“Hello, Insecurity,” he said to the black gopher, who was, as always, busy trying to dig a hole in the concrete.
“How dare you keep me here, you spineless gnome!” Insecurity replied by way of greeting. “You think that you’ve got it good now, but you aren’t really as happy as you thought you would be, are you?” With a cold glare, Insecurity continued his digging, trying to create a place where he could hide.
“Hello, Invincibility,” said Chad to the purple Chihuahua with red eyes, who was growling at the lion in outrage.
“How dare you keep me here, you high-and-mighty gnat!” snarled the little dog. “Are you afraid of me? Is that it? Come on, let me out of here, you know that you can take me, with your hands tied behind your back!” Invincibility charged at the lion, getting a good bite on a hind leg that drew a little blood.
“Hello, Egotism,” Chad murmured to the yellow-and-black striped ostrich stomping her eggs into a pile of crunchy mush.
“How dare you keep me in here, you self-centered horse’s rump!” Egotism snarled, giving another good kick at her pile of eggs. “We’re the same, you and I. No one can even begin to fathom the depths of the universe, like we can. Without us, the world cannot function. Doom, doom!”
“Hello, Ignorance,” said Chad to the blue lion.
“I don’t mind being in here, actually,” Ignorance replied. He was almost dozing, his foot twitching every now and then whenever Invincibility got in a good nip. “I don’t know what these guys are complaining about. Where can we go, besides here?”
Chad nodded in understanding. “Hello, Escapism.”
“Don’t listen to the lazy old tom cat!” chattered the giant green orangutan. “How dare you keep me in here, you good-for-nothing psycho-transient! There’s a whole world out there, and in your heart, and in your head. I could take you there, and you could forget about all your problems, if you weren’t so stuck-up.”
“Hello, Innocence,” Chad almost shouted at the half-deaf, nearly blind young wolf who was staring intently into space.
“There’s nothing worse than being trapped,” the pink wolf muttered, not hearing Chad. “How dare that mean old meanie keep me locked up in here. Everything in life is so beautiful and wonderful and harmless, but he keeps me in here just to be a jerk.” Innocence had lost an ear getting too close to a “wonderful” industrial fan, and lost most of her sight after a “beautiful and harmless” poisonous fish had squirted venom into his eyes.
Chad checked to see whether Happiness was ready yet. Absentmindedly, he passed a hand over her back, adjusting her shawl to hide her scaly patch of skin. She was changing, and though he tried to ignore it, he couldn’t help but think that maybe he had made a mistake.
Shaking the thought, he greeted his final captive: “It’s good to see you, Virtue.” It was hard to tell whether the orange beaver was old or young. Her teeth were well over-grown from not having any trees to chew on, but her eyes were sharp and patient.
“We’re not the real problem, you know,” reasoned Virtue as Happiness gathered the lasagna out of the fridge, ready made for the party that night. Chad was finally getting promoted to second-in-command at work. “You know that Deception over there is why you still aren’t happy.”
“Her name is Happiness,” Chad snapped for the tenth time that week. Instantly exasperated, he yanked on the cord, letting the curtain fall over the menagerie once again.
“Are you ready to go, honey?” asked Happiness, gazing up at him through long, honest eyelashes. Chad smiled tightly and kissed her lips. “I will be right up. I just want to make sure I have everything.” She smiled made her way up the stairs. Clomp, clomp. As she lifted her dress, her hooves became visible again. She tipped her head to duck through the basement door, and her pointed ears scraped the doorframe.
Chad’s lower lip burned where she had accidentally scraped him with her fangs.
Clenching his jaw, he retrieved his jacket and pretended not to notice.
Friday, December 05, 2014