by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson
You can get anything on E-Bay, they say, so I decided one day to check out if that was indeed right. It turns out it is difficult to buy a gun there, although it is possible to get all the parts. Cars are plentiful. Must buy myself a Rolls one of these days. Not so expensive, it seems, if used.
But those things are not nearly exotic enough, somehow, and they do say you can get anything on E-Bay... So I checked if there was someone offering a Panda. Yes there was. Ten bucks was the highest offer. So I of course offered eleven. What more could I find? I wondered. A Russian space capsule perhaps? Ah, at 10K, too expensive, although it would have been cool.
Then I saw it: elephant, Indian. Weighed about three tons. Five bucks. Will deliver at no extra cost.
Free delivery? For five bucks, that has to be a loss. They must really want to get rid of that thing, I thought. I made my offer for the fun of it, and went looking for something else. Briefly considered buying a ’gator, but then I thought, it is a bit cold here for such things, and I don’t think anyone here likes to meet a gator in the bathroom... Where else to put it?
The next day I had forgotten most of what I’d done. I surely did not expect anyone to actually take my $5 offer on the elephant, nor did I actually expect the critter to be delivered.
But a week later, that’s what happened just the same. It arrived in a Chinook; it was lowered down from the sky to my lawn on a string, and left there to wander around. A guy came down also from the helicopter and asked me to sign here and here, and then he was pulled up again.
And there it was, an elephant in my yard.
What does one feed an elephant? I remembered hearing somewhere, or perhaps reading, that it is best to feed elephants sugar, and sometimes butter. It is supposed to be performance enhancing, or something. So I went and bought a ton of sugar and a ton of butter. I also bought 100 kilos of lard, just in case the elephant preferred that over butter.
And this I gave to the elephant in a large trough, all mixed together. The elephant did not touch the stuff at first, only had a sniff now and again, but as the days passed, it finally ate up all green growth in the yard, until there was nothing left but the sugar and butter/lard mix in the trough.
It must have been tasty, because the elephant loved it. Or perhaps it was just hungry.
People soon noticed the animal in the yard, and would come from around to stare at it. And of course the police were called, for surely I had no permit for such a thing. Not that there is such a thing as elephant permit, but had they known I was getting an elephant, there would have been. I had not even asked for permission to import, non-bureaucratic as I am.
“Do you have a permit for that?” asked the authorities.
“Permit for what?” asked I.
“For that live animal.”
“What live animal?”
“The elephant in your yard.”
“It is animatronic. I made it myself.”
The policeman nodded. Then he said, “Do you have permission to construct that in your yard?”
“It is my yard...”
“You still need a permit to build it.”
Ah, I had clean forgotten about the bureaucratic hand of death. Forgot to apply for permits, forms to display to authorities. Had I told them the truth or they not believed me, ah, smuggling animals past quarantine, it is a crime worse than murder, worse than rape, worse than child molestation, worse even, than income tax evasion... No, on second thought, not that bad, but close. No crime, I understand, is worse than income tax evasion.
So I went to get a building permit for my elephant. Had to get clearance from the neighbours. They were OK with it, all but that one old woman. So I forged her signature. I just didn’t have the heart in me to tear down the elephant. Doesn’t seem right, somehow, tearing down living things.
That is how my elephant got to stay in my yard in peace.
After a month, I decided it was time to take my pet for a walk. But first, I had to find a name for it. What does one call an elephant? Apart from “elephant,” that is. Spot? Nah. Kitty? Nah. “Fluffy” sounded good to me, so I settled on that.
I opened the gate, and let Fluffy out of the yard.
Fluffy was happy to follow me downtown. But Fluffy was unfamiliar with the rules of traffic and insisted on walking across the road without looking both ways first. Most drivers just slowed down or stopped as Fluffy crossed their path, but one driver had no such patience in him. He honked at Fluffy. Fluffy was startled by the sudden and most loud sound, and got mad.
And Fluffy reared up on her hind legs, and stomped the car’s hood with her front legs, trumpeting loudly. And Fluffy broke the windshield, and trampled the grille and front bumper, breaking them off. I could see the driver go completely snow-white from fear and wonder. Fluffy went all around the car, kicking it, pulling it with the trunk, and finally succeeded in rolling it over. After that, Fluffy ran away.
Escaped elephant’s escapades
I learned later, that Fluffy had broken into a shop that sold china and crystal. Fluffy was too tall to just walk in the window, so the elephant crawled in, and broke everything. I did not know elephants could do that.
Fluffy had come into some disagreement with the police as they appeared to control the situation, torn up a traffic-sign, and beaten them with it. Then Fluffy threw the sign up on a roof.
Fluffy got hungry, and invaded an old woman’s rhubarb patch, feasting on the rhubarb. The woman was shocked to see the big creature, had never seen one before, nor ever paid much attention to David Attenborough on TV, did not know what type of creature it was. She called the emergency hotline, and said, “Help me! There is a monster in my yard! It is destroying my rhubarb!” The operator was a bit surprised, and unsure of what to reply, this being an unusual call. But she did her best: “What type of monster is it?”
“It is huge, and gray, and it has a long tail, and it is using it to tear up my rhubarb!”
“And what does this... monster... do with the rhubarb?”
“You would never believe me if I told you...”
A youth, getting cozy with his girlfriend in his new car, was most surprised when Fluffy sat on the top, and made a deposit through the sunroof. The nature of the deposit suggests I was slightly off target when I was feeding my elephant, the feed probably being too devoid of fiber. The nature of the kids’ insurance, also, placed him in — figuratively this time — deep shit financially.
At last I am told Fluffy jumped off a cliff into the sea. Perhaps the elephant decided to swim back to India. But it was fun while it lasted. I wish the critter farewell.
The repercussions of Fluffy’s little day on the town make it hard for me to to get further permits, making my newest acquisition a heavier burden than the elephant, even though it is much smaller. I did manage to hide it for almost a week, but finally, someone found out, and I was confronted with the inevitable question:
“What, pray tell, is a Panda bear doing in the refrigerator?”
How does one answer such a question?
Copyright © 2004 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson