Chapter 10 - Raccoon’s Retreat
The raccoon had decided to venture a close look, and was tentatively peering around the corner when his heart jumped in his mouth, Rex was virtually upon him causing him turn on his heels and scamper in panic the other way. He had not expected to come face to face with a snapping and hissing Rex, and he most certainly did not expect to see Lilly sat on a harnessed Rex’s shoulders shouting “YEE HA” at the top of her voice! The discarded rope Lilly had found in the rubbish sacks proved to be very useful indeed as a harness, enabling her to guide Rex in the direction she wanted him to go. The remainder of the rope she had made a lasso out of which she was whipping around in circle above her head. In between the, “yee ha’s,” Lilly was commanding Rex to, “fetch,” and the raccoon was under no illusion as to what or WHO Rex was being told to retrieve. The Raccoon tore around the corner and out onto the main path, hotly pursued by a fifteen foot crocodile and foot tall teddy bear. Terrified, the raccoon rushed past the gate that the humans were now queued up behind, most of the children tearfully wondering if someone would be along soon to let them out and what on earth was the commotion on the other side of the high wooden barrier. Each time the raccoon tried to change direction, leap up a wall or climb a tree, Rex was there, jaws snapping shut alarmingly near to the mammal’s rear end. Lilly knew exactly where she wanted the raccoon. She needed to detain him long enough for the humans to find him and where he couldn’t create anymore mischief. She also needed to get Rex back in his compound before the humans got out of the sea lion’s pool area. If that happened the zoo would most definitely be closed. Rex was much quicker than the raccoon, who, judging by the raccoon’s portly waddling, had clearly eaten a few too many peanuts destined for the monkey, and was hampering his ability to escape. Lilly guided the raccoon past the Monkey House and Miss Sharp, who was now telling the monkeys how much she loved teddy bears. It was a simple task to marshal the raccoon past the ostriches and into Rex’s compound, where with a flick of her wrist, Lilly lassoed the errant creature and commanded Rex to, “Leave,” which Rex did obediently, then to be rewarded by Lilly with a green jelly baby this time.
Lilly dismounted Rex and marched the raccoon to a tree in the middle of the compound and bound him to it, while keeping Rex nearby to ensure the raccoon had no ideas about trying to escape. Once secured, Lilly began interrogating her prisoner, who was very co-operative due to the way Rex looked at him hungrily. It unfolded that the raccoon, who’s name incidentally was Mary, on account of his hairy state at birth and that they had thought he was a girl, had escaped several months ago, and had evaded the keepers long enough for them to give up looking. He had been housed in a pen right next to the aquarium and thus had very few visitors. The brightly lit tanks and colourful fish meant most everyone hurried passed and barely noticed him. And those who did stop would point at the name sign, where children who would point at him and snigger when reading his name sign, a sign that read ‘Harry Mary’, the name that he had been teased about for years. And to add insult to injury when they put new animals in his pen, they were guinea pigs, who talked in cute little squeaks that had everyone stopping before entering the aquarium. The raccoon really had had his nose put out of joint, and harboured a grudge toward the children who ignored him and those who poked fun. Whilst on the run from the keepers, he had heard of the effects of crocodile tears and thought it would be payback for the hurt he had endured. If he was going to be miserable then everyone else should be too! At least that was his thinking.
Lilly felt sorry for Mary, at least for the way he had been treated, and thanked him for his answers. She did not call him Mary, but Harry instead: Hairy Harry sounded much more suitable and seemed to please the raccoon. Harry had told her that he had put the crocodile tears in the air conditioning unit in the aquarium; it seemed to him to be a ‘fair’ place to put it, as it was due to that place that he had been so ignored. And Harry had put the last big dose he had in the air conditioning unit first thing this morning. Lilly knew that was the first place the school had visited when they had arrived, so knew that all the children must have been infected. She needed to go get the antidote immediately. She was happy now that there were no more crocodile tears about, and so long as Harry was contained then she would have no more trouble from him. Lilly apologised to him for having to leave him with Rex and promised that if he stopped his vendetta against the children, then she would do what she could to make his life at the zoo a happier one. And with that said, Lilly turned to Rex and commanded him to, “guard,” which Rex began doing with diligence, allowing Lilly to make her way quickly to the Reptile House and an appointment with a large Amazonian boa constrictor.
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