I thank you again for joining me in rewriting Arthur Scott Bailey’s 1915 children’s book about animals, The Tale of Fatty Raccoon. You can read the entire story, so much as I have made into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction, at this link. This chapter builds directly on Chapter XIII, when Jimmy Rabbit and Jimmy’s Brother Rabbit set up a pretend barber shop, only to use it to give Fatty a humiliating shave. Enjoy!
> THE BARBER-SHOP AGAIN
CROW: Barber-Shop *again*?
MIKE: Well, spruce it up with some frozen vegetables and bake it into a casserole and it’s like new.
> Although Fatty Raccoon never could get Jimmy Rabbit and his
> brother to play barber-shop with him again,
TOM: But if he asked for a rousing game of ‘patent attorney’? They were up for that.
> Fatty saw no reason why he
> should not play the game without them.
MIKE: [ As Fatty ] ‘If they won’t humiliate me I’ll humiliate myself!’
> So one day he led his brother
TOM: [ Grunts, in pain ]
> over to the old hollow sycamore.
MIKE: If the sycamore is hollow isn’t that a syca-less?
> His sisters, Fluffy and
> Cutey, wanted to go too.
CROW: Wait, I thought Blackie was one of his sisters?
TOM: [ As though tired of explaining ] If Blackie were a girl he’d have long eyelashes and a bow in his hair, Crow.
> But Fatty would not let them. "Girls can’t be
> barbers," he said.
MIKE: Ah, see, sexism, it’s the flaw keeping Fatty from being too good to be true.
> And of course they could find no answer to that.
TOM: Heck, they didn’t want to talk to him ever again.
> As soon as Fatty and Blackie reached the old sycamore I am
> sorry to say that a dispute arose.
CROW: [ As Narrator ] ‘I was hoping to get through one chapter where nothing happened but, tch.’
> Each of them wanted to use his own
> tail for the barber’s pole.
MIKE: Well, I mean, *naturally*.
> They couldn’t both stick their tails
> through the hole in the tree at the same time. So they finally agreed
> to take turns.
CROW: [ As Narrator ] ‘The dispute wasn’t exactly the Great Schism of 1054. Sorry if I set your expectations too high.’
> Playing barber-shop wasn’t so much fun as they had expected,
MIKE: [ As Fatty ] ‘I don’t get it, last time a couple rabbits shaved my face bald and I was hideous for months! Why isn’t this as good?’
> because nobody would come near to get his hair cut. You see, the
> smaller forest- people were all afraid to go inside that old sycamore
> where Fatty and Blackie were.
TOM: They heard it’s haunted.
MIKE: Fortunately a couple of meddling young goats wandered through town …
> There was no telling when the two
> brothers might get so hungry they would seize and eat a rabbit or a
> squirrel or a chipmunk.
TOM: [ As Blackie ] ‘Hey! I’ve got self-control, *thank* you.’
> And you know it isn’t wise to run any such
> risk as that.
CROW: The marmots, though? They like their chances.
> Fatty offered to cut Blackie’s hair.
TOM: With what?
> But Blackie remembered
> what his mother had said when Fatty came home with his moustache gone
> and his head all rough and uneven.
MIKE: [ As Blackie ] ‘I remember it like it was yesterday!’
CROW: [ As Fatty ] ‘It *was* yesterday!’
MIKE: [ As Blackie ] ‘I didn’t say it was hard to remember!’
> So Blackie wouldn’t let Fatty touch
> him. But HE offered to cut Fatty’s hair—what there was left of it.
TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘But we can’t get Jimmy to play with us!’
CROW: [ As Jimmy, from a distance ] ‘I’m a *rabbit* not a *hare*!’
> "No, thank you!" said Fatty. "I only get my hair cut once a
> month." Of course, he had never had his hair cut except that once, in
> his whole life.
TOM: The barber-shop plot is *not* helping me understand the level of anthropomorphization here.
> Now, since there was so little to do inside the hollow tree,
> Fatty and Blackie kept quarreling.
MIKE: I mean, you know, brothers.
CROW: They’d come home with black eyes but who could tell?
> Blackie would no sooner stick his
> tail through the hole in the side of the tree than Fatty would want
> HIS turn.
TOM: Turns out raccoons are easier to keep occupied than I figured.
