The rhinoceros sat on my sofa, his feet upon the coffee table. He looked down his nose, and around his horn at me, puffing on his pipe.
“Hmm,” he said.
I thought to myself, “What is this rhinoceros doing in my living room?”
Taking his pipe from his mouth, the rhinoceros said, “Do you have anything to eat?”
I should tell this big, fat rhinoceros to take his big, muddy feet off our coffee table and put out that smelly pipe! I thought to myself.
But I just looked at the rhinoceros, sitting there on the sagging sofa. He shifted his feet, and the coffee table creaked and groaned. And then, “CRACK,” a leg of the coffee table broke and fell off.
The rhinoceros said, “Uff!”
Then the sofa made a sound like, “CRUUUNNCH,” and the side of the sofa where the Rhinoceros was sitting crashed to the floor, “Bam.”
The rhinoceros said, “Uff!” again, and his pipe fell in his lap. He grabbed for it with his big stump hands and tried to sweep the ashes off his lap.
“Your furniture is pretty flimsy,” the rhinoceros said. He seemed irritated.
I didn’t want to look at him. I might laugh. So I looked out the window.
Cody, our cat, was sneaking through the bushes hunting birds, or mice, or squirrels, or whatever he thought was interesting that morning.
The rhinoceros was busy trying to get comfortable on the sofa. I decided to go out and see what Cody was up to.
We lived out on Forest Lane and our back yard meandered off into the woods. We always had lots of forest creatures come visiting, usually looking for food, but sometimes just to be nosey.
This morning, Berty, the blue jay, was making a racket, bawling out Cody for sneaking around doing his hunting.
Cody would stop sneaking, sit back and look up and give Berty a disgusted look. I think Cody said, “Can’t you be quiet, Berty? You’re scaring away the squirrels on purrrr-puss.”
Berty hopped from limb to limb, all the time cocking her head and keeping an eye on Cody. “Am not, am not,” Berty said.
Cody pretended to be washing his paws. First he did the right paw. He turned it this way and that carefully washing it with his pink little cat’s tongue. Then he lifted the left paw, glanced up at Berty, and began washing it in the same careful way. When he was through, he got up slowly and very nonchalantly walked off into the woods.
I was just about to follow Cody when Berty hoped near me and said, “That cat is very sneaky!”
I looked up at Berty sitting there with her head cocked to one side staring down at me. “He’s just being a cat,” I said.
“Exactly!” said Berty, and flew off into the woods.
I stepped through the hedge that separated our yard from the woods and looked around for Cody. He was nowhere to be seen. “Where is that cat?” I said.
“Oh he’s around here somewhere, you bet!”
I looked around. “Who said that?” I asked.
I saw the bushes move, and then a squirrel came out.
“Who are you?” I asked the squirrel.
“Who are you?” he said.
“I live in that house,” I said and turned and pointed back the way I’d come.
“I don’t see any house,” said the squirrel.
“It’s back there through the trees and behind the hedge.”
“Well, I can’t see through trees or over hedges,” said the squirrel.
“Well, I assure you the house is there. It has a rhinoceros in it.”
The squirrel started laughing, “Har, har, har, har. A rhinoceros indeed,” it said.
I saw a funny looking tree nearby and said to the squirrel, “See that tree? I’ll climb it and show you my house.”
I started to climb the tree. All of a sudden the tree trunk began to rise up and I found myself hanging from the trunk upside down.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?” the trunk said to me.
“I was climbing you to see if I could see my house. I didn’t expect a tree trunk to rise up in the air and turn upside down,” I said.
“Who are you calling a tree trunk?” said the tree trunk.
I heard laughter, “Har, har, har.” I looked down and saw the squirrel staring up at me hanging upside down on the talking tree.
“That’s not a tree, you silly little boy. That’s a giant squirrel with a big, long neck,” said the squirrel.
“Am not,” said the tree.
“What are you?” I asked.
“He has a lot of questions,” said the squirrel.
“I am a giraffe,” said the tree.
I turned my head around and looked up and sure enough, the tree had a head and the head had big ears, and little, stumpy horns, and big, soft eyes, with beautiful, long lashes, and big floppy lips.
The giraffe lowered its head and said, “Would you please get off my neck?”
I slid off the giraffe’s neck and stood there looking up at the giraffe. It was as tall as the trees – taller!
I felt something pulling at my pants leg and looked down. The squirrel looked up at me and whispered, “What’s a giraffe, and how did it get so tall, and what’s it doing here?”
