“Millionaire’s Bestiary,” by Brittany Shutts

Aug 20th, 2013 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Vicugna pacos

Everywhere I go, my alpacas come with me. How many alpacas can fit into a car? I can tell you from experience that the answer is five, unless an alpaca is driving. Unlike children, taking alpacas to the supermarket is enchanting. They want to help me reach the highest box of breadcrumbs and offer the ripest bunch of bananas pinched between their toes. With gentle nodding, they encourage me to select the high-fiber cereal for my health. When my crew of beatific quadrupeds parades the sidewalk behind me, people turn their heads and smile. Cheeky children reevaluate their Christmas lists and tug daddy’s arm. My enemies from high school cannot disguise their envy.

Sciurus carolinensis                                                                         

This expertly-trained team of squirrels will assist me in carrying out complicated plots of revenge against those who have wronged me. I procured them from a government auction. To the kids from the track team who glued my cheek to school bus window: you’d better watch your backs. My squirrels will gnaw holes in your boxer briefs and redirect the hands on your clocks as sleep your dreamless sleep. Together they will move your ottoman two inches to the left so that you are aware that something is different but you don’t know what it is until you trip over an ottoman. You will begin to think that someone is sabotaging your life, but who would do a thing like that?

Carassius auratus auratus

First of all, everything you’ve ever heard about the goldfish brain is a lie. If you spent your life in a glass bowl with an eight-inch diameter, your cognitive capacities would be limited as well. We must think of the brain as a muscle. My goldfish are provided with constant stimulation in the form of Sudoku puzzles, Latin lessons, and critical reading. Anna Karenina is currently pressed against their bowl. They are weeping. Their expanding brains are bulging though the scales on their heads like pink cauliflower. On Thursday, they will learn neuroscience.

Homo sapiens

The woman across the street probably assumes that I’m using these binoculars to observe the desert habitat outside of my home, but I am actually watching her unclothe. Her breasts are glistening – perhaps some trick of the sun’s angle and her freshly applied lotion. I try to think of ways, within the bounds of legality, to persuade her into my abode. I will give her a condor, the noblest of endangered birds. I doubt her husband has ever given her a condor. From my window I fantasize apocalyptic situations that would force us to repopulate the Earth together, my favorite of which involves a storm and an ark.

Giraffa camelopardalis

Those with second story windows should never share a home with giraffes. Those with any desire for privacy should also never share a home with giraffes. Above all, I must remember to close my blinds during intimate moments because there is nothing more jarring than seeing a smug giraffe face pressed against the window screen mid-coitus. Giraffes are judgmental and gossipy. They think they’re above everyone else. They forget who cares for them and shelters them and provides them with a striking simulation of the African savannah. I will sell this giraffe to the first person who makes me an offer.

Octopus vulgaris

The woman with glistening breasts ran out wrapped in my bed sheet when she learned the octopus had escaped. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to contain something with no rigid skeletal structure. A trail of splattered water leads from the tank to the ventilation system. Duplicitous cephalopod, it gladly organized my geodes just yesterday! The heat is turned up to one hundred degrees. I am waiting at the open vent with a harpoon and a sushi mat.

Gymogyps californianus

The condor is on my porch with a note in its beak, its cage swaddled in a sheet like an abandoned infant. I detect the citrusy scent of her lotion as well as condor urine. The note reads, What exactly am I supposed to do with an ugly bird? The scavenger that I am, I bring it inside and make it useful pecking up the strands of charred tentacle embedded in the carpet. I hear no shrieks of emotional trauma vibrating through its syrinx, but I know that condors are stoics. They are unlikely to wear their profound feelings on their proverbial sleeves. Nevertheless, of all the endangered birds of prey, the noble condor is the most sensitive to rejection.

Ara ararauna                                 

The aphorisms of a parrot can only be measured by the wit of their master and these birds are a flawless mirror of my complex mental world. I hook them up to Bluetooth headsets and let them answer my phone calls. I will never have to speak to anyone again.


Defenestration-Brittany ShuttsBrittany Shutts lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York, with a pair of neurotic cats and a charming, bearded fellow. Her stories have appeared in PANK Magazine and The Golden Triangle. She also blog about adventures, chocolate, and why everyone should be wary of nematodes at ThePersonalAutopsy.blogspot.com.

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