Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Elk of Notice

Afanasy, being short of money, ran his fingers through the crazed roots of the Mighty Tree. He had some recollection of money buried there, either something he had buried or else something his father had buried. Or his grandad, whoever that was. There had to be some reason why the roots of the Mighty Tree felt like they had money squirreled away somewhere. Somehow, though, he kept coming up with nothing but mud, and beech nuts. Was this the right Mighty Tree? There could be no question. He knew the ants that lived here, and the upside-down finches, and the blood moss. The whole tree smelt of old buried money? So?



“Where’d you put the money you stole from this tree?”

“Some sort of box, probly. Tied it to a elk or something. It promised not to spend it all.”

Foma, tied to the front of the sleigh, gave short concise directions toward the elk. After a week, during which Afanasy periodically wiped the snow from Foma’s eyes, they began to circle in closer to the Elk of Notice.


“Mmm.” replied the Elk of Notice. The elk had two rows of glittering gold teeth, and the word “ELK” spelt out in diamonds across the incisors. It was also sporting a very dashing Genoese hat, an imported leather wine bag in a red sling, and some sort of exotic bird feathers woven into its rack. There were a pair of hired Cossack ladies feeding it forbs and giggling.

“Elk, you didn’t have Cossack ladies last time I seen you.”


“Nor did you have extravagant feathers. Or a wine bag! What happened to your wonderful old urine-soaked outfit?¹”

“I bought some feathers, and a wine bag, and these gypsy girls. Is that OK with you?” he bugled.²

“I liked you better when you reeked of urine.”


¹ “Probably the most easily identified elk sign is the mud wallow scented with urine and droppings. Bull elk roll in wallows to cover their bodies with scent, creating bathtub-size depressions with low walls of displaced mud ringing their perimeters. Receptive cow elk, drawn by the odor, will also roll and urinate in the wallow, indicating their willingness to mate. Elk that use these wallows may become so foul smelling that, when downwind, humans can easily detect their presence.” Quoted from “Elk” by Russell Link, at

² “Elk are the noisiest member of the deer family in North America. Males are known for their eerie bugles during the rutting season. The bugle starts with a guttural groaning that quickly yields to a high-pitched whistle, and often ends with a few repetitive low-toned grunts.” Quoted from “Elk” by Russell Link, at

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