I looked up at the giraffe. “What are you doing here?” I asked.
“I am looking for a rhinoceros,” said the giraffe.
“Oh!” I exclaimed. “There’s a rhinoceros in my house.”
“What’s a rhinoceros?” asked the squirrel.
Just then Cody the cat leaped out of the bushes with its claws out and its ears back and hissed at the squirrel, “Hisssss!”
Cody snickered, and then sat down, licked his front paw, and wiped his face with it. When he finished cleaning his face, he looked at me and said, “What are those tall, spotted poles you’re standing under?”
“Those aren’t poles,” I said. “Those are this giraffe’s legs,” and I pointed up at the giraffe.
Cody craned his head up and up and up and stared at the giraffe. “That’s the biggest, tallest, silliest looking squirrel I ever saw,” said Cody.
The giraffe lowered its head all the way down to the ground where Cody was sitting and blew air out between its floppy lips making a loud noise that sounded like, “Blatta-blatta-blatta-blatta thpftt!”
Cody yowled, jumped high in the air and ran off as fast as his legs could carry him.
“Now then,” said the giraffe, “Where did you say that rhinoceros was?”
“In my house,” I said. “Smoking a pipe. And it broke the coffee table, and the sofa,” I said, taking a deep breath.
“Rhino’s have no manners,” said the giraffe. “We had better go to your house and get the rhinoceros out. Will you show me where your house is?”
I looked around. Where is my house? I thought. I looked first one way and then another. I was getting worried. “Gee,” I said to the giraffe, “I don’t know which way to go.”
The giraffe brought its head down until it was looking me right in the eye. “I suppose you can climb back on my neck and look around. You’ll probably see it.”
So I did. But this time I stayed right side up.
The giraffe started raising its head. It went up and up and up. I got higher, and higher, and higher. “Oh, I’m getting dizzy,” I said to the giraffe.
“Hang on tight,” the giraffe said. I could see over the shrubs, then over the bushes, then over the dogwood trees, and then over the oak trees. And then I saw my house.
“There it is!” I shouted. “Over there!”
“Ouch!” said the giraffe. “You don’t have to shout. You’re hurting my ears,” and it waggled its big, soft ears.
The giraffe started walking towards my house. Its long, skinny legs stretched out and out, front and back, back and front, in long, loping, slow motion strides. Suddenly there we were in my backyard.
“Gee, you sure move fast for moving so slow,” I said.
“I have really long legs,” said the giraffe, and lowered its head so I could get off. “Now where is that rhinoceros?”
I ran over and opened the back door, “Come on in,” I said to the giraffe.
The giraffe was taller than my house. It lowered its head and looked in the door. “I don’t think so,” said the giraffe. “You better go in and tell Rollo to come out.”
“Who’s Rollo?” I asked.
“The Rhino,” said the giraffe. “He’s Rollo. My name is Jessica.” Jessica batted her long, beautiful lashes at me.
I ran in the house and found Rollo sitting on the sofa where I’d left him. He was fast asleep. I went over and poked his shoulder.
“Uff,” said Rollo. “What, what, uh?”
“Jessica is outside. She’s looking for you,” I said.
Rollo rolled off the sofa and lumbered out the door. I followed close behind, but not too close. Rollo was big and clumsy.
When Jessica saw Rollo she turned her head to the side and looked at him with just one eye. She fluttered her lips and said, “What do you think you’re doing in this boys house?”
Rollo looked at the ground. “Nothing,” he said.
“Were you smoking a pipe?” asked Jessica.
“It wasn’t my pipe,” said Rollo.
Jessica shook her head. “Well, that certainly doesn’t make it right, does it?”
Rollo just rocked sideways and didn’t say anything.
“We have to go back, now,” said Jessica.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
Jessica fluttered her floppy lips. “Vacation, indeed. Rollo just decided to take a walk right through the fence. Didn’t you Rollo?”
Rollo swayed from side to side and didn’t say anything.
“Didn’t you Rollo?” said Jessica.
“I was just going to find something to eat,” said Rollo.
Jessica looked at me. “I’m sorry if Rollo caused you problems. He's just a little boy, you know.”
“That’s okay,” I said. He didn’t mean to.” She calls him 'little?' I thought.
“I didn’t mean to,” said Rollo.
“Well, we had better get back to the zoo before we’re missed,” said Jessica. “Bye now.” And she and Rollo walked off towards the woods.