The Tale Of Jasper:
When Johnny was two years old, his parents took him to the store. Johnny loved to go to the store. He liked to look at all of the toys and games. As he was going through the aisles, something caught his eyes. There was a brown tuft of fur sticking out from under one of the toy shelves. Bending down to take a closer look, Johnny saw that it was a teddy bear. The teddy bear was coved in dust and was really quite ordinary, but Johnny thought it was the best looking teddy bear he had ever seen. Johnny showed the teddy bear to his mother and said, “Peeze, peeze, Mama! Peeze, peeze!”.
Johnny’s mother looked down at the teddy bear and wrinkled her nose. “Johnny, you don’t want that dirty old teddy bear. Let’s find you a shiny new car or robot instead.” She then tried to take the teddy bear out of Johnny’s hand.
Johnny held on tightly to the teddy bear and would not let go. “No, Mama! Peeze! Peeze!” he said, as tears began to well in his eyes. He would not let go of the teddy bear.
“Oh fine, then!” Johnny’s mother said, and let go of the teddy bear. “If you’re absolutely certain that’s what you want after looking at all the other toys, then that’s what you’ll get.” Johnny’s mother then took Johnny through the entire toy section trying to convince Johnny to pick another toy instead. However, all Johnny would do when his mother tried to show him the other toys was point at the toys and show them to the teddy bear as if though he were his best friend. Finally, Johnny’s mother rolled her eyes and decided that if that’s what Johnny wanted, then she would buy it for him.
When Johnny got home, it was time for dinner. Johnny tried to put his new teddy bear in one of his older brother’s chairs, but when his older brother saw it, he smacked it down to the ground. “Mama! Mama!” Johnny yelled out and pointed his finger at the teddy bear lying on the floor and then at his older brother.
“Well, Johnny, that’s what you get. Your teddy bear doesn’t belong in your brother’s chair.” Johnny looked sad but picked up his teddy bear and put him in his lap where he sat for the rest of dinner.
When it came time for Johnny to go to bed, he tried to take the teddy bear to bed with him. However, his mother came in, wrinkled her nose at the teddy bear, and said, “No, Johnny, the teddy bear can’t sleep with you. It’s too dirty and doesn’t belong in bed with you anyway. Here, I’ll put him up on the shelf over your bed, and you can get him again tomorrow when you wake up.” Johnny looked sad, but let his mother take the teddy bear and put it up on the shelf.
Johnny awoke the next morning with his mother raising her voice to him. “Johnny! What did I tell you? You are not going to have that teddy bear in the bed with you!”
Johnny looked down to find his teddy bear wrapped tightly in his arms. He did not know what to say to his mother. “Sowwy, Mama.” was all he could get out.
“Well, just don’t do it again.” his mother replied.
As his mother left, Johnny looked down at the teddy bear in his arms. It looked sad this morning. He did not remember it looking sad before. “I’m sorry, Johnny.” the teddy bear said. “I didn’t mean to get you in trouble.” Johnny opened his eyes wide and a huge smile spread across his face as he realized his teddy bear could talk.
“S’okay, Jasper.” Johnny said.
“Is that my name, Jasper? I like that name. Thank you for such a great name, Johnny.” Jasper’s face lit up and was no longer sad. It seemed he rather enjoyed his new name.
Johnny ran downstairs with Jasper in his hand and jumped up and down in front of his mother. “He tawts, Mama, he tawts! Tay tumptin, Jasper. Tay tumptin to Mama!” He held Jasper up in front of his mother and waited. Jasper never said anything to Johnny’s mother.
“Quit playing with that filthy bear for one second and go wash your hands, Johnny. It’s time for your breakfast.”
Johnny went down the hall and looked at Jasper. “Why you no tawt to Mama, Jasper?”
“She scares me, Johnny. I don’t think she likes me. I just want to talk to you because I can tell you really love me.” Johnny just shrugged, washed his hands, then went to the table to eat breakfast while Jasper sat in his lap.
The next morning, Johnny jumped out of bed and looked up at Jasper who was sitting on the shelf. “Tum on, Jasper! Wet’s pway!” Jasper jumped down from the shelf and into Johnny’s arms. The two friends played together all day that day. Whenever Johnny went to eat, Jasper was always there in his lap. Johnny and Jasper went everywhere together. They were the best of friends. If Johnny played in the mud, Jasper played in the mud. If Johnny played with cars, Jasper played with cars.
