Table Nineteen: Joseph Suglia

There is a tiger. A tiger is there, ogling you as you walk south on Clark Street. You accelerate your movement. The tiger is letting you walk by. To the right, the tiger. Twisting your head, you stare at the beast. Mouth open, tail elevated, the tiger is gazing at you.

Golden eyes fastened on to your neck, the tiger gapes its jaws, baring its curved scimitar fangs. It flattens its body against the ground, ready to spring forward. Its entire body is vibrating, its mouth glistening, its eyes hateful, hissing hatred, seething with rage, a vibrating arrow stretched out on the greenish grey ground ready to release, sail through the air, and strike.

Your blood surging, you gaze at the beast. It is a female tiger, a tigress. Her eyes like ignited headlights, the tigress stares you down.

Gaping her mouth, the tigress frees a silent roar, freezing her muzzle. She lets out a deep bellow, a quivering deep lowing sound.

Elevating her head, curling back her black lips, grimacing and baring her fangs, squinting her eyes, the tigress inhales.

Then, the tigress unsquints, relaxing her awful face.

You quicken your footfalls. As you make your way down Clark Street, you twist your neck, shifting the tigress into the frame of your vision. The tigress is still watching you. Further down the street, you twist your neck again, swiveling your head as if it were a zumbooruk. The tigress is watching you still. You walk toward the electronic cigarette store, without looking back at the beast.

There is a lion.

Hunching over his meaty meal, the lion is smacking and snacking. A chunk of marbled flesh dangling from his tusk-shaped teeth, the lion trots back and forth across the dim space.

The lion, filthy and scrawny, is padding back and forth, its yellow irises unblinking rings. His serpentine tail is swishing almost lifelessly, mechanically, as if it swished of its own accord. His mane is wig-like out-straightened.

The lion moves back and forth, hardcore manticore, and his tail swishes, but nothing else on him moves. His rib cage is visible through his semitransparent dirty yellow coat. The beast is almost skeletal, as if all of his viscera had been sucked out.

Saturnine, padding back and forth, with arched white-engarlanded feet, the lion is ungraceful, sapped of vitality, moving in a pantomime of grace. Like a retired Air Force pilot, he paces back and forth somnambulistically. He is not as he once was. He is immersed within himself and absent to all else. He paces endlessly, as if he were surrounded by windows and there were only window upon window upon window and no world beyond.

Licking himself before you now, the lion is caressing himself.

A woman with dyed orange hair is reaching out her hand to stroke the fur of the lion. Some inner impulse impels her toward the beast. Toward the lion. She gets on all fours. Moving as quietly as she can, she creeps toward the beast.

Advancing four step-crawls, she holds out her quavering hand. The lion is fifteen feet in front of her.

Like a lightning bolt, the lion launches toward the orange-headed woman. His flight is liquid. Lunging at her neck, the lion bares her hideous teeth. He is upon her.

But the lion does not devour the red-headed woman. He bows his terrible head instead and allows himself to be touched.

The orange-headed woman is massaging the lion, raking the fleece of his mane. The beast nuzzles her clothed flesh and her red dress.

You ford on, toward the convenience store.

Cheetahs watch calmly as the humans are tunneling through the rubbish, dipping their bodies head-first into the garbage bins, gathering and hording the trash of humanity. A cheetah kitten is mewing and mewling. The cheetah kitten is sucking out French Onion Dip from its white plastic container.

Cheetahs are feeding off the meat packets asprawl over the street. Beneath their jaws are sinewy beef cuts.

There is an old man, a mantle of smoky white hair swirling on his head, spying on the cheetahs. He is wearing a purple button-down dress shirt, faded blue jeans, and white sneakers. You spy on the old man spying on the cheetahs.

A baby carriage stands alone on Clark Street. A lioness rouses herself from her Starbucks lair and stumbles toward the baby carriage. She teethes and gnaws the baby carriage while batting it gently with her right paw. It is then that you realize that the baby carriage is soundlessly empty.

The lioness purses her lips and snarls, meaty felid. As if in disapproval, she sways her head.

The lioness gives a long, vigorous, triumphant, paralyzing roar, her horrible mouth vibrating. The roar vibrates through you.

The lioness roars imperiously, a stentorian roar, the regal lioness.

Hefting her mouth toward the sky, she roars, her entire body throbbing and vibrating, as the roar sounds into your ears and eyes.

A divorcée struts down the street, displaying her revenge abs.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia

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