A renegade from the world of Beetlejuice, you could only know him as “The Panther Man”.
Up from the swamps of the southern outback like gutter-fried insanity, he mutters on. Not quite a military combat veteran, but “a wannabee” as it’s Tarzan USA pitted-up against a safari of feral jungle cats. . . . . all but in a loin-cloth, cammo-jacket, and spiked razor-back hair like some kind of wild hog, on two legs.
There have been pictures of “ground zero” down at an outdoors “Poison” concert, a mud-hole of stump-frump, dazed-eyed slope-heads looking like they crawled out of a Babylon latrine with bloody animal-bones and pin-prick eyes, your relative of the Florida boardwalk barnacle in an Hawaiian shirt and a pager, making drug deals.
But this is the St. Louis zoo, up north. “Big Cat Country”, in fact or the area closer to the sunset and golden roar of the highway as true as when the concrete was poured for this outdoor exhibit back in 1977. You have the roarin’ tiger, a circus poster of a ferocious maned lion like leopard-skin seat-covers and zebra Memphis-Mafia hats like pimps.
This, as the families walk by pushing strollers. Their mindset is more a relic of the stuffed-animal you would find in the gift-shop.
Out here, though– it’s about testing yourself “against that primal scream, out there” as a muscular-shouldered snow leopard trains past with its muzzle snorting through its whiskers by the wire-mesh cage, when it’s not lurking beneath a piss-soaked tree trunk like captured malevolence.
Part “Deliverance”. . . . . maybe “Prince of Tides”. . . . . THE PANTHER MAN slurs through an inner-monologue like Jerry Lee Lewis high on Hadycol and mountains of coke atop a piano, or maybe just the chipper, low-slung brightness of a mechanic in a Jiffy Lube cap and coveralls. The subject always turns to the killing-power of firearms, or bodybuilding, or fast cars down at the Tri-City Speedway.
Crack-brained incoherence, like “white-line fever” after an amphetamine binge. He grips a pocket knife in his teeth and hooks his fingers into the cage as he climbs up like “G.I. Joe” with the stealth of a panther.
It’s to prove his manhood, after-all. Like youthful exuberance and “BLACK CAT FIRECRACKERS” with a head muddy with alcohol and mischief.
He lives to tell the tale! Don’t mix vodka, orange juice, and a whole spleen full of “panther piss”. You could have your face end up on “COPS”.