The Only Good Elephant | Cat Pierro | The Hypocrite Reader

Cat Pierro

The Only Good Elephant

ISSUE 7 | LIES | AUG 2011

Poster for The Maltese Falcon, 1941

Sometimes it is hard not to lie. Even impossible?

Bogart: “What's the bird made of?”
Woman: “Porcelain, black stone, I don't know, I only saw it once for a minutes. Floyd showed it to me when he first got hold of it.”
Bogart: “You ARE a liar.”
Woman: “I am. I have always been a liar.”
Bogart: “Ha, well don't brag about it.”

Sometimes the air is so saturated with the stink of falsity that even the last true thing, the truth of the lie, the admission that everything has been lies, becomes itself infected with lie, and nothing remains in the sphere of possibility but lies, lies and more lies.

That’s what happens when you shine a spotlight on the elephant in the room. The guests watch expectantly as that elephant, blinking and sweating, clears his throat.

“It’s,” the elephant begins shakily. “It's—why—it's outrageous!” he spits. With that word (—outrageous!), he stands taller, frowns woefully, casts an authoritative gaze about the parlor. “I must announce to you fellows, with the greatest chagrin—and dismay!—that here—here, in this very room—there is an elephant! Yes, it's true! An elephant in the room!”

They raise an eyebrow.

Perhaps if we shine the light directly into his eyes, someone thinks. Let's make him wince a little. Make him shiver and quiver.

Now the elephant cowers.

“But fellows, it's true!” he gasps. “I have told the whole truth, all of it. I have left out not one—”

Even harsher light, then, if he wishes; horrible, glaring light—make him cry from the exposure!

Finally the elephant caves.

“Oh I can't bear it! So many little eyes upon me! And now still! Oh! And now still!” And collapsing he vanishes like a heavy sigh.

The air clears.

“He was a talker, wasn't he?” someone says.

“Certain creatures you just can't trust,” says another.

And they lower the lights.