Posted: December 7, 2010 in Short Stories



“I want to swim naked with dolphins”, she said, leaning forward in her chair causing her cleavage to deepen. Jeez what a fucking cliche. The date wasn’t going well, I decided to put it out of its misery with a coup de grace.

“I want to grab an unsuspecting panda by the scruff of its neck, bend it over a truck tyre and fuck some sense into it. That’s my animal magic moment”.

She looks disgusted.

“I’m going out for some hair,” I announce, putting on my coat and turning the collar to the expected chill.

I find myself giving a running commentary to the walk home in my head as if I’m doing the opening voiceover to some budget movie. There’s a lot of shit on the streets this evening, it’s as if the world has had an enema. I watch a squirrel tread through a particularly vicious turd leaving shitty paw prints like a Jackson Pollok in its wake. The pigeons swoop down and begin to peck at the elevated poo-prints, squabbling like art critics. The squirrel seems offended by this and steams through the birds sending them scattering to the nearby trees. This super-turd runs like a fibre-optic cable down the whole length of the road, it is truly the Bhagavad-Gita of shits, an epic length birthed by what could only have been a dying yeti. What horrors walk these streets after we’re all tucked up in bed?

Following the sight-line of the turd I look up to see a group of people gather round a non-descript car at the far end of the road and by their animated gestures I can sense something unusual is taking place.

High jabber voices, flailing arms, looks of disbelief all directed into the car. I pass through the small crowd and look over the shoulder of a small Muslim woman, her headscarf as bright as polished brass, and in through the driver’s window. There in the back is a small live panda, scratching a long thin line into the fabric of the passenger seat with a sharp claw. Wads of padding are poking out the gash but the panda keeps burrowing, stopping only to taste the yellow foam with measured suspicion.

It doesn’t seem happy, but neither does it seem distressed. The panda’s total attention is focused on ripping up the car seat, unaware of the gathering crowd.

My hand slips under the door handle and I cautiously lift up, mindful not to startle the bear, but the door remains locked.

I ask the woman in the headscarf to put her face closer to the window, she obliges and standing behind her I mentally line up her silk-covered head with the driver’s window like a shiny bowling ball. One solid push and her head connects with the glass with a satisfying strike, shattering it into safe toffee cubes on the car seat.

The panda stops its digging and looks up surprised to see the woman’s face sliding down what’s left of the window, her front teeth catching on the metal door and making a screeching noise like fingernails down a blackboard as she descends.

The panda’s expression changes to fear as it turns instinctively away from my hand reaching in. In vain it tries to wedge itself between the trunk and back ledge but I’m too fast, grabbing the furry nape of its neck, bunching the excess skin between my thumb and fingers, feeling soft yet spiky. I unlock the door from the inside and crawl over the broken glass. I feel my breath on the panda’s neck, warm and scented with stale coffee from the evening’s date, as I hurriedly unzip my fly with my free hand.

The crowd recoils in total horror at what follows…


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