Chapter 25 Wednesday, 1600 hours (4 PM)
We had room to run around in our fenced-in playground, so we played soccer. Jeffrey rolled up his jacket to use as a ball, and since we were all alone, we played shirts against skins. We didn't do this too long because the skins started to turn blue from the cold. So then we played shirts against inside-out shirts.
When we got tired, we asked if we could watch TV. Jeffrey said no, because the batteries in his TV set were almost dead. He could watch TV for about a minute at a time before the TV clicked itself off. Then he'd have to wait at least five minutes and then he'd be able to watch for another minute or so. He said it was very frustrating.
So, we went on playing soccer. First we were playing for fun, but then, as the sun went down, it got cold and we had to keep playing o keep our bare feet from freezing. Jeffrey needed his jacket back, so then we played with an imaginary ball. We were playing so hard that we didn't notice the zoo cart until it was almost right in front of our enclosure.
Jack was in the cart and he was alone. Since he was one of the Bad guys, we kids ran back to the rear of the enclosure and watched.
Jack got out, took a large garbage bag from the deck of the cart, And carried it up to the bars.
"Look guys, Come on over," he shouted. "I want to talk to you."
We didn't move, but just stood there shivering in the cold.
"I'm not going to hurt you. I promise." He opened the bag and pulled out a handful of blue cloth. "Look. I've brought your uniforms. Come on. You guys are going to freeze out there."
The kids looked at me, even Jeffrey. You know, sometimes it's no fun being the Pack leader. I looked hard at Jack. He smelled friendly enough, but then he was the Calfer who squeezed my paw and made me bite him. Some adults are really strange. There were bars between us so I felt a little safe. He couldn't just run up and grab me.
I walked slowly toward the front bars. Jack handed me our uniforms piece by piece, and I passed them back to the kids.
After all of us had gotten dressed, I made the pack come to attention, and I walked up and down in front of them, straightening their neckerchiefs when they needed it. Jeffrey stood a few feet further back, and he didn't say anything.
Then I turned to Jack. "Thank you very much, sir," I said. Sometimes I talk very formal when I'm in uniform. I learned that from Paul.
"Um. You're welcome. They call you Cat, don't they?"
"Look, Cat, could you and the other guys go away please while I have a little talk with him." He pointed to Jeffrey.
Jeffrey backed up a few steps more. I moved to stand between him and Jack. Even though Jeffrey wasn't in our pack, he was my friend now.
Jack tried to look around me at Jeffrey. "Please, I'm sorry. I just want to talk to you. What's your name?"
Jeffrey inched forward and stood next to me. "Jeffrey."
"Look Jeff." Jack squatted down so he was eye-level with us. "I'm really sorry I hit you. I've really been a skunk."
I saw Jeffrey smile, so I moved back so that Jeffrey and Jack could talk. They probably thought they were having a private conversation, but they didn't know about my wolf-sharp hearing.
Jack said he'd been very bad but that was all over. He said he was sad and sorry and promised that from now on he was going to be good. It's just the way I behave after I've been spanked.
And speaking of that, Jack talked about when he whipped Jeffrey. Doesn't sound like much of a way to make friends.
"I guess that was the worst licking youíve ever had," said Jack.
"Yes sir," said Jeffrey. "the only one."
"Your parents never hit you? And just call me Jack, not sir."
"No, they never hit me," said Jeffrey, and then almost to himself said, "I sometimes wish they would though."
"What? Hit you? Why do you say that?"
"Well, itís almost like they arenít really my parents. They donít seem to care. They never hit me, never, you know, hug me. They donít touch me at all."
"Jeff. Thatís really tough."
I was getting embarrassed listening to all that mushy stuff.
"Why can't you let us out?" Jeffrey asked.
"I don't have the key. Besides, you're probably safer in here."
"Can't you get us out of the zoo?"
"Mr. Cave won't let you?"
"Mr. Cave? No he won't. But I'll get you free somehow. You'll have to stay in there just a little longer."
"Yeah, OK," said Jeffrey.
"Do you need anything? You know, food, or Blankets?"
Jeffrey looked at me and then back at Jack. "Yes. Snacks and cans of soda, enough for all of us."
"Sure. I'll bring the stuff later tonight. But I've got to go now." Jack stood up.
"Oh," said Jeffrey suddenly. "I need some batteries."
"Batteries? You need batteries? Out here in a leopard cage?"
"All right. What kind?"
"AAA, alkaline. I need four of them."
"Yeah. Fine. Bye Jeff."
Jack waved to me and jumped into his electric zoo cart.
"Is he still one of the bad guys," I asked as he drove away.
"No," said Jeffrey. " I don't think so. Not any more."