“Yep, but that won’t do me no good. That ‘phant will just hunt me down and crush every car I drive.”
“Surely, you are blowing a little tiff by that elephant all out of proportion.”
“No, I’m not. An elephant never forgets.”
The cabby remained inconsolable, and so, I waited quietly for AAA to bring the new cab. I then spied the smashed meter, and so, waited contentedly for the new car.
We got into the new car when it arrived, and sped eastward. A few blocks later, we turned into Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, only President of the confederacy.
“Is this the Elephants’ Graveyard?”
“No, it isn’t. Well, okay, there’s one elephant buried here.”
We got out of the car and headed toward the guide stationed at the gate.
“I hear you have an actual elephant buried on the grounds.”
“Yes, it’s true,” responded the guide. “His name was Hector, and he’s buried right beside Jefferson Davis under the shade of the oak tree where he used to read.”
“What’s this, an elephant that could read, hard to believe?”
“I’m sorry,” mumbled the blushing guide. “I meant to say where President Davis used to read. But look here, notice how Hector’s grave comes between Jefferson’s grave and that of his wife, Varina.”
“Varina often complained, ‘Jefferson, I do declare you love that beast more than you love me, your own wife.’ Jefferson would respond with the factoid that Varina meant ‘over-the-hill elephant’ in Swahili. Varina then invariably threw a hissy fit which, if she was five foot ten inches tall, instead of her occasional four foot nine, ended with her decking the great man with a solid, right hook. When he regained consciousness, Jefferson would ride Hector over to the home of his great friend Edward Hurlyburly to eat peanuts and drink delicious grape-citrus coolers.”
I listened entranced for hours to many great tales of Mr. Davis and his elephant. “You know, you all won’t find these stories in the history books,” said the guide as I took my leave.
The cabby and I fought our way back through the thick forest and shrubbery of Beauvoir to the cab. I took the lead and held any branches that got in our way.
I suddenly remembered the meter that was no doubt astronomically high.
I turned around and noticed the cabby lying on his back spitting hazelblatt leaves.
“Hey, I know many parts are edible, but let’s get moving. I want to see that Elephants’ Graveyard.”
“Grumble, grumble, Yankee, grumble, ‘phant, grumble.”
Soon, we sped eastward. We turned left at Peters Street and headed toward Keebler Air Force Base. The sight of guards leveling their rifles at us prompted the cabby to stop. The guard knocked at the cabby’s window just as he pushed the button to roll it down.
“Ow, why’d you do that?” complained the cabby as he rubbed his head.
“I’m sorry sir. This is a restricted area. You’re not allowed inside.”
“I don’t want in. I just wanted to show this Yankee those elephant statues.”
The guard then waved to the sergeant on duty who put down his sausage, onion, and hot pepper sandwich to come over. The two airmen talked briefly before the sergeant came over to the car. The sarge, a man of few words, leaned inside the car and talked across the cabby.
“Well sir, those two statues are memorials to Castor and Pollux, two brave elephants, who gave their lives for their country. Back in January 1942, a German U-boat landed a platoon of marines to blow up this base. Security was disorganized back then and the Germans managed to get within just a few yards of the fuel dump when all of a sudden, Castor and Pollux, two wandering elephants charged. They routed the Germans but not before taking hits from a marine, who just happened to be carrying an elephant gun. They saved hundreds of airmen.”
“Gosh, what heroes,” I said.
I revived the wilted cabby and we soon continued eastward on Beach Boulevard. There, just beyond Mameuse Street, on the North side of the street was it, the Elephant’s Graveyard. I would soon understand one of history’s greatest mysteries.
“Son, you’d best stop right there,” said the guard at the entrance. “See, that herd inside. Well, that’s a herd of elephants holding a funeral. It’s not smart to disturb elephants when they’re grief stricken and edgy. You might start a stampede and you just might get stomped and killed. We’ve lost far more than a tolerable amount of tourists that way.”
We argued with the guard but eventually I turned away disappointed. The cabby seemed contented, but then the meter read $350