The meanest malcontent neighbor I know just adopted a grizzly bear club, a bengal tiger cub, and three baby alligators. He lives two doors down from me in a one-bedroom apartment and drinks a case of Red, White & Blue beer every day. As mean and savage as they come, these nasty wild animals seem to be a good fit for him, but not such a good combination of pets for our apartment complex.
All I know about him is that his name is Jacko and he works for some guy called Mister X. He works very odd hours, but mostly at night. Just by the sound of this description, it's obvious Jacko's not a yuppie.
Yep, he usually starts working at 1 a.m. and saunters back home around daybreak. And he's always carrying two twelve packs of beer with him. Sometimes even more.
Jacko adopted the animals through something called Creature Comforts LLC based out of Utah. And even though the critters are small and cute now, they'll soon grow into the most nefarious of apex ambush predators.
I've been very upset by this turn of events and telephoned my old English Comp Instructor, Feducious T. Flynt, to get his opinion and to see if there's anything I can do to stop Jacko's pet adoption. I haven't been in contact with Mr. Flynt in a couple of years but I still have his cell phone number in my phone's memory directory.
"There's nothing you can do about this. Your neighbor is living the dream. It's a free country. There are absolutely no laws governing pet adoptions in this city. Anything goes - if he could fit an elephant in his apartment, it would be legal. Yes, your apartment might as well be situated right dab in the middle of the Amazon Rain Forest, the Serengeti, or the Australian Outback," Feducious said.
"There's nothing I can do? What do you mean there's nothing I can do?"
"Nope. Absolutely nothing. Might as well visit Jacko as often as you can and get these animals familiarized with your scent. Treat them very nice. Be gentle with them so when they get bigger, they might not maul or kill you," Feducious added.
We talked a little bit about the books we were currently reading and Mr. Flynt said, "Hey, why don't you write an essay for me. I want to read another one of your essays."
"Feducious, forget it. I quit writing essays a long time ago."
"Come on, just for old times."
"No. Hell no. Goodbye," I said, then hung up.
And that was that. So when Jacko came back from work the next morning, I walked down the hall, knocked on his door, and when he answered, I asked to see his animals. He snarled and hissed something about "nosy neighbors" but he let me inside. Being nearly seven-foot tall, he had to duck his head to get back into his door.
Dressed in coveralls without a tee-shirt, he looked comfortable. He'd obviously made a quick change of clothes since getting off work. Mister X made him wear a suit and tie but Jacko walked around the complex like a mountain man. He looked like one, too, with a bristling beard and a long ponytail. And he was as big as a mountain - forget even putting the word man at the end of my former description.
The grizzly and tiger cubs were play fighting while the three baby alligators circled them, snapping at the mammals with their toothy snouts as the sparring progressed.
"Yeah, it's getting to be so dangerous living around here that I decided to get some pets to protect me," Jacko said.
"These things aren't going to protect you. When they get a little bigger they're going to attack you. And when they get a little bigger than this, they'll try to kill you," I said.
Jacko offered me a beer but I told him I never drink before seven in the morning.
He turned on one of the myriad of alligator wrestling shows on cable and informed me he was watching these types of programs to familiarize himself with how to properly restrain alligators.
"Some of the residents 'round here filed complaints against me. Can you believe it? It's a free country. I can own any kind of animal I damn well please," Jacko snapped, then hot gulped a beer.
Grabbing another and opening the tab, he snarled, "You're not one of 'em, are 'ya? You didn't sign that petition to get me thrown out'a here, did'ya?"
"No, Jacko. I'm all for being a pet owner. I have a canary, some tropical fish, and a hamster. No. I'm not against having pets at all. I'm all for it, in fact."
"Good. Well ya'all better jest get used to it. These animals are here to stay and so am I."
Now the tiger and bear were really going at it. Both were already about the size of full-grown Pit-Bulls. Their play had gone from being a baby boxing match to a full-scale survival of the fittest brawl. The tiger had its mouth clenched on the grizzly's paw and was snapping its head back and forth, obviously trying to tear the bear's arm off its body. The little grizzly was screaming out in pain and frustration.
"Look at 'em having so much fun. They're cute, ain't' they?" Jacko said.
"Yeah, they're adorable," I answered. "How much did you pay for them?"
"Not a red cent. They were closing down this petting zoo in Utah and they were all going to be put to sleep. I drove out there and picked them up. Mister X was all for giving me a few days off. Hell, he even let me borrow his SUV to bring them back in. He said the critters might come in handy in years to come, in some of our more difficult business transactions. Snap. Snap. Off comes the arm. You want the other one gone, too, buster? Get my drift?"
The baby alligators, all siblings and only about a two feet long, started snapping at each other. Jacko smacked two of them on their snouts and yelled, "Settle down! Be nice alligators!"
I sighed "nice alligators" in a tired mocking tone as I watched this scabrous scene. And it was escalating: Two of the alligators leaped at Jacko and one almost caught his outstretched hand in its snout.
"I'll take that beer, Jacko," I hissed. "In fact, make it two. Ah hell, push over that entire twelve pack you haven't opened yet. I'll take care of the next beer run."