“You heard that?” Benny keeps his head cocked to the right. His expression tenses up, as he is intensively listening. Silencing my annoyed loud breathing, his hand shoots up. “Shhhhhh… There!” Suddenly he smiles vaguely.
“I… No… What?”
“Just now. Did you hear that?” He is smiling expectantly. I shake my head to his disappointment.
On the other side of the car window, traffic keeps getting louder. An ambulance drives by. The wailing of the siren makes me swallow. I should be at work right now… I’m already half an hour too late. Picking Benny up isn’t one of my brightest ideas, anyway.
I think of the examination rooms. Painted all white, the stink of sanitizer mixing to a stinging, irritating sensation, when entered. Even for a doctor…
I just can’t get used to it. But then a ritual begins – the changing. White pants, white shirt, white coat, white shoes. And I blend in, become a part of that troublesome impression. I blend in, and the stinging blanks out – but only for several hours…
“Street’s clogged! Must be an accident… I’ll get a royal chew out, thanks to you, bird-brain.” I let the cig butt fall into the tray. Benny laughs, but is still disappointed. I know that, I don’t even need to look. That can’t be helped now. He sure better be happy, that I bailed him out. -That schmuck. “What were you doing in the Zoo anyway?”
“You know, there is a lion in the Zoo.” He explains. I raise an eyebrow at that. I haven’t been there for nearly twenty years now.
“And…? Were you visiting it?” I ask him.
“You should go and see him! You two have a lot in common.” He is fiddling around with the zipper of his jacket. “That lion is still very proud. Captured in the wild – South Africa – if I recall correctly…His cage is ´bout three meters to five meters. All day he’s looking for an escape. Chasing his own tail, maybe counting steps. Since he arrived, he claims his property…” Is his voice shaking? Benny flashes a big smile. I grab the wheel harder. This nonsense has to stop. He seems to get in trouble, now on a daily base.
“Is that why you broke in? To look at the lion?” I try carefully to feel my way forward.
“If you don’t believe it, go and see for yourself. Every morning and every evening he roars. I can’t decide if he sounds angry or desperate. Maybe both… You can hear him all over the town. That’s what I just heard,” he looks out of the window. “You know… Every day, I look forward to it. I need to hear him roar. I just need to… Believe, that there is a way out…”