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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 pm


Joined: Sep 04, 2009
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Pleengo, the Lost Elephant
by David Giles

The Lesser troop of the Colonel Beauregard Traveling One Ring Circus and Carnival made its semi annual side trip across the Ozarks on a fine Fall Morning headed for Southern Missouri from their recent engagement in Fort Smith. This was before the invention of Interstate highways in these parts, but not so long ago that many here abouts don’t remember the roads in them days.

To do any significant forward travel you had to meander left a ways then meander right a ways snaking slowly up one hill to its crest then down again it to the valley between them and begin meandering up the next. This was arduous work for a troop of trucks hauling acts and equipment and the progress toward their destination seemed to loom beyond countless hills and a multitude of hairpin turns.

It was half ways down Luggernut ridge that a large two axel truck carrying Pleengo the Elephant blew a tire and came to a rest beside the hill, with the entire caravan in park thinking what a place to have to change a tire on a truck. Pleengo was an old elephant who had in his day handled lumber in India, worked for the elephant chorus line in PT Barnum’s Circus, been sold and traded to a couple of smaller outfits, and come to his sunset days with Colonel Beauregard as a kiddy ride at 50 cents for a two minute elephant sit as he wandered around the Piggly Wiggly parking lot (or wherever the one ring circus currently pitched) lead by Sam his keeper.

The Colonel, speaking in a vernacular familiar to all sailors and devotees of morning traffic, suggested to Sam that it might be wise to remove Pleengo, as his shifting back and forth in the truck as it balanced on an uneven road on a jack, with a shear hillside drop but a shoulder or two away, was highly advisable. The elephant was the main draw of the flea bitten circus, and it wouldn’t do to lose it and a truck in a mountain tumble that cleared a more direct route down the hillside.

So Pleengo was lead out of his truck and tethered to a tree near some tall grass, while Sam, the Colonel and several other tattooed men strained and heaved to get the tire changed before the day of Judgment arrived. Paying no mind to Pleengo, as he was naturally a docile beast not inclined to mischief, the men cursed and argued as the busted tire proved itself more than the usual challenge to change. Pleengo spied what looked like a nice green field of hay down the valley, so with the dexterity and wisdom of age, he untied the rope and led himself down through the forest toward the sweet alfalfa.

By the time the tire was fixed their elephant was awol and no one had seen him go. Search parties ensued and all hands shouted across the hollers “PLEENGO! PLEENGO! PLEENGO! Come Home!” but it were of no use as the elephant was half deaf and by now some miles out of ear shot.

Colonel Beauregard was forced to seek outside help, so as soon as they came to the next tiny Mountain Community, he sent Sam in to find a Sheriff or local constable. Sam reported the dismal news of a lost elephant and that the circus must remain there in Fly Speck Arkansas till he was recovered. The sheriff told the troop to camp out in old Ben Fergus’s Meadow on the edge of town with the communities complements, and was certain an animal of that size and description could not go long undiscovered, even in this remote part of the back wood country.

About two days went by and no one reported it though most people in town did enjoy the free circus attractions and gave the circus people plenty of venison, and pickled fruits to keep them fed.

Then on the third morning Gertrude Gwatt, an 89 year old back wood hill woman came in to town driving her 1938 Packard truck, which she bi annually used to make the 20 mile trek from her cabin into town for salt, sugar and mason jars lids. This time, instead of stopping at the mercantile, she parked in front of the Sheriffs office and came in to make a report.

“Sheriff” says Gertrude, “You know me to be a temperate woman, and I never put the devil’s brew to my lips, not in all my days.”

“That is gospel” said Deputy Dan, “No still of any sort on any Gwatt land has ever been found in operation. Are you thinking of taking up the habit Miss Gwatt?”

“No I don’t reccon I will as yet.” Says Gertrude “But I seen a critter that come out of an alky bottle, and in all my days never seen another’n like it.”

Dan right away suspected the missing elephant had been discovered, but not wishing to rush her story pretended to be ignorant. “Do tell! What was the nature of this hallucination?”

“Well,” says Gertrude “Its as sizable as two or three black bears put together, but with the skin the look and color of an old she hog. It had big flaps on its sides like fans and a big tail on one end of it, and a small tail on the other. Ugly as sin I tell you.”

Dan suppressed the inclination to grin, but continued to write the report as a diligent peace officer. “And what was the critter doing when you last seen it?”

“It were destroying my turnips.” Miss Gwatt shook her head dismally. “Stuffin’ them away like it ain’t ett since Christmas.”

“Anything else?” Dan could bearly hold back the guffaws.

“Yeah!” Gertrude spoke in a whisper. “The critter was pullin my turnips out of the ground with one of it’s tails and stuffin’ them up it’s ass.”

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