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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #557
The Brick Elephant
David Gunn

Once upon a time in a far-off land there lived an elephant. Like other elephants, it was big -- big enough to dwarf much of its surroundings. Unlike other elephants, it was made not of skin and bones and a trunk, but rather bricks. A lot of bricks. For which it was teased unmercifully by its friends. "Kamaraja, you look like a brick you-know-what house!" said one. "Hey Kusumesh, is that a smokestack you’re dragging around or are you just glad to see us?!" taunted another. And the elephant, whose real name was Krishnala, just cringed and tried to suffer the gibes in good humor. But then something very strange happened. While all of his friends stopped growing when they reached a height of eleven or twelve feet, Koormadhi (which was really his name) kept on getting bigger: fourteen feet, sixteen feet, twenty. He eventually reached a toe-to-shoulder height of fifty-four feet and towered over his elephant buddies, who had begun to look elsewhere for someone to tease.

The tribe's pachydermatologist guessed that Krishnala's extra large body would accommodate extra large internal organs. And she was right. His stomach, intestines, bladder, and Wurlitzer were all super-sized. But his heart -- now that was really big. So big, that he felt compelled to agree to almost anything that others asked of him.

"Chase the crows from my lotus field, if you please, Kusumesh," entreated one. The giant elephant dutifully raised his trunk half a hundred feet in the air and whipped it back and forth over the field, whap, whap, whap! The frightened crows took flight and never came back.

"Take my sledge to the river, fill it with bream, and bring it back to me, will you, Koormadhi?" asked another. And without hesitation, he did. He even carefully filleted the fish with his sharp tusks and then baked them in a galangal curry.

"Kamaraja," implored a third, "will you allow us to hold a concert of marvelous music inside you?" Hmm. Krishnala had to think about that one. He was, after all, one of those animals that never forgot. So he hadn't forgotten the time those so-called musicians and dancers performed "The Rite of Sprinklers" in his abdomen and left his viscera covered with an unpleasant, slurry-like substance. No, he wouldn’t allow something like that to happen again. However, the person making the request -- and it was a human, after all -- seemed nice enough. Her fluttery voice reminded him of the Trance Fountain of Namdroling. Plus she had a pair of bass clarinets stitched to her rucksack to ward off evil appoggiaturas (presumably), and that more than anything else convinced him of her trustworthiness. His heart swelled as he thought that, yes, he would allow her to hold a concert inside of him!

The day of the event arrived and Koormadhi was as excited as he had ever been, except perhaps for the time he discovered that adrenalin plant deep in the forest and ate every last petal. The human -- whose name he could not pronounce, though it sounded a bit like a carnivorous annelid worm he once knew -- had spruced up his innards nicely. (Doilies covering his intestines? Who ever heard of such a thing?!) Then she watched intently as a tribe of technicians installed noise producers atop his latissimus dorsi. It didn't hurt. In fact, when one of the devices was turned on, it tickled his elephancy. More mysterious sounding-things were brought in, and he had to move his spleen out of the way to accommodate them. A few bricks fell off in the process, but the application of a little mortar made them right as rain again.

Performers in various stages of proficiency arrived, and each seemed delighted if not downright awestruck to be playing in the gut of a big brick elephant. In return, Krishnala repressed an overpowering urge to break wind upwind of them. Soon, audients, both pachydermal and human, began to trickle in, intent on an afternoon of quality spectating.

At last, the concert commenced. Kusumesh was at once struck by the intriguing sounds that emanated from his insides, probably because a musician was striking his insides. Rather hard, too, and with a resonant Gujarati gourd. But at last it stopped, and the elephant seemed none the worse for it. Though he was certainly no expert music critic, the piece that followed sounded to him like a severe bout of borborygmus. His stomach responded reflexively, briefly providing a natural counterpoint to the gurgling sounds, which amused the audients no end. On the other hand, the third piece ....

But why must Kamaraja struggle to describe it when you can easily hear it for yourselves?! It’s true. An audient had spirited a noise copying apparatus into the very bowels of the brick elephant and recorded the concert. And we have that recording. Here. In the house. The house that today features the five hundred and fifty-seventh radiophonic episode in a series, and the only one that knows what a brick elephant's borborygmus sounds like. If you want to know, too, then join us in the house. Just mind the large pile of dung by the door.