A Fable

There wasn’t much that Alois, the groundhog, hadn’t seen. He’d lived a very long life filled with lots of interesting experiences - cruise ship entertainment director, lumberjack, pastry chef to the Royal Court of Sweden, offshore roughneck. Why the very suggestion of his telling all about his two-year stint as a masseur at that gentlemen’s club just off Bay St. was providing him with a very tidy retirement income to this day. And that didn’t even count the book deal. No stingy defined-contribution pension plan for our Alois. But there was something about Caspar the owl’s announcement the evening before that threw him off completely.

“What,” Alois snuffled, “you’re entering politics?”

“it came to me the other night,” Caspar said. “I was sitting around giving my claws a good restorative stretch and obsessing about the future that way I often do when, out of the black, I thought, yes, that’s it!”

“Do you have a party picked out?” Alois asked, still trying to figure out what possible angle Caspar could be working here. There had to be one. Up to now, Caspar hadn’t shown the slightest interest in politics at all, much less running for public office. Why, even on election nights when when Alois was holed up in his den warily watching the returns on Fox, Caspar was usually out chasing down some unsuspecting mouse or vole or just sitting on a branch blinking into the murk looking for trouble.

“Conservative, of course, what else? I’m the perfect fit. I have long believed that everyone should do their own hunting. And I have a taste for raw meat, long talons just right for small victims and big round eyes which just ooze innocence when I’m caught up to no good. Just listen: Hoo me? Doesn’t that sound convincing?”

Alois must have looked a little dubious.

“You don’t think I have it in me, do you?” Caspar said. “You think that the minute someone says the wrong thing at some all-candidates meeting I’ll start flying wildly about the room dropping feathers and shit on everyone below like some half-assed barn owl. I’m a great snowy. We’re not like that at all; we have discipline and dignity.”

“I’m sure you do,” said Alois, “and that’s just my point. Isn’t the political life a little beneath you? I mean, don’t you prefer being perched above it all looking sagely, if a little sadly, down on the scurrying world beneath, sympathetic yet unconnected? Why would someone like you want to go mixing it up like some garden-variety Alberta ground squirrel with a couple of degrees from the University of Calgary and a taste for cheap wine and the writings of Ayn Rand and Leo Strauss?”

Truth be told, Alois considered himself a bit of a thinker. Even though he’d never read either Rand or Strauss, he liked throwing the names about from time to time secure in the knowledge that nobody else in the forest had either. Why sometimes he even claimed that the “Wealth of Nations” was his favourite book. And, in a way it was as it was just the right thickness to prop up one corner of the old beer fridge he kept in the basement.

“I’m not sure who those people are,” said Caspar, “and I’ve never been to Calgary, thank God, but I just think the time has come for me to make some kind of contribution. Anyway, I’m not getting any younger.”

“And what does age have to do with it?,” asked Alois, suspicions rising.

“Well, if you must know, I’ve been approached by some very important people who noticed me sitting on my branch a few nights back and told me I cut just the figure to make it in Parliament. I can’t tell you who they were but they completely turned my head and got me thinking in a new direction.”

“So,” said Alois, “the business about this just coming to you was…”

“An exaggeration.” said Caspar. “Exaggerating is all the rage in politics and I’m practicing. What do you think?”

“I’m sure I don’t know what to think,” said Alois, “but you do need to get your downy tail feathers elected. What happens if you go to all this trouble and the voters, in their wisdom, choose some mangy chipmunk from down the hill?”

“In that case,” said Caspar, “I’m told there’s a Senate seat warmed up and waiting for me. They’re not bothering with elections anymore for those. Anyway I think the Senate would be a better fit for my sleep all day, feast all night lifestyle. And first up on the menu, that chipmunk.

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