There once was a man from Nantucket, stop me if you’ve heard this one, who builds a marionette to keep him company. He names the puppet Pistachio. The man, named Gazpacho (not an ideal name I’ll grant you, but the only other word that sounds similar is Gestapo and nothing brings a story to a screeching halt faster than having one of the main characters named after the secret police of Nazi Germany), is lonely and makes a wish before going to bed that evening that his creation become a real boy.
When he wakes up he sees that the Fairy with Green Hair has granted his wish and Pistachio, although still a wooden puppet, is alive and running around the workshop (for the record, I originally mistyped workshop as workship, my subconscious obviously eager to get this story out to sea). Pistachio then declares his wish that he become a full-blown human boy and the Fairy with Green Hair shows up again to tell him that if he proves himself to brave, truthful, and unselfish, she will grant his request and assigns a cockroach named Jesus, who had been lurking under the floorboards, to be his conscience.
As will be illuminated later on, this was a poor decision on the part of the Fairy with Green Hair and shows why insect buddies in stories such as these really needed to be vetted more carefully. Had she recruited the cricket that was just outside the front door this tale might have ended very differently. As it was, Jesus had a serious drinking problem and quickly convinced Pistachio that in order to prove to the Fairy with Green Hair that he could be brave, truthful and unselfish he would need to venture out in the world.
Jesus suggests they start at a nearby tavern.
It was in this tavern that Pistachio realizes that he can earn money by performing for the locals. They hoot and holler for the marionette with no strings to sing and dance for them on a tabletop and Pistachio obliges. It was only at the end of the night when he’s about to leave that Pistachio realizes that the bar owner is not going to allow him to return home to Gazpacho and Jesus was not going to be able to help because he is passed out in a corner in a tiny pool of his own vomit.
For three weeks the cruel bar owner keeps Pistachio as a prisoner and it’s only when Jesus starts a barroom brawl, by suggesting to one of the local sailors that his mother was a toothless whore, that the two of them are able to make their escape.
But Pistachio, arriving back at the workshop, finds it empty. Gazpacho had gone out looking for his beloved puppet.
This sends Pistachio and Jesus back out into the world trying to find the kind man that Pistachio considered his father. Their search ends up at the docks where they learn that Gazpacho had boarded a vessel headed out to sea in order to continue his search for ‘his boy.’
Eager to pursue Gazpacho, Pistachio and Jesus sign up to be crewmembers on a whaling ship called the Peacock that was just about to set sail. For long weeks Pistachio entertains the crew with his singing and dancing and Jesus entertains them with a seemingly-endless string of filthy jokes. I will not dignify the foul-mouthed cockroach by telling one of those jokes in its entirety, suffice to say that one of them involved a man who had lost his penis in an accident and a shifty doctor had replaced it with an elephant’s trunk. When later asked by the doctor if he was happy with the outcome of the surgery, the man replied that he was, although he was sick of his new member shoving peanuts up his ass.
Finally after being at sea for over a month Pistachio gets word that Gazpacho’s ship had been sunk by the notorious white whale they called Monstrous Dick (as bad as the name Gazpacho is, or even heaven-forbid Gestapo would have been, Monstrous Dick is on the other hand box office gold) and his father swallowed whole. Distraught by this news, Pistachio implores the captain to head south in pursuit of the whale so that they might save Gazpacho. The captain, in the most understanding way he knows how, explains to Pistachio that people can’t actually survive in the belly of a whale and that his father no doubt suffocated when the whale’s digestive enzymes filled his lungs.
Overcome with grief, Pistachio kills the captain, takes control of the ship and orders the chief mate, the unfortunately-named Queefer, to steer the vessel to the last-known location of the murderous leviathan.
For weeks they combed the seas. No less than ten minutes of stock ocean footage will be required for the movie version of this story (fifteen in the Director’s cut, not including the additional bonus outtakes involving seaman) (… no, I’ll leave it at that).
Finally they come across the beast and Pistachio lowers himself and a group of seasoned harooneers down in a smaller boat and rows out to meet Monstrous Dick. The whale, after feeling the sting of numerous harpoons, then smites the boat with his mighty tail and send all the men into the water. Not content to swim back to the Peacock, and in order to prove his bravery, Pistachio strikes at the whale as soon as he breaches. The whale, seemingly oblivious to the puppet’s efforts, begins to swim away. Pistachio tries to extricate the harpoon, so that he might get one final chance to inflict a mortal wound, but instead gets tangled in the many ropes and lines attached to the whale and is pulled under the water never to be seen again.
The Fairy with Green Hair then arrives and decides that Pistachio is beyond help and instead decides to make the Peacock into an enormous boy. Unfortunately skin and bones aren’t as buoyant as wood and the ship drowns, killing all aboard.
Everyone except Jesus because it’s nearly impossible to kill a cockroach.