As Wally Explained on the Locked Side Later Another day at the zoo and Wally’s new job was to feed the apes. Old Stanley had fed the apes for 40 years and loved the job but told Wally he was retiring. He was showing Wally the ropes when Wally got hit with a coconut lobbed by JuJu, the oldest ape, who liked Stanley but not Wally. Stanley drove Wally to a dentist to check the damage to his teeth but the dentist wanted to be paid in advance and Wally had no money, only a bus pass and a bag lunch back in his locker. He had never had a credit card. The dentist looked and sounded like Mel Brooks and kept saying he wanted his money before drilling. Wally’s father came to the office and started writing a big check to the plumber who had come over the previous week to fix the toilet. Bleeding from the mouth Wally yelled, “Dad, write the check to Mel Brooks, not the plumber,”but his father said, “Wally, shut up for a change” and he kept writing the check to the plumber. His father had been dead for 30 years but he and Wally never got along well when his father was alive either. Marimba in the Afternoon Raul is a kind man who plays marimba in a salsa band at LA clubs late into the night. Some afternoons he plays at a nursing home in Cucamonga where he was born, grew up and dashed home from school. He’s paid with a taco, maybe an enchilada, a burrito now and then. On Sunday a fresh tamale almost as good as his mother used to make after being in the fields all day, long ago. Old-timers in the day room bounce in their chairs, some on wheels, to Raul’s music. Long ago they were young and danced all night in tiny clubs after being paid a few dollars a basketfor picking grapes and plums under pounding sun. Fly Fishing
Many years ago Miriam’s parents took the kids for the weekend while she and Jack motored north to fish for trout in Montana at Miriam’s request. Unsteady in her hip-waders but casting with abandon, Miriam lobbed a snide remark and the hook snagged Jack’s ear. Jack told her not to worry, just a tiny bit of blood. He’d put a band-aid on it back at the cabin before he fried the rainbow trout still wriggling in her creel. Decades later Jack is back at the cabin with his Phyllis, a quiet woman who has never cast for trout. He thinks she’ll do well. Jack’s lost track of Miriam, who sold the house long ago. The kids are on their own. He still scratches the ear where an itch recalls Miriam’s remark.