It was a pleasantly warm summer day when Wilson and his dad were strolling around the exhibit. To be exact, it was the fourteenth of June. All the birds were chirping, all the butterflies were flying about; it was a beautiful day to be uneventful.
“Eat your peanuts son,” said Wilson’s dad.
“Dad, I can’t do this whole ‘elephant peanut thing,’” replied Wilson, “This supposed global warming stuff makes it too hot to just sit around trying to pick up these nuts.”
A ranger was coming around to the exhibit.
“What else are you going to eat?” countered his dad.
“I JUST WANT SOME VARIETY!” yelled Wilson, “IS THAT SO HARD?!”
The ranger quietly unlocked the gate to the enclosure.
“We only get fed peanuts, remember?” Wilson’s dad replied calmly.
The ranger approached Wilson slowly. He did not understand why the two elephants were making a racket.
“WHAT ABOUT ALL THIS GRASS, HUH?” Wilson was still screaming.
“Chill buddy, calm down,”
The ranger suddenly launched a net over Wilson.
“I need backup!,” the ranger spoke into the walkie-talkie.
Two ATVs drove in.
“WHAT’S GOING ON?!” exclaimed Wilson’s dad. Now it was his turn to shout.
As the men hauled the elephant on to the the bed of the cart, Wilson was tranquilised.
“Start the engines!” called the ranger.
A storm was rising over the park as the capturers sped away from the scene of the crime. It was a long way to the hideout…
* * *
Thump thump, thump thump. Wilson’s heart was beating hard.
Where am I? How did I get here? he thought.
Then it all came back to him. The peanuts, the men and ATVs, the needle; the oh so sharp needle! He almost felt it again as he thought about it.
Wilson stood up and looked at his surroundings. He saw iron bars all around him.
I hate cages, he thought.
Outside of the bars were two men. One he recognized from the heist, and the other one was staring at him. He did not remember seeing that man, but he looked like one of those flashy-moviestar-villains.
Click-clack went his shoes on the cold stone floor as he walked toward Wilson.
“Hello, aren’t you a pretty boy?” he said creepily.
Wilson shivered. Yep, definitely scary, thought the elephant.
“Get the truck boys!” yelled the creepy man, “We’re heading to the tent!”
“Aye aye, Gustave!” replied the men.
Wilson tried to digest the new information.
What tent? Is Gustave the creep?
Wilson snapped out of his thinking when he felt his cage being dragged into the trailer. He heard the engine start and off they went.
It didn’t take long before they got to the tent. The so called “tent” was a large red and white striped cone. It had a grand entrance with rows upon rows of seats. In the center of the massive room was a high rope and two giant golden rings. Something was off about this room; it had too many seats and strange attractions in the middle.
All of a sudden, huge theatrical lights came on. Wilson realized what the room was; a circus tent. Gustave pulled him into the center of the room and unlocked his cage. Wilson stepped out yearning to walk around after being trapped in one position.
Gustave pulled out a long string from behind his back. It was a whip. Wilson had only heard of these in elephant torture stories.
Oh no, he thought.
“This is a whip as you may know,” the man said, “If you make a mistake, you will be punished with this,”
Nope nope nope nope, he thought in his mind.
“Here is a demonstration,” he continued.
Gustave slapped Wilson hard and fast.
“YAAAOOOWWWZZAHH!” Wilson shrieked.
The man laughed, an evil maniacal laugh.
“This is going to be fun,” he whispered.
* * *
Wilson was punished severely everyday of his training. The whip seemed to sting more and more every single day. Every time he was punished, his trainer let out that hideous laugh. Gustave was cruel, he was condescending, but most of all, he was ruthless. Wilson was going to become a circus elephant. He never wanted this. His life was miserable. He would even go back to eating peanuts if it meant that he could see his family again. Tomorrow, hopefully everything would change. Tomorrow, it was carnival day.
Wilson awoke to a crackle of a whip. He saw Gustave and all of the other sad, sad animals around him. Today was the performance he remembered. He walked to the curtain. Everywhere the stands were filled to the brim with people of all ages.
Wilson ducked back down under the curtain as Gustave put the whip on his belt and walked on stage.
“Ladies and gentleman,” Wilson heard, “I, Gustave the Great will be presenting to you today…” The rest was a blur of words and animals walking out on stage. Wilson carefully watched the time as it went by. Then, “... and Wilson, the Circus Elephant!”
He walked slowly out from behind the curtain. He stared out into the audience as the hundreds of people crowding the stands returned his gaze. There seemed to be a note of tension hanging in the air.
“Now I will-,” Gustave spoke as he slipped on a banana peel from the previous act. He was falling, coincidentally, into the pit of angry lions. Wilson watched the look of horror on his face as time seemed to slow down.
Think, what should I do?, Wilson thought to himself. This was the time to act if he should. One part of his mind said to let him fall for all the sins that he brought upon the world. The other only said one word; redemption…
* * *
He didn’t have time to second guess himself. Wilson sprinted as hard as he could and right above the open jaws of an angry lion, pulled Gustave out of the way. Gustave was breathless and the crowd was dead silent. Then one by one they all started clapping and Gustave had tears in his eyes.
When they went on back Wilson overheard the trainer talking to himself.
“My dad never believed in me,” he said. “From then on, I wanted to prove that I wasn’t a failure,” he whispered, “ I… I just wanted to make him proud,”
Wilson shifted his feet.
“I didn’t want to get so cruel and salty and have my life come down to this,” he sobbed, “But now, I finally did it; yes I wasn’t a failure,” he sniffled. “But now… it’s too late. My dad isn’t around to see it anymore,”
Wilson walked back to his sleeping place and sat down. He thought for a long hard time about what the man said.
Then Gustave walked around the corner and looked at Wilson. His face was still tear stained as he gave Wilson a wry smile.
“Your going home buddy, I called my guys to take you back,”
They both stood there in the awkward silence.
“I… I’m sorry,” he continued, “I know that doesn’t mean anything now but I’m sorry,”
Wilson reconsidered his viewpoint of the depressed man. Maybe he wasn’t as bad as he seemed. Wilson was delighted to go home but he didn’t want to leave this man in his sorry state.
Wilson picked up his juggling balls and started throwing them up in the air. Gustave’s face lit up.
“Let’s get you home,”
* * *
The engine of the truck started as they left the circus. Wilson had a long ride to think about everything he had gone through. Thoughts of the peanuts, the ATVs, the needle (ouch), the cage, Gustave, the circus, the decision; they all overwhelmed him on the ride back home.
Before long it seemed, he was climbing off the steps of the truck rushing to meet his joyful dad. Gustave had a smile on his face as he watched from a distance.
“DAD!” cried Wilson.
“WILSON!” cried his father.
They embraced eagerly as Gustave and his men started the engine to go back.
“It’s lunch time,” realized Wilson’s dad.
“I’M STILL NOT EATING ANY PEANUTS!” yelled Wilson passionately.