“The Elephants’ Graveyard is right there in Biloxi.”
The cabby’s assertion startled me.
“Biloxi, Mississippi? Are you sure about that? It seems hard to believe.”
“It’s true all right. You have my word as a cabby.”
“Come now, I don’t see any elephants here.”
“We’re not in Biloxi, friend. We haven’t left the Airport. We gotta go east to Biloxi to see any elephants. The FAA don’t let no elephants into Gulfport. Dangerous to landing planes, you know.”
The meter ran as he talked and I was anxious to make my meeting, but I couldn’t resist saying,
“But the government is shut down again. Who will keep the elephants out of Gulfport now?”
“Damn!” The cabby slammed on the brakes to stop the cab, which wasn’t hard to do as we weren’t moving. He jumped out of the car. “Ow!” Chastened and little more cautious he opened the door and then got out. He retrieved a massive weapon out of the trunk and made his way back to the cab.
“Here, take this,” he growled as he hurled the gun at me. Minutes later when the ringing in my ears subsided I replied,
“How is it that I never read about it, anywhere?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I guess the local reporters just got used to ’em, and just never wrote ’em up.”
“But surely, the migration of elephants to Mississippi would have made front-page news?”
“You’re wrong, friend. The elephants came here in 1862, right in the middle of the war. Folks round were just too preoccupied with the fighting to notice them right off. But soon enough, General Lee enrolled them into his army. The ‘phants, as some call them, were in Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. We would have won the battle, but them Yankees let loose thousands of mice. Those mice scared the ‘phants, who turned around and stampeded the Rebel men. That’s how we lost the war.”
“Fascinating, but why did they choose here of all places?”
“For the peanuts.”
“But they don’t grow peanuts in Mississippi, they grow peanuts in Georgia as you well know.”
“Well, those ‘phants didn’t know nothing about that, did they? You’re not as smart as you looked, Mister. I’m fixing to take you there, right now.”
“But, I simply must be at a meeting in Long Beach, to the West!”
He ignored my feeble protests, gunned the engine, and soon we hurtled eastward at speeds up to 20 miles per hour. Soon the fair gulf regaled us with its shimmering beauty.
“Thalassa! Thalassa!”, I shouted to the cabby, “That’s Greek for the ‘The Sea.’ The Sea.”
“Yea, whatever. Look, there’s Peanuts Pavilion. Right next to that is the Planter’s dock and peanut refinery.”
“Ooh, that looks quite interesting. May we stop and investigate?”
“No.” He stomped on the gas pedal as way of protest and soon we were pushing the edge of the envelope at 25. “We’re looking for ‘phants. You gotta problem with that?”
“No,” I meekly replied. Since I was at the cabby’s mercy, I resolved to endure the best I could and would resolutely scan the horizon for the noble beasts whenever I wasn’t following the soaring meter.
Soon we crossed the border into Biloxi and immediately the clouds parted to reveal glorious, golden shafts of sunlight. I could almost swear I could hear angels singing melodious hymns of joy. The cabby belched.
Soon, the traffic in our lane slowed and eventually stopped at Eisenhower Drive, while in the lane to the bookstore, traffic ground to a halt. All the while, the meter merrily climbed. We noticed state troopers inspecting the cars, talking to all, waving some on, and pulling over others. Soon, one made his way to the cabby’s Honda Accord.
“Transporting any illegal elephants with you?”
“No,” the cabby explained at length as he handed over his license.
The trooper examined the license and then carefully pointed his flashlight inside the cab. Eventually, he seemed satisfied by our serene demeanor and waved us on. Whoosh, aided by a tail wind, we again darted eastward, leaving even the most vigorous pedestrians far behind. I turned to watch the Miss-Elephant-Rider-of-the-Mississippi-Gulf-Coast contest taking place on the beach; so did the cabby.
Crash! After shaking off the shattered glass, I looked up to behold a most angry pachyderm. Instinctively, I knew the elephant’s name to be Felix.
“What ho, Felix! How’s it hanging?” I bantered cheerfully to the gray skinned beast breathing in my face. Evidently, this was not proper elephantine etiquette as Felix trumpeted loudly as he crushed the front of the cab with one mighty stamp.
“Damn,” gushed the rattled cabby and then moments later, “I’m ruined.”
“My goodness, it’s not as bad as all that,” I opined. “Aren’t you covered by AAA insurance? I have it and it explicitly states that they will replace any one car crushed by a rampaging elephant.”
“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.