The boys were told not to go into the forest, but you know how it is with kids: tell them to do one thing and they’ll do the complete opposite.
Perhaps things would have turned out differently if their parents hadn’t oversold the place. No one’s ever interested in exploring something described merely as “That over there? That’s just a regular old forest. You know – trees, birds, and the usual roundup of insects. Maybe a deer or two.” However, say to three nine-year-olds, “That kids is the Forest of Perpetual Insanity and Paint Brushes. Don’t ever go in there. You’ll come out crazy. If you come out at all,” and of course they’re going to make a beeline for the place.
It was Freddie who first threw out the idea of venturing into the forest.
“I heard there’s a monster in there. He’s ten feet tall, covered in warts, and likes to eat kids,” Freddie said to his friends, Charlie and Max.
“He likes to skewer them on the paint brushes first. That’s what I heard anyway,” Charlie added immediately afterwards.
“I’m not quite sure I get the part about the paint brushes,” Max said.
“I already told you, he skewers kids with them,” Charlie tried explaining again to his friend.
“I get that, it’s just…are the paint brushes perpetual as well, or is it just the insanity bit that’s perpetual with a few paint brushes thrown in for good measure? Maybe they should have called it ‘The Forest of Paint Brushes and Perpetual Insanity’. That’d clear things up for sure.”
“Are we going in or not?” an impatient Freddie asked.
The other two boys agreed and together they set off. It was foggy the day they decided to be brave – the best time to go searching for monsters in a haunted forest. At first, it appeared to be just like any other heavily wooded area. It took until the one mile mark for the fun to begin.
“Who goes there?!” a deep voice bellowed.
The three boys froze where they were, their trembling bodies the only movement they could manage. The sound of rustling leaves was their first clue that the monster was heading their way. Their second was the sound of Clop! Clop! Clop! Clop! They had never heard such a sound in their young lives, likely because people normally don’t strike maple trees with paint brushes where they come from.
“What are you little devils doing here?” asked the giant; who, by the way, wasn’t really a giant. He was only 6 feet and 5 inches tall, but you can see how a kid would think that’s huge.
Unable to speak for themselves, the giant answered on their behalf.
“Come to see the giant of The Forest of Perpetual Insanity and Paint Brushes, have you?”
“Yeah, about that,” Max, the bravest of the three, began. “Are the paint brushes never ending as well or…?”
“Shut up,” Freddie whispered. “Do you want to get us all killed?”
“A sentence structure freak, are you?” the giant asked Max. “No, the paint brushes aren’t perpetual, just the insanity.”
“Are you the one that’s insane, or are the people who come in here driven insane?” Max then wanted to know.
“That depends,” the giant told him.
“On how much you like art. Sit down boys and I’ll explain.”
On his command, the boys sat down and listened to his tale. A tale about one town’s love of art and their subsequent rejection of that very thing. Years ago, the giant lived in the very same town as the boys. It was dull back then as he recalled, so he procured a set of paint brushes and gallons of paint, and went about painting the town red. Yellow, blue, purple, green and every other colour under the rainbow was used as well.
“I’m a graffiti artist, boys. The worst kind of artist there is; at least, according to the general population who can’t see anything other than pictures of landscapes and religious figures as art. Soon I was banished from town and sent to live here in this forest, where I’ve continued my work to this day.”
“You’re painting the forest?” a confused Charlie asked.
“You see the leaves change colours every fall, don’t you? That’s my work.”
“Where does the insanity part come in?” Max then inquired.
“You’d go crazy too if you had to do the same thing year after year after year for the rest of your life. Stagnation is like death to an artist!”
The boys had no idea what the word stagnation meant, but they were sure the giant had more to say.
“Here, I’m going to give each of you a paint brush. Do me a favour? Return to town and resume my work for me. Don’t stop until every last trace of beige has been removed.”
The boys did as requested, eventually putting the likes of Banksy to shame with their creativity.
“Ugh, what a horrible sight!” the townspeople cried each time a building was struck. “I don’t mind pictures of pretty meadows or Mary washing the feet of Jesus, but graffiti? It drives me insane!”
The giant heard their cries and for the first time since he was banished, slept soundly knowing that a new generation of artists had been born.