The Story of the Bear and the Warthog

polar-bear-3949635_1920 Berry Juice

I do not always know where I get my ideas, such as this one about a bear and a warthog – somehow, as I was trying to think up a title, the silliest thing that could come into my head, did.

Once upon a time – wait, scratch that – Once upon a momentous feast, there was a polar bear, who was snacking on some bright red berries. It was a party, and the berries were actually the most unappetizing thing to eat at this party, but they happened to be located at the end of one very long table, far away from where everyone else at this party was gathered. This was appealing to the bear, Oscar, because could squeeeeze between the table and the bushes, and while he was stationed there, he fancied himself as being relatively hidden from view. It was impossible for Oscar to be hidden from view because he was bright, polar-bear-white, but he was relatively oblivious to his own nature, and thought himself fairly invisible. Everyone else – being Mr. and Mrs. Finch, Dr. Blackbird, Ms. Magpie, Harry Badger (who was a writer), and his wife, Toodles (who was a baker), and more who are too numerous to name off here at once – were over toward the other end of the long tables from Oscar.

Oscar thought he was safe and unobserved, and he shamelessly glutted himself on those red berries until there was so much red berry juice on his lips that he resembled nothing so much as a white version of Mrs. Toodles Badger, over there, with her bright red lipstick. However, Oscar the bear was not as unobserved as he assumed. Under the table near which Oscar stood, peeping through his tiny spectacles out and up at Oscar from under the crème brulee tablecloth, was none other than Willy the Warthog. And Willy was smirking at Oscar’s state of mess. Oscar’s muzzle was crimson, and so were the tips and pads of his paws. His claws looked like the long tusks of a boar after feeding, covered in bright, sweet, sugary gore. Not long from now, Oscar would begin sucking on them to get the last of the juice, and then he would really be embarrassed, if he happened to see Willy watching him, for there is nothing so shameful as being caught sucking your paws at a party.

Willy may have been smirking, but Willy wasn’t unkind, and so he made a little noise to let Oscar know he was there, while pretending not to have observed Oscar yet. However, Oscar was oblivious to the sounds Willy made – his focus was split between the sticky berry juice on his paws and the tinkle of laughter over at the other end of the tables. Willy was simply not loud enough – no matter how much Willy grunted and shoved at the table legs until he thought the tables would topple their goodies all over the lawn. Oscar never even noticed.

Suddenly, Old Bird Crow caught sight of something red out of the corner of his eye, and he slowly realized that it was Oscar the Bear, absolutely covered in red berry juice. Oscar had passed the point of merely resembling Toodles in her red lipstick. The juice had spread all along Oscar’s cheeks and down his chest, as well as being on his mouth and paws, and it was a gruesome sight. Mallory the Duck, who was talking to Old Bird Crow, saw his gaze slip and then fix as it locked on Oscar, and she turned slowly to see what was so interesting to Crow.

Slowly, other heads started turning too, and Oscar realized he was being observed. He tried to shrink into the bushes, but they simply could not hide a bear as large as he was. Willy the Warthog realized the game was up, and so he burst out from under the table and stood in the grass between the tables, midway between Oscar and the rest of the party. His sudden appearance scared Oscar badly and made him screech shortly into the humid air like a loud chirp from an enormous bird. Willy had come up with a plan to distract the masses.

“How ’bout a bit of poetry!” he shouted quickly, taking a position in the middle of the grass, several feet away from Oscar.

“I learned a ditty and it goes like this!

There once was a beetle,
Her name was Asneedle,
She lived in a popinjay tree,

For hours, she’d wheedle,
And ply her fine needle,
Her work was a sight to see.

But one day she smelled
A tree that was felled,
And put down her needle and thread.

She went down her tree,
The better to see,
And now she lives there, instead.”

 Looking around, Willy saw that it was starting to work – half of the animals standing around were looking at Willy, while the other half were still watching Oscar, who was now trying to burrow out through a hole in the bushes, but who seemed to have gotten stuck about halfway through, because he was simply too fat. Branches started to snap and crackle, and people were starting to snicker. Willy realized that he would have to come up with something better than The Beetle if he was going to be of good service to Oscar. So, Willy piped up again, and this time, he trotted around and yanked his snout from left to right while he recited, his eyes rolling madly in his head,

“I went out, me,
A dragonfly to see,
A dragonfly to see,
And it was looking at me..

