During a terrible professional drought, a literary gazelle, a genre water buffalo, and a cheetah writer met at a tiny writers' lowland oasis. Although they all wanted the oasis for themselves, and the gazelle and the water buffalo weren't too keen on hanging out with a predatory hack like the cheetah, for once they amicably shared the rest spot.
"So," the water buffalo, a sociable sort even when away from the safety of her herd, said to the gazelle, "how are things on your end of the industry?"
"Not so great," the lovely gazelle admitted, flaring her fine nostrils. "My kind are killing themselves running around and trying to find work while maintaining our artistic integrity, but the big genre herds are hogging the tablelands. We're basically starving."
"Shame." The water buffalo (who still had plenty of royalty fat to live on) felt a twinge of guilt, and so eyed the cheetah. "I bet with the way you chase down work that you're not going hungry."
"Compete or die." The cheetah looked at a pack of attention-hungry, slope-backed hyenas slinking toward them. "Here come the ass biters."
The hyena pack circled around the three animals and began laughing and calling out insults: "Hey, Gazelle, your last opus died on the shelf so bad the vultures wouldn't even circle above it." "Is that your fat, boring, lazy ass, Water Buffalo? Shouldn't you be scarfing up free food at some cow con somewhere?" "Cheetah, you're a mean, ugly fraidy-cat and no one likes you!"
The gazelle, her self-image shattered by the insults about her work, began to weep beautifully. No one would ever, ever understand her pain. The hard-working water buffalo saw red and began pawing the ground, ready to charge. She'd flatten those hyenas with the weight of her unshakeable confidence. The cheetah, who understood the nature of carrion lovers -- but couldn't stand the smell of them -- only yawned.
"Come on." The cheetah turned her back on the pack and started heading for the high land, where the clean air would blow the hyena stink out of her fur. "Let's go find some work."
"But -- but -- they said terrible things about us!" the literary gazelle said. "I'm an artist! How can I do anything with them laughing at me like that? I have to explain to them how important my work is so that they'll respect me!"
The genre water buffalo nodded. "I'm with gazelle. You may be mean and ugly, cheetah, but I'm not, and my ass isn't that big or boring. I've earned some respect around here, too. I'm going to fight them and show them how wrong they are about me."
"Vaya con Dios." The cheetah strolled off alone.
The next day, the cheetah was feeling pretty satisfied. She'd found a new territory, nailed some nice work, and had earned some time to stretch out in the shade and think about the next hunt. She was doing just that when the genre water buffalo came limping into her territory. She was bruised, bloodied, hungry and exhausted, and a hundred sets of greedy teeth marks covered her flanks.
"Those hyenas never stopped coming at us," the buffalo wheezed as she collapsed next to the cheetah. "They tore poor gazelle to pieces, ate her alive and almost did the same to me. I barely escaped with my career intact."
The cheetah nodded. "That's what hyenas do best. It's all they do."
"But why didn't you stay and fight them with us?" the water buffalo demanded. "What sort of writer are you?"
"Luckily for you," the cheetah said, "one who isn't hungry at the moment."