Where do you live?
This is Molly Reynolds, lab intern, continuing on in addressing this question from last week.
The Renaissance Center:
During my initial interviews for this internship, I had taken this equipment to all be involved in the monitoring and maintenance of the Giant Squid— a specimen whose like has not been even seen in situ, let alone maintained in captivity. But, I have since found the situation to be almost exactly the converse. While a goodly portion of the equipment is currently dedicated to a vast array of experiments and side-projects, the larger part is still, for all intents and purposes, a monitoring network, aimed at the world at large, at the behest of that fine marine gentleman. Who, I'm beginning to realize, is not the focus of this lab, but is its founder.
As near as I can figure (which is not especially near; by all appearances none of the persons currently employed in the lab have been with the Squid since his ascension, and only Sang came with him from Cincinatti) this began as the kennels for the feed-dogs used to nourish the Squid (which, of course, begs the question of how an Architeuthis Rex Mundi acquires a taste for dog) but has since expanded.
I have never before given more than a cursory glance in the door of the Menagerie— it is perpetually dim, I'm told to keep the dogs in the kennels calm, and general stinks as only a kennel can— and find myself inadvertently swept into a fugue-ish reverie as I stare in at a large cage— some twelve by eight feet, and six feet deep, populated by what are quite certainly the largest iguanas I have ever seen or heard tell of.
"You ever go to Belle Isle Zoo, like, before they closed it?" the janitor, Rob, asks, his hot, Gino's-pizza-roll-ish breath steaming my check.
"I'm not from around here Rob," I turn, to find myself terrifyingly within kissing distance of Rob. He smiles broadly. "Personal space, Rob."
Rob's smile drops and his brow furrows, then brightens.
"Oh! Yeah," he takes one giant step backwards, then smiles again, bowingly deeply, like a monkey pantomiming Chevalier.
"But, so, like, Belle Isle was totally, totally the most ghetto zoo ever. Like, first off, they didn't really have habitats— it was just, like, these fenced-off pieces of yard, with, like, maple trees and shit. Like, zebras and emus and tapirs all hanging out together in this big yard, looking at the oak trees and being like 'Where the fuck are we?' And the zoo, it had these three big cats, a tiger and two lions, and the tiger, his habitat, had, like, a fallen-over tree and a kiddie-pool and a bunch of bowling balls, and there was this sign right there, with the big cats, explaining how all of them had been confiscated within the city of Detroit during routine traffic stops. Man," Rob shakes his head, caught in the eddies of fond reminiscence, "Dee-fucking-troit, you know."
"That's terrific, Rob. But why," I ask, turning back to the dimly lit cage that had caught my eye initially, "Why are these iguanas wearing little tops hats?"
"You know, like, believe it or not, it isn't the hats that're weird, or even the little vests. The weird part, is that in the pockets of the little vests there are these little pocket watches." He taps on the wire-reinforced glass and, sure enough, just barely visible under the belly of one of the gargantua iguanas is the glimmer of a fine-gold chain.
"And the pocket watches really work. That's the weird part."
I note that a pair of chimps seem to have escaped from the menagerie, and have taken up residence in a pair of typing chairs opposite Leeks. I point out the chimps, and wonder aloud if we should maybe call whoever is in charge of the kennels and menagerie.
"Naw— that's Claude and Reme," Rob says, waving his hand, "Barnabus must have put them on accounting, to help out ole Leeks."
"I don't need help," the elderly man interjects querulously.
"Leeks, man— let's not even go there, OK?"
"But nuthin'. Barnabus has a vote, Lord A has a vote, the Spider Bros have a vote and those three faggy editor fucks have a vote. You don't have a vote and I don't have a vote, and Molly— Molly fucking deserves a fucking vote, because she's the fucking shit, but even she doesn't have one."
"But—" Rob shoos Leeks' objection away, and we turn to leave. He shouts over his shoulder:
"Elle est mûre, mais totalement belle, non?"
"Ses nichons sont en effet souhaitables— je la baiserais jusqu'à ce qu'il m'ait causé la détresse physique grave."
I swing around to take Leeks to task over this obscene remark, but his nose is buried in a ledger, feigning obliviousness. One of the chimps is looking at me, flashing a terribly toothy chimp grin, and the other has his head buried in his hands, shaking it with apparent chagrin.
I turn back to Rob, whose face has gone almost fuscia with rage, and his sputtering something to the effect of "Fuckin'-A, Claude! You be sayin' shit like that and I'm goona kick your monkey ass down the fucking hallway! Do You Fucking HEAR Me? I'm fucking gonna fuck the shit—" and so on as I gently push him out into the hallway.
Once in the cool light of the hall, Rob collects himself, shaking off his rage like a dog shaking off suds after a bath.
"Listen, if you wanna have the big picture about the lab and everything," Rob says, already turning to head down to the elevator, "We totally gotta check out the garage, and the other garage, and then hit my place."
"Rob, I'm not going—"
"Trust me, Molly— strictly professional. I'm a total professional."
Trust him? Oh, Lord.
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson