Party at the Zoo
Paul blinked his eyes and stretched, trying to wake up. He hadn't slept well through the day because it was so hot.
"Hey, are you awake, uh, are you?" a high-pitched voice grew louder along with the sound of flapping feet. "Are you? Huh? Huh? Are you awake?"
Forcing his eyes open, Paul looked around for the owner of the voice. His gaze found a ring-tailed monkey standing up-right with a goofy smile on his face.
"Go away Henry," Paul yawned. He felt that a couple hours of sleep was what he wanted to do.
The monkey dithered, switching his weight from one foot to the other. The smile slowly disappeared as Henry tried to figure out what to do. He desperately wanted to go to the party but he was afraid of Brian. Henry was convinced that elephant wanted to eat him. It didn't matter that elephants were supposedly vegetarians. Something that big just had to eat other animals. Henry needed Paul to protect him.
"You know Jane will be there," Henry said, watching Paul carefully for any signs of interest.
One eye opened and looked at the monkey.
"Okay," Paul grumbled and hauled himself to his feet.
The monkey darted ahead and opened Paul's cage. The two of them set off for the party a leisurely pace that had Henry jumping with impatience and prattling non-stop.
They reached the polar bear enclosure and found the bears had gone all out. Christmas lights circled the trees and the flat-topped rocks were covered with hors-d'oeuvres and candles. The monkey was impressed but when he glanced at Paul, he seemed preoccupied. Probably looking for Jane, Henry concluded.
The dishes rattled as the elephants walked through the gate.
"Hey, guys," one of the polar bears shouted. "Step lightly."
"Sorry," Brian replied with an embarrassed expression on his face and actually tried to tiptoe.
"Don't hurt yourself," a sultry voice commented, causing all the animals to turn to the newcomer. A beautiful golden lioness stood on the edge of the polar bear enclosure.
The elephant's face reddened in humiliation. She was so impressive that she always made Brian feel clumsy and awkward.
Jane gracefully descended into the polar bear enclosure. Paul followed as if he were being pulled along by an invisible string. The lioness sauntered along the food tables, sniffing what was available
"No meat," Paul commented.
"No," Jane said, turning to look at him. "I suppose that would be insensitive to the prey."
"Boy, I'll say," Henry squeaked in fear. "That would be insensitive for sure. Speaking for those of us who are vegetarians, we would feel very uncomfortable."
"You're a monkey," Jane said in her wonderful voice.
"Well, yeah, I'm a monkey," Henry agreed. "I am a monkey. Definitely a monkey."
"Monkeys eat meat," Jane looked at Henry so closely that he became even more uncomfortable.
"Yes, yes," Henry jabbered in his high-pitched, irritating voice. "You're right, of course, of course, you are. I mean we do eat meat but it's rare, very rare. I mean we rarely do it and not that we eat it rare. Although, I guess we do eat it rare."
Paul gave Jane an embarrassed look and then, opening his mouth wide, Paul swallowed Henry in one gulp. Brian trumpeted in alarm.
"Thank goodness you to put a stop that racket," Jane smiled.
Shaking out his huge mane, Paul smiled back, revealing his large canine teeth.
"Why was he with you?" she asked.
"He wanted protection from Brian," Paul said.
"That very stupid," she laughed. "He asked a lion for protection from an herbivore?"
Paul just licked his lips and smiled.