Chapter 8 of
“FAIRMOUNT”: The Series
Gregory V. Boulware, Esq.
‘The Rush’ of “34th St. and Girard Avenue”
It didn’t matter how soon the guards reacted to the alarms. Their actions would make no difference in what could have been prevented. They could not have prevented what they found. There was nothing they could do…nothing to prevent the damage and destruction encountered at the bear exhibit and the front gate. The guards were magnificent in their actions and reaction time. Buttons to lock down exits and entrances. Buttons and levers were tripped to activate intruder and destruction prevention. All security systems were activated to precision timing and perfection. The guards assigned to various sections of the zoo were vigilant in the pursuit of their job endeavor. Upon radio checks from the shift supervisor, while she monitored the video cameras and screens, which covered an enterprise wide viewing area – the guard thought aloud, “My wife will be so very proud of me.” He was thinking of his adept and professional attentiveness and dispatched speed in the performance of his duties. He was proud of himself. All of that feeling was rewarding. It was a fulfilling and self-alluring experience. In an instant, it was all shot to hell when he arrived at the bruin exhibit. The cages were all ripped to shreds. He could taste his heart muscle in the back of his throat. It tasted like a glob of icky, nasty, and vile taste one gets first thing in the morning and during battle with sickness or a hangover; that gunk at the back of the mouth upon waking from a deep, a short forced sleep – a long dream of drunken intoxified unconsciousness – waking up with that glob and foul breath before brushing and gargling. He felt sick at the sight of the destruction.
The brown and black bear exhibit was destroyed…it was obliterated. The bears where on the loose – no one knew where. Six brown bears, five black bears, two grizzlies, and a female Alaskan Kodiak were roaming the streets. The supervisor of zoo guards franticly searched the terminal screens. They were nowhere to be seen. Another call came into the guardhouse. The guard on the east side of the campus reported the fence being smashed and bear prints leading out into 34th Street! In the darkened evening sky, two little ones huddled together during the excitement and exposure to sudden freedom. No one knew of their existence.
Emergency calls went out to various agencies. Police, Fire, Zoo Administrators, and City Officials as well as the Federal and National Park Rangers were notified. Captain Samuel was at home asleep when he got the call. Jarard Noodles was in a bar near Thompson Street, in Fishtown. “Fuckin Niggers can’t never do anything right.” Patrons and the bar tender laughed heartily. “Don’t forget the Spics and Gooks, Cap,” said one of the male patrons. A young white female patron looked up from her beer and asked, “Ain’t you got no shame?” The captain replied, “They call themselves Niggas – Niggas with attitude!” All of the white guys in the bar roared with laughter. The bartender and the woman looked at each other. In unison, the bartender and the barfly smiled at each other and in rap style, they sang, “Yeah baby, but they sho can rap!” Laughter erupted again throughout the taproom. The captain rose from his stool and shouted. “Now that’s my bitch!” He snatched his gun and cell phone from the bar surface while downing his bourbon. Leaving the bar and stepping into his unmarked car, he seethed. “Shit…I ain’t in the mood to deal with this shit.” Noodles turned the car on and sped away towards the zoo.
Ranger Glenn arrived at the zoo at approximately 11:35 P.M. His team got there 5 minutes later. Genailia popped open her investigator’s kit and began taking samples and scrapings of scratches on the bars, ground, and walls of the bruin exhibit. Glenn and lieutenant Wells headed to the 34th Street side of the zoo. After examining the tracks in the snow, they followed the trail from the broken gate to the east side of the street. The trail ended at the curb. Wells ran to that side of the street. Signs pointed to a trail down the embankment outside of the pavement. In the dirt, trees, shrubbery, and mud that headed down towards the I-76 Expressway, there where more prints and signs that the animals who tracked through the area were heading towards the river. Asa Wells motioned to Gerald Glenn to come and see what he’d found. The ranger jogged across the street to where Wells was standing. Wells pointed at the shrubbery, broken limbs, marks on the tree, and the bear tracks in the mud and snow. Several paw prints lead down the hill into the expressway corridor while many others aimed in other directions. The rangers were able to tell the difference in the size and species of the escaped bruins.
Many of the tracks were those of fully-grown bears. The two sets of tracks that pointed towards the railroad overpass proved to be of high interest to the men. They were two sets of tiny paw prints.
The two young bear cubs, one female and the other male, were found under the train trestle. They were huddled together under the bridge attempting to elude their hunting enemies. They appeared to be cold and frightened. The rangers approached the twins with stealth and caution. They didn’t want to take a chance at scaring the cubs into bolting. The rangers moved slowly with a reassuring posture. The cubs watched them intently but didn’t run. They allowed the rangers to approach and touch them. The human contact was not threatening to the cubs. They had experienced human contact before. The handlers at the zoo were they’re first human contact. The rangers also knew if the cubs felt threatened and cornered, they would attack with the natural intent of defending themselves. The claws of a young cub are capable of leaving a nasty wound in flesh and their bite can be equally vicious.
34th Street was cordoned off as well as the surrounding area of the west Philly neighborhood. On Girard Avenue from 33rd Street to 40th Street and Girard on 34th Street to Spring Garden Street. The two men crossed 34th street back to the zoo campus, each cradling a bear cub in their arms. Once safe lodgings were set for the twin babies, the hunt was on for the other fourteen escaped bears. The ranger ordered photographs of every inch the campus especially the damaged cages and trespassed areas – from the zoo trails and broken fences and gates. A zoo official and bruin handler was standing near the broken fence on the 34th street side of the campus. He approached with an obvious demeanor of anger. “What in the hell are you idiots trying to pull?” Other zoo reps looked at each other in confusion and replied, “What do you mean, sir?” Glenn interjected, “You know…you people really know how to piss me off! First you go up to the top of the world and fuck with the animals up there, causing them to do shit they don’t normally do! Then you stick them with all kinds of shit that only God knows what – and now you got two kidnapped cubs in your zoo! Where is the record of their adoption and housing? How’d they get here in the first place – why the secret of their being here? And now you’ve got fourteen fuckin bears wandering through the park and the Goddamn city!” The Ranger screamed.
Gregory Vernon Boulware