I am working on an A-Z challenge, this one featuring short pieces of fiction. Today’s letter is Z for Zoo.
Visitors who paid admission to the city zoo never thought of it as any different from any other zoo they had ever been to. Looking over the assortment of exotic animals left them feeling much the same as one would expect: awed and somewhat fearful, at the thought of what it would be like to be amidst these creatures, in their native habitat. There was something simultaneously thrilling and alarming about seeing the King of Beasts, lying passively, out of the way, with one or two companions, trying to get in a nap in the late afternoon sun.
When seen from the arcade above, the lion looked as one might expect, and his home away from his previous home looked nothing more, nor nothing less than a person was accustomed to seeing. It was not hard to imagine that the big cat had, at one time, the run of the savannah, or that other animals fled before him when he let out a roar. Now, his home was pretty nondescript, and he looked as though he were resigned to his existence as a denizen of the zoo.
Glen worked at the zoo, spending his eight-hour shift in a tiny cubicle at the zoo entrance, collecting the fee which allowed visitors free run of all attractions on the grounds. When he got off work, he took the bus back to within a block of where he lived, managing to be home in his tiny apartment before dark each night. That was no accident, as one definitely did not want to be out after dark in his neighborhood, not if one knew what was good for one’s health.
His place was not what he had expected when he first moved to the city; he just could not afford anything in the way of an upgrade. He was hoping for something better to come along, job-wise, but for now, hoping was all he could do. Meanwhile, he stayed indoors, trapped by the very existence of those who controlled the streets, gathering in small groups on the corner, smoking their cigarettes, and drinking their brews. His home was pretty nondescript, and he was resigned to his existence as a denizen of the ‘hood.
Edgar and Lena were obviously lost; having taken the wrong exit, Edgar had tried to double back to the freeway, and ended up in No-Man’s land, and he wished he hadn’t. “Look at these thugs,” he muttered to Lena. “They’d as much as knife us, as look at us. How in the hell do I get out of here?”
“I sure don’t know,” replied Lena. “But I agree. I don’t like the way they look at our car.” Edgar continued to maneuver his over-priced, luxurious SUV in the direction of the freeway, groaning every time he came out onto one more street in the ‘hood. “This place is a zoo, and there are plenty of animals out tonight.”
And it didn’t even cost them the price of admission.