Jay knew he was hopeless. Elephants -- animals, period -- were easier to talk to than people. Still, he couldn't help trying and hoping. Especially when it came to Bergen. She laughed at his stupid jokes, even the ones that he had to explain to other workers. He had a tendency to see things from a juvenile perspective. Such as elephant jokes.
"How do you know an elephant's been in the refrigerator?" he asked Bergen, as they checked on the liquid skin bandage they had put on Sheba's left flank the day before.
"Footprints in the butter," she muttered, as if she was afraid someone would hear them.
He wanted to tell her that at this time of the day, working in the heat and dust, far from the fence of the arena, there was no one to hear them but the elephants. Then again, maybe Bergen was afraid of the elephants hearing and being offended. She had a charming ability to consider their charges as thinking, reasoning, feeling beings.
"How do you get an elephant into the refrigerator?"
"Easy -- you open the door and put everything on the bottom shelf so he can sit on the top shelf."
"Why?" He looked up from dabbing a new layer of liquid skin on the previous one.
"You mean why put an elephant in the refrigerator in the first place?" Her eyes sparkled before she looked away and stroked down Sheba's trunk.
Bergen wouldn't believe him if he pointed out how quietly the elephants stood for treatment when she was around.
"No, why let him sit on the top shelf?" Jay made a mental note of this conversation. He hadn't considered exactly the answer she gave him. It made him think she told a lot of elephant jokes herself.
"Elephants like to be up high where they can see everything. Don't you?" she crooned, getting a snort and a flip of the trunk from Sheba. That got both of them laughing softly.
"All right, smarty, why shouldn't you be in the jungle between three and four?"
"You forgot the next one."
"What next one?""You're supposed to ask how to get a giraffe into the refrigerator." She waited, but he just folded his arms and grinned at her. Bergen sighed. "The answer is, you take out the elephant and fold up the giraffe and put him in. And the answer to yours is -- you don't go into the jungle between three and four because elephants jump out of trees every afternoon between three and four."