Tag Archives: outdoors

Pigli and Cleo (4)

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CHAPTER FOUR

 

They had been walking for quite some time. Cleo was happy as a lamb, prancing and cavorting all over the place, humming tunes to herself and plucking flowers for her coronation.  Then, all of a sudden, Pigli heard this behind him:

‘Oh, look, aren’t they sweet… oh, and so soft! Look, look!!!’

As he turned around, his face twisted with disgust. She was talking about rabbits.

‘Forget it. I hate them. Period.’ he said curtly, trying to hide the fact that his blood pressure had just doubled.

‘Oh, you’re so mean! I simply don’t see why’, she said, offended. ‘They seem quite harmless and vulnerable and… stoooop! You’re scaring them all away! After all, they’re creatures, just as we are.’

At this, Pigli had to fight off the desire to go smash his head against the first tree. He just barely managed it.

‘You know’, he eventually spoke, ‘you never cease to amaze me. “We’re creatures, we’re all alike”’,he began mimicking her in mockery. ‘Listen to her! Didn’t you say it yourself? Didn’t you need to be a wolf to be able to be proud of yourself? There you have it, lady. Only wolves are noble. Rabbits are jerks.’

‘Who says?’

‘You did!’

‘Well, I’m sorry if you misinterpreted. But I just happen to like rabbits. They’re just nice and fluffy and… small.  They don’t kill anybody.’

‘What are you implying? You’re the future Miss Wolf-killer, remember? That’s not nice either.’

That’s different.’

‘How is that different?!’

‘Simple. Because people are afraid of wolves. Sheep are afraid of wolves. Rabbits are afraid of wolves. Wolves are frightening. So it’s courageous and noble to kill them.’

‘Oh, really?! How enlightening! I’m sure that’d be a great comfort to Tina, who is now limping away in a Zoo, crippled and alone, because some macho hunter was looking for a noble deed!’ He couldn’t take much more of this. It’s a good thing stupidity doesn’t hurt or you’d hear the wailing on the other side of the Milky Way, he thought.

‘Uh…Who’s Tina?’

‘Just a girl I knew. A long time ago. None of your business.’

‘Sorry, Boss.’ Cleo lowered her eyes and was silent for a while, pondering his story. After a while she stopped pondering and tried her hand at appeasing the situation.

‘I guess… you’re probably right. But that’s what people say, anyway.’

‘And I know someone who’s all too eager to please them’, came the reply, sharp as a knife’s edge.

And then, they want me to pose for their tourist brochures, he started brooding.  No sir. I’ll do nothing of the sort. I am going to do nothing but lie on my back and watch the ceiling all day, just to spite them. The visions were making him scowl and grin ferociously.

‘Whoops, some hard feelings there’, Cleo thought out loud.

‘You betcha.’

‘Well, I’m surprised, to tell you the truth. I didn’t think you had it in you.’

‘Just shut up.’

‘That’s the problem. I can’t.’

‘Why?’

‘I’m hungry.’

‘Well, let’s have a rabbit then.’

‘Are you insane? You’re not really gonna eat them?!’

‘Oh, just watch me.’

‘I won’t be a part to this. I’d much rather go without food. I’ll graze later, when we come to the pasture.’

‘Fine! Suit yourself.’

‘Fine!’

Cleo realized she had upset Pigli. He had locked himself in his own thoughts and those didn’t seem very positive. From time to time he was spitting. He seemed really miserable and full of grudges. Pigli was not a happy wolf. Thank God I am a sensitive creature, emotionally intelligent and with a lot of empathy to offer, Cleo praised herself.

So they continued to walk empathically side by side towards the valley until late into the afternoon and then into the evening.  They no longer talked.  Cleo was munching on the occasional patches of thick, juicy grass that she could find and adorning the trail behind her with nice, firm, well-rounded pieces of sheep dung. She used to have frequent problems with constipation before, but not anymore. Since Pigli had informed her of his brilliant idea, her dream had slipped within reach again and that had simply revived her whole system. Or maybe it was the rich forest grass? Either way, she felt excited and enthusiastic again after all those years and when she contemplated this she could hardly prevent her eyes from becoming watery with gratitude towards the wolf. She almost began to consider him her friend. She had never really had a friend and was now discovering emotions she didn’t even know she possessed. Even though she was still very self-absorbed, she would every now and then lend a thought to Pigli and wonder what his life must have been like. Her ripe imagination concocted wild scenarios of the terrifying experiences that he had been through. She was terribly curious and burned with the desire to interrogate him again and again, but watching the nervous twitches on his face and being as emotionally intelligent as she was, she decided to let it go. For now.

Nervous twitches aside, Pigli looked his usual apathetic self and refrained from any feeding endeavor whatsoever. He probably felt he would be more than compensated afterwards, once he’d finally get to the Zoo, so finding food now was really not worth the effort. He was intent on his route and on getting there fast.  Besides, there was not much on the menu either. Wolves are the doctors of the forests, they feed on dead or sick animals, and there were no more animals left in the woods, apart from rabbits. And those were bursting with health.

