Goleo walked out rapidly from the Betty Ford Clinic To Rehabilitate Disturbed LIons (BFCRDL) , into the bright sunshine. His was a flight into the world called Reality and he cantered fast. His eyes alighted on an ad for assistants to the Siegfried and Roy show. It was in Las Vegas: The Bellagio, Ceaser’s Palace, Drive By Weddings, The Center Of The Universe, the Graveyard Of Gamblers, The Spluttzmah of the Groomah, The Wershyfiggyshicz of the Whasahsahawshsooohhoooooooh, the Likkensplitzshitz of the Ruttinggggmeshamathorn. And so on. And what could be better, he thought, “Then be a lion in the Siefgried and Roy show.” Except for a leprechaun in a Lenny Bruce show. Or thereabouts.
And off he gambolled into a par avion that took him to Las Vegas post haste. He was heralded into a room that was darkened everywhere except the middle that was ablaze with lights that shone on a podium. And sitting on it was Siegfried and Roy. Every ion of their body was lit. Every pore rendered translucent. It was them and no other. They spoke in sibilant monosyllables. “We.” Pause .”Have doubts”. Pause. “Existential ones.” Applause. Join your paws.
Goleo presented them with his certificate from the psychologist at BFCRDL, stating low self-esteem and the Stockholm Syndrome. He said that on his passage to Germany, he gave freely to the poacher the addresses of other lions, moved by his story of penury and testicular injury. It was a swipe on his loins that made him do this, bemoaned the poacher, as he spat out his story. It hit Goleo. Hard. And he fell for it. He understood the revenge motif as he assured Siegfried and Roy that he was willing to roll over and put his neck on the line and be absolutely reasonable about it. At this, Siegfried and Roy both flinched. Roy more or less, depending on the part moved.
But something was not quite right. And Goleo strode upto the podium and stuck his paw into Siegfried’s nose, expecting him to sneeze. It did not happen because they were pixels. And so with his face and his neck and the rest of his appendages. And Roy was the same. All pixels. Waaaaassssssuuuuupppppp?
And then came a stentorian voice, “Siegfried and Roy have moved on and are seeking assistants for their tranquilizer and botox industry.They have moved out of the tiger business.”
But he was a lion. A noble one. Did they not understand? Alas, it was not to be, and not one of his entreaties created a ripple or creased a furrow on the brow of Siegfried and Roy. He wandered out again and exhaled a sigh of frustration. The Berlin wall fell. And out came pell mell, broad shouldered people with flowing mustaches, hoarse voices, wearing grey dungarees-it was the East German women’s swimming team: Kornelia Enders, Kristin Otto, Barbara Krause, and others…..all 20000 of them. It was awesome. Kornelia Enders became Barry Bonds. With regular shaves and a bad attitude.
Goleo felt ill at ease. People all around him were finding their groove and yet he himself did not know what to do. Disconsolate, he wandered into Kaiserslautern stadium, and watched a soccer game between Bayern Munich and the Rest of the World. It was Illegal Immigrant Night and the first 100 immigrants got a token to the Naturalization counter and a waiver from the German INS. The rest of them were arrested and deported to Turkey. And as he watched a free kick taken, the ball whizzed past him and suddenly as it was tailing off, it winked at him. Goleo was agog. What busy ball was this, travelling at 75 mph, had the time to look up and wink at a lion sitting in Kaiserslautern? He was intrigued and after the match was over, went looking for the ball. He found it lying on a bench covered by a moth eaten blanket, wheezing, short of breath, looking deflated. It explained to Goleo that playing in matches was a part-time gig. He filled in for the regulars. In the evening he became part of the German welfare largesse and collected unemployment benefits. It introduced himself as Pille in a whispery voice. Goleo was touched, he felt that he had found a soulmate. And Pille felt the same too. But in a a disturbing start to the friendship, Pille took out a syringe and told Goleo to shoot him up. Goleo was hesitant, his previous best friend was now a drug mule. And here was a stranger asking his help to shoot up. Pille was adamant, it made him complete he said. And so Goleo not willing to lose a friend, with a shudder inserted the syringe into Pille’s portal, closed his eyes, said a prayer, pulled out and pushed in the plunger.
Pille whiinnied and harrumphed in pleasure. And lo and behold, within a few strokes, it was a glowing and full Pille. Bouncy and rambunctious. He urged Goleo to explore the world with him. And Goleo felt wanted and loved. At last. He was part of the game.
In the next part: Pille’s story.
To read previous Goleo and Pille, here is Part I and Part II