“Oh, my goodness, golly gosh, it hurts so bad!”
“Well, Lennard, you shouldn’t have overindulged now, should you!”
An ominous creaking sound bled from the branch upon which Lennard lay rubbing his overly round and stretched stomach.
“I know. I know.” Lennard commented lazily over the top of his stomach gurgles. “But there were so many flavours, and they were all so beautifully displayed, I couldn’t say no.”
Leopold moved out from beneath the direct plummeting direction of Lennard’s branch and found that laying on a higher and thicker limb gave him the added bonus of shade. “Yes, I must admit we don’t see those every day.”
“I know. I know. That’s why I took the opportunity to pounce whilst I could. It's an added bonus that I could hide a bit in the ol’ tree fridge for laters.” A stray piece of left over meat was expertly picked from white gleaming teeth.
Leopold squinted into the highest branches and assessed how much ‘laters’ his cousin had actually stored in the canopy. “Ah, that explains the flies, then.”
A large and flavoursome burp escaped Lennard's cavernous gut and wafted over Leopold’s now partially cleaned fur. "Pardon me!" The stretched-out leopard paused momentarily, taking a deep sigh before again beginning his cleaning regime right from the start.
Lennard patted his deflating stomach and assessed his finicky cousin, who was busy tonguing his front paw. “You’ve done that bit already.”
“Don’t interrupt the flow.” Was mumbled out between long tongue rolls.
Cicadas clicked in timed rhythms, creating the symphony of summer.
“You know, I couldn’t believe it when I saw the car pull up. My first reaction was, ‘really, them again’. I mean, don’t they know our mating season is officially finished?”
“We don’t have a mating season.” Leopold's tongue was now rasping at his leg fur.
“Are you sure? Cos, the last time I tried to crack on to Leanne, she said we as a species have a tiny mating window of just a couple of minutes once a month if it’s the right temperature and moon setting!”
Leopold gave a profound sigh and thought deeply and then selfishly about Leanne and how hard it was for him to get a look in that window, regardless of how long it was open and what moon was about. “Yeah, mate, that’s right. Very small mating window. So much competition. I’m surprised we’re not an endangered species.”
“Yeah, I know. I know, depressing.”
The hot savanna wind rustled the tree’s dark green leaves as heat waved off the baking ground. With the land’s never-ending sigh came a squeaky trumpeting sound.
Leopold started his cleaning routine once again.
“Sorry, it’s the light meat; it makes me fart.”
“Anyway, Leo, there they were, all taking photos of me in the tree. Saying stuff like ‘oh isn’t he beautiful’, ‘look at his spots’, and ‘I just so love leopard print’ when suddenly they all started screaming and shouting and running about. I nearly fell out of the tree in surprise.”
“Was that when Larry and his ladies turned up?”
“Yeah. I mean, I don’t think they were aware that Larry was having a pride party in the grass just behind where they parked and got out. So, it was a wee bit of a surprise for them all when Larry roared his terrible roar.” Lennard laughed at the memory.
“Did Larry get any?”
Lennard snorted. “No, he got too puffed out, and his ladies are all up “Duff Ally”, so they, understandably, weren’t into the whole chase the tourist down routine.”
Leopold looked up once more at his cousin’s cache. “So, tell me, how long did it take you to run down and rip apart your little meat bank?”
“Well,” cooed Lennard, “once Larry went and padded off down to the river to cool off, it was pretty easy. I just sprinted down, got in there, did my thing, got my spoils and sprinted up here and enjoyed my fresh num, nums.”
A piece of fresh meat not adequately secured to the tree fell past both leopards, spattering itself upon the ground. Ants quickly ensconced it, so neither cat felt inclined to fight for its retrieval.
“Don’t you find their meat gets all caught up in your teeth when you have to rip the wrappings off?”
“Oh no, it’s all a paw action thing. I stick my middle nail in, slice upwards, pull apart with both hind claws, and then voila, the meat falls out into my awaiting mouth.”
Quiet, impressed with his cousin's description, Leopold practised the technique on his own branch. “Did the mummies and daddies get upset when you pounced on their little ones’ meat?”
“Nah, the people were all too busy standing in a circle with their cubs in the middle. I even wandered up to them and had a sniff. Boy, do they stink! I mean, I even gagged a couple of times.”
The savanna’s deathly silence was momentarily disrupted by distant trumpeting.
“Oh, sounds like Edward’s mating season window has opened up.”
Leopold sniggered quietly to himself as his cousin continued to ruminate on a full stomach.
“Do you think Leanne would be impressed?”
“Well, all this yummy fresh meat? Do you think she might open her window a little? Like if I gave her some of my meat, maybe? Like she might be really impressed when I tell her about how I hunted it all down, tore it up, and stored it all up in our tree.”
“Yeah, I don’t know, cuz. Leanne’s a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to meat. I don’t think she’s into sausages and hamburger patties and, you know, stealing an esky off the back of a tourist bus and dragging it up the tree whilst every human’s freaking out coz a pack of Lions nearly hunted them down. Well, ya know. I’m impressed! But Leanne… Well, she’s more of a white meat kinda pussy cat, and you’ve eaten all the chicken nuggets, so….”
“Darn, we’re gonna go extinct!’