The Bison Tenniel Minute
By Jeff Baker
“It’s vandalism, plain and simple,” Tenniel said. “That’s why I hired you.”
Phillips and Ervin stared at the metal sign somebody had wired to the fence. It read simply: Do Not Give The Bison Psychoactive Substances.
“Clearly your organization didn’t put this sign up,” Ervin began.
“We didn’t,” Tenniel said flatly.
“I thought so,” Ervin said. “Therefore, somebody is attempting to just embarrass you at least, or maybe more.”
“You don’t engage in sending animals on acid trips and the like, do you?” Phillips asked.
“Certainly not! We’re a breeding facility,” Tenniel said.
“Is there anybody you believe would want to besmirch your reputation?” Phillips said as he bent his six-foot-three frame over and inspected the sign closely.
“Yes,” Tenniel said. “The people in the shopping center across the street. Clarke and smith with their flower shop and Williams with his damned stationary store! They’re always complaining about the smell.”
“Have they ever taken any action against you?” Ervin asked. “Legal or otherwise?”
“No but they’ve threatened to,” Tenniel said. “And with this, this thing here, the publicity will give them the impetus to call the authorities and have me investigated. The bad publicity could ruin me!”
Phillips stared across the fence at the small herd of young bison contentedly grazing away. There were no other signs on the property at all, other than the one out front proclaiming Tenniel and Co., Animal Breeders. He and Ervin walked together to the corner of the fence, talking quietly. Then they walked back to where Tenniel was standing.
“My associate and I,” Phillips said, indicating Ervin, “agree that there is no such thing as bad publicity, wouldn’t you agree?”
Tenniel nodded. Phillips went on.
“And most people would just call those animals a herd of buffalo, not making the distinction between buffalo and American Bison.”
“And your friends across the road certainly qualify as most people,” Ervin said. “You however, are an expert on the subject of bison and buffaloes.”
“It seems to us,” Phillips said, “that only you would have put the sign up on your own fence.”
Tenniel stared and nodded.
“Are you going to report me?” Tenniel asked.
“To whom?” Ervin said. “We’re not the ASPCA.”
“Or the Ad Council,” Phillips said. “Our recommendation is if you really want the publicity, you should get yourself a bigger sign.”