Urban Zoo

Amusing myself

Brittany rang the bell at the Carver’s, where she was to babysit the twins that afternoon. It was going to be a great day. Mr and Mrs Carver had readily agreed when Brittany suggested she might take Chloe and Caleb to the zoo if the weather was fine. It was a beautiful day.

After Mr and Mrs Carver got away, Brittany packed lots of water, some cheeses, fresh fruits, butter, and rolls into a picnic bag before they went downstairs to the bus stop. The kids could barely contain their excitement during the short ride to the Animal Park. Chloe wanted to see the elephants and polar bears, and Caleb was waiting to see the big cats and the monkey house. Brittany, well Brittany, could hardly wait to see the giraffes.

At the zoo, they paid their admission fee and got a map. Brittany asked for and received directions to the ‘People Mover’ that they could use to travel from area to area. They agreed they would board the tram and ride to the far end where the Polar Bear pen was. From there, they could walk to the elephants, the monkey house, and the giraffes. They could finish off at the big cats. Then buy snow cones and watch the birds through the aviary screening. If they wanted, they could go inside to see the birds, but understood, they would have to finish their snow cones before going inside to see the birds.

The white bears were playful – swimming gliding and playing in the cool water. They could look through the glass and view the bears from below or watch them on the shore from above. The below-ground areas were cool and refreshing on such a hot day. At the elephant enclosure, Caleb watched an elephant poop. It was one of the most amazing things he had ever seen. Brittany thought it was pretty cool too, but Chloe thought it disgusting. The monkeys were not very active when the kids were in the monkey house. The zookeeper told them it was the heat. The heat made the monkeys lazy.

Next up were the giraffes. Brittany loved the giraffes. Their pen was large, grassy, and shaded around the viewing area. You could purchase a handful of giraffe food, and they would eat out of your hand. They had enormous tongues that could  wrap around your hand. They had cute, tiny fur-covered horns, that she learned were not actual horns, but ossicones, or ossicles, maybe popsicles, or something like that, protruding from the tops of their heads. Brittany wanted to show off her giraffe knowledge to Chloe and Caleb.

The giraffes were not out that day. It was something about having sore throats or bad hooves.

“What the heck!” Brittany said under her breath; when they arrived at the pen only to find out that the giraffes were not on display. She took Chloe by one hand and Caleb with the other, they made their way directly to the front gate.

“Where are the giraffes today?” she asked the lady at the ticket counter. “Why are there no giraffes? We came here specifically to see the giraffes! What have you done with them? We need to see the giraffes! I can’t believe you have the fuckin’ giraffes locked up where we can’t see them! What kind of a zoo doesn’t have giraffes?”

A polite man, wearing a blue shirt that read ‘SECURITY’ across the back, escorted Brittany and her two companions outside the front gate and asked them to leave. Brittany felt she had been wronged and screamed until he released them and pointed down the street. She pulled her iPhone from her shoulder bag and dialed ‘Channel two Action News’ to report the heavy-handedness with which the zoo was treating their paying customers and how they were hiding the giraffes.

The station aired the film that night at six.

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 265- Maja

Written for OLWG# 265

I was wet and cold when I spotted an illuminated sign that I hoped might signal some respite from the weather. “Maja” was spelt out in round, red coloured individual bulbs. I pulled my coat a little tighter and picked up my pace.


I had no idea what a Maja was, but as I came closer, I saw neon beer signs in the front windows, and I thanked the Lord for small favours. A bar was just what I needed.


I pushed in on the heavy oak front door and stepped from the rain into the welcoming gloom of the anonymous speakeasy. The Big Bopper was belting out Chantilly Lace from the box. I stood still and waited for my eyes to adjust to the light before taking off my wet jacket and weaving my way to the bar, watched over by a painfully skinny girl wearing tight jeans and a pink tank top. Straight shoulder-length blond hair fell from beneath a well-worn straw cowboy hat. She nodded her head to acknowledge my presence. I sat near the end and waited as she laughed with a beer-bellied patron, proud of his belt buckle.


Silently, a red-headed, lollipop-shaped girl slid next to me at the bar and put her hand on my shoulder.


“Buy me a drink?” She whispered in my ear, “just a Cuba Libre, nothing expensive.”


It was about that time that the barkeep showed up, “Get lost, Sam,” she said to the redhead, who frowned and skulked back into the shadows. I watched her fade away, then returned my attention to the bartender. She was watching me, waiting for me to speak.


“Shot and a beer,” I ordered. She slid away.


The redhead re-materialized next to my elbow while the bartender was gone. Glancing furtively down the bar, watching for the nurse, she startled me when she asked again, “Did you order that drink?”


I spun my head quickly and startled her, “Piss off, Sam.” I growled in a pseudo impersonation of my bartender, who returned with my order just seconds later with my drink.


