Animal Dilemmas – Condor Guinea Pig
The condors kept to the high plateaus and rarely came down over the valley. Only one was often seen to land by the river because it was friends with the Vicuña. The first time the Condor received an invitation and circled the valley full with guinea pigs it thought it had found an endless source of food. It dove in from the sky and carried a small pig up to a cliff. It shred it to pieces and gobbled it down then it joined the Vicuña by the river. When the Vicuña saw it it bolted and kicked it angrily in the chest. The condor thimbles and rolled over several times raising a cloud of dust.
‘Good to see you too, crazy goat,’ it said when it recovered.
‘I didn’t invite you here to eat my friends!’
‘Your friends? Those large puffy rats. But they are easy to catch and delicious.’
‘They are not food. Or our friendship is over!’
‘You saved me when I was still learning to fly and fell like a rock from the my nest. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here. So I will not eat them again.’
‘Good. Now, I have a favor to ask.’
‘One of those puffy rats is keen to travel. Wants to go over the high mountains in the east and see what’s beyond.’
‘It’s jungle beyond just like on this side of the mountains.’
‘Have you been?’
‘Yes, once, when I was young and stupid.’
‘So you can take him!’
‘Sure, but a fur ball like him won’t last a minute in the jungle. There are snakes the size of rivers and wild cats as dark as night.’
‘That is not your concern. My friend wants to be dropped on the other side and he will find his way home with no assistance.’
‘I could use the exercise. Where is your friend?’
‘I am here,’ said the Guinea Pig.
‘So jump on, let’s not waste time.’
The Guinea Pig thanked the Vicuña and climb on the back of the Condor.
‘It will better if I eat him,’ said the Condor to the Vicuña. ‘Not feed the snakes over the mountains.’
The Vicuña didn’t respond.
The Condor lifted off and gain hight faster than usual intending to intimidate the Guinea Pig. The Pig didn’t flinch or make a sound. The Condor climbed over the clouds where the air was crispy cool and the earth vanished from below them. It though this maneuver will change the Pig’s mind. But when it looked back its passenger was relaxed and smiling. Then the Condor dove madly down through the clouds until the earth emerged spinning below. It was sure that would terrify the Pig. When it looked back the Guinea Pig was excited beyond measure with on of its front paws up in the air and screaming from pleasure.
‘Over the mountains it is then,’ said the Condor but his words were carried lost by the wind.
It settled on a comfortable gliding altitude and headed east over the mountains.
‘Go faster, again,’ said the Guinea Pig.
‘We have a long way to go buddy, we have to pace ourselves.’
‘The faster the better.’
‘Why are taking on this deadly trip, then?’
‘Because my blood is cold. That is what my family said. Because I didn’t cry when three of my litter were strangled by a monkey. They think me possessed with dark spirits.’
‘I just like to go fast.’
‘Well you better go fast when I drop you in the jungle.’
‘I always go as fast as I can. If somebody catches me it’s their right to eat me.’
‘Remember those words.’
‘How can I forget them, they define me.’
‘Whatever water rat. We are going to land and rest on those rocks before we enter the the high mountains.’
The Condor landed and Guinea Pig climbed down from its back. I could eat him and take a nap, come back tomorrow and tell them I delivered him over, thought the Condor. I will be doing that poor rat a favor. Or I can just leave him here. It is far enough for the pig to never find its way back home. I hate doing favors to friends it’s no use. What good is to come from this. Waste of time. Sure the Vicuña saved my life but by accident. It was under the cliff when I fell. It didn’t go out of its way to save me. And now I have to travel for days to deliver this rat to certain slaughter. I might as well drink its blood myself. I don’t know what is stopping me. But something tells me to carry on.
The Condor loaded the Guinea Pig and flew all day and night over the mountains. On the next morning it started descending over the endless jungle on the east side.
‘Here are rat.’
‘Thank you for not eating me.’
‘I should have done you that favor. Chances are you will meet a far more grotesque end here.’
‘I will like it here. And if I can’t fit I will make my way home by ground.’
‘Yes, sure. Of you make it back I will turn vegan.’
‘I will take that bet. Good wind bird.’
‘You better dig a whole for the night.’
The Condor left and the Guinea Pig stayed. The jungle was wet and dark. Caterpillars larger than the Pig scaled the trees and ficuses. Cries of joy, fear and agony filled every minute of the evening in the jungle. Some were feasting, others making love, third being devoured. The Pig was ignorant and trotted on the beaten paths. And that first night its ignorance saved it. Because no beast was foolish enough to hunt where giants trotted.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Animal Dilemmas – Tuesday, September 6th
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photograph by Nad Hemnani