The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Silvered Leaf Monkey - Issue Nine
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The Silvered Leaf Monkey, photo from Christian ArtusoThe Silvery Lutung, also known as the silvered leaf monkey, is an Old World arboreal monkey living in coastal, mangrove, and riverine forests in Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo. Its grey-tipped, dark brown or black fur, gives it a uniform silvery appearance. The silvery lutung is a specialist folivore, including a high proportion of leaves in its diet. Silvery lutings are diurnal, and travel in groups of around 9-40 individuals with one adult male and many adult females communally caring for infants. They rarely leave the trees, which provide them protection from ground-dwelling predators, and rapidly flee if threatened. The entire group shelters in a single tree at night. Local predators able to feed on silvery lutungs include leopards, tigers, humans, dholes, and some large snakes. The silvery lutung is classed as Near Threatened , for its habitat is heavily threatened throughout its range by logging and the development of oil plantations. The species is also threatened by hunting for meat and by capture for the pet trade. Likewise, because they are unusually susceptible to human diseases, including AIDS, they have therefore been widely used in medical research.


The Drunken Flamingo


Pierrino Mascarino

The acrid musky smell in the Florida Palmetto patch was rattlesnake musk. A stream of brown fluid was ejecting from the rear of a large rattlesnake accompanied by a powerful hiss out it’s front end, and a shiny, forked, purple tongue, wafting about.

16 year old Samantha, was shaking, but her slippery sweating hand gripped the snake-catching stick pinning the head of the hissing reptile, tickling drops were running down the inside of her wrist, but her grip was firm.

Theodore crouching to the side, whispered, "congratulations, got him pinned Sammy,” this was Samantha’s first large venomous reptile, “don’t press down too hard, or you’ll hurt his cervical neck vertebrae.”

Samantha's tongue stuck to her mouth top, her heart slamned against her ribs. Delicious terror all the way out to her trembling fingertips.

“Steady pressure,” said Theodore, “not too lightly or he’ll jerk loose. That’s an enormous powerful snake there.”

She eased up just keeping the squirming serpent’s triangular head, now gently pinned in the soft Florida sand, it twisted, yanked but still pinned by her snake stick’s prongs, jerking powerfully on her stick. Everytime it jerked, he tighted then forced herself to ease up.

“Want me to help you grab him now?” .

“No, no, please, Teddy,” she protested, “I’ll...”

Next step was more dangerous: keep pressing with only one hand while simultaneously bending and reaching down to grab the beast’s scaly neck.

“One thing at a time,” Theodore said, “but quickly. He’s working loose and the poor beast’s suffering here in the sun.”

The Diamondback's long tail rattles buzzed loudly.

Samantha prayed, ‘Jesus help me,’ took a breath, quickly bent and grabbed, thumb and forefinger, on the serpent’s neck.

Theodore said, "work your fingers up just a bit, right to his two sharp jaw bones, press behind his neck, to keep that head from turning and biting; good, right there. Here’s where most people get bit.”

Theodore was already opening the cloth sack he held, "alright, you got him, good, let that snake stick just fall Sammy."

The stick fell—-thunk-—then the snake almost pulled loose from her fingers, his body was whipping around, coiling up to leverage its head loose from her fingers.

“Don’t let him do that,” said Theodore, “keep that body straight, by grab down near his tail away from those fangs.”

Older Theodore quickly extended the open cloth bag with a bottom corner already tied off in a twisted and separated, “ear” with a bit of string

Samantha was boiling with sunsweat as she raised the snake’s whipping tail and it gushed out more pungent brown musk now all over the collar of the Teddy’s borrowed hunting shirt that she was wearing, mixing with the lingering skunk musk of previous expeditions. She took a step, tried not to shake and two handedly lowered the rattling tail first and then the head, down into the deep bag bottom, both her arms disappearing all the way down inside the bag.

Teddy whispered, "now first only let loose of his body down in the bottom, inside there with your left hand, but only your left—ok, done it? Now whip your left arm up and out but stay away from the fangs or he’ll snag you.”

