Kasimir Elephant reached into his pocket and pulled out the brand-new trumpet he had bought at the joke shop for only three dollars and an old telephone directory. He gazed at the shiny musical instrument and sighed. Now he could play in his older brother’s marching band. His brother, Theodore, hated him and refused to let him play in the band, but now that he had the trumpet, Theodore would have to let him play. He’d have to! Because Theodore’s one weakness was he could never say no to a man with a trumpet, never, no never! Kasimir chuckled to himself, for soon Theodore would be caught by his own Achilles heel, and Kasimir would be triumphant!
Kasimir first realized he wanted, no, had to play in his brother’s marching band that night five years ago in Lake Miskatoo, Wisconsin (a small town just three miles east of the Iowa border, famous for its Spittoon Museum). He lay in the grass, looking up at the vast sea of stars above him, breathing in the crisp, autumn air, when he suddenly heard his mother scream, “Kasimir! You lousy little shit! Where are you? Yer brother needs his sponge bath! Get yer lazy ass up here, you spastic weasel!” Kasimir smiled at his mother’s colorful phrasing, languidly rose from the grass, and strolled back to the house. Theodore sat in the empty, wrought iron tub, playing his Norwegian flute. It was a little ditty their father had taught them, a tune the old man had learned in the navy. Kasimir told his brother how pretty the song was, and Theodore replied, “Eat my shit, you pathetic nimrod! Grab that sponge and start cleaning me, or I’ll ram this flute up your ass!”
Theodore had sadly lost his ability to wash himself in an accident at the town’s cracker factory. He had never been the same since, feeling as if his manhood had been mutilated. Before that, he only wanted two things: to lead a championship marching band and to make delicious crackers. “How can I make crackers if I can’t even wash my own hands?” he would loudly lament, night after night. Kasimir would try to cheer him up with magic tricks and jokes, but Theodore would only smack his brother on the side of the head with his flute and yell, “Shut up! Shut up! You should’ve been aborted! I hate you!”
As Kasimir glided the soggy sponge around his brother’s knobby back, he hummed their father’s ditty. He decided he would do anything so long as he could play in his beloved brother’s marching band. But when he suggested this to Theodore, the response was less than enthusiastic. “I’d sooner fuck a rabid, syphilitic badger than have you in my band!” his brother screamed. “Now shut up and wash my ass!”
Their father had been a less than exemplary seaman, despite having been raised on a whaling ship by his harpooner mother and his father, the ship’s cook. There was something about Midshipman Elephant (which was his name, not his rank) that simply could not cope with life at sea. Even as a small boy, he had hampered his parents in their ship duties, rather than help. But he was so eager to please, no one had the heart to tell him how bad he was at the mariner’s life. And he wasn’t much better on land, causing numerous accidents and small fires in his Lake Miskatoo home. But Kasimir loved his father nonetheless.
Kasimir held his trumpet up boldly, letting the noonday sun glint off its golden body. He marveled at the workmanship of it. It was beautiful! But he heard a rattling sound from within the trumpet. How strange! He shook the trumpet as if it were a dead chicken. Suddenly, the rattling stopped and a small ring fell out at Kasimir’s feet. Puzzled, Kasimir squatted and looked at the ring: a plain, gold band with a tiny jewel. Nothing particularly unusual. But how had it ended up in the trumpet? Did the joke shop man know about it? Was it his ring? As Kasimir pondered this, he continued to examine the ring. There was something entrancing in its simplicity, and the way the jewel glittered in the sunlight was quite charming. As if his will were no longer his own, Kasimir clutched the ring tightly and thrust his clenched hand into his jacket pocket. “No one can have this ring but me,” he decided. “It’s mine. Only mine.”
With one hand in his pocket and the other holding his new trumpet, Kasimir walked slowly home.
End of Part One