the zoo got a komodo dragon
shipped in straight from Indonesia.
I saw it on TV.
They’re calling him “Sean.”
I think it’s kind of sick
to take that kind of beast
and give him a name like “Sean.”
If I had a body like that
and was stuck with a name like that,
I’d sure as hell bite the hand that fed me.
I wonder what the other komodos would think
if they heard that he was being called “Sean” now.
This lizard’s got the strength of ten men,
he’s itching to get back to Jakarta.
He sees the zookeepers— the bastards—
and the dragon inside him wants to knock the eyebrows off their faces,
and poison the burnt coffee that they drink every morning
during their first cigarette break.
The only thing stopping him is the six-pound clubs
that they keep dangling from their belts.
They said on TV that komodo dragons are venomous and will hide behind rocks for hours until a gazelle or something gets near them and then they reach out and strike and with one bite they’ve taken down a whole damn gazelle.
I went and saw the lizard last night, after hours.
I used to have a friend who worked at the zoo,
he told me how to sneak in without making the alarms go off.
Even without the alarms, I got a little tense.
I spent fifteen minutes hiding behind a trash can after I got in,
just to make sure the coast was clear,
and started cramping up after three minutes of crouching.
I was surrounded by pieces of stained napkins that didn’t quite make it
into the can.
Seeing the zoo at night
put me on edge.
It’s like the animals know you’re not supposed to be there
and I got afraid that one of the antelopes would cry for help or something.
I was checking behind my back the entire way to Sean’s.
His place was humid and dark, and stunk like raw meat in the desert.
I wrestled that damn dragon for nearly half an hour before he got comfortable with me.
The next day, I’ve got Sean on a leash, and we’re walking down Sunset Boulevard together.
He’s a lot slower than the TV made it seem, and he’s walking about four feet behind me the entire time.
I see some kids laughing, so I look behind me to check on Sean.
This is the first time I really see him in daylight,
the zoo was so damn dark I couldn’t get a good glimpse of him.
He looks different than he did on TV.
He has little hands and walks like my grandad.
So I drop the leash and he runs into an alleyway.
I’m not letting some lizard make me look like a kook.
Connor Crowley is a fourth-year student at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He studies mathematics and creative writing, focusing primarily on creative nonfiction. His writing often explores the mundane and characters who have odd relationships with the public eye. He is currently working on a choose-your-own-adventure novel and spending quality time with his unruly pet rats.