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The Monk the Wolf and the Empty Well (Short Story) Rad Zdero

The Monk the Wolf and the Empty Well (Short Story) Rad Zdero

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Published by Rad Zdero
allegory, satire, fable, children's story fairy tale
allegory, satire, fable, children's story fairy tale

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Published by: Rad Zdero on Mar 23, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/23/2010

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1 of 5
T
HE
M
ONK 
,
THE
W
OLF
,
AND THE
E
MPTY
W
ELL
 
Rad Zdero, rzdero@yahoo.ca
Copyright © Rad Zdero. All Rights Reserved.
It is said that in the heart of Serbia there is a very large garden so lovely, that people oftencome from the surrounding villages just to bask in its lushness. In the center of the garden is anempty abandoned well, which is so dark and echoless and goes so deep into the ground that thevillagers often speak of it as the very abyss of the Bible, into which all the wicked will be thrownon judgment day.On the edge of the garden, close to the forest, lives a very old gray-bearded black-robed man.He is an Orthodox monk, whose main spiritual duty it is to say and meditate repeatedly on the
Jesus prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner’.
He tends the garden and has been doing so for longer than anyone can remember. Village
legend has it that he’s been there much longer even than the abyss, that is, the well, itself. The
old man only ventures outside his shack when duty calls him to perform his brief daily tour of the garden. Mind you, this is no drudgery to him, but rather something he delights in and looksforward to each day. He loves that garden dearly but, even more so, he loves the villagers thatcome to him for a visit, a meal, or his other worldly wisdom.
Directly opposite the monk’s home, on the other edge of this garden paradise, dwells a vicious
 blood-thirsty black wolf, with shrewd little eyes, who takes pleasure in frightening villagersaway from the garden and, perchance, to have the opportunity to devour one.As mean spirited as this beast
 — 
this dragon of a dog
 — 
is, he is terrified of the old monk and
dares not venture into the garden during the monk’s tours. At times when caught unawares, the
wolf quickly tucks tail and runs back into his shadowy forest lair. In this way is the peace of thegarden maintained.
 
2 of 5There are, however, always occasions when villagers wander alone into the garden without
the benefit of the monk’s protective presence, making themselves open
prey for the wolf.On one occasion, a curious villager had come to walk alone, thinking that he might gain someextra pleasure from the solitude, away from the hustle and bustle of village life, away even fromthe old monk. As he ventured toward the empty well, he heard the rustling of grass behind him.Thinking it was the monk, he cleared his throat, turned, and smiled, only to be faced with therapidly approaching black wolf, now growling and bearing his fangs.The villager, terrified, knees almost buckling under his own weight, steeled enough courageto jump quickly down into the bowels of the well. He sturdied himself desperately, fingers andfeet plunging into the creviced walls, one hand clutching a wild branch growing out of a crack inthe wall. Above him were the growls of a hungry wolf. Below him was the dark and emptyabyss, jaws wide open. Breathing heavily, heart pumping, the villager became quickly depressedand uncertain of what to do. After considering his options, being the cowardly sort and unwillingto face the wolf, he gave in to his apparent fate, let go of the branch, and began his eternal plummet downward.Having lost his prey, and now hearing the stern warnings of the approaching monk, the wolf scampered back into the forest. As the monk arrived at the empty well
 — 
having seen only the lastmoments of the incident from his shack on the other side of the garden
 — 
he stooped breathlesslyover the empty well, cursed it, carefully made the sign of the cross, and painfully prayed theJesus prayer. With shoulders slumped, he made his way back to his home, tears in his eyes.At another time, a villager 
 — 
 believing himself nobler and braver than other men
 — 
venturedinto the garden alone also, a test of self-reliance in his heart. No sooner did he delight smugly inhis boldness, than was the ever-watchful wolf almost on top of this new prey.
 
3 of 5Momentarily startled, the villager leapt into the empty well, grasped the wild branch, andsteadied himself against the creviced stonework of the walls. Hanging from this life-giving branch, he considered how best to defeat the growling wolf. Although quite aware of the optionof letting go of the wild branch and plummeting into the dark abyss, he reasoned that a brave
man’s only real choice was to face the challenge
 posed by the wolf.The villager hoisted himself up out of the well and lunged at the wolf, both now locked in a battle for the survival of the fittest. After much strain and sweat and blood and struggle and tears,the black wolf emerged victorious, the bloody body of the brave villager now laying limp by theside of the well. The monk, having seen and heard the last part of the battle from his shack, wasall the while making haste as he could to save the villager, but to no avail. The wolf, having slainhis prey and now seeing the terrifying sight of the approaching monk, ran back into the forest.The old warrior, having now arrived, gasped at the sight. He closed his eyes, dropped to hisknees, and made the sign of the cross. After cursing the well, saying his Jesus prayer, and wiping
his tear soaked beard against his sleeve, he carried the villager’s body back to his tiny home to
give it proper burial.On a third occasion, another villager had crept into the garden alone, hoping to enjoy the fruitof the trees. Having spied an appealing apple tree, he leaned his weight into it and shook it,causing a few apples to fall to the ground. He sat down, leaned back on the tree trunk, and nowgleefully bit into the wages of his labour. As he looked up into the distance, he saw the black wolf fast approaching.He jumped to his feet, ran as fast as he could to the nearby empty well, climbed down inside,and waited. He could now hear the wolf breathing heavily and growling from above. As heconsidered his situation, he noticed a wild branch coming through a crack in the wall and latched

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