But in my birdbath,
It floated around,
It floated around,
And then it drowned…”

“No, no no, that’s not the one, hold on…

“A fiend, a frog,
An old burned log,
The mist, it rises so…
The Jack’o’Lantern
In the bog,
The soot on frozen snow…”

People started to look more at Willy than at Oscar, after those first six lines, so Willy continued, calming down with every line, till he was standing somberly before them all. His voice took on the gloom of the poem he was reciting as he went, which helped to grab their attention.

“The trees, they crack
And creak and groan,
And shutters rap on glass…
The leaves that crackle,
Twist and blow,
The wind stirs through their mass…”

Now only two or three of them were looking after Oscar, who had also stopped struggling so much in the bush and had slowed down slightly, to listen. Willy went on,

“The badger covers
Up his bore,
And burrows deep within…
The sounds upon this night
And more,
Cause shivers in his skin…”

At that, Mr. Badger and Mr. Mole both look at each other warily, and Willy went on, his pink snout covered in whiskers, lifting slightly higher in the moist air,

“The birds, this night
They stop their flight,
And cower in their nests…
The screeching wind,
The branches bend,
And ruffles all their crests…”

All of the birds look at each other at that, fear glistening in their eyes at the descriptions in Willy’s poem. And Willy went on, ominously,

“The forest rocks,
The houses moan,
And nothing is at peace…
And in the gloomy dark
And loam,
There passes through, a beast…”

Willy’s audience gave a loud gasp. Willy continued with his poem,

“The trees, they give it
Gentle sway,
Removing from its path…
As through the brush,
It stalks its prey,
The night in all its wrath…

But suddenly,
The beast stops short,
And scents the air with fear…
And standing in its
Forest court,
It freezes like a deer…”

Willy paused for a moment to look at each of their enraptured faces before continuing on, in hushed tones.

“Turning, swift,
It covers ground,
And slips off in the night…
The trees are sighing,
All around,
As the beast takes flight…

With bated breath,
The creatures sense,
A quick approaching shift…
The wind drops down,
The air is tense,
The mist begins to lift…”

Willy slowed to a close, enunciating each word like the syllables were as important as the meaning, as the audience held their collective breaths.

“In one dark shiver,
The world aquiver,
The storm abates its force…
The pink of dawn,
Shines bright, its river,
Running like the horse…

The end of night,
The birth of light,
The day has come, at last…
And in the glistening
Of this sight,
We know the dark has passed…”

Everyone released their pent up breaths, and then they applauded. Willy the Warthog took a bow, and walked with dignity out of the center of the grass in front of the tables. With a half-glance, he looked to the bushes where Oscar had been trying to push through them, and gratefully saw no sign of his friend. Oscar had escaped. Animals started to turn toward each other and resumed conversation, but now altered to a different tone because of the poem they had heard. Here and there, little snippets of the poetry heard that day weaved their ways through each of the separate conversations that lulled through the afternoon heat. Everyone had forgotten Oscar, altogether, in the imagery left in their minds from the poetry. Where Oscar had stood, the grass was drenched red with berry juice, but there was no bear there.

Oscar, just as the poem was ending, and feeling safe from the critical eyes of his friends, had scurried to the creek to freshen up. He might return to the party, he thought to himself briefly as he went, but then thought better of it and decided to save visiting for another day. About an hour later, Willy the Warthog caught up with Oscar at the baths, and they lounged in the sun-warmed water and laughed a bit at the continuing pink stains in Oscar’s white fur. Oscar thanked Willy for his help, and told him how grateful he was. Willy’s reply was that of nearly every good friend – offhandedly, but with a twinkle in his eye, he said, “Well, of course! What are friends for?”

~ Saoirse Fae

© The Fairy Tale Garden 2015

All images public domain

 

Published by

Christyl aka Chrissy Lorraine

Christyl aka Chrissy Lorraine is an artist, photographer, and writer who crochets, gardens, draws, paints, takes photos, and composes under a variety of pen names, each one specific to a particular genre: Amarine Rose Ravenwood is for her feminine poetry - Saoirse Fae is for her fairy tales and fairy-tale poetry - Mina Marial Nicoli is for her children's stories and poetry - and Phoebe Grant is for her light horror fairy tales and her darker, Halloween-type poetry. Preteen and teenage fantasy fiction are under Chrissy Lorraine. She is also the owner/publisher of The Literary Librarian - an e-zine dedicated to publishing poetry and interviews with various poets and authors from around the world. Profile photo photography by Somastars Creations

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