Literary Orphans

Suburban Jungle by Nicholas Rys


I saw it on the news yesterday and Bethany confirmed it when she saw a link to the story on Twitter.  It’s really fucking scary.  I’m sorry, I don’t usually swear.  I apologize.  It’s really out of character for me but I’m fucking terrified.  Bethany’s fifteen and Jacob’s only six; he gets in any kind of trouble he can, walking down to the pool or practicing Spanish with the guys who cut the grass.

Rebecca says we can’t live our lives in fear, that we still have to meet for book club but I’m skeptical.  Sure the weather’s great, sure I’d like to take the kids to the pool and talk about James Patterson for a few hours but I’ll say it, I’m afraid, okay?  Did you know that tigers can weigh up to 700 pounds?  Bethany told me that.  She checks Wikipedia for everything.  She says they’re not dangerous unless provoked, but to a wild animal roaming around outside captivity for the first time in their lives, isn’t everything a provocation?

I tell Rebecca I’m sorry but I just can’t make it this week.  The kids and I will be staying in, watching movies and eating delivery.  This house is my fortress and I will not surrender it.  Bethany says Dad would never have done this and I say yergoddamnedright, that’s why I kicked his ass out.  Bethany says something like that’s not the way she remembers it but I don’t really hear her because the medication is giving me tunnel vision and all I can think about is that fucking tiger coming to my yard, daring to come up to my front porch and me, blowing the son of a bitch away.  Just you try it, tiger.

The news said it was last spotted in Spring Valley Estates and showed the mangled dogs and bloodied cats.  I said how can we be surprised that it got hungry and Jacob said when’s it coming to visit us and Bethany said I wonder if it’s a boy tiger or a girl tiger.After much careful deliberation and fact-checking we decided that the tiger must be a girl because males aren’t capable of putting up that much of a fight.

She made her next stop in Pine Woods, interrupting a family photo shoot on a front lawn to devour a pair of newborns.  The parents were fine but the twins and the photographer didn’t make it.  I didn’t want to say I told you so to Rebecca, but between you and me, I saw this coming.  That’s why me and the kids have been inventing fun and staying busy in here for days.  Or maybe weeks.  Oh who knows, the important thing is we’re safe.  The important thing is that I’ve kept my family secure in here with our iPad and Wikipedia and touch screens and Twitter and 3D printer and YouTube and shotguns and locked safes and free streaming and reposts and newsfeeds and…

Last night I burned an effigy of a tiger on our front lawn.  Jacob helped construct it out of newspapers and the pages from old books and Bethany looked up a cool video on YouTube.  I watched lovingly, providing encouragement and reinforcement at every turn took it outside and set it on fire.  That tiger won’t fuck with us, this whole neighborhood will go up in flames but we’ll be fine.  Just watch.

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Nicholas Rys lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio where he writes and makes music.  His work has appeared online in various places like Hobart, Flash Flash Click, Fanzine and many others.  He releases music under the moniker Norma Desmond and can be found on twitter, @njr55555.

N. Rys Photo

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–Art by Kaia Pieters