The Bullfrog and His Shadows
By Bruce Holland RogersIn the middle of the day,
the frogs held a council. "It's unbearable," said one.
"The herons hunt us by day, and the raccoons prey on us at
"Yes," said another. "Either one is bad enough, but both
herons and raccoons together mean that we never have a moment's
"We should demand that the herons leave the pond. Banish them!"
"Yes!" all the frogs agreed. "Banish the herons! Banish
All this noise drew the attention of a heron who was fishing nearby.
"What was that?" she said, approaching. "Banish who?"
The frogs looked at her beak, which was like a sword for stabbing frogs.
"The raccoons!" chorused the frogs. "Banish the
"That's what I thought you said," said the heron. She went back
"The raccoons!" the frogs sang. "Banish the
With the policy decided, there arose the matter of who would inform the
raccoons of their exile. One frog after another was nominated for the
post of sheriff, and one after another declined it. Then the bullfrog was
nominated. "Of course! He's the biggest! He's the very one for the
"I don't know," said the bullfrog, who had been silent all
through the deliberations. "I am big, but raccoons are bigger. I am
one, but they are many."
"Well, then," volunteered another frog. "We'll come along
"Yes, we'll come along!" agreed the frogs. "We'll all come
"And you'll stay with me, no matter what?" said the bullfrog.
"We'll stick to you like your shadow," said one frog.
The other frogs agreed. "Like your shadow."
The bullfrog was still reluctant. The others had to pledge their
faithfulness all afternoon. Finally, they had repeated so many times that
they would stick to him like his shadow that the bullfrog agreed to lead
The sun set. The herons flew to their roosts above the pond. In the
twilight, the bullfrog said, "The raccoons will be coming soon. But
you're all going to stand by me like my very shadow, right?"
"Like your shadow! Like your shadow!" chorused the frogs.
The sky turned purple. "Even if five or six raccoons appear
"Like your shadow! Like your shadow!"
Stars shone in a moonless sky. It was very dark. There was just enough
starlight to see the raccoons when at last they emerged from the
undergrowth. There were five of them, a mother and her grown kits.
The bullfrog hopped onto the shore. "Villains!" he cried.
"Be gone! Raccoons are outlawed at this pond! Away with you! You are
"Indeed?" said the mother raccoon. Her kits sniffed the
bullfrog, who trembled but held his ground. "On whose authority are
"On all of ours!" the bullfrog said. He expected a chorus to
back him up. There was only silence. He turned and saw, just before he
was eaten, that he was the only frog ashore.
The help of most allies falls short of the mark,
For even your shadow slips off in the dark.
Stories by Bruce Holland Rogers have won a Pushcart Prize, the World
Fantasy Award, and two Nebula Awards, among other honors. He teaches
fiction writing for the Whidbey Writers low-residency MFA, and also teaches
writing seminars in Greece (www.write-in-crete.com) and Italy
(www.write-across-europe.com). Subscribers from all over the world receive
his newest stories by e-mail. See www.shortshortshort.com. Rogers lives in
Contact Bruce at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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