“I can’t wait to go see the aminals!” one small, slimy child exclaimed, bouncing up and down with excitement. “I love ‘em!”
“Betcha they’d like you, too,” said a gruff, surly voice from inside the van. There was a pause and then another figure stepped from the dark interior. The Old Man stood in the sunlight, stretching and muttering vaguely nasty words to himself. “Zoo. Bah.” He scratched himself.
“You like animals, don’t you, Gramps?” asked one of his grandchildren.
“Hate ‘em. They stink and lay around. Useless.”
One of his daughters rolled her eyes. “Why does that sound so familiar?”
* * *
Filing into the zoo, the children began running around the exhibits, banging on glass, rattling wire fences, tossing large and very gummy candies to the lemurs, and making a general nuisance of themselves. At the sight of an adolescent penguin strolling to and fro along a simulated ice shelf, they danced and shrieked with delight, although their happiness did not last long. Soon they launched into a litany of complaints and demands.
“The aminals are all sleeping!”
“Gotta go potty!”
“Wanna go home!”
One little boy stomped his foot angrily. “Why can’t I ride the Siberian Tiger?”
“Let ‘im,” the Old Man suggested uncharitably. He observed the yelling, whining children and turned down his hearing aid.
At the lion cage, the Old Man amused himself by standing near the cage and calling rude insults to the creature.
“King of Beasts, eh?” he yelled. “In my day, we had house cats as big.”
The lion opened one yellow eye and looked at the Old Man intently, as if measuring the drumsticks. Deciding they weren’t worth the effort, the animal closed the eye and went back to sleep.
“Ha, scared him,” the Old Man sneered and then wandered off in search of a shapely zoo attendant.