“You gotta watch Samantha,” she instructed. “She’s a bad apple.”


“Ah, that’s OK,” I replied as I dropped a couple of bills on the bar. Then I held out a twenty, “Take five from this for yourself and give Sam Cuba Libres until this runs out.” I pointed to the money on the bar and added, “Keep mine coming ‘till that runs out.”


She smiled, spun around, and went to work.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. mended, broken
  2. I’m not here to meet nice people
  3. I’ve been good


ZOZO- 20.Jun.22 Gauloises

Written in 15 minutes, with the Carrizozo Writers- Raw, unedited, exactly as it flowed through my fingers to the keyboard

It was barely afternoon 

It was barely September

On the outskirts of the city

In the Café Voisin


Marie, a local girl, wearing high heels, a short skirt, and red lipstick asked for a double vodka and pulled a packet of Gauloises Brunes from her bag


Jackie, who would normally have his coffee earlier in the day, pushed his cup aside, reached over, and snapped open the Zippo, he had been toying with, on the tabletop


The one with tour Eiffel engraved on the front, like a tourist would buy

Marie leaned over and accepted a light – he gasped and stared down her blouse


“Merci’” she thanked him and straightened back up blowing smoke towards the ceiling

“Sorry, I don’t speak French.” Jackie replied


Marie scowled,



time’s up – step away

The plethora of prompts:

    1. Café Voisin
    2. 1205 pm
    3. cute girl high heels red lipstick
    4. double vodka
    5. guy out of breath
    6. foreign accent
    7. double espresso
    8. sorry to be late

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 264- Fan

Written for OLWG# 264

Sally raised her arms up high, clenched her fists, jumped up and down and yelled at the band, “I love you, Ace!!” Then, she grabbed the hem of her tight fitting tee shirt and raised it up under her chin. Catching the eye of the front man, she screamed, “Play something we can sing along with. Play something we can dance to!”

Ace Stewart smiled at Sally, and nodded his head. He looked at the neck of his guitar and began with the opening riff of the hit song Memories From My Paranoid Mind. Sally went crazy, she jumped up and down, pulled her shirt over her head and threw it on the stage. It lay crumpled at the guitar player’s feet. When he got to the bridge, Ace leaned over and picked up Sally’s shirt. He draped it over the headstock of his Gibson, shuffled to the front of the stage, and offered it back to Sally, who blushed and reddened from the top of her head to her waist.

Ace was smitten, “You might need this to get home safely.”

Sally reached up, took the proffered garment and smiled gratefully at the guitar player. “Thank you,” she mouthed. She looked at the stage and put her hand over her face. Her warm flush deepened, noticeably.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. through a hole in the wall
  2. play something we can sing to
  3. addicted to greed


ZOZO- 06.Jun.22 Lorelai

Written in 16 minutes, with the Carrizozo Writers

Writers block sucks, Jim thought to himself, he was going to give up. He couldn’t get into the present, his mind was a million miles away which he thought should be a good thing. He was writing fiction, but he kept coming back to Lorelai who had unexpectedly announced that it was time for her to find a new mate and then stormed out on him one night last week.

He closed his notebook, set his #2 Ticonderoga down next to it, then placed the twist sharpener outboard of that. He fiddled with the spacing between each object until it was right. The desk drawer contained a small plastic bag he had bought at the Pot Shop the day before and Jim thought about pulling it out. A small pinch of that bud in a bowl might help. Or it might make him forget that he had even wanted to write.

Finally he decided that it didn’t matter what happened, he wanted a taste so he indulged himself and augmented the weed with a snort of single malt, on the side.  After a while he noticed that the twist sharpener had moved. The pencil had moved too, it was in his hand. The notebook was open and the page was filled with his scribbled words,

Jim paused and went back to read what he had written. He knew it had been him writing but he didn’t remember doing it. It was jibberish, 100 percent balderdash. In the middle of the page he spotted her name but that was the only legible thing he could see.

Maybe it was the drugs? Maybe it was the whisky.


time’s up – step away

The prompts:

  1. spark
  2. a million miles away
  3. find a new partner
  4. maybe it’s the drugs?

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 263- Tragic Verse of a Sort

I took some liberties with the “smoke prompt” but it kinda works

Written for OLWG# 263

Mary Beth and the boys drove home as fast as they could when Daniel called with the news. The fire crews had the road closed at the bottom of the hill and wouldn’t let them through for what seemed like forever. When they finally got to pass…

They got to the house alright, but it was already engulfed in fire.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. engulfed in smoke
  2. sea of tears
  3. holy, holy, holy


ZOZO- 30.May.22 Wuss

Written in 10 minutes, with the Carrizozo Writers

Dude, your wife is gonna freak out

Ya think?

Yeah, I think. You can’t just dump this on her. She still hasn’t forgiven you for that time in Tenerife.

