You don’t know me. My name is Ellie . . . Ellie Sapp . . . a friend of C. C.’s. We met one day on the road; she zigged when she should have zagged and we literally bumped into each other. We discovered we had a lot in common and have done a bit of traveling together. She just calls me “E”. You can too. What’s that you say? Where is C.C.? I was getting to that. She asked me to let you know that she is okay . . . lucky to be alive after her near-death experience . . . and “recooperating” (her spelling) at A Place of Quiet Rest Home for the Severely Traumatized. I will try to relate to you as accurately as possible what she has been through.
Traveling alone one day last week, she came upon a large white building with lots of steps and columns in front and beautiful windows, which (fortunately for C.C.) were the kind that hang almost all the way to the ground and just so happened to be open. She heard voices coming from inside, so she made her way to an inconspicuous spot beside a hydrangea; this was a perfect vantage point; she could see and hear everything!
She told me that she was unsure as to what sort of meeting was taking place. It could have been a Town Hall or a State or Federal Assembly; someone even suggested it could have been a Church Meeting, but she still can hardly believe that possibility. The point is . . . it was hard to tell. I suppose it could have even been a Homeowners Association Meeting, for that matter. At any rate, this is what Churchyard Chick witnessed . . .
In the spacious meeting hall were seated the Donkeys on the left and the Elephants on the right. Separating the two sections was a fence, upon which several Chickens were perched. C. C. thought she recognized one of them as a distant cousin, but she could not be sure. Hearing a commotion, she looked up and saw that the noise was coming from the balcony. Lumbering up the stairs were quite a few Hippos, arriving late and making excuses. A trail of mud followed them up the stairs, but they were oblivious. If their own mess was ever called to their attention, they would respond testily, “That’s not MY dirt!”
When the meeting was finally called to order, the first order of business was to vote on setting aside a plot of real estate for building some very modest shelters for the Zebras, who were currently experiencing financial hardship. In the discussion that ensued, one of the Hippos became distressed that the proposed location was just behind his subdivision. When it was pointed out that he had been a very vocal proponent of the shelter, he responded vehemently, “Well, I didn’t know it would be built in MY VERY OWN BACKYARD! Why, I live in Gated Stables, where I belong, with Thoroughbreds for neighbors. We can’t allow this; our property will be devalued!”
One of the Donkeys accused him of not wanting a “Horse of a Different Color” living near him, whatever the economic status, whereupon the Hippo became defensive, baring his unattractive teeth and saying, “Color has nothing to do with it. You know Zebras have a different culture and lifestyle . . . that’s all. I am NOT prejudiced.”
The vote was taken, and the purchase of the specified property was approved. The Hippo who had objected suddenly left the hall with his realtor’s business card resting on his prominent snout as he tried to locate his cell phone.
He left just in the nick of time, for the events that ensued would have cost him more than his status with his neighbors, the Thoroughbreds. As the participants plowed through the agenda, the discussions grew more and more heated, with the Donkeys, Elephants and Hippos snorting, bellowing and stamping the floor trying to get their own personal lists pushed through. Finally, someone yelled, “MUD FIGHT!”
C. C. said that’s when the event descended into utter chaos. Each member of the group had already had interns out digging up enough mud to sling at any opponent — that is, except for the Chickens. No one even bothered to try to find any dirt to throw on them. Since they had never taken a stand on any matter, they were not even worth the trouble.
The mud-slinging began with, “Mr. Family Values, do you in fact have a child who was born to your mistress while you were delivering a speech on fidelity in marriage?”
That was countered with, “Mr. Green Earth, is it true that you live in a forty-thousand square foot home and use a private jet to go to the grocery store?”
Then: “Mr. Christian College Prez, the financial report shows that your faculty members earn so little that their families are on Medicaid while your own salary is six figures. What do you have to say about that?”
Someone shouted, “Mrs. Public Education Advocate, why do your children attend private schools?”
The roar was too loud to hear any answers, even if any could have been provided. The mud was flying so fast that even the Chickens had to dodge it. Most of the members were no longer recognizable. Every animal looked like the next. As accusations stuck to their skin and dried, the Donkeys and Elephants began to look for support from the Hippos, who had long ago learned the art of ignoring their own dirt. They climbed the stairs to join their more experienced colleagues in the balcony, as they needed their advice.
And that’s when it happened. The balcony collapsed under the weight of all those who began seeking mentors among the Hippos. C. C. said that although it was a horrific sight, she stood mesmerized as the wood splintered and the entire building creaked and swayed. She was transfixed as hooves and tails and trunks and snouts all mixed together in a torrential cascade of destruction. What a downfall! Poor little Chick told me that she was pulled to safety by one of the Chickens who had escaped unscathed. Needless to say, she had to be sedated as soon as her cousin could get her to A Place of Quiet Rest, where she is now resting comfortably.
At her request, I traveled back to the site yesterday in order to be able to report to her and to you what, if anything, was left of the Assembly Hall. When I arrived at the location, a bulldozer was just pushing a small pile of broken lily-white columns and pieces of the white-washed outer wall to a waiting truck. The entire building had been demolished. Nothing had been salvaged. The operator cut the engine so he could hear my question, “What happened here?”
He revved it up again as he shouted, “TOO MANY HIPPOCRATS!”