The Ears

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

This story is about a little elephant with big ears, and how he and his family and their friends save a circus.

The Ears

 

You know that famous elephant who could fly? I'm his father, Sumarre.

My wife Coureatha and I met on a wildlife reserve. A group of scientists was trying to determine whether they could make her as strong as I am by injecting her with my hormones, as well as with a growth hormone. But the experiment did not go as planned: she seemed no stronger. But she did conceive our son before fate forced us apart, when she was taken away to a circus.

I was sad to be parted from her, but I accepted it, because I thought that it had to be. Still, all I felt was please bring my son to me so that I can see him ... this is my only wish.

After she was taken, I was hunted and captured by poachers who wanted to steal my tusks to make combs and brooches. I needed to convince them to change their minds, so in the dirt, I drew the image that I had seen on the shirts of the circus workers and the side of their truck when they took Coureatha: a chubby man wearing a top hat, standing in a circle.

One of the poachers recognized the image and called out that it was the sign for Marco’s Magical Circus of Amazements. The poachers asked me if I was sure that I wanted to go there. I kept drawing the image and stamping my feet until I had made my message clear.

The poachers brought me to a man they said was Marco’s brother, who was camped near the coast. He paid them much more money than they would have gotten for my tusks, and then I was loaded onto a ship. I had plenty of food, and a fine berth that was padded to save me from getting injured when we hit rough waters. We were at sea for a month. I thought about Coureatha and our son for the entire time.

When the ship reached a place they called New York, I was taken off and loaded onto a freight train. It was a very different motion, but not unpleasant. Some days later, our train met up with the main circus train, which was bound for somewhere called San Francisco. The handlers loaded me onto it, but on the way, the train broke down, so all of us elephants were unloaded and allowed to move about.

When I saw Coureatha, I tapped my handler with my trunk and pointed at the other elephants. But he snatched the elephant goad and sank the end of it into my trunk. I threw the goad to the ground and waved my trunk at the other elephants. My handler looked at the goad, looked at me, and led me toward the others.

When I reached Coureatha, I put the tip of my trunk inside of her mouth, and she put the tip of hers inside of mine. Then I saw a small calf behind her. She gently withdrew her trunk and pushed the calf forward with it, and I saw my son Sundar for the first time. Our joy was complete.

Sundar was healthy and energetic. And his ears were enormous! The scientists had had an effect, after all. But he was beautiful to us.

The other elephants were kind to Sundar. So were the other animals and the clowns. But not everyone was. When we reached San Francisco, and Coureatha and Sundar were in a parade, a child pointed at Sundar, laughed, and tugged on his ears. Coureatha did not appreciate how the child was behaving, so she spanked him, sucked up a trunk full of water from a horse trough, and soaked the child. The crowd laughed. The child cried.

During another performance, a child in the audience loudly made fun of Sundar’s ears, for which her mother scolded her. And two older boys darted out and pulled on Sundar’s trunk one night when we were performing the elephant wheel, and Sundar lost his balance. Coureatha tried to help him, but ended up losing her balance as well, which caused the wheel to wobble and then fall apart completely.

As punishment for his failure, Sundar, had to stay in the train car beside ours that housed the donkeys: Darien and Delice, and their son Daniel and daughter Delaine, along with their friends Damone, Dallas and Dalen. We overheard Darien and Delice kindly telling Sundar that everyone makes mistakes, so he shouldn’t feel too badly about what he had done. Daniel also told Sundar about the time he had tripped and fallen one evening while he was practising jumping through a hoop.

One night, one of the handlers had had too much to drink, and as he stumbled past Sundar, he looked at him with contempt and called him an insulting name. We could only watch helplessly from the next car. Sundar did not appreciate being called “Dumbo,” so he sprayed the handler with water.

We knew that it was upsetting for our little son. And wasn’t just the insulting name and contempt ... it was the taunting about his ears, the unkind jests, the laughter at his expense, the insults about his intelligence, and the mockery of his actions and expressions. It was too much for a little elephant, and one night we all heard Sundar crying. It nearly broke our hearts. Daniel embraced Sundar and told him not to worry, that everything would be alright.

We were grateful to Daniel and Delice, but we worried about Sundar and wondered if he would ever be bought back to us, or whether he would stay with the donkeys forever.

Our handlers knew that we were worried about Sundar. They comforted us and reassured us that everything was going to be alright. They even spoke with Marco and asked him if Sundar could be brought back to the elephant cars. He just shook his head, and that was the end of the conversation.

Sundar’s handler Lucca also talked with Marco, telling him that Sundar had to be with Coureatha and me for his wellbeing and survival, and that if Sundar’s separation from us went on any longer, it would only be worse for us all. Marco was dismissive, but Lucca persisted, telling him that continued separation would also be bad for Marco. Lucca said that if people realized Marco had separated Sundar from us, they would refuse to come and see Sundar, tickets would go unsold, and Marco would lose money. Marco angrily told Lucca but he was not in charge, and that he, Marco, could do whatever he pleased with Coureatha, Sundar and me, because we are his property and he is in charge. Besides, he said he doubted that Lucca had the grit to make a public scene about it.

But Lucca surprised him. He did go to the press, and he told them all about how Marco had separated Sundar from us.

