Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Elephant.

sun's eye

They first saw the Elephant when they were running to school on Friday morning.

It was raining, the pavements were slippery and they were late.

Jack saw it first but was too surprised to say anything. He just stopped and watched it go past.

It was grey, like the clouds.

He caught up with the others at the school gates; “Did you see that?”

“What?” Will was the uncontested leader of the group.

“An elephant,” replied Jack.

Will and Jenny looked down the street; it was empty.

“Come on dreamer, time for maths”, Jenny could be very pragmatic.

She could also be a rebel; it was her idea initially.

The second time they saw the elephant was on the way home after the hour detention that had kept them behind when everyone else had gone home for the weekend.

In the dusk, it looked almost real.

It was set on a trailer in front of the supermarket, sandwiched between the parked cars.

“The circus is in town”. Will was not the brightest, just the leader.

“Let’s nick it”, said Jenny, looking at him. “Tonight?” She added.

“It will have to be tonight,” replied Will, trying to make her sound stupid and the idea his own.

Jack said nothing.

And that’s how when he woke up earlier than usual on Saturday morning, Jack discovered the elephant and the trailer colourfully advertising Johnson’s Circus standing on his front lawn.

“How the fuck did they do that?” he exclaimed. ”What the fuck am I going to do now?” He added.

Jack lived in a close and at the end of the close were the woods. This was where he and his mates hung out most days when they didn’t have school, or on days they chose not to go.

He phoned Jenny.
“Stop giggling, you gotta come and help, and bring Will.”

They came.

Johnny came too.

If there were any sort of trouble Johnny would be part of it.

Johnny was Jenny’s ‘boyfriend’.

He too was very practical.

“We need to hide it.” He explained.

“Why didn’t you think of that when you put it in my garden?” Jack was disappointed that Johnny existed, let alone that he was there. He fancied Jenny but had never been able to tell her, now it seemed that he never would.

They dragged it into the woods, for an elephant it was extremely light.

“What do you think it’s made off? Asked Will.

He had asked that last night when they had left the pub, but he had drunk so much he couldn’t remember.

“Polystyrene”, replied Johnny, who couldn’t remember either. “Let’s burn it, it’ll look brilliant,” he added as if it had just come to him.

“You said that last night,” Jenny reminded him.

“We can’t,” said Jack; he sounded so authoritative that they all looked at him. “It’s unlucky to burn an elephant.”

The others stared.

“I read it in a book about Hindu superstition.”, he continued. “It’s a god.”

“Since when have you read a book about Hindu superstition?” asked Will.

“Since when have you read a book?” Added Johnny.

“No, Jack’s right,” Jenny’s voice was calming and also reasoned. “But we have to hide it better than this, the Circus will be after I, so unless we want to give it back…..” She didn’t finish; she wanted to say ‘it’s free now’ but didn’t want to sound silly. They already kidded her enough for being vegetarian.

“How do you hide a four meter African Elephant in a suburban wood?” Asked Jack, who was beginning to wish he was still asleep.

“How do you know it’s African?” Will was beginning to feel out of depth, at a time when he needed to assert his role as leader of this group.

Then it came to him.

“Look, you wait here and make sure no one sees it, Jenny you stand guard on the path. Shout out if someone comes. Jack come with me, we need some stuff from the garage.”

Will’s family ran a repair garage on the edge of town and since they hadn’t noticed that he had borrowed the tow truck yesterday evening he figured he could borrow a few tools this morning.

He was right; no one was awake yet.

“We need stuff to cut trees and bushes,” Will explained, “here, carry these.”

“We could put it back in the carpark,” protested Jack.

“Too late now.” Will was right.

Half an hour later the four of them were hard at work in the woods, cutting, chopping and dragging. One hour later they stepped back to look at their work.

“It’s good”, proclaimed Will. “It will do for today. Tomorrow we can take it up to the old air base, no one ever goes there.”

They went back to their separate homes, Jack ate a huge breakfast, Jenny went off to her Saturday job at the hairdressers and Johnny and Will went to the shopping centre to see what was happening.

Two men from the circus were standing where the trailer had been.

“I tell you, right here,” one of them was saying.

“Elephants don’t disappear like that”, replied the other.

The police were called, a search was organised; nothing was found. No one knew anything. Those who did said nothing.

The publicity of the missing elephant was good business for the circus and almost all the town and the nearby villages went to see the show.

Except four.

Jenny, Will, Johnny and Jack used the distraction to move the elephant up to the old airbase. Will took some tools so they could remove the elephant from the trailer and the trailer was replaced in front of the supermarket without anyone noticing.

As a final touch, Jenny glued a tiny blue elephant she had found in a kinder-egg to the trailer.

The circus folk decide that the publicity they received was better than anything they had hoped for so they let the matter drop and moved on across the country.

A couple of weeks later the same thing happened in Ashington.

This time the circus folk were behind  it.

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