“Honey?” Lila’s voice quavered a bit.
“Hmmm?” Rob responded, not looking up from the box he was unpacking.
“Do antelopes like roses?” Lila asked.
“Antelopes? Eat roses? I dunno. Why do you ask?” Rob replied, pulling out several small, wrapped knickknacks. He smiled. Lila loved her little tchotchkes.
“Um, because there are antelopes in our yard?” Lila replied.
Rob laughed. “Deer, sweetie. You mean deer. There are no antelopes in Washington.” He glanced up at his bride before returning his attention to the box. They had just moved into their new house a few days ago and both wanted to get the unpacking completed as soon as possible.
Lila turned from the window to glare at her husband. “Well then, you tell me what kind of deer has long, straight horns that have a spiral on them. Last I checked deer have antlers, not horns. I do know what a deer looks like,” she snarked, flinging a hand back to point out the back window.
Rob stared at her. This was the first time he’d heard her get snarky like that. He wisely decided that was a clue he needed to act on. Abandoning the box full of tchotchkes and pushing himself to his feet, he joined Lila at the window.
She was right. There were several antelope grazing in their backyard. After staring at them for a full minute, he turned to Lila.
“I’m sorry I ever doubted you. You are right… there are antelope in the backyard. And no, I don’t know if they eat roses. Um, I guess we should call somebody?” he said.
Lila smiled and patted his arm. “You’re forgiven. Yeah, call somebody, but who?” she asked, gazing out the window again. “I don’t think there’s a zoo near here that they could have escaped from. Does one of our new neighbors have a private zoo in their backyard?” she mused.
“Pretty sure that’s illegal in this state,” Rob responded. He pulled out his phone.
“What are you looking up?” Lila asked.
“Going on the neighborhood app and see if anybody else has seen antelope in the last couple of days,” he told her. He scrolled through the app and stopped at a post titled “Weird looking deer.” The accompanying photo showed a group of about four antelopes standing in the poster’s backyard.
“Huh. I guess there’s a herd of antelope wandering around,” he told Lila.
She peered over his arm at his phone. “How weird is that?” she commented.
“Wait, there’s another post,” Rob said, continuing to scroll. “Okay… listen to this. ‘Hi everybody, if you see a small herd of antelope wandering around, please don’t call Fish and Game. They’re my responsibility and I’m working on getting them back to where they belong. Call me at 619-987-6543.’” He looked up at Lila. “Well, that explains some things. I’ll call the number. Can you keep an eye on them and let me know if they wander off?”
Lila nodded and turned back to the window. “They’re still grazing, and it appears that they do not like roses. That’s good, ‘cause I like those rose bushes out there,” she said.
A minute later, Rob hung up and joined Lila at the window. “The guy said he’d be here in a few minutes. He sounded very relieved that we have the antelope. I do have questions though…” he said.
“You and me both,” Lila told him.
As promised, the doorbell rang about ten minutes later. Rob answered the door and found himself staring at a small man dressed in a classic British safari outfit, complete with pith helmet, just like you’d see in the movies.
“Good morning, my good fellow! You called me about my herd of antelope?” the man beamed at Rob and stuck his hand out.
“Uh, yeah. Yeah,” Rob said, hiding a smile. He shook hands with the odd little man and gestured toward the back of the house. “We can go through this way. They’re out in the backyard.”
“Splendid! Do you have a gate to the yard? I’ve brought my trailer to take them home. It will be much easier to go around the house rather than through it. I don’t wish to damage your lovely floors,” the gentleman replied.
“Um, yeah. There’s a gate,” replied a bemused Rob. He gestured to Lila, who was still standing at the back window. “This is my wife Lila, Lila this is, uh… I’m sorry I didn’t get your name?” he asked the man.
“Oh! Shoddy manners on my part, I’m sure! I’m Chesterton S. St. James-Smythe, at your service,” he said, pronouncing his last name as “sin-jin smithe.”
Lila raised her eyebrows, but didn’t comment. “Lovely to meet you. Are they yours?” she asked gesturing to the antelope crowding the backyard.
“I’m afraid so. I’ll just pop them in my trailer and take them back to their plane… er, home,” Chesterton replied. He reached for the back door. “May I?”
“Of course. Be my guest,” Lila answered.
Chesterton popped out into the back and bounced toward the antelope. The animals looked up from their grazing as he approached. Lila and Rob stood in the open door watching.
“C’mon you lot. Holiday’s over. We’ve got to get back,” Chesterton said to the antelope.
“Did that one just nod at him?” Lila whispered, nudging Rob.
“I think so. What’s going on?” he whispered back. Lila shook her head.
Chesterton disappeared around the side of the house, presumably to open the gate. The antelope followed in a line. The last one looked at Lila and Rob and dipped his head as if in thanks. Lila gave a small wave in return. Chesterton’s head popped back around the corner of the house.
“Thank you so very much for your help. I hope to see you again sometime, perhaps under different circumstances. Cheerio!” He smiled and vanished again.
Rob and Lila hurried through the house to the front window. They got there just in time to see the last of the antelopes walking into a long horse trailer attached to a huge pick-up truck. Chesterton shut the trailer doors, gave them a jaunty wave and trotted around to the driver’s side of the truck. A minute later the rig pulled slowly away from the curb.
Lila turned to Rob. “Okay. That was weird and wonderful. But did you catch that? He said back to their ‘plane’ and then corrected that to ‘home.’”
“Yeah, I caught that. And the way he was dressed. This neighborhood just got more interesting,” Rob said.
“No kidding.” Lila did a little happy dance. “This is gonna be a great place to live!” she chortled.
This week my prompt challenge came from AC Young: Do antelopes like roses? The original Jumanji movie popped into my head for some reason and my brain came up with the story you see above. My prompt, The Guardian was napping in the fall sunshine, went to Cedar Sanderson. You can mosey on over to her page to see what she did with that, and pop on over to More Odds Than Ends to see what everybody else has come up with for their challenges. If you’re so inclined, pick up a spare and join in the fun!