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THE PUSILLANIMUS

    Once a Pusillanimus democratius got stuck in the mud.
    This surprising event was in fact simply another sign of the perilous world inhabited by political mascots. The unsuspecting pusillanimus clearly didn’t have the slightest idea what it was getting itself into, having only just been recruited as a replacement mascot when the previous one, a donkey, was suddenly judged to be over the hill and ready for the knacker’s. Although the donkey looked to have a few years of service left in it, those making the decision had no doubt about the wisdom of appealing to the pusillanimus instead.
    Why should they have had any doubts? By comparison with the donkey, the pusillanimus inspired far greater confidence of success. Given its imposing size and the strength that was assumed to go with it, who could have predicted that something like a mudhole would be its undoing? Certainly not the pusillanimus itself.
    Mudholes weren’t exactly unknown territory for it, to be sure. It could claim to be an expert when it came to long wallows and slow movement. At times it could appear nearly comatose when the mud felt comfortable enough to doze right off. Difficult to believe, then, that it would get stuck in its own element.
    But it did.
    Everything happened so quickly even the pusillanimus wasn’t sure what befell it. Idly basking away, it had apparently been spooked by some elephant noise or other from the bulrushes, lost its head, and bolted straight for muddier depths. Without glancing back, it had strained to find a safe place where it could blur the lines of its true shape and disguise itself as something else, a lifeless stump for instance.
    Only when it was up to its eyeballs in deep mud did the pusillanimus pause long enough to realize its fears had carried it completely out of sight of terra firma. It could no longer make out either what direction it had come from or what direction it should head in. And as it paddled aimlessly in place, puzzling over what to do next, the pusillanimus could feel the very mud it had looked to for salvation starting to congeal around it.
    What was the ultimate fate of this once-promising substitute for the old donkey? Strange to say, the reaction in many quarters was a dismissive “Who cares?” While those who did care weren’t certain where in the mudhole the pusillanimus had ended up or whether, if finally located, it would recognize their efforts to save it.
    In its fuddled state, would it simply give in once and for all to reflex terror and sink out of sight entirely?