Once upon a time there were three Bears: Poppa Bear, Mumma Bear and Baby Bear.
One Sunday in late August, Poppa Bear cooked them all porridge for their breakfast. It was a tradition that had been going for six generations: Sunday breakfast was always porridge and always cooked by the patriarch. The secret recipe was handed down from father to son and they were the only ones who knew the proper proportions of oats to water to milk to honey to sultanas. Sometimes, Poppa Bear varied the recipe and replaced the sultanas with dates, which was even more delicious.
Poppa Bear ladled the steaming porridge into their special Sunday porridge breakfast bowls and Mumma Bear placed them on the table.
This was another tradition: Sunday porridge had to be eaten at the table as a family and they had to talk. No taking their breakfast into the living room and eating in front of the television. No scrolling social media or reading books as they ate. Sometimes they played a word game where one Bear would say a sentence and the next would add to it, then the next, and round and round the table until they built up a hilarious story that soon had them all in hysterics.
On this particular Sunday, they all sat down and Mumma Bear beat the boys to the milk, pouring the last trickle onto her porridge. Poppa Bear sighed, stood up, and went to the fridge.
“Crap,” he said, holding the fridge door open wide so they could see what he was seeing. “We’ve run out of milk.”
This meant someone would have to run down to the corner store and get some. No one wanted to volunteer so Mumma Bear decided that everyone should go.
“It’s such a lovely day out,” she said. “It’ll do us all good to get some exercise.”
“But the porridge’ll get cold,” whined Baby Bear, sitting at the table staring at the steam rising from his bowl. “And I’ve already stirred more honey into mine.”
“It’s not that far,” said Mumma Bear. “We can reheat it in the microwave when we get back if it’s too cold.”
Baby Bear slid off his chair, grumbling under his breath, and made a show of stomping to the front door and sighing loudly as he pulled on his boots.
“Can we get chocolate?” Baby Bear asked. “I want to put chocolate in my porridge today.”
Poppa Bear hummed and Mumma Bear haa’ed and the three Bears left for the corner store without committing to buying chocolate.
Not long after they left, Goldilocks pulled up in the street in a battered white van that had seen better days. She slunk up the path, glancing over her shoulder several times, and slyly looked in the windows of the Bear house.
She couldn’t see anyone, so she knocked on the door just to be sure. No one answered so she tried the door and found that Poppa Bear had remembered to lock it on his way out.
She looked around again to make sure no one was watching, then climbed over the gate and went to the back door. She reached into the pocket of her dirty blue jeans, pulled out a piece of wire, and had the door open in about thirty seconds.
“Not bad,” she murmured to herself, slipping the wire back into her pocket and pushing the door open.
Once inside, she found herself in the kitchen where she saw the three bowls of porridge sitting on the table. She lived on the streets and didn’t eat regular meals, and it had been at least twelve hours since she'd eaten, so she decided to make the most of the situation.
She tasted Poppa Bear’s porridge but OUCH, she burnt her tongue because it was too hot. She tasted Mumma Bear’s porridge but YUCK, she spat it back into the bowl because it was too cold. She tasted Baby Bear’s porridge and MMM, it was just right so she ate it all up and licked the bowl clean.
Next, she wandered into the lounge room to see if the Bears had anything worth stealing. She unlocked the front door, then loaded the stereo, the PlayStation console and all the games, the personal computer, and an armful of Pop! vinyl collectibles into the van. She made sure to get the Indiana Jones one because she knew someone who’d like it even though she didn’t get the hype.
The television was awkward and quite heavy, so she thought she’d rest it on a chair for a minute. First, she tried to put it on Poppa Bear’s chair, but it was too high, and she couldn’t quite get it on properly. Then, she shuffled over to Mumma Bear’s chair, but it was too low, and she didn’t want to hurt her back lifting the television again.
When she tried Baby Bear’s chair, it was just right so she put the television down on it. However, the television was too heavy and Baby Bear’s chair broke under its weight. She swore as she struggled to pick the television up off the floor and kicked the broken chair legs across the room in her rage.
