The Monkey’s Paw (A Retelling)

Once upon a time, there was a man who lived with his wife and their only son in a little house at the edge of town. They were not rich, but neither were they poor. Still, the man always felt like he got the raw end of the deal. He always complained to his wife that he worked so hard with nothing but a shack to show for his pains. To make matters, he got laid off from work. His son was forced to work at the nearby factory to help the family out. This made the man feel even more bitter. He cursed the heavens for his bad luck. He was even heard saying that he would sell his soul to the devil if that meant his luck would change.

One day, as he was walking down the street lamenting his misfortune, he was overheard by an elderly soldier. The soldier offered him a talisman that he said would grant the bearer three wishes. The soldier explained that it originally came from a fakir, a holy man in India, who wanted to prove that life is governed by fate, and that any attempts to change it would bring dire consequences. The soldier warned him that the last man who used it asked for death for his last wish. The soldier then handed him a monkey’s paw, and cautioned him to use his three wishes wisely.

The man went home, pensively touching the monkey’s paw in his pocket. He was not one to believe in superstition, but nonetheless, if this monkey’s paw truly had some powers, he did not want to miss out on it, either. He told his wife about it. She was skeptical.

“Wish for some money, you silly man, and let’s see if that monkey’s paw will give you any,” she said to him mockingly.

The man thought it over then declared, “Well, I don’t see any harm in trying. Let me see.” He thought again then said out loud, “I wish for a million dollars!”

He then looked at the monkey’s paw in his hand. It lay unmoving. No puff of smoke. No magic. No million dollars.

His wife laughed out loud. “See what you get for believing in other people’s foolish tales! Three wishes indeed! What foolishness!”

As soon as she said that, the phone rang. The man and his wife looked at each other. Was it their imagination, or did the phone seem to have an ominous ring to it?

The wife picked it up. “H-h-hello?” For some reason, her heart seemed to be beat like a bongo drum. She listened to the person on the other line, and shrieked while she dropped the phone. Her husband immediately picked it up.

“Hello?” What was the news that made his wife act so?

“This is the foreman of the factory your son works for. I am so sorry to give you the bad news. Your son was fatally involved in a freak accident just a few minutes ago. However, the company assumes full responsibility for the said incident and is willing to give you a million dollars as compensation for your son’s death. ”

The man hung up in disbelief. A million dollars, and at what cost! Was this a mere coincidence, or did the monkey’s paw really had something to do with it? It was hard to think straight with his wife wailing in the background. Just to be safe, he hid the monkey’s paw out of sight.

The day of the funeral was especially hard. His wife’s behavior worried him. She had sobbed uncontrollably and babbled non-stop about the monkey’s paw to anyone who cared to listen. It was already dark when they got home. Once home, his wife pounced on him with a crazed look on her face. The check for a million dollars lay untouched on the table.

“I want my son back! Wish our son back to life!” she kept saying as she shook him by the shoulders. “Get that monkey’s paw and wish our son back to life!”

There was no saying no to that mother’s grief. Reluctantly, he took out the monkey’s paw. He looked at his wife’s pained face as he whispered his second wish.

The next instant, they heard a deep rumble, seemingly from the bowels of the earth. It was followed by torrential downpour, then thunder and lightning. Then, from the shadows, they saw and heard something else.

At first, it was hard to see in the rain, but pretty soon, there was no mistaking that figure shuffling over towards them. It was their son, exactly as he had looked when they closed the coffin on him, and yet, it was nothing like him. Their son was a gift from God, whereas this one coming towards them was a creature from the darkness. Soon, there was heavy knocking on the door.

The man’s wife leapt towards the door, fumbling with the lock in her eagerness to open it. The man spoke to her sharply.

“Wife, do not open the door. Our son is dead. That creature outside is not our son. ”

There was no reasoning with his wife. She was screaming hysterically, “How can you say that? Our son is out there in the rain! Help me open this door!”

The door finally got ajar. Any moment now and the creature would step inside his house. His wife was ready to throw her arms around it.

“My third and final wish is for my son to return to the dead and rest in peace. ” There. He said it.

Suddenly, the rain stopped. So did the thunder and lightning. And the infernal knocking on the door. Gone, too, was the spectral figure that was hovering in the shadows.

His wife collapsed to the ground, sobbing, but even she knew that it was the right thing to do.

The next day, the man walked to the far edge of town in an attempt to get rid of the monkey’s paw. He was accosted by someone who eagerly asked him if that was the famous monkey’s paw. The man tried to warn the other about it, but he could tell that his warning fell on deaf ears as the other man grabbed the monkey’s paw from him. The man went back home with a heavy heart, finally realizing where his true wealth lay, and knowing that it was gone forever.

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