There once was a farmer in China. He had many fertile fields of broccoli, beef, and also orange chicken. One day, the farmer’s horse ran away. The villagers came by his farmhouse that night.

“Oh, this is terrible,” the villagers said.

The farmer answered, “maybe,” because he had insured the horse for three times what it was worth and secretly shot the horse.

The next day, the horse came back and with him came seven wild horses.

“This is wonderful,” the villagers said.

“Y’think? They’re wild fucking horses. One of ’em just kicked my daughter’s head clean off.”

“At least it wasn’t your son,” the villagers said.

The farmer answered, “Maybe.”

The next day, while trying to break one of the wild horses, the farmer’s son broke his leg. The villagers came by the farmhouse that night.

“This is terrible,” they said.

The farmer answered, “Why do you people come to my house every night? You don’t even call first.”

“This is a parable,” the villagers answered. “There are no telephones in parables.”

“Maybe,” the farmer said.

The villagers asked, “Are you seriously not even going to offer us anything? Some coffee, a nice piece of cake?’

“Get the fuck out,” the farmer answered, and they did.

The next morning, the man in charge of conscription for the Emperor’s army came by the farm.

“Listen, man,” the farmer said. “I am having a motherfucker of a week. Can you come back, say, in April?”

“April’s no good for me,” the army man said. “How’s your May look?”

“Terrible,” the farmer said. “Cuz, you know, I’m a farmer. That’s when we plant everything.”

“Oh, okay,” the army man said. “I’m a city kid. Food comes from the supermarket, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Sure,” the farmer said.

“I totally forgot what we were talking about,” the army man said.

“Don’t ask me,” said the farmer.

“Oh! Your son. I need him for the army,” the army man said.

“Sure, sure. That makes sense. But he’s got a broken leg.”

“Then I cannot take him,” the army man said.

“You’ll be back in May. He’ll be all healed up then, and then you can conscript the shit out of him. Useless little bastard,” the farmer said.

“May, gotcha,” the army man said, writing some notes to himself. “You’re in the book.”

He left, and that night the villagers came by the farmhouse and asked the farmer,

“What has happened here?”

The farmer said,


The villagers nodded, and after they left, the farmer noticed that one of them had stolen a chair.


For Amir.