After loading the television into the van, she headed upstairs to the master bedroom looking for jewellery and cash.
“Weird,” she said when she saw two double beds rather than the one king-sized bed she’d expected.
She was so tired after loading all the electrical equipment, she thought she’d lie down for a minute.
She tried Poppa Bear’s bed. She wriggled around trying to get comfortable, but the mattress was way too hard. She tried Mumma Bear’s bed, but she sank into it because it was way too soft and her back already hurt from carrying the television out to the van.
She crossed the hallway into Baby Bear’s room and his bed was just right. She hadn’t slept for more than two days and she promptly fell asleep.
When the Bears returned from their walk to the corner store, they were surprised to see a police car pulling up outside their house.
“What’s going on?” Poppa Bear asked one of the policemen, while the other ran a check on the van that was parked in the street next to the Bear’s driveway.
“We had a call from Woodland Security to say that the silent alarm in your house had been set off,” the policeman replied.
His partner got out of the car and said, “Yep. The van’s stolen. Do you want to have a look and see if any of the stuff inside’s yours?”
Poppa Bear identified his television, stereo, computer, PlayStation console and games, and the Pop! vinyls.
“The nerve of these people,” he huffed. “We don’t work hard for this stuff only to have some lazy lowlife steal it right out from under us! And why would they even want an Indiana Jones Pop! vinyl?”
“Umm, because Indiana Jones is cool?” said Baby Bear, raising his eyebrows.
The two policemen told the Bears to wait outside in case the thief was armed, then went inside.
After a few minutes of silence, the Bears went round to the back door and found it unlocked. Poppa Bear couldn’t contain his rage at this violation of his privacy, and they all went into the kitchen.
Poppa Bear looked at the table and saw a dirty spoon next to his bowl.
“Someone’s been eating my porridge!” he growled.
Mumma Bear curled her lip, pulled a long blonde hair out of her bowl, and said, “Ew, someone’s been eating my porridge and spat it back into my bowl.”
Baby Bear said indignantly, “Someone’s been eating my porridge and they’ve eaten it all up! I hope it poisons them.”
They all went into the lounge room.
Poppa Bear was extremely annoyed with what he saw and yelled, “Someone’s been using my chair and ripped holes in the upholstery!”
Mumma Bear said, “Someone’s moved my chair, but it doesn’t seem to be damaged.”
Baby Bear sobbed and wailed, “Someone’s broken my favourite chair!”
He looked at his parents. “Now, I bet you’re feeling bad about not buying me that chocolate bar.”
They heard a commotion upstairs, so they all ran up there. Poppa Bear regretted taking two stairs at a time but hid his heavy breathing as best as he could. I really have to do more cardio at the gym, he thought.
Poppa Bear liked his things to be neat and tidy and what he saw in his bedroom almost pushed him to his limits.
“Someone’s been lying on my bed and mucked it all up!” he said, rubbing his paw over the rumpled blanket.
Mumma Bear said, “Someone’s been on my bed and left a dent in the middle of it. How annoying!”
They heard Baby Bear laugh and went to join him in his room.
Baby Bear clapped as he said, “Someone’s been sleeping in my bed and they’re still there!”
Goldilocks was lying on Baby Bear’s bed on her stomach, shaking with rage, with her wrists handcuffed behind her back. She’d been deep asleep when the police came in and she’d just about hit the roof when they’d yelled, “Freeze, Blondie.”
“You dint have nuffin’ decent anyway,” she sneered to the Bears as she was led out to the police car.
On her way downtown, she reflected that at least she’d have a roof over her head and regular meals for a while.
Three years later, Goldilocks was released from prison.
She’d spent those three years forced to eat mashed potatoes, chips, and gravy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and she was really sick of it. And there was nothing to drink but water because the prison was on a health kick and had gotten rid of all the soft drinks. When she asked for some juice, they said no because juice was even worse than soft drinks.
