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Friday, September 5, 2014

A BOX OF PROMISES, Excerpt #16

After six weeks now assigned to the elephant "encounter" arena, Bergen had serious doubts that anyone really could "handle" the elephants. Cajole them. Bribe them. Even yell at them, and usually get no more response than a flick of their trunks -- which just had to mean something derogatory or even obscene, in elephant language -- or a twitch-flap of those floppy ears. But handle them? That implied the animals were being controlled.
Bergen seriously doubted that could be accomplished, without a cattle prod, tranquilizer gun, whips, and maybe electronic implants in their brains that turned them into big, dusty, slow radio-controlled cars.
Definitely she wasn't "handling" the elephants. More likely they were handling her. Kind of like that piece in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where readers found out that lab mice were actually on Earth to run experiments on scientists. Whenever she thought the arena was clean, she turned around and found a couple mounds as high as her knees had been left as far apart from each other as they could be, while her back was turned. In complete silence. That was what always bothered her. Shouldn't something that big and soft and greasy-looking actually make a loud noise when it hit the ground? The stuff actually steamed, early in the morning. Not that she thought long on the grossness of it, but she couldn't seem to keep it out of her mind. Especially when she was griping.
The only thing worse than finding two or three new big piles to clean up the moment she put away her tools, was to come back from hauling several bales of the sweet hay and other twenty-four-hours-a-day "snacks" the elephants preferred, to find the piles had been turned into a carpet. She always had the feeling the grandma elephants watched her with a reproachful look in those little round eyes, as if it were her fault that the kids had made a mess while her back was turned.
           Not until the third week of her "expanded" duties, did it occur to her that she had lost her fear of the elephants.

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