Charley and the Magic Jug and Other Stories
by Larry and Rosemary Mild

Mystery coauthors Rosemary and Larry Mild bring you a another collection of their original stories—delightfully twisted tales of intrigue and imagination. Come experience the varied world of the short story with them.

Climb with Charley up the Hungarian mountainside to the secret cave in “Charley and the Magic Jug.” Watch three brothers devour a dangerous dessert in “Death by Agreement.” Learn how a tiny pill can change the lives of four sinister people in “The Pill.” Get away with thieves in “The Matching Years.” Feel the neighbors' shock waves in “Tsunami.” Jog through a Hawaiian park with Morgan in search of romance in “Roses.” Join Philip in resisting the greatest “Temptation.” Follow Casey as he chases the ladies in “On the Prowl.” Witness an organ transplant in “Deliver a Liver.” Listen to how Bartoc guards his treasure in “The Metronome.” Frolic with fractured fairy tales and the Milds' own Menehene legends. And so much more.

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Charley and the Magic Jug and Other Short Stories
ISBN 978-0-9905472-7-3 Magic Island Literary Works (Spring 2022)

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Charley and the Magic Jug and Other Stories
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The Ledgend of Kilo

Kilo was small, even for a Menehune. If you stretched him out flat next to a ruler, he would barely reach the twelve-inch mark. Oh, but he was the quick one. No one ever saw him on the move. He appeared here and then there and was never seen moving between. Blessed with superior vision, he became an especially fine archer as well. He used his archery skills to capture mullet, ulua, barracuda, perch, eels, and shrimp in the brackish fishponds. Constructed expertly by his fellow Menehune, some of these ponds were least a thousand years old.

Kilo had not yet tested the sheer strength of his newest archery bow. When he crept up to the edge of one particular pond, expecting to spear a silver perch with an arrow, an accident occurred. He inadvertently released the arrow prematurely. It shot into a thicket of reeds that surrounded the pond. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t have been a problem, a lost arrow at most. But at this moment he heard an anguished scream erupt from the ultimate destination of the arrow. Had he wounded one of his fellow Menehune? A Menehune is not

A miserable whining ensued, so a worried Kilo headed off in that direction, brushing the tall grass and reedy plants aside as he plodded through the marshes. When he pushed away the last of the tangled growth, he discovered the soles of two monstrous feet and a massive okole (buttocks) with an arrow sticking out of its left cheek. Oh my gosh! I shot a human straight in his okole. Are wounded humans on their bellies dangerous? He walked around the huge writhing human, giving it plenty of berth. He then saw the human’s face, lying on its right side, the white hair, the wrinkles, and weathered skin. Kilo determined that this was an elderly male. The man’s left arm flailed, reaching around himself, searching, attempting to find the errant arrow to pull it out, but it was totally beyond his physical reach.

“So sorry,” said Kilo. “It was an accident. I didn’t mean to shoot you. I didn’t even know you were there.”

“Sorry, shmorry,” the old man bellowed. “Help me get this damn thing out. It hurts like hell.”

Darting behind the human again, Kilo gave the arrow a tug, but it wouldn’t budge. He tried several other positions, even the over-the-shoulder angle to pull it out, but to no avail. As a last resort, he lay down on his back, fitting his own body on the old man’s back, with one foot on each of the man’s okole cheeks. With both hands, he tried to pull the arrow up. It moved slightly, then suddenly broke free and out with a terrible ripping and snapping sound, accompanied by a major yelp from the old man. The two of them sprawled on the muddy ground for several minutes, exhausted from the struggle.

“Oh!” moaned the old man. “My okole is so sore I won’t be able to sit down. How am I going to earn a living? I have a wife and three children to feed.”

“How does this accident prevent you from earning a living?” asked Kilo.

“I’m a fisherman. Now I won’t be able to even sit in a boat or on the end of a pier to ply my catch at the end of a line. And I’m much too old and feeble to stand and cast a seine net anymore.”

“Please forgive me,” said Kilo. “Since I’m the cause of your miserable situation, perhaps you’ll permit me to supply fish for your family until you are fully recovered.”

“That’s most generous of you, little man,” said the fisherman.

“Are you, by any chance, a Menehune? I’ve heard a lot of stories about them, but I never thought I would meet one, especially not this way.”

The old man struggled to his feet and shook off the excess mud from the front of his jeans and T-shirt.

“Yes, I am a Menehune and I am called Kilo. What may I call you, fisherman?

“I am Akoni,” replied the old man, “and I don’t hold any grudge against you. I live on the first farm past the intersection up mauka way.” He pointed toward the mountains.

Akoni extended his hand for a shake, and Kilo took hold of the old man’s middle finger and shook it gently.

* * * *

Kilo kept his word. Numerous sizeable ulua, mullet, and other fish appeared on the rear doorstep of the fisherman’s home every morning. It was well known that Menehunes sleep by day and work by night, so Kilo would fish the night through and deposit his entire catch there. Akoni’s grateful family had plenty to eat and a surplus to sell or trade at the local market for their other necessities. Kilo had set no exacting terms for this arrangement—only that Akoni’s okole heal well enough to resume his occupation as a fisherman.