Every so often, over those three long years, she’d thought about how she’d ended up in prison, and had come to the conclusion that it was all the fault of those Bears. If they hadn’t had such yummy porridge, such crappy chairs, and such comfortable beds, she would never have stayed in their house long enough to get caught.
She decide the first stop on her way out of town would be the Bear’s house!
Being a Monday, she expected that Poppa Bear would be at work and Baby Bear would be at school. Mumma Bear … she wasn’t so sure about. When she got to the Bear’s house, she hid in some rhododendron bushes in the front yard of the Squirrel’s house across the road and watched.
Because of her ADHD, Goldilocks couldn’t think or focus for any length of time before her attention wandered. She’d been hiding in the bushes for about fifteen minutes when she spotted a large dog sniffing its way down the street. By the time the dog reached her, she’d forgotten what she’d been waiting for and wondered why she was sitting in bushes, surrounded by curly pink flowers. They’re very pretty, but … what am I doing again?
Looking across the street, she saw a house that looked like it might have some stuff worth stealing. She ran across the road and sidled up to the front door. She peeped in the window beside the door but couldn’t see anything.
She stood very still and listened, but couldn’t hear anything.
“All clear,” she mumbled with a grin.
Turning around, she tripped over the dog that had run with her across the road. She swore and the dog licked the inside of her ear.
“Yuck!” she exclaimed. “Get out of it, hairy boy.”
She tried to push the dog away, which was quite hard because it was almost as big as her. The dog thought she was trying to wrestle him, and he thought it might be fun too. He wrapped his big hairy legs around her and rolled her across the grass several times.
She finally managed to get away from the dog when it got thirsty and moved off to lap noisily at the brown puddle on the lawn.
Goldilocks looked down at her filthy clothes and sighed. Her jeans were torn around the knees and her white t-shirt was hanging out and no longer white. Her hair had lost its plaits and she was definitely now having a crazy-hair day.
She shrugged it off – it’s not as if anyone’s going to see me like this – and went back to the front door and listened again.
Hearing nothing, she knocked softly on the door. When nobody came, she tried the doorknob. It was locked, so she dug around in her hair for the trusty bobby pin that she kept for just such emergencies. But it must have fallen out when she was rolling around on the ground with the dog because she couldn’t find it.
Swearing, she tried the window closest to the door. Yes! It was open, so she pushed it up and climbed in.
She ran upstairs to the master bedroom and quickly checked all the drawers and cupboards for jewellery and cash.
She didn't find jewellery or cash but what she did find took her breath away. She found a gun. And, not just any gun, but the most beautiful gun she’d ever seen. The polished creamy pearl handle shone, inlaid diamonds sparkled along the barrel, and the gun itself was made of the darkest steel that she’d ever seen. Poppa Bear’s name was neatly written in gold near the end of the handle.
She didn't know it but this gun was Poppa Bear’s secret weapon. No one else knew about it. He thought he had hidden it well out of sight of any prying paws.
This must be worth a fortune, Goldilocks thought, rubbing her hands over the diamonds. If you looked her in the eye at that moment, you would have seen moneybags instead of pupils.
A loud thump made her jump and she spun around, almost dropping the gun. She narrowed her eyes and shoved the gun through the belt of her jeans. Someone’s home, she thought. If they’ve got something like this, there’s got to be more treasures hidden away in this house.
Goldilocks was greedy, not happy with the thought that she might leave anything of any value behind, so she went searching for whoever was home. She’d make them tell her where the good stuff was kept.
She went downstairs and was walking stealthily past the toilet when the door flew open, and the smell just about knocked her out. She managed to scramble around the corner just before Poppa Bear thumped out, heading for the bathroom.
“Man, that feels better,” he roared.
Not for anyone but you, thought Goldilocks, still trying to stay conscious while the smell made its way past her on its way to the closest open window.
Poppa Bear was standing at the basin in the bathroom washing his paws when Goldilocks stepped neatly up behind him. She poked the barrel of the gun into his rather large bottom since that was all she could reach.
