King of the Jungle
By Joy Moore
At the end of Swamp Lane, stood a tree with a banana dangling from a limb. Below three little lizards gazed upward.
Gig raised his knobby finger out of the slime and pointed. “I’ll get that banana before you blink. I have jumbo-mumbo muscles.”
Zipper did a pirouette and answered, “Yeah but you’re not nimble like me.”
Sprout’s friends never talked to him. His eyes went back and forth from Gig to Zipper to the banana.
Zipper and Gig continued to point, strut and stick out their chests.
Branches snapped, twigs cracked and mud squished.
A crowd of Sloths, Tigers and Turtles began to gather around.
“What will you give to the one who gets the last banana?” asked Gig and Zipper.
The sloths, tigers and turtles gathered into a huddle.
The tigers said, “Those branches are too tiny for me. They’ll never make it.”
“I get droopy easy. Surely they will also,” laughed the sloths.
The turtles answered, “If I can’t climb then they can’t climb.”
“Shall we make the prize, king of the jungle?” replied the Tigers.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then we’ll have a good laugh,” they all said.
The head tiger turned to the Lizards, “The one who picks the last banana will be crowned king of the jungle.”
Gig’s eyes narrowed. “I want to be King of the jungle.”
“I want to be King of the jungle,” answered Zipper.
Sprout said nothing at all.
Gig and Zipper put themselves in a row. After a while Sprout did also.
A hush fell over the crowd.
“Three, two, one- GO!”
Gig and Zipper sprinted up. Sprout took off after them.
Below the Sloths yelled, “You’re getting exhausted.”
Behind them the Tigers hollered, “You’re too galumphing for that branch.”
The Turtles mocked, “Stay on the ground. It’s where you belong.”
Gig peered at the animals below. They were tiny dots. Fright over-whelmed him. When his body began to tremble he lost his grip. Whoosh-whoosh. Down he splashed into the swampy waters.
Zipper saw Gig go flying by. His teeth began to rattle with terror. “What am I doing?” he shrieked. Plat-plop. He came spiraling down also and crept into the jungle alone.
Sprout continued up the tree.
The Turtles shouted ever louder, “Hey, down here! Look down here!”
The Sloths cried, “It’s time for your nap.”
The Tigers shouted, “Impossible!”
Sprout went higher.
The crowd increased their yelling.
The Sloths cried, “You’ll get snatched by an Eagle up there.”
“That branch is gonna snap any second,” said the Tigers.
The Turtles said, “You can’t climb trees. Just accept it.”
Higher and higher and higher and faster and faster and faster he went until there he was right at the very tip-top. Sprout grabbed the banana and held it up.
The crowd roared with applause and stomped their feet.
Sensitive to vibration Sprout looked down and was surprised to see the creatures below cheering.
His heart skipped a beat at the sight.
When he came down the animal paparazzi thrust one microphone after another into his face.
“Tell us your secret.”
“How did it feel up there?”
Sprout started to write.
“What kept you going?”
“Will you do it again?”
“Where you ever afraid?”
Their questions went on and on and on.
When Sprout was finished he handed them the note.
I am deaf.
“Attention, attention, announcing the king of the jungle.”
“Make-way, make-way, for the king of the jungle.”