Garish Lions

Plot Bunny and Herman Hootabout were excited. Mostly about breakfast. Neither could complain that Her Authorship didn’t feed them well, and the morning they left Paris was no exception. While The King of Forebearance insisted on ordering “American coffee” to go with his Continental Breakfast, Her Authorship insisted on shortchanging herself every time – ordering “traditional coffee” always resulted in teeny-tiny demitasse cups full of espresso that tasted lovely but would hardly keep Her Authorship’s brain cells afloat for half an hour. She would definitely need a refill soon.

20160808_204427.jpg“Where are we going next?” asked Plot Bunny.

Herman Hootabout was confused by the colorful, wooden parrots lined up on the sideboard, and didn’t answer right away. “What? What did you say? Oh, Her Authorship said something about going to Spain, but first we have to see the garish lions.”

“The…garish lions?” PB’s ears trembled a bit. “I’m not sure I like the sound of that.”

“I’m sure it will be fine,” said Herman, hooting softly. He was anything but sure, and the unflinching stare of artificial birds did nothing to reassure him. He wondered if he and PB should have stayed home. That would not have been very adventurous, he reminded himself, ruffling and preening and squaring his little shoulders. Just how garish could the lions be? Instantly, Herman imagined lions covered in Swarovski crystals, their fur dyed purple and gold and hootchie-cootchie pink. He began to hoot little hoots until he giggled himself right into a case of hiccups.

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“Shall we go?” asked The King of Forebearance. Her Authorship nodded, and they all climbed into a taxi. The King told the driver to go to the Gare de Lyon. It sounded like “gar-duh lee-ohn” the way he said it, and it turned out to be a train station. Herman was almost disappointed that there were no garish lions to see.

PB was relieved.

While they waited to board their train – something called a “TGV” – Her Authorship got another itty-bitty “traditional coffee.” They chatted with a couple of women who had been on all sorts of adventures, from Australia to Austria, and the time passed quickly. Her Authorship was amazed at how easily The King navigated the various transportation systems of Europe; she suspected it was “a guy thing” and that he was far more fascinated by the intricacies of transportation systems than she could ever be. To Her Authorship, they were simply a means to an end. The King studied the arrivals and departures board as if it were held clues to the origins of the universe. Her Authorship only wished to get from here to there without falling into the infamous “gap.” She later learned that some trains, in Spain, had little running boards that automatically descended when the doors opened, to help keep travelers from falling into the gap. The TGV did not. Dragging her suitcase behind her, she stared into the maw and had terrible visions of what happened to those who didn’t “mind the gap.” She minded. She minded very, very much.

20160817_183040.jpg“The train! The train!” cried Plot Bunny, hopping up and down. It was a comfortable train, equipped with working power outlets. They all had window seats; Her Authorship sat directly in front of The King, so PB and Herman had an excellent view of the countryside.

They traveled – far too quickly for PB’s and Herman’s tastes – at a brisk 292 km/hour. They fairly flew through long galleries of seemingly endless street art that Her Authorship called “graffiti.” It was colorful and bright and nearly as garish as the lions Herman had imagined. The little creatures watched in fascination and wondered why the train didn’t slow down so they could admire it in a more leisurely fashion.

wp-1471476833332.jpg“The lions! Look, PB, there are the lions!” hooted Herman.

PB squinted, but at that speed, he could barely make out that there was a small town just on the other side of the window glass, let alone…lions?

Her Authorship laughed. She had snapped a picture just to see what ruffled Herman Hootabout’s feathers, and once she zoomed in, sure enough, she could see what the owl saw. Owls have excellent vision, you know – they can spot an insect ten meters away. “Here, PB – here’s the garish lion.”

20160817_183313.jpgPB shuddered. “Looks more like a hungry lion.” He was glad it was just a stone carving, but wondered what had inspired it. Was the fact that it was carved above the arch meant to be a warning to travelers? “Here there be lions, and they be vicious when they’re hungry”?

The King was finally feeling a bit hungry, himself, and offered to hunt down lunch. Lunch sounded good; Her Authorship discreetly pointed at the woman across the aisle and asked The King to see if he could bring her “one of what she’s having.” It appeared to be an inside-out toasted cheese-and-ham sandwich, which Her Authorship requested “extra toasty on the outside.”

20160817_183546.jpgNot only did The King procure the sandwich, he brought a lovely green salad, which the two of them shared as the train stopped at a place called “Narbonne.”

Their journey to Barcelona took about six or seven hours, with a slight delay due to a tardy railroad worker. No one seemed to mind, much. The trip was quite pleasant, with interesting views. It was too bad they didn’t get to linger on any of the loveliest of them, as they passed vineyards, beaches, quaint little towns, and even a few houses with old clunkers parked in the back yard that looked like they’d been plucked straight out of the southern U.S.! It felt just like home.

20160817_192153.jpgFinally, they arrived at Barcelona Sants – another train station – where they disembarked. Little did Her Authorship, Plot Bunny, or Herman know  – that would not be their last adventure in trains and public transportation for the day! The King of Forbearance figured out how to work the self-service ticket machines, and would spend much of the next week buying little tickets from them the way some people buy lottery scratch-offs…


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HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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4 thoughts on “Garish Lions”

  1. Well written. So how are the Bunny and Owl? Are they back in Texas sweltering in the heat? Did they have other adventures? Will they have more?

    1. Thank you! Oh, PB shaved off all his fur, and is trying to start a punk rock band with Jam, the Dragon. I’m sure it’s just a phase. Owl is still sleeping off the jet lag. I expect both will recover by the time my son starts classes in the fall.

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