“Hands, no, I mean paws up,” she snarled.
Poppa Bear yelped and threw his paws in the air. He didn’t dare turn around.
“Where’s the rest of it?” Goldilocks demanded.
“The rest of what?” Poppa Bear squeaked.
“The rest of the treasure.”
“What treasure? There isn’t any treasure.”
“Well, where did this come from?”
“Where did what come from?”
“You’ve got my gun?” Poppa Bear whispered in disbelief. “My special gun?”
The thought of someone else touching his secret weapon made him momentarily forget the danger he was in. He put his paws down and started to turn around.
Goldilocks shoved the gun hard into his right buttock and he immediately stopped turning. She stepped around a bit and pushed him towards the bathroom door.
“Move,” she growled.
She pushed Poppa Bear down the corridor and into the lounge room. Baby Bear was there, playing Checkers on his computer. As always, the computer was beating him, and he mumbled naughty words under his breath.
“Why are you walking with your paws in the …,” he began to say when he glanced up at his father but drew in a loud breath when he saw Goldilocks step in behind him.
Goldilocks waved the gun around to show that she meant business, and promptly knocked a rather nice blue vase of flowers onto the floor. The vase shattered and Mumma Bear leaned in through the kitchen door to see what was going on.
She also drew in a sharp breath when she saw what was going on and quickly withdrew her head from the room.
“Get in here or I’ll have to shoot someone,” shouted Goldilocks.
Mumma Bear did as she was told, dropping a green plate as she did so. The plate shattered and cut her foot. Mumma Bear left a trail of blood as she walked from the kitchen to the lounge room.
Once all three Bears were sitting on the couch, Goldilocks walked up and down in front of them like a drill sergeant.
“Where are the valuables!” she demanded, walking one way, then spinning and walking back the other way. “Where have you hidden them?”
But the Bears weren’t talking. They didn’t know what she was on about.
They’d been there for about half an hour when a delicious aroma wafted in from the kitchen making Goldilocks’s stomach growl.
“What’s that?” she asked Mumma Bear, jabbing the gun at the kitchen door. “What’s cooking?”
“That’s just our lunch, dear,” replied Mumma Bear. “Would you like some?”
Boy, did she what! Goldilocks hadn’t eaten since she’d left the prison that morning so she waved the gun, indicating that the Bears should all go into the kitchen ahead of her.
Mumma Bear laid out four plates and started to dish up the lunch.
When Goldilocks saw the mashed potatoes, chips, and gravy, she took a step backwards in disgust and slipped on the blood that Mumma Bear had dripped in the doorway.
The gun flew up, out of her hand, and hit the roof. Luckily it wasn’t loaded so it didn’t go off. It bounced off the roof and came down on Goldilocks’s head, stunning her.
Baby Bear opened the back door and the big hairy dog that had so much fun wrestling Goldilocks earlier in the day bounded in.
The dog thought she must want to wrestle again so he wrapped his big hairy legs around her, rolled her a few times and happily licked her ear. She swore continuously as she tried to push the dog off.
“Hang on tight, Hairy,” yelled Baby Bear. “Don’t let her go.”
Goldilocks sighed. It’s just my luck that Hairy belongs to the Bears.
She finally gave up the struggle and lay there while the dog slobbered and chewed on her boot for the twenty minutes it took for the police to arrive. It was long enough for Hairy to totally ruin her right boot and shred the bottom of her jeans.
She limped out of the house, ragged jeans flapping, hands cuffed behind her back.
“Oh well,” she said to the policewoman. “I wonder what’s for lunch in prison today?”
Before the police arrived, Poppa Bear had taken his special gun upstairs and hid it better than he had last time. No one else needed to know about it, especially not the police.
After everyone had left, Mumma Bear and Baby Bear badgered Poppa Bear to tell them about this mysterious gun they’d never seen before.
“I’m sorry,” Poppa Bear said as he flopped down in his chair in front of the television to watch an afternoon game show. “But that’s a story for another day.”