Balkiís Tale: Balki and the Beanstalk
By Emma Redmer
Cannon: between the 3rd and the 4th seasons (epilogue)
Characters: Balki, Larry, Mary Anne, Jennifer, Mr. Twinicetti (Twinkie), Mrs. Twinkicetti, Mr. Gorpley, Lydia
Rating: G
Synopsis: A pair of Myposian farmers outwit a nasty giant and rescue two beautiful princesses.
Disclaimer: Lorimar Productions, Miller-Boyett Productions, and Warner Bros. Television own Perfect Strangers.
Notes: This is the first in a series of four classic fairy tales featuring the Perfect Strangers characters.

Balki and Larriki Bartokomos were distant cousins and best friends who lived together on a farm. Balki tended to the sheep and cattle while Larriki grew beans and peas and oranges in the garden. He sold the vegetables and fruit for a nice profit, which Balki used to feed his sheep and get the cows the best hay money could buy.

One year, however, Mypos was devastated by a drought. Larrikiís bean plants and pea pods and orange trees dried and withered in the hot sun, and many of Balkiís sheep and cattle died from too much heat and too little water. Eventually, the two men had nothing left but their little hut and one cow, Balkiís favorite of all his animals.

Balki was brushing the cow, talking soothingly to her, when his cousin emerged from the house. The young Myposian farmer frowned at his cousinís worried expression. "Cousin, what is it?"

Larriki sighed. "Balki, Iíve been working on our books, and Iím afraid we donít have enough money left to buy food for ourselves, much less the cow. Youíre going to have to sell her."

Balki threw his arms around his bovine companion. "No, cousin! Couldnít we sell something else?"

His cousin shook his head. "I know how attached you are to that cow, but we have no choice. If we sell the cow, weíll have enough money to buy food until the drought ends."

That was that. None of Balkiís protests could change his cousinís mind. He sadly tied a rope around his petís neck and led her to town.

On the road, he met a tall fellow who carried a bag of beans. "Hey, you, idiot Mypiot."

Balki frowned and pointed to himself. "Are you speaking to Balki?"

"No, the idiot Mypiot behind you," the man said sarcastically. He looked right and left and pulled three beans out of his bag. "I have something for you. These are magic beans. If you plant them, something amazing will happen!"

"Oh, I would very much like to have magic beans!" Balki exclaimed. "But I have no money."

"Weíll trade!" the man assured him. "You take the beans, and Iíll take your cow."

The young farmer put his arms protectively around the cow. "You will take good care of her?"

The older merchant nodded impatiently. "Iíll guard her with my life." He threw Balki the beans and took the cowís reigns before Balki could say good-bye.

He cheerfully walked home to find Larriki setting the table for dinner. "Well, how much money did you get in town?" he asked. "Enough to get us a nice, juicy roast beef with all the trimmings, I hope. Iím so hungry, I could eat your pig snout with saffron."

"Well, no," Balki explained, "I didnít sell her. I traded her."

Larriki gave him a strange look. "You traded her? For what?"

Balki proudly showed him the beans. "A nice man gave me these magic beans! If we plant them, something amazing will happen!"

Larrikiís eyes bulged. He grabbed his cousin by the collar. "Balki, how could you? I told you to sell the cow and get money for food! Those beans arenít enough to make a full meal for an ant, much less you and me! That man probably ripped you off to get the cow." He grabbed the beans from Balki and threw them out the window. "Hereís what I think of your beans!"

Balki and Larriki went to bed without supper, Larriki raging, Balki in tears. Balki cried himself to sleep. When he awoke the next morning, something shaded his window. Now this worried Balki, because all the orange trees had died and no longer had leaves, so he peered out the window...and bonked his head on something big and green.

He dressed quickly and ran out the door. The biggest beanstalk Balki ever saw towered over the little hut. It stretched straight through the clouds and into the sky. Balki wondered what was at the top. Heíd never been in the sky before! He took hold of the stalk and climbed. It proved surprisingly sturdy for a beanstalk, and he was at the top in no time.

The world at the top of the beanstalk was amazing! Everything was three times Balkiís size. There were mushrooms the size of houses and blades of grass that looked like green waves. The ladybugs that flew past Balki were the size of the cow heíd traded the night before. The fish in the river were as big as boats.

A gigantic castle stood above everything in the distance. Balki thought that the owner might be able to help him, so he walked over the drawbridge and into the castle. Everything around him, from the tables to the chairs to the birdcages, was enormous. He climbed to the top of a table and found all kinds of meat, cheeses, fruits, nuts, and sweet wine. Heíd just broken off a bit of cheese and put another piece in his pocket for Larriki when he heard a loud noise, like footsteps, but much bigger.

