“Hank, I swear I’m just not up for it today,” Robert says, grabbing a handful of last week’s peanuts out of a pail hanging from the side. “I’m so tired.”
Hank shakes his head as he looks around. “Yeah…and we’ve only been open for a few hours.”
The Sun hangs at it’s highest point of the day, hot enough to evaporate a cold drink in minutes. The place is a roaring vortex of loud runny nosed children tripping over themselves, uninterested parents jabbering into electronic rectangles, announcements mumbled out of squeaking speakers, & only God knows what else. A being riddled with anxiety would spontaneously combust instantly in here.
Robert continues monologing his existential woes while Hank eyes a gaggle of children of various shapes and sizes and feels a cold chill run down his spine as they start to walk over.
“…and the next motherfucker who messes with me is gonna get the business.”
“Terrorists, 2 o’clock,” Hank warns.
Full of dread, Robert slowly turns his gaze over to the group. He’s been working at the place for over a year & has a special distaste for children. Just yesterday, a chubby girl with pigtails spit on him and laughed. His eyelids twitches as he recalls that and many other instances.
“How many times has it been? How many times have I been harrassed?” He ponders. “Yesterday seemed close to the final straw…”
“Steady yourself, Robert.”
Robert breathes in & out, stopping a trembling that he didn’t know his body was doing, and relaxes his shoulders and closes his eyes. “Maybe they’ll just leave.”
Hank opens his mouth but the sound couldn’t come out fast enough. As soon as Robert finishes his sentence, he felt a hard blunt object knock into his head. He falls out of his seat with a loud thud and rubs his head. He looks up and sees a boy with a red baseball cap and a smile with a grim disposition. His friends around him laugh hysterically.
His vision blurry, he gets up. A rock a few sizes away from boulder status at his feet. He grabs it and walks towards the group. The boy doesn’t flinch. Robert gets closer. Hank gulps and closes his eyes.
Robert reaches through the separation bars and grabs the boy by the collar.
The next day, a local newspaper’s headline reads:
BOY MAULED IN WAKATOGA ZOO – APE TO STAND TRIAL