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We were talking about elephants. More precisely, we were discussing elephant ears and their use as blankets on a cold night. Those things are huge. If Africa ever has cold nights (a topic of some debate during this conversation) then those rare people who can make friends with elephants could probably make very good use of those massive ears as blankets. It was brought up that an elephant's trunk can make an exquisite pillow if fluffed properly.

Of course, the elephant would have to be alive while sleeping next to it. Dead elephants have absolutely no body heat. On a cold African night (if such things exist), a warm bodied elephant dreaming soundly about exotic peanuts from around the world while cuddled up next to it would be a most excellent thing. The slow, steady heartbeat that sounds like a deep-seated congo drum against your ear, the animal's soft hair nuzzled against your cheek... babies sleep more fitfully than those precious souls who are blessed with an elephant as a sleeping companion.

I and my table mate, a young woman I'd known for years named Katherine, were sitting in this wonderful cafe, drinking our hot teas and sharing our exotic thoughts. The world around us seemed to fade away as it was replaced by our shared vision of an African heaven. The name of the cafe is "The Leaf It Be Cafe." It's a small, two story affair with beautiful lattice work. Many people claim that it's the best kept secret in Winston-Salem since the witchcraft trials. Katherine and I have been regulars there since our old college days, back when I was a Freshman at Wake Forest and she a Freshman transferring from Clemson University in South Carolina.

"Have you ever been to Africa?" I asked Katherine.

"No," she said. "And you?"

I shook my head soberly. "Not even a grain of sand. But I've seen lots of footage in movies and whatnot. I believe I read something about it in Alice Walker's 'The Color Purple' when I was a kid. It sounded lovely."

"Mm-hm," Katherine mused. Miss Walker's book-turned-Speilberg-movie was a previous conversation from many months ago, but we remember it fondly.

"Hey!" someone from the balcony above us called. We looked up. It was another regular at the cafe, Jerome. "Are you guys gonna eat that avocado?" He pointed to the avacado half on Katherine's plate and then jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Suzanne's got another one of her weird cravings again."

Suzanne is Jermoe's wife. She'd been pregnant for seven months and looked ready to pop. In true pregnancy style, she often had the most absurd cravings at the strangest of moments. Once she asked for Elmer's glue, which ended up making her sick to her stomach, but beat the hell out of that craving. She shouted from out of our field of vision in no uncertain terms, "Leave the peel!"

Jerome made a face at us that spoke volumes. "What can I do?" the face told us. "She's my wife. I knocked her up, so it's my responsibility to put up with this crap." His eyebrows arched plaintitively. "Can ya help a guy out?" he called down to us.

I looked at Katherine and she merely shrugged. She was done with her meal, a California salad, and didn't care one way or the other. She patently hated avocados. I craned my neck upwards at Jerome and said, "Just a minute, pal! Coming right up!"

"I'll be right down," he said happily.

"No!" I shouted. "Stay there. I'll send it up to you." I reached down to my duffle bag, which was sitting by my side. Katherine and I had met at the cafe that night just after my session at the local gym. I liked going to the gym a lot these days. Naturally, my body frame didn't improve in size, but the endorphine high is always great.

Jerome frowned. "How the hell you gonna do that?" he asked. "You're a good twenty feet down there. All I have to do is-"

I cut him off. "Is wait. Why waste the time coming up and down two flights of stairs? Hold on." I reached into my duffle bag and produced a tennis ball and a shoehorn. The other items in my bag were just clothes and were relatively useless in that situation.

Katherine watched silently but with keen interest. She had no idea what I was going to do. Honestly, neither did I. I just stared at the objects before me: a tennis ball, an avocado half and a packet of stick-on googly eyes left behind by the previous customers at our table. Silverware was there, too, as well as our plates and coffee mugs filled with Earl Grey tea. Then inspiration struck.

I picked up the avocado half and applied it to the fuzzy surface of the tennis ball. This done, I turned the ball upside down over my plate to test the avocado's grip- just as I had thought, it held like velcro to the ball's fuzz. I set the laden ball on my plate and examined the shoehorn's curvature. Jai alai was something I liked to dabble in at the gym every now and then. Over the years of sporadic playing I'd gotten quite adept and learning how to use the scooped portion of a jai alai pelota to curl the ball and toss it at my team mates. I placed the shoehorn on the outer lip of my plate so that the largest part of its scooped shape hung over the plate's edge and placed the tennis ball into the bowled end of the shoehorn. Perfect fit.

I looked up at Jerome and shouted, "Catch!" upon which time I slammed the narrow end of the shoehorn with requisite force and sent the tennis ball sailing into the air upwards.

Surprised, Jerome outstretched his hands and the tennis ball fell into his cupped palms, as though it was made to do so. In a sense, I guess it was. I suppose I could have just lobbed the tennis ball up to him by hand, but using the shoehorn as a lever seemed more... interesting and challenging. Certainly, the tennis ball's trajectory could have been wild, missing Jerome by a figurative mile, but it didn't and all was well.

Jerome looked down at me, tennis ball and avocado half gripped firmly in his hand, and said, "Good shot! Thanks!"

I smiled up at him and waved. "No problem! I hope Suzanne enjoys it!" I looked back at Katherine and smiled triumphantly.

"Alan, that was truly amazing," she said.

I shrugged. "What can I say? MacGyver taught me that."

Confusion clouded Katherine's features. "You know, I think I've seen just about every episode of MacGyver and I don't recall ever seeing him do that."

"Oh," I said, waving it off, "well, of course not. No. What I meant is that he taught me to be resourceful."

"Ah," she said with understanding. "Well, then, I'd say you learned the lesson well." She looked at the shoehorn for a moment and then back at me. "Interesting solution."

I smiled. "Yes. Wasn't it?" I picked up my coffee mug and sipped my Earl Grey tea. "Now... where were we?"

"Elephant ears," Katherine prodded.

"Oh, yes. Elephant ears. Hrm... nope. Let's move on to something else."



Note: This is a work of fiction and a challenge from impishlaugh. She charged me with writing something using a tennis ball, an avacodo, stick-on googly eyes and a shoehorn. "Construct something fabulous," she said. I did the best that I could.

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