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Banana Farm: A Fiction

Published in Blog on June 03, 2024 by Jakob Fay

Orwell’s “Animal Farm” was never meant to serve as a user’s manual for obtaining a state in which “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” But when Kansas Farmer John Robert Brown left his half-read, coffee-stained copy lying face-down on the barn house floor, that’s exactly what it became. 

First, the rats dragged the book out to the barn, where they presented their find to the pigs, horses, chickens, goats, sheep, cats, and dog. Next, they perused the presumed fairy story, just as they had “Charlotte’s Web” and “Aesop’s Fables” before it. However, this book, the pigs, who were more shrewd and cunning than their fellow livestock, noted, was different than the rest: this book appeared to sanction their own kind to lead a revolt against Mr. Brown.

And so they did.

It was after this revolt—and as the animals were halfway through establishing a farmhouse utopia that would have made Napoleon (the lead pig from Orwell’s novel) himself proud—that “Animal Farm,” once again only half read, disappeared. (Secretly, the pigs had tucked it away in their trough.) Bingo, the dog, was the first to notice.

“Yeah, where did that book go?” replied the eldest hen, DeVos.

“I believe the pigs had it last,” offered Bingo.

Us?” scoffed Lavrentiy, the peevish ringleader of the pigs. “Well, I assure you, we will conduct a thorough investigation of the matter and exonerate ourselves of this preposterous charge! The investigation begins immediately.”

With that, the pigs swiftly expelled their fellow animals—“fellow,” you may notice, became a favorite word of the pigs, replacing the overused “comrade”—from the barn to begin their “investigation.”

By the following morning, they had their culprit.

“My fellow mammals and joint heirs of the Animals’ Republic of Kansas (ARK),” declared Lavrentiy at day’s break, “we regret to inform you that the sacred tome which inspired the glorious revolution of yesterweek is…destroyed.”  

“Destroyed?!” the animals gasped.

“Yes,” continued Lavrentiy, “destroyed. I know, I am as heartbroken about this as you all are. However, praps you will be comforted in that we have uncovered the criminal behind this heinous crime.” He paused, allowing his words to hang in the air like an ominous rain cloud.

That’s when a young colt noticed—“Where’s Bingo? Wait. Is it Bingo? Is Bingo behind this?”

“Ah, yes, very good, my child,” the pig squealed, delightedly. “Yes, Bingo is behind this, as you say. Bingo destroyed the book.”

The crowd gasped. “How could this be,” they wanted to know. “Bingo is a good dog!”

“Bingo was a great dog,” agreed the swine. “But, he was also old, and you know what they say—you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Lavrentiy suddenly hung his head in faux shame. “Bingo could not keep up with our, er, progress. It angered him. Yesterday, in a fit of rage, he destroyed our blessed handbook. Then, upon realizing what he had done, he attempted to blame his terrible crime on the pigs!” He sighed. “Poor Bingo. He should have known we’d find scraps of the lost work in his doghouse. He should have known we’d eventually unmask his viciously anti-ARK advocacy, no matter how well he concealed it.”

Here, the speaker paused again, examining the effect his words had on the crowd. For the most part, they seemed to have embraced the narrative, although they were also dumbfounded by Bingo’s newfound treachery. Dumbfounded and slightly suspicious. The whole thing seemed a little too out of the Blue for Bingo. Lavrentiy opened his mouth to reassure them when an old mare interrupted.

“If I may,” the horse named Gipper neighed, “I would like to offer a word, not so much in defense of our old friend, Bingo, as I have no cause to doubt the thorough work presented to us today by the dear pigs, but for future precedent. Kind sir?” He looked to Lavrentiy for direction.

Confused, Lavrentiy nodded.

“Thank you.” He cleared his throat and began: “Ladies and gentlemen, my fine friends,”—the pigs noted with disgust that he did not employ the preferable “my fellow friends”—“as many of you may know, I once lent my services, at a ranch near Santa Barbara, to the nation’s foremost statesmen, in whose mighty company I learned such weighty words as democracy, equal justice under the law, and—forgive me if I sound pretentious—habeas corpus.” Gipper chuckled a little. “I cannot claim to understand half of what those words mean, frankly. And while I may not know half as much as our esteemed Lavrentiy, who, I presume, could define those words in his sleep, I did learn a thing or two from those men out on the ranch. Yes, they taught me the importance of a jerry of one’s peers.”

“A jury,” snapped Lavrentiy with a roll of his eyes. He was bored of the old horse.

“Ah, yes! A jury,” agreed an exultant Gipper. “I’m glad you know what I’m talking about! See what I mean, everyone? Behold the unsurpassed knowledge of our leader! A jury of one’s peers—that’s it, exactly. Well, in short, the idea goes like this: when someone, say Bingo, is accused of a crime, we must assume that he’s innocent until you and I decide otherwise based on the evidence presented to us, which proves that he’s guilty—or something like that. That’s how the riders back in Cali explained it. Doing this protects us all and keeps us all accountable to each other.”

Lavrentiy grimaced. “We did present you with evidence,” he shouted. “We told you about the shreds of paper in Bingo’s doghouse.”

“I never said you didn’t. All I am proposing is that in the future, when faced with similar crimes, we consult the jerry.”

“Fine,” snapped Lavrentiy. He hated to concede the point to the stupid steed, but then again, what harm was there in giving him what he wanted? A jerry might actually prove useful, providing these clueless idiots with exactly the pretext he needed to lure them into apathy. What was it that Gipper said? We decide “based on the evidence presented to us”? Well, if that’s all it took….

“You may have a jury,” Lavrentiy agreed, snickering. “But please, enough questions about Bingo! Deal?”

A young cat raised her paw.

“What now?” 

“Well, sir, I was just wondering, sir, what happened to Bingo?”

For the first time that day, the pig, usually regal and composed, blanched. “Didn’t I just say… why, you little… heh, er, well…”

The animals raised their eyebrows (and those who didn’t have eyebrows raised them metaphorically).

Finally, the sweating pig inhaled heavily and, after a minute, regained his composure. “Suffice it to say,” he began again, slowly and cooly, “Bingo has now joined the company of former animals.” He paused. “I understand that these revelations may disturb you—as they certainly disturbed me. However, having exposed Bingo, we may now rest assured that his lies and the threat that they posed to our Republic are vanquished. We, the Animals of ARK, vanquished them. Now, eat,” he said, and he offered them all bananas.

Dutifully, they obeyed. Save Gipper.

To be continued…

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