The Berlin Zoo

by Craig Loomis ~ Kuwait City, Kuwait

Across the street, along the tree-lined avenue in front of the Berlin Zoo, he hesitates long enough to give the bus stop garbage can a solid kick – a small hollow boom that turns heads; that done, he turns to scream at no one, at anyone. Suddenly, out of nowhere, like a kind of magic, a beer bottle is in his hand and he throws it into the street, it bounces, refusing to shatter. He yells at the unbroken bottle, stumbles and yells some more. Those lined up at the main gate to the zoo turn to watch him, but quickly lose interest and go back to waiting for the zoo to open. Meanwhile he prowls the street, screaming louder, growing redder. As the gate opens they pretend that he is probably harmless, this loud man on the other side of the street, and file in. By now he has found his unbroken bottle that has rolled to the gutter and smashes it properly. This deserves a rant, and although it is impossible to understand what he is saying, most certainly it is about immigrants go home, pollution is killing the planet, the rich care nothing about you or me, love is not the answer, Scheisskopf, etc.

Now that the zoo is open, the chimpanzees hurry to drag their slabs of dirty cardboard close to the fence. Once properly arranged, the chimps will lounge on the cardboard to watch the watchers as they file by their cage, to point, laugh, take photographs, thinking how clever monkeys are. Cardboard beds? Who would have thought?

Three padlocks behind the chimps, the elephants, lions and panthers are busy walking forty steps that way, sixty the other, forty steps that way, sixty the other – their days an endless routine of walking a dusty rectangular path full of trees and assorted bushes. The children, along with a good many adults, will scream at them to do something: growl, roar, bellow, attack one another, anything that is all about teeth and anger. “Daddy, what’s wrong with them? Why aren’t they doing what they’re supposed to?”

The loud man hasn’t stopped yelling, and as he returns to the bus-stop garbage to look for something more to throw, to break, he sees two policemen coming his way. His screaming all done for the time being, he hops the fence and disappears into the thick green shrubbery that is the Berlin Zoo. ■