemed genuine, and it’s always easier and more pleasant to work with friendly folk.
To our mutual bewilderment and disappointment, it turned out ostriches may not be the easiest creatures to deal with, after all. During the interview, Little Red Bear made an off-hand (off-paw?) comment about never having seen a flightless bird before, and innocently asked — “Why do you fellas have wings at all if you don’t know how to use them?”
Apparently, ostriches can be rather sensitive critters, at least about the non-flying thing anyway, and well — let’s just say the question was never answered directly, or at least we couldn’t hear if it was over all the loud clucking and ‘attitude’ that immediately followed.
As so often goes with misunderstandings, one thing led to another and before we knew it the ostriches threatened to walk out if Little Red Bear didn’t apologize for his thoughtless and cruel “flightless” comment. That was our opportunity — our ‘out’ — if you will. I can see that clearly now.
But some opportunities are very short-lived, and that one quickly slipped away when Little Red Bear replied that “Walk out” was the only thing they could do since ostriches apparently couldn’t fly, and that even tiny mosquitoes and gnats can fly, and bugs don’t seem smart at all getting trapped on flypaper all the time as they do so where does that rank ostriches on the Smarts Scale if even stupid bugs are able to fly, and he’d never known Mother Nature to be wrong about anything before so it must be something about them if they had wings and didn’t use them and what a creative waste that was, and, and . . . . . . .
Let’s just say that Little Red Bear carried on a bit more as he and the ostriches thrust and parried insults back and forth across the table, and that about sealed it. Whatever peace which we had enjoyed in the early morning was shot to . . . . , well — had been laid waste by noon.
Out the door and down the front porch steps the ostriches all went, one following another in line. Walking — of course. Rather briskly. I could say that they “stormed” out, but that would be an exaggeration and hard to apply that term to giant, 9 feet tall birds weighing over 300 pounds, strutting out the door and down the path with white poofy tail and wingtip feathers flickering, fluttering, riffling, and whiffling in the morning’s spring breeze. Sashayed, perhaps.
One could conceivably and more correctly say their exit was closer to a sashaying out than a storming out. There is a reason that the phrase “strutting like a peacock” is generally not a complimentary term, and in retrospect probably should have kept those thoughts to myself.
As it turned out, we learned that in addition to being hypersensitive and having excellent eyesight, ostriches also have excellent hearing, and having overheard me whisper those “sashay” and “strutting peacock” comments to Little Red Bear, it just seemed to incite them more. Apparently, they may not be on the best of terms with peacocks either, jealous because peacocks are one of the largest flying bird species, a group that of course does not include ostriches.
I’m fairly certain the peacock comment was not received well, because that wing gesture was clearly intended to mean something other than friendly. It was the body language of it. I didn’t need to be able to speak ‘Ostrich’ to understand that. Some symbols and gestures may be universal, it seems.
The picture taken following the morning’s meeting, by Rusty the Fairydiddle (the red squirrel reporter for the local “Squirrelly World” newspaper) pretty much sums it up.
We were not seeking to include any ostriches in Little Red Bear’s stories to begin with, but nevertheless, I will try to smooth things over because we never like to see anyone go away mad, it’s just not in Red’s or my nature. And it’s pretty clear — they’re not happy. And that there may be an understatement, unfortunately.
But, really. What can they do that would cause any problems for Little Red Bear and I finishing his stories on time anyway? They’re simply three strange birds in a foreign land, after all.
Three . . . . . giant . . . . . angry . . . . . very strange . . . . . birds.
To be continued . . . . . . . .
Thanks as always for visiting with us! Be sure to check in next week as events continue to unfold in the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis”, a continuing serialized free story available only here on the Writing Blog. See ya then! — Jim (and Red!)
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