Leonid the Buffalo in Haaaaaaaaat.
Words by Adam P. Knave
Art by Pat Raubo
Leonid the Buffalo was the sort of buffalo you might expect. If you were one to expect buffalo, of course. Not many people, truth be told, did. In such a case Leonid the Buffalo was exactly the sort of buffalo you did not expect. But he wouldn’t hold it against you.
His big block head might tip to one side or the other, and his ears would twitch in tiny circles, as if trying to take flight, but he would easily accept that you were in no way expecting a buffalo. Often, when such a thing happened, Leonid would stop and sit down, his hind legs folded gently, and tip his head to the side and wait. Long, patient blinking would follow, as Leonid gave the surprised person a chance to accept that there was now a large buffalo on the premises.
Most often this worked. At least until he spoke. Then all bets were off. People screamed, they ran, they jumped and a few of themselves tripped over their own feet while trying to do all three at the same time. Many days it went like this:
Leonid would walk into the bakery where he would hope that Sally was working. Sally knew Leonid and was always happy to help him get his money out so that he could pay for a fresh cheese danish. Leonid adored cheese danishes with a spot of tea. Sally’s co-workers though, came and went and Leonid would slowly shove the door to the bakery open with his large block shaped head. Someone else would be working and they would scream and jump and try to run and just simply vanish behind the counter with a hearty thud.
Leonid would sit down, blocking the doorway, and wait. And wait some more. Then, eventually he would ask if they were all right.
“Helllllloooo?” Leonid would ask in a deep long rumble. “Are you allll riiiight?”
Which is when the screaming would start. Sighing, Leonid would wait it out and, hopefully, get a cheese danish, after only an hour or two. Sometimes he did and sometimes he didn’t.
Well, one day Leonid decided that perhaps if he dressed up a bit he could scare less people. He considered what simple bit of attire would suit him best. Passing a haberdashery, Leonid saw a very nice hat in the window. That, he thought, was it. With the perfect hat, Leonid concluded, he would have no problem getting cheese danishes in the future.
The door opened with a gentle ringing as Leonid’s large head pushed it open. He looked around the haberdashery and tried to find the clerk but saw no one.
“Haaaaaaaaat?” he asked.
There was no reply.
“Haaaaaaaaat?” he tried again.
This time a small man came out, with a crisp bow tie and jet-black vest over his crisp white shirt and nodded, only slightly nervously. “Sir would like to purchase a hat, then?” he asked Leonid.
“Haaaaat!” Leonid agreed.
The shop keep looked over Leonid and frowned. Such a large big head, and all the haberdasher had in stock were tiny, human-sized hats. Still, attempts would be made, for what shop keep doesn’t want to keep shop?!
Leonid stared at the hats, as if his will power alone could enlarge them, but nothing worked. No hat would fit! Not the fedora or the bowler or the top hat or baseball cap. The cowboy hat, panama and fez were also all too small. Leonid sighed. He rumbled and grumbled and shifted in the doorway from side to side, growing anxious.
“Haaaaaaaaaaaat!” he insisted.
The haberdasher didn’t know what to do. He ran back and forth and checked the size of every single hat in the store. Nothing would work. Stumped he turned to Leonid.
“Sir, what do you need the hat for?”
“I like to buuuyyyy cheese dannnnniish.”
“I see,” said the haberdasher, not seeing at all, “and so you need the hat to…”
“Sometiiiiimes I scaaaaaaaaare them. Do not meaaaan.”
“Ah ha!” the haberdasher said, leaping into the air, “And so you wish for a hat to help them from being afraid! And yet no hat will fit.”
“Haaaaaaaaaaaaat.” bemoaned Leonid.
“But what if we found a different solution?”
“Not hat. No, I have none big enough. But a kerchief! I do have a nice checkered tablecloth in the back… yes it might just work!” And with that the haberdasher ran out of the room only to return seconds later with a prettily checkered tablecloth draped in his hands. Quickly he tied it around Leonid’s broad head.
“There, yes! It is perfect!”
“Kercheeeeeeif,” Leonid agreed.
And do you know – it worked! From that day forward Leonid never scared anyone in the bakery again! He would open the door slowly, expecting someone to be scared, if Sally wasn’t there, and yet they would simply grin and ask what he needed. None of them could bring themselves to be afraid of a buffalo in a checkered kerchief. Not a single one.
Leonid would get his cheese danish and then a cup of coffee and sit in the park, nibbling and thinking, in the sunshine. Happy for all the world to see.