Jerome the Gi­raffe is a tough guy

The Compass - - OPINION -

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:

pick­ers­gill@mac.com

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