I watch the elephant crash to the hardwood floor. It seems to happen so slowly that it feels like I’m outside of time. Nevertheless, my chubby hands don’t get there fast enough to alter the course of its fall. Major Altitude, a six-inch man in a green jumpsuit, is thrown from the back of the elephant. He slides to a stop several feet away, but he’s made of plastic so he may have survived. I examine the elephant. Its left front leg is broken clean off above the shoulder.
My eyes glide over to the second elephant, the larger one, mounted by Sergeant Slaughter. Slaughter stares at his fallen comrade from behind aviator sunglasses. He has the look of smug indifference permanently plastered on his face. No doubt he’s calling this in to base: this recon mission just turned into a rescue mission. Major Altitude can still be saved—the elephant is my problem.
Someone is ascending the basement steps. No doubt the adults downstairs heard the crash. There’s no time to hide the crime scene. The elephant is far too big to be stashed under a couch cushion. I can either come clean or formulate an excuse. My imagination gets to work.
It’s my grandma who walks into the room. I’ve lied to my parents (that was easy), but I’ve never lied to her. She sees the broken elephant and her face does something that I’ve never seen her face do: it looks disappointed. A pretty convincing story forms in my mind, but by the time sound leaves my lips all that comes out is, “I’m sorry.” The truth is that I really am sorry; I just didn’t expect to break so easily.
Grandma quickly switches off her disappointment—my parents are coming. Before they even enter the room she’s explaining to them that it’s not a big deal and Ed, could you find the Krazy Glue and at least no one got hurt. My parents get their reprimand in anyway, but it doesn’t sting too badly. I cry because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you do wrong to someone and get caught, but deep down I’m trying to figure out what just happened between my grandma and I. I broke something she cares about, yet she’s the one coming to my defense. It’s then that I realize that she’s not just my father’s mother, the person who sneaks me extra Dream Puffs cookies and takes me to McDonald’s and buys me cap guns, she’s more than that—she’s my ally.
My grandpa glues the leg back on the elephant, but there’s a visible fracture line. It looks good, we all say, even though I know we can all see that line. As for Major Altitude, it turns out that there was a second recon team in the area when the incident occurred. He was safely extracted and is expected to make a full recovery. And if you think that that bit of good news put a smile on Sergeant Slaughter’s face then you don’t know Sergeant Slaughter.