Only animals were not expelled from Paradise.

MILAN KUNDERA, The Unbearable Lightness of Being


I stand listening to my boss and my president as he gives a speech for the beginning of 2009.  Kenya is in high clover these days with the son of a native son becoming the 44th President of the United States. Shane Simba, our lion leader, is making a speech in the new Lewis Lyon Stadium of the Masai Mara. The sun is glinting off Shane’s full mane and he is elaborately clothed in the best money can buy.  Betty Chimpo Simba is sitting just behind her husband.  She looks on lovingly as he speaks.  Shane and Betty have a long and tempestuous romantic history.  This is their second try at marrying each other.  I listen to Shane between thoughts of my own.  Much has changed in my life.  Lachlan, my lion lover and companion has left and lives alone in the Watering Hole Condos.  I am living, once again, in my home on Leoparde Drive next door to my former lover, Bertram Baboon.  He has also undergone some upheavals in his personal life.  His attempt at a heterosexual marriage failed and his wife and business partner, Gloria Chimpo, has moved to her own home on Leoparde Drive – in close proximity.  Bertram and Glo are still great chums, the experiment in straight living having failed but leaving the friendship firmly intact.  If you are wondering if Bertram and I have renewed our passions for one another, you can rest assured we haven’t.  We remain, as we have for years, close and dear friends.  I was wounded by my breakup with Lachlan.  However, I have loved and lost before.  I have some years on me now and, as they say, 'things like this just don’t go down as hard as they once did'. .  


            Shane ends his speech to a thunderous ovation.  He sits between Betty and me.  It is former president Ralph Lyon’s turn to speak.  I can smell the fragrance of Shane’s Dolce & Gabbana cologne on the one side and his wife’s Chanel on the other.  I twitch my nose, cross my feet and stare ahead at the large crowd that has filled our new sports stadium.  Betty places her slim perfectly manicured hand on my arm.  Shane turns his handsome head and winks at me with his strange green eyes.  They are close friends and worry about my emotional welfare since Lachlan and I parted ways.  Dickey Simba, half-brother to Shane and his minister of justice sits on the podium next to his human wife, Cutty Sark Simba and stifles a yawn.  More about them later. 


  Former First Lioness, Mildred, at the New Year Celebration.....


The Reverend Calvin Cheetah at his pulpit....


            I had convinced Bertram to attend Sunday services with me at the First Church of the Ascending Predator.  Bertram, being a film director and artist, argues against organized religion as most of that ilk tends to do.  Nevertheless, he sat there quietly.  We were sitting next to Shane and Betty Simba in the pew reserved for the first couple and their family.  None of Shane or Betty’s offspring was in attendance so the seat next to them was proffered for Bertram and me. 


            After the service, Bertram and I lunched at Okapis, one of the Mara’s five star restaurants of long standing.  Bertram had reached for a newspaper just outside the door.  He was perusing it as we sipped our double martinis with three olives. 


“My God!” exclaimed my friend who claimed not to believe in one. “What is that ghastly outfit Betty is wearing?  She looks like a water buffalo on its way to a funeral.”


He pushed the newspaper my way revealing a picture of Betty and Shane on a rainy night in the Mara.  Betty was dressed in a tasteless black outfit complete with hat. Before I could respond to his query, Bertram popped an olive in his mouth and said, “What is Shane Simba’s affinity for British hymns. He seems something of an anglophile, an odd thing for an African lion to be.”


“Kenya is part of the British Commonwealth, Bertram.  Ralph Lyon has a thing about the Brits too.”


“The British came here with hunters and almost decimated the lion population,” he argued, slapping pate on his toast square. “But then I’ve always felt that lions were a retarded lot.”


I didn’t answer but signaled the waiter for another round of drinks.


“Did I offend you by saying that, Maurice?  After all, your lion lover is no longer with you.  Not meaning to be cruel, Maurice, but I do hope you will refrain from ‘doing’ big cats anymore.  They don’t seem to work well with you and the lions are the worst of them all.”


“Bertram, may I remind you that you have a partner of long standing who is a lion.  And if I may be a bit cutting, I might add that you have at times confessed to me that you are in love with Roy Lee Simba.”


There, take that, I thought.  Our entrée came at a most opportune time.  We began to eat silently.  After coffee, we regained our good humor with each other and attended a gallery showing at the Art Center.  It was a young Kenyan artist of the same tribe as Obama, the Luo. 



Bertram Baboon, my former companion and picture of Shane and Betty that he referred to....