Sweat was blinding her as she whipped her hand out; Theodore holding the bg top, “but, don't let loose the neck with your right hand yet, keep holding him, pushing his head against the bottowm down in there, that’s it against the bag bottom, far down as you can against the bag bottom--good, now release and whip it straight up, out.”

And as she did, Teddy held the bag top while grabbing the little tied off "ear" immediately spinning the bag around and twisting the cloth to make an impassable “neck,” then laid it down and put his boot on it so the snake couldn't get back up into the top and bite through the cloth while tying a knot in the twisted cloth neck.

"I did it," Samantha said, "Teddy, I did it."

"You certainly did, Sammy. And all by yourself, brave girl."

He completed the know and looked at her for a long admiring moment, laughed his gentle laugh, “look how you’re shaking my brave beauty.”

She swiped the blinding sweat out of her eyes and laughed a stuttering laugh with hands on her hips, and after Teddy had put down the snake bag threw herself on him in relief, a long hug. Shared dangerous moments made them love each other all the more and after that afternoon her whole body tingled all the next day when she thought of it--she wanted more of that intense feeling with Teddy, that exhilaration dealing with the dangerous captured beast, the momentary mingling of their hunter’s souls--she and Teddy's.

After a few weeks Theodore finally called again, "you're home tonight? Samantha, shame on you, you should be out on a date—anyway, wanna drive to Miami with me early next Saturday?"

"Oh, you bet," she was totally thrilled.

"Be sure to ask for permission."

The intervening week lasted forever and finally she lay half-awake all Friday night.

Now, returning in the late Saturday afternoon in a small loaded panel truck, they were hurtling along at 60mph--Samantha kneeling up on the bouncing truck seat, facing Theodore sideways as he drove. Telling him everything. She lived her life in the sunshine of his loving gaze.

Theodore squinted sideways glances at her through his cigarette’s smoke, one eye closed, and raising the half full whiskey quart again and again.

“Teddy, please don’t drink so much.”

“Oh, it’s not so damned much,” and handed her the whiskey

He’d started using “damns” around her lately; testing how grown up she was; even handing her the whiskey, since she was now 16. Well, almost.

He’d been driving fast since predawn, it was a 600 mile round-trip, along the rainy Everglades highway up and then back down the long Florida peninsula, occaionally the truck’s back tires skittering off the road, rooster-tailing up road shoulder oyster shells along the ancient Tamiami Trail down to Hollywood, Florida, then right back up after picking up boxes of monkeys and anacondas to take back to the zoo he worked for in Tarpon Springs. Teddy keeping awake on Benzedrine and bourbon.

Little amber whiskey drops caught the sunset light on his lips.

"You get permission for this trip?” He asked.

“Mother was gone to work before I got up.”

Samantha was raising the big whiskey bottle, steadying herself with her elbows kneeling on the seat, butbonly sipping the vile whiskey, "Teddy,” she swallowed and said, “I’m independent now. I ride my bike every place these days without Mother’s permission since I’m 16 , but I’m always in disguise, catching you stuff. Like you told me, “they’re never rare if you’re there when they’re there,” so I rode last night, wearing your old hunting pants to hide my, my whatever, after dark to the Gandy drive-in to catch you those Rana catesbiana bullfrogs I gave you this morning."

Samantha loved catching those burbling gurglers, feeling their slick little bubbling bellies.

Teddy said, "what a waste, beautiful girl frog hunting. What do you do, scare the boys?"

She sat silent thinking about an answer, but keeping the whiskey occupied so Teddy wouldn't drink, pretending to drink herself.

Urrump--the truck lurched, started to slide, "Teddy," she said, a skidding, sliding, soft feeling as the truck’s front tire was slipping into roadside ditch mud, “careful Teddy!”

He one-handly jerked the cracked Chevrolet Carryall steering wheel back over, saying , "slippery here—you catching frogs for me on Friday night and wearing those too-dirty-for-the-garbage hunting clothes–no wonder you get no dates."

