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The Cat Man of Alcatraz –
Copyright by James Francis Keegan III
The new scientific breakthrough, miniaturization, and I purchased a birthday present for my ten-year-old son, a 379 liter – about 100 gallon – terrarium, called ‘Sunny and Balmy,’ which is the Florida Everglades edition, and inside are hundreds of miniature animals. An entire flock of flamingoes, all 6mm is length, wingspans the size of nail heads. What do they eat? Microscopic plankton. You can feed them little bits of shrimp too. Next, a fan favorite, alligator pools, and I bought a package of mosquitos, and when the mosquitos land on the surface of the water, how the 32mm alligators eat them, by barrel rolling. Fauna as well, hundreds of plant species, my favorite, a row of orange trees which really fruit. I had a hard time lifting the display off the dolly by myself. Song birds which I can watch on the view-screen or with a magnifying glass, like I purchased an entire zoo, a package of animal crackers but real, the song birds singing to me every morning, which I can hear by way of the amplification speakers in the back controlled by the remote control. Other functions on the remote control? A button called the sun. Which I can brighten and dim, and some observers get sunburn by sitting too long or too close, and the overcast setting, just a dimmer switch. As well, like how Chicago’s Brookfield zoo, in the monkey house, turns on its sprinkler system every hour to simulate a rainstorm, I too can press the thunder and lightning buttons.
However, the star of the show is a Florida Panther measuring 29mm; a one inch mountain lion muscled like a walnut. I feed the lion crickets, one a day, or melee worms. Or even bits of lunchmeat or parts of steaks, porterhouse, new york strip.
The next day:
I wake up and part of the glass is broken, stupid of me to lift the aquarium by myself. At the corner, where the two panes of glass meet is the small pill of a hole. I put duct tape over the crack, and go online for Realtime terrarium attendance to determine what is missing. Nothing died overnight, but one animal is missing, the Florida Panther. I cannot believe the birds did not try to get out.
Then on the floor in the kitchen, a dead mouse. I look closer. And, the carcass is chewed open at its ventral line, internals like balled rubber bands. There are the pop culture newswire stories, owners having fingers bitten off while sleeping, eyelids too, mostly though stitches in big toes while putting on slippers, and I pick up a fly swatter, but no that won’t do, and not wanting to call 9-1-1 out of embarrassment. The neighbor’s kids own hamsters. What to do? I brainstorm, what if I leave the doors and windows open, maybe a wasp will try to carry it off. I Know Best Buy electronics will not sell me just a Florida Panther. Maybe I should call an exterminator. I put layers of duct tape over my nipples and wear boots and leather gloves. I already spent one thousand dollars on the terrarium, And now, my son’s birthday will be ruined.
That is when I hear it, I thought it the television, but no, the distinct sound of a roar coming out of the living room.
Trying to figure in my head, a life-size mountain lion can jump fifteen feet up into a tree, climb a twelve foot fence, and reach a speed of fifty miles per hour in a sprint, but how does all that translate down into a lion slightly larger than a metal game piece in Monopoly?