Oh, Tenerife. Yeah, there is that. Maybe we should just forget about this, on accounta Tenerife. I’m not sure that this will be worth the effort. I mean, what makes this worthwhile?

Art for art’s sake, maybe? Or, just cause we can? Or, on accounta?

Maybe it’ll turn out to be one of those things you need to see.

Probably more like one of those things I don’t need to see, but wouldn’t be averse to seeing. You know, in the broad scheme of things.

But, dude! Your wife is gonna freak out!

Yeah forget about it. It was a horrible idea and I’m not doing it.



time’s up – step away

The prompts:

  1. things you never knew you needed to see
  2. what makes this worthwhile
  3. yeah, there is that

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 262- The poet’s daughters

Written for OLWG# 262

Long ago, but not too far away from here, in the town of Galway, on the west coast there lived an unskilled poet known as Tadhg MacCadáin who had three daughters. In addition to his writing, Tadhg was a defender with a local Hurling club and proudly wore his togs of purple and gold.


I’m not here to talk about him, though, I want to praise his daughters: Calliope, and her sisters Thalia, and Erato. Each of them, grew up to be poets in their own right.


Let’s begin with Calliope the eldest sister. Don’t cross her, that girl has a temper. Calliope was a singer and a writer of verse. She wrote epic poetry and had an angelic voice. As a teenager, she entered a singing contest, not exactly like, but kinda like, The Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour. I hope you all remember that show. It aired in the US during the late ’40s and early ’50s. It was the one that catapulted Pat Boone and his famous white bucks to stardom. Anyway, she won by defeating the nine Pierides Sisters who she went ‘toe to toe with’ in the finals. It was no easy feat to win the Amateur Hour against the Pierides. They were accomplished, in their own right, and rumour is that they were a bit slutty, too. That always helped them glean votes in the competitions they entered, and they had gotten their start entertaining the troops on the battlefields of Troy they were pretty battle-hardened but not as good as Calliope MacCadáin, who won the competition fair and square. The other girls were not gracious losers and complained to Ted about how they had been robbed of the title that should have been theirs.


Calliope got tired of listening to their whining and complaining. Without warning, she turned them into a parliament of magpies. I told you she had a temper.


But, I also told you that she was a poet. She specialized in epics. She collaborated with Homer to produce Iliad and the Odyssey. In fact, Homer was quoted in the Athens Gazette shortly after publication that he would never have attempted such tasks without Calliope as a co-writer, and he would not have been able to complete them on his own. Calliope also contributed as a ghostwriter in the works of both Virgil and Dante. She received no credit for those works and, of course, no compensation for her tribulations. Those guys were misogynistic bastards.


Calliope had a younger sister, the middle sister named Thalia who wrote comedy and poems of rural, tranquil scenes. She is rumoured to have worked, in her later years, as a writer on the now legendary Rowan and Martin show, Laugh-In. She wrote memorable jokes and skits for the likes of Ruth Buzzi, Arti Johnson, Henry Gibson, Lily Tomlin and Alan Sues. Although she put in countless hours, she received no credit for her toils and products at that time of her career. In her memoirs, Thalia proffers the theory that this was because of her advanced age, grey hair, age spots, and crepe-paper skin. Actors and actresses were vain and self-centred in those days. Thalia faded into the shadows when standing in the presence of women like Goldie Hawn. She didn’t hold a grudge, though, the work paid up all her bills.


Like her sister, she contributed to the works of better known earlier authors as well. Her influence features in Hesiod’s Theogony, and all the works of Apollodorus and Diodorus Siculus, (it is most conspicuous in Bibliothēkē historica on which she collaborated in her early years). She and Diodorus lived together in a “walk-up” flat in downtown Agyrium. It was one of those cold-water flats and did not meet the comfort requirements of Thalia so she and Siculus broke up after only a short time.


After leaving Diodorus Siculus, Thalia took up with a guy named Apollo who treated her better and with whom she conceived an entire erotic dance troupe of brothers. Known as “The Korybantes.” The assumed personas of seven demigods, and performed, danced, directed and choreographed what was to become known as The Dance of the Mysteries of Samothrake. A salacious and vulgar dance performed by the nude brothers armed with spears and shields, accompanied by tambourines, drums and the cries of their mystic groupies.


One of her better-known solo works is the semi-autobiographical 76th Orphic Hymn which was dedicated to her sisters.


She was spared the temper of her older sister and never turned any of her rivals into alternate species, but neither did she realize the fame of Calliope.


The third and youngest of the sisters went by the name of Erato. A hottie who likes to flash her body for people on the roads and in the subways of Galway. She wrote romance poems about love and sex.


Her best-known work is a tragedy that tells the story of a young man, Seamus, and his girlfriend, Rhadine, who were star-crossed lovers from Lydacan Townland, east of Galway just beyond the airport. Rhadine was a young girl who was supposed to marry a rich man from the ancient city of Blackrock Heath, but instead, she chose to have a secret love affair with a dairyman called Seamus.


