For copyright reasons, I need to publish the first half of this children’s story today. Enjoy!

Rodger and Keith weren’t always thieves. Once they were small boys, and then they were a bit older, and they noticed that sometimes, if somebody wasn’t looking, and they had something you wanted, you could take it.

Just take it!

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You didn’t have to work, you didn’t have to spend your allowance. You could just take it!

The person might be sad, but you wouldn’t be around to see that. You would be playing with their stuff.

They tried it a couple of times, and it didn’t make them feel too bad. Often the other person had more stuff than they did. It wasn’t fair!

“When we take their stuff,” Rodger said to Keith, “We make it fairer. More fair. Like Robin Hood.”

“Like Robbing Hood!” said Keith. “Awesome.”

This gave Rodger an idea.

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Raccoons: the original catburglar

This was a rare thing, having an idea. Rodger and Keith didn’t have ideas very often. It seemed like everybody else had ideas all the time.

It wasn’t fair! Why couldn’t they have ideas?

“Why not, huh?” said Rodger. He stared at the tin of tuna they had just stolen from a small hamster. Suddenly, the tuna gave him an idea: “Well, here’s an idea: Why couldn’t we steal ideas?

“Steal ideas?” said Keith. “How do you grab that?”

Rodger rubbed his chin. “Well… we can grab somebody who has a lot of ideas. And then ask them where they… how they… well, they must have them somewhere. I just got that idea looking at this tin of hamster tuna.”

“It’s not a real idea,” said Keith.

“Exactly!” said Rodger. “Better ideas must come from something else. We’ll find out! Now, who has lots of good ideas?”

Keith rubbed his chin. “Hmmm… well, the sloth always seems to come up with something.”

“That loser?!” Rodger guffawed. “He can’t even run!”

“Yeah, but he’s still alive,” said Keith.

“Hm… yeah, he’s still alive,” said Rodger. “He’s always talking about some of his ideas. I bet he has ideas he doesn’t even share!”

“That jerk,” said Keith, getting angry.

“It’s not fair!” said Rodger, waving his finger in the air. They were both very angry now. “Let’s go nick the sloth, and then make him give us his ideas!”

The two thieves ran very fast to the tree where they had last seen the sloth.

The sloth was in the next tree by now. It had been a week since they saw him. The sloth took a long time to do things. This was why he needed so many ideas… it was also how he got so many ideas. He did not believe it was good to rush around.

The two thieves, on the other hand, were in a hurry.

“Hey, Sloth,” said Keith. “Can you answer a riddle?”

The sloth chewed a leaf slowly and peered down at him. “That depends. On…”

“Too slow!” said Rodger, and he threw a net at the sloth. The net flew high into the tree. It caught on the sloth’s small, furry leg and upset his balance.

The poor sloth came thumping to the ground. “Hey!” said the sloth. He looked up and found he was hopelessly tangled in the net.

“That isn’t very nice! You could have waited!” He slowly checked himself for injuries. His leg hurt, but he didn’t seem to need an ambulance. He drew himself up with as much dignity as he could muster. “Now, what is this riddle?”

“The riddle is,” chuckled Roger, “Where are we going?” He grabbed up the net and the sloth along with it.

“To the doctor, I hope,” said the sloth.

“Guess again!” said Rodger. He threw the poor sloth over his shoulder.

“We’re going to our house,” Keith said gleefully. “To steal your ideas!”

“Tsk. You’re no fun,” said Rodger. “You were supposed to make him guess!”

“Oh, dear,” said the sloth.

“Don’t worry, we won’t hurt you,” said Keith.

“You hurt my leg already!”

“Ahhh, that’s nothin’,” said Rodger.

The sloth, on the contrary, thought his little leg was something, especially since it hurt very much. But he stayed quiet. He already had an idea.

At the two thieves’ house, the sloth was dumped out on the floor. “Ow!” said the sloth.

“Ah, the idea man ain’t feelin’ so good, huh?” said Keith.

The sloth felt a little dizzy. “Huh? What is this about?”

“We told you,” said Rodger. “We want to take your ideas!”

The sloth was also becoming a bit annoyed. But he played his part: “That doesn’t even make sense…”

“Liar!” said Rodger. “We know you got ideas! So give ’em to us!”

“Er…” said the sloth.

Rodger waggled his fist under the sloth’s moist, slow nose.

The sloth began to sweat. Slow drops rolled under his fur. He sighed. “OK, OK,” he said. “You can have my ideas.”

“Where are they?” said Rodger menacingly.

The sloth looked afraid. “Just one second, I have to find them…”

He rummaged in his sweaty fur.

The two thieves glowered at him impatiently. But the sloth knew they wouldn’t hurt him while he was rummaging.

“Hurry up, Sloth,” Keith growled…

“Aha!” said the sloth at last. “This is your lucky day! I do have them on me. Just think… you might have kidnapped me when I had left them at home! What a waste of a felony that would have been!”

“Huh?” said Keith.

“Now, I wouldn’t call this kidnapping,” said Rodger. “More of a friendly business meeting…”

“OK,” said the sloth. “Sure. Anyway, here they are.”

And Sloth reached out of the net and placed a rock on the floor between them.

It was a small, red, smooth rock.

“I knew it!” Rodger said hotly. “I knew he wasn’t smarter than anyone else!”

“Sure,” said the sloth. “I am definitely not smarter than anyone else. I just take my time.”

“And you have a rock full of ideas!” Keith sulked. “It’s just not fair!”

“He had a rock full of ideas,” said Rodger triumphantly. He held the rock up to the light. “Now things are fair. What beautiful ideas!”

“Beautiful,” agreed Sloth. “That was my favorite rock,” he added a bit sadly. “It was polished by the water. Probably for hundreds of years.” He wished he had his second-favorite rock, but he could find another red, polished rock. He just had to make it down to the stream.

“Hundreds of years!” Keith snorted. “Lame.”

“Yeah, lame,” said Rodger. “We need money now.”

“Money?” said the sloth. “OK.”

“Yeah! Somebody who’s not so slow could make lots of money with these ideas,” said Rodger.

“OK,” said the sloth. “Well, do you guys want to know how to use the rock?”

Keith snorted at him. “We don’t need a sloth to tell us how to use a rock, thank you.”

“It’s a special rock,” said Sloth. “But OK. I have stuff to do anyway. Can I go now?”

“Yeah, get out of here,” said Rodger. He cut through the net and kicked the sloth out of the door. The sloth landed several feet away. “We have stuff to do.”

The two thieves went back into the house and began to interrogate the rock.

Now both of the sloth’s legs hurt. But he had to begin his getaway now.

“They’ll take a while to figure it out,” he thought, “but I might take even longer to get back to my tree. Oh, I am so slow.” And the sloth began to crawl as fast as he could.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Written by

Author of NVSQVAM, DISASTER FITNESS, the upcoming ELEKTRA’S REVENGE sci-fi epic, & the action novella SEINE VENDETTA. Editor of YOU’RE ALL PUSSIES.

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