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Banana Farm: Chapter Two

Published in Blog on June 10, 2024 by Jakob Fay

Read part one of “Banana Farm: A Fiction” here.

In the weeks that followed the incident with Bingo, life on the farm continued as normal and improved steadily… for the most part. To hear Lavrentiy tell it, sanity had been restored, progress unleashed, and prosperity kindled. But a few of the farm animals still questioned what really had happened to Bingo: what, exactly, did it mean that the old dog had, as Lavrentiy put it, “joined the company of former animals”?

Had he died?

Or had the pigs simply wanted them to forget he existed?

If the latter, they seemed to be succeeding.

Animals, Gipper noted, suffered from poor memories. One day, they would raise their eyebrows at the strange behavior of Lavrentiy and his cohorts; the next, they would slide whatever had aroused their suspicion under the rug as if it never happened. An unspoken arrangement seemed to exist between the two parties: if the animals overlooked an occasional red flag, promptly tucking it away under the proverbial rug, Lavrentiy would guarantee their tranquility—no drama, no jury, and no disappearances. No one seemed to know, though, what he would do if ever they failed to uphold their end of the “bargain.” No one wanted to find out.

~ ~ ~

One sunny springtime morning, as the citizens of ARK were going about their business (post-revolution, “business” on the farm consisted largely of sitting around the barn behaving democratically, which is to say, conducting committee meetings, debating this point or that point, and renaming random objects and locales on the farm after “key players” in the revolution, or absolutely nothing), the hens came squawking into the barnyard, clucking frantically about an apparently very egregious attack against their children. It was a full 15 minutes before the rest of the animals could piece together a somewhat coherent version of the events: it seemed Lavrentiy had introduced, unbeknownst to parents, a new school curriculum, which presented a version of “history” with which the hens seriously disagreed.

“They’re lying to our kids,” the protestors trumpeted. “Our kids! Oh, we must save our kids!”

Upon hearing this, the rest of the animals immediately agreed. They nodded their heads vigorously in approval.

Until Lavrentiy arrived.

He did not need to be filled in on the details (one could have heard the hens’ impassioned tirade from the tip of the nose of the man on the map!); he did not probe or ask questions. He simply launched into a tirade of his own.

“My dear hens, haven’t you, perhaps, considered that we”—by which he meant the pigs—“know what we’re talking about, and you don’t? Why, I have never seen any of you read a book. You cannot even spell literacy or pedagogy! What’s that? Would you like to try? No? Well then, why don’t you leave the rearing of your kids to us—the experts?”

“Because they’re our kids,” rejoined the lead hen. “We’re their parents. And, well, you’re not.”

This made Lavrentiy all the more mad.

Pppparents?!” he spat. “Fools!” He could hardly contain his disgust.

“Listen, all,” he addressed the gathering crowd. “Beware. Be very wary. These pp… pp… pparents may couch their rhetoric in beautiful appeals to parental rights—parental supremacy, more like it!—but what they really want is to subject our children to antiquated, old notions about life on the farm. They have not embraced the new ways of living and thinking; they would teach our kids that life was better under Mr. Brown!”

When the hens opened their beaks to protest (because, of course, none of this was even remotely true), Lavrentiy drowned them out: “Terrorists, racists, bigots, fascists, conspiracy theorists, fearmongers, and Nazis! Need I say more?!”

“Yes,” the animals wanted to say. Lavrentiy’s long string of insults, after all, meant absolutely nothing to them. But instead, they said nothing at all.

“Better not to upset him,” they reasoned within themselves. And at that moment, silently, collectively, they all agreed—sans the hens (and Gipper)—to drop the whole “protect the kids” thing. “Not worth it,” they shook their heads.

~ ~ ~

Due to new (obnoxious) rules about fair trials and juries, Lavrentiy did not bother to press charges against the hens. (His words seemed to have had their intended effect; for while the animals might not know a Nazi from a Bolshevik, being called one would make anyone reconsider their bull-headed opposition to the State.) Nevertheless, he did order his agents to begin investigating the opinionated birds, treating them like one would terrorists.  “Just in case,” he told them. “You never know when one might step out of line. Then, it might be useful to have something to use against them.”

The next major incident arrived two days later when Lavrentiy’s agents began harassing a young goat (allegedly in search of information about the hens). The goat’s father instinctively charged his son’s attackers—an attack Lavrentiy recast as a premeditated attack against the ARK. And this time, incensed at the animals’ “out of hand defiance,” he pressed charges, sending armed pig guards to arrest the culprit.

Of course, the goat received his “fair” trial—but the jury was stacked against him, the evidence procured by Lavrentiy and his minions was against him, and he never really stood a chance. “Justice” had spoken, and it spoke squarely on behalf of the elite.

After the poor father was condemned to “join the company of former animals,” the pig’s beloved chieftain delivered what the pig-press breathlessly dubbed a “riveting, rousing address,” in which he denounced the goat as a “renegade revolutionary,” an “angry anarchist,” and a “dangerous dinosaur.” Hailed—again, by the pigs—for his strong alliteration and altruistic service, Lavrentiy “skyrocketed in the polls” after the speech—although none of the farm animals recalled ever having been polled.

“Strange,” they said.

Indeed, as Lavrentiy’s behavior became stranger and stranger, many animals began to rally around Gipper, who became the deputy leader of the “opposition.” This, of course, outraged Lavrentiy. Formally, he assured reporters, he had nothing against opposition—he just hated it with a passion.

“How dare my fellow animals question my… my… uh, er… my leadership!” he snorted. A few other words, slightly more imposing synonyms, for leadership crossed his mind, but he dared not utter any publicly. Yet.

For now, he had a singular focus in mind: bring down Gipper. That, and openly shame his followers. For, in so doing, he would extinguish their pesky spirit of resistance once and for all.

“That insufferable horse has stood in my way for long enough,” Lavrentiy sputtered. “He must go.” And from that day forward, the pigs began to plot Gipper’s downfall.

To be continued…

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