by Jim Harris

Gather ‘round, kids, and I’ll tell you the story of a turkey named Apple. He was born on Farmer Brown’s Turkey Ranch where he lived in a room with 20,000 of his closest friends. In fact, they were so close that they couldn’t do any of the things turkeys normally do. They just sat around, got fat and pondered life’s mysteries. Then one day some people came and set up a stage. They made the turkeys dance to a variety of recorded songs including the Chicken Dance, the Disco Duck and selections from the musical “Chicago.”

When it was Apple’s turn, he was so happy to have a little space and some attention that he danced with all the spirit he could muster. Sure enough, he was picked as the best of the bunch and declared the “National Thanksgiving Turkey.” Another turkey, named Cider, was picked to be Apple’s understudy after she put on a particularly poignant performance of “The Dying Swan” from Act III of “Swan Lake.” The next morning, Apple and Cider were loaded into a van and whisked off to a very special ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Once there, they were paraded in front of TV cameras and newspaper reporters. Then the President of the United States himself came out and said that he was “pardoning” Apple and Cider. After the ceremony, the two turkeys were transported to a luxurious wooden enclosure along a pastoral lane at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia. The well-appointed pen included a heater, internet access and a runway for them to strut their stuff for camera-toting tourists.

Life was good. Cider seemed to thrive there, but eventually Apple became disenchanted with his role as National Thanksgiving Turkey. He couldn’t help thinking about all his colleagues who HADN’T been pardoned. He also wondered where all the pardoned turkeys from previous years had gone, so he started doing research on the internet.

He discovered that none of the previously pardoned turkeys had ever lived more than a year! This was, he learned, because farmed turkeys are bred to be eaten, not for longevity. “Eaten!” cried Apple. “Are you kidding me?” He was also shocked to discover that wild turkeys can fly. Farmed turkeys could not fly. He became very angry, and he hatched a plan.

That night, when the caretaker opened his pen to feed him, Apple escaped into the woods. The next morning, he made his way to a nearby town, easily bought a gun (as easy in Virginia as buying a candy bar) and began hitchhiking north along I-95. Two days later he arrived at the White House, the very place where he had been pardoned several months before.

Even with his overweight frame and stubby legs he easily climbed over the fence and make it all the way into the Oval Office (who couldn’t?) before he was stopped by Charlie, the Secret Service dog.

“What are you doing here?” asked Charlie.

“I’ve come to see the President,” Apple replied. “I need to talk to him about the plight of turkeys.”

“I’m sorry, but if you go any further I’ll have to bite your head off,” said Charlie. “Nothing personal; it’s just what they’ve trained me to do.”

“I understand,” said Apple. “People make us do some pretty strange things. Have you ever read ‘Animal Liberation?’”

“Why no,” said Charlie. “What’s that about?”

Just then, Mutt and Jeff, two human Secret Service agents, returned from their three hour lunch break and saw Apple.

“What the heck’s going on here?” said Mutt. “What’s the protocol for a rogue turkey in the White House?” screamed Jeff. “Call headquarters!” Mutt and Jeff hopped up and down and ran around in circles waving their arms. They were very confused.

Eventually, after a lengthy series of phone calls and some nasty jurisdictional disputes, a SWAT team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture came and captured Apple. He was sent to the Federal Penitentiary at Lee, Virginia, which was, strangely enough, much nicer than Farmer Brown’s Turkey Ranch.

It came to pass that a number of bleeding-heart liberal Hollywood celebrities took up Apple’s cause, and eventually the President was persuaded to pardon him once again. After his release, Apple moved to Florida (Boca Raton), wrote a best-selling memoir (“Let My Turkeys Go”) and lived happily ever after (about a month and a half).

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little story. Please remember, it’s just another fairy tale. In the REAL world, turkeys don’t NEED to be pardoned; PEOPLE do. Here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving for all!