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Animals 5: Out of the Cage

Captain Zeus Finnegan flinched when his bookie staggered out of a yellow corvette.  He’d either been fighting, or drinking, or both.

“Eh, hello Magnum.  Everything alright there?”

Goldine had gone from yellow swimsuit to a bright yellow dress that nearly glowed int he ink blue darkness of evening.  She threw the long, flowing skirt into the wind again and again, smelling like rum and humming to herself.  Harmon leaned on the exquisite car’s door, testing just how swollen one black eye was.

“You ever been to Celebration, Captain Finnegan?”

Did his bookie want a shoulder to cry on?  Zeus looked up and down the street.  Only one or two passerby and most of the shops were closed at this hour.  Hardly any substantial witnesses.  What now?  Compliment the man?  Buy him flowers?  Shout at him to man-up when Goldine could just float away again, at any moment?

She presently played at twirling and seeing the dress flare in the thick night.

Harmon went on, “The place is about thirty minutes from here in Osceola County, I had to pass through it to get downtown.  Well, I chose to pass through, after my wife screamed for some short little man to hit me.  That whole town, Celebration, looks like some kind of cartoon paradise.  Carmen and I wanted to live there, at first.  The Walt Disney Company and its world famous team of magnanimous people didn’t open Celebration too long ago, like in the nineties, I think.  was supposed to be a paradise, with all kinds of people living in the most perfect, cozy southern town together, right near the Magic Kingdom itself.  Ha!  But it was still too expensive for us.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars for a house–I know these things.  Some Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow… half the people who need to be there, can’t even get in.  And we had secret money troubles even back that far, when we first got to Orlando two years ago.  I just lied and said her idea was stupid.  Don’t get too comfortable in your shoes, though.  Captain Finnegan, your timeshare is even less affordable.  Oh, but some people, they get their happy endings, don’t they?  Because I’m such a wicked-good lawyer.  Did I sound like you?  I’ve been practicing that, Zeus.”

Zeus began scratching his bright hair furiously, hoping Harmon would stop.

Harmon droned, “So, no picket fence, no children for us… just two women screaming for Buster Sparks to finally punch me in the face.  Isn’t that cake?  And not once, did Carmen want to stop and talk about the clothes I burned in the goddamned pool.”

“Yeah, Magnum’s always on joke-time, Goldine.  Wait, Sparks?  You know that weirdo?”

“Hate to break it to you, Zeus, but you were targeted.  Too many well-connected golfers attached to your name when I looked it up.  Oh, and here, I had this cleaned.  I felt bad about what our incontinent friend-in-common did to it.”  Harmon came over and stuffed the cap down over Zeus’s mussed hair.

“Let’s a… hey, do you have the keys, there, Mr. M?  Goldine and I have been waiting for you a long time.  She’s been drinking for hours, actually.”

“I’m taking your car, in exchange for this one.  Why?  Because you never pay me.  I hate late money.” Harmon yanked open the door of Zeus’ jeep and had a seat.  “Don’t forget that the property is still under litigation.  So, don’t break anything.  And, if there’s some accident or other… don’t call the cops.  I fired the regular security guys, so that’s maybe about forty-eight hours before anyone at the old firm figures out what’s wrong.  Some kind of stupid, mid-week team building thing.  Lots of drunk, self-absorbed lawyer types who think me and all my security access just disappeared when I was fired.”

Zeus hushed him.  “Are you drunk right now, Magnum?”

Harmon started honking the jeep’s horn for no reason.  Goldine yelped and stretched two soft arms overhead, in some great instinctual breast stroke to cover her ears.

“That is not legal, Captain Finnegan.  No, no, no.  I’m not drunk.  Just sad.  That one building in Celebration, the town center, looks like a cage.  I couldn’t figure out which side of it I was on, after a while.  It’s why I was so late.  Sorry.”

Getting away with the girl was now a matter of survival for Zeus.  He saw that it would be easier to get into the other car than to wrench his bookie out of the jeep.  Zeus tugged at Harmon’s fist, bent a swimmer’s body completely in half to reach in, unclenched one finger at a time from around the keys.  Goldine could get away after he’d been searching and fiending for so long, she could still float away…

Harmon fought back. He seized the shirt collar that still smelled so strongly of chlorine, and snarled.

“Ah!  What the hell man–”

“I thought…”

“No, you attacked me.  You tried to bite me.  But I stopped you.  Magnum, I know you’ve got problems–don’t take that stuff out on me, alright?  I said I’d pay you.  Got it?  You’re not going to call someone and have them come down to the beach are you?  Hey, are you listening to me?  Are we cool?  You’re not going to turn into some freaking vampire on me, are you?”

Harmon relinquished keys and pulled the jeep door shut, to seal himself away from everything.  “I am a man named Harmon Davis.”

Zeus could not have heard.  He ushered his gold woman into the corvette and that roared off moments after.

The other reason Harmon wanted the jeep was because he didn’t have anyplace else to sleep and no money to fix it with.  Carmen snatched his wallet before she threw him out.

And so, the cell phone was allowed to ring for a long time before he had the confidence to answer it.  “Carmencita, look.  I feel awful.  Don’t apologize, I just want to come back home.  I’ll see you there–what?” teeth bared, “You’re where?  Mujer–the hell I am!  Look, just calm down… I’ll find some money, I’ll get to you any way I can, alright?  Don’t do anything else drastic.”

Harmon gripped the steering wheel, started the car and prayed before he realized he was still capable of it.  Carmen was in Las Vegas.  And, she was hysterical.

Filed under: Animals, stories

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I've always wanted a place to share my weird, wild, nature-loving, talking animal, multicultural and multilingual fantasy fiction stories online. I also have a fashion blog!

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