Thursday, October 26, 2017

Interview with a Bored God: Anansi

Well, look who it is, back again and dapper as ever! It's my good friend the bored god Anansi!

If I didn't know better, I would think it's a piece of my sea glass he has there on his head.

Anne: Great God Anansi, welcome to my home and hearth, again! I'll prop the door open so some flies come in.

Anansi: Thanks, Anne. It's what I love about you.

Anne: While we're waiting for a fat one, do you have any new stories?

Anansi: I always have stories! But you must remember the important lessons you learned in your fiction-writing classes back at ol' Johns Hopkins: There are no new stories. Only old ones told over and over again in slightly different ways.

Anne: Old ones are fine with me. I've read Pride and Prejudice five times!

by Anansi

Jackal was firmly in charge on the savanna, but he was still vain and arrogant. He had a burning need to be the center of attention, so he convinced African Grey the Parrot to follow him around and tell all the animals what he was doing.

African Grey was a terrific observer and quite articulate. It didn't matter what Jackal happened to be doing, African Grey saw it and reported it faithfully to the other animals.

"SQUAWK! Jackal just stepped on an anteater's snout and didn't say he was sorry!"

"SQUAWK! Jackal took a whole haunch of wildebeest and gave it to his daughter. That much meat would feed ten jackals to where they couldn't walk!

"SQUAWK! There's Jackal, sleeping in again when there's work to be done!"

"SQUAWK! When the meerkats asked him for food, Jackal pelted them with cotton balls and said such silly-looking animals didn't deserve to eat!"

All the animals on the savanna listened to African Grey every day. They grew disgruntled with all they heard about Jackal's behavior.

Jackal went to Anansi to ask for advice. (Never a good idea, and further proof that Jackal isn't too bright.) Anansi told Jackal that most of the animals didn't know African Grey very well, so it would be easy to convince them that she was a liar. At the time, Anansi was living in a plush corner of Jackal's luxurious den, but after giving the advice, the spider packed his bag and went for a long stroll.

"SQUAWK! Jackal's fleas say eating his blood is making them stupid!"

"That's not true!" barked Jackal. "This is fake! My fleas love me, and so do my ear mites! My ear mites tell me I have the best ears ever!"

The animals didn't know who to believe. The parrot seemed reliable, but can you really trust a parrot?

"SQUAWK! The watering hole is closed so Jackal can admire his reflection in the pool!"

"That's not true!" Jackal cried, leaping away from the watering hole so that some thirsty elephants could get a drink. "See? Anyone can have a drink at this watering hole! Don't believe that petty, silly, ugly grey bird!"

After weeks and weeks of this, the animals began to mistrust African Grey. Even the smartest ones, like the vultures, noted that African Grey never said anything positive about Jackal. Surely something must be good about Jackal, right? Otherwise, how did he get to be ruler of the savanna?  And squarely in Jackal's corner were the other jackals, who, although they never particularly contradicted African Grey, never backed up her stories, either.

Over time the animals stopped believing African Grey or even listening to her. Only the meerkats continued to heed her broadcasts, because they were pissed off at Jackal and were willing to believe anything about him. Unperturbed, African Grey continued to shadow Jackal and squawk his every move out into the savanna sunshine.

"SQUAWK! Jackal left candles burning in his den, and now it's on fire!"

"WHAT?" Jackal exclaimed.

"SQUAWK! Jackal left candles burning in his den, and now it's on fire!"

Jackal ran to his den and saw billows of smoke rolling out of it.

"Help! Help!" he cried. "African Grey, tell all the animals that my house is burning down!"

Well, African Grey did as she was told, but none of the animals -- even the stately and intellectual vultures -- believed her. They just went about their business, ignoring both African Grey and Jackal.

In desperation, Jackal ran to the only animals that he knew still believed the parrot -- the meerkats.

"Hey, guys, you've gotta help me!" he said. "My den is on fire!"

"Oh yes, we'll help you!" the meerkats exclaimed. Then they pelted him with cotton balls and blew him some Bronx cheers and patted their furry little tooshies while his opulent den went up in flames.

Jackal went to look for Anansi in order to get more advice, but Anansi, having noted Jackal's complete recklessness with candles, had set up shop along the watering hole. It was a lot of fun watching the elephants frolicking in the water, squirting each other with their trunks, since they had nothing else to do.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Anne, you're a modern Aesop!

Anne Johnson said...

Truly channeling Anansi. Not even kidding.

roth phallyka said...

you're a modern Aesop!

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