The Tale of the Teller Twins

Teller twins fable.jpg

Everyone in town called them “the twins.”

Tripp and Terry Teller, identical in all ways – except one. As you will see. The Teller twins were tree trimmers and had a nice little business going too. Chopping at trunks, grinding down roots, thinning out limbs. The twins had grown up around this town and this town had grown up around the twins. Yes, this town was no small place anymore and the Teller boys had no small business either.

Tripp Teller seemed the driving force. It was Tripp with the charm smile and it was Tripp with the glad pat on the shoulder for everyone. Everyone, at least, who might need their trees trimmed. To Tripp Teller, tree trimming served one purpose only: to give him “the good stuff,” as he always called it. The good stuff meant the good car and the good house of course. Of course. But most of all the good stuff meant feeling like someone important around town, owner of a good business that was pulling in good money. Of course. Sometimes Tripp almost forgot that his twin brother really was his twin brother – almost forgot that Terry really was his brother at all. The tree trimming business to Tripp was all about “me.” Nothing else. Though he had to admit that Terry did help get all those trees trimmed much faster. Which of course allowed Tripp to have more of the good stuff sooner. Of course.

As for Terry, yes, he looked just like Tripp and talked just like Tripp and usually even walked just like Tripp. No one could tell them apart when the twins ambled down Maple Street. But Terry knew the difference between them even if nobody else knew the difference, even if his own brother didn’t know the difference either. To Terry Teller, the tree trimming business really wasn’t all about “me.” Trimming trees somehow was about “us.” Yes, trimming trees to Terry was about doing something to help people in that not-small hometown of theirs. And trimming trees especially was about working side by side with his twin brother Tripp, sharing each day with the person he loved most of all in all their town and in all their world.

This was the one big difference between Terry Teller and his twin brother Tripp Teller. But no one in all their town, or in all their world either, knew about this difference of course. No one except for Terry Teller. To everyone else, the twins were identical in all ways.

Then something happened. There was one big tree in one big wind one night. And the big wind pushed the big tree on to another big tree, which was pushed on to another big tree, and that tree in turn was pushed on another and on and on it all went, trees tumbling like dominos, falling trunk after trunk after trunk after trunk with a crash. A very big crash.

The problem was that all these tree trunks crashed mainly on one house. Yes, all these trees had grown up mainly around one house and now somehow they all had crashed down mainly on that one house too. The trees had crashed down on the house of Tripp Teller.

As luck or unluck would have it, both Tripp and Terry Teller were sitting inside Tripp’s home at the time of this crash. They were in the basement going over work schedules for the next day’s tree trimming. But now the Teller twins were trapped.

Trunk after trunk after trunk lay on top of the shattered house, which had collapsed on top of the basement.

To top off these problems, the twins had no water or food in the basement. They had no cellphone in their pockets either. And no one could hear them yell for help – Tripp’s good house was far too far away from every other house in town, sitting on top of a good tall hill. And all their tree trimming tools were locked inside their tree trimming shop several miles from the home of Tripp Teller.

Tripp and Terry had very little at hand to help them. Except for their four hands, of course, and a small knife and a single dull axe tucked in one basement corner. Nothing else.

The first thought that flitted through Tripp Teller’s head after the big crash was about “me.” Of course. As in, “I’m glad I’m not dead! How am I going to get me out of here?” The first thought that lingered in Terry Teller’s head after the big crash was about “us.” As in, “I’m so thankful we’re not dead! We’ve got to find some way to get us both out of here!”

But getting out was easier said than done, as they say.

The tree trimming twins hatched a plan of escape, with Terry using the knife to carve deep notches in the fallen tree trunks that had trapped them below the ground and Tripp using the axe to chop at the notched tree trunks. With each carve of the small knife, Terry thought to himself, “We’re going to get us both outta here!” With each chop of the dull axe, Tripp thought to himself, “I’m getting me outta here!”

They carved and chopped for many hours but eventually night spilled into the next day and that next day soon spilled into another night and on and on it all went. Until a terribly tired Tripp at last thought to himself, “No more. I don’t care anymore if I get out of here! I give up!”

But you’ll remember that there was one big difference between Terry Teller and his twin brother Tripp Teller. As Tripp Teller soon discovered at last.

Terry Teller was tired too, of course, just as tired as Tripp. Or maybe more, maybe. But the thought now foremost in Terry’s mind was this: “Tripp needs to rest a while but I’m ok. I still can keep working. I’m going to find some way to chop on this tree trunk hard enough to get us both out of here!”

When Terry swung the axe again, he felt an odd feeling. He felt as if the chopping suddenly had become easier somehow. He wasn’t sure why. Terry felt as if he felt now for sure that he could chop through that tree trunk. Somehow. It almost felt to Terry as if his hands and arms really didn’t feel so tired anymore. Maybe almost as if his hands and arms didn’t feel tired at all somehow, maybe.

But how could that be?

Terry Teller didn’t stop to wonder. As Tripp drifted asleep, Terry continued chopping with that dull axe, chipping away bit by bit by bit through the thick tree trunk. He may as well have been trying to dig through a concrete wall with a small spoon. But Terry kept chopping and chipping at that trunk until even a dull axe proved strong enough at last – strong enough, at least, when it was swung by two untired hands and arms.

And if such strange strength seems to you like something that happens only in fables, think again. Look again. It is all around you every day, somewhere in your town sometimes. Maybe it is inside you too, sometimes, when you’re not looking. Whatever. But it happens. It does happen. Really. Just ask Terry Teller.

So, yes, Terry at last chopped through one thick tree trunk with that dull axe, then used that broken trunk as a lever to shift aside another tree trunk, then awakened his brother so they could squeeze through the narrow opening together to safety. The twins were free. Hungry, thirsty, tired and shaken but free again.

And when Tripp Teller, still dazed, stood in the free air outside to look at his shattered home and then over at his smiling twin brother, he could only think to ask a simple question: “How did you do that, Terry? How could you do that alone?”

And when Terry Teller looked over at his brother at that moment, he could only think of one simple answer: “I didn’t do it alone, Tripp. I couldn’t have done it alone, you’re right. We did it, brother – together.”

MORAL: One man working only for himself struggles alone. But one man working for himself and others discovers the strength of many.