The days stretched into weeks, then months, then years and the two best friends remained inseparable. However, Johnny had grown so much that it was time for him to start going to school. He cried when he found out that he wasn’t allowed to take Jasper to school with him, but Jasper told him not to worry, because he would be there waiting when he came home. Sure enough, Jasper was there on his shelf when Johnny came home. Jasper jumped down from the shelf and into Johnny’s arms when he came into the bedroom. Johnny wanted to go outside right away and tell Jasper all the things he saw on his first day of school. However, Johnny’s mother came in and saw Johnny holding Jasper and wrinkled her nose at the two of them.
“Oh no you don’t, young man!” she said. “You better do your school work before you even think about playing!” So, Johnny looked down and began to frown as his mother walked away.
“That’s okay, Johnny. I’ll help you with your school work, and then we can go play.” Sure enough, that’s just what he did. With Jasper helping him out, Johnny finished his school work quite quickly. He took it to his mother who looked over the papers in disbelief.
“How did you finish this so quickly, Johnny?”
“Jasper helped me, Mama.”
Johnny’s mother wrinkled her nose at both of them and said, “Johnny, now that you’re going to school, and your becoming such a big boy, don’t you think it’s time you stopped playing with Jasper?”
“Nope!” Johnny replied, and skipped out the door to play outside with Jasper.
Throughout the entire year, Johnny was doing rather well in school since he had Jasper helping him out all the time. If there was something Johnny didn’t understand, Jasper was always there to make it clear. His mother and his teachers were very surprised at how well he was doing.
One day, Johnny’s teacher came over to Johnny’s house to discuss Johnny’s progress in class. She suggested that perhaps Johnny was gifted and should try something even a little bit harder. The teacher told Johnny’s mother that perhaps he should begin taking piano lessons to see if he could learn music as well as he learned his other lessons. Johnny’s mother agreed that it would be a good idea, and decided to enroll Johnny in piano lessons over the summer. At first, Johnny was reluctant to take classes during the summer because this meant there would be less time to play with Jasper, but he was alright with it when he found out that he could take Jasper along with him.
Johnny tried to learn to play the piano over the summer, but his teacher was always getting distracted while trying to give him lessons. She had children of her own, and they were always getting into trouble when Johnny was at her house trying to learn the piano. However, while the teacher was distracted, Jasper took over the lessons and helped Johnny learn how to read music and play the piano. Soon enough, Johnny could play the piano quite well.
The years continued like this for quite some time and Jasper and Johnny were becoming closer and closer. They shared everything with each other. Jasper was always there for Johnny when he had something to say that he couldn’t tell anybody else. Jasper always understood and gave good advice when he could. Jasper would never tell Johnny what to do, but gave Johnny good direction in making decisions. Johnny also kept Jasper’s secret too. He never told anybody else that Jasper could talk.
One day, Johnny’s mother asked Johnny to come to the kitchen table to have a talk. When Johnny walked in and sat down with Jasper in his lap, he thought it was quite odd that his older brother and father were also there with his mother and they seemed to all be looking down at Jasper while wrinkling their noses. “Johnny,” his mother said. “You’re going to be a teenager soon.” Johnny nodded at this. “Well, son, you’re becoming a young man and you’re not a little boy anymore.” Johnny nodded again as he didn’t know what else to do during this strange conversation. “Well, it’s just, I think, rather, we all think, it’s time you gave up some of your childish things so you will be more comfortable as you become older.”
“Okay.” Johnny said. “But I already gave my toys to my younger cousins. I also got rid of a lot of my games because they were too boring for me. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I have anything else to get rid of.” His entire family cocked their heads in disbelief and stared at Jasper who was still in his arms. “Jasper? You want me to get rid of Jasper? Well, he’s not a toy, he’s my best friend.” To this, all of his family rolled their eyes and gave Johnny a stern look. “Well, you can just forget that. You don’t understand. Besides, you haven’t liked him from the first day I had him. None of you will ever understand!” Johnny then stood up and stomped off to his room. He slammed his door behind him and flopped onto his bed. “What’s their problem anyway? What’s wrong with you? You don’t bother anybody. Besides, you’re not a child’s toy. You’re my best friend! I’ll never get rid of you! They’re acting like you’re just some silly thing that I could easily get rid of. Don’t worry, Jasper, it’ll never happen.”
“Thanks, Johnny. Just the same, should I perhaps just keep my distance for a while until they cool off?”
“No! The only thing that matters is that I love you and will never let you go! They’re the ones who have to change, not us!”
“Okay, Johnny.” And the two friends hugged and carried on like nothing happened.
The next day, Johnny woke up and got ready for breakfast. Jasper jumped down from the shelf to join him. The two of them went to the table where Johnny’s brother was already eating. “Well hewwo wittle baby John John. Did ums bwing his bestest fwend in da whole wide wuld wit ums today? Is ums gonna feed his wittle fwend some ceweal?” said Terry, Johnny’s older brother.
