Monday, April 02, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: Zoo Story

Patti Abbott has challenged folks again on the topic of the zoo: here's mine with apologies to Edward Albee and William Shakespeare and Bruce Robinson as well. So there.
Zoo Story

"So, this is the place."

"This? Why?"

"I thought it would be dramatic."

"Dramatic? Why? Wolf howls make it dramatic?"

"Not exactly. That scene was filmed here."

"What scene?"

"From the movie, you know the one."

"No. You mean…no. Which one?"

"The funny one, with those two guys and the drinking and—it's very funny. You liked it."

"It's not coming to mind."

"But there's that scene where he quotes from Shakespeare."

"Who does?"


"Cary Grant?"

"No, not Cary Grant. The other one."

"Hugh Grant?"

"No, whatsit—Richard! Richard A. Grant."

"Don't know him."

"You do! He was in that movie and in lots of other ones. Tall bloke, gaunt looking, theatrical. He was in the Spice Girls movie."

"What did he play?"

"I don't remember. Anyway that's not the point."

"What is the point?"

"He was giving that speech from Shakespeare, right here, by the wolves."

"What speech?"

"Oh, you know the one."

"Obviously I don't. 'Wherefore art thou, Romeo?'"

"No, not that one. The one with 'quintessence of dirt' in it. Oh, you know, it's a famous one. Macbeth maybe."

"No, not ringing any bells."

"About the nature of man…"

"All the world's a stage?"

"No, not that. Oh, you know it—I can't remember now. It was raining down and he was reciting it to the wolves."

"Why to the wolves?"

"Because they were there. His friend had gone."

"What was his friend's name? Maybe that will remind me."

"I can't remember his name. I'm not sure the friend ever gets named."

"In the whole movie? No one ever says, 'Hey whatsyername, answer that phone' or something like that?"

"No. I mean, I'm pretty sure. The film's from his point of view. They go see the uncle and he gives them the cottage and they go on holiday."

"Oh, yeah, I kind of remember that one."

"Anyway he has that speech—"

"He does? Or the other one?"

"The other one, all right. But he gives that speech at the end of the movie and his only audience is the wolves and it's very significant."


"Well, because he goes on to be a great actor and you can see it in that moment. It's the beginning of better things."


"So I thought it would be appropriate—"

"What's the speech again?"

"It's about man's place in the world, the sky above, the ground below and how grand it all is. Quintessence of dirt."

"What does that mean anyway?"

"Like the epitome of dirt, I guess."

"Wouldn't that be a bad thing though?"

"No, not really—I think you're missing the point. It's poetry like."

"But it must mean something. If you're the epitome of dirt, you're still dirt."

"But don't you see—I mean, it's Shakespeare. Poetry."

"Ironic, you mean?"

"Well, not necessarily ironic but poetic. What's the word? Metaphor."

"Metaphor? That's when you compare things?"

"Sort of."

"So, what? The wolves respond to metaphor? Oi, wolves! Metaphorse for me."

"You're thinking metamorphoses. That's changing."

"Evolving. What would wolves evolve into?"

"Don't change the subject."

"What was the subject? This stupid movie?"

"It's not the movie, it's the speech."

"What about it anyway? You can't even remember what Shakespeare it's from."

"The play isn't important."

"The play's the thing—isn't that Shakespeare too?"

"Probably. But what I was saying—"

"Every famous quote comes from Shakespeare, doesn't it? Why is that?"

"I don't know. But the speech—"

"All the world's a stage, the play's the thing, the face that launched a thousand ships…"

"Yeah, but what I wanted to say—"

"Are they all from Hamlet? No some must be from comedies. Wait, Hamlet—that's the one. It comes from there."

"What does?"

"Your speech."

"Right, that's it. I'm sure it is. And the reason I—"

"Lots of good ones come from that play—isn't it bad luck to say the name? 'Bare bodkin': we always had a giggle at that one in school."

"Look, I wanted to say—"

"And there's a joke about privates, too. Miss, we'd say, could you read that part again, we didn't understand it. Hilarious!"

"Never mind that. I was talking about—"

"Do you suppose writers do that on purpose? Put in jokes like that?"

"I don't know. I don't care."

"What was that?"


"That little box you threw into the pen."


"Look, that wolf is trying to eat it. What is it?"

"Nothing. Never mind. Let's go have a drink."

"You're funny today."

"Yeah. Maybe Shakespeare wrote me."

"Ha, that's funny. So what was that box?"

"Nothing. Nothing at all."


pattinase (abbott) said...

This utterly brilliant. Loved it. Thanks so much. Richard Grant is the one I never can think of too.

K. A. Laity said...

Thanks, Patti! It was fun to write. Glad to be a part of the meme. Now to check out the others.

Todd Mason said...

I can hear it in the voices of Pete and Dud...good show.

K. A. Laity said...

Well, considering it's a couple who almost but didn't quite get engaged, that's interesting...

Todd Mason said...

Hm...what's your point, there? (Stage wink.)

Todd Mason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd Mason said...

(Which is to say, I read it too quickly, and didn't tie going onto the better things with the potential of a boxed gift...)

K. A. Laity said...

And I thought I was losing my touch there! Funny because I have a very Pete and Dud sort of project that's looming on the horizon.

Todd Mason said...

Not losing touch, though not quite enough establishment of who's who here. (I, however, am null-marriage ritual, and have rarely if ever come across so pompous an individual (On To Better Things!) who couldn't be bothered to speak plainly about their desire...the tact might gibe with the conceit, but rarely so.

John said...

Withnail and I! Great flick. This was fantastic! Like a Tom Stoppard play for radio. I attempted to do 100% dialogue in mine but I didn't like the way it was turning out. This is how to do 100% dialogue.

Interesting that wolves and primates are the most often featured animals in these stories. A Jungian collective thing going on?

K. A. Laity said...

Thanks, John. Hmmmm -- I'm not surprised at apes; they seem to come up as the way a lot of writers use them as the most outwardly similar animals to us in order to emphasise our difference. I have wolves on the brain lately, so that's my excuse. Maybe it's just the people Patti runs with! ;-)

Yvette said...

I hope the ring didn't cost too much. :) I do like stories told in dialogue very much. This was a lot of fun.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Kate-Could you email me? I want to ask you a question about hotels in Galway (if you know of any) and don't have your email for some reason. Mine is

K. A. Laity said...

Thanks, Yvette -- I think it's an indication I should get to that script that's been asking to be written.

Patti, I emailed you. :-)

Thomas Pluck said...

I love the wordplay. Very well done!

K. A. Laity said...

Aw, cheers and thanks, Thomas.

sandra seamans said...

Nicely done! I love all dialogue stories especially when the authors make them work as well as this one.

K. A. Laity said...

Sandra, you are very kind. I am still reeling a bit from John comparing one of my idols, Tom Stoppard, but I have to say, I'm really going to be quite big headed this week with all the praise!

Rob Kitchin said...

Great dialogue. I like the fact that I have two scenes going in my head - the one from the movie, and the one discussing the movie

K. A. Laity said...

Thanks, Rob. That was how it felt while I was writing it, too. Very enjoyable :-)