sacha-styles-0sPKk1YWmBc-unsplash (1)

Tiger Free Days

The telephone poles looked like crucifixes. I had the time to contemplate them, and that was how silent it was. We all remained inside like the person on the radio demanded us to. We looked out the large window, having pushed aside displays of shelved books and tea sets to see the large, male tiger, his testicles hanging noticeably from his crotch. From inside, we could hear the half growling, half purring noise he made. We probably more felt it than heard it. It was low. He paced.

“How long will he stay out there?” someone behind me said. I recognized the voice, but I had a hard time placing a disembodied voice to the person. I always had. I had a hard time understanding what was said without looking at the person who spoke. “Why hasn’t,” a woman asked, “anyone come to get him yet?” I went through the schedule in my head and remembered that Julie was the only other woman besides me working the floor that day. What I could think of to answer was that not all our days can be tiger free. After I had said it, I backed away from the window. Someone arrived in an armored car marked “zoo.” And also: some cop cars. An animal control van. I could hear the report from the tranquilizer gun. I thought of those savior-less telephone poles, the wires going to everywhere.

Originally published in WhiskeyPaper

Photo by Sacha Styles on Unsplash

DeMisty D. Bellinger lives and teaches in Massachusetts. Her chapbook, Rubbing Elbows, is available at Finishing Line Press. DeMisty is online at

Submit Your Stories

Always free. Always open. Professional rates.