“Mom! Make Terry shut up. He’s teasing me.” Johnny said.
“Well, Honey,” said his mother, “if you’re going to continue carrying that baby toy around with you, you should expect to be teased like a baby.”
“Fine!” Johnny said, and he stomped out of the house. Later that day, as Johnny and Jasper were out hunting for bugs, Terry and a group of his friends came by. All of them started making fun of Johnny and would not stop. They talked to him in baby talk and grabbed Jasper away from him. They played a game of keep-away from Johnny with Jasper. They kept throwing him to each other while keeping him just out of Johnny’s reach. He screamed and cried and begged them to stop, but they just kept it up and laughed harder as Johnny cried harder.
Terry finally threw Jasper to the ground and said, “Let the little baby have his little teddy bear!” Then they all left laughing to each other and giving each other high fives.
Johnny was still sobbing as he picked up Jasper. “Are you okay?” He heard some giggling behind him and turned to see the neighbor, Brenda, standing there with four other girls who were all holding their mouths while smiling and giggling. They couldn’t help themselves but to burst into laughter after seeing the tears running down Johnny’s face. They turned and ran away laughing harder and harder as they left.
“I’m fine, Johnny.” said Jasper. “I’m made like a toy, so I can be tossed around a little without getting hurt.”
Johnny went back inside and placed Jasper back on his shelf. He walked out of the room, through the hall, and ended up at the kitchen table where he placed his head in his hands and began to sob. His mother came in and asked Johnny what had happened. Johnny told her all about the teasing everybody had given him that day. His mother held him, but offered no sympathy. “Well, Johnny, you have to understand that people are going to make fun of you if you keep playing with teddy bears at your age. It’s just something that happens.”
After thinking about it some more, Johnny decided it would be alright if his mother got rid of Jasper. He couldn’t do it himself because he was afraid of how he would feel if he had to face his best friend under such circumstances. His mother went to his room, took Jasper off the shelf and outside to the trash can. That was the first night Johnny slept without Jasper in the room. It was difficult to do, but he managed it by telling himself over and over, “He’s just a toy. He’s just a toy.”
The next night wasn’t as bad for Johnny, and the night after that was even easier. Then, one morning, Johnny was awoken by the sounds of the trash trucks coming down the road. Johnny thought about what was about to happen to Jasper. He thought about everything Jasper and he had gone through in the last ten years they had been together. He remembered that Jasper had always been there to help him. Jasper helped him in school. He helped Johnny learn how to play the piano. He listened to Johnny’s secrets and never made fun of him for anything. Jasper never even asked for anything in return for all of loyal friendship except to be loved by Johnny. He was a perfect friend. Johnny jumped out of bed and ran outside to the trash can. The garbage men were just getting ready to empty his family’s can when Johnny screamed, “Stop!”
Frantic, Johnny grabbed the can and started digging through it. The garbage men didn’t know what to think about this, but left Johnny alone while he threw pile after pile of garbage at their feet. Finally, reaching to the bottom of the can, Johnny pulled up a smelly, and dirty Jasper with a gleam in his eyes. “I found you! I found you!” Looking back at the garbage men, he knew he would have to help clean up the mess he made, so he did just that before heading into his house to clean up Jasper. He gave Jasper a bath and sprayed perfume on him so he didn’t smell like trash anymore. He took Jasper into his room and told him how sorry he was for putting him in the trash can. Jasper told Johnny that he was just glad to be back with him. That night, Johnny put Jasper back on his place on the shelf.
When the next morning came, Johnny woke up and got ready to go to breakfast. He looked up at Jasper and said, “Well, aren’t you coming?”
“Not today, Johnny.” he said. I’m still tired. You can go on without me.”
“Well, okay, Jasper.” replied Johnny.
“Uh, Johnny?” called Jasper. “I still love you.”
“I love you too, Jasper.” said Johnny
The next day came, and Jasper did not jump down from the shelf again. Nor did he jump down from the shelf the day after that or the day after that. The days turned into weeks, then months, then years, and Jasper never jumped down from the shelf. After a larger number of years than Jasper wanted to count, he was placed in a box and could occasionally feel the box being moved from place to place. One day, there was a light above Jasper and he could see the face of an older man who looked like he might be Johnny’s father. “There you are, old friend.” said the man. “Here you go, Tina. This is my old friend, Jasper. Jasper, you take good care of my little girl now, alright?” Jasper did not reply. He was placed in the small hands of a little girl who skipped away with him in her hands. He never said anything to her. Jasper never said anything to anybody ever again.