In an old room of a large apartment complex there lived two sisters. They were similar in many ways. They had a child each, wore the same clothes, ate the same food, spoke just about the same language. But the way they viewed the world was slightly different. Not enough to cause trouble, but that was their one big difference.
Their ‘father’, who looked over them for the past few years, wore a monocle and drank tea with his pinkie pointing upwards. One day, because of rising trouble throughout the apartment complex, he had to leave for good.
“Wait!” said the sisters together as he walked out the door, “what about us?”
“I don’t want you coming back!” said the older sister.
“I want a room of my own!” said the younger sister.
The man acceded. And so the younger sister packed her belongings, picked up her child, and left for a neighboring apartment. During the separation, the two sisters fought like they had never fought before. They argued bitterly and stole each others clothes and pinched each others children. Maybe their love wasn’t that strong after all. The man made good his escape as they fought, never to return.
They moved in to the new place. The younger sister was ecstatic about getting a space of her very own. She vowed to have the best apartment in the whole complex. She lifted her child high and promised him that his life would be joyful and wonderful now, not like it had been with the stupid monocled man and the mean older sister. She got to work with vigor and anticipation, cooking and cleaning and fixing up her new home.
But, as always happens, the newness of it all eventually wore off. She found herself bogged down in chores and duties, and no matter how hard she tried, the work just kept on coming. She wondered how the monocled man had done it. Soon it got overwhelming, and she started to slack off, and the room gradually got dirtier. She spent most of her time on the sofa, watching TV and eating food from the fridge. She turned off the lights in the apartment to save money, leaving just the TV and the fan above her sofa powered on. Her child learned to fend for himself. He crawled around under her feet.
Once the pantry and the fridge were empty, she started going door to door around the apartment building to trade her pretty clothes for food. It worked well. She was a darling of the apartment complex, because she was beautiful and exotic and intelligent. People from other apartments gave her plenty.
She kept the food for herself, throwing crumbs and leftovers down on the floor where the child could reach them. When the child learned to speak, she told him how she was looking out for him. He was too young to be given the responsibility of the food, so she will take care of it for him. The truth was that she knew the child was used to this; after all, this is how it had been under the monocled man too, so she may as well just keep it going.
One day the child tugged at her dress and asked her why he was still hungry, even in this new apartment. She then told him about the green elephant.
“Long ago,” she said, “there lived a green elephant. We will believe in that green elephant, and that will keep us safe. No matter how bad things get, the green elephant will save us. Remember,” she would say, as she ate a croissant and sipped some wine, “the green elephant expects you to behave in certain ways. You must live within your means and never complain about anything.”
The boy nodded, but then something struck him. “But what if I want to believe in a pink elephant?” he wondered.
She slapped him. “The elephant is GREEN!” she yelled.
“But what if I want to believe that the green elephant is still alive?” he wondered.
She slapped him again. “You will believe in NOTHING but what I tell you,” she yelled.
The boy nodded. Parts of him still believed in other things, but he kept them secret lest he be slapped again.
And so life went on for these two. Sometimes the boy’s mother would get off the couch just to fight with her older sister, usually over who gets to keep the little closet which connected the two apartments. Their fights got severe a couple of times, and the other residents were forced to intervene. The sisters were bitter enemies now, completely forgetting about how it used to be, and throwing things through each others’ windows whenever the opportunity presented itself.
The young sister also got off the couch sometimes to sell her clothes for food, which kept her well fed and provided enough crumbs for her child as well. There was one man who took special interest in her. He wore a cowboy hat and lived in the penthouse suite. One afternoon, as she brought her best clothes to his doorstep, he invited her in. She said yes.
Later, as they lay in the large penthouse bed, smoking cigarettes, he turned to her.
“Darlin’,” he said in a sing-song accent, “I need your help. I’m fighting with someone in the apartment next to yours, and I gotta keep some stuff in your apartment.”
The girl was hesitant, but after he gave her a basket full of food, she agreed. After all, she had plenty of space. And he seemed trustworthy. And a basket full of food! Yum!
