Beth meets Fred.
She tucks in her moss green safari shirt into her khaki pants. Leanne looks at Beth dressing, Beth zips her knee high boots up. Lastly she takes a hard white hat from her hat rack, Beth tries it on, she loves the way her cheeks look, but was it too much?”
“How does this hat look?” Asks Beth. “Or would I look better with a soft hat.”
“Why are you dressing like an explorer, aren’t you and Marty going to just dart one of the elephants?”
“Well, not that you would understand with those roots but is important for a woman to look her best.”
“Why? We are alone on this island with our family. There no boys to impress.”
“That is true, but when someone cute does show his face, he will see me in something cute. Maybe you should take note.”
“What’s wrong with the way I dress?” Beth points to the butterfly on her pink shirt.
“Nothing if you are a baby, I mean all your clothes still have mermaids and butterflies, grownups don’t look like that.”
“I don’t care, I like my butterflies and mermaids.” Says Leanne. Beth looks at her sister, Leanne looks slightly offended. Beth felt bad, she was her only other friend she should make amends.
“I am sorry, your clothes are cute, I just want to look a little older sometimes.” Leanne looks less offended after Beth apologizes.
“Why do you snap like that at me, I didn’t say you looked bad, I just don’t get why anyone would dress up around Marty.”
“Marty’s not that bad, he is no Ted, but he means well, and we would be nowhere without him, I understand that he is not Paul’s biggest fan...” Leanne cuts of Beth.
“He hates Paul, your not much nicer to Paul either.”
“I love Paul, he just always messes things up. You and I should be picking seashells off the beach, but because he hurt himself. I am have to go and capture an elephant.” Says Beth.
“Beth, he stepped in a trap and was attacked by a wild animal. Paul didn’t ask for that.”
“No, but Teddy told him to stay away from the cliffs and what did he do? If Paul listened for once than he wouldn’t have crashed the drone.” Beth leaves the hat on her bed and makes her way above. Leanne follows, Paul had been sleeping above in the Saloon, he had become something of a couch potato. He is currently lounging on the couch, the TV is on, they don’t get any sort of signal, yet it doesn’t stop him from watching cartoons. Sailing around the world, the Hurley’s had an extensive movie collection, and they had the full seasons of nearly 1,000 television programs.
“Where is Marty?” Asks Beth. Paul looks up at her.
“Are you going to Africa?” Mocks Paul, taking in her outfit.
“You wouldn’t know style if it bit you on the butt” Says Beth.
Paul often wore the same pair of green gym shorts day in and out. In fact he is wearing them now, Beth had only seen her mother wash them a handful of times, even grosser Paul is wearing a shirt he had put on two days ago.
“When was the last time you even had a bath?” Asks Beth catching a whiff of her brother.
“The night before we arrived on the island.” grins Paul sheepishly. He relshed being filthy.
“That is disgusting.” Says Beth.
“Yeah Paul that is pretty foul.” Remarks Leanne.
“You haven’t what!” It was the voice of their mother. She just entered from the aft-deck.
“Mommy, Paul says he hasn’t bathed since we have arrived.” Says Beth smugly.
“Paul let me find a garbage bag for your leg and we will fix this bath problem.” Says their mom.
“I don’t want you to give me a bath.” complains Paul.
“If you don’t want me to give you one than Leanne can give you one instead.”
“Gross no way.”
“Paul its a sponge bath you can keep your shorts on, you won't be able to reach your back. If you don’t want either of us than maybe Marty can give you a bath when he comes back with Beth.” Says their Mother.
Beth smiles seeing her brother submit. "Fine mom let’s get this over with.”
“Mommy can I help?” Asks Leanne, Beth never understood why she did everything for him.
“Yes, honey go downstairs and get two loofahs. Beth you best get going Marty is waiting in the Pavilion, by the way you look very cute in your outfit.” Says Kelly.
With a smile on her face Beth leaves her brother to her mother’s care and departs the boat, walking down the dock she can feel the warm day around her, it was sunny and bright, on her way to the Pavilion from the boat she admires the crystal clear water...
