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THE HUNTER AND THE UNICORN

 

       

A white unicorn lengthened its sinews, rippled, jumped up, pranced, ran a few steps, turned back, then stopped, eyes clouding over.

The hunter stroked a length of velvet with his fingers.  “I don’t feel like hunting you.  What if I don’t catch you?”

“Well, isn’t that the point?” asked the unicorn. 

“Perhaps,” the hunter said.  “But I need to have some kind of guarantee.”

“No,” said the unicorn.  “The uncertainty, the striving, the possible rapture, that’s the whole point.”

The hunter didn’t agree, but he figured he’d let it go.

 

The unicorn, however, was an ardent unicorn, meaning it wanted to jump in great strides through thickets and clearings and be hunted. 

It got up from time to time, even put on fishnet stockings on occasion, frolicked a few steps.  Nothing.  It took off the fishnet stockings again and sadly went to the hunter’s side and nuzzled him. 

Absentmindedly he put his rope around its neck, almost as though he had caught it with his fine green velvet rope.

I guess that’s as much as there will ever be, thought the bewildered unicorn.

 

Eventually the hunter bought a hunting lodge with dark wood paneling, a fire place, and woven tapestries with--you guessed it--images of prancing unicorns chased by passionate hunters. 

Nowadays they often sit in front of that fire.  He polishes bows and arrows, fiddles with his hunting noose, and talks about their great precision and fine workmanship. 

The unicorn stares into the crackling sparks.  It hasn’t learned to express how it feels about theoretical concepts of inherent essence.  It dreams of a scene such as on the tapestry directly behind it.  A hunter flying through the forest, following a sleek unicorn riding the air.  It can taste the wind.  It can almost sense the velvet caress of the noose when it circles the neck. 

 

“I want to be caught,” the unicorn says.  “But I want to be caught with skill.”

He reads in Hunter’s Health on how to catch a unicorn with skill. 

“You could ask me,” says the unicorn.

So he does.  But each time it tells him, the next time he has forgotten.  However, the teachings of Hunter’s Health he will never forget.  After all, they were written by hunters for hunters. 

 

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This story is currently online also at Kaffe In Katmandu.