What was earlier an overcast sky has faded away to let in sunlight. I walk along a red, dirt trail into a mini-forest of big oak trees and a narrow running creek. I walk for several minutes into the park’s interior before noticing a wooden bench beside a fire hole. Surrounded by tall trees I decide to set two of the six biscuits near some trees and place myself on the bench. Using the binoculars, I look up at the trees and consult the photo of the lost animal. It’s face looks strikingly like a perched golden lion—like a Curious George version of Mufasa. Golden Lion Marmoset is an apt name for the animal. Its face is very monkey-ish, but bright orange and red fur manes around its head, exactly like a lion’s.
Using the binoculars, I take in the bountiful wildlife of the big oak trees in the park. Scores of birds dominate the trees. Occasionally, I catch sight of a squirrel scurrying up a trunk and I jump to my feet at the idea of being the one to find the elusive missing marmoset, before sitting back on the bench in disappointment at the realization of it just being another squirrel, nothing more. I reach in my bag and grab my journal, turning to the most recently edited page. I sketch the marmoset from the photo below my entry on the day’s news:
August 5th, 2018: A Golden Lion Marmoset is loose somewhere in the city.
Feeling satisfied, I close the journal and look back up at the big oak trees. In the distance, I catch a glimpse of a long orange tail high up in one of the trees. I stand to give myself a clearer view, and see a body attached to the tail. The tail is long, unlike a squirrel, but more importantly, like a marmoset. Immediately I become anxious about the situation. I can feel my morning breakfast rolling around in my stomach and a rush of blood flushing through my body’s streets. I walk towards the tree housing the creature and begin climbing. The uneasiness gives way to nausea as I climb, noting the orange long-tailed creature’s lack of movement. Thorn and branch-induced scratches decorate my body as I climb skyward. In the canopies now, I stand on a thick branch directly below the still motionless orange creature above. I fear the worst—it is already dead up there, or perhaps critically wounded. I suppose it is possible it is sleeping so I remain tactful in my approach to it. I subtly extract the mesh bag from my pocket, before reaching up at the being from behind, so as to surprise it with my capture. I take one final long breath in before lunging forward with haste! The mesh bag wraps around the animal right as the force of my lunge snaps the branch I was standing on. A flash like lightning fills streaks through spaces between leaves as I tumble down more than 30 feet. Branches along the way redirect my body as gravity performs its agonizing dance. I hit the ground with a shocking thud, before briefly losing consciousness. When I come to, birds swirl about the canopies above while leaves continue gliding down like little upside down umbrellas. I hold my back as I roll from a lying position to a sitting position. Black spots cloud my vision as the world shakes. Amidst the daze, I see the mesh bag with the marmoset lying a few feet in front me. I crawl towards the object in fear and confusion. I have captured it, but is there any worth behind my actions if the animal is dead? Did I kill it? I wince as a chalky substance pushes itself up from my stomach through my esophagus, before ejecting from my mouth.
The animal is still motionless as I pull the mesh bag off. When I touch it, it is soft like a velvet blanket, and alarmingly weightless. I roll it over and press two fingers into its stomach. To my shock, a soft, high-pitched beep! Reverberates. I scratch my head, only to cause more pain against bruised skin. I look at the animal’s face and see a small white scrunched piece of paper hidden in its mouth. When I reach in, its lips and teeth are rubbery, like thick elastic. I remove the paper and flatten it, flip it over and read a felt message, “TAMARIN.”
“AHGHHGGHH!” I scream through gritted teeth and broken ribs. “FUCCKKK YOUUUUUU!”
Families of sparrows and magpies shoot from the surrounding trees as I hurl the plush marmoset at them. It shoots through windows of twigs, before landing in a splash at the creek down the ravine. I take a few moments to collect myself and let the anger fade before making my way up the trail back to my car. My imagination runs rampant with images of the boy falling through a tree, or being punished. I call the number on the card the lady gave me to report the occurrence but toss it to the creek upon receiving the busy signal. When I reach the park’s exit, I see the boy leaning against my car looking up at the sky in his cheap blue sunglasses, without a care in the world. I run forwards at him, “hey, you think you can pull this type of shit?” I yell.
The boy looks in my direction, expressionless, as I’m toppled to the ground by something from behind. Before I can comprehend what’s happening steel, cold chains snap against my wrists and my arms are wrapped behind my back. A uniformed man takes my daypack and approaches the boy, who I see removing my journal and flipping it to a page near the front. I wrestle against officers and justice as I roll about on the ground. The boy shows the officers a photo that shows me reaching towards an orange long-tailed creature in a tree and I shutter with torment.
“Stetson Asher. You are placed under arrest on account of the unlawful and illegal act of kidnapping a protected species. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
I overhear an officer radioing in that the missing Tamarin was found in a residential garage on Woodbine Boulevard, the street I live on. As I’m thrust into the back of a police car, a familiar knock on the window interrupts my frustration; the boy is standing outside and I read his lips, “I wonder, how it might feel to be caged alone for the rest of your life.”