"Listen, Theodore, I can’t let myself look like a damned girl, riding a bicycle, or all the passing air forces’d slow down yelling stuff like: ‘hey good lookin, what’chu got cookin?’ If I wear shorts, forget about it, with their cars and those fox tails and chrome exhaust pipes? They follow me, saying stuff like, ‘how's about wrappin those beauties around my neck.’ ”

She blushed saying this last but liked telling him about how other men were strongly attracted to her, reckless because of the strong whiskey on her empty stomach, her ears burned and were flushed bright red, smoking one of Theodore's Lucky Strike cigarettes she hated , but even hanging the ”ciggy” out her mouth corner like Theodore.

He said, "you at least go out on dates with boys sometimes I hope?"

"Oh they’re so immature, I'll tell you, Teddy, I don't even know what the damned dating rules are;" deliberately putting in "damned" again to show that she was mature, "for instance,” she went on, “if a boy pays a dollar movie, you're supposed to let him what? even kiss you?"

She now gave the kiss a particularly soft sound to emphasize the subject of kissing, "it's unhygienic," but she was really thinking, ‘if Theodore kissed her it would be the most glorious unhygienic feeling ever’--she dreamed about his gentle soft lips that—she looked over--we're now holding the Lucky Strike cigarette but forgot to hold on and bumped into the front dashboard; had to put a balancing elbow against the sea stretching her blouse tight, showing Theodore her--well, her bosoms all the boys were always angling to look down her blouse at. She was constantly aware that these beautiful things were growing, almost embarrassingly large.

And then going around the next curve the truck's motion pitched her toward him--she wondered if Theodore swerved on purpose to make it happen--she had to put her hand against his muscular, tan, bare shoulder to keep from falling into him and felt his hard shoulder muscles ripple.

Loved touching him, and felt Theodore's moist shoulder sweat lingering on her palm. She moved her hand so he couldn't see and secretly caressed the sensuous moisture spot, sliding her fingers gently over it--more exciting even than catching the rattlesnake.

Theodore reached over for the dark whiskey bottle she was withheld, saying, "that hunting shirt you wore last night must stink up the whole house, a wonder mother lets you keep it inside--you got sprayed pretty stinky last time we were skunk catching."

"Oh," she said, "I always leave it outside on the clothesline, like when I came in from frogging last night I first took off all my clothes outside, almost naked in the dark, and came in the side door in just my undies, glad she didn't see me, probably thinks it's a mortal sin," it gave Samantha a little thrill to say “naked,” watching Theodore's face.

But Theodore quickly looked out the window, hiding-- it made him uneasy that she was flirting with him; so he remonstrated, "but wearing those awful hunting clothes, dammit, you're a girl, Sammy, like it or not, already a very pretty girl, becoming a beautiful woman; most girls wouldn't hide that under filthy clothes with rabbit blood stains all over them, you idiot."

But last night on the dark lawn last night Samantha had first taken off Theodore’s stiff, scratchy, hunting shirt, that was part of her bicycle riding camouflage, it scratched her face like Theodore's cheek stubble when she hugged him, then slipped off her shoes and socks to walk barefoot though the dewy, sole tickling St. Augustine grass that deliciously kissed the space between her pink toes in the very early breezy morning making her ecstatically tremble.

Raising up her arms to the early morning breeze felt like swimming in volumes of air, she'd just started shaving the red hairs of her armpits, and with the chill nocturnal air touching her, her--well--all over—it felt so full of adventure, shivering as it goose-bumped her skin; but she stopped for a long moment before putting Theo’s shirt on the line, pulling its arms slowly up around her neck, wiggling inside its grasp, then holding it tightly to her naked self as her fantasy would have done Teddy himself, kissing its dirty collar passionately.

Later, upstairs in her room, she cracked open her special Teddy reliquary dresser drawer that contained all her most cherished Teddy stuff: a vermillion Prince Albert tobacco can and the Zig-Zag cigarette rolling papers Teddy used to roll his own, that reminded her of the smell of the burning paper and tobacco, sniffing the 3-in-1 gun oil can, an empty bottle of 6-12 insect repellent, an empty box of Winchester .22 long rifle shells. She sniffed one spent shell saved from a former expedition when Teddy had shot a rabbit while telling her stories of long-ago times in Florida. They had been way out in country spending secret smoky night moments over a small rabbit roasting campfire. It was just before that time hunters call Little Day, the false dawn, then eating burnt rabbit meat for breakfast.

