The Gorilla Act

Lucy was eight when she saw the Gorilla Act. She went with her mom and her brothers, they set up a blanket on Sagan Point, on the lakeside. The whole town was there, everyone laughing and socializing.

Mr. Pitt, the gorilla trainer, had arrived with his five gorillas, and talked it over with the sheriff. He then put up the posters all over town. The act was all people could talk about. Now he was getting ready some distance away. He had said it was for safety, making sure nobody interferes with the gorillas. They are wild beasts after all.

Lucy was excited. Her brothers were talking and wowing, and her mother was sitting surrounded by her quiet wisdom, her face hidden behind huge sunglasses. The five black shapes scrambled around to the music, juggling and tumbling. They were all black and furry, but otherwise, looked like men. Big, strong men. It all seemed chaotic and pointless, but Lucy was still enjoying it.

At some point, the gorillas started working towards a common goal, they were assembling a high platform on the edge of the water. When they were done they climbed it and stood one on top of another. Then, one by one, they started jumping into the lake.

“Oh my god,” somebody said, and the mood in the crowd around her changed. Lucy noticed it as well. One of the gorillas was not swimming. It was floating, dead. The other gorillas went crazy all around it and Mr. Pitt started shouting commands from the shore.

One gorilla carried the dead one to the beach and lay his limp body on the sand. Then he put him in his lap and wailed very loudly. The others formed a strange solemn circle around.

Lucy did not cry that day. She cried about it many times years later, when there was nobody who could share her pain.

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