The Visitor of a Lifetime

The Visitor of a Lifetime

Copyright © 2019 Farley Dunn

I held my hand out from under the beach umbrella to catch the sun. Of course, I wasn’t at the beach, as that was too far to drive for a free Saturday afternoon, so I had to make the best of what I had. Grass. A few hours to myself. And the sun, the glorious sun.

See, it had rained for nine days straight, right down with only two short breaks, one on Tuesday and a second about midnight on Wednesday. Tuesday was inconvenient as I was working, and Wednesday. That’s obvious. The sun isn’t out at midnight.

I would need to mow the grass if the sun remained out the rest of the afternoon. After nearly two weeks, it was to my ankles, but that was for another time and another world.

Now was for soaking up what hadn’t been around for more days than I cared to remember.

I dozed for a time, occasionally reviving enough to consider that my arm would burn if I didn’t move it out of the sun but leaving me drowsy enough not to particularly care. The droning of a big machine finally roused me, either that or the popping of small trees snapping at the base, one after the other.

“What?!” I muttered as I squinted and looked around. Past the fence, the tops of several trees swayed, and then one popped loudly with a cracking sound, and the tree disappeared from view. My fence bulged inward, rocked several times, and one panel smashed down, right on top of last year’s roses that were just starting to bloom.

I could see red and yellow blooms peeking out, but they were flattened to the ground, so I knew my tilling and edging all spring were wasted now. I stood, putting my balled fists on my hips, ready to give someone a what for, when the hippopotamus came crashing into my yard.

“Hey,” I called, backing up, and wondering if my beach umbrella offered me any protection at all. It was bright red, making me think of bullfighters. I decided if the beast started my way, I would run and climb the nearest tree.

Then the hippo opened its mouth wide, exposing massive daggers for teeth, and it began to honk and snort at me. At first it sounded like the devil laughing, that deep, nasal chuckle that makes your blood run cold, and you know it’s the last thing you’re ever going to hear. Then I realized I could understand what the animal was saying.

“I’m being chased. Do you have a place I can hide? Please, Obi-Wan. You’re my only hope.”

I glanced down. I was Obi-Wan? What was this hippo thinking? I was wearing flowered swim trunks with flip-flops and no shirt. There was no way anyone was mistaking me for the character from Star Wars.

Before I could answer, a giant truck backed up to the opening in my fence. It released a long ramp and opened the back of a sturdy cage. Two men appeared and lassoed the hippo. When the ropes encircled the animal’s neck, I could see its shoulders slump, and it snorted again with its devil’s laugh.

“Foiled at every turn.” The hippo looked at me with a disappointed glare as it made its way to the ramp.

I was certain I saw a smirk on its face as the men led it away.