troubled times
Home sweet home Latest site info Poetic stuff Serious stuff Funny stuff Topical stuff Alternative stuff Shakespearian stuff Musical stuff
  click here for a "printer friendly" version

The Lemur Cage by KJ Hannah Greenberg.


An olive complected man closed both of the doors, which were hinged with hydraulic cylinders, behind him. A moment earlier, he had shut another of the exhibit’s twinned gates.

The lemur enclosure was a vast, open space, framed on one side by a people walkway. The rest of its perimeter was secured by a high barrier softened with sustainable vegetation. The electrical fencing, which the animals had learned not to touch, was activated only at night.

The fellow pulled out a lined tablet, a pen, and a cell phone. He spoke in a semantic tongue.

Our plans demand more than might. Why do those old stallions feign allegiance? They must sacrifice their families. Better men can lead.

The lemurs spent their days hanging from trees, sniffing each other’s bodies, and elsewise scampering on their grass and rocks. Sun rays made them look pith-helmeted. Smiling, the visitor withdrew a large quantity of fruit from his pocket. There were signs in Hebrew, in Arabic, and in English, stapled to the fence. It was forbidden to feed the animals.

They’re insufferable. We unite the Arab World. We achieve the great Umma. We bring home our ancestors’ dream. There’s no time for comfort. They must separate from wives and children. Too many have been deprived too long.

A mother and her small daughter entered the enclosure. They noticed the foreigner and approached a zoo keeper to point out the man’s transgression.

The keeper shrugged, explaining that the man visited the lemurs daily and that he was loosely associated with the zoo’s volunteer organization. As long as he showed up, at six each morning, to chop biscuits for the primates, for all that the zoo keeper cared, the man could download stolen data, launch a nuclear missile, or pick his nose in the lemur cage. She turned from the young family to grab a sidewalk broom.

The chief commanded. Najair still sits in jail. Of course we resent “facilitators” who misunderstand. The Brotherhood demands. Taslim caused no deaths; that uncle would have been terminated anyway.

The keeper pointed out how the zoo’s obsessive preoccupation with the lemur’s ecosystem motivated it to spend many shekels on bamboo, tamarind, and crateva, specifically, and to make the lemurs’ home resemble grassland, complete with herbs and low growing flowers, in general. The mother bent to clutch her child and made narrow eyes at the zoo keeper. The child, though, who was enthralled by the caches of lemur treats the keeper was unlocking, reached toward the zoo keeper.

Ignore the females. Kill all disobedient males. Impale them or draw and quarter them. We used motorcycles in Gaza City.

An adolescent lemur, which strode up to the swarthy man, got stroked. Thereafter, the man used both hands to change his shoes to the rubber clogs that he pulled from his day pack. In three yanks, he pulled off his mustache and shortened his sideburns, too. Neither the zookeeper nor the mother noticed.

Shoot protestors. Our laws are sacrosanct. If I had both thumbs, that would be more loyalists. Commanders can be replaced.

The child squealed. A semicircle of lemurs surrounded her, having sniffed out the pellets that the keeper had at last thrust into her tiny hand. The keeper prattled, describing how the lead female of each social group becomes that group’s focal point and how dominance establishes hierarchy among primates.

We’re not to blame for their miseries. We serve Allah. We don’t need medals. He who watches knows all. I envy the beasts.

The man slipped a pair of sunglasses out from a side pocket of his backpack. He greased his hair with gel.

True. That’s more than Amid wanted. Before his son was born, he helped the infiltrators. After the baby died, may his soul be revenged one hundredfold, Amid killed them.

A red ruffed lemur with a smaller one clinging to her back, the latter’s tail so long as to wrap twice around its mother’s torso, inched closest to the little girl. The young human startled. The lemur responded with growl-snorts. The child froze. The lemur whined. Others money-cousins chorused.

Jari can separate himself from personal concerns. A true warrior, he walked away from his dying sister.

Another mother, one with two small children, entered the enclosure. Her kids ran at the lemurs in the same way that elsewhere in the world children run at geese. The lemurs huffed, grunted, and sprang into the trees.

Our sons must kill idolaters, must destroy all greedy corporations. Think of Bosnia, of Herzegovina, of Boston. The media’s lawless.

The keeper suggested to the second mom that she collect her children and scolded that the animals’ home was to be respected. The second mom huffed and grunted. She collected her children and then quickly pulled them through the exhibit’s exit gates. They left behind a trail of junk food. Quickly, the lemurs gobbled up those remains.

Trust no friend. I know your sorrow. The devil makes vanity.

The man pulled off his windbreaker, and rolled it into a ball. He traded it for a nondescript, dirty cardigan that he pulled from his pack.

Leave rapture to song birds. Failure and uncertainty are women’s ways.

The noisy family gone, the alpha female leapt once more toward the little girl. The child screamed. The keeper reached into her treat bucket extended a handful to the frightened animal. The lemur stuffed her cheeks with it.

Deciphering those words takes practice.

The man reached his hand to the ground and scooped up some dust. He smeared that earth onto his brow and nose. Thereafter, he shrugged. Upon leaving the lemur compound, he banged the double doors none too softly behind him.



Rate this story.

Copyright is reserved by the author. Please do not reproduce any part of this article without consent.


© Winamop 2013