John A. Ward
He's a 200 pound turkey. My mother tells me not to ride the subway after dark. "Take a taxi," she says. Do I listen? No. Last week it was a wolverine. That was dicey.
"Why don't I ever meet a vixen?" I say.
"You don't like turkeys?"
"Sorry, I was thinking out loud."
"I wouldn't mind meeting a vixen myself," he says. "They're fun."
"You wouldn't? You're a turkey, wouldn't it be like a fox...," I bite my tongue.
"In the hen house? It's not like that at all. We're human, just like you, except for the mutant parts."
"So, you can have normal relations?"
"Only with other mutants. Plain vanilla humans feel funny around us, so we hang together. I know a peacock and a mouffette who are very happy together."
"A female skunk, they're good partners, but don't get them angry unless you keep a lot of tomatoes in the refrigerator." The train lurches to a stop at 137th Street and the turkey gets up. "It was nice talking to you. This is my stop. They have special night classes at City University, so we don't disturb the day students."
"What are you studying?"
"I didn't think that turkeys could fly."
"Wild turkeys can. Domesticated Butterballs are too heavy. I'm minoring in physical education to get rid of this." He pats his belly.
"That's very ambitious."
He is replaced by an attractive black female with a white forelock. She sits opposite me, crosses her legs, opens a book and flips through the pages. It is titled, Skunks Do More Than Stink by D.M. Souza.
She's not a vixen, but the turkey said skunks are good partners and my relations with vanilla women haven't been going well lately.
"Is that a good book?" I say.
"For four year olds," she says. "I'm studying early childhood education."
"I used to teach, not elementary school, high school."
"You don't any more?"
"No, I changed to computer science. The kids were animals." I blanch as soon as I realize what I said.
She laughs, "Tell me about it. Don't worry, I know what you meant. People think they have to be careful what they say to mutants, but we're used to it. Besides, we're all animals, whether we accept it or not."
"Thank you for that," I say. "I like you. If you're finished with classes, may I buy you a cup of coffee?"
"So we can get to know each other?" she says.
"Something like that."
"No thank you, it wouldn't work."
"Because I'm an animal."
"I might like that."
She closes her book, "Oh, all right, but do you have plenty of tomatoes?"
First published: February, 2006
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