She closed the drawer, and rationed these drawer openings so the Teddyness inside wouldn't disappear as Teddy had.

All Friday night she’d dreamed, sighing, thinking of Teddy, finally jumping out of bed long before dawn and sneaking down stairs and out on the lawn again with a towel to not wake up her mother and washed herself outside in cold hose water on the dark lawn. The bathroom shower would be too noisy and she'd have to put up with mother's questions.

Dried herself, put on her clothes and waited for the clanking of his old red truck, outside, finally walking to the end of the driveway in what was becoming Big Day so he wouldn’t have to turn up the driveway and the crunching oyster shell driveway awaken her mother. She had lied to Teddy and not really asked her mother’s permission.

She listened to the early morning sounds: cars far away on Dale Mabry, a mockingbird serenading a streetlight; oh no—Teddy forgot her, disappointed tears came to her eyes.

She had to pee, and ran around back of the house where the neighbors couldn't see. Peeing like she and Teddy did in the woods. Wiped herself on what? On the wet grass. She remembered resisting the impure temptation to watch him peeing once. She’d never seen a man… .

He wasn’t coming, it probably got so late leaving that he couldn’t stop for her in Tampa like he said?

Then a noise started in the distance, could it be the blessed sound of the old zoo truck’s holed muffler over on El Prado ave, did she dare hope? louder and louder, finally around a corner came a pair misaimed bouncing headlights.

She stood up, ran to the street drying her eyes and stopped him, made herself quietly open the creaky truck door and jumped in the ciggy smoke filled truck, “I thought you weren’t coming,” kissing him on the cheek, trying to keep the tearful relief out of her voice, almost missing his cheek and getting his mouth and smelling his Old Spice shaving lotion, “I was afraid you weren’t coming,” she said.

That was long ago this morning, there followed a whole day of fast driving and now a tired Teddy was saying, shifting down into a lower gear for a big Tamiami Trail puddle, "you’re great with animals Sammy, just wish you were going out with those milky skinned young delicate boys."

They had been talking all morning and into the late afternoon, “oh, Teddy, I mostly can’t stand those silly dummies; they’re just vacant, only interested in... nothing at all; one asked me: 'do ya like movies?' “I said, not much,' but he just went on just like I said, 'yes'; and said, 'let's go to a movie.' I said, 'but I get restless in movies,’ and he said, ‘'what do you like?' I said, 'being in the woods, catching animals, I've got a beautiful baby boa constrictor home with pretty little tan and cream saddles on her back. She's so pretty and fat, like to see her?'

“Sammy,” said Teddy, "you're just scared, deliberately driving the boys away… .”

“Well, that one sure never talked to me again. His mommy probably told him ‘da presious widdle nookums should hate dos nasty snakes and ‘piders.’ Mommy's boys." She and Theodore often called the boys her age this. It was one of their jokes.

But she actually did love boys admiring her, “gosh, you got pretty hair,” they'd say, a girlfriend told her, "Sam, you’re the prettiest girl in the school--I'm so jealous how the boys are turned on by you."

"Anyway," she said to Theodore, "the rules of “girliness,” need emergency expanding."

This late afternoon time was always a nostalgic cozy secret-telling time for them, especially now, both a little drunk, high on nicotine, riding close together in the truck. She loved the masculine smell of him, but it had become a burning tension, a need in her for caressing tan muscular Theodore, the late greenish light rippling across his naked pectorals, so absolutely adorable.

"Do you wish a sip?" said Teddy, checking the rearview for Florida State Highway Patrol, and passing the brown Corby’s whiskey bottle over. The fingers of his big warm hand touched hers and felt like an electric jolt.

The noisy road they were traveling was bordered with rain watered lush lawns, bright green grass extending far back to an owner's house in the verdant rainy distance. Choruses of mating frogs were calling on each side, a deafening sexual din.

