Doctor Sampson sat at his desk, adding a few notes to the skunk file. He furrowed his brow. People simply weren’t visiting the skunk tanks as much as he’d anticipated.
A knock on the door shook him from his trance. Quickly, he re-assumed the dignified manner of a head zoo keeper. “Enter,” he called.
Eduardo entered, nervously twisting his his cap in front of him. “Meester Sampson. Eeet happened again.”
“How many times do I have to tell you, Eduardo. It’s Dr. Sampson. Doctor!”
“Yes of course, Dr. Sampson.”
“It’s important to maintain formality. You know, for formality’s sake.”
“Please forgive me, Doctor. But it’s the elephants. Something’s been eating them. I thought you would like to know.”
Dr. Sampson threw his head back and laughed. “Oh Eduardo. Don’t be ridiculous. They were probably stolen by fraternity boys.”
“I thought you would be angry.”
Dr. Sampson’s face suddenly became very stern. “I am angry. That’s the third elephant we've lost this month. Elephants are a popular attraction and very difficult to replace. Do you know where to find a good elephant at this time of night?”
“At the fraternity house?”
The doctor stroked his chin. “Possibly.”
“But sir, after the last elephant went missing, we drove back and forth down fraternity row all night. We didn't see or hear any elephants.”
As Dr. Sampson pondered this reminded information, Juan suddenly appeared from behind Eduardo. Apparently, he had been standing there the entire time. “Sir, I hope you don’t mind me speaking out of turn...”
“No,” Dr. Sampson assured him, “it is your turn.”
“It’s just,” Juan continued, “there was an awful lot of blood in the elephant pen, along with broken pieces of tusk and part of a tail...”
It was probably shedding,” Dr. Sampson said, “you know, making room for its winter tusks and tails. You don’t honestly think something ate a giant elephant?” He laughed again. “This is a zoo. Not some crazy place filled with wild animals."
“And the blood?” Eduardo asked.
“Yes, of course, by all means clean up the blood.” Dr. Sampson put on his glasses and went back to his skunk report.
“Dr. Sampson,” Eduardo replied indignantly. “I am a true Spaniard, not some lowly Mexican.” He tilted his head toward Juan. “In my country I hold twelve degrees. I should not have to clean up animal blood.”
Juan rolled his eyes. “I get it, Eduardo. You’re the conqueror, I’m the conquered. That doesn't mean I should have to clean up all the messes.”
Eduardo fired a devastating glare in Juan’s direction. “How many degrees do you have, Juan?”
“I have two degrees, Eduardo. What difference does that make?”
“It makes all the difference, Juan.”
“Wait, are you counting high school?”
“Yes, of course. I count everything.”
“So, if you graduated from first grade, does that count as one of your degrees?” Juan asked.
“Of course it does. I have the certificate at home on my refrigerator, along with the rest.”
“Are the rest from grades two through twelve?” Juan asked.
“Yes, they are all there. Eleven plus my GED.”
“Wait, you didn’t graduate high school? I’m working on my doctorate.”
“You’re working on your what?” Eduardo asked.
Juan turned to Dr. Sampson. “Wait, is he getting paid more than me?”
Dr. Sampson removed his glasses. “We need to stay focused. Those frat boys have been stealing our elephants, and we have to stop them. Are you with me?”
Juan and Eduardo looked at each other and shrugged.
“Good,” said Samson. (The doctor’s first name was Samson.) “I have a plan.”
Twenty minutes later, Eduardo and Juan were firmly ensconced in an elephant costume. There had been some debate as to which of them should play the part of the elephant’s hind quarters--Eduardo had maintained that a man with twelve degrees should not have to serve in such a low capacity, while Juan countered that by Eduardo’s rationale he actually possessed fourteen degrees, two more degrees than Eduardo, and if you counted each year of education as a degree, as Eduardo apparently did, then Juan actually held something like eighteen degrees, six degrees beyond his Spanish compatriot. Eduardo had no choice but to dress as an elephant’s butt.
The trap was set. Just before Dr. Sampson pushed them into the Elephant pen, he gave them one last piece of advice. “Be careful,” he said. “It’s a zoo out there. I mean, it’s a zoo in here too, since this is part of the same complex. It’s a zoo all around here.” With that, he closed the door. There was nothing to do but wait.
Finding a well-lit area with a clear view of the elephant pen, Dr. Sampson settled down to read his report. “I think we should order more porcupines,” he said to himself.
Back in the pen, the two men tried to act as an elephant would, only there was some disagreement as to what sound an elephant makes exactly, with Juan patiently explaining that elephants make a sound similar to a trumpet’s blare, while Eduardo felt pretty sure they went moo. They argued about this for a while, until Juan gradually became aware of a strange noise coming toward them.”
“Wait a second, do you hear that?”
“What?” Eduardo asked.
“It sounds like a small rip in the space-time continuum, followed by the low growl of a very large predator lizard.”
Slowly, Juan removed his head, while even slowlier, Eduardo removed his butt. What they saw caused Juan to pee his pants and Eduardo to pee on the ground, since he was not wearing pants. (This had been another source of disagreement in the elephant suit.)
Suddenly, out of nowhere, an enormous set of glowing spiked teeth snapped shut between them like a bear trap. They screamed and ran in opposite directions, giving pause to whatever it was that was trying to eat them. Whatever it was had never seen an elephant divide in two, giving Juan and Eduardo just enough time to escape.
“Was anyone hurt?”the scowling owner of the zoo (whose name was Mr. Simpson) asked Dr. Sampson later that night.
“No, thank God,” Dr. Sampson answered. “Except for that one security guard who was eaten.”
“What was it?” Mr. Simpson asked.
“I only saw a flash of light. Eduardo and Juan saw the whole thing, but they’re not talking.”
It was true. Both men sat in the middle of the floor, shivering and holding each other. Neither man said a word.
“There’s one thing I know for sure,” Dr. Sampson said. “That was no frat boy.”
* * *
Just outside the gates of the zoo, Alan Stimpson of the Theta Tau Omega house, joined his brother Tom in his cherry red Porsche turbo. He closed the door behind him and stared at the windshield.
“Well,” Tom said, “Did you get it?”
Alan slowly turned to his brother. “I just... I just...” He stopped and thought for a moment. “No, I didn't get it,” he said. “I saw something. I think it was... I think it may have been...”
“What? What was it?”
“It was a Rexapotomus.”
“You know, one of those Stego-rectologists.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Tom asked.
“Dude,” Alan said, “I think I just saw a dinosaur.”
“You’re drunk,” Tom said.
“Yeah,” Alan said.
“Dude, we should go get more beer,” Tom said.
“Hell yeah!” Alan said,
They laughed and drove away.