The Story of the Big-Hearted Ant
Written on Wednesday, March 8, 2000
Charlie the ant was walking home from a flea market on a bright Saturday morning. He was enjoying the scenery and whistling a merry tune as he went.
He came across a casual acquaintance of his, Darren, the honey bee. "Hi Darren, " he said.
"Oh hi there Charlie," replied the bee. The expression on his face was a sad one.
"Is there something wrong?" asked Charlie.
"Yeah, well kinda," started Darren, "My mom is in need of an operation, but I don't have any money to pay for it. Do you think you could find it in your heart to help me out?"
"I would love to, but I don't have enough money to pay for an operation."
"It's all right, I understand," sighed Darren.
Charlie thought for a moment and then said, "I know this fellow, Doug--another bee like yourself--and he lends out money. He might be willing to help you."
"Really, you think he would?" asked Darren, who was obviously excited.
"Oh I'm sure of it. Bees got to stick together, right?"
"Like honey," quipped Darren, "I think I will head over and ask him right away about getting a small loan."
"Good show!" exclaimed Charlie, "let me know how it goes."
"I'll do that. Thanks for your help Charlie."
Charlie was pleased. He enjoyed helping people. He felt so good that he decided to treat himself to an orange soda. He was sitting on the bench outside of the drugstore when who should approach, but Darren the now even more dejected looking bee.
"Let me guess," said Charlie, "he didn't lend you the money?"
"That's right, I don't have any collateral" sighed the bee. At that moment his expression melted into one of anguish and he began to cry, "I don't know what I'll do, mamma is going to die for sure."
"Now see here," Charlie said with an air of confidence and authority that made the bee take notice, "Your mom isn't going to die, I will go see Doug myself and arrange for a loan. I will give it to you and you can pay me back as you see fit."
"I couldn't possibly allow you to do that..." sniffed Darren.
"I insist," said Charlie, "You go home and rest and I'll take care of the money, okay?"
"Do you really mean it," asked Darren, wiping off his final tear.
"I do," replied Charlie, "I will see you later."
"Bye Charlie," said the bee into the now empty spot where the ant was moments ago.
Charlie trudged over to the bad side of town where Doug (or Dougie as his friends called him) lived. It didn't take long for him to find the hive--a long since abandoned one that Doug was taking up residence in. Charlie entered and saw Doug sitting at a desk and counting money.
"Excuse me," Charlie broke the silence.
The bee started and quickly turned around. "Who are you?" he asked.
"I'm just a humble ant, and I need a loan."
The bee smiled. "A loan, eh? Then you've come to the right place. Here sit down, make yourself at home. Would you like some coffee?"
Charlie lifted his half-empty orange soda and said, "No, I'm good, but thank you."
"Sure thing. Now, tell me, what do you need a loan for?"
Charlie didn't expect this question and blurted out the first thing that came to mind, "A racing car." Charlie inwardly groaned at his choice, but knew he was stuck with it. "Yeah, that's it, a racing car. I want to enter the Forest 500."
"A racing car is very expensive, are you sure you can make the payments?"
"Quite certain, I'm well to do you see, but I just bought a house and don't have much cash for other things."
"All right then, are you prepared to pay 50% interest?"
Charlie dropped his orange soda. "Fifty percent!!! That is highway robbery!"
"Take it or leave it." The bee went back to counting his money.
Charlie thought of the Darren and his poor mother. After a brief consideration, he whispered, "I'll take it."
"Good good," smiled the bee.
Charlie walked out with enough money for the Darren's mother's operation. He felt bad about the 50% interest, but good that he could be helping out someone who needed it.
Darren was ecstatic to see Charlie and the money. He buzzed around happily and thanked Charlie many times.
"He is charging 50%?! That is steep, but I will give you the payments for you to give to him," said the bee.
"That works for me," smiled Charlie. The smile was weak but sincere. He went home.
A month passed, and the first payment was due. Charlie thought it was odd that he hadn't heard from Darren during this time, so he went over to Darren's hive--a run down sort of affair in the same area of town as Doug's
Charlie knocked and Darren opened the door.
"Oh hi there Chuck"
"Hi Darren. Say, it's the first of the month, do you have the money for the loan payment."
"Well, uh, you see Charlie, with the operation and all I've had to quit my job and stay here keeping care of mamma. I'm afraid I'm unable to pay you... Could you be a pal and spot me for this month?"
"Sure," said Charlie. He wasn't really happy with this, but it was the guy's mother and he understood how Darren had to stay home and take care of her. "Next month then?"
"Of course! Thanks for being a pal, man, I really appreciate it."
Charlie went to the bank and withdrew enough money to cover the loan payment.
Another month passed and the Darren used the same excuse. Charlie just couldn't say no to a guy down on his luck.
But another month passed. And another. Eventually a year went by and then two, until finally the loan was paid in full. Darren hadn't made a single payment.
Charlie and Darren weren't on the best of terms right now. They rarely spoke and when they did, words were short and blunt. Charlie was still an ant with a good heart, however and decided to go over and see Darren and tell him that he would forgive the loan and that he was just happy to help out a fellow forest creature."
Much to his disbelief, when Charlie arrived, what should he see but Darren and Doug getting into the same cab together. When they saw Charlie, they hastened their motions and the cab sped away.
"What the..." started Charlie.
"Hehehehe," cackled an old slug, "Those boys are gittin' while the gittin's good I see."
"What do you mean," asked Charlie as he watched the cab drive off into the distance.
"What I means," said the slug, "is that they conned everyone this part of the woods into giving them money... had some old sob story about one of them's mothers being sickly."
Charlie's jaw dropped. He felt the fool.
A few days passed and Charlie's spirits began to rise. Life had to go on, after all and he wouldn't let a little thing like that put him into a permanent gloom. In fact, he decided that he would have a party.
His friend Melvin came over to help make the guest list.
"Okay, Charlie, who do you want to invite?"
"Why practically everyone is invited," smiled Charlie, "Except..."
"Yes Charlie? Is there someone you don't want to invite?"
"There are two I definitely don't want to invite."
"Oh? Who might those be?"
"Neither a borrower nor a lender bee."