The Short, Happy Trip Of

“I got him,” Ms. Hannis said. “He’s right over here.” 

The woman turned and whistled. Removing her hat, she wiped her forehead with her sleeve; the day was hot enough that any effort had the effect of a trek. Behind her some ways was parked the truck, and a jeep was pulled up next to it. She whistled a second time.

At this second beckon, he emerged from the truck, and a young woman emerged from the jeep; she went around to the back of the vehicle then slung a small camera case over her shoulder, and he slowed so that she would catch up to him. The young woman was beautiful, and he naturally found himself able to think only of her. 

“Can the three of us lift it?” he asked after not being able to think of anything else.

“What’s that?” the young woman replied.

“Are we going to be able to lift it? The three of us, I mean.”

“Oh, no. They’ll be along to do all that in a little while. I’m sure they’re already on their way, actually. I’m just here for the photos.”

The pair was by now halfway to Ms. Hannis.

“Are you from here?” he asked.

“What’s that?” the young woman replied.

“Are you from here?

“You mean the ranch?”

“The area, I suppose.”

“Oh. Not really. I move around a lot.”

The young woman began removing the camera from its case, and he spent the remainder of the walk wondering if his knowing the exact name of the camera would be something that she would find interesting.

“No wonder we didn’t see him right away,” Ms. Hannis said once she had been joined. “See the way he fell in the grass? It’s like he flattened where he wanted to fall.” 

He looked down at the zebra’s body. Now that he was up close, he was surprised by the animal’s size. There was very little blood that he could see, but what was there was all the more vibrant due to its black-and-white background. 

“How do we want to do this?” the young woman asked.

“Well,” Ms. Hannis said, “let’s first get him pushed up.” 

The zebra was lying on her side with her legs splayed, and the three walked around so that they stood along the animal’s back. Bending down, they grabbed fistfuls of flesh, coordinated their efforts, then began to push. The zebra was slowly rolled onto her stomach, and Ms. Hannis then tucked in the front legs so that the body supported itself. The head dangled awkwardly, and Ms. Hannis placed the snout on the earth like the leg of a tripod.

“Where’s the gun?” she asked.

“I put it up,” he said and pointed to the truck.

“Well, go get it. We need it for the shot.”

When he returned with the rifle, the zebra was ready for the photo. Ms. Hannis took the rifle and placed it in the foreground of the photo, leaning it against the zebra’s body. She then walked him behind the body and positioned him.

“You can either take a knee or squat,” she said. “Either way.”

He nodded, and the woman walked out of the shot.  

“Wait,” she said, stepping back in. “You have to hold the head up or we won’t be able to see it.”  

He gingerly put his hands below the zebra’s chin and began to lift.

“Not like that,” Ms. Hannis said. “It’ll end up looking awkward in the photo. Trust me.”

He released his hands and let the head fall back to the earth.

“Just one hand under the chin,” Ms. Hannis said. “Hold one of his ears with the other. That way, we’ll be able to see the face in the photo.”

He nodded then placed his hands as instructed, and the head was returned to the photo’s view.

“No,” Ms. Hannis said. “You have to actually grab the ear. You’re just picking at it with your fingers like you’re not wanting to get your hands dirty. We won’t be able to see the face in the photo unless you hold it up.”

He adjusted his hold then looked to Ms. Hannis.

“Exactly,” she said. “Just like that. These are going to come out great, I can tell.”

Ms. Hannis then again retreated from the shot, and the young woman stepped forward.

“Okay,” she said as she lifted the camera to her face. “Are we ready?”

He nodded and smiled.

“Perfect,” the young woman said. “It looks great. I’ll take a couple, so keep smiling throughout.”



Stewart Michael Berg lives in Austin, Texas. He has two collections currently available (The Sored Incident, and Six Similar Stories and Nine and One Stories). He recommends Little Free Library.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 21:38