"Whatíre you doing here?" A giant woman in a lovely dress clopped into the room. She leaned over the frightened Myposian farmer. "You canít stay here. My husband will eat you for breakfast. Heís got this thing for eating humans."

"I climbed the beanstalk to the top and saw this castle," Balki explained. "Please donít eat me! Iím very thin and tough!"

"I wonít eat you," the woman assured him. "I donít eat humans, and I never understood why Donnieís so fond of them, either." She put him in a breadbox on the table. "Stay here until I tell you itís safe to come out."

Balki wasnít about to question her. The castle shook with even larger footsteps and the sound of someone roaring "EDWINA, IS MY BREAKFAST READY?"

The giant was a large, plump man with a round face and rather small, piggy eyes. He gave Edwina the giantess a kiss on her cheek. "Edwina, my pet, what wonderful meal did you concoct for the family this morning?"

Edwina made a face. "Donnie, where have you been all night? Youíre an hour late for breakfast!"

"Iíve been out, ok?" The giant picked up his pitchfork-sized fork and shovel-like spoon. "So, whatís there to eat?" He took a deep sniff. "Edwina, you giant sweet thing, youíve cooked my favorite, human and turnip casserole!"

"Um, no," Edwina assured him quickly, "weíre having five roast oxen. Donnie, you get the strangest ideas sometimes." She gestured at a bag on a hutch nearby. "Why donít you play with your hen that lays the golden eggs?"

"Yeah, Iíll do that." He pointed his fork at the hutch. "Edwina, go get my hen!"

Edwina returned with a normal-looking hen, the kind that Balki and Larriki raised when they had the money. Edwina dropped it on the table and attended to breakfast. Donnie thumped the table with his ham-sized fist. "Ok, hen, youíre gonna lay for me today, and none of those white eggs, either. Youíre gonna give me the gold kind, the kind that keeps me rolling in roast oxen and you rolling in chicken feed." He yawned. "I got a great deal in that trade with the king of Turnip-land down there. I took his hen, his royal treasury, his gold harp, and his daughters, and he got to watch me squeeze the water out of his island." He grinned. "I cursed his kingdom to never rain. Iíll lift the curse when he gives me the Kingdom of Mypos. Iíve always wanted a nice summer place for me and Edwina."

Balki gasped. The giant had somehow caused the drought that was bringing ruin to Mypos, and stolen money, daughters, and precious objects from its monarch. He had to rescue these things and find out how to end the dry spell.

The giant was obviously drowsy. Even as the hen produced a lovely solid-gold egg, his head nodded. The giant went to sleep in the middle of inspecting her second egg. Balki took the opportunity to grab the egg and the hen, run out the castle and down the beanstalk before the hen could make enough noise to wake up her brutal owner.

Larriki stood at the foot of the beanstalk, looking worried. Heíd awoken to find a beanstalk that touched the sky out his window and his cousin no longer in bed. "Balki," he exclaimed when the other farmer emerged from the sky with a hen and a gold-colored egg tucked under one arm, "where have you been? Where did this beanstalk come from? And why are you carrying a barnyard animal?"

Balki explained his adventures in the sky and what heíd heard the giant tell the hen. "He has the kingís treasure, his harp, and his daughters, not to mention he knows how to stop this drought! Iíve got to go back there!"

"Balki, are you crazy?" Larriki took him by his shoulders and shook him. "Didnít you hear what the giantís wife said? Heíll eat you for dinner if you go back, and probably have me for a late-night snack!"

"Cousin, I donít care if you come with me, but I am going up that beanstalk, and I am going to rescue the Kingís treasury, harp, and daughters."

Larrikiís eyes widened when he mentioned the money. "Did you say, Ďtreasury?í" He smiled. "Do you think the king will have a reward for rescuing his treasury, his harp, his hen, and his daughters?"

"His daughtersí hands in marriage, I should think."

"Move aside," Larriki insisted. "Iím going first!"

Larriki started up the beanstalk while Balki was still catching his breath and attending to the hen. He put her in Larrikiís bed in the hut and made sure she was nice and warm and had all the seeds he could find to eat. She was so happy she made another pretty gold egg before taking a nap.

Balki climbed the beanstalk and once again emerged in the beautiful, oversized land in the sky. He went to the castle and this time made his way in through the window, taking care to not be seen. He hadnít seen Larriki anywhere. He hoped he was ok. His cousin was his best friend in the world, and he would be upset if he became dinner for a giant.

