Healing through story

Tag: zoo

shortfiction24 – the goat movie

What I’m Writing This Week

Jack and Diane are back. Jack reaches out, tries his humor on a distraught Diane. This is the pair’s fifth appearance on shortfiction24. The characters continue to talk to me.

The Goat Movie

Bob Gillen

Tears ran down Diane Somers’s face as she sipped the last of her breakfast coffee. A single photo lay unframed on the kitchen table. A picture of her late husband, Frank, a huge grin spread across his face, poised to blow out birthday candles. Their daughter Margaret sat at his side. A memorable occasion, only six weeks before Frank’s deadly heart attack. 

Diane pushed the photo aside. Three years gone. Frank…and Margaret. Frank dead, Margaret estranged from her mother. 

Her phone chirped. A text from Jack Marin. Want to see a movie tonight?

Diane hesitated, then replied, What’s playing?

A text came back. A star-studded feature: Billy Idol, Billie Eilish, Billie Holiday, Billy Elliot and Billy Porter starring in the barnyard classic ‘What’s Got Your Goat’? 

Diane stared at the phone. What the hell? She dialed Jack, rather than deal with typing on the phone.

“Hi,” Jack said. “The goat movie sound interesting?”

“I don’t get it.”

“Goats? Billy goats?”

She smiled in spite of herself. “Okay. Sorry, you caught me at a bad time.”

“Should I call later?”

“No, no. It’s fine. Did you stay up all night thinking of that?”

“Nope. I have a notebook filled with these. Been writing them for years. Did you ever watch the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson?”

“Some. He was not a favorite of mine.”

“Yeah…well I always loved his character Art Fern. Remember? Art Fern and the Tea Time Movie?”


“Girl, your education has sadly been lacking.”

“A matter of opinion…boy.”

Jack snorted. “Okay, I’ll drop it for now…but you may hear more where that came from.”

“Save it, Jack.”

“Listen, if you’re not up to a movie, we could spend a few hours at the zoo. I have a friend who works there. I can get free tickets.”

“Probably not…not today, Jack.” Diane reached for a paper napkin as tears began to flow again.

Jack pushed on. “Yeah, okay. My friend’s a vet. Does a lot of work with the LA Zoo.”

A pause while Diane hesitated to react. 

“He treats mostly the elephants. They seem prone to some kind of skin condition.”

“Jack, don’t.”

“Honest. His business card reads, Pachydermatologist.”

Diane moaned. “I see what you did there…and it hurt.”

“Hey, you throw enough on the wall, some of it will stick.”

Diane took a deep breath, dabbed at stray tears. “Was there a real reason you texted?”

“Actually…yeah. Thinking of you and reaching out.”

“Thanks, Jack. That’s nice.”

“How about dinner tonight? I’d offer to cook for you, but I know you’re skittish about moving too fast.”

“Dinner would be great. How about something light? Maybe a sandwich and salad somewhere.”

“Done. Can I pick you up…or would you rather meet there?”

“Let’s meet there. Wherever ‘there’ is.”

“How about that bistro place at the promenade? They make a good sandwich. Lots of outdoor seating too.”

“See you there at six.”

Diane put her phone down. Her gaze returned to Frank’s photo. You’ve been gone for three years now…please help me understand why Margaret refuses to talk to me. She won’t take any calls from me. It’s killing me, Frank. She’s all I have left.

She reached for a Post-It pad from the counter, pulled off a tab and stuck it over Margaret’s face on the photo. This comes off when you call me.


shortfiction24 – a visit to the zoo

A boy visits the zoo with his dad to see his favorite animals: the gorillas and the gazebos.

Welcome to my first story of the new year. A fun piece I hope you enjoy. Much more short fiction to come throughout the year.

Giraffes, Gazelles and Gazebos

Bob Gillen

The boy tugged at his dad’s hand as they passed through the gate and stepped inside the zoo. 

“I want to see the gorillas first,” the boy said.

“Let me check the directory,” the dad said. He steered them towards a large display alongside the path. 

“There’s a gorilla,” the boy pointed. “See the picture. That must be where they are.”

The dad nodded. “Right you are. It’s down this way.”

The two headed down a path crowded with people coming and going. “Lots of people here today,” the dad said.

“No worries,” the boy said. “We can deal.”

The dad smiled. That’s my kid!

When they reached the gorilla exhibit, there was a line to get in. A long line. “Do you want to wait?” the dad asked. “This could be a while.”

“It’s the only thing I want to see.” The boy looked around. “Gorillas…and the gazebos.”

“The what?”

“The gazebos. Mommy said be sure to visit the gazebos.”

“That’s not an animal.”

“Yes, it is. Mommy said. She told me you would know where they were.”

The dad peered at his son.

“Do you mean giraffes? Or gazelles?”

“She said gazebos.”

“Am I missing something?”

The line moved ahead just a bit.

“We were reading my gorilla book last night when I went to bed. She said there were wonderful gazebos here. We should visit them.”

The dad crouched down eye to eye with his son. “Gazebos are not animals.”

“Yes they are. Mommy said.”

“Do you remember the last time we went to the park…for the Fourth of July picnic?”

Credit: HGTV


“Remember there was a band that played music before the fireworks?”

The boy nodded.

“The band sat in a white covered platform…like an open shelter.”

The boy squinted. “I think I remember.”

“That was a gazebo. There are lots of them in parks all around our city.”

The boy shook his head. “Mommy said the gazebos at the zoo were special. She said you would know.”

The line moved forward. They were close to the entrance now.

The dad pulled out his phone and began texting. 

“Who are you texting?” the boy asked.

“Your mom. I’m confused.”

“She said you would know.”

What’s this about gazebos? He wants to see one.

A reply came though right away. The gazebo at the zoo’s picnic area. Remember, the one where you proposed to me?

Oh shit. Yeah, just checking.


Gotta go. We’re entering the gorrilla enclosure. He stuffed his phone back in his pocket.

“What did mommy say?”

“The gazebo here is the place where I asked her to marry me.”


“It’s a special place. That’s why mom talked about it.”

The boy looked at his dad. “But it’s not an animal?”


“Okay.” He tugged at his dad’s arm. “Then we can spend more time with the gorillas.”

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