The Perils of Possum Point is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between persons, organizations or events described here and actual persons, organisations or events is purely unintentional.

The Great Elephant Hunt

"Well," said Ned to himself, " surely it is time now to plant the veggie garden." He had great hopes for the veggie garden. It would feed him through the long winter months, providing needed sustenance when inspiration and the pen would not. It would be a broccoli and bean garden, because, as he had heard someone once say, "any idiot can grow broccoli and beans." He imagined where he would put the broccoli, and considered carefully which types and varieties of beans he would plant, and where--considering the sun, and the tides, the wind and the rain, the migration paths of insects and the nesting habits of the birds..

Even whilst Ned was contemplating these things, the Great Little Circus had rolled into town, with all of its menagerie, being an elephant, two aged lions and a dog. The gaily painted caravans--all three of them, made a single circuit around the common, then stopped and set up the show.

Now, as the circus made its way around the square, there was only one thing on the villagers' minds: elephant manure. It had been voiced about that this was a particularly good fertiliser, and Possum Point has a particularly sandy and non-nourishing soil. So, even before the circus had completed its tour of the common, the villagers began sharpening their very best shovels.

All of the gardens in Possum Point were blooming, from the glorious multi-level garden next door to Ned, to the great cannabis plantation down by the beach; from Mavis Gromlin's indoor plantings, to the brilliant Japanese Zen garden of old Trevor McGill. Possum Point was covered, almost overburdened by a cacophony of flowers.

Ned's gardening ambitions were modest, but he, too craved elephant droppings. He was certain, however, that there would be insufficient to go around, so he determined to do his gathering that very night.

Now, the gathering of faeces is not a thing to be gotten into lightly, and Ned perceived that he might require help. Jason, his neighbour, was out watering the carefully arranged and exuberant floral display which he maintained with his wife, Sara.

"Would you be interested in a safari?" asked Ned.

"A safari?" replied Jason.

Sara poked her head around the garage corner. "I told you," she said rather loudly, "he's after the elephant poop."

"Elephant poop then, is it?" said Jason.

"Yes, but, since everyone is interested, I thought we might go tonight instead of waiting until the circus packs up."

"You're right, of course," said Jason. There will hardly be enough poop to go around." He winked, and swished the hose. "A-poopin' we shall go."

Evening arrived and the circus began its performance. Ned and several others watched from home using binoculars, being too cheap to purchase a ticket. The show was unexceptional, with a lone acrobat doing something improbable with a rod, the jungle cats wandering vaguely around under direction, and the elephant performing a few turns, marred somewhat by flatulence.

At length, the show came to a close, and the few who actually paid to watch--mainly children accompanied by a smattering of weary parents--returned home. Those who had been out surf fishing likewise returned. The sky dimmed. Came a stillness and, all over Possum Point, the lights went out.

Ned and Jason crept toward the common, shovels and buckets in hand, keeping to the shadows. A dog yowled, then was silent. As Ned and Jason approached the ring of caravans, they could hear the rusty shifting of the cages as the lions prowled within.

There was no moon tonight. It was dark, illuminated only by the electric Santa in Ned's window, and the occasional blue flashes of a bug light across the street. The dog yowled again, and somebody cursed and threw something that landed with a thump.

Ned and Jason finally reached the Common, and they could see the gigantic outline of the elephant silhouetted against the glowing Santa from where they stood behind a tree. The elephant was chained by one leg to a stake.

There, lying isolated on the ground and clearly lit, was the object of their quest: a largish elephant turd.

"You circle that way and distract the elephant," said Ned. "I'll run in, scoop it into the pail, and we'll be off."

"That is not a lot of dung," replied Jason, dubiously. "Are you sure there isn't more?"

"I don't see any more," said Ned. "Perhaps we could feed it something..."

"Take too long," replied Jason. "Besides, there's no guarantee."

He crept forward on hands and knees, and positioned himself in front of the elephant. Making some wide gestures and ape-like noises, he managed to catch the elephant's attention. Meanwhile, Ned ran in to gather the poop.

Now, the grass was wet and slippery, and the elephant's tramping had produced mud, so Ned fell headlong into the poop. This so startled the elephant that it farted and bellowed at the same time, discharging a squirt of manure that narrowly missed Ned. In a panic, Ned filled his pail, while the doors of the caravan flew open, and a voice shouted "Now what is this?"

Jason had long since departed. Ned limped frantically away with his loaded pail, but much of it spilled as he made his retreat. A shotgun went off. Ned dived through his gate, closed it, and flung the pail across the back garden, quickly entering his cabin and locking it behind.

Silence descended once again upon Possum Point. All the lights were turned off. A dog yowled, and one of the jungle cats yawned loudly. Ned had a bath and hosed down his clothes in perfect silence, with not a light showing.

In the morning, the Circus was gone. Folks passed by to look in wonder; the ground was trampled down, but there was no dung. It was a great puzzle that would be talked about for some time to come, whenever people gathered to get their mail, or stopped at the store, or met down at the beach.

Some months later, you could see, if you were observant, a trail of lush growth leading from the Commons to Ned's front gate. Ned leaned across the fence to whisper to his neighbour. "Next time, I’ll distract the bloody elephant," he said.

 Copyright 1996, Brian J. Dooley