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Predators in the Bush Disgusting animals, the hyena! But everyone knew that, Nick thought. Still, seeing them live, in person, up close and active at their handiwork, put a whole new light on the subject. He gazed out through the protective glass of the Land Cruiser, bedazzled by it all. Six fiendish animals fought over a single gazelle carcass; their faces red in blood, red down the length of their thick necks like a scarlet bandana; their hind quarters, slopping freakishly, messed in their own defecation. It was not a vision he expected to see when signing up for this eco-friendly, photographic safari. It was a vision that would stick in his head in a bad way for a long time, he thought. Seeing it in a brochure was one thing. Quite another to see it in grizzly detail, disemboweled intestines being dragged out of a freshly opened cavity and covetously devoured; and hearing the sound of powerful jaws crunching down on flesh and bone. He watched as their glitzy little eyes looked furtively, lustfully, greedily at one another as if there was not enough meat to go around. It is a deplorable spectacle, he thought. It is offensive to the soul. One could easily argue that it was an animal not fit to share the earth. “I have no use for them,” he said flatly. “I’d add them to the list.” The young blonde woman sitting next to him turned and asked, “The list?” “Yeah, you add them to the list,” Nick insisted. “Which list?” “Along with flies and mosquitoes.” The woman looked at him curiously. “The list for extermination,” he said bluntly. “Come’on now, every creature has its place on this earth. As do we…” “They shouldn’t.” The young blonde gazed out at the hyenas. “It is very horrible to watch, I know. But it is nature’s work.” “Well, it’s a part of nature I can live without, and my future children can live without, and my grandchildren can live without. Exterminate them, I say. That’s my vote.” “Really?” “Yes!” The blonde continued to watch the hyenas, as did Nick. Their heads jerked violently as they ripped off chunks of flesh. Their powerful jaws snapped down on bone and sliced through the meat. Occasionally the animals looked up at the vehicles, with ears widespread, seemingly indifferent to the fact that they had an audience. It is an animal without empathy, Nick thought. An animal without moral conscience. “Remember, it is all part of the circle,” she said. Nick frowned. 91

Summer 2014 Volume 2, Issue 2

“They serve a purpose, you know. They’re the garbage disposals of the savannah.” “Ha! You got that right.” “Who then will clean up the mess left by the lions, and the weak, and the old?” “Don’t care. Let them decompose in the sun. Anything beats this visual.” There where a few vultures hopping along the ground nearby, wanting to get in on the action. But the hyenas wheeled their teeth at them, keeping them at a distance. “Can we go now?” Nick asked the driver. Kikanae, the dark Kenyan behind the wheel, turned back and looked at Nick. He smiled with a set of very white teeth. Beside him was their guide, Bernard Wambui. Bernard was not his real name of course. He was as black and Kenyan as Kikanae, but spoke English as well as any Englishman having had the benefit of being raised in an British orphanage. Bernard was his English name, assumed on his behalf because he liked how it sounded, and because his Kenyan name was too difficult for the tourists to pronounce. “It is part of the tour,” Bernard said. “You are lucky to see it. It is Africa as it really is. It is big money safari.” “What?” “It is what your rich Americans like best, the corporate types and Hollywood celebrities, to see the real Africa. They pay big money for it, and give big tips for a show like this. Really, you are lucky to see it.” “These places never look like the brochures,” Nick grumbled. There were two other tourists in the vehicle, an elderly couple from England, who were likewise appalled by the spectacle. They sat quietly in the back seat, taken aback by the feeding frenzy. “It is one thing to know about the wild; quite another to see it,” the English woman said with an elegant accent. “They are a well-evolved animal,” Bernard said. “Known for their thievery; known to be very thorough with their kill; known to prey upon themselves. And they are the boldest of thieves, even to steal from lions, even to take meat from an animal still breathing.” “That’s nice to know,” Nick said. “He is a hungry one,” Bernard said to his driver, chuckling, and he pointed at one of the hyenas whose head was completely buried in the body cavity of the gazelle. When the head came out, it had a long line of intestines attached to its mouth. The others hyenas tried to take it from him and he snarled back at them. Bernard took something from the dashboard, opened his window, and threw it at the animal, hitting it in its hind quarters. The hyena turned sharply, snapping wildly into the air. Finally it locked its eyes on Bernard and snarled at him. Nick watched as Bernard’s

Profile for FLAR

FLR the Anthology 2013 - 2014  

A compilation of the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Volumes 1 and 2 (2013-2014)

FLR the Anthology 2013 - 2014  

A compilation of the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Volumes 1 and 2 (2013-2014)

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