copyright Forrest L. Smith, III

The Elephant and the Rabbit
by Tad Smith

A rabbit walked into a tavern for a couple of cold beers. He sat down next to an elephant who was so big he took up three barstools. The rabbit, who was a regular customer of the tavern, did not recognize the elephant, who was a newcomer to the area.

"Don't believe I've seen you around these parts before," said the rabbit.

"Just passing through," said the elephant. He took a long, gurgling drink of beer, emptying what was obviously not his first, and ordered another. "Give me another barrel of light," he told the bartender.

"That's some pretty serious drinking," the rabbit said after the bartender had rolled out a new barrel for the elephant, who sucked up a trunkful of beer and squirted it into his mouth. "What's on your mind?"

"Women," the elephant said.

"I know what you mean," the rabbit said with a sigh, reminded of his own reason for being at the bar; he took a long swallow, getting foam on the ends of his whiskers. "Seems like my wife is always pregnant. This is the third time this year."

"You got problems?" the elephant said. "My wife is always pregnant. She's been pregnant for over a year."

"That's tough, buddy," the rabbit said.

They sat together, drinking in silence until the bartender decided they had had enough. The rabbit took the news that he was cut off with passive resignation, but the elephant seemed disturbed. "Wha's a matter," he said. "You got something against pachyderms in this town?"

"Take it easy, buddy," the rabbit said. "Let's blow this joint."

"Hmmph," the elephant said. He tried to get up from the barstools, but he had trouble with his balance and fell over, demolishing a couple of tables and severely jolting the juke box. The rabbit hopped down and helped him up, then led him from the bar, one elephant foreleg slung over his shoulder for support. When they were outside, the rabbit suggested he would be happy to walk the elephant home. "You know how far you'd have to walk?" the elephant asked. "About 800 miles."

"That's a little bit out of my range," the rabbit said. "Maybe you should stay at my place for the night."

"Thanks, buddy," the elephant said, "but I'll be okay. If I can just get up a little momentum, I can make it fine."

"Suit yourself," shrugged the rabbit. He gave the elephant a shove from behind, and the elephant staggered forward; as he gained speed, he seemed also to gain his equilibrium, although as he swerved through the woods he knocked over quite a few trees.

* * *

It was nearly two years later when the rabbit next saw the elephant. As before, the rabbit walked into the tavern to find the elephant parked at the bar. This time, the elephant was devouring popcorn and pretzels along with his beer.

The elephant recognized the rabbit as he approached. "Hey there, little buddy, long time no see," said the elephant. "You're looking a little peaked." Indeed, the rabbit looked frazzled, worn out. His whiskers and ears were drooping; his eyes were red instead of pink; his gait lacked its customary spring.

"Hey, big fellow," the rabbit said as he plopped down onto the barstool. "How's the family."

"Great," said the elephant. "My wife had a baby boy last year. Fine kid. How are things at your place?"

The rabbit shook his head wearily. "She wear's me out," he said. "Every morning and every night."

"Count your blessings," said the elephant.

"How's that?"

"It's been three years for me," said the elephant.

"Three years for what?" asked the rabbit.

"Three years since I got any," the elephant said. "I'm about to climb the walls."

"That is pretty extreme," said the rabbit. "Maybe you should bring her some flowers, or take her dancing."

"I've tried everything," the elephant said, "especially dancing. Rain dancing." The elephant explained to the rabbit that, since the weather had been so dry for the past year, there was not enough food to support another hungry elephant baby. So there wasn't much the elephant could do until the weather improved. The elephant finished the last basket of popcorn in the tavern and ordered a bushel of peanuts.

"You've been sublimating," the rabbit said, noticing a marked increase in the elephant's girth, as evidenced by his taking up four barstools instead of three. "You look like you've been eating enough for three elephants."

The elephant crashed his trunk down on the bar, shaking the entire tavern to the extent that the television above the bar flickered on. "I'm not in the mood for fat elephant jokes."

"Excuse me, buddy," the rabbit said testily. "I guest it's just tough being a man, all around."

At about that time, a special weather report flashed across the television screen. Unanticipated thunderstorms were causing rivers to rise over their banks in one of the most arid parts of the country. When they showed a map depicting the area under alert, the elephant jumped up and trumpeted. "That's home," he shouted. "I'd better get moving."

The elephant charged out the tavern, busting up a couple more tables and knocking down the door.

The occupants of the tavern, except for the rabbit, rushed to watch the elephant run off through the woods, leaving a path of splintered trees in his wake. He was quickly out of sight, and the tavern patrons returned to their beers.

The bartender leaned across the bar and addressed the rabbit. "Your friend must be the protective sort, rushing home like that."

"A real family man," the rabbit said. He tossed down the remainder of his beer, paid his tab, and walked wearily away.

Moral: When it rains, it pours.

The End