> And when Fatty had succeeded in squeezing HIS tail out
> through the opening Blackie would insist that Fatty’s time was up.
CROW: I’m starting to think this isn’t just about the hole.
> It was Fatty’s turn, and Blackie was shouting to him to stand
> aside and give him a chance.
MIKE: Man, to think of all the afternoons I spent sticking body parts in tree holes …
> "I won’t!" said Fatty. "I’m going to stay here just as long as
> I please."
CROW: [ Sighing ] Remember Winnie the Pooh? Winnie the Pooh was great.
> The words were hardly out of his mouth when he gave a sharp
> squeal, as if something hurt him.
TOM: It’s called a brother and that’s what they do, yes. There’s punching, there’s biting, there’s name-calling …
> And he tried to pull his tail out of
> the hole. He wanted to get it out now. But alas! it would not come!
> was caught fast!
MIKE: If he can’t move isn’t it really caught *slow*?
> And the harder Fatty pulled the more it hurt him.
> "Go out and see what’s the matter!" he cried to Blackie.
CROW: It’s a rival barber shop run by Grandfather Mole!
> But Blackie wouldn’t stir. He was afraid to leave the shelter
> of the hollow tree.
TOM: Really? Why?
> "It may be a bear that has hold of your tail," he told Fatty.
MIKE: Now why would a bear want a used tail?
TOM: Better than no tail.
> And somehow, that idea made Fatty tremble all over.
> "Oh, dear! oh, dear!" he wailed. "What shall I do? Oh!
> whatever shall I do?"
CROW: I mean, whatever the bear wants you to.
> He began to cry. And Blackie cried too.
MIKE: Good survival skill here. Bears are afraid of awkward emotional scenes like this.
> Fatty wished that his mother was there to tell him what to do!
TOM: He regrets using up that genie’s three wishes all on fudge.
> But he knew of no way to fetch her. Even if she were at home
> she could never hear him calling from inside the tree.
CROW: Unless she’s next door visiting Master Meadow Mouse playing savings bank.
> So Fatty gave
> up all hope of her helping.
TOM: Dad’s not putting on a good show for his kids here.
MIKE: [ Nerdy voice ] ‘It’s biological *authenticity*.’
> "Please, Mr. Bear, let go of my tail!" he cried, when he could
> stand the pain no longer.
CROW: [ As Fatty, choking ] ‘No no don’t grab my neck instead!’
> The only answer that came was a low growl, which frightened
> Fatty and Blackie more than ever.
TOM: If Fatty had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened.
> And then, just as they both began to
> howl at the top of their voices Fatty’s tail was suddenly freed.
MIKE: As Walter Moose frightens off the bear to make his 2:15 mani-pedi.
> was pulling on it so hard that he fell all in a heap on the floor of
> the barber-shop. And that surprised him.
CROW: This lets the bear claim he’s ‘technically’ eating free-range raccoon.
> But he was still more surprised when he heard his mother say—
TOM: His mother?
CROW: The heck?
> "Stop crying and come out—both of you!" Fatty and Blackie
> scrambled out of the hollow sycamore.
MIKE: Wait, how do you know that’s not a bear pretending to be Mom?
> Fatty looked all around. But
> there was no bear to be seen anywhere—no one but his mother.
TOM: Be bear aware!
CROW: There’s no bear there.
TOM: Be no bear aware!
> "Did you frighten the bear away, Mother?" he asked.
> "There was no bear," Mrs. Raccoon told him.
CROW: [ Gasp ]
MIKE: Fatty was found alive and of normal size three thousand miles away.
TOM: The heck?
> "And it’s lucky for
> you that there wasn’t. I saw your tail sticking out of this tree and I
> thought I would teach you a lesson.
TOM: Three chapters in a row we’ve been taken by a plot twist!
CROW: Yeah, the author outthinking me is really making me resent this book.
> Now, don’t ever do such a foolish
> thing again. Just think what a fix you would have been in if Johnnie
> Green had come along.
MIKE: But Johnnie Green’s too young to shave!
> He could have caught you just as easily as
> Fatty Raccoon was so glad to be free once more that he promised
> to be good forever after.
CROW: Well, he can’t promise to be good forever before.
> And he was just as good as any little raccoon
> could be—all the rest of that day.
TOM: I mean, fair.
[ To continue … ]