“Hey Heidi,” my Dad said as he poked his head into my room, “I’m gonna go to a llama ranch across the valley, do you want to come along?”
I was laying on my water bed, completely engrossed in a Nancy Drew mystery novel.
“Um, I don’t know…..,” I said with characteristic teenage uncertainty.
Every once in a while, my Dad liked to visit other local llama owners and swap business ideas and rearing practices.
I often went with him, but this morning I was gripped in the suspenseful plot of the book in my hands.
Smiling to himself, my Dad continued, “Well your Mom and sister are coming. And I thought you might like to see the llamas….. And the zebras.”
He said the last sentence with complete nonchalance and I almost missed it.
“The what?!” I asked, sitting up and staring at my father.
“The zebras,” he repeated with a chuckle.
I immediately launched off my bed, “You bet I’m coming!! I’ve never seen anyone with pet zebras!!”
When we finally arrived at the ranch, we poured out of the car and were greeted by the owner of the ranch.
My father stepped forward and they shook hands and introduced themselves–having heard of each other through other local llama owners.
As they talked, I eagerly scanned the surrounding corrals for anything that looked like a zebra.
“Do you see them?” I whispered to my Mom and sister, who were also looking for them.
“No,” they shook their heads.
Then my Dad and the owner started to walk off towards the nearest llama pen.
I elbowed my Mom and she politely called out, “Excuse me!”
They stopped and turned back towards us.
“Excuse me,” she said again, “Could you tell us where the zebras are?”
The owner smiled and pointed to a far off pasture, “They’re down there,” he said and then turned away.
“Thank you!” we called and the three of us started off in the direction he pointed.
“I still don’t see any zebras,” I said with disappointment.
We’d been walking for quite sometime, but all we saw were empty pastures and a few llamas and sheep.
“They must be in the next pasture,” my Mom said as we came upon another gate.
“You’re probably right,” I said and we opened the gate and walked into the next pasture.
We looked around, but still didn’t see anything.
“Well, they’ve gotta be around here somewhere,” my Mom said hopefully, “Let’s just keep walking.”
While we walked through the large pasture, we talked about how fun it would be to see a zebra up close.
“They’re always so far away in a zoo,” my sister said, “It will be fun to pet one.”
I nodded with excitement, “And maybe we can feed them grass or something.”
Suddenly, I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye and I curiously turned to look back at the ranch house.
I squinted in the sunlight and put a hand up to shade my eyes.
“Hey, Ma,” I said strangely, “Do you see that?”
“What, dear?” my Mom asked, turning in the direction I was looking.
“That man,” I said, “There’s a man up there and it looks like he’s yelling at us.”
We all stopped to watch.
“I think you’re right, dear,” my Mom said, “I wonder what he’s saying…..”
The man was running towards us at top speed, waving his hat and yelling frantically.
He looked very upset.
“What on earth can he be saying to us?” I mused outloud.
I cupped my ear and strained to hear.
He was very far away, but his words finally reached us and cut through the air.
“The zebras will kill you!!!”
To be continued…..