RINGMASTER SEPARATES BABY ELEPHANT FROM FAMILY was the headline on the front page of the newspaper the next day, and when Marco saw it, he was furious. He confronted Lucca and fired him on the spot.

As he was leaving, Lucca saw a group of protesters gathering outside of the big top, holding picket signs and chanting “REUNITE THE FAMILY!” Marco emerged from the big top and assured them that everything was fine, but the protesters began chanting SHOW US!” and they wouldn’t stop until Marco brought all of us out to show them that we were together.

But Lucca knew that Marco would continue to mistreat us, away from public scrutiny, so he contacted an animal rights group and asked them to visit the circus without any advance warning. When they met with Marco, they told him that it was inhumane and unethical to separate a baby elephant from its parents, but Marco just laughed, saying that the elephants were his property and he could do what he liked with them.

One evening during a performance, a young child slipped away from his parents unseen and ran into the ring, among the animals, where he got caught under a wheel of one of the circus wagons. The child cried for help, but no one heard him – except for Sundar, with his enormous, sensitive ears. He called out to his mother and me for assistance, but we couldn’t hear him over the sound of the show. No one else could, either.

The only one who was paying attention was a five-year-old girl named Virginia. When she heard Sundar’s cries and saw the expression on his face, she knew that he urgently needed help. Virginia turned to her mother and cried, “Help the baby!” but her mother did not hear her. Twice more Virginia called to her mother and pointed at Sundar, even tugging on the sleeve of her mother’s coat. But her mother and the rest of the audience were focused on the show.

The only person who heard Virginia was Lucca, who was standing nearby, by the tent entrance. He climbed up to the girl and asked her what was wrong. Virginia, almost in tears, pointed to Sundar. Just then, the animals parted, and Lucca saw what the girl had seen: the little elephant trying to help the child who was caught beneath the wagon wheel. He quickly assured Virginia that he would help the baby, and he leaped down into the ring to help Sundar, signalling to me as he went. I swung over and, following Lucca’s hand signals, lifted the heavy wagon so Lucca could pull the child to safety and carry him to his frantic parents at the edge of the ring.

In the quiet after the rescue, Lucca praised Virginia and Sundar for their efforts, and the child was taken away to the hospital.

The next day, Lucca told Marco that Coureatha, Sundar and I were more valuable than he realized, and that we deserved to be treated with care, kindness and respect. But Marco again balked, saying that the three of us did not belong to Lucca, so he had no right to tell Marco how we should be treated. In fact, he boasted, he could treat us however he liked.

Lucca did not appreciate Marco’s approach or his attitude, so he pressed Marco, saying that I should be rewarded for my actions and treated as a hero. Marco told him that he did not believe in rewarding animals or treating them any differently than he usually did. Lucca warned Marco that if he did not treat the animals well, we would turn against him. But Marco laughed, saying that we would never turn against him, because he was the master: we had to do as we were told, or suffer the consequences. Besides, he said cruelly, if we stopped doing as we were told, he would starve us. But Lucca stood his ground, saying that if Marco starved us, he would go to the press again.

Later that night, Marco thought about those conversations, and whether what Lucca had said might actually happen. But in his arrogance, he decided that it couldn’t possibly happen, and he went easily to sleep.

A few days later, however, while we were rehearsing, Coureatha, Sundar and I stopped doing as we were told. The handlers tried everything, including the elephant goad, but we still refused. Marco threatened us, but we didn’t listen to him. The poor handlers were befuddled and had no idea what was going on, because soon we weren’t alone in refusing to do what we were told: the other elephants, and the donkeys, horses, giraffes, hippos, bears, lions and a whole host of others stopped obeying.

And then it wasn’t just us. The acrobats, trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, jugglers, clowns, lion tamer, bearded lady and all the others went on strike, too. Finally, the handlers followed, and the day after, Marco discovered that all of the roustabouts had deserted.

He immediately hired scab labour, but that didn’t go well. Unlike Marco’s regular employees, they were untrained, so they didn’t know how to care for us or feed us. They also didn’t know how to perform any of the tricks, and had to be instructed numerous times on what to do during performances. It was a disaster, and ticket sales dropped to almost nothing.

Marco finally realized that he was defeated, so he called for Lucca and asked him what he should do. They both knew that Lucca had told Marco this would happen, and that Marco now had to face the consequences of what he had done.

Marco admitted to Lucca that he had been right. He apologized for having fired Lucca, and asked him to return to the circus. Lucca said that he would come back, but only if Marco promised to treat us with care, kindness and respect, and to let us go back to the wild within a few years. Marco knew he was beaten, so he agreed.

Lucca was hired back, but Marco didn’t stop there: he hired back all of the performers and roustabouts, and he began to treat us as Lucca had demanded. The circus prospered.

And then one day, when Lucca was working with our son, he discovered that Sundar possessed a unique talent – with those lovely big ears, he could fly! Marco didn’t believe Lucca until he saw it for himself, but when he did, he was beyond excited. He incorporated Sundar’s flying into our performances, and the crowds loved it.

Even with the draw of Sundar’s special talent, Marco stayed true to his word, and after several more years of performing, Coureatha, Sundar and I were released from the circus. Marco made sure that we had fine transportation and care, all the way to a beautiful reserve in Kenya. And that is where we spent the rest of our days, together.

 

The End


Submitted: November 11, 2021

© Copyright 2021 charlamaye. All rights reserved.

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