The man Rhadine was about to marry was a dangerous Irishman, with a sexy accent. When he learned of the affair, he killed both his future wife and her lover, Seamus.


Erato wrote the tale over the course of almost a month. She wrote in poetic form while sitting naked in the front window of her flat on William Street. William Street is famous for buskers who perform there and the people who film them. There is a lot of footage of Erato sitting naked in the window of her flat. Postcards can be bought for 20p at any number of barrows lining the street. Videographers would wait for days, hoping to capture her moving more than her right hand as she scratched her quill across her parchment. Did I mention that she’s a hottie; lithe and lean, petite, with tanned skin, kept flawless by frequent visits to Allure Beauty. A salon tucked into a corner of Corbett Court Shopping Centre not far from her flat. Women want to be her. Men want to be with her.

She is one of “The poet’s daughters.”

This week’s prompts were:

  1. inside my dream
  2. picture postcards
  3. it’s the plural of plankton



Amusing myself with cops, hamburgers and clowns

When Officer Stephanie Patterson pulled into the lot where the hamburger joint had burned down, she was not expecting to find a clown sitting on the curb. But, there he was, all six-foot, seven inches of him. The yellow shirt he wore was, emblazoned with the logo of the burger chain and smudged black with smoke and soot. The toes of his oversized red shoes pointed at the sky, and tears streamed down his cheeks. She nosed her prowl car into the curb nearby and rolled down the window.

“ ’Sup Ronnie?” she asked.

“Fuck me, Steph, the place burned down… a goddamn grease fire in the French fry machine. What am I going to do now? I’m a hamburger clown. That’s all I am, and now there is no hamburger joint. How am I supposed to live? I like being a hamburger clown. This is my career.” He reached into the pocket of his ballooned trousers and came out with a crumpled pack of Lucky Strikes. He shook one out, straightened it up, then placed it between his lips before offering her one.

She shook her head, no. As if by magic, Ronald produced a blue disposable lighter and inhaled; as he lit the cigarette.

“You think I can get a job on the force, Steph?” He asked. Do you think I’d make a good cop? Shit, Stephanie. I never thought something like this would happen! Not in my worst nightmare.”

Officer Patterson got out of her car and leaned her butt against the bonnet. “I don’t think you could get a job with the PD, Ronnie,” she said with a wry grin, “We already have our quota of buffos.”

“You watch,” the clown intoned, “I’ll have to go back to work with the forest service. I’m telling you that I am way too old to be slinging a chainsaw around anymore.”

“I should not be saying this, Ron, but the word is that the school system might be hiring a custodian to work at the high school. My brother’s going to go for that job, though, so you didn’t hear it from me.”

“I didn’t hear a thing. If I get the job, though, do you think they’d let me wear my rubber nose?”


OLWG · writing

OLWG# 261- The A to Z Guide of Families and Family Life

Written for OLWG# 261

Peter’s family moved from Live OakTerrace to HighPoint Heights at the end of his first year Jonathan Doerr High School. As one might expect, this necessitated his transfer to Stephen F. Austin School of the Arts.

He met Ellen Grisham at Austin.

It was love at first sight.

Peter was so in love with Ellen and so excited about being in love that he went home and told his father. “Dad, I’ve met a girl at school, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. We want to get married and raise a family together.”

He expected his father to be supportive but was shocked when his dad pulled him out to the garage, “Ellen Grisham, you say?” Peter’s dad almost whispered. He seemed nervous.

“That’s right, Dad, she’s beautiful. She and I love one another.”

“Peter, you can’t date Ellen Grisham. Please don’t say anything to your mother, but as a young man, I sinned. My flesh was weak; and I slept with women outside of my marriage. Ellen Grisham’s mother was one of them. Ellen is your sister. You can’t do it son. It would be unnatural.”

Peter was heartbroken, but he took his fathers words to heart, and he cut ties with the young Ms Grisham. Although heartbroken, Peter was young enough to bounce back. After several months he met Angela Bishop. Peter again went to his father and, guess what? He told Peter that Angela Bishop was also his sister.

Devastated, Peter had no choice but to betray his father’s confidence, and he went to seek advice from his mother.

He told his mom everything. He told her about Ellen and Angela. He cried as he told her how her husband, his father, had betrayed her all those years ago.

Mom smiled sadly and pulled Peter into an embrace.

“Don’t you fret about that shit, boy I knew about his philandering ways.” She pressed his head into her shoulder.” If you want to date any of those girls, you feel free to go ahead and do it. Hell, date them both. I’m going to tell you the truth now. He’s not really your father.”

This week’s prompts were:

  1. bellyful of gin
  2. remember what it feels like to fall
  3. death comes like dawn