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Polar Bear (standard:drama, 1311 words)
Author: GiovanniAdded: Apr 13 2001Views/Reads: 3215/1553Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Jason Locke, utterly disenfranchised with his subsistence: married to his work, he cracks up in a Chicago zoo.
 



Face to face with Chicago's biggest polar bear, Jason Locke pressed his
thin-framed body against the glass tank. Locke shivered in his cotton 
shirt unaware that he left his suit jacket at the office. Cold air 
cramped his posture and face; the contorted pout containing silent 
cries. The rep tie he wore tossed across his neck like a scarf or a 
noose. Inwardly feeling caged he banged his head; his skull thudding 
against the glass gave onlookers the impression he wanted desperately 
to trade places with the giant animal. Few people were in the zoo that 
chilly March afternoon; the sun hung low behind a bunch of trees and 
Locke's body shook each time it fell lower in the sky. The air's 
nipping chill coupled with the icy glass gave him an overwhelming urge 
to drink coffee. His hands now unpryable pressed knuckles first against 
the tank's clear sheet made his fingers into paws reminding him of his 
inability to pour coffee at work this morning. 

Things weren't going well for Locke, being promoted today to Senior
Vice-President of Mid Western Regional Sales, when for months he had 
conspired to lose his job. This was a shock. His company rewarded 
incompetence and apathy; the last three men promoted to Locke's 
position graduated from the bottom of their classes from schools 
without prestige. Locke on the other hand, a graduate from Wake 
Forrest, member of the golden Key honor Society, Phi Beta Kappa and 
owner of a trophy case chock full of speech and debate awards was the 
last candidate considered for promotion. Consistently motivating his 
workers to ever higher gross sales' levels was now incapable of 
working. Credentials like his didn't get jack at his company, which is 
why he chose to work there in the first place. Why Mr. Lawson, his 
boss, called him in this morning, giving him the company's largest 
senior vice-president position perplexed him. He wasn't prepared for 
it. It was the combination of his perplexity and the nervousness from 
his new responsibilities that caused him to break out in hives. The 
blotchy marks spreading across his body frightened him; earlier on he 
was itchy, scratching himself when he saw his new title, painted on his 
office door. 

The young zookeeper kept a watchful eye over Locke today, who was
scratching himself with his free hand, still knuckling the tank. 
Although he had seen Locke before, he was never concerned about his 
behavior. The thin man had never yelled at the bear before. He had 
spoken to the bear for hours in the past, but the young zookeeper had 
seen numerous people chat with the captive animals for companionship, 
today however, Locke was belligerent. The bear growled at Locke and he 
stood watching the dirty white paws of the beast curling up against the 
glass, reflecting his knuckle first pose on the opposite side. A woman 
eyeing him suspiciously pulled her woolen capped boy away from the bear 
house despite the little boy ranting, "I want to see the giant fury 
snowball." When Locke heard the word "snowball" he looked up briefly, 
as if somehow the words would bring flakes. The zookeeper came over and 
told the thin man to stop harassing the bear. Locke ignored the 
zookeeper, opening up a tiny packet of nuts, airplane size. He gobbled 
them quickly, feeling the greasy salt irritation on his raw fingers 
then placed them back in his pants' pocket. The bear growled and began 
to bang on the glass sheet. Locke countered, escalating their struggle. 


"Can't you see I'm talking to him," Locke retorted. He fumbled through
his pockets for his dry roasted nuts, only to find lint, salt bits and 
no more nuts. 

"Look Mister I don't want any trouble. I've just been advised to ask you
to kindly leave the bear alone," the zookeeper said circumspectly so, 
as not to rile the thin man. 

"Leave him alone. He should leave me alone. Gloating at me." Locke
addressed the bear, "I'm not putting up with this crap anymore. I will 
not. He half turned to the zookeeper. "Why are you looking at me. I'm 
not crazy." 

Again he spoke to the bear. "You have your freedom, cooped up in there
when all the real problems are out here." 

"He's practically a prisoner in there," the young zookeeper sympathized,
his voice stronger, bordering lukewarm authoritative. "If it weren't 
for people like you coming here and mocking these poor animals then 
maybe-" 


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