My Mostly Happy Life: Autobiography of a Climbing Tree Chapter 31

Updated 2 years ago By Shelly Reuben
 My Mostly Happy Life:  Autobiography of a Climbing Tree Chapter 31

Chapter 31- Transcript of TV interview

Illustrations by Ruth McGraw

Music Intro under title:

Open on medium shot of a man and woman sitting across from each other on a TV set. There is something helter-skelter about the woman’s appearance, as if she is being held together with paperclips and safety pins. She is cadaverously thin. Her cheeks are gaunt; her nose is long; her lips are thin; and her beige eyes are scornful. She is wearing a Mandarin-collared black shirt over loose black slacks, suggestive of the pajama-like outfits worn by Chinese peasants in old MGM movies. The man in the chair opposite is Jarvis Larchmont. His contemptuous lips match her scornful eyes. He is wearing a well-cut business suit and sits with one leg casually crossed over the other, projecting an air of comfort and confidence. In front of both are coffee mugs displaying the TV station’s call letters.



KATIE OXNARD:  Now I’d like to welcome City Councilman Jarvis Larchmont. Our last segment ran long, so we’ll have to keep this short and I was going to say “sweet,” but “short and bitter” is a better fit for your agenda, because you’re here to discuss injuries to trees in the Samuel Swerling Park. How did this travesty come about?  


JARVIS LARCHMONT:  First, Katie, I want to thank you for inviting me to appear on your show.  


KATIE OXNARD:  You invited yourself. Get to the point.  


JARVIS LARCHMONT:  My pleasure. Or, perhaps I should say my regret, as my findings are anything but pleasant. Can we show my first photograph, please?  


An image of an enormous gash fills the screen. The gash is surrounded by what appears to be bark.  


KATIE OXNARD:  What are we looking at?  


JARVIS LARCHMONT:  Tree wounds. I have three other photographs as well. In the first two, you can see the size of the injuries. These are huge gashes. Each occurs on a different tree. All of the trees in the Samuel Swerling Park have been subjected to one or more of these same sorts of injuries. Tragically, as you can see in the third photograph, the wounds are so deep that the tree is losing vital fluids. If the trees were human, we would say that they were bleeding to death.  


Successive images of gashes appear in one photograph after another. The liquid oozing from the gash in the last photograph, however, is translucent and looks less like a drop of blood than like a falling tear.


 KATIE OXNARD:  Okay. We get it. The trees have been damaged. Blah. Blah. Blah. What or who did this to them?  


JARVIS LARCHMONT:  These next pictures will answer that question.   


Additional photographs appear on the screen. In each, anywhere from one to six people are sitting in or climbing on a succession of trees. In all of them, the tree climbers look like giant spiders clambering over prey.  


JARVIS LARCHMONT:  In defiance of accepted arboreal methodologies, all of which are designed to mimic viable ecosystems, the administrators of the Samuel Swerling Park not only have made their trees accessible to climbers, they have encouraged the practice.   


KATIE OXNARD:  You’ve got fifteen seconds left, Councilman. Cut to the chase.  


JARVIS LARCHMONT:  As a result of this invasive behavior and injuries inflicted upon these trees, threats to their well-being are constant, chronic and life threatening. 


KATIE OXNARD:  Wrap it up. 


JARVIS LARCHMONT:  If it is not stopped immediately, all of the trees in the Samuel Swerling Park are going to die.  


Medium shot of show host.   


KATIE OXNARD:  There you have it folks. No question about who the bad guys are here.  


Close up of show host.  


This is Katie Oxnard signing off for Plants without People.  My advice to you all:  Boycott the Samuel Swerling Park. Save our trees.




Copyright © 2017, Shelly Reuben


Shelly Reuben’s books have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her work, visit


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