Just under the wire on this one. Inspired by some show we saw while waiting for Battlestar Galactica to come on. ~540 words
Gerald watched five elephants in a jungle village paint abstract art. Natives in pointed hats guided the massive animals, tugging gently on their tusks and ears. After a few moments, the image shifted to an scene of the same beasts crashing against bells and drums. The elephants were putting on a concert.
“See,” Gerald said, waving his screwdriver at the television. “This is what happens when a civilization doesn’t have TV. Get these people a TV and a DVD player. I’ll pay for some seasons of 24. Get ’em some Doctor Who. Get them some guitar lessons or something.”
“It’s…” Claire blinked at the screen. “It’s an experiment or whatever.”
“Just let them be elephants,” Gerald said. “That’s all I’m saying. Life’s hard enough.”
Gerald and Claire sat at a table covered with wiring, digital timers, and bundles of tightly packed plastique. Claire worked at stripping wires and carefully assorting them by color. Gerald pressed each timer into a square of explosive.
“Maybe even elephants need hobbies,” said Claire.
“Nonsense! If anybody needs a hobby, it’s those people.”
Claire stared at the little buddle of red wires for a moment. Gerald didn’t notice her hesitation. She sighed and moved on to the green wires. On the television, a learned art historian explained the significance of “The Scream” to a two-ton female Asian elephant. The elephant tapped the painting with its trunk. According to the historian, she was not impressed.
“Maybe they’re lives aren’t so great,” Claire said. “Maybe that can’t get TV there. They’re in a bloody jungle, Gerald. Maybe the reception ain’t so good.”
“That just tells me there’s an untapped market,” Gerald retorted. “If’n I had a cable company, I’d take myself a crew out there, set up those, what, shacks and what not, with some HBO, make a fortune. But there’s no entrepreneurship left in this country, I guess. Instead we got gits like this fella here talkin’ about Picasso to a fuckin’ animal. All that elephant wants is some bananas.”
“Maybe the elephant’s life isn’t so great!” Claire shouted. She scattered the little bundle of green wires across the table. Gerald glared at her and slowly laid a block of plastique aside.
“Don’t be a child, Claire,” he scowled. “Animals got a sweet deal. They eat, they sleep, an they fuck. Nothing more to life. Not like us. Don’t have to scrounge every day for a living, hoping the coppers don’t bust you up for naught. Animals don’t live like that. Humans shouldn’t ought to either.”
“We don’t have to,” Claire muttered. She scraped the wires back into a pile and started sorting them again. She scooped up the wire cutters and clipped the tips, one by one.
The art historian put a heavy pencil in the elephants trunk, and she scribbled up and down on a massive canvas. The historian cooed and nodded sagely.
“Oh, look at this now,” Gerald scorned. The camera panned left, and the art historian showed off his own painting, not terribly different from the elephant’s work. “Oh, hello,” Gerald said. “No wonder the bloke’s so impressed. He’s found a mentor, maybe. Hah!”
Claire did have to suppress a smile at that. She finished up the green wiring, then began sorting out the yellow wires.