The Giraffe

Shelley, co-winner of Turtle’s Caption Contest, won 500 words on the topic of her choice. She chose the topic, “the weeds among the flowers, or the flowers among the weeds”. This is my offering, Shelley, based on a friend’s explanation of “giraffe” as a verb. I hope you like it!

cows at St. Brigid's well

The Giraffe

The cattle appeared nervous. Huddled in a little knot, muzzles together, they kept staring across the road. Scott slowed his car, and peered across the deserted highway. Yes, there was something moving through the tall grass, away in the distance. Not a mule; those things weren’t ears. A deer? It was coming closer.

Scott was still early for work anyway, so he pulled onto the shoulder and got out. Something about that animal was definitely queer; was it injured? The neck was dislocated, or the poor creature had been born with too many vertebrae. Scott wondered if he should call Animal Control and put the thing out of its misery.

As the object of the cows’ curiosity came closer, however, the truth slowly dawned on Scott. He shuddered with horror: this animal was perfectly healthy! It was strong. It was big. With its long neck it towered above any species of cattle, in a startling yellow and brown patchwork coat, with strange spike-shaped horns and soft brown eyes.

Scott thought it beautiful. Immediately he wished it dead. How dare it show its face here, where there had never been anything like it before! This was a peaceful land, familiar and safe; this stranger must be up to no good.

Back in his car, Scott drove immediately to Animal Control, where he described the dangerous beast to Brendan, the chief officer.

Brendan smiled. “So I see you’ve met Svenson’s giraffe, Mandy.”

“That abomination has a name? And no, of course I didn’t meet it!”

“Pity. She’s a real sweetheart. Eats the leaves off Svenson’s overgrown apple trees. Saves him having to climb that rickety ladder with the pruning fork. Anyway, you’ll be seeing her around.”

“You don’t mean to tell me she’s a permanent resident! What will Pastor Barnes say?”

“You mean, what did he say. I was there when Svenson first broached the subject. Pastor said something about God delighting in diversity. I’ve always respected that man.”

“So you’ll do nothing.”

“Of course I’ll do something! I’m helping Svenson renovate his barn on Saturday, so Mandy’s stall will be more comfortable. Are you busy Saturday?”

Scott turned on his heel and stalked out of Animal Control. At his office in the department store, he kicked over his wastebasket and pounded his desk, furious that such a menace to society should be allowed to live in his community. As he drove home that night, he shook his fist at Mandy.

As the days passed, Scott’s fist shaking became a one-finger salute, then a dismissive wave. Heedless of Scott’s turmoil, Mandy wandered the grassy fields and the orchard, day in, day out.

One day in the Spring, Scott stopped his car on the shoulder of the road. Mandy was near the fence, and the road was deserted. Scott stepped to the back of his car. Mandy rested her warm, brown eyes on him as he pulled a long, slim object from the trunk and softly shut the lid. She leaned her head down as he  crossed the road towards her and came up to the fence where she stood.

Hooking the blossom-laden cherry bough through the wire, Scott returned to his car, hoping no one had seen him. Stupid animal.

8 Responses to The Giraffe

  1. Shelley says:

    I knew Scott!! Except his name was Ray and he had no use for “hayburners” as he called them, with the exception of a certain black horse named Romeo, who showed that he would do anything I asked of him or break his heart trying.

    Ray had great respect for Romeo, but could never let Simone, his wife know it. Going down to the bush to haul cedar fence posts Ray shrugged off Simone’s pleas to “Spray the horse” with fly repellant with “The horse, he has a tough hide”…but when we got down to the bush he pulled a can of repellant out of his pocket and threatened us (his daughters and me) “Any of you tell your mother, you’re dead” as he sprayed him head to tail.

    When I had to give up my horses Romeo went to Simone and Ray. Ray took him off the trailer and told me to go see Simone at the house, he would take care of “the horse”. Simone insisted on going down to the barn to see her “Rome-ay-o” (they were French), and we surprised Ray hand feeding him grain. “The horse, he was hungry” he said as he dumped the bucket in the manger and stomped away embarassed to be caught :0)

    Like I said, I knew Scott 😉

  2. lavenderbay says:

    That’s pretty funny, Shelley! A real Spencer Tracey type, was he?

  3. eyegillian says:

    I think this is brilliant writing. The world definitely needs more giraffes (I wonder if Mandy is lonely?). Diversity makes a community, even the Scotts of the world belong somewhere. Nice twist at the end, too. Did I say it was brilliant?

  4. lavenderbay says:

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you THANK you thank you THANK YOU thank you thank you thank you! And did I say THANK YOU?
    Not that I really need people’s praise or anything…
    😀 😀 😀 ( sotto voce woo hoo! )

  5. livingisdetail says:

    Applause, applause from over here! What a beautiful story lavenderbay and a great idea. I love how you showed the process of tolerence; the accepting giraffe vrs the challenge of context for Scott. You are such a gifted storyteller turtle!

  6. lavenderbay says:

    Oh, hurrah-hurroodles! You were the first one to tell me you think I’m a storyteller, Livingisdetail. That fact in no way diminishes my joy in hearing you tell me again.
    Well, my polar-opposite friend, while you shrug into your sweater to start your winter day, I’m going to get on my lightest nightie (which actually belonged to my dad! ) and curl up with Sherlock Holmes. After last night’s poor sleep all ’round, I’m ready to relax, knowing that Fergus is in good hands, and that someone (you) has enjoyed my latest attempt at short fiction. G’night/G’day!

  7. jamesviscosi says:

    I enjoyed this little story, especially the ending. For a moment I thought Scott planned to shoot the giraffe (which would have made it more like one of my stories), but you went in a different, gentler direction. 🙂

  8. lavenderbay says:

    Oh, goodgoodgood, James! That’s how I was hoping readers would interpret the long-skinny-thing-in-the-trunk passage. I’m so glad you dropped by to give me your kindly opinion.
    Hmmm… good thing the questionable creature wasn’t an elephant. The passage would have been much more ambiguous: “Then Scott opened his trunk…” Say what?

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