She spies her brother Marty in the Pavilion; her father and oldest brother Ted are with Marty. As Beth nears she can hear her father issuing orders.
“I measured out the doses in these darts, these will knock the animals out for a couple hours. Once you shoot one, drive these stakes into the ground and attach these chains to their feet. Once it is secured radio to camp. Ted and I will drop what we are doing, and we will bring the fencing equipment, try and dart one as close to the Bay as you can it will make caring for it easier.”
“Beth let’s get going.” Says Marty. She sees that their father gave Marty a pistol to wear on his hip.
“I can’t believe we have elephants on this island.” Remarks Beth as they enter the jungle.
Marty is looking at his compass, they are walking towards the watering hole in the valley that Ted found yesterday. “Make sure you stay close Beth; Panthers might not be the only predator in the jungle.” Beth moves closer to her brother; they had entered the jungle fully and could no longer see the Bay.
Beth didn’t speak, she has hunted enough with her brothers and father to know to stay quiet. Instead she focuses on the forest, she is amazed at all the colorful birds and she has even caught sight of a few monkey’s.
When they pass a large fern, Marty stops, kneeling down he finds an elephant track, there is moisture in the print, the mud around is still damp.
“These are still fresh; It looks like they go up this hill.” Says Marty. He walks up the hill with Beth following.
“Marty how are Ted and Daddy going to bring fencing equipment, how are we going to make a fence?”
“Well they are going to carry about 30 poles over here, with a post hole digger we will set the stakes in the ground every two and half feet in a square. The posts have two slots carved into them, for which we will place wood inside, or the cross beams, we can cut those on site.”
“Couldn’t it just bust through the fence.”
“Yes is would be able to, if it wasn't going to have its feet staked into the ground.”
“That’s horrible, if she is left like that how is she going have any spirit left?”
“Beth that is the point, we need to break its wild spirit, that way it can be a blank slate to train.” Beth felt alarmed, she didn’t want them to do that, she never understood how elephants are trained but if that is how they are broken there must be another way.
She and Marty had made it to the top of the hill and continued into the jungle. More elephant footprints could be seen the further they waded into the jungle. Then as they walk out of a small clearing they find themselves in a thick orchard
The trumpeting of elephants could be heard. Marty grabs Beth’s arm and pulls her down. “We can’t get them here; we need to move closer and watch. Beth and Marty are careful moving among the trees. Then they see the red outline of course looking skin, they could smell a foreign scent. Beth had never seen one up close before. She was mesmerized as two more came from behind it.
Their trunks search the treetops for fruits, one of them reaches into a tree and rips a bushel of bananas from the branches. Then a large male bounds out of the forest, for the first time Beth and Marty stare one down directly in the eyes...
He is massive, his long tusks are pearl white, he looks right at them, Beth swears from fifteen feet away the animal spots the gun in Marty’s hand and paws at the ground!
“Beth it is going to charge, I am going to run to the right, take the gun from my holster. When you are somewhere safe, in a tree or something fire a shot into the air.” Says Marty, his voice sounds freighted.
Then the bull’s ears are pushed forward and he bounds forward with a thundering trumpet!! Beth stood behind Marty, she has her hand on his Glock, Marty sprints forward, and his pistol comes clean, he sprints towards the bull, Beth slips behind the tree out of sight...
She heard the other elephants trying to escape the area, Beth bounds from the orchard, looking around with her back turned to the jungle, Beth watches as the Bull chases Marty across orchard.
Her foot slips and Beth tumbles down a hill into the jungle. Somehow she manages to keep her hand on the gun, also turning with her fall, Beth avoids Plaxico Burressing herself. Meaning she didn’t shoot herself by accident.
When she stopped tumbling down the hill, Beth lifts her head up, she was face down in a pile of leaves, they were sticking to her face. Spitting one out of her mouth, Beth takes in her surroundings but realizes she is covered in mud.
Standing up Beth ignores the nasty stains on her pants, continuing forward Beth makes it into a clearing. She is surprised at what she sees, thousands of ripe strawberries are everywhere. She wonders through the thicket, but then panics when Beth notices a large red shape among a row of bushes.
