“Elephant and Tiger” by Sammy Vickstein

Elephant and Tiger are chilling, just hanging out.  Playing video games in the zoo break room, Madden 19, actually.  Elephant is up by 6, with a minute left in the 4th quarter, but Tiger has been mounting a comeback and he’s got the ball on Elephant’s 5-yard line on first down.

Tiger is suspecting something is up though, has been all game.  Elephant isn’t up to his usual trash talk, not that Tiger is complaining.  Elephant can be a bit vulgar honestly, going on about tusking Tiger’s mom and such.  No, Tiger doesn’t miss it.  But he notices his friend’s silence.

Tiger’s got more important things on his mind though.  1st and goal on the 5 with a minute left.  The game is within the grasp of his merciless paws.  He chooses a QB sneak, Tiger’s go-to play, and begins salivating.

He lets 15 seconds run off the clock before snapping the ball.  Then the snap.  Tiger finds a hole and sneaks the QB through it.  It’s an easy glide to the 3, the 2, the 1 –

Elephant pauses the game.

Tiger just barely suppresses the instinct to throw his controller through Elephant’s skull.  His fur is still bristling as he turns to his friend.

“What the fuck?!” He growls.

Elephant sighs and sinks into the couch a bit.

“If I forget that I’m an elephant, am I still an elephant?”  Elephant asks.

Tiger feels the anger shake through him, his claws clench.  He lets out a breath, unclenches his claws.

“I don’t know where to start, man.  I—, how could you forget you were an elephant?!”

“Well,” starts Elephant, thinking, “sometimes I wake up and I don’t know what’s going on.  Or in the middle of the day, I’ll be lost in thought and then I see my trunk out of the corner of my eye and I remember, ‘Oh yeah, I’m an elephant.’”

“I’d say lay off the weed, man.  Other than that, it’s pretty normal stuff,” Tiger says as he reaches for Elephant’s controller to resume and win their game.

Elephant slaps Tiger’s hand with his trunk.

“But, an elephant never forgets.  You’ve heard that, right?”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that” Tiger answers, buckling in for an unnecessarily long and ridiculous conversation.

“Why did you do that, that pantomime of buckling a seat belt?  What is that supposed to mean?”  Elephant asks.

Tiger unbuckles the imaginary seat belt.  “Nothing man, don’t worry about it.  Yeah, the elephants never forget thing.  I think it’s one of those bullshit things that humans say.”

“One of?” asks Elephant.  “Explain.”

“Well, like ‘An elephant’s faithful 100%” Tiger answers.

“I’m not?”

“No.  Pretty close though, I’d say 85…”

“But, but the guy who said that was a doctor!”  Elephant sputters.

“Not really.  He’s about as much a doctor as Doctor Who.”

“Who?”

“Exactly.  Wait, I’m a bad friend.  You don’t know Doctor Who?  Let’s finish up this game and after I win we’ll watch some.  He travels through space and time, saves the day and all that.  You’ll love it,” Tiger says.

“Okay,” agrees Elephant as he un-pauses the game.

Tiger’s quarterback glides across the goal line into the end zone for the touchdown.  Tiger easily makes the extra point.  And there isn’t enough time left in the game for Elephant to score, so Tiger wins.  And does his usual Striped Strut he saves just for such occasions.

After Tiger finishes his strut he turns to Elephant, “Doctor Who?” he pants, out of breath.

“Sure,” says Elephant.  “This guy isn’t a real doctor either?”

“Nope.  Saves the day, yes.  Real medical doctor, no.”

Elephant trumpets in exasperation-

“Fucking humans!  If I wasn’t vegan…”

“You and me both buddy,” agrees Tiger.  “You and me both.”

Sammy Vickstein is a Tacoma writer, focusing mainly on poetry and stories. He likes to write about what makes him laugh, makes him afraid, or makes him continue to breathe. And he loves dogs.