THE JAGUAR & THE PIRANHAS - A FABLE FOR OUR TIME
BY LEON PROCHNIK
Late one afternoon as Jaguar was strolling along the edge of the river, he
felt something sting his rear right paw. At first he thought that he had
stepped on a jagged stone, but when he glanced down he saw the cause of
his pain: an oval silvery fish with a jutting jaw and razor teeth.
"A lowly piranha dares to bite me?" exclaimed Jaguar. With an indignant
snort, he scooped up the piranha in his powerful jaws. "Do you take me for
a helpless fish? A clumsy pig who has stumbled into your muddy abode? I am
mighty Jaguar, ruler of this jungle, and you, pathetic creature, have
scavenged for the last time!"
And with that, Jaguar tore the piranha in half and flung its severed torso
on the bank of the river. For a few moments he watched its tail flop
about. Then, as a final sign of his disdain, he ground the piranha's head
into the muddy soil.
But the pain in his paw persisted. The more Jaguar licked the wound the
piranha had inflicted, the more it stung, and the more it stung the
angrier Jaguar grew.
He, the swallower of the sun, attacked by a fish! The affront was more
than he could bear. Snarling, Jaguar made his way to the spot in the river
where the piranhas congregated. As always, they hid where the water was
the murkiest, but they could not hide from Jaguar's eyes. In a few bounds
he was on top of them, smiting them with his paws, a dozen bobbing
lifelessly on the water by the time Jaguar returned to shore.
"Now I can rest," he told himself, but even as he shook himself dry, he
felt the bites the piranhas had inflicted as he smote them and once more
his eyes burned with anger.
Three times that night he plunged back into the river. Each time the water
grew darker with piranha blood until at last there not a single one left
and triumphant Jaguar dragged himself up on the bank and slept at last.
But even as he slept he dreamed he was back in the water, and there,
mockingly circling him was the piranha that had first bitten his paw.
"How can you be alive?" demanded Jaguar, "With my teeth I tore you in
"Perhaps," smirked the piranha. "Or perhaps that was one of my brothers.
The river swarms with us."
"No longer. I dispatched all of you."
The piranha grinned, showing his fearsome teeth.
"Then why am I here taunting you?"
"You're not," said Jaguar. "This is only a dream."
"In that case," smiled the piranha, "pleasant dreams!"
And once more he sank his teeth into Jaguar's paw. This time they would
not release their hold. Wailing, Jaguar clawed at the piranha but even as
he tore away its body, its head clung to his paw and when he had ripped
away its head, the piranha's teeth remained embedded in his flesh.
Jaguar awoke with a desperate whimper. Slowly he realized that it had been
a dream; no piranha teeth gripped his paw. But why did it burn so
fiercely? Why did the stink of that putrid fish continue to fill his
"You're dead, all of you!" he roared in the direction of the river, but
there was no reply, not even an echo.
Was it possible that the piranha in the dream had told the truth? That
some of his kin had eluded Jaguar's wrath?
"Impossible!" Jaguar told himself, but even as he dismissed the notion, he
rose up on his haunches and strode back to the river's edge.
"Cowardly piranhas!" he roared. "If any of you still live, come forth and
This time the faintest of ripples stirred the surface of the water.
Jaguar's fangs bared themselves. "Show yourselves!" he demanded.
Another ripple, this one stronger.
"Spinless creatures!" Jaguar bellowed. "You can hide but you cannot run!"
And with that he charged into the river, his paws so fast, so sure, that
piranhas filled the air like flying fish, dead before they fell back into
"Yes!" thought Jaguar, "This is the price you pay for arousing my fury!"
He had never felt so fierce, so merciless, so sure of his power.
The fact that the swarm of piranhas surrounding him was growing only made
his blows more lethal.
"Good!" he exulted. "Come! Show yourselves so I can destroy you all!"
He was rejoicing at this prospect as he gradually disappeared amidst a
cauldron of gnashing teeth.
Leon Prochnik is an author, screenwriter and public speaker focused
on issues of growth and change that concern our lives.
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THE JAGUAR & THE PIRANHAS (c) Leon Prochnik, 2002. All Rights Reserved.
Contact: Leon Prochnik co/ Ari Press 501 South Orange Grove Ave. Los
Angeles, CA 90036.