Disclaimer: No infringement intended. Not affiliated in any way with anyone. Net worth is still a negative number. Nothing to sue here people, move along.
Girl and Boy
At the Zoo
"Someone told me there is a clown!" Brittany shouted gleefully.
"And face painting!" Brandon exclaimed.
"Monkey bars, too! Right, Mommy?"
"Yes, Kids. It's all happening at the zoo. Now calm down!" Bitsy tried to calm down her children.
"Yeah, calm down. Uncle Logan doesn't believe you!" Brittany scolded Brandon.
"I do believe it," Logan reassured Brandon as the little boy crawled into Logan's ever present lap.
"It's true! You believe me, don't you, Unca Logan?" Brandon asked with big puppy dog eyes.
"I do believe it's true!" Logan reassured the young boy. Brandon smiled up at him.
"I really appreciate you taking them with you to the grand reopening at the zoo. How did you ever get tickets?"
"Actually Max got the tickets." Logan said. "Um, experience indicates it's best not to ask how." Max just smiled.
Bitsy smiled and nodded. Logan knew that she was assuming that Max had connections with the vast underground economy within the city. That wasn't even a tiny fraction of the truth, but Bitsy certainly didn't need to know that.
"Do they really need all this stuff?" Max asked as she looked at the bags that Bitsy had prepared for the trip. "We are only going to be gone a couple of hours."
"It's never a light journey with children and I want you too encumbered for tumbling." Bitsy smiled.
Max seriously considered showing off, but let it slide.
"It's easier if you come from the east side into the parking lot," Max volunteered.
"I am doing just fine, Max!" In truth Logan was more than a little irritated at the traffic. The one good thing to come from the gas shortage, and the prices of gas when it was available, was that there were not usually traffic jams. Apparently the re-opening really was something special. Logan reminded himself to remember he was lucky to have Max as backup on this little adventure, and, in truth, lucky to share this with her.
"I OK?" asks Brandon.
"You look fine, sweetie." Max reassured him.
"How do I look?" asked Brittany, twirling her expensive frilly best dress.
"Fancy!" Max smiled.
Logan finished assembling his wheelchair. "Everyone ready?" he asked as he finished transferring.
Max hung a backpack over the back of Logan's chair, dropped another large bag on his lap and swung a third over her shoulder. "Ready! Let's … ramble!" Max smiled.
"To the zoo!" cried Brandon.
"We can take the bus!" Brittany pointed excitedly to the bus.
Max noticed Logan looking at the blue cross town bus with the oddest look on his face.
"No, Brittany. It will be faster to walk." Max told her.
"What if it's raining?"
"It's not raining."
"It's cold," complained Brandon. Logan scoped up the boy and rested him on his lap and put his coat on. Max smiled at him being all paternal.
"I want Twinkie!" Brandon said.
"It would be better for you if we threw those to the bears or whatever." Logan commented grimly.
"And the animals will love it," Max said, then paused as Logan stared at her. "If you do …did." She frowned, uncertain what was bothering Logan.
"Somethin' tells me it's going to be crowded." Max said as she looked at all the signs proclaiming the events of the day. The clown was to the right. The face painting was straight ahead. The balloon animals were to the right. Food was to the left.
"I told you!" Brandon said from his perch on Logan's lap.
"It's all happening at the zoo, folks! Come and see it!" said the unidentified man passing out brochures.
Max accepted a brochure, but hesitated at the odd look on Logan's face.
They started off to the left. The first exhibit they came to was the Monkey house. The kids were laughing at the antics. Max read the commemorative inscription. "This exhibit is dedicated to the loving memory of Simon Standford, whose shining example of community service and honesty will always be remembered."
They next stop was the Giraffes. The giraffes kept sticking their tongues out at the visitors. Brittany said that they wanted the Twinkies, but Logan insisted they didn't really mean it.
"You mean they are lying to us?" Brittany challenged.
"No. They are just … insincere." Logan had huge grin and Max really wished she knew what the joke was.
The elephant house was next. There were two elephants. The zookeeper was giving a slightly slurred lecture explaining about the breeding program they were hoping to participate it.
"We have had James, our seven year old African elephant, for three years now. Tasha is a new arrival for the grand reopening. They seem to be getting along together very well, but there hasn't been any indication that they are interested in each other, romantically."
"Maybe they just don't know what to do?" some man in the crowd volunteered.
"They're dumb," the zookeeper acknowledged just before another zoo official came and escorted him away.
"Did he smell like rum to you?" Logan asked Max.
Max sniffed the air. "Could be. I'm amazed you could tell over .." she gestured to the elephants. Logan just chuckled softly.
They walked the back of the monkey house on the way to the Africa Savannah exhibit. There was one empty cage with a hand written sign. Max read it aloud. "George and Lucy, our Asian Orangutans have not become accustomed to the new trees added for the grand opening. Hopefully they will adjust and be out soon."
A rather large, bald man was looking at the empty cages. "Well," he said, "I suppose if fifteen foot tall trees suddenly appeared in my front yard I would be a little skeptical of the changes, too."
Logan had to wonder if the sign was true, or a joke.
The Africa Savannah exhibit included a lion, zebras and antelopes. The single female lion was in a mostly concrete cage. Max read the sign. Logan talked about how there used to be a whole pride of lions here.
