Chapter 25 Wednesday, 1530 hours (3:30 PM)
"There's someone outside who wants to talk to you," said the Calfer. He had just stuck his head in on Brian in the improvised video editing room.
Brian looked up from his monitor.
"She says she knows you. Her name is Lori," said the Calfer.
"She's waiting outside the fence on Bronx Park South, near the Wild Asia entrance."
Brian didn't wait for more explanation. Without even taking the time to power down the editing suite, he ran out of the building. He didn't stop to take a zoo cart. He'd make better time by running. He reached the Bronx Park South fence and ran through the trees and hedges towards the entrance. He'd expected to see police everywhere on the other side of the fence, but there was only a line of low, gray, police barricades, with a strip of yellow plastic tape tacked to them, announcing that the sidewalk was closed. There were also cardboard 'No Parking' signs on every street pole. Brian knew he shouldn't have been surprised. It would take an army to patrol the zoo's huge perimeter.
Brian ducked behind a tree as a police cruiser came slowly down the street. When it passed, he continued running. Then he saw her. Lori was across the street in a doorway, watching the fence. She saw him and ran across the street. There at the fence, beneath the barbed wire, they looked at each other.
"Lori. It's good to see you," said Brian, "Are you OK?"
"Am I OK?" Brian, I've been worried sick about you."
"You were?" asked Brian.
"Yes. I love you."
"Didn't you know?"
Brian nodded 'no', and leaned his head against the fence.
Lori reached her fingers through the fence to touch him. Brian pushed his face against the wires and tried to kiss her. She pushed also, and there with a cold, chain link fence between them, they had a long, lips to lips, kiss. It lasted until the police cruiser came around again. But by then, both Lori's and Brian's mouths were outlined by the impression of the chain link fence.
When Brian got back to Zoo Central, a Calfer told him that Joshua was looking for him. Brian reviewed his actions of late and concluded he was probably still in Joshua's good graces. Brian went to Joshua's office, but he was nervous. The man had a way of looking right through your skin, and into your mind. Brian hoped he'd be able to hide his true feelings - even though he wasn't completely sure what his true feelings were.
"We haven't had a good talk for a long time," said Joshua as he guided Brian from the door to a table by the window. There was an AK-47 assault rifle on the table. Joshua ran his finger tips along the smooth metal.
"Isn't this a magnificent piece of machinery," he asked.
"Um.. Yes," said Brian.
"It does things to me when I hold a device that so well fits to my hand and arm," said Joshua. "Do you ever feel that way, Brian."
"Yeah. When I'm working with a good, precision TV camera. It feels like it's part of my body; like an extension of myself."
Joshua picked up the weapon, cradled it in his arms and then aimed it out the window at the sky. Without looking at Brian, he said, "I've been thinking a lot about Andrew Steiner. I've been playing the bear attack over and over in my mind."
Joshua worked the gun's mechanism, punctuating his words with sounds of the compliant weapon. "I see it clearly in my mind, and when the bear attacks and he screams, I feel it throughout my entire body."
Brian's eyes widened. Could it be that Joshua was feeling the same things he was. Maybe the man had a conscience after all. Maybe they really did have a lot in common and the special relationship between them was good, and real.
"I know what you mean," said Brian.
"What do you mean?"
"What do you feel, Brian?"
"I feel horrible. I can't believe I was part of it. It makes me want to throw up. I've never done anything that wrong and I hate myself for it. I try not to think about it, but I can't."
"Is that all you feel?" asked Joshua.
"I think so. Why?"
Joshua put the weapon back on the table. "I'm glad we had this little talk," he said, "but we both have duties we must attend to now."
Brian stood there, waiting for more, but Joshua turned and looked out the window. Brian waited a little longer. Then finally realizing he'd been dismissed, quietly left the room.
"What the hell was that all about," he wondered.