New Haven, CT, ca. 1968: Part Two

Milo looked around him, with one half-spent eye. The odor, for what seemed to be the thousandth time in his life, was appalling.

“Smells like three-toed sloth,” he murmured, presciently, as it turned out.

“No shit, Bubba,” sniggered a voice with a pronounced, but obviously put-on Texas twang. “I like nicknames, so I’ve decided to call you Bubba.”

“Whatever,” said Milo, eyeing warily the snout of an obviously aroused three-toed sloth. The sloth ignored him and ambled slowly across his legs to the cage’s other occupant. Milo noted with passing interest that the sloth’s face resembled a slightly hairier version of Molina’s Levantine mug. Then the sloth seemed to rearrange its features from within, by some highly internalized act of slow-moving quadruped will. The resemblance passed and faded.

“Musta been another hallucination,” Milo thought.

He was slowly regaining his tenuous-at-best hold on karmic equilibrium. Then he nearly lost it again to a giant grand-mal spasm, triggered when the sloth seemed to wink at him. Suddenly, he was aware of something else. Something very important.


He hastily opened the other eye, belched discretely, and took in his surroundings. Iron bars. Feces and the ammonia reek of thick-caked, semi-composted, urine-stained straw, strewn on a stained floor. A disconnected tree limb covered with claw marks. Milo could just glimpse the sign for the Frankie Schmitz Train Ride as he strained to see past the pastiche waterfall.

The sloth mounted the Texan slowly. Both seemed to be anticipating the moment.

“Who the hell are you?” slurred Milo, guiltily remembering the large number of ‘Sex-on-the-Beach’ cocktails he’d imbibed the previous evening.

“They call me Dubya,” moaned the Texan, “Don'cha remember last night?”

Milo allowed as how he didn’t.

“Well. It. Went. This. Way…” the Texan panted.

“God, I hope not,” said Milo, hastily averting his crusted eyes. And, wishing neither one had opened at all, he mercifully passed out for awhile.


“Yer either for inter-species relations, or yer agin us!” was the next thing he heard.

In a long, ugly series of cold, wet, awkward, and urine-scented first-light awakenings, this particular morning was to stand out in Milo’s shell-shocked memory.

“Please, Lord, please… let this be the Sex-on-the-Beaches coming back at me, in visual-metaphorical form. I promise, dear God, I’ll never take another drink. Make this hideous nightmare go away,” Milo would again heard himself moaning, upon awakening hours later to the acid-like flashback, in an alley nearby.

But here and now in the meantime, a crowd had gathered in front of the cage -- a strangely mute, shocked and horror-struck crowd.

“Albuquerque,” Milo thought suddenly. “I was somewhere in West Virginia at a sleazy roadside strip joint talking about the zoo in Albuquerque with this geek last night…or was it the night before…? and he started blathering about his girlfriend. Who lives at the Gainesville Zoo.”

Milo involuntarily slapped his forehead. It cleared his blurry vision a little, and he eyed the crowd thoughtfully. Then, reflexively, he looked down at his own body. He was fully clothed.

His prayer was fervent: "Thank you, guardian angels, for small mercies... no matter how small!"