Harden Animal Reserve - Next Day


"Bring the crate in here," Theo Harden ordered.

Two muscular men carried in a large brown crate. The whimpers of the frightened infant gorilla locked in the crate echoed throughout the hallways of the center building at the Harden Animal Reserve.

"Ah he's a beauty. He'll fetch a good price when he gets older," Juan Vector, Theo's 'top man' said.

"Yes, he is a beauty, straight from Africa too," Theo said puffing away on his cigarette as he leaned down and peered at the infant through the cracks of the crate.

He blew cigarette smoke in the infant's face causing the infant to scream in fear as it edged against the crack.

"Feisty little fellow," Theo chuckled.

"Where do you want to put him?" Juan asked.

"Put him in the little exhibit with the other two infants," Theo replied.

"Alright. Bring the crate," Juan instructed the two men.

"Mr. Harden, there's a call for you on line two," James, Theo's caretaker, said coming down the hallway.

"Thank you James," Theo said walking into his office and picking up the phone.

"This is Theo Harden speaking," Theo said into the phone.

"Dad?" the voice on the other line said.

"Ah Lewis, where are you?" Theo asked taking another draw from his stubby cigarette.

"I'm leaving work right now. My friend Joey is going to bring me over," Lewis said.

"Good, I already have everything set for you here," Theo said smiling.

"O-kay, I'll be there soon," Lewis said hanging up the phone.

"So what did he say?" Joey asked Lewis as they climbed into his little volts wagon just outside of McDonalds.

"He just said that he's got everything set for me," Lewis sighed as he strapped on his seatbelt.

"Maybe it'll be cool working at an animal reserve," Joey said as he started the engine.

"I'm just not really into animals all that much. I wish dad would just let me make my own decisions," Lewis said.

"He will in time," Joey said trying to sound reassuring.

"I mean how am I ever going to spread my wings or whatever if he won't let me make a few choices on my own?" Lewis said rolling his eyes.

"It'll all work out in the end man," Joey said as they neared the animal reserve.

The Harden Animal Reserve was not too big in capacity. Theo had kept it small for unknown reasons. Passing through two big iron gates Joey and Lewis entered the reserve. Joey parked the car and gave Lewis a friendly pat on the back.

"Everything's going to be alright," he said.

"Thanks," Lewis said climbing out of the car.

As Joey drove away Lewis stood in the middle of the parking lot and sighed.

"Okay, I can do this," he said taking a deep breath.

Walking through the reserve to his father's office, Lewis saw several giraffes grazing in their exhibit. But as he passed by one small exhibit his attention was captured by three little balls of black fur sitting amongst the green grass chewing on leaves and other vegetation. Slowly Lewis approached the exhibit and leaned against the fence. He peered down at three infant gorillas and an adult female gorilla. He watched as the infants clung to one another, as if afraid.

"Beautiful," was the only word that escaped from Lewis' mouth before he knew what he was saying.

"Yes they are," a man's voice said from behind him.

Startled Lewis turned to see a short and stocky man dressed in kakis and a white polo shirt smiling.

"You must be Lewis, Theo's boy," the man said coming to stand beside Lewis.

"Yeah, I'm…Lewis," Lewis replied.

"It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Juan Vector, your father's assistant, or in his words 'top man'," Juan smiled.

"How old are they?" Lewis said turning his attention back to the infant gorillas.

"Oh about a year old," Juan said.

"Why do they look so…sad?" Lewis asked.

"Well they're still trying to get over the loss of their mothers. But in time they'll be back to their playful selves," Juan said glancing suspiciously at Lewis.

"You like them don't you," Juan nodded towards the gorillas.

"Yeah," Lewis said.

"Maybe we can get you a job feeding them and doing other things with them if you want too," Juan suggested.

"That'd be cool," Lewis replied.

"Come on, I'll take you to your father's office. He's expecting you," Juan said turning and leading the way down the concrete walkway that led through the reserve.

Lewis took one last glance at the gorillas and smiled, then caught up with Juan.

To Be Continued…