Jerome the Giraffe is a tough guy
Nalcor had been back a few weeks now, living at Mizkat’s house, the official residence of the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s Rich and Poor Province. He is attached to Mizkat and he likes to be here, but he misses Labrador, and his cozy lodge in the marsh alongside the Big Cigar River. Still, he can’t think about that now, he has made a decision to come back to the Big Fog because he feels an obligation to help Mizkat navigate the turmoil in which she found herself.
She has made her government’s decision to dam the Big Cigar River, not just the most important item on her priority list, but the only item. To Nalcor it seems as though she could use all the help she can get. Nalcor, the little muskrat, doesn’t agree with much of what Nalcor, the energy company, is up to.
It was a supreme irony that Mizkat chose to name him after that company. He knows she did it out of love, so he finds it hard to blame her. She loves her little pet muskrat and she loves the idea of this enormous mega project that has been named after Muskrat Falls, despite the fact that every muskrat in Labrador and all their cousins in Newfoundland are opposed to it.
The damming of the Big Cigar River had been dreamed up, as far as Nalcor could tell, by Mizkat’s predecessor the Angry Man who Talks Too Fast and the big boss at Nalcor, the company, Ed with the White Head. In the background, but always with his eye on the main chance, lurked Jerome the Giraffe.
Now, the Angry Man has buzzed off to become a mega-builder, best known for the new townie suburb he is constructing. It is said it will equal the size of Gander and to honour its size and its creator has been nicknamed “Dander.”
He is now also the owner of a local hockey team, doing its best to copy the Toronto Maple Laughs by gaining more popularity with each new loss in an endless string. More popular with the fans, maybe, but from what Nalcor knows of the Angry Man, losing hockey games will only make him angrier still.
For his part, since the sanctioning of Muskrat Falls, Ed With the White Head has shifted his attention to the next “guaranteed bonanza” for future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians: the vast anticipated oil reserves in the Labrador Sea, an ice- infested body of water every bit as dangerous physically as Muskrat Falls is economically.
The retreat of Ed with the White Head and the Angry Man Who Talks Too Fast leaves Jerome the Giraffe as front man for Mizkat. The ever-ambitious Giraffe, unlike his gentle namesake, is known as a tough guy. Mindful of how popular the last tough guy was with the public, Mizkat has given Jerome the Finance portfolio in anticipation of upcoming arm wrestling between government and the public service.
Lying on the carpet in front of the television in Mizkat’s front room, Nalcor watches as Jerome tries to explain how the province can be both booming and broke at the same time.
“No wonder they call him giraffe,” thinks Nalcor. “He’s really sticking his neck out on this.”
Once again, the little muskrat marvels at how the humans, who tell themselves time and again that they, above all animals, are the most intelligent, can behave in a way that other animals would universally condemn as too stunned to live.
“Maybe it’s just that each one of these humans thinks he or she is the smartest human in the world, that anything they say will be believed because the rest of the humans are not bright enough to know the difference between up and down.
“That’s what Mizkat’s hired tough guy is trying to do. It might just work on the humans. But a muskrat would never fall for it.
“Apart from feeling that this human giraffe is insulting my little muskrat intelligence,” Nalcor grum- bles to himself, “I resent the fact that he is stealing my expression. It wouldn’t surprise me if the government, to support its upcoming battle with its public servants, printed signs and bumper stickers, changed the slogan on licence plates and yes, why not manufacture T-shirts with the slogan: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s Rich and Poor Province.”
… to be continued.
Peter Pickersgill is an artist and writer in Salvage, Bonavista Bay. He can be reached by email at the following: