Tristan leaned lazily backwards, staring up at the sky. It was a perfect blue day, a day that tourists loved. A day where all of your plans came together flawlessly, just because the weather cooperated.
Tristan was about to ruin this day.
He sat up just in time to see an employee walking out from the zoo’s gift shop. She looked to be in her early twenties. She had brown hair pulled back into a neat ponytail, and from the distance Tristan was at, she looked fairly average. He watched her, waiting for her to notice him. She was bound to notice him… He was in a fairly odd place, after all.
Just then, the woman looked up at him, looked away, then looked back quickly. Tristan smirked as she walked towards him briskly. When she came to the base of the wall he was on, she stared up at him.
“Excuse me, sir,” she began politely. She had to yell a bit to make sure that he heard her. “But, we usually ask our guests to stay on the ground.”
“I am the exception to everything you’ve ever learned.” Tristan replied. She stared at him quizzically.
“Sir, please get down. We really don’t want any children thinking that it’s all right for them to crawl up on the walls. While you understand the risks involved with being up on that wall, children might not, and we wouldn’t want them crawling up there and then falling down.” the girl explained very politely. Tristan saw her point, but even the emotional appeal of children’s safety would not deter him.
“Sorry, but I can’t come down.” Tristan said, not sounding sorry at all.
“Why not?” the employee asked, still managing to sound patient. Tristan smiled as he began his tirade.
“I am protesting the very existence of this amusement park. I mean, the words ‘amusement park’ are worth protesting in and of themselves. People are coming to this place and gawking at poor animals that have been taken from their natural habitat and forced to live in confined spaces. Not only that, but the animals have been trained to do idiotic tricks for a couple of little fish! All while people clap and cheer and pay hundreds of dollars just to spend two to three days here.” Tristan paused, waiting for the woman to reply. She stared at him for a moment before speaking.
“Sir, I do not want to yell at you when I try to refute your argument, so I would greatly appreciate it if you came down to my level so that we could continue this conversation.” the woman said, still sounding very calm and patient. Tristan was not expecting this response. He wanted some emotion, some screaming, some yelling. Something that would make this woman look bad and create bad publicity. He sighed and realized he would have to get off of the wall and talk to her face to face in order to get any more of a reaction…
Tristan stood up and, very carefully, walked over to the overhanging tree branch that he had used to crawl up onto the wall in the first place. He grabbed the tree branch and swung himself over it, straddling it like a horse. He inched his way to the trunk of the tree then climbed down to the ground. He made fast work of climbing down; it was the balancing part that made him go slowly.
“Okay, I’m down on the ground now. Anything you’d like to say to me?” Tristan asked, purposely sounding more annoyed than he was.
“What’s your name?” the girl asked.
“Tristan.” he replied shortly.
“I’m Nora,” the girl introduced herself. She did not, however, extend her hand in a show of friendship. “Now, you have every right to protest and think whatever you want, but we would really appreciate it if you would do it outside, okay?”
“We? What, is there a mouse in your back pocket? Or is someone listening in through that headset of yours?” Tristan asked, motioning to Nora’s headset. Nora stared at him, trying not to look annoyed, but frustration showed in her eyes.
“When I said ‘we,’ I meant me, my manager, and the owners of the park.” Nora replied. Her voice sounded patient, even if she didn’t look patient.
“It’s public property. I can protest wherever I want.” Tristan said, leaning towards Nora. He found that invading a person’s personal space always worked to further annoy them.
“Check your information, sir; this is a privately owned park.” Nora said. “You might want to do a bit more research before you begin bombarding an organization with false statements.”
“Oh, so it’s not true that the animals are confined to tiny spaces? It’s not true that they’re trained to do stupid tricks? It’s not true that people pay obscene amounts of money just to watch those stupid tricks?” Tristan asked, his voice rising with every question. Once Tristan had finished his rant, his nose was only inches from Nora’s nose.
Nora stood there, staring up at Tristan with a soft glare on her face. She had hardly flinched through his outburst, and he wondered how long it would take for him to break past her apathy until he reached real emotion…
“No, it is not true that the animals are confined to small spaces. They are trained to do tricks, but ‘stupid’ is a relative word that most people would not use to describe them. People do pay a lot of money to come to the park, but we are a business and we can’t just let people in for free.” Nora said. She now had an annoyed undertone in her voice, even though she seemed to remain calm.
“This is an organization that takes advantage of animals and the tiny brains of human beings.” Tristan snarled.
“This is an organization that helps animals and brings joy to thousands of people each year.” Nora retorted.
“This is a place that sucks intelligence out of anyone who enters!”
“This is a place where children learn about fish and other aquatic animals!”
“This is a park that puts insanely high prices on cheap trinkets just so people can remember their time here!”
“This is a park that provides people good memories that they’ll have for a lifetime!” Nora yelled, now completely furious with Tristan. The two of them stood there for a moment, fuming at one another, before either of them realized that people were staring. Nora sighed. Tristan smirked.
“I’m sorry, everyone!” Nora said, turning to the group of people that had stopped to watch. “My boyfriend and I were just having a fight about my job. He’s just insecure and needs attention, so he wants me to spend more time with him.” Nora said convincingly. The people seemed to believe her story and began walking away slowly. Nora sighed then turned to look at Tristan, a glare back on her face.
“Boyfriend?” he asked incredulously.
“Look, if you want to protest because you think the park is a bad place, fine! Just do me a favor and learn more about it first, okay? Before you get all judgmental about our organization, figure out what we’re all about. Take some time to know us before you start talking trash.” Nora said in a soft but angry voice.
“Well, are there any jobs open?” Tristan asked, returning her tone.
“There are always jobs open in the summer.” Nora replied quickly. Her eyes suddenly widened as she realized what she had said. Tristan smiled.
“Well, then, hook me up with the boss and we’ll see what I learn by being totally immersed in this place.” he said, crossing his arms over his chest in a satisfied way. Nora stared at him for a moment, and Tristan was almost certain that he could see the anger rolling off of her shoulders.
“Ugh!” Nora exclaimed before she turned around and stormed off, clenching her fists at her sides. Tristan threw his head back and laughed.
“Ah, sweet victory…” he mused. He glanced down at his watch. It wasn’t even ten o’clock.
He was going to get a summer job. And he was going to make this place a living nightmare.