She raised the whiskey quart to her lips for only a small token sip, but a road bump banged the big heavy brown bottle into her front teeth and the whiskey splashed in choking gulps into her mouth, making her cough violently.

"Bonk-bonk, Bonk-bonk," went the surrounding roadside frog noise, "listen to that frogy cacophony," Teddy said, when her coughing had subsided, “millions of frogs, Hyla cineria, chorusing, the smaller males call and the huge egg-fat females come to them to be mounted in amplexus,” him saying the “mounted” with a special emphasis, “the males develop these dark little adhesive mating pads on the back of their little thumbs for holding onto the female,” Theodore glanced at her, “they slip these pads right under the female’s armpits, and mount her from behind,” here he reached across and tickled Samantha’s ribs making her squeal like a little girl, but now he lingered a bit longer, making her breathe harder, and tremble, inadvertently following his hand with her body.

“And when the female feels him there, holding her, she releases her eggs,” here he smiled at her. Everybody’s obliviously reproducing in a batrachian orgy in this sexy rain. And, look at that, that roosting cormorant’s taking advantage of the frogs’ mating distraction, head down with that long skinny neck and his sharp bill, staring, about to dive right in the swamp and spear a frog. Asians say cormorants are very sensitive to human pain, and flee from it,” Theodore laughed, "what a bunch of bovine feces, huh? Once upon a time, here in Florida," continued Teddy, slurring his words," this far south, you'd see Scarlet Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, and rarest of all sights, a pink flamingo."

He took a deep cigarette drag and looking over at Samantha, as the road puddles kept jerking over the black plastic steering wheel back and forth, roaring water up into the truck's leaky fender wells showering drops inside. Samantha put up her hand to shield her face from the dirty road puddle water and laughed.

The gray afternoon dimmed as misty clouds were swirling down to settle into a dense rainy fog, topped by mounded dark roiling cumulus thunderheads. Teddy and Samantha felt absolutely alone, hidden, like Adam and Eve, from God and man in their little rainy universe.

Samantha, hoped they were both in the State of Grace, although dying in an accident with Teddy wouldn’t be the worst thing. But there was terrible stuff in the bible about being in love with him… .

"Hey, Sammy,” said Teddy, “don’t hog that bottle, you gotta keep it going back and forth. I used to look forward to driving this highway but now with these houses there are no more animals. I miss them; only place you see a real pink flamingo now is a zoo.”

He quoted his own poetry:

"When all wild things are gone,

No more rising rosy wings at dawn,

When honking bird calls cease to be,

Let me also cease to be.”

“Beautiful, Theodore,” Sammy was looking at his chestnut hair, his aquiline nose and sensuous mouth; what would it feel like to be kissed by him?

She turned away and just looked at the dense green grass and dripping trees glowing in the rainy half-light as an advancing squall line's violent wind bursts were buffeting the tall truck.

Spaloat a first large heavy raindrop hit the truck's windshield like a rock followed by, pow, pow as more hit the roof, then very large splatting squall drops flew through the open rattling window, cold and stinging Samantha in the face.

She cranked up the knobless squeaky old window by hand grabbing the projecting glass, pulling it up while pushing the handle around, squeaking it up out of the rattling door.

She wanted to sit closer to Teddy like when she was little.

At first the huge drops were transfixed, trembling on the windshield in the road wind, then they disintegrated, making dust-filled watery rainstreaks, drooling dustmud, refracting the highway view in their drop lenses.

“Windshield wipers not work, Ted?”

He clicked out the black bakelite wiper knob out with his tan beautiful manhand. She wondered how that hand might feel…?

The wipers broke loose began hopping across the dry dirty windscreen; then, with the rain's lubrication, began to slide and squeak, smearing the heavy drops aside.

The heavy drifting veil of rain, was greened by reflected leaflight, big bouncing egg sized raindrops bouncing up in a tinted spray from the long lawn. The truck slid on a very sharp turn, and there was a white house set back from the road in the rainy distance with Florida kudzu and cat’s claw vines climbing up the house's little metal bathroom vent and coverin its walls..

