A Blue Gnu

by Ray Cowie

"Nobody cares y'know." Said Bernard, he seemed despondent.

"Hmm, sorry what's that?" Said Dave who was idly chomping on a clump of yellow grass.

"I said nobody cares," Bernard was sick and tired of repeating himself every single day.

"Cares about what?" Quizzed Dave.

"About us." Said Bernard

"What you and me?" Said Dave.

"No, not just you and me," said Bernard "Nobody cares about any of us."

Dave shook his head in disbelief. "But there's millions of us Bernie!"

"I know," said Bernard. "It's tragic isn't it?"

"What makes you think that?" Said Dave.

"Well, we don't really contribute to the development of the world do we?" Said Bernard.

"Are we meant to then?" Said Dave.

Bernard looked pensive, "Well you would think we should at least have a say!"

"A say in what though?" said Dave, "World peace? The space race? What?"

"I don't know." Said Bernard, "But it would be nice to be asked!"

Dave carried on chewing the grass at his feet. His lack of concern rather troubled Bernard.

"Look, see that lion over there?" said Bernard nodding towards a huge male lion sprawled under a shady acacia tree, lazily scratching himself.

"That one?" Said Dave, nodding in the same general direction.

"Yeah, that big fella over there. The one with six girlfriends!" Said Bernard, "everybody admires a magnificent beast like him don't they?"

"He is quite good-looking." Said Dave.

"That's my point exactly David!" Said Bernard who was becoming all the more disheartened.

"What is?" Said Dave.

Bernard scowled at Dave and said, "People don't appreciate us because we're repulsive!"

"Speak for yourself." Said Dave glancing sideways at him, causing a sticky drip to swing like a pendulum from his flaring nostrils.

"We're a tad dim-witted too!" Bernard continued.

"Steady on!" Said Dave.

Bernard took a tentative step towards the self-proclaimed King of the Masai Mara.

Not renowned for their derring-do and with wistful uncertainty, the whole herd shook its head simultaneously. And a collective intake of breath whistled around the barren plains.

The big fat lion looked up and yawned.

"We walk for hundreds of thousands of miles every year to find lush green grass," announced Bernard, "we plunge into perilous, torrential waters that are inhabited by smiling crocodiles who lurk in the murky depths. We die of hunger and we die of thirst. And what does he do? He just lies there, licking his balls, waiting for his food to be delivered to him and more often than not, that meal is one of us!"

"I think them zebras might argue that point but it doesn't seem fair does it Bern?" Said Dave whilst defrothing his nose.

"Why only last week, I lost my Auntie Patty!" Bernard voiced his disapproval.

"Yeah, but it was a good game of cards mate!" Said Dave.

"It's not a laughing matter!" Said Bernard firmly.

Dave hid his smirk and apologised.

"Don't be so common!" Said Bernard grinding his hooves into the dirt.

"I said sorry didn't I?" Dave replied, "Anyway, we are common, aren't we?"

Bernard glared at Dave and snapped, "Yes and we always will be if you keep making obtuse comments like that you berk!"

"Ooh pardon me for breathing!" Dave bleated somewhat effeminately.

"When was the last time you saw a wildebeest in a zoo?" Asked Bernard, still cross.

Dave looked puzzled, "I've never been to a zoo Bern."

"Ah yes well," said Bernard, "neither have I, but I bet you won't find any wildebeest in any zoo that's worth its salt."

Bemused, Dave nodded in agreement.

"You're feeling sorry for yourself aren't you pal?" Said Dave.

"No!" Said Bernard in a huff.

"Not even a little Bernie? Come on now." Dave teased.

"Shut up Dave!" Said Bernard stamping his feet.

"Charming!" Said Dave.

The blazing sun seemed to fill the sky. As it did, the sleek, golden lionesses that had previously blended in with their arid surroundings rose like phoenixes from the fire. And as one they greedily eyed the grazing a la carte menu.

Must be lunchtime.

"Hang on." Said Dave, "They're on the move."

"Who is?" Said Bernard.

"That lot, look." Said Dave.

The big cats salivated freely as they squinted into the distance.

Bernard looked across the smouldering earth at the gathering hunting party. And the hairs on the back of his thick neck prickled with fear.

"Right Dave," he said, "Let's have some of the older and weaker folk between us and them then shall we?"

"Good idea." Said Dave.

The lionesses circled the wildebeest with a proficiency only seen in guerrilla warfare and the sharp-eyed lion cubs looked on and learnt.

"Hello Deirdre." Said Bernard as he nudged an aged, drowsy wildebeest to the front of the herd.

Oblivious, dear old Deirdre continued feeding.

As soon as Bernard and Dave were out of harms way they began to relax and they breathed much easier. But poor old Deirdre was felled in an instant, as a heaving mass of savagery converged on her.

Innards and entrails spilled everywhere, as Deirdre was ripped and torn apart. The resonant sound of crunching bones and stampeding game filled the air.

Hordes of wildebeest, zebra and buffalo scattered across the wastelands as the horizon became a mushrooming cloud of blood and dust.

Monkeys chuckled from the safety of the trees.

A black rhino looked on with indifference.

Bernard looked back at the ensuing carnage and turned to Dave.

"Tell you something Dave," he said, "it's a bloody jungle out there!"


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