Copyright 2016. ONEGabrielLek.com. All Rights Reserved.
This title is under the Peabody Collection
The Opening Line
Gargantua had a hat and a leg on a nice little couch. Many a day he sat, oblivious to the passing of the time and the meal, for his diet extended to a round the clock snacking of an all-day buffet. He would love to sit atop that throne, where he would proclaim laws for the loyal subjects extant within the furthest reaches of his imagination. Acting was his prerogative, for he was trained in that one art in his diurnal critique of the offerings sacrificed on his feeding table. There was the fruit and seed cupcake, which he curled his lip at in disgust of the use of butter cream instead of Chantilly for the frosting. Then there was the watermelon salad three-ways, which he rolled his eyes at for the chef’s inability to foresee the advantages of compressing the watermelon beforehand to pronounce the flavor. The biting straw was the soft-boiled egg he was served at breakfast, which turned out to be a watery mess when he tried to crack it open on his egg cup. This was the ultimatum of the week, for he had a fascination with eggs.
A four hour long activity of scrambling alphabets on his digital board followed, in his quest to correct the misinformation surrounding the chefs’ understanding of boiled eggs. The whites had to be solid and the yolks perfectly orange and runny from the sides to the core, a fact he would ascertain with his poking breadstick. He wrote, as he drew rough sketches of the journey of an egg’s progression from a bright orange fountain to a molten gold lava, from a pale yellow paste to a green outer crust that deepened towards the core, detailing the four stages of soft, medium, hard-boiled, and overcooked eggs – a culinary master class he prides himself on. In particular he took offense at the chef’s lack of care in allowing the seemingly easy hard-boiled eggs to run past its time, for he preferred his to be served at the precise point where the yolk was still marigold in color and the egg just set. It was his service to the chefs, and the culinary world at large. Strangely however, they did not seem to follow his well-intentioned advice. He wondered why. Thus his bright toothsome smile languished into a frown, as he continued the parade of gastronomy despite his refusal to resign to the belief that he was no king, contrary to the idolatry of his adoring legions.
Thus he grew weary. Time forsook the youth of this once lively creature, and reminded him of his abandoned childhood with the passing of each stray fur. He wanted peace, he wanted solace. But there was one problem getting in the way of achieving his every desire, the one goal he needed to reach to fulfill all his life’s dreams. It was his weight. After all, 460 pounds was no good measure according to every weight restriction he read in virtually all amusement parks and ballroom halls. He desired something more, a higher abstraction, a corporeal intangibility, a transcendent dissolution, or simply, a companion.
He remembered the stormy nights, the nights he shivered in his mother’s den. She nursed him, fed him, made the days look bright again after the tumult of a passing voyage. Her fingers reminded him of that gentle touch on his face that made everything better. Oh how he desired to be with her! He had wiled the time away devising a grand scheme. For each night he would pick, feeling the sign of any bump or weakness that could get him out of his barred room – the dark, blank room of death. But there was none, and so he resorted to trickery. Thus when the good nurse came, he foiled the lock by loosening the catch, and bided his time. He would show her, show that he was capable of living among her people. He had studied their mark and mannerisms, the way they held a fork and a champagne flute, the way she covered herself with the duvet and slung her head into her pillow, as she would sometimes do when she fell asleep reading Gargantua and Pantagruel to him. So when the thunderstorms came, he escaped, bolting the door permanently shut in a play of subterfuge. He was done. All he had to do was go upstairs. And into bed. That he did, and he saw that same image made more poignant by the moonlight. Calm and tranquility flooded the room as he crept under the covers and spooned her. It did not work.
The next day he found himself in a travelling van, to turn the page towards a new chapter of his life. Acrobats, horses, and dancers marked this period, and he struggled to understand the new world around him. He found himself in a cage again, except this time round it was more insufferable, what with the long lines of plebeian folk desiring to see and make a mockery of him. He needed something, an escape to disrupt the circuitous wheels of the routine. Eventually, he found solace in the realm of ballroom. He learnt quickly, or at least he thought he did. With 460 pounds of steel, supported by two large pounding hands and feet, his movements were all really strong and immaculate. No lady could ever have felt short in his Fallaway whisk, and he gave true meaning to the tumble turn. In fact, the earth trembled at the execution of his Spanish drag, while the keepers within five yards fled whenever he attempted his favorite double reverse spin. Soon he found his lifelong dream.
It was a partner, at last. Her name was Toto. He cordially invited her to a dance in the shadows of the after show slumber. For a time, spanning a couple of minutes, he was happy. And they danced the minutes away with such vigor she never saw him again. Perhaps it was the immense g-forces she felt in the throwaway Oversway, or the sudden discovery of her body being repositioned in the opposite corner of the room after an attempt of the rock. Of course he knew the age old adage that it was always the lady’s fault if she gets stepped on in dance, but somehow she did not quite feel the same sentiment. Thus he grew weary once more, falling into a nasty spell, as his mouth gradually curved into a snarl with each passing day.
Years came and went, and he recalled the key events of his glorious life story. His one accolade would be to save the once circus whose patrons shall remember him today – his sole legacy. Yet none would fathom his true feelings of anger and loneliness at being made the steering wheel of another’s life. It was all a sham, he thought, since the symbol of the glass bottle and that terrible splash. With one last snarl, he closed his eyes.
What’s the story behind the ape that now rests at the Peabody? Follow the imagined life of Gargantua, as we unravel the mystery behind his angry snarl and his days of pure worship, if not for the right reasons.