by Joey Rayburn
THE WOODS – It was only a short few hours ago when the Tortoise, tired of the Hare’s incessant ridicule, challenged his swift foe to a seemingly unwinnable race. As the other denizens of the woods debated on who would be victor of the race — the sedate Tortoise or the quick Hare — it was became all too clear that the true winners were those who profited off encouraging the race war.
As the Tortoise and Hare prepared for the race, both afraid of what losing would do not only to their own reputation, but to the confidence of those like them, the sly Fox was selling merchandise at the stand he had quickly assembled.
“I’m just a fox of opportunity,” said the Fox, who was flipping through hundreds of bills. “I recognized this was going to be the prime spot to rake in some moola, so I whipped up these shirts and got the Beaver to make me this little stand. Nothing wrong about being a smart businessfox, right?”
While there isn’t anything wrong with the Fox’s business instincts, it was clear he was feeding the flames. His shirts were of an antagonistic nature, with caricatures of the Tortoise over writing telling him to “go back to the pond” and shirts that encouraged “cutting off the feet” of the Hare.
“I don’t have time to think about things like that,” said the Tortoise as he stretched. “I need to win this race to prove to everyone that us tortoises are just as valuable to our woodland society as the hares.”
The Hare shared in the Tortoise’s sentiment: “I’m sick and tired off the other critters telling me and my family to be more like the Tortoise. ‘They’re the model woodland critter,’ they tell us. Well, after today, I’m going to prove all of them wrong!”
As the race approached, the vitriol within the crowd – particularly between the other tortoises and hares – reached its peak, with several violent outbursts breaking out. Other woodland critters, such as the Raccoon and Badger, encouraged the fighting and seemed to take great joy in it. All the while, the Fox stayed at his stand, raking in the dough. Though, it became clear after some digging, that money wasn’t the only thing he was generating.
“Sure, yeah, I might have pushed the Tortoise and the Hare into competing by telling them some…not entirely true facts,” the Fox explained without a sense of remorse. “Hey, at the end of the day, I was just pushing them in the direction they were already headed, right?”
As the Tortoise and the Hare lined up at the starting line, the crowd was shouting from the bleachers, and the Fox was counting its money. When asked who they thought was going to win the race, a lowly Squirrel had this to say: “Someone told me once, ‘slow and steady wins the race. I don’t know where that comes from, but I bet it’ll fit in this situation.”