Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Zoo Keeper - Part 10

It's time to say goodbye to our heroine, Senor Fernandez and Juan...


The Zoo Keeper
Part 10 of 10
By Amanda Sington-Williams

At last he spoke again. ‘When the animals were all killed, the people wanted to forget, to pretend the past never existed, that the memories of Fascism, of the killings, belonged to a different place, another landscape. So, for the month of the anniversary of the death of Franco, I play recordings of their roars, their bellows, and screeches to remind people of what humans are capable of, to remind them of the past that they would rather didn’t exist at all.’ His eyes opened wide and for a short moment I thought I saw a yellow glint in them, before he blinked and waved his hands at us, ushering us out of the room. His neck retreated into folds of flesh as he slept, snoring like a hippo wallowing in shallow water. Juan knocked back his brandy and stood.

‘The old man gets very tired these days,’ he said.

‘Then we must leave.’ I bent to kiss Senor Fernadez on his thin cheek and felt the wind of his breath on my face. I followed Juan down the stairs and into the street. The shadows were longer and from somewhere across the way a man was singing.

‘How many people come up here?’ I asked Juan.

‘Less and less. No one in this city is interested in the past anymore.’ When we reached the street, he kissed me on both cheeks before he walked away.

That night was the last time I heard the roar of a lion, or the squawking of parrots, and I never saw Juan again, though I regularly scoured the park or loitered in the street where the trail of wires had hung like a trapeze. But a month after my visit, Senor Fenandez was found dead in his apartment. His tape recorder, box of tapes, leads, and loud speakers were consigned to the rubbish tip by the authorities. But one evening when the moon was bright I stole into his apartment before the authorities claimed his possessions and rescued the photographs of the animals from his zoo. Now they hang on my wall of the apartment that overlooks the park where lovers take walks and old people sit gossiping on benches in the shade of the cypress trees.

We reached the end, dear readers! I hope that you have enjoyed The Zoo Keeper as much as I did and that you will come back on Sunday for a chance to win The Eloquence of Desire, the first novel by Amanda Sington-Williams.

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