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Mike's Fiction From The Road #6 - The Tale Of Chauncey The Rhino (For Mary)
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written for mary by a guest author, rolo the rhyming rat

in the sleepy quiet village of green elinor
beneath the mountain, near the flowers, on the edge of the forest floor
where fragrant fires crackle in the quaint sweet homes
all the people happily live, together, never alone

but once, not so long ago, a wretched noise disturbed the peace
a honking, metallic, buzzing, nasty, incessant screech
elinor's cherished serenity was stolen and torn
by the terrible wail of an old man's horn

the man lived in the trees at the end of the road
in a stark wooden fort protected by croaking toads
from his gnarled, lofty perch he played his horn all day
"'tis the most horrible awful sound," the villagers would all say

he played his old horn because he was alone and sad
and he thought that his playing would somehow make him glad
but as he blew and he honked, as he wheezed and he snuffed
everyone, including him, was down in the dumps

the saddest of them all though was not the lonely man
nor the villagers trying to endure what they could not stand
it was a large, stationary beast on the other side of town
who hid amongst the rocks wearing a wide, sad frown

no one knew him or his name, and he didn't even know himself
so he crouched all day under a hanging rock shelf
his big, soft, wet eyes ran with tears all day long
as he sang over and over a melancholy song:

i'm big and i'm slow, my skin is so rough,
about what i am, i don't know enough.
i don't look like any other and i have no love around,
over all these sad years an answer cannot be found.

who am i? what am i? and why don't i know?
tomorrow i'll walk from here, i'll follow my toes
i'll lumber into town, and i'll ask a kind sir or ma'am

please, hello, i'm sorry, can you tell me what i am?
i'm not exactly sure, can you tell me what i am?
excuse me, i'm sorry, won't you please tell me what i am?

but the big beast never moved, he stayed right there
crying all day, whimpering into the cold, damp air
despite the constant promise of his tired, sad song
it's an age-old truth that tomorrow never comes

then one day a daring little girl ran from her home
trying to escape from the horn's never-ending drone
she ran to the mountains, covering her sensitive ears
the sweetest elinoran there was, curly-haired mary sear

she crept around the rocks and ducked into a crack
not aware that she had bumped into a big animal's back!
awoken from his trance, the frightened beast was riled
he turned and he looked, and saw mary's gentle smile

the beast towered over her small frame, he was ten feet four
but she wasn't scared, she had seen many new things before
she peered curiously at him and asked him "what are you?
and why are you crying? is there something i can do?"

but the monster grew scared and he ran from his hole
mary ran out too, she watched him quickly go
he ran, he rumbled, he plodded towards town
where his ears were assaulted by a god-awful sound

he grew confused and disoriented, he became blind and scared
the people gasped at him, they pointed and they stared
he ran past and around them, through the noisy village streets
he looked this way, he looked that, and then crashed into the old man's tree!

the old man felt a jolt, and his horn fell from his hands
it dropped towards the ground, where a giant beast did stand
the horn hit the beast, it landed right on his nose
it stuck there on his stump where nothing had ever grown

silence filled the village, the people all stared into the sky
the only sound that could be heard was the old man's cry
"my horn! my horn! the tool over which i rejoice!
what will i do without my sweet, lovely noise?!"

the people all cheered when they saw what had been done
they ran to the giant animal who weighed ten tons
the beast thrashed and howled at the horn on his head
"get it off! get if off! get it off!" he desperately said

but then mary ran up as the villagers gathered round
she squealed "we are so lucky! we have our own rhinoceros in town!
only he could've saved the day! he stopped that horrible wail!
we will no longer hear the cranky old man's sad tale!"

the old man looked down from his high tangled tree
he shook his fist and yelled down "give my horn back to me!"
but when he saw the strange beast, and how the horn made it look
his face stopped scowling, and his fist no longer shook

"my god," he whispered as he grabbed a pen and began to draw
"that rhino is the most beautiful thing i think i ever saw!"
he quickly scribbled a picture and dropped it from the tree
sweet mary grabbed the drawing and showed it to the beast

"this is what you are - a magnificent rhino, the hero of elinor!
i will name you chauncey and we'll be together forever more!"
the crowd all cheered, mary grinned and chauncey smiled
the rhino finally knew what he was after so long a while

the old man happily drew, forgetting his horn's awful buzz
he abandoned what he wasn't and found who he was
what he once loved had held him down, it fit better with someone else
he let it go, let chauncey keep it; they both felt better about themselves

chauncey and mary became the greatest friends of all time
and the drawings of the old man made the town truly shine
from then on only the windsong through the trees called to their hearts
and this tale went back again to where it was at the start

in the sleepy quiet village of green elinor
beneath the mountain, near the flowers, on the edge of the forest floor
where fragrant fires crackle in the quaint sweet homes
all the people (and rhinos!) happily live, together, never alone

July 2005 - Wanaka, New Zealand

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