Balki walked through the castle, finally finding the room with the table and the hutch again. He started toward the table just as he heard heavy footsteps and someone using language that would make a Myposian sailor blush. He ducked into an empty mouse hole just as Donnie the giant stomped into the room, carrying a tiny sack in one hand and a small, squirming creature in the other.

"Let me go! I donít know anything about your hen! Iíve never been here before in my life!" He tried to smile. "Not that I wouldnít mind having a hen that lays golden eggs, but I didnít steal anything...recently."

Balki gasped. The giant captured Cousin Larriki and thought he stole the hen! He had to rescue his cousin before the giant put him between two slices of bread and made a Cousin Larriki sandwich.

"Why donít I believe you?" the giant grunted. "Hens donít just get up and walk out of a castle the size of Fort Knox. Youíre the only human Iíve seen here all day, besides the Kingís daughters. The thief always returns to the scene of the crime!" He put the sack on the table and took a birdcage down from the ceiling. "Iím going to put you in here while I tell Edwina that I have another ingredient for her rabbit and duck stew." He grinned devilishly. "Have fun, and be nice to your little friends." He dropped the cage on the table near the sack, unlocked the door with a large key, threw Larriki in, and closed it again.

Balki sprinted out of the hole the moment the giant went to the kitchen. He scrambled up the table leg as fast as he could and raced across the table to the cage. The young Myposian farmer stopped short when he saw what the cage contained.

The most beautiful girl he ever saw stood next to the bars. She was a small, delicate beauty with a pretty gold tiara nestled amid her yellow curls. Larriki lay on the ground, breathless. His eyes were focused on another beautiful woman, a taller girl with darker yellow hair and a silver tiara.

The tall woman helped Larriki to his feet. It was the first time that Balki ever saw his cousin speechless. "Are you all right?" the woman asked. "The giant threw you awfully hard."

"You...you...youíre gorgeous," Larriki stammered.

The woman blushed. "Thank you. Iím Princess Jennetta, and this is my sister, Princess Marianna."

Larriki brushed himself off. "I...Iím Larriki Bartokomos. Iím a farmer, one of Myposí best before this drought dried out my crops." He leaned against the bars, a smug look on his face. "I grew a beanstalk that reached the clouds, and thatís how I got up here."

"Now, wait a minute!" Balki hurried up the cage. "That beanstalk grew from my beans, and it was my idea to climb up here!"

"Yes," Larriki insisted, "but who threw the beans out the window so that theyíd land in the ground and grow?"

"You," Balki admitted, "but, Cousin..."

"So, by the right of Myposian law, that is my beanstalk and I can brag about it all I want!"

The smaller princess took Balkiís hand. "Are you a farmer, too?" she asked. "Have you come to rescue us?"

"Yes," Balki said quietly, "yes, I have. I will get you and your sister and my cousin out of here, if itís the first thing I do."

Jennetta already had her arms around Larriki. "It was very brave of you to come up here, even if you did get captured by the giant."

Larriki smiled shyly. "You really think so?" She nodded and returned the smile. They looked wistfully into each otherís eyes.

Balki shook his head. "Cousin, we have no time for hearts and chocolates right now! The giant could be back any minute!" He frowned. "Iíve got to think of a way to unlock the cage door!"

A boom and a thump nearly knocked the quartet off their feet. "Thereís no time!" Larriki hissed. "The giantís back!"

Balki hurried into the breadbox again just as the giant stomped into the room. Larriki took Jennetta in his arms, and Marianna huddled against her sister. The giant dropped a tiny golden harp on the table. Its headpiece was shaped like a small woman with red hair. The woman on the harp looked petrified.

"All right, harp," grumbled the giant, "I like a little music while I count my gold."

"Thatís not your gold, you know," the harp insisted in a very familiar voice. "You stole that gold and harp-napped me from the Myposian king in the land below us. You really should return me. You know I could lift that curse from the land and make the people happy again."

"Thatís why I stole you," the giant reminded her. "I want the people to suffer. I like seeing people suffer. Itís a hobby of mine." He slammed his fist on the table. "Now, play, harp, before I yank your strings out and use them for dental floss."

The harp sang a very nice tune that had once been performed by Barbara Streisand. The giant opened the tiny sack and counted the gold pieces, but soon enough, his eyes started to close, his head fell on the table, and he went to sleep.

Balki jumped out of the breadbox and ran to the harp. "Hello, Miss Harp! You are a good singer. I like your voice." Miss Harp reminded Balki of someone, but he couldnít put his finger on whom.

The harp blushed and primped her short red hair. "Thank you, young man. Iíve been practicing that song for months."

