Asher smooshed his cheeks against the lollipop sticky bars to get a better look at the wild boar. He sniffed loudly, and even still, a slimy trickle of mucous coated the area between his upper lip and nose. Some of the slime oozed down his bottom lip and salty curdle blossomed throughout his mouth. His eyes were no longer dewy but almost matte in the chilly cloudless day. The sunlight seeped over his skin and its weak warmth shielded him from shivering in his light sweatshirt.
The wild boars seemed enormous compared with his visions of Pumba. The boar stood perhaps four feet from the ground. It’s tusks were mottled with the stringy wrappings of dried vegetation. Coarse brown hair swept along the fields of its back as it grunted, its soft petal nose sniffing its way closer to the bars as it waited for bait of half eaten candy-bars and street fair. Heat dripped from its nostrils, dripping onto the sloping embankment near the wall of the enclosure. It’s eyes were neither warm nor cold, just as the haunted ivory tusks bore no mother’s care nor the protection of a firearm.
Asher rubbed his nose with the back of a tiny hand. He heard Ms. Aimee call his name in a tinny French accent but he ignored her and stooped to the hard concrete sidewalk. Grits and sandpaper stones dug into his knees.
He scrutinized the beast, his lip curled up to his wet nose and his eyes squinting. The boar snorted, stepping closer. Its beady black eyes stared at him, and the way the ditch of the enclosure sank, the beasts head sat just under Asher’s. It’s breath smelled dull, of acorns, moss, roots, and scraps of fried chicken, hotdogs, and plastic bags.
A tangled bush of curly blonde hair blocked the face of the child who had joined Asher at the bars.
“Its not that bad.”
“Yeah it is—it smells like when Scooter threw up cat poop.”
Asher hadn’t wasted time learning many names in the weeks he’d lived at Covenfeld, but he knew the name of the yappy rat terrier who loved licking faces and nipping ankles and the mahogany sideboards of the home. He had overheard one night, as he sat on the floor next to the wall of his room picking at the pine tree wallpaper that furled in on itself just above the heating vent, older kids swearing and chasing a scurrying pounding sound of claws entertained and annoyed by its incessant barking. Asher liked that dog. It was a rescue. Kindof like him.
“Or maybe like Aimee’s chicken casserole, if a monkey pooped on it, ate it and pooped it out again and then Scooter ate it with the cat poop and threw all of that up,” the blonde boy said, eyes shining at the very thought and shaking a rounded clammy fist.
“I’ve smelled worse.”
“The monster that killed Mom and Dad smelled way worse. Like Eating a toad, or a trashcan or vegetables or girls or—”
Asher sighed. “Or poop.” The blond boy’s freckles brightened and he smiled, showing empty sockets where his front teeth should be.
“You saw a monster?” he said, wide eyed at Asher.
“ Yeah, I’m trying to find it. I’m gonna kill it!”
The Blond kid perked up and he scouted the perimeter, checking for the monster, expecting it to come barreling forth to surprise them both.
“Can I help?” the kid said, eyes wide.
“Is that it?” the kid said, pointing at the giant boar shuffling in the long grass, urinating as it did. Asher frowned, pursing his lips.
“I thought so, but then I saw its face and I don’t think so now.”
“Oh…” the kid looked put out. “How do you know?”
“Cause its too short and its nose is the wrong shape.”
“Boys!” shouted a third voice that hinted towards a foreign origin. The blonde boys looked at each other.
“We should follow Aimee.”
“Yeah, I need to pee.”
“Then we can look more for your monster?”
“To kill it?”
The boys started towards the parade of foster children following Ms. Aimee like a tribe of ducklings. Asher turned towards the boy as they walked.
“Do you think Ms. Aimee will take us to the gift shop now?”
©2014 Lex Vex