Table Twenty-One: Joseph Suglia

You look up to the sky, where the Andean condors are soaring on unflapping unflappable wings. Crows are fluffing out their feathers in the Starbucks.

Facing you is a grizzly bear. On all fours. It is bouncing up and down on the hood of a grey Lexus.

Brown bears are standing up and roaring on speaker platforms. To the left and to the right of the grizzly bear. Through the speakers comes overloud the song “That’s Just the Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby & The Range. The grizzly’s ears prick to the sound. It rises on its haunches and seems to laugh, but it is really barking.

As the grizzly rears on its hindlegs, a white woman, who is about forty, and a white man, who is about forty, flank the bear, their ursine god. A colossus, this vicious bear. Its paws are immaculately manicured.

See the red-muffed woman, a red scarf wrapped around her veiny neck. Her goldenized hair—there are gold streaks in a black forest of hair—is hypnotizingly beautiful. Her black-lashed hazel eyes look you over and then return to the grizzly bear.

The man is shirtless and has tuberous breasts and large knees. Large knees on spindly legs. His spindly legs cross as he stands there stupidly. His head is bald with tufty black hair sprouting on the sides.

Out of somewhere come two puffins and two pheasant. The puffins and the pheasant supplicate themselves before the great grizzly bear. They are at the grizzly’s mercy.

Now the grizzly bear dismounts the Lexus. The bear crouches, its ears flattened, and surges toward you, charging toward you, woofing and barking. Your mouth contorts into a voiceless scream. The human followers stare at you not without envy.

The grizzly races without stopping toward you for one hundred feet and then suddenly stops. It faces you. It is facing you.

The grizzly bear rears up, exposing its broad belly, its head the size of your exposed torso, scenting you up and down with its nuzzling muzzle.

Then the bear hunkers down. You stand there, exposed and alone. Its mighty face is three feet away from you. You can feel the pulse of electricity beneath its fur. The bear swerves and, woofing and barking, circles toward the Hard Rock Café.

Snapping an eyeful of pictures, you retreat into a column of darkness, a shadow falling over you. You look around you. Look at the fast-food restaurants. The fast-food restaurants aren’t what they used to be. The Taco Bells are bustling with rowdy elephants, the Arby’s are fat with grizzly bears, and the McDonald’s are bristling with wild boars.

Snapping at the passers-by with their ferocious jaws, the bears are watching the movements of the human throng.

There is a sun bear in a shopping cart, a sun bear with an orange horseshoe emblazoned on a chest of sleek brown fur. The bear is riding in the shopping cart as if it were a sleigh—except, instead of being drawn by horses, the shopping cart is being pushed by humans who look like orangutans. The sun bear is eating uncooked eggs. The sun bear plunges its hooked claws into the eggshells and stuffs the egg-stuff into its gaping mouth.

Wild banshee shrieks puncture the air. The people in the crowd shuffle and reshuffle. A rash of humans rushes unsilently into the washrooms for shelter.

Wailing like a harpooned whale, a teenaged boy hobbles down the alley. He is wearing jeans shorts and a black New York City T-shirt.

This is perhaps the end of humanity or, at least, the subjection of humanity to absolute animality.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia

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