Beth didn’t know why but she walks towards the elephant when she should be running away from it…
Rounding the corner, she can see the elephant standing under a tree, for some reason it’s head is down. The animal is slightly smaller than the Male she ran from, but he still has a large set of tusks. Moving closer she discovers why his head is down, the strawberry bush has grown over the foot of the tree, under the bush, a trap similar to the one that Paul stepped in, is around the elephant's trunk!
The elephant can be heard whimpering as she inches closer. Beth’s heart breaks, the trap is three times the size of the one Paul stepped in, worse it also has a massive chain attaching it to the thick tree. She wouldn’t be able to break it. The elephant then notices her, scared it back up, instantly the creature bellows out in pain. Without thinking Beth bounds forward to comfort it.
His ears perk up at the sound of her soft voice. “Easy there, I am not going to hurt you. She is inches from him, if he gets nervous she would be knocked to the ground and possibly trampled. Reaching her hand out she touches his forehead, and gently strokes it, his eyes close as if it comforts him. Beth looks at the trap, he has the chain extended, she would need him more relaxed, very slightly Beth slides her fingers under the armpit of his front left leg, she pulls hard, the elephant moves forward!”
With the chain tension relaxed, the trap didn’t cause the bull as much pain. Beth instantly started to stroke his face and speaking to him softly. She places her hand on the trunk, he winces in pain but holds still, Beth has a feeling like he is smart enough to know she was there to help.
Picking a couple of the strawberries she places them into his opened mouth, again he becomes calmer. Beth inspects the trap, there is a lever of some kind in the trap, it looks like a release. Her knife could reach it, but she didn’t want to whip it out too fast for fear of spooking the elephant.
Carefully opening her pocket knife, she tucks the blade under her sleeve to slip it past the creatures eyesight. Beth sticks the blade in and hits the switch, Beth didn’t expect the trap to go limp and slide right off the trunk, but it did...
Smiling she strokes the side of his face near his tusks, then she realizes there is nothing restraining the elephant.
Backing up Beth holds her hand out with the last of the strawberries she picked. His long tongue wraps around her hand, she frowns feeling his slimy tongue.
“I am going to go now.” Says Beth she didn’t want to push her luck. She walks a short while a way. Turning around to look once more, she sees that he is struggling to lift his trunk. Walking back to him, she strokes his side and feels his trunk. Nothing felt broken, he did wince when she touches the spot where the trap snagged him. Then there was blood coming out of the end of his trunk, it was only trickle, still he must still be hungry.
Beth picked a half dozen strawberries and feed him, she spends about fifteen minutes placing food into his mouth, he was like a giant baby. After feeding him, she leaves him be. It kept staring at her as she moves away.
Beth needed to find a place far enough away from the elephant, she wanted to fire Marty’s gun in the air so he could find her. But then as she enters the upper section of the jungle again she runs into her brother.
“Beth, your okay. I think we need to head back to the Bay. Maybe these elephants are too dangerous.”
“I think your right, this seems like something that daddy needs to do.” Replies Beth. Marty uses his compass to direct them home.
“What is that noise.” Mentions Marty, he looks behind them, they had been walking for fifteen minutes.
“What noise?” Asks Beth. She is looking in the direction that Marty is and she is totally awestruck, somehow that elephant from the strawberry bushes followed her. “Oh it, you.”
“Why do you know this elephant?” Asks Marty.
“He was stuck in one of those traps and I helped him. His trunk is damaged, he had trouble eating so I fed him.” Beth started walking towards him, he stood still peaking around the bush to look at her. Using her kind voice Beth walks up to him, he shows no sign of aggression, Beth pet him.
“Marty you need to stay where you are, remember how that one didn’t like your gun, this one might be the same.” Call Beth.
Beth begins walking and the elephant moves with her, maybe they would be able to lead him back to the Bay? Marty walks twenty yard ahead of Beth, every once in a while, Beth would pet the elephant. Before long, Beth spots the cooking fire.
The looks on the faces of her family as she walks into camp with an elephant were priceless. Marty shouts to his father and brother who go for their rifles. “Leave your guns, they don’t like them.”
