by: D. R. Humphreys (the DreamWriter)
“I am sooooo excited about our new addition. Mr. Avery Dumont has acquired the most unusual specimen for us. He must have spent a fortune for it, but it will bring in the crowds, and the profit,” spat the director for the zoo, Dr. Spencer Thomas, excitedly, stumbling into my office.
“What is it?” I inquired, knowing it had to be an incredible find, the way he was acting. We had several empty cages in a zoo that needed specimens. No one wanted to bring their children to look at empty cages. I was tired of hearing children harass their parents, wanting to know why there wasn't an animal in this or that cage.
We were a small zoo compared to others countrywide, and we were at the hands of the highest bidders. Our funding wasn't as great, so we couldn't afford the prices larger zoos could.
“It's a primate!” he announced, trying to catch his breath, sputtering and coughing.
We did have an empty cage in the primate exhibit. People loved looking at the primates, but frankly what was so wonderful about it? As the director regained his composure he continued.
“It's not just any primate, Darius... it's an orangutan! He cried.”
I still didn't see his excitement over the creature. We had a pair of orangutans already.
“Nor is it just any orangutan... it's a Siamese twin!” he screamed into my face, as if I was asleep.
“Good Lord! A Siamese Orangutan?” I said, dumbfounded. I had never seen or even heard of such a thing.
“It's a young adult male, joined at the torso, hip and shoulder. It has two arms, two heads and three legs,” he cried.
“Is it healthy? I mean, usually those type of oddities aren't,” I asked him.
“No one else would touch the ape because they felt the same way. I had the poor, unwanted creature examined, and he's as healthy as a normal orangutan. People will come from all over to see him. Get the cage ready... he's arriving in the morning,” informed Doctor Thomas
“In the morning! That's short notice,” I complained. It was a matter of getting the cage cleaned and sterilized again... ordering more food, getting toys for the creature.
The first several days he'd spend in his cage, in the primate house, before letting him out for the crowds to see, in the outside cage. You had to acclimate these animals to their new surrounding or they'd become extremely distressed. You weren't just asking for trouble if you let that happen. It was irresponsible.
The next morning, at sunrise, before the zoo's gates opened, a truck backed up to the primate house. I was there with Dr. Thomas to accept delivery of the orangutan. I was curious, to say the least, while the director appeared to be having a meltdown, he was so excited. I suppose I understood. Attendance had been dropping off over the last few years. No one seemed interested anymore in seeing wild animals. They preferred video games and other activities that didn't require walking.
My curiosity was satiated when the orangutan, jokingly named Stereo, was coerced into leaving the back of the truck Here, he entered the corridor that led to the back of the various cages in the primate exhibits. He seemed to know what was expected, as he wandered through the open door of the cage destined to be his home for the rest of his life. Once in, the handlers shut the door and locked it.
While Dr. Thomas signed papers with the men that delivered the animal, I stood at his door and watched the new arrival. I spoke to him then in a steady voice. Talking with animals in a soothing, monotone voice helped calm them. Introducing them to new surroundings was a shock no matter how insignificantly the event unfolded. I stared at him. I never saw anything like him until now. I couldn't imagine him surviving in the jungle. Oddities like this were typically abandoned by the mothers to die. The others in the troupe wouldn't tolerate a deformity like this, normally.
He saw me staring at him and I felt sorry for him immediately, when those sorrowful eyes met mine.
“What the hell are you staring at?” came a voice from one of the mouths. Had I heard correctly? Surely not...an orangutan can't talk or mimic any noise resembling speech.
“You can talk? How?” I asked, unable to vocalize anything more.
“A boy in the jungle from the mission taught us. A very nice young lad,” the ape on my left told me.
“He wasn't so nice... he teased us,” the other ape informed me.
“He did not... he was playing with us,” the first ape argued. With that, the other slapped him in the face. Not to be outdone, the other slapped back.
“Stop it you two! How did you survive in the jungle, Stereo?”
“At least he sees us as two identities, unlike everyone else. We should have two names,” the creature on the right told me.
“It wasn't easy,” the one answered. “Everyone rejected us.”
“Not so...there were only a few that acted like that,” the first ape corrected his brother.
“Are you calling me a liar? You pompous ass!” asked the second slapping his brother across the face again.
“Is that all you two do? It's going to get old here. No one wants to see you fight,” I warned them.
But the fact was, that was all they did... fight, but only around me. If I told anyone about them and their abilities, I would assuredly be called crazy. They may have been twins, but they thought nothing alike, the source of their arguments.
I walked away from the cage, shaking my head realizing with what I had to contend.