In fact, at the end of three weeks, Akoni could sit comfortably for an hour or two. He wanted to notify Kilo that he was able to go back to work, but the fisherman’s wife, Kamene, had another idea. She wanted Akoni to start working again, but she didn’t want Kilo to know about it. She envisioned her husband fishing by day and Kilo fishing by night, but neither seeing the other at the fishponds. She had plans to sell the extra fish, envisioning the additional luxuries they would allow her to purchase at market, and perhaps a little savings for a rainy day, too. Akoni spoke against this sneaky arrangement, for he was an honest man. To keep peace in the family, he surrendered to his wife’s wishes. While his family prospered greatly over the next few weeks, he felt depressed over cheating Kilo, but he could do nothing about it.

The Menehune was no fool and began to think the fisherman’s recovery was taking a suspiciously long time, so he laid a trap. Sure enough, by staying at the pond beyond sunrise, he spied Akoni with a baited line over the edge of the log pier.

“Akoni, my friend, why have you cheated on our arrangement? Have I not kept my part of the bargain? Is your family wanting for anything?”

Akoni looked crestfallen and mightily embarrassed. “You have been most generous, my little friend. I certainly have no complaint with you.”

“Then why have you betrayed me?”

“It is Kamene, my wife, who concocted this farce. I feel helpless to oppose her, for she is greedy and wishes to take advantage of your kindnesses. For myself, I wanted to tell you I could return to work, but she would hear none of it.”

“Then take me to your Kamene, and I will see for myself how greedy she is.”

Kilo followed Akoni to his farmhouse up the road. Because of his lightning speed he had little trouble keeping up with Akoni’s giant human steps. Upon arriving at the old man’s home, they found Kamene sunning herself in the backyard.

With fists on his tiny hips, Kilo asked the woman, “Why have you forced your husband to cheat on our arrangement?”

“I have done no such thing,” Kamene lied. “It was his idea all along.” The moment she uttered this betrayal of her good husband, both her arms turned a silvery green, the color of fish scales.

“I sense that you are lying to me,” said Kilo. “It is not permissible to lie to a Menehune.”

“What have you done to my arms?” Kamene screamed. “I’ve done nothing wrong.” No sooner had these false words burst from her lips than her legs also turned a slimy, silvery, fish-like green.

Kilo jumped up onto an old tree stump, so he would gain height and a sense of authority. “Ma’am, you want fish so much you might as well become a fish,” Kilo intoned.

With fury in her weaselly eyes, Kamene looked down on her arms and legs. “So this is your doing, you little twerp.” She reached out to grab Kilo from his perch, but he vanished from her sight.

He reappeared on the doorstep. Screeching in frustration, Kamene pursued him there, but again, too late. Gone from the doorstep. Now atop the woodshed. Again her lunging attempt foiled. Kilo led her on a wild “here again-gone again” chase around the yard until she fell flat on her face in exhaustion. At this point an archery bow with arrow appeared in Kilo’s hands.

“No, no, spare her!” cried Akoni upon seeing Kilo’s intention. He tried to reach out and spoil Kilo’s aim, but, quick as lightning, the Menehune had moved to another vantage point and shot the arrow squarely into Kamene’s right okole cheek. She screamed so loud the trees shook.

“Don’t worry, my friend,” said Kilo. “She will recover nicely from her wound, but the fish scales will remain until she gives up her greedy ways. Goodbye, Akoni. I will see that you always have a favorable catch.”

The fisherman never saw Kilo again, but somehow his Menehune friend continued to watch out for him.

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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite. Rating: 5 Stars — Congratulations!

Charley and the Magic Jug is an absorbing collection of 23 short stories by Rosemary and Larry Mild. While herding his father's goats, a young boy comes across a mysterious cave with three magical jugs that could change his family's fortunes. A malicious, wealthy man comes up with an ingenious plan to pass on his fortune to one of his sons after his death. After recently breaking up with his girlfriend, a young man commits to daily jogging and unexpectedly stumbles upon another chance at love. An elderly woman develops an unlikely friendship with her new cleaning robot. A classical musician turns to his ever-loyal metronome for help when a thief tries to rob him of his precious gemstones. Four virtual assistants get into a passionate argument in the middle of the night.

Charley and the Magic Jug is a short story collection that follows people from diverse backgrounds and phases navigating extraordinary situations and circumstances. This captivating collection provides a window to the depths of human emotions and feelings in myriad ways. Rosemary and Larry Mild immerse you in the pages with these distinct yet enthralling tales, all bringing something unique to the collection. The most impressive aspect of the book to me was how the authors managed to create such vibrant and colorful characters in such a short span of pages. With each tale, you never feel like reading a short story. Instead, it seems you've just continued reading a book you haven't finished yet. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection from start to finish and can't recommend it enough to short story lovers.