Grumpy Beast the Heffalump [from Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne] went to work in the morning wearing a gray suit. Mrs. Grumpy Beast sat on a bump and cried.
“Oh, Grumpy Beast, Grumpy Beast, don’t leave me all alone. I have no job to go to.”
Liam the little baby Heffalump cried too, and hit and bit and spat, for his mummy was all in tears, and he did not like his father, Grumpy Beast, when this happened.
Mrs. Grumpy Beast was turning out to be a lot like her mother. But Mr. Grumpy Beast was nothing like Mrs. Grumpy Heffalump’s father. Grumpy Beast liked to drink Budweiser beer and flip through the channels on TV with the remote control. (Mrs. Grump Heffalump’s father was a brilliant scientist who came from a whole different strain of beasts.) Mrs. Grumpy Heffalump loved Mr. Grumpy Beast Heffalump very much, but she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. She had horrible, horrible worries about little Liam Grumpy Beast Heffalump. What on earth were they going to do?
One day Mrs. Grumpy Beast made a decision. “Oh dear,” she said to herself, “things will change.” She had been reading to Liam from a story about squirrels and nuts that she had read once when she was a human beast. (Liam was too young to understand, but Mrs, Grumpy Beast liked reading to him from this book anyway.)
Mrs. Grumpy Beast decided that she was going to ferret out some of the golden nuggets that Mr. Heffalump stored away when he came home at night and perpetrate–a plan.
“LIam,” she said in a whisper. “I have a plan!”
Liam could tell that his mummy was excited, and he began to clap his hands.
“Well, Liam,” Mrs. Heffalump said. “I am going to take twenty-four gold nuggets from the jar behind the coat that your father keeps. I am going to take these nuggets to the store and exchange them for fine tweed. And then I am going to come home and cut the tweed and make one hundred beautiful, fine suits of tweed. Before the day is done, I will have these one hundred suits of fine tweed suits made. Before the day is done, I will go to the market, where I will sell two of these fine suits before the market closes, and then I will have enough nuggets to replace all the nuggets I have taken out of your father’s hiding place. Then, I will have ninety-eight fine tweed suits with which you and I can do as we wish.”
LIam Heffalump was wel pleased with his mother, and she was well pleased with her joy at the prospect of a hopeful outcome to their heretofore sometime misery.
So, Mrs. Heffalump–Mommy Heffalump–decided that she would at all costs do this. She would go ahead with her plan.
Liam had two dead little brothers and sisters, older than himself, who Mrs. Heffalump had not ever seen because she had had two frilly-frolly, never-tell abortions. This was the main thing of the sometime heretofore misery that had to find its way out. Mrs. Grumpy Heffalump’s hope–her joyful hope–was that ninety-eight beautiful tweed suits would do as well as one hundred in the greater scheme of things–that things would somehow work out.
Mrs. Heffalump would find a way back in time, and Liam would grown and change with her as she did this–and his brother and sister would undergo that sea change into something rich and strange, somewhere where they were. Somehow they would become coral and pearl in the suction tank of Mommy Heffalump’s mind, and Liam Heffalump would find his way to his true name. Or Mrs. Heffalump, and probably Liam Heffalump with her, would die trying.
It occurred to Mrs. Heffalump, as she ticked the suits off on her fingers thinking of the rich and famous people she could sell the suits to for large amounts of money,that, if she had enough money, she could pay to push California off the West Coast where she had had the beastly abortions, and then her dead children would directly find their way to the bottom of the ocean. (She thought of the cat buried too high up at the farm in Pennsylvania where Grandma and Grandpa Potato Spud lived and wondered for a moment whether that was why all this had happened.)
Mrs. Heffalump thought of old times \when she was still a human beast,, a brilliant scientist human beast’s daughter attending a human beast university as a human beast student–before meeting Mr. Grumpy Beast–and tried to figure out whether she would trade this time for that–this time in all its quintessence–given her children lying still, dead, perfect at the bottom of the ocean casting their spell upon the universe. Crying, she told Liam that they would look up at the stars that night.
(Abby said to Bill, “My womb is a place of death.” And then suddenly there was a little life in it, a bright light…)