My brother Amos was always looking for a way to shine.
When he was little, he dreamed of being tall. It never happened. He stopped growing at 5’5″.
Then he dreamed of owning a ranch. Amos had an uncanny connection with animals all the time we were growing up. The cat that was scared of everyone wasn’t scared of Amos. The horse that couldn’t be ridden, yes Amos named him Clyde and rode him of course, but he didn’t stop there. He talked that little pony into giving rides to every kid in the neighborhood. Up until he was approached by an autistic support group about using Clyde at their summer camp.
I don’t know who was happier at that point–Amos or Clyde.
Amos knew he was happier with animals than he was with people. A ranch seemed just the thing. He traveled to Reavis Ranch in the Superstition Mountains and was mesmerized. Solitude. Ranch. Animals. A mountain. Right up his alley.
But there was no way a little guy with a better understanding of animals than letters or numbers could buy the side of a mountain for himself.
Did that mean that Amos stopped dreaming? Absolutely not.
Guess where he wound up? On the circus ranch in Hugo, Oklahoma.
And that brought me here, squinting at the horizon, trying to convince the rational side of my mind that I was watching a man and his giraffe striding home in triumph, a precious cargo on the giraffe’s back.
The boy, Eliot went missing on a spring morning. His mother went out to hang wash on the line and left him sleeping in his bed. She went back in, cleaned, cooked breakfast, went to wake him, he was gone.
Eliot and his mother were not shining stars in the community. She was single. He was an “idiot”. But he loved going to the circus ranch and his mother loved seeing him smile. Then one day, Eliot met the first and only friend of his life, my grown-up little brother, Amos.
As I heard it, the relationship grew. Over several months his mom even felt comfortable leaving her son with Amos, so she could have some time to herself for the first time in four years.
So when Eliot went missing, Amos knew what no one else knew, other than the boy’s distraught mother.
Eliot was a climber and he was fascinated with birds’ nests. So while everyone else was combing the countryside, Amos knew he should look up and that Eliot would be too scared to respond to loud voices hollering at him.
And so it was that forces came together to save Eliot. Because this year Amos had spent the winter nursing a giraffe back to health. It didn’t seem to mind Amos strapping a lightweight video camera to its ossicones and setting out to look in the treetops for Eliot.
And now I am watching my little brother, a creative, compassionate hero walking taller than anyone.
From a prompt first posted on my website:
October 2, 2004: What is that coming down the street? Closer…closer…. Why it’s a man and his giraffe! Hmmm…….