The Zoo Man, Pt. 5

 “I’ll call you Clarence,” Hannah said. “It’s a good name.”

“My parents certainly thought so, Miss Haller.”

“You can call me Hannah, Mist… Clarence.”

The man smiled and shook his head. “It would be improper, Miss. You’re a customer, and I’m providing a service. I am your humble servant, Miss Haller. At least while you’re here amongst the Miraculous Caravan Show.” The man took another deep bow and Hannah giggled.

“But I haven’t even paid for anything yet.”

“Then perhaps you’d like to see the zoo?”

Hannah perked up at that for a moment, eager to have her curiosity sated, but she quickly remembered both the lack of animals amongst the wagons and the lack of money on her person. “I don’t have any money on me, Clarence. And I haven’t seen any big cages or heard any animal noises or anything like that.”

“It doesn’t smell, either,” David said from behind Hannah. She and Clarence both turned to stare at him as he lazily, sloppily chewed on a piece of taffy. “Our barn’s full of animals, and it smells real bad. It doesn’t smell real bad here, so there must not be animals.”

“What bright, intelligent young children you are,” Clarence said. He’d been talking about both of them, Hannah noticed, but his eyes had been locked on her little brother. He was smiling, as he had been since he’d introduced himself, but there was something in his eyes that wasn’t happy, exactly. It was thoughtful, like when Mama was trying to decide what to make for supper, or when Papa was looking at the hogs and deciding how much fatter they’d get before the time came to slaughter them.

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