Now it was getting late and, as he faced his first night in the woods away from his den, Pigli began to think. Even though his existence of late had been quite dismal and living in the forest was totally without prospects, he began to feel the first darts of regret. He realized he had left his den so impetuously, without thinking twice about it and without looking back, and he was getting, well, homesick. After all, it had been his home. He had a strange premonition that he might actually miss those sullen days when he would spend all of his waking hours thinking up new rabbit traps and playing with their psyche. He had a strange premonition that he might actually miss getting annoyed.

Slowly and silently Pigli and Cleo melted into the sunset, two black dots against the orange horizon, getting smaller every minute.

(to be continued)

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Pigli and Cleo (2)

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CHAPTER ONE

So Cleo boldly went where no other sheep had gone before: trotting up the hill to the woods, to find her way to a wild wolf and a wild wolf’s mouth.

Something must be terribly wrong with the world we live in though, because she only found Pigli.

It was a beautiful spring morning, April 1, to be exact. Sunny and crisp, with fresh yellow crocuses dotting the pastures and dainty wild violets peering out every here and there. The mountaintops were still snow-capped and chilly. The semi-darkness of dawn had not yet dissipated from the innermost realms of the forest, and Pigli was sleeping late again. Not that that deterred Cleo. As soon as his eyelids were rolled up, she closed in like a Japanese warrior. She immediately bowed, greeted and uttered:

‘Here I am. We can begin to fight. I have settled my scores with life. You are the last one I need to settle.’   (“Bold approach”, she congratulated herself with an inner smile.)

‘Excuse me?!’ Pigli squinted and pulled his ears straight back. He had barely awoken and was a bit confused. You have to excuse him. He was not his – well— usual quick self at this early hour.

‘Well, ok, you stand a fair chance of winning, I’ll grant you that.’

‘What?!’

‘What are you, deaf?’ Cleo said with her natural self-righteous indignation and scanned him from head to toe. ‘Look, if you’re a grandpa, just direct me to somebody younger, someone who has more fire in him, I’m looking for a real opponent, not just anybody.

‘Listen. Are humans shooting a documentary again? I hate it when I have to touch raw flesh before the camera and make believe I enjoy it. These environmentalists are a real pain in the butt. How much did they pay you for this?’

‘I beg your pardon?!’ It was Cleo’s turn to feel insulted. ‘What environmentalists?’, she said hysterically, understanding exactly zilch of the entire situation. ‘How dare you? Nobody paid me anything. The kind of cynicism one comes across these days…! I’m here because I hunted you down. That makes you my prey. What, you think that because I’m a sheep, I can’t hunt? Now, if you’ll have some dignity…p-leaaaase!’, Cleo said.

At this point Pigli’s eyes popped out of his long face in absolute disbelief.  His jaw fell.

‘What on earth came over you, lady? You know, there’s still time to plead temporary insanity before you really hurt somebody. I mean, have you taken a look in the mirror in the last hundred years? Oh yeah… you’re to die for.  Hahahaha!  This is… this is hysterical!’

Pigli almost suffocated with laughter. But Cleo the Sheep continued to stand there, dignified to 42 degrees of stiffness, and to stare directly in front of her, profoundly insulted. So he felt it was time to bring in some pragmatic reasoning.

‘Look. You’re so ancient I’d probably have to stew you in vinegar for a week and even then my teeth wouldn’t sink in. Besides, where would I find vinegar. Or fries, for that matter? See, you’re just creating dilemmas. Stop giving me headaches. Oh, wait. I know what’s going on! April Fool’s Day, I get it! Very funny. I bet they put you up to it, didn’t they? I swear those rabbit jerks are really pulling my strings, trying to get me committed to an asylum.’

‘Will you shut up and be a little serious about this? I’m not laughing, am I? Although’, Cleo added in a low voice, ‘you should really see a vet about those teeth. I bet that’s why you’re so grumpy. But anyway. There should be rules here. What vinegar, what fries? I’ll not have you make a mockery of it. If you win – and I must emphasize if –  then I expect you to at least devour me in a wolfish manner.’

Between you and me, at this point Cleo could hardly bring herself to remember how come she had admired wolves so much as to risk being eaten by one. But she was totally entangled in formalities and didn’t realize it.

‘Fine.  If you insist.’

‘Err…  So how will you do it?’

‘Do what?’

‘Eat me.’

‘Are you at it again? Look, if you got such a death wish, why don’t you just hara-kiri yourself and I’ll drop by later to chew on your remains, how about that? We’ll make believe you lost the fight fair and square. I really ain’t got time for this. I’m tired.’ And he yawned.

Pigly turned and started to walk away in slow motion. He’d been overcome by a violent stroke of… total lack of enthusiasm. It happened to him quite often these days. Cleo contemplated his suggestion for a while. Then the small shimmer of a teardrop came up in her eyes and a nervous knot clogged her throat as she stuttered:

‘But what… what … what if the ravens get me before you?’

And she began to leap along in his footsteps baaing hysterically the whole time.

‘Well, don’t worry about the ravens. I should think you scared them all away by now’, said Pigli through his teeth. And then to himself. Oh, boy.  Why me…? I need a nap.

(to be continued)