"Maybe they can borrow her a boyfriend for a while. Wouldn't take long. Lions are smarter than the elephants." Max smiled. She considered winking at Logan, but decided not to in front of the kids.
They had just gotten to the zebra pen, when the lion roared. The zebras (both of them) ran around their pen for a little while.
"Wow, they sure reacted to that!" Brittany said.
"A lion's roar can be heard up to five miles away. I bet the Antelopes freaked out too." Max said.
"Why?" Brandon asked.
"The cartilage in his throat, called the Hyoid structure, ossifies into bone. Happens in all the big cats; it's what distinguishes the roaring from the meowing of…." Max's voice trailed off when she realized they were staring at her.
"The lion scares the zebra and the antelope because in the wild, lions eat antelope and zebra." Logan calmly explained to Brandon.
"That's not nice." Brittany offered.
"The antelopes should convince the lions to eat grass too." Brandon said.
Max and Logan both laughed softly, each for their own reasons.
"I don't think that the antelopes would have much luck converting the lions to herbivore-ism." Max said.
They visited all the exhibits, and then had lunch in a large open space of grass. Brittany and Brandon feed the birds the crusts of their sandwiches.
"Why do the pigeons move their heads like that?" Brittany asked.
"They're plotting to get the rest of our food," answered another child feeding the pigeons.
"Pigeons were used extensively in world war one to carry secret messages. They are used to being sneaky," said a man with the other child.
There was a petting zoo on the way out. Logan waited outside as patiently as he ever did anything, meaning he was counting the seconds and wishing he had brought his laptop. Too bad there were too many people who could overhear something; he could have used the time to make a few phone calls. He sighed deeply and glanced at his watch for the fifth time in as many minutes.
Max felt like she had taken Brittany and Brandon into a minefield. How could one goat produce so much? Oh, there was a dog, too. How original. Guinea pigs, gerbils, chickens, and a couple of hamster cages completed the mini-menagerie.
A light bulb that flickered frequently in the corner caught Brandon's attention. Apparently some science minded individual had hooked up a small electric generator to the hamster wheel.
"I want one!" Brittany declared.
"Me too!" Brandon naturally added.
"They are so cute!"
"They don't come with a light!"
Eventually Max broke into the children's bickering. "Everything is sold separately, sweetie. If your mom gets you a hamster, I am sure that Uncle Logan and I can scrounge together enough parts to rig you up a generator."
"Really?" and "Promise," tumbled over each other in a familiar way that made Max smile.
"Sure, simple generator, 10 watt bulb, piece of cake!" replied Max as she read over the details of the exhibit. When she read the part about hamsters going into estrus every 3 or 4 days, she decided that maybe her life wasn't so bad.
When Max's pager went off she knew it was time to go. Logan was many wonderful things; patient was not one of them.
A tired little boy crawled up into Logan's lap. "Carry me." Logan smiled and wrapped his arms around Brandon. He was about to tell him that he had to hang on when Max started pushing. He looked up at her, slightly perturbed, but the smile she returned reminded him that sometimes it's OK to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
"I want a hamster!" Brittany reiterated. Apparently she was practicing.
"Really? Did they have hamsters in the petting zoo?" asked Logan.
"Uh-huh" Brandon said sleepily.
"And what did you learn about hamsters?" Logan looked at Max with the most amused expression. Max had no idea what to say to that.
Brittany, completely oblivious to the undercurrent in the conversation, piped up,"They turn on the light."
"Oh, really. Do they do that a lot?" Max had no idea why Logan was so …amused? happy? cheerful? …but she decided she was going to stop wondering and just go with it.
"Yeah. Max said you two could do it too." Brittany said. Logan laughed.
"Rig up a generator with a ten watt bulb to the hamster wheel. IF your mother lets you have a hamster." Max clarified quickly. Logan was still laughing. Max let out a deep sigh and joined him.
'What a gas!' Logan thought to himself as they pulled up in front of the kids' apartment.
"There were lots of animals!" Brittany exclaimed.
"Monkeys and elephants!" Brandon said.
"Antelopes to Zebra, they had it pretty well covered from A to Z," Max quipped as she helped the children out of the car seats. Max quickly put the car seats back into Bitsy's car along with all the baggage she had insisted they carry.
"Unca Logan, will you take us again?" Brandon asked.
"Well, I think it's your mom's turn. She hasn't had a chance to see any of the animals." Logan replied.
"Yes! You gotta come and see all the animals at the zoo!" Brittany exclaimed loudly. Bitsy just laughed.
Max climbed back in the car, mission accomplished.
"Okay, I'll see you later." Logan waved as he started the car up again.
"I want a hamster!" was followed immediately by "and a light bulb." Logan chuckled, again, and made a mental note to call Bitsy when he got home and explain.
"So, how was your day?" Max asked a too thoughtful looking Logan as they pulled away from Bitsy and the children. Something was up with Logan, and she was going to figure out what.
"Kinda surreal, actually." He smiled at her. "You ever heard of Simon and Garfunkel?"
If you are not familiar with they lyrics to "At the Zoo" by Simon and Garfunkel then this will seem even lamer than it actually is.