Penguin Wrangler

“Hello,” said the photographer.  “You must be the penguin wrangler.”

“That I am, that I am,” said Dusty, touching his forehead in salute.  “And that makes you the photographer.”

“Yes, I’m Wally,” said the photographer.  “We’re all ready for you.”  He tried to peer behind the wrangler’s back.  “You have brought it with you, haven’t you?”

“Oh, yes.  Pete’s in the van.”

“Pete?”

“The penguin.  The talent.”

“Oh, yes.  Can’t wait to meet him.”

“Well, I have to inspect the place first.  Make sure it’s suitable.  You did get my email?  With the lists of dos and don’ts?”

“Yes, yes, of course.  Come in.”

Wally ushered the penguin wrangler into his studio.  There was more than a faint whiff of fish to the man although Wally thought he looked more like someone you’d find repairing a dry stone wall than looking after penguins.

Dusty looked at the huge screen of green fabric stretched taut in front of one wall.  An arctic landscape of polystyrene ice floes decorated an area in front of the screen.  Mist from dry ice hung at knee level.

“It won’t be a bit warm for him, do you think?” Wally wrung his hands.  “We have an ice bath on standby.”

“Oh, Pete won’t melt,” Dusty chuckled.  “He likes it hot.  Picked him up in Tierra del Fuego, as a matter of fact.”

“Oh.  I thought…”

“You thought what everybody thinks.  Your penguin likes a range of temperatures.  Think about it: if it was too cold he wouldn’t be able to go for a swim, would he?”

“Ah.  Well, what do you think?  Does it meet Pete’s exacting standards?”

Dusty scratched his chin.  “What’s it for?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Why are you taking Pete’s picture?  Chocolate bar, is it?”

“No, no; Christmas cards.”

“I don’t follow.”

“You know the sort of thing.  Bit of snow – we’ll drop a snowstorm in later with CGI.  Penguin in a Santa hat.”

“Oh, Pete won’t wear no hat.  He’ll have your hand off.”

“Oh.”  Wally made a note.  “Well, we can CGI the hat in as well.”

“Listen, mate.  I don’t want to tell you how to do your job.  But penguins and Christmas, it’s not something that immediately springs to mind.  Not with me, in any case.”

“Oh, really.”

“I think you should go more traditional, you know.  A stable.  Perhaps a sand dune in the distance.  A lovely big star hanging over the scene.”

Wally looked like he might throw up.  It was too late to make major changes now; he’d blown most of the budget on hiring the bloody penguin.  He excused himself and went to his office to phone his assistant.

“Hello, Marsha?  It’s ixnay on the Antarctic.  How quickly can you rustle up a shedload of sand?  We’re going to CGI a bloody big star over a stable… No, no, we won’t need a baby…  We can drop the halo in later.  The last thing I want is that penguin to have my hand off.”

penguin

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1 Comment

Filed under Short story

One response to “Penguin Wrangler

  1. Spanish Jackie

    I’ve never wrangled a penguin (hot or cold) but I have sucked all the chocolate off a Kit Kat. Thank you for the story.

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