Sock Puppets

Howard feels frustrated with his job.


Characters: ,


Genre: ,




Length: words

Challenge: Challenge 05: Picture Challenge

Notes: I try to write stories, god knows I try. They just all turn into scripts.

Sock Puppets by cailenbraern

“What are you doing?”

“…I’m customising”



“What, your scarf?”

“Yeah! I’ve got an image to maintain. If even one small part of my wardrobe isn’t right, I’m a mess! I’m a disgrace!”

“Yeah, but do you really need all that stuff on your scarf?”



“Look at this. Genius isn’t it? Sequins, feathers, diamante, it’s amazing! Before it was just boring old wool.”

“You’re a very simple man, Vince.”

“All right then, what are you doing then?”

“What am I doing?”

“Tell me what you’re doing.”

“I’m thinking Vince.”

“About what?”

“About my time here at the zoo, you know? About Bainbridge, how he got to the top. You know, everyone around me’s gone on to bigger or better things or been promoted…”

“I haven’t.”

“Well no, but you don’t want all that stuff do you?”

“Oh yeah, right.”

“You know? As long as you’ve got your hairdryer, a mirror and an adoring animal audience, you’re happy. Yeah? Like a merry marsupial.”

“That is true.”

“Yes sir.”

“Why are you thinking about all that bleak stuff anyway?”

“Because I haven’t done anything around here. I’m a nobody.”

“You’re not!”

“I am!”

“Come on Howard, you’re the man around here. Know what they call you?”


“They call you Barunkoo! The brown tiger that leaps forth and kills your mind with the fruity jazz forces.”

“Fruity jazz forces?”

“Or something like that.”

“I’m going nowhere, Vince. I haven’t got a hope of being promoted while Fossil’s around. Maybe it’s time I started looking around for another job.”

“What? Leave the zoo?”

“Yes, Vince. Leave the zoo.”

“Leave me?”

“You’ll be all right Vince. You know? I’ve done all I can for you now, watch you shape up in to the person you are. I moulded you. I sculpted your very soul. Your soul was plasticine Vince.”

“Well, what about the zoo? The zoo is your life!”

“I can’t do it anymore Vince.”

“I can’t believe you’re just gonna leave me.”

“Hey, you’ll be fine, eh? Yeah? Talk to your animals, dress them up, all that stuff?”

“Well what are you gonna do then?”

“Well, I don’t know. Let me check my list.”

“What list?”

“The list of things I wanted to achieve in my life.”

“Give us a look!”


Jazz Maverick
Cream Poet
Head Zookeeper
Sock puppets

“Sock puppets?!”

“Give that back. That’s personal!”

“Sock puppets is your life’s ambition?”

“One of them.”


“I like them! I can work those babies you know? Make them come alive. Living gloves. Gloves of life.”

“Well go on then!”


“Give us a show!”

“I haven’t got any with me.”

“Doesn’t matter, just pretend you have. Give me some puppetry!”

“All right then!”

“Moon! And Vincey, baby! Come my office right away!”

“Looks like it’ll have to wait, little man. Come on, finish your cuppa.”

“Alright, you two, sit down. Not you Moon.”

“What do you want Mr. Fossil?”

“Shut up Moon! I didn’t call you in here to listen to your words!”

“What did you call me in for then?”

“Alright. Now as you know, Dixon Bainbridge is going on another expedition. Moon! I heard you roll your eyes!”


“Shut up! Anyway, he’s going for two years, so there’s a spot opening up for Head zookeeper.”

“See, Howard? Head zookeeper!”

“That’s right, cupcake. Now I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and looking over resumes…and stuff. There was a lot of paperwork, some of it had strange symbols on it. Anyway, the new Head Zookeeper will be Vince Noir.”

“What? No way!”

“You’re making Vince Head Keeper?”

“You got a problem with that, Moon?”

“Yes I do! Vince doesn’t do anything around here apart from sing to animals and dress them up!”

“As if! I do loads round here!”

“What do you do?”

“I clean out the cages!”

“The only time you clean out any of the enclosures is when you’re wearing a poncho. A poncho that isn’t included in the guidelines for uniforms.”

“I can talk to animals.”

“So? I can talk to socks.”

Howard holds up his hand and folds it into a claw, as if there was a sock puppet there.

“(In a high voice) Oh look, at me! I’m Vince Noir, rock and roll star! I can talk to animals, and one day I might become a pop star when I learn to sing!”

Vince glares and does the same with his hand, only instead of speaking in a high voice he speaks in a low voice.

“I’m Howard Moon, Jazz freak and spanner! Nobody loves me because I’m so utterly useless at everything. I can’t even write a sentence or talk to girls!”

“How dare you!”

Howard storms out of the office.

“Howard? Howard!”

Vince gives chase.

“Howard! Wait up!”

“Leave me alone, Vince.”

“Oh come on, don’t be like that!”

“Like what?”

“You’re all angry. I don’t like you when you’re angry.”

“It’s a wonder you like me at all since I’m so useless at everything!”

“No, look I didn’t mean any of that stuff! You didn’t mean what you said, did you?”

“I can’t stay here anymore.”

“Where are you gonna go?”

“I don’t care. I can’t stay.”

Howard walks out of the Zoo gates, leaving Vince staring dumbfoundly.

“Sit down, Noir.”

“Noir? What happened