“Ahahaha I am Jean the sloth and I am the strongest sloth around! Tremble in fear mortals for you have not the minds to comprehend all I can do! And all I want to do is destroyyyyyy!”
“Are you feeling alright?”
“Perfectly fine. For a Monday at least.”
“Ah, of course…”
Tyler sat in his usual spot across from the small sloth exhibit at the local Trundle Zoo. He had made it a point to come to visit his friend Jean every moment he could. At least not the moments taken up by sports practice, piano recitals, extra credit classes, and general exhaustion. That last chore was becoming more and more demanding, but with the news that the zoo would be closing, this might be the only time he had left. It had been very hard to hear, but he hadn’t found the words to bring it up with Jean yet.
The young boy sighed heavily and closed the art history text book he was flipping through. Jean was maniacally laughing, as he usually did on particularly frustrating Mondays, but stopped abruptly.
“Getting tired of abstract art? I see. You think that any child could paint like that. Honestly, I expected you to have a less philistine perception Tyler; you should have a closer look at Cy Twonbly’s work.”
“No Jean, it’s just…”
“What? You prefer Franz Kline?”
“No, it has nothing to do with abstract art!”
“How am I supposed to know that? You were just reading an art textbook. I connected the dots.”
“Oh, forget it…I should probably head home anyway….” Tyler had already begun packing his book into his bag and slowly stood up, ready to leave much earlier than usual.
“Though I appreciate the slow movement, leaving this early is odd for you. Aren’t you going to try and trick me into revealing some forbidden knowledge? You wouldn’t believe me if I told you where Elvis was right now…” Jean spoke up hoping to attract the boys curiosity, and as Tyler stopped and turned around, the sloth thought he had succeeded.
“There’s just…a lot on my plate today. I should be focused on getting stuff done…”
“It seems like you have something on your mind,” Jean asked.
“Well, I always have something on my mind. I’m sentient, so my brain is always thinking.”
“Oh wow, Look at Mr. Sentient over here! Mr. Always Thinking Mcgee. Jeez, I didn’t realize I had been spending all of this time with a deep thinking philosopher.”
“…it’s Monday so I’ll forgive that.”
“Come on, what’s got you worried?”
Tyler sat back down on the bench and took in a deep breath. Closing his eyes tight he felt ready to tell Jean that his home was closing-
“You’re not worried about the zoo closing are you?” Jean said, breaking the silence.
“Of course I know.”
“I thought you didn’t! I’ve been freaking out trying to find a way to tell you.”
“Nothing happens here that I don’t know about. I think it’s a good thing. It’ll shake things up.”
“I assumed you would hate that.”
“Well…if you want the zoo open…an only if you want it, cause I don’t care obviously, you could always wish for it.”
“I’ve thought it over, and it seems like a bad use of a wish, no?”
“Not if the alternative is not seeing you again.”
“Sentimental? That’s unexpected.”
“It shouldn’t be. I’ve been alone for decades Tyler.”
Tyler looked at his friend and tried his best to read the emotion on the sloth’s face.
“Is that true?” the boy asked.
“Of course it is. It’s been even longer since I’ve had a friend.”
“I suppose I can relate to that…”
“Don’t be stupid, of course you can’t!” Jean chuckled as he spoke, “You’ve barely existed for a blink of an eye, and I’ve been your friend for a decent chunk of that time now.”
Tyler cocked his head and gave the sloth a half smile, “You have been haven’t you?”
“If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have put up with you for this long.”
Tyler sat back down on the bench he had spent so long at, and picked the textbook back out of his bag.
“So…abstract art?” Tyler said.
Jean stayed silent for a moment.
“You don’t know anything about it do you?” Jean said.
“Not a thing! This is my first time reading about it,” Tyler began to laugh and if a sloth could laugh, Jean would have joined him.
“Fine, forget the abstract art. It doesn’t do anything for me anyway. We have bigger things to discuss.”
“What’s there to discuss? I’m not going to use a wish to force the zoo to stay open, and if you wanted to keep it open you would have done something already. Shouldn’t we just enjoy the time we have together?”
“Of course not! We have a lot of work to do. Well you have a lot of work to do. God knows how long it’s going to take you to figure out how to smuggle a tiger out of this zoo.”
“Well yes, I imagine it will be very hard-wait, what? I’m doing what?”
“Smuggling Bruce the Bengal Tiger out of the Trundle Zoo before it closes.”
“Oh come on! His cage is just across the path from mine. I’ve grown very fond of him. I’d hate for us to be separated.”
“I have literally never heard you mention him once.”
“Well I would if you’d shut up about abstract art for a minute. It’s like every second with you!”
“Jean, please, I’m begging you. There’s no way I can do that!”
“Well you could wish for Bruce to be freed…”
“I’m not wasting my wish on that!”
“There you go again, worrying about wasting your wish! I swear, if it’s not art, it’s talking about wish wasting. Ok, how about this: if you can get Bruce out of the zoo, and sent to the same place as me I’ll give you a second wish.”
Tyler narrowed his eyes and looked Jean straight in the face, “Promise?”
“So if I wanted, I could use this wish to free him and then get a wish back?”
“Well, yes, but then nothing would be earned for you. Wouldn’t it be better if you found a way to do it without using your wish?”
“Jean, a part of me is afraid you’re trying to kill me.”
“Don’t be a silly goose. If I wanted you dead, you’d be on Neptune already. Neptunians do not like outsiders.”
Tyler sighed heavily, “Ok, what’s the plan?”
“He consented, you all heard it! To the plan mobile!” and with that, a single person entered the sloth sanctuary, expecting to see a lazy animal staring back at him from behind the cage. Instead, all he saw was two puffs of smoke: one in the cage, and another next to a backpack and a lone art history textbook.