"Miss Harp, do you know where the giant keeps the keys to the birdcage? He has my cousin and the Princesses of Mypos locked in it! I want to rescue them and you and take them down the beanstalk, so we can return the princesses to their father and you can make Mypos happy again."

Miss Harp pointed to the snoring giantís waist. "He keeps all his keys in a pouch on his belt," she explained. "The gold key with the carved bird on it is the one for the cage. Be careful! I sang my ĎSong of Sleepingí to knock him out, but I donít know how long it works on giants."

Larriki and the two princesses watched Balki as he descended onto the giantís flabby stomach, then down to his waist. They lost sight of him for a moment when he dropped into the pouch, but he emerged a few minutes later with a long, thin gold key with a carving of a bird on it. Larriki and the princesses cheered as the young farmer hurried back onto the table and over to the cage. He struggled with the key for a few minutes before finally turning it in the lock.

Princess Marianna was the first to emerge. She threw her arms around Balki. "Oh, thank you! That nasty old giant was holding us for redwoods!"

"Ransom, Marianna," her sister corrected. "Heís holding us for ransom until our father turned the Kingdom of Mypos over to him."

"Oh, riiiiiiight!

Larriki frowned. "Weíve got to get out of here, before the giant comes to." He nodded. "Balki, help me get the harp."

They were on their way across the table and down the leg when Larriki remembered something. "Balki, we forgot the gold."

"Cousin, never mind the gold! The giant will be awake any second!"

As usual, Larriki ignored him. He let go of the harp, which emitted a sharp, high C in surprise. Balki tried to quiet her, but it was too late. The giant yawned and opened his eyes just in time to see Larriki grab the sack and follow the others down the table leg and out the door.

"Hey!" the giant shouted. "Come back here! Thatís my stuff! I stole that fair and square!" He ran after the group, but they already had a good head start. They were halfway down the beanstalk before he could shout "Fee, fi, fo, fum! I smell the blood of two Myposians! Sheeze," he added as the four got to the ground, "that sounds dumb. Why do giants always get the worst lines?"

"Cousin," Balki exclaimed when they were safe and sound on solid terra-firma, "weíve got to destroy the beanstalk!"

"Balki," Larriki shouted, "we canít do that! Think of all the wonderful money we could get! Giants always have a ton of money! We could be rich beyond our wildest dreams!"

"Hey, turnips, better make room at the table for me, Ďcause Iím coming down and I havenít eaten lunch yet!" The giantís statement boomed through the island.

Larriki looked into the sky. The giant was more than halfway down. "Iíll get the saw."

Larriki and Jennetta took one end of the saw and Marianna and Balki took the other end. "Cousin, I donít think this is right," Balki began.

"Oh, it isnít?" Larriki grumbled. "Let me ask you something. How may beanstalks have you cut down?"

"In my lifetime?"

"In your lifetime."

"I hate to interrupt this stimulating argument," Miss Harp squeaked, "but the giant is nearly on the ground and looks ready to squish us between his toes."

The four pushed back and forth as hard as they could. When theyíd gotten most of the way through, Balki shouted "Fallakik!" (the Myposian word for "Timber") and moved out of the giantís way. The beanstalk crashed to the ground and took the giant with it. The huge castle owner left a hole a hundred miles wide thatís still used as a lake in Mypos to this day, Lake Twinkie.

The king was so happy to have his daughters, his hen, his harp, and his sack of gold back that he did, indeed, give his daughtersí hands in marriage to the farmers. The harp sang and returned Mypos to a green and prosperous land. The two couples always kept a beanstalk in the backyard of Pignika Castle, though, in honor of the magical sprout that sprouted their relationships.

* - * - * - * -*

"Well, Balki," Larry admitted after his cousin finished his tale, "that was a very nice story."

"Itís my favorite Myposian folk tale," Balki admitted.

"I liked the end," Larry added, "where the farmers got to marry the princesses." He craftily put his arm around Jennifer, who blushed.

Another flash of lightning startled all four. Mary Anne screamed. "Can we tell another story? Iím still a little scared."

"Why doesnít someone else take a turn?" Balki said. "Myposian folk tales arenít the only stories in the world, and you all have imaginations, too."

Jennifer inched away from Larry. "Iíll go next," she agreed. "Now, my story is going to be a bit spookier. It begins on a dark, stormy night, just like this one. Two young woman, who have gotten lost on their way home from picking berries, take shelter from the storm in a big, dark, abandoned castle." Mary Anne turned the flashlight to her, throwing spooky shadows across the dark living room. "However, the castle isnít as empty as they think..."