A Wild Life Zoo
—sleep is good, better is death
Heinrich Heine, "Morphine"
I watched a lion eat a man like a piece of fruit, peel tendons from fascia like pith from rind, then lick the sweet meat from its hard core of bones. The man had earned this feast and his own deliciousness by ringing a stick against the lion's cage, calling out Here, Kitty Kitty, Meow!
With one swipe of a paw much like a catcher's mitt with fangs, the lion pulled the man into the cage, rattling his skeleton against the metal bars.
The lion didn't want to do it—
He didn't want to eat the man like a piece of fruit and he told the crowd this: I only wanted some goddamn sleep. The crowd had trouble believing the words that slid out of the lion's mouth, a mouth the size of a cathedral with a vaulted ceiling, maxilla and mandible each like a flying buttress. They believed the lion even less when they saw that one or two of his words had been impaled on his teeth which were pointed and lined up in a semi circle like large pink wigwams at a war party. The crowd scattered, fled to the safety of the pagoda bridge over the koi pond and the humid reptile house with tinted windows.
But, I believed the lion—
I had seen him yawn. I had fallen in love with that yawn and my thighs panged just thinking about laying my head right inside that wet dark bed of jaws. So, I stayed, despite the man glittering and oozing on the ground like a mortal wound.
The lion burped up the man's jeans, now as shredded as a blue grass skirt, and about that time a jeep of twelve zoo workers screeched around the blue rhinoceros exhibit in swat gear and khaki shorts—to rescue the man who was crumpled on the floor like a red dress that had too many drinks—their tranquilizer guns shone like Saint Michael's swords, and they each held handfuls of dope-filled darts with neon pink feathers at the ends.
The lion paid this Zoo Crusade little attention and burped up the man's asshole next. He looked at me and said I hate assholes. (Seven darts hit him at once, causing him to wince.) But, the lion continued the eyes...you can't beat those salty, olive-like eyes. At that point, the lion shook his massive rock star hair and stumbled off toward a shallow cave at the back of his cage, dragging his tail behind him like a medieval flail. All seven darts jangled and clicked from his flanks like pink aloe flowers. The Zoo Delta Force Team followed behind him, stepping in the thick tracks his heavy tail had made. The crowd, now hiding out like two separate groups of bandits, were wary of the animals they found themselves near at that particular moment: the gaping gobs of the electric koi beneath the surface of the flotsamed pond, opening and closing their lips in a song shaped like skulls, and the agile maws of the boa constrictors and pythons, unhinging and resetting their jaws like basement doors. But I, I believed the lion.