Table Eleven: Joseph Suglia

Darkly suited and red-tied, the fleshy white man ambles toward the kangaroo, a digital-video camera clutched in his hands. He inches toward the big-legged, loping beast, clutching the camera as if it were a cantaloupe.

Indifferent to the man with the camera, the kangaroo is manipulating a mango with hand-like paw-claws, peeling off the mango skin and exposing the succulent yellow fruit within.

—Stay still, my little ’roo, the man says. Laughter spills out of his askew mouth like water from a drainpipe.

Someone is shouting into a klaxon. Somewhere an air siren is blasting.

You hear the thudding and thundering of the coming kangaroos and wallabies. And then you see them. Before you, a mob of kangaroos is gathering. A mob of kangaroos at the crossing of Clark Street and Ohio Avenue.

Trampolining kangaroos are leaping, their high leaps like reverse plungings. They are hopping around in ever-narrowing circles. Bounding and hopping, the happy kangaroos are hopping. Raiding garbage cans, the kangaroos are foraging for discarded Thai dinners.

You turn your head to the left and see small mobile brown forms encircling the Rainforest Café. The wombats are invading the Rainforest Café. The wombats—they are burrowing through the wall, scratching with their heavy forepaws, with diggers that are curved like picks.

Anteaters are burrowing, poking their tubular noses through the holes that they are creating, excavating with their spoon-shaped claws. The Rainforest Café—with all of its gigantic plastic mushrooms, frogs, and gorillas—seems redundant in a city that is turning into a rainforest.

And there, in the middle of Clark Street, is a stalled yellow school bus.

What is that animal stalking for prey? What is that beast sulking around the school bus? Is it a wolverine? No, it is not a wolverine. It is a Tasmanian devil.

Sulking around the yellow school bus, the Tasmanian devil turns to look at you, fifteen feet in the distance. It is gazing at you now. The Tasmanian devil widens its jaws, and you can see its sharp teeth—bone designed to crack bone.

Designed by whom?

Walking past a covered bus stop, you notice a homeless man hunched over, wrapped in a greyish-green blanket. A homeless man? Isn’t everyone homeless now?

You tread past a UPS Store. You tread past an Urban Outfitters.

The Urban Outfitters is throbbing with opossums. They are squirming in the changing rooms, wagging their verminous tails.

Dusky slender mouse opossums are tearing apart the flannel jackets with their jaws.

You gaze through the window of the Chinese restaurant-and-massage parlor. A puddle of soy sauce oozes across the patterned tiles and is lapped at by hungry wallabies.

On one of the tables: A blue, yellow, and red parrot cracks a walnut in its aquiline bill. Other macaws loft on to the table and crack the walnuts. The testicular walnuts.

Through the window: You see an elderly woman sitting at one of the tables. She is wearing a leopard-skin coat and blue sunglasses. She is mouthing her duck pancakes.

You see a policeman standing at the entrance of the Chinese restaurant-and-massage parlor. He is blocking the entrance of the Chinese restaurant-and-massage parlor. He is holding a wombat in his arms. You look at the wombat, herbivorous micro-bear, adorable little thing with incongruously threatening feet. The wombat is being cradled by the police officer. The police officer smiles at you. The wombat smiles at you.

You see a blonde girl riding a kangaroo. She is wearing strawberry yoga pants and a strawberry pullover. She is riding the kangaroo. She is gripping the neck of the kangaroo as it runs. The hindlimbs of the kangaroo swish like windshield wipers. The kangaroo hops down the milk-saturated street and seems to be laughing at you.

A young man—about twenty-two or twenty-three—is watching the kangaroo-girl as the kangaroo-girl leaps down the street. He is wearing sneakers without socks, a blue sweater, and blue jeans. An iPod plugs his right ear-hole. He takes a picture of the kangaroo-girl with his telephone camera.

*****************************************

Take a look at the city. Take a good long look at the city.

Pull yourself up the tree. You stand on one of the lowest branches. You are ten feet above the ground.

Beside you, on the branch beside the branch on which you are standing, is a tree kangaroo. A weirdly humanoid tree kangaroo. The weirdly humanoid tree kangaroo looks like a human in a tree-kangaroo costume.

It is then that you notice that the entire tree is rustling with tree kangaroos. A cluster of tree kangaroos nibbling on the leaves. Tree kangaroos are climbing from branch to branch, living their arboreal life.

A tree kangaroo slides down the trunk of a tree and looks at you puzzledly, as if wondering what you are doing there.

Look down. The tree kangaroos are staring at you.

Come down from the tree, and join the beasts that encircle the tree. They welcome you.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia

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