by J. A. Buxton
What is there to fear about the UPS man?
|â€śHey, Charlie, UPS guyâ€™s here.â€ť Marlene shouted up to the roof where her balding, 53-year-old, slightly overweight husband was trying to replace some loose shingles.
Charlie yelled back, sweaty and sticky from working all Monday on a hot roof. â€śWell, what do you want me to do about it?â€ť Charlie watched Marlene take a small box from the handsome UPS man, who was smiling widely at the voluptuous woman in front of him.
Marlene, who just turned 22 but looking more like a jail-bait 16-year-old, was wearing only the bottom of a skimpy bikini. Seeing the look on the UPS manâ€™s face, Charlie called out, â€śFor crying out loud, Marlene, put your top back on!â€ť
Ignoring her husbandâ€™s order, Marlene waited until the truck disappeared down the street before opening the box. Her scream startled Charlie enough for him to lose his balance and slide, yelling at the top of his lungs, off the roof to land on the ground with arms outstretched. Racing toward him was a tiny Pygmy Marmoset monkey, which jumped into his hand and looked fearlessly into his eyes.
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â€śOh, sweetie, you did remember my birthday. Sorry I screamed, but I wasnâ€™t expecting this.â€ť In truth, Marlene had been hoping for jewelry, not an animal.
Charlie decided to keep his mouth shut when he realized he had, in fact, forgotten her birthday. He hoped the person who was supposed to get the monkey would forgive him.
Tuesday afternoon, the UPS truck again arrived at Charlieâ€™s house. This time, the driver braked quickly and practically shoved the box into Charlieâ€™s surprised hands. When he put it on the ground and opened the top, out popped the ugliest creature Charlie had ever seen, next to his mother-in-law, of course.
The animal ran for the nearby bushes since it was a nocturnal creature and uncomfortable being out during the day. Shaking his head in puzzlement, Charlie read the two addresses on the box. The return one was smudged and unreadable, but he was able to see the UPS driver had made a delivery mistake. â€śStupid man,â€ť muttered Charlie, â€śthis should go to the zoo at 101 Crescent Circle, not here at 101 Crescent Drive.â€ť
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Charlie decided to let the aardvark alone, for thatâ€™s what it was, and went inside to call the local zoo. After leaving an exasperated message for them to pick up their monkey and aardvark, he went to search for his young wife. â€śCanâ€™t have her scared out of her wits by that creature.â€ť
Wednesday afternoon, the noise coming from the UPS truck could be heard all the way down the block. Shrill bird cries filled the air, and Charlie winced when he saw neighbors coming out of their homes to see what the commotion was all about. Heâ€™d already had a run-in with Chuck from next door about the smell coming from the bushes between their homes. Try to explain about an aardvark with a case of the runs to a knucklehead like Chuck! As he was thinking this, Charlie absently took the box from the glaring UPS man and walked back into his home. Again, he noted the smudged return address and the correct one for the local zoo.
When he opened the box, out came a multi-colored parrot. It flew around and around the room before finding an open window and escaping to freedom. The sound of raucous cries was heard until it finally perched high up on Chuckâ€™s roof.
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Two more calls to the local zoo went unanswered, and by now Charlie was alone in his home. After stumbling on the sleeping aardvark the day before, Marlene left to stay with her mother. She was screaming at her husband as she drove away with the monkey.
Thursday arrived along with a much larger truck. Two uniformed UPS men got out and pulled a huge cage from the back of the brown truck. Angry roars broke the silence of the afternoon, and black paws ending in extended claws reached out through the thick bars.
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When Charlie saw the snarling panther staring out at him, he decided to put his foot down. â€śHey, guys, youâ€™re delivering these to the wrong address. They go to the zoo, not here.â€ť However, he found he was speaking to empty air. He helplessly watched the truck, with the two men inside, race away from him. The truck rapidly disappeared out of sight with only a stream of exhaust fumes left behind.
Not being a completely foolish man, Charlie wisely left the cage on his front lawn. For the rest of the day and way into the night, the panther screamed his fury and was answered by all the dogs in the neighborhood. Even after midnight, lights were on in every house up and down the street. Charlieâ€™s phone never stopped ringing. Every neighbor around him called to complain not only about the noise of the panther, but the smell of increasing excrement from both the aardvark and the multi-colored parrot.
Maybe I shouldnâ€™t have put food out for them, thought Charles. I wonder, though, if that panther would enjoy a tasty parrot or crunchy aardvark for breakfast?
At sunrise on Friday, Charlie began leaving messages at the zoo every half hour. When he had not heard back from them by mid afternoon, he couldnâ€™t stop pacing nervously inside his home. If he stepped outside, the noise from the caged panther, the parrot now up on his own roof, and the smell from the various creatures quickly drove him back inside. At this point, he no longer was answering his neighborâ€™s phone calls. His answering machine was filled with their angry messages and only beeped with each new call.
At 2 p.m., Charlie started to really be afraid of what could be inside the next UPS truck. The cold sweat of fear made him shiver even on this hot summer day. His heart started beating faster and faster while his imagination tried to think of what could be worse than a ravenous panther. When the phone rang once again at 2:30 p.m., he practically jumped out of his skin in fright.
Suddenly, he heard a large truck pulling up in front of his home. Charlie peeked out his front window and nearly fainted in terror at what he saw.
â€śNo,â€ť he screamed, â€śnot that! NOT THAT ANIMAL!â€ť