The watery sky,

With tree green drops does tint the air,

Leaching color from the tree’s leaf hair.”

Teddy extemporized.

But something near the viney house in the distance was pink.

Teddy slowed way down--pink and distinctly avian.

“Look at that!" Teddy whispered, stopping, "Samantha, what a vision, a beautiful flamingo's come outta that swamp, look at him--oh Sammy, like the old days! What a vision, enjoying the rain, that’s bringing up his delicious ostracods and cyprids, millimeter sized beasts, from that deep San Augustine grass he’s feasting on.”

Teddy was almost in the roadside ditch, "just what we were saying, Sammy--a real wild flamingo, let’s get him!"

"But, Teddy, it’s too narrow to park the truck here."

“We’ll sneak quiet through the swamps, hiding long as possible--look at that beast, bending his long neck down, so hungry and oblivious, next to that little clump of cypress. We'll park and wade though the swamp to that cypress head, pop out and slip this here bag over his pink head and we got a $125.00 flamingo," he was pulling the truck very slowly up to a wider road spot.

"But," Samantha said, "he's so far, can we really? Won’t he just fly away before we get there? he’s not moving. Is he real?"

Teddy turned off the motor and whispered, “it's a cock bird and he’s in wonderful feather, very deep pink, almost artificial, only in a healthy wild bird, in captivity they never get those color generating cyprids that gives’em that deep beautiful color. We've got an order right now for a big beautiful bird just like this one."

The motor off, he was grabbing up an empty flour sack from the truck floor.

" Sammy," he said, "getting out don't slam the truck door, and we’ll walk very quiet through the swamp water, not splashing, okay?"

Samantha loved these moments when Teddy was bubbling excitement, vibrating with powerful adventure, making her heart thump and her green eyes sparkle--a fierce and decisive hunter, a delicious mixture of powerful tenderness and gentle ferocity.

He had a final whiskey drink to wash down another pink Benzedrine pill with a very long pull: "Teddy," she said pulling down the bottle from his lips, "that's too much."

The old red truck doors creaked and popped as they jumped out into a world of chilly squall-blown water, raising goosebumps on Samantha’s long lovely bare legs walking down into the rain filled ditch carrying a bird bag, careful to not slip in the bank mud, and then she stepped, now up to her knees into the cold ditch water and waded trembling, the chill swamp gurgling into her warm sneakers, underwater and its muddy bottom sinking her down quickly down into the oozy mud grabbing at her shoes, sucking, almost pulling them off.

“Frogs all around us,” Teddy's warm close whisper was tickling her ear, “are insane to reproduce, that pair in the water there, see the way the smaller male’s holding her, that’s amplexus.”

Teddy arm was resting around her shoulder, making her want to turn and hold him hard, he said, “he’s spewing gallons of frog semen out into the water, fertilizing those tapioca egg lumps popping out of the female. Let me go first," he said, "case there’s an Asquidistron picivorus hiding on that bank."

Latin name for the venomous Water Moccasin.

She rocked her submerged shoes with each shivering step, as Teddy had showed her, first working them loose to not lose them to the swamp muck before pulling each leg up with little circular duckweed dots and swamp slime stuck to her knees.

These swamp waters were full of biters, dragonfly larvae, ferocious bug beasts with long painful sharp rostrums that they drove deep into you, but Samantha was more worried about her thin shirt as it became a rain wet rag--embarrassed about the shirt getting plastered to her and revealing her brassiere through her blouse. She kept checking, pulling the sopping shirt out from her to not be so revealingly adherent.

Clouds of mosquitoes were swarming up, blackening their arms and necks, biting. Teddy didn’t feel them through the Benzedrine and bourbon but she wiped them off him as they slogged quietly through the dark swamp, only catching sideways glimpses, out through the Spanish moss and graybarked cypress trees, following that long paralleling St. Augustine grass green lawn.

But Teddy was stumbling, tripping over underwater logs. Samantha often grabbed his belt, pulling him backward, supporting him, “careful,” she said, bracing her whole wet body against him.

