The panda was never in any danger. The blue haired girl however was. She did have a natural way of escaping danger, like when she was tip-toeing on the brick wall above old man Joe’s churchyard for ruined cars. The cat resting on the wall looked at her with quiet contemplation as she almost lost her balance, waved her hands forward and then swung herself a bit backwards as to not fall four meters down into the Bentley laying beneath her.
The cat looked almost startled before the girl caught her balance again and tip-toed her way to the end of the wall, petted the cat who had naturally started to doze of again and then jumped down on the other side where there was a large stack of hay to catch her fall.
Or when she was dancing in the rain with her orange umbrella, wearing her flower-power boots and a car slid so close by her that she could feel the touch of the steel on the tip of her finger. It was a hard crash turned gentle.
She had a way of missing these close calls, she didn’t notice or she never paid them any heed. It was hard to tell which, they didn’t seem to touch the inner cool she had about her.
The girl with the blue hair people called her. She always wore her white skirt and a t-shirt to match, the t-shirts were of varied colours but the skirt and the knee high socks were always white. Sometimes she wore a jacket, a pink denim jacket or a black raincoat. She was never in the company of other children but this never seemed to bother her.
She was happy in herself and she had a way of escaping the danger she put herself in.
The day of the incident with the panda she was playing in the green, near the park where the circus had just put up all their tents. She was holding a cotton candy she had received from one of the usurper calling himself Zoo Director. He was a tall man with a glass eye and a red scarf around his neck. He had called her Blue Beauty and given her cotton candy and she had thanked him with a short nod and twirled away from him licking the candy.
The green was big and when she had finished the cotton candy she cartwheeled towards the trash bins and threw the paper spiral away but her physique was greatly affected by the rohypnol in the candy and so she lay down on the grass with her right hand under her chin and fell into a stupor.
The tall man with the red scarf ushered her into the zoo and managed to hide her in the panda cage, which was supposed to be empty, while he was waiting for the others to take their siesta. The panda had, however, been placed in the cage without the director knowing about it and so it was that the panda took the girl into its arms and started to pet her blue hair and chin with its great paws.
It seemed to like the sleeping girl and so it sat there with her head in its arms chewing on a bamboo stick when the director came to retrieve the girl from the cage. She was still dozing away unbeknownst of what was happening around her.
The director was startled by the panda that calmly looked at him when he entered the cage but when the director lay his hand on the girl sleeping the panda made a warning bark at him. There was something hostile and deserted about the way the animal howled. The man withdrew cursing his idiocy and returned to the other side of the bars. The girl didn’t stir but the panda wasn’t cooperating so he went and got the tranquilliser gun they kept for safety near the tiger cages.
When he got back the panda was patting the blue haired girl as if she was her baby. The director cursed and aimed at the panda oblivious of the fact that the tranquillisers were far too potent for the bear. When the animal saw the gun however it started towards the bars and screamed at him, inhuman noises that were sure to wake up the neighbourhood.
The man shot a dart but it hissed right past the panda and into a stack of bamboo that lay on the floor beside the drugged girl. The director cursed and went to look for another dart, when he found none he fetched a large noose he intended to use to tie the panda up with. Luring it around its neck and fastening it to the bars should be easy.
But the panda wasn’t giving up without a fight, it raised itself up on its hind legs, barked its empty park and threw a bamboo stick at the director who ripped the red scarf of his neck and threw it into the cage in anger.
The animal looked perplexed, sniffed the scarf, sneezed and returned to its position by the bars.
That’s when the zoo director decided this battle was ridiculous. He opened the cage and gaited inside, he pushed the panda backwards with his hands and dragged the girl out of the cage by the foot, her blue hair dragging behind like an outstretched folding fan.
The panda wasn’t ready to let go of her baby girl though and ran towards the director, throwing punches at him. The director, so startled by this gesture, fell backwards and landed on a hayfork with a ruckus that frightened the panda into a corner and split his shiny black pants. He growled and he grumbled but managed to drag the girl away into the next room.
He was about to remove the sunshine panties from the little girl when he heard a sound emanating from behind him. Turning around he expected to find the panda standing over him but instead he gazed into the jaws of The Big Kublai, one of the two tigers.
The beast was angry and it tore a large tear in the man’s chest before it bit his throat so that he bled out, colouring the skirt of the girl with the blue hair in a bright red colour that would turn brown before she woke up cuddled up to a sleeping panda, courteously guarded by the Tiger named The Big Kublai.
She never knew how close it came. She never knew that she almost fell offer to the man in the shiny black pants and she probably never realised how close it came that the beast tore her throat open as well.
She changed that day, the girl with the blue hair.
Her hair was still blue, her socks white, her manner of tapping dangerously close to the red line never changed. But the colour of her skirt did. She never wore white skirts again but bright red skirts she called Kublai.
The circus left town the week after. She never went to see the show, instead she practiced drawing pandas and tigers in every school book she owned, on every piece of paper she got a hold of and occasionally she drew an image of the tiger biting the throat of someone.
If that someone was the director or a blue haired girl, we’ll leave unvoiced, but at least the panda was never in any danger.