[I wrote this story a few years ago. It still makes me chuckle.]
“Okay,” the MC addressed the restless audience, “next we’ll be hearing from George Le Monde, author of The Bark is Worse than the Bite: The Treachery of the Tree.”
A few people clapped. George Le Monde raised a big, stern finger.
“Y’all are nice an’ tranquil now, but when the trees attack, then you’ll be sorry!” George exclaimed. “You’ll end up runnin’ for the hills—an’ you best hope there ain’t no trees out on that there hill!”
“All right, now, George,” the MC interceded. “To start off, would you care to outline your Two-Step Tree Prevention Method for us?”
“Yessir,” George said, calming slightly with this appeal to his expertise. “Ya see, to stop a crocodile, you clamp down on its jaw. To stop a tiger, you shoot it between the eyes. To stop a tree—you hug it!”
In the audience, a man chuckled. George’s eyes went wide.
“To stop a tree, you hug it!” he yelped. “That’s the first step! The second step is, you run like hell before it can gitcha!”
“That’s just fine,” said the MC, and stole a glance at his watch. Four more minutes to go, he thought, and sighed. “That’s how you stop a tree, now, is it?”
“It is,” said George solemnly. “Some folks think that the best way to stop a tree is to cut it down—but that just makes the rest of ’em angry!”
“You’re making me angry, mister!” a woman shouted. “Trees are people just like us!”
“Ma’am, if trees were people,” George said matter-of-factly, “then they would be psycho-murderers. An’ I think we got enough of those around here, now, don’t we?”
“You one of them?” shouted a man from the audience. He got a few laughs.
“I ain’t!” howled George. “I’m tryin’ to save y’all from the trees!”
The MC looked at his watch again, and asked, vaguely, “George, have you yourself ever had a bad experience with a tree?”
George nodded. “My brother Charley was killed by one of ’em, he was.”
Startled, the MC looked back up at George. “He was?”
George nodded again. “It fell on him.”
“Did you push it?!” shouted the man from the audience. A few more laughs.
George jumped out of his seat. The MC, concerned that his interviewee might hurt the man, jumped up, too, only to be knocked back down by a deafening crash. Pieces of plaster fell from the ceiling as an enormous tree ripped through the roof.
George jabbed his meaty finger at the culprit. “It’s Leafy Red!” he shouted, spit flying from his mouth. “I been lookin’ fer ya! Ya killed my brother, and now you’ll pay!”
The tree—a California Redwood—pitched forward with a demonic groan, but George was off the stage like a shot. He ran into the mass of screaming people and positioned himself directly under the trajectory of the tree. He thrust his hands upwards, and, before the tree could hit any bystanders, both of George’s massive arms were wrapped around its trunk in a gigantic hug.
“I done hugged him to death,” moaned George from underneath the tree, “but Leafy Red, he took me down with ’im. Goodbye everybody. I’m glad I could prevent one more final catastrophe.”
And with that, he died.
The MC looked at his watch. He groaned softly to himself. How was he going to kill three more minutes?