Now, far into the swamp, they were covered with red mosquito bite facewelts, constantly softly slapping at the whining cloud around their ears, Teddy breathing hard, spitting out gnats, digging them out of his ears, his long brown chestnut colored hair was hanging in his eyes and his handsome face swollen with bites and whiskey.

He whispered, breathing hard, "by now we gotta be up to those trees near the bird."

"Ok, I'll sneak over for a peek," said Samantha.

"But quietly, Sammy, very quietly."

He'd always cautioned her since she was a little girl even on those little nocturnal expeditions to their homemade tin can mousetrap trap line set in the railroad weeds to feed pet corn and chicken snakes. She learned to walk in his same silent way on the sides of her feet easing her steps in and out of the water to the edge of the cypress trees and then looking at the edge of the cypress swamp, silently peering out.

There was the house and the green vines, the little metal chimney--and indeed, on the front lawn, there was a glowing pink flamingo.

A pink flamingo lawn ornament.

She went back, now splashing carelessly through the water, "not a real bird, Ted."

“Shh,” he said and whispered, "what do you mean not real, course it is.”

He started for the tree line but fell forward. She grabbed him. At first he just hugged her, but then pulled her to him, looked into her violet eyes through the humming mosquitoes and gnats and kissed her hard on the mouth.

When she pulled away, he fell forward, "don't Teddy,” she said, “oh, don't."

He fell in the water, slowly picked himself up from the muddy swamp, the dark water draining from his pockets, dripping from his collar, his clothes--he couldn't look at her, turned around and staggered over to the tree line with glazed eyes, hardly noticing if it was a real flamingo, he was so ashamed.

Sammy was crying from the rough kiss, wiping off her lips of Teddy's whiskey spit. This was not the way it should feel to be kissed for the first time

Teddy turned back to her, and saw her tears, “you’re right, just a plastic lawn bird. Look, I'm sorry, Sammy, I'm sorry… ."

"I know, and you won't ever do it again. It was just too much whiskey. Just...nothing."

They struggled all the way back through the swamp, Sammy crying, to the road not looking at each other.

Teddy, she realized, was a drunk man; and, with her rain drenched shirt sticking to her she must seem--she hated to even think that he felt that way about her-it was a mortal sin--she didn't want to stop being his hunting companion and become a sexual person someone separated from him.

But they couldn’t ever be again as they had been, it was her fault with her terrible crush on him. She had wanted him to…Teddy must have felt it.

Out at the road, Teddy just stood in the water amidst the frogs, staring at the dark watery ditch, “Sammy, I’m so sorry, I just… .”

"I know,” she said, “and I did it too and it's different now between us, it's just different and I wish it wasn't because it's sure part my fault and I'm--I just feel so bad.”

She was sobbing, "I just feel so bad we can't just be like we were but we can't. Oh Teddy, " she cried to him, standing in ditchwater, weeping for them losing each other.

Teddy wanted to hug her, to comfort her, to apologize again, to show her, but knew he couldn't.

She covered her face and screamed.

A cormorant flew up, "it's gone, it's all gone, it's gone, wonderful times, it's gone now, I just, I just want to die, Teddy, aw Teddy. I'm grown up now I'm... ."

"You're a woman,” Teddy said, “that's what you are, a beautiful woman, and I'm drunk and I respect you and I'm so sorry I could--I promise you that nothing like that ever, ever will ever happen again. I beg your pardon and I beg God's pardon. I'm older and should have been looking out for you, protecting you, that I love more than anybody in the world, my sister, my only dear sister and I did the opposite; shame on me."

Pierrino Mascarino has published in The Linnet's Wings, The Beat, Bartleby Snopes, Darkest Before Dawn, Dry Bones Anthology, currently in Black Lantern, Hackwriters. Has published the print quarterly Invertebrata, the instructional novella, My Aunt Rose, played the title role in the award winning movie, Uncle Nino, has appeared on National Television over 6000 times, won the Dramalogue Award in Los Angeles twice, and lettered in football at St. Anthony's Grammar School in Atlanta GA in 1952. He can be reached by phone at 323-2768984

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