TRICKSTER by Joyce Martin Perz October 2015
Miles of desert spread from the horizon to the foothills, where Tortoise dug his burrow beside one of several piles of rocks. Being unsociable by nature, Tortoise withdrew into his shell whenever a stranger approached. Many a lizard, snake and tarantula traveled by his stone monolith without suspecting that Tortoise was nearby, watching them.
Early one morning, Tortoise saw Jack Rabbit hopping toward him. As was his habit, Tortoise disappeared into his shell.
When Jack Rabbit arrived, he made a formal announcement. “Oh wise and ancient Tortoise,” he said. “I have traveled a great distance over rocky ground and through wild grasses to speak with you.”
Tortoise was not inclined to engage in a conversation with Jack Rabbit. He remained in his shell.
“Kind sir,” Jack Rabbit pleaded. “I need to speak with you. Together we can right a great wrong that has been done to my kind.”
Tortoise felt no responsibility to assist Jack Rabbit. He did not speak.
“Come out of your shell!” Jack Rabbit demanded. “Only a coward refuses to face his adversary.”
“Adversary?” Tortoise suddenly appeared. “I am certain we have never met and therefore could not have been opponents.”
“Do you deny knowledge of the infamous Tale of the Tortoise and the Hare?” Jack Rabbit asked.
“Slow and Steady won the race,” Tortoise replied.
“No! Tortoise did not win. He tricked Hare into believing they would take a rest. When Hare’s eyes were closed, Tortoise hurried to the finish line. This trick besmirched the reputation of rabbits worldwide. I demand a rematch!”
“The tortoise never said he was going to take a rest,” Tortoise told him.
Jack Rabbit grumbled. “Be that as it may, here is what I propose,” he said. “We race from here to the pile of rocks to the north. My friends are waiting for us there and will see you cross the finish line after me. I will be declared the winner and the news will spread far and wide.”
“I am willing to say ready, set, go,“ offered the Tortoise.
“Agreed,” said Jack Rabbit.
“On your mark,.” Tortoise said. “Get ready. Get set. GO!”
Jack Rabbit took off as if a coyote were nipping at his heels.
Tortoise pulled his head into his shell. After all, he had never said he was going to race.