Marty walks over to house foundation that looked completely finished. “Dad you are going to want to here this. Beth found this animal in a trap like the one Paul stepped in. Jack had walked over to Beth. Jack notices the Glock tucked into her lower back.
“Why is your sister carrying a firearm?” Says Jack rebounding onto Marty, Beth glances over to her brother and see her father looking stern.
“Daddy don’t get mad at him, we were chased by a massive bull elephant. He gave it for me to signal for help. I fell down a hill running away and ended up in a strawberry bush and that is where I found him. I freed him and he followed us home, I don’t think he is able to eat at the moment with his trunk.”
“Marty. Go to the tranquilizer gun, I want you to dart him.”
“Daddy no, I don’t want you to tie up his feet. Look he seems to like me let me train him.”
“Beth sweetie, Daddy just wants to dart him to take a look at him, is that right honey?” Says Kelly. Beth looks at her mom and then father. Jack nods his head at Kelly’s statement.
“Well with him closer to the Bay we will be able to forgo the chaining method. Beth walks her Elephant over to an area near the Pavillion there was a cluster of five trees that offer tons of shade.
Beth hears Marty fire the dart, but the elephant does not feel it enter his skin. Beth simply strokes his trunk as he kneels down, he is succumbing to the dart. Backing up Beth watches as he peacefully closes his eyes. Beth, Leanne and their mother help Ted and Marty with the fence.
With only two post hole diggers only Ted and Kelly dug the holes. With in twenty minutes of the elephant falling asleep they had the outline of the enclosure in the ground. Next they slid the cross beams into place. The fence stretched ten feet high. There was a second level of posts dug, it would be more of a mental barrier, he could lean against this fence but if he wanted to, he could charge through both levels with ease.
Beth turns around and sees that her dad and built a brace around his trunk. He had it braced in five sections. While Paul and Marty use a pulley attached to the trees to hang the gate to the elephants enclosure, Beth went to check on him.
“How is he daddy?” Asks Beth.
“Nothing in his trunk feels too damaged, luckily it might be similar to a strained neck, so like a neck I braced it, the way it is he wont be able to take the braces off, he should have them on for a couple of days, after I will take them off and see if he can move. Since he bonded with you, Beth you will have to take care of him. He is going to need to be fed, luckily your mother found so much fruit, we have plenty even for something as large as him. While he is getting better, I am going to mix a pain killer together from the tranquilizer darts, we need him to relax so that he can heal.”
“So we won’t chain him up?” Asks Beth.
“No, not if he stays this calm. Without being physical with an elephant it take much longer to train him.” Informs Jack.
“I want him to listen to me out of respect not fear.” Says Beth.
“Then his training is on you young lady, he is a massive responsibility. I think you are ready for it.”
That night they had venison steaks, Beth wolfed hers down and made her way back to the elephant, he had woken up. Her father told the other children to stay away from him. That was easier said than done. Paul was dying to see it, and Leanne hadn’t stopped coming up with names. She had a few cute ones.
The elephant looks like he is slightly drunk, but he is calm. Beth feeds him pieces of watermelon. He eats the fruit, his trunk lays motionless, but thanks to the painkillers he looks at peace. He was still laying down, but pet him behind his large ears, the skin is surprisingly soft.
Her father gave Beth a large turkey baster, she fills it up from the bucket of water. he opens his mouth and Beth squirts the water into his mouth.
“There you go, how does that taste, I bet it taste better with out the booger flavor from your trunk, elephants suck water through their trunks and squirt it into their mouths... The elephant just blinks his eyes. He seems to like it when Beth talks to him.
She gave him nearly the entire bucket of water, by the time her father came over to check on her.
“Honey I am going to stay out here with you tonight.”
“Have you thought of a name for him yet?”
“No, but he does need one. I was thinking something simple like Fred.” When Beth said Fred, the elephant perks up. She says it again in a soft and sweet voice and he seems to like it.
“Well looks like he is now Fred.” Says her father.
“He folds out two chairs inside the enclosure, Fred seems to disregard her father’s presence, but he always seems acutely aware of Beth. Never in Beth’s wildest dreams did she think she would be nursing an elephant back to health, let alone naming one as their new pet…