On a bright lovely Monday morning, little Jimmy woke up ready for a new mischief. The day before, he’d left proud Duckinson freshly plucked of his tail feathers.
As he pranced along the lake shore behind his neighborhood, he suddenly stopped, mesmerized by the most beautiful dance he had ever seen.
All five stalky flamingos swayed gracefully, flapping their wings and twirling around their long feet in perfect balance, while singing joyfully.
Jimmy walked closer with a confident air.
“Excuse me, what kind of dance is this?”
“Huh?” the tallest flamingo stopped, interrupted by the human voice.
“I asked about your dance,” Jimmy pointed a finger at the group, all paused now in various poses.
“But of course it’s called flamenco!” the pink bird replied with indignation. “Who would not know of such a famous dance?”
“I don’t know about it!” Jimmy replied insolently. “And certainly nobody in my town has heard about it.”
“Well you should!” a lady-flamingo with large eyes and wearing a pretty bow on her head stepped closer.
“Right. So how about… I take you downtown and you can make this dance known to the whole world? You could be stars!” Jimmy explained with excitement. And I could be rich, he thought with a cunning smile.
“Well…” the tall bird, who seemed to be their leader, pondered his offer. “Why not?” and everyone else nodded in agreement.
“Great! Let’s start with the introductions. I’m Jimmy,” the boy went for a handshake, but the pack didn’t understand his gesture.
“I’m Ki’ingo,” the tall flamingo replied in a trilled voice, “and this is my lovely wife, Qui’ingo,” he gallantly flapped his wing towards the large-eyed lady.
“And these are our friends – Ginkgo, Tingo, and Zingo.” All three proudly showed off a few dance steps.
“Nice to meet you!” Jimmy said and pulled a long rope out of his pocket.
“What is that?” Tingo asked.
“It’s called a leash,” the boy replied with a sly grin. “Here, I’ll show you. It’s what my dog wears all the time,” he quickly wrapped the cord around Tingo’s slim neck. “This way, you never get lost from each other and I get to keep you close at all times.”
“But… but… we never got lost before…” Ginkgo replied with a choked voice, as Jimmy pulled the string on to the next flamingo.
“C…c…close at all t…times?” Ki’ingo could barely breathe.
“Yes! Here we go!” Jimmy pulled on his leash and all five birds stumbled forward, following him.
As they reached the center of the town, passers-by turned their heads at the strange procession.
“Hello everyone!” Jimmy stood up on a bench, boldly announcing his presence. “I am here to show you the most beautiful dance in the world!”
More and more curious folks gathered around.
Jimmy readied himself. He straightened his back and raised his right hand holding the end of the leash. “On my mark… Go, Flamingo… Go!” and he launched his hand in the air, like a rider leading a horse.
The five pink dancers proudly commenced their routine. Alas… oh, no! The rope connecting their necks tugged at their moves. Each time one of them tried to freely perform their dance, they stumbled.
“Aaark, aark!” Ki’ingo cried out something that was meant to be a song, but the knot around his neck got tighter and tighter while his family desperately tried to put on a dignified show.
One by one, the beautiful flamingos started losing their balance. Like a row of dominoes, they fell to the ground, the last one pulling Jimmy down in a big swoop, and he landed on top of the pink feathered pile with a loud groan.
“Aaa-hahah! Hoo-hoo-ha-ha!” people chortled and laughed and held their bellies. “You call this a dance? You all should be at the circus! Haahaahaa!”
And nobody gave Jimmy any money.
What a disaster of a show!
“You guys did this on purpose! To embarrass me!” the boy stood up with an angry face.
“No, no, we assure you, this never happened to us before. We certainly didn’t mean it,” Ki’ingo tried to stand up, his skinny legs tangled around Zingo’s and Tingo’s.
“What should we do?” Quiingo asked.
“We try again tomorrow,” Jimmy said with a determined voice.
Indeed they tried. For a week in a row. And they failed, each time.
They were tired. A very exasperated Jimmy held them on a leash with no break, and the five birds seemed more and more unhappy and hopeless…
On Monday the next week, Jimmy showed up in a different part of the town. The street was close to a big forest park.
While he prepared his little busker hat, a group of monkeys sat on a branch above their heads.
“Pfff…” one of the monkeys gave them a funny look, blowing raspberries. Jimmy tried to ignore them. The monkeys giggled and nudged each other.
“Why are you laughing?” Jimmy lost his temper and threw a rock at them, but they dodged it. An orange fell right inside his hat.
“Heehee, we heard about your botched show. The whole forest had a good laugh about it.”
“Well I don’t need your opinion. Leave me alone,” Jimmy grumbled back.
“You’re going to embarrass yourselves again and again. They’re not dogs!” one of the monkeys pointed to the flamingos.
“What do you mean?” Ki’ingo looked up.
“Well, let’s pretend little Jimmy is our dog on a leash…” an older monkey lowered a very long tail and caught the kid by his hand. Another tail wrapped around his ankle.
“What are you doing??” he squealed and lost his balance.
“We’re going to make you dance on a leash!”
Up on a large branch, three monkeys jumped up and down, and among them, little Jimmy.
“Woaah, stop it, he demanded. I’m afraid of heights!”
“Mmm, maybe it’s best to try this on the ground,” and all three monkeys descended, carefully carrying little Jimmy. “Alright. Here we go. Dance, buddy!”
“I can’t. You’re blocking me at every move!”
“Well, sorry to break it to you, but that’s what a leash does. Now you see why your friends can’t dance?”
“Oh. How come I didn’t see this before??” Jimmy pouted.
“Never too late,” they winked at him.
“Then let’s try it!” he untied the five flamingos.
“Aw, thank you! We can finally breathe…”
A dance so beautiful began that everyone in the neighborhood gathered to see the show. And Jimmy learned that day from Jojo, the monkey-chief, that wild animals should never be leashed. When they are free, they are happy.
(Oh, and that he should keep his hands off of Mr Duckinson’s precious feathers!)
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