Edgar and Ernie (Children's Short Story)
Edgar and Ernie by Samir Arora
Once there was a weasel named Ernesto. He lived at the top of a mountain in a place called Ecuador.
Ecuador is easy to remember because it sounds like “equator”, which is exactly where it is – right on the equator.
Equator is easy to remember because it sounds like “equal”, which is exactly what it does – reminds us that we are all equal.
Equally sweaty when we get near the equator.
North of Ecuador – a lot further North - is a place called Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is home to many people. Some nice, some not so nice.
It is also home to many animals. Some nice, some not so nice.
One of those animals was Edgar Thornburgh, a stoat with a nutshell-brown coat and a long white scarf.
Edgar was a professor of physics at Mustelidae University, where he taught ferrets, badgers, otters, martens, minks, weasels, wolverines, and many other medium-sized rodents from all over the world how to observe and, in turn, understand the things going on around them.
One of his students was a weasel named Ernesto.
“You can call me Ernie if you want, Señor T – no me importa.”
“Why would I do that?” asked Edgar, quite upset at the suggestion.
“Oh, you don’t have to, I just thought it would be easier for you to remember.”
Edgar was enraged.
“How dare you call my memory into question! What gives you the right to do such a thing?”
Ernie was confused.
Edgar continued, his eyes bouncing back and forth with anger:
“I am a respected professor! I have received letters from former students thanking me for changing their lives! What have you accomplished, you little weasel?”
Ernie thought for a moment, and then remembered that he had made a particularly delicious dinner of roasted corn and black bean stew the night before. He began to tell Professor Thornburgh about it, but he was not listening – just waiting for his turn to speak.
“Are you quite finished?”
After thinking a bit more, Ernie replied “Sí, Señor T.”
Edgar scoffed in response, then told Ernie that making a meal for himself was hardly an accomplishment.
“My wife cooks me dinner every night. Does she deserve a medal?”
Ernie wanted to say yes, but he was not sure if this was the right answer.
“Well, then, Señor T, I guess I haven’t done too much after all. Life on the mountain was a lot more laid back.”
“Laid back? You mean you were all a bunch of lazy lumps!”
Ernie did not know what to make of all this hostility. But his mama had always taught him to always treat others with kindness, even if they are not being very kind to you. So, he decided to invite Professor Thornburgh over to his house for dinner, so that maybe he could learn more about how to live a life of accomplishment.
Later that evening, just as Ernie was getting ready to dice the scallions and sauté them with some champiñones blancos in his special spicy sauce – passed down to him by his abuela – he heard a knock at the door.
“That must be Señor T!” he thought to himself, excitedly, as he rushed to the door.
With a great big smile, Ernie pulled open the door and shouted “¡Bienvenido, mi amigo!”
He extended his arms out for a hug, but Edgar quickly swatted them away; however, Ernie noticed a grin, ever-so-thin, had started to make its way onto the professor’s face.
“Are you ready for the best meal of your life?” Ernie asked enthusiastically.
“We will see…” muttered the professor, plopping several textbooks onto the table.
“What are those?” wondered the weasel.
“Oh, you will soon come to know”, said the stoat, “I hope you are prepared to listen and learn today, boy. I intend to make a scholar out of you, but I don’t have much time to just sit and chat. We must focus if we wish to accomplish anything of value tonight.”
Edgar seated himself at the dining room table and tucked the napkin placed beside his plate into his collar.
Ernie emerged from the kitchen with a piping hot pot of sopa de tomate – tonight’s appetizer – and began to serve his guest several heaping spoonfuls.
Then, before Ernie had even sat down to serve himself, Edgar had already picked up a spoon and started scooping soup into his mouth.
Ernie felt a little uneasy watching him eat so quickly. His mama had always taught him to eat slowly, so that you can appreciate and enjoy each bite. A good meal is not something to be taken for granted, after all.
Ernie’s mama also taught him that he should only eat after everyone else at the table has already been served, which sometimes meant waiting for up to an hour – he had a very large family, and not all of them would make it down to dining room at the same time – with a rumbly tummy and a plate filled with food that only grew colder with each passing minute.
But Ernie did not say anything. He did not want to upset his guest; that would not be very kind of him.
“So,” spoke the stoat with a mouth full of soup, “let’s take a look at this first textbook: The Fundamentals of Physical Science, written by my good friend and colleague Dr. Arthur H. Kipley – a koala.”
“Bien!” exclaimed Ernie, unable to hide his delight.
As Edgar read through a series of definitions from the textbook’s glossary, he noticed that Ernie’s eyes were starting to flutter shut.
“Hey! Are you focused, boy?”
Ernie shook himself awake.
“¡Lo siento, Señor T! I didn’t mean to be rude. I just don’t think I understand this stuff.”
“What part of Kepler’s third law confuses you? It is all very straightforward. You just have to pay attention.”
“I know, it’s just – you know what, let me go grab the mushrooms from the kitchen. I think they should be done now. A full stomach might help me listen a little better.”
“Very well then. I shall wait here to be served. Do not take too long, as I have quite a heavy workload that I must attend to tonight.”
Edgar sat back and twiddled his thumbs, impatiently. Meanwhile, Ernie, who was in the kitchen gently blowing on the steam that was coming from the mushrooms, began to dance to a song that was playing inside of his head. It was a samba, featuring the beautiful, warm, scattered notes of the tenor saxophone and the lovely voice of a lady who sounded like she must have been really pretty.
“Is everything in order?” asked the stoat.
“Just about!” assured the weasel, adding just a few more squirts of his special spicy sauce. Surely a man as learned as Señor T would be able to handle far more heat than a mere weasel such as he, reasoned Ernie to himself.
Smiling wide as he entered the dining room with the shrooms, he made sure that his guest had more than enough on his plate before he even thought to snag a few morsels for himself.
Just as last time, Edgar began to toss his meal back quicker than he could blink. This time, however, Ernie saw something different in his eyes. Something that he had never seen in the professor before. Something that he had not seen in himself in quite some time, either.
He saw the fear.
Suddenly, Edgar slammed down his fork and scampered sideways – falling to the floor and sending his books flying toward the ceiling fan, where they were then ripped to shreds.
“Are you alright?” Ernie asked with great concern for the well-being of his dinner guest.
Edgar was unable to utter a word for some time. Then, finally, he forced out the following word:
Ernie ran to the kitchen and returned with a jug filled with water.
Unfortunately, he did not make it to the professor in time.
Dr. Edgar Stevenson Thornburgh, esteemed professor of physics, died in a pile of lukewarm soup and liquid poop.
He knew many things. What he did not know, however, was to never trust a weasel.