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Tuesday, March 27, 2007


by Mark Brazaitis

“What do we do?”

“What do you mean?”

“What do we do to let them know we’re about to drown
because of them?”

“We shout, ‘Help.’”


“Yes, ‘Help.’ We shout help until they…well…until they
help us. They have ears.”

“I don’t think so.”

“What do you mean? I’ve seen their ears. Of course,
they’re on the small side, and my cousin Fred told me
they taste good only when cooked in sea bass oil,

“I mean, it’s been done. Unsuccessfully.”


“When hasn’t it? Humans hear the word every day from
their own kind. They’ve heard it in the Sudan. They’ve
heard it in New Orleans. They’ve heard it in Tibet.
Whenever there’s a life-threatening crisis—a natural
disaster, an incurable disease, a genocide, it’s
always, ‘Help, help, help.’ Humans are tired of
hearing the word spoken.”

“So what do we say?”

“We don’t say anything.”

“We don’t? We keep quiet like a bunch of penguin

“No, we sing.”

“We sing? What do we sing?”

“We sing, ‘Help.’”

“We do?”

“One of us does, anyway. And we sing it on the show
all the humans watch—the American humans,
anyway—American Icicle. American Idleness. American
Idolatry. Whatever it’s called. Twenty-six million
Americans a week watch it.”

“So we sing, ‘Help, help, help—we’re losing our ice
and we have no place to sit, to stand, to sleep. So
help, help, help.’”

“No, we sing the song the way it was written and trust
in their intelligence to comprehend its relevance to
our situation and their own impending environmental

“Wouldn’t the meaning go right over their heads? They
might think we were only Beatles’ impersonators, the
polar-bear equivalent of the Monkees.”

“You have a point. Maybe we should get a football team
together instead. Humans love football. And the NFL
has been talking about having an international
franchise. Why not in the Arctic? This would bring
publicity to our cause.”

“Or maybe we could become the icon of the most famous
soft-drink manufacturer in the world.”

“Been there, slurped down that. And what do we have to
show for it except for a couple of red-and-white beach
balls and a caffeine addiction?”

“Better start warming up your voice.”

“‘Help, you know I need somebody.’”

“Sing it, bear.”

“‘Help, not just anybody.’”

“That’s right!”

“‘Help, you know I need someone.’”

“Let it all out!”


Mark Brazaitis is the author of three books of fiction, including The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala, winner of the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award, and An American Affairs: Stories, winner of the 2004 George Garrett Fiction Prize.