[This scene is in response to another RocNaNo Writing Challenge: Annoying Questions. As usual I collected inspiration and material from a variety of sources – Pinky and the Brain Quotes, an assortment of imponderable questions I add to from time to time, Spice Girl songs, and a line from Miss Congeniality. It also adds to the material for my Taste of Magic book. I hope you enjoy it!]
Patton had been worrying about money, and how he was going to get his motorcycle fixed, and the subtle threats Caldwell and company had been making, so much that Yvonne decided he needed a change of scenery and dragged him out to the Seneca Park Zoo. It was a weekday afternoon in July and the crowds were light as they stopped to watch the elephants lounging in the warm sunshine. A handler was out with a hose and a long handled brush, scrubbing one of the elephants to the amusement of several children who were taunting him, trying to get the elephant to spray them. Squeals of laughter rose up when they suddenly got wet.
Patton and Yvonne watched in silence for a few minutes, just soaking up the atmosphere, the sounds of the animals interspersed with birds singing and children laughing, and Yvonne was hopeful that she’d succeeded in getting his mind off his troubles for a while.
“But what if the hippopotamus won’t wear the beach thong?”
“Scotty? Are you all right?”
“I’m sorry, Yvonne. What were you saying?” Patton had been staring at the elephants, but his mind had clearly been elsewhere. Now he turned his attention to Yvonne.
“I was wondering about you. You said something about a hippopotamus wearing a beach thong.”
“I did? Imagine that!” Patton started to drift into another moody silence, but Yvonne wasn’t having any of it.
“James Scott Patton! Don’t you go all silent and moody on me! We came to this enclave of smelly animals to get away from your worries for a while, and I’m not going to let you dwell on them here! Not now!”
“Oh? You’re right, I should be thinking about something other than money, more important than my life! Well, then, answer me this: If you have a bunch of odds and ends and you get rid of all but just one, what do you call it?”
“Or how about this: Why do we put suits in garment bags, and garments in suitcases?”
“What are you talking about?”
“All I am saying is, if we give peas a chance won’t the lima beans feel left out?”
“Oh no you don’t! You’re not going to wig out on me! I don’t care if all your worry is driving you nuts — you aren’t going to send me away by talking wacko just so you can go back to brooding!”
“I’m not trying to drive you away. I really want to know.”
“So tell me what you want, what you really, really want.”
“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want. I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna know …” He paused, enjoying the expectant look on her face as he let the suspense build, then said “why would anyone want a depressed tongue?”
“Arrgh!” Yvonne started pummeling Patton with her fists. “You are the most infuriating man in the world! I hate you!”
Patton reached out and gently grasped her wrists. “No you don’t.” A mixture of amusement and faked condescension crossed his face. “You want to hug me … You want to love me … You want to hug me … You want to smooch me …” He puckered up his lips and closed his eyes, and she pulled her hands free and slapped him.
“There!” he said, still smiling. “Now don’t you feel better?”
“Immensely! How about you? Are you still worrying about money?”
“Not right now. I’m wondering if Jimmy cracks corn and nobody cares, why does he keep on doing it?”
At that Yvonne threw up her hands in surrender. “Oh, screw that! Let’s go make faces at the monkeys.” Arm in arm they set off for the monkey house.