            The next week was filled with further surprise.  While in Shane’s office working on his trip to America for the inauguration of President Obama, one of his secretaries who lives in the Watering Hole Condos very near Lachlan, announced that my former lover was living with a lioness.  I immediately realized it was the wild lioness that Lachlan had bonked during our brief stay in the bush country.  I gulped.  Shane drew the Scotch bottle from his desk and poured us both one.  I was grateful for that gesture and tossed mine back. 


            Solomon Figan Simba, eldest son of Betty and Shane Simba, gave a final kick to his bag on the floor of his dorm at London University.  Being a clone of his father, he had burned the midnight oil and gained a law degree very early in his life.  He had the same cutting-edge brilliance of Shane plus the thick partially black mane.  The sea green eyes went with the striking and virile male lion image that was Solly Simba (given the nickname early by his doting parents).  He phoned a London cab and set about the task of returning to his native home, Kenya, where his father governed as our second lion president. 


            Betty Chimpo Simba had learned to play golf, a second wedding gift to her husband, who was an avid sports-male.  Betty had made every effort to learn some of Shane’s water skills but after much bruising and water choked incidents, she had given up all but sailing with him on his smaller boats and enjoying the splendor of his yachts. 


“I am just not a water creature, darling,” she had told him.


“Lions aren’t either, Fifi, but I’ve mastered the water,” he argued but not vehemently. 


“Well, Shane, you have mastered everything you ever attempted.  I have not been so lucky,” she answered, lighting a Kool and tickling his ribs. 


“You have mastered the art of being a grandmother for the first time and still being drop dead gorgeous,” he laughed, kissing the top of her head which was quite a distance below his.



Betty surfing in Mombasa                                                            Betty and Shane share a canoodle.....



            Ashley Lyon entered his bush home which he still occupied with his tempestuous daughter, Imani Janice Lyon.  Since his last wife, Shane Simba’s daughter, Staci, Ashley had not remarried.  Imani, being of a disposition no male could fathom and few would deal with, remained in her father’s home.  Imani modeled in her mother, Leah’s fashion emporium JAGGERS.  Between runway shows, Imani made a very nice living modeling in questionable layouts of a nude nature. 


            Why are you half naked and sitting in the den, Imani?  I’m your dad, show me some respect,” growled Ashley popping his beer top and plopping in his favorite chair.


Imani, cigarette dangling from her lips, bikini panties with no bra, sat lounging and watching her favorite soap opera from WMM-TV, As The Lion Turns.  She thumbed through a copy of the latest ANIMAL ENQUIRER. 


“What is this crap you’re watching?  The soccer play offs are in a few minutes,” said Ashley blowing his daughter’s cigarette smoke from the air around him. 


“This is As The Lion Turns, Dad.  My favorite character is about to screw my other favorite character,” answered Imani, holding the remote control close to her pert bosom. 


“Good God, I’ll never understand how a smart animal like Irving Impala allowed this cheesy series to be produced at his studios.”


“The ratings are over the roof, Dad.”


There was nothing to be done but for Ashley to head for The Watering Hole Pub and one of its sports bars.  It was obvious that Imani was not giving up the telly this particular evening.  At least he could watch the playoffs and maybe get laid.  Ashley made one last ditch effort to secure the television for the evening.


“Don’t you have a date or something, Imani?”  he asked, hopefully.


“No, I DON’T.  Why are you asking, Dad?”


“No reason, Imani, no reason at all,” answered Ashley, rising from the chair and heading for the door.   


“Can I go with you, Dad?  Where are you going?” asked Imani, knowing her dad’s predilection for the Pub. 


“I’ll just go to Luke Leopard’s and watch with him and Jane,” lied Ashley, rushing for his car. 


“Shit,” snarled Imani, lighting a cigarette from the one between her lips.



Ashley Lyon and his daughter, Imani Lyon.....




            Solly Simba was picked up by one of his father’s official limousines and taken directly to his parent’s new mansion inside the gates of the presidential compound. His parents had an official gig but would arrive home shortly to greet him.  He had barely gotten in the door and had his luggage taken to his room before his parents burst through the front door and surrounded him with embraces and hearty welcomes.  They seemed ecstatic at his return. The threesome went to the library where Shane broke out the Scotch and poured one for his son. 


“Is it to be Simba Brothers?” asked Shane.  “The firm needs you.  Sam and Tawny have their hands full.”


“Don’t start, Dad.  I have to do some thinking on the subject.  I might go to Simba Brothers and then I might start my own firm,” answered Solly.


“But, Sol,” said Shane as Betty put a hand on his arm and said, “Darling, Solly is too tired to think tonight.  Let’s just enjoy the fact that our son has returned to the Mara.”


Solly Simba contemplates his return to Kenya.......






"The story continues..."