My neighbor has an elephant dressed like Santa up on his roof. Every night when it gets dark, he plugs it in. Two things happen. The elephant inflates, and he lights up. He is very big and very bright.
Every night at 10:00, my neighbor unplugs elephant Santa. It’s sad, but I watch to see elephant Santa deflate completely, flatten out into a red, green and gray plastic heap. During the day I imagine elephant Santa roasting in the sun. I can almost smell that baking plastic. When it rains, I sometimes catch myself picturing elephant Santa drowning as the water beats down on him.
But every night when the sun goes down, elephant Santa gets pumped up big as life again, and he lights up just as brightly, as if his whole day had been jolly.
Last night, before I went to bed, I noticed that elephant Santa hadn’t been turned off at 10:00. When I woke up this morning, elephant Santa was still standing up there, and even though the sun was up, I knew that he was still lit up.
When I came home this afternoon, I saw that elephant Santa still stood tall and proud. Wondering if there might be some problem, I went over to my neighbor’s house and knocked. No answer. I walked around the side and found a window where I could see inside. My neighbor lay on the floor. I called out to him. Nothing.
I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911. When the police and an ambulance arrived, I explained what I’d seen, they broke in, and I took them to where the body lay on the floor.
My neighbor was a ghostly white. An EMT prepared to administer CPR, and as reached in to clear my neighbors throat, he fished out a peanut shell.
Attempts to revive my neighbor failed. “He must have been eating peanuts and accidentally inhaled the shell,” the EMT said.
I waited outside while they took the body away. As the officers were leaving, one of them said, “Hey, look up there.” He pointed to elephant Santa. “I think that’s one of those inflatable things. We’d better unplug it.”
I said, “I think I know where the plug is. I’ll go turn it off and lock the door on the way out.”
The police took off, and I went back in. Up on the second floor, I located the extension cord that ran out the window to the roof. I looked out and saw elephant Santa standing tall, his lights beginning to blaze now the sun was almost down.
I reached for the plug, but a sudden chill ran down my spine. As quickly as I could, I ran downstairs, across the street, and into my house, slamming the front door behind me. Peeking out of the window, now that it was completely dark, I could see elephant Santa standing up, taller and more brightly lit than he’d ever been before.
No no no. If anyone were going to unplug elephant Santa, it wouldn’t be me.