Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Koala Killer Twentieth Installment

"Sure, I never turn down free food. Want to try the Wildflower? It has real ambiance and really good food. Hey, we should call Shirley Padilla, see if she can join us. She lives up that way."

"Yeah, Shirley's a jewel. It'd be great to see her while I'm here."

"I owe her a full explanation of what's been going on. She picked me up and took me home from the hospital."

"She's got a couple of kids now, doesn't she? She may need advance notice. Let's call right now."

"Okay, there's a public phone up ahead by the public restrooms."

Mari called Shirley and set up the lunch date. Shirley said she could put Brianna and Jesus in a neighborhood play center, the one she'd helped get funded.

Mari saw Manny, who was usually the keeper for the monkeys and gibbons, going into the elephant enclosure.

She called out to him, "Manny, how are you?"

"Hey," Manny answered as he walked up to the fence that separated the public path from the animal and keeper area. "What you doing in a wheel chair, chickadee?"

Broken ankle and cracked ribs, Manny."

"I haven't seen you since the night Stan was shot, but I heard about the run-down out here. I signed a get-well card that circulated. I didn't know how bad you were hurt. You doing okay?"

"Mending just fine, Manny. Let me introduce my best friend, Cass Ashton, from San Francisco. This is Manny, a highly esteemed animal behaviourist who thinks like the monkeys. He's writing a book. I've read a couple of his first chapters. They're great."

"She thinks I should call the book, Think Like a Monkey, I told her it didn't sound very scholarly, but she said the people I want to reach aren't the scholars, but the public who love animals. Thinks I need a catchy title. She may be right."

"She often is. Nice to meet you, Manny."

"Can we come in behind the scenes, Manny? I have an idea about the recent happenings."

"Sure, Mari." He opened a nearby gate.

"How are the girls, Manny?" she asked, referring to the tow female elephants.

They walked toward the entrance to the keeper's side of the elephant enclosure.

"Not happy, lately, I''m sorry to say. The new keeper doesn't have a rapport with them like Jimmy used to. Remember Jimmy, Mari?"

"Can't say I knew him, Manny, but I've heard about him. He went on to be keeper of elephants in Atlanta, didn't he?"

Manny nodded, but said, "Where is Carl, anyway?"

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