The next day he came by with a small box. Something grrr-d and growled inside. She took the box into the pantry and opened it. Out popped a mean little dog, yipping and yapping and snapping at her heels. She closed the door in haste, surprised.
“Will you help me train him, darlin’?” The man said to her, holding out another basket of food. She nodded. Of course she would. She might be able to use this dog herself, she mused, glancing at the disputed closet door. The man with the hat and the boy’s mother then went into the bedroom, where they made the bed creak.
The next day training began. The woman entered the pantry, and the boy kept his distance. He could hear her talking to the dog about the green elephant, only the stories she told it were a little different. The green elephant, she said, wanted the dog to be vicious to anyone that she pointed out. After many days, the dog understood. The man came by once the training was complete and started taking the dog for walks. Every evening the dog came back, mangled, dirty, angry, and was put back in the pantry.
“Darlin,” the man told the boy’s mother on day, “this dog is winnin’ me the fight!” Joyful, they then went into the bedroom and made the bed creak.
When the man was away, the woman found her own uses for the dog. She would sometimes hide it in the closet connected to her sisters’ room, so that when her bitch sister – or bratty nephew – would enter, they’d get a nice barking surprise. She giggled when she heard them scream. Her sister used to complain to the apartment building’s owner, who would show up at the woman’s door. But the woman would shrug innocently, and say her dog probably got in there by itself, and it won’t happen again, and that she is very sorry. Only it did happen again. Over and over and over.
After a while the man stopped coming by to get the dog. He stopped visiting altogether. The woman stirred on her sofa, and wondered where he was. Her food supplies were running low. She labored to her feet, now fat and slow and less beautiful than she used to be, and made her way to the penthouse. She knocked, and the man answered.
“Hiya darlin’,” he sang, “the fight is over. I won’t be needin’ that dog anymore. Thanks for everything. Here’s a food basket.”
And with that he shut the door on her fat belly.
She was stuck with the dog now, and too lazy to remove it. Besides, it would probably be useful against her sister. So she went back to the couch and started eating more food and let the dog be.
Then one day, to both her and the boy’s surprise, the dog had a litter of children. The boy went to the pantry door, curious, and opened it. The litter was large, and the little dogs were as mean as their mommy. Some of them escaped the pantry and ran around the apartment. The woman slowly put her feet up on the coffee table and continued watching TV. The boy slammed the pantry door before others could escape. He now had to deal with little critters as well. They were mean little buggers, nipping at his heels when he least expected it. He couldn’t play or study in peace anymore. Each time he was bitten the woman would say “tsk,” and back to the TV her attention returned, leaving the boy to fend for himself.
A few days later there was a loud banging on the door. The woman labored to her feet and opened it. It was the cowboy.
“Woman, remember them dogs we had let loose in the apartment next door? Well one of those darn dogs came into my penthouse and broke my two most prized vases! I’m going to get rid of them dogs! You are going to help me by keeping the dogs in your apartment under control.” Before the woman could say anything, he handed her another basket of food. She smiled and nodded. Of course she would help him!
And so began the fight against the runaway dogs in the apartment next door. That apartment was a total mess. The man came in with a dart gun and tried to tranquilize as many dogs as he could. Some dogs managed to dig their way through the wall plaster, and sneak in to the woman’s apartment. The boy was getting bit a lot now, and he tugged and tugged at the woman’s dress, but she just said “tsk” and told him to think of the green elephant.
The man came back one afternoon with a basket of food, which he handed to the woman.
“Woman,” he said, “I’m taking care of business in the apartment next door. But how are we going to deal with the dogs in here?”
The woman considered the question. She didn’t want the cowboy coming in here and fighting the dogs for her, because he seemed a bit too hardcore. She told him she would take care of it, as long as he kept sending her food baskets and red bull.
And so every morning she labored off the couch and tried to chase the dogs down. In some areas she was successful; she managed to get them out of the kitchen after a lot of effort. But for the most part they still ran loose. She didn’t know much about her own apartment, since all her time was spent on the couch, so the dogs hid in places that she could not discover. She didn’t want to put in too much effort because there were delicious food baskets just waiting to be eaten. Besides, these dogs were very useful against her sister, so she didn’t really want to get rid of them. Day in and day out she tried halfheartedly. Every day she got more food baskets. Every night the dogs used to sneak into the other apartments through the cracks in the plaster, chew through furniture, and come back to her apartment.
After a week of this the cowboy returned. He was mad. “I gave you so many fruit baskets, and you still haven’t taken care of the problem. Not only that, but I keep hearing that you are actually using them dogs yourself! I hear that it was your dogs that went in to your sister’s apartment and attacked the guests she had over!”
“No, no, nothing like this,” the woman said. “They are simply too many. And my poor child is getting bitten so much. I need more fruit baskets for many more days, and I promise I’ll take care of them.”
“No can do, Ma’am. I’m going to take care of them myself by using my latest and greatest creation,” he said proudly. You just sit back and don’t interfere, alright? It goes against my better judgment, but here.” And he handed her one last food basket, and she sat back down on the sofa and got back to watching TV and stuffing herself.
The latest and greatest technology was a little remote controlled helicopter with a dart gun and camera attached. The man would send it through the vents and remotely shoot darts at the dogs. This way neither the man nor the woman would have to do anything; the man could worry about other issues, and the woman could continue watching TV and stuffing herself.
The problem was that the remote controlled helicopters weren’t very accurate. Sometimes the boy would get hit, and he would scream and cry. Each time he did, the dogs would get mad and nip at his heels. The boy was getting no peace!
The man sent over no new fruit baskets, because he didn’t really trust the woman. Besides, this helicopter business was working out all right. He kept sending in more and more helicopters, until they buzzed and whirred around the apartment, and the boy ran this way and that. The woman ignored them for the most part. They stayed well away from her sofa anyway, and if she turned the TV up loud enough, she could almost drown out the ruckus ensuing behind her.
But it wasn’t long before she had chowed through all the remaining food baskets. No more came. She had no more scraps to give to the boy either, so he scrounged around and made do on trash. She got more and more bitter towards the man in the hat. He had left her with so many problems. Life was so good before he had arrived. Stupidly, she blinked, and looked around the room. Her room. Everywhere there was filth. Little dogs scurried this way and that. She could see her little boy huddled in a corner, trying to stay out of their way. It almost brought tears to her eyes, seeing her wonderful apartment so decrepit. Her stomach growled. From next door she could hear her sister singing songs and dancing and making merry.
“Boy, come here,” she called, her double chin rippling with the effort of speaking. The boy made his way over and sat by her feet. She wanted to inspire him, to tell him it would be all right, to give him hope for the future, to send him away charged up, so that he may take his destiny in his own hands, and fight the good fight.
But that is asking a lot of a slut. Instead, she said: “I know life is difficult for you, boy. It is all the fault of the man in the hat. We must blame him for our poor condition.” Another helicopter whizzed by their heads, chasing down a dog. “See that helicopter? If he stops sending those helicopters, the dogs will go away also, and our lives will be perfect, just the way I had meant it. It is all his fault for doing this to you and I.” She paused, finding a piece of pie in the sofa, which she gobbled up. “All of our problems and hardships, and the only reason the dogs are tormenting you, is because of that damn man and his damn helicopters. I’m on your side, and that man is the enemy.”
From behind them they heard a yelp. The helicopter had successfully stung a big dog, one of the largest and oldest in the apartment, a real terror. The woman shook her head.
“See,” she said to the boy. “That dog is a martyr. Any dog who is hit by those devilish machines is a martyr, and the green elephant loves them. We must talk to these dogs and tell them we are on their side, just like I am on your side, and reason with them so they won’t hurt you anymore. All of your troubles are that man’s fault, don’t you forget it…”
She went on. The boy simply stared at her, confused.
And so it goes. There are two possible outcomes from here on out. One is that the boy nods his head, as he has gotten accustomed to doing, and goes back to his corner, waiting for his fate to play out the way it must. The other is that the boy bitchslaps the woman, pushes her fat ass off the couch, and demands that she be the sort of mother he deserves. It could go either way, but my hope is that the second option plays out. For that little boy’s sake.