Extracted from ‘Side Effects’ by Woody Allen

Chapter: By Destiny Denied, Page 25

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Background- Scotland, 1823:

A man has been arrested for stealing a crust of bread. “I only like the crust,” he explains, and he is identified as the thief who has terrorized several chophouses by stealing just the end of roast beef. The culprit, Solomon  Entwhistle, is hauled into the court, and a stern judge sentences him to from five to ten years  (whichever comes first) at hard labor. Entwhistle locked in a dungeon, and in an early act of enlightened penology the key is thrown away. Despondent but determined, Entwhistle begins the arduous task of tunneling to freedom. Meticulously digging with a spoon, he tunnels beneath prison walls, then continues, spoonful by spoonful, under Glasgow to London. He pauses to emerge at Liverpool, but finds that he prefers the tunnel. Once in London, he stows away aboard a freighter bound for the New World, where he dreams of starting life over, this time as a frog.

Arriving at Boston, Entwhistle meets Margaret Figg, a comely New England schoolteacher whose speciality is baking bread and then placing it on her head. Enticed, Entwhistle marries her and the two open a small store, trading pelts and whale blubber for scrimshaw in an ever- increasing cycle of meaningless activity. The store is an instant success, and by 1850 Entwhistle is wealthy, educated, respected, and cheating on his wife with a large possum. He has two sons by Margaret Figg, one normal, the other simple minded, though it is hard to tell the difference unless someone hands them each a yo-yo. His small trading post will go on to become a giant modern department store, and when he dies at eighty five from a combination of small pox and tomahawk in the skull, he is happy!

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Side Effects: Side Effects is a compendium of 17 comical short stories written by Woody Allen: A Comic Genius, between 1975 and 1980, all but one of which were previously published in, variously, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Kenyon Review.

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