The Zoo Man, Pt. 3

 Hannah watched from the window, waiting to see Mama go into the barn or turn her back on the house. We won’t be long, she thought. Just fifteen minutes, like I said. She won’t even notice us gone.

“You’re going to sneak off,” David said somewhere behind. “That’s bad. Mama wouldn’t like you leaving me behind.”

“I’m not leaving you behind. I’m taking you with me.”

“I’m going to tell Mama.”

“You keep your mouth shut and I’ll buy you penny candy.”

David gasped. She could just imagine his eyes going wide, his chubby little cheeks pulling back in a big dopey smile. “I won’t tell her nothing.”

“Good. Come on.”

They rushed out into the fields, Hannah carrying her little brother on her shoulders and cutting through the tall grass so Mama wouldn’t see them if she ventured out for a look. She could always go back into the house, of course, but she probably wouldn’t for a while. It was worth the risk.

Hannah stayed close to the road that cut through the fields, following its bends and curves until she felt that they were far enough away from the house, and then walking along the dusty path itself. She set down David and told him, “Come on. You can walk now.”

“I want you to carry me.”

“It’s too far to carry you. I’ll carry you when we get this close on the way back.”

“Carry me or I’ll tell Mama!”

“I’m already buying you penny candy, David Haller! Don’t you be greedy. Being greedy’s a sin.”

The little boy snorted at that, folding his arms across the chest and pouting, but he walked. He sulked the whole way, but he walked. Their ears guided them, the wagons as loud as any revival tent had ever been. The caravan had even set up in the space that had been cleared for such things, it seemed. Instead of religion, they provided a space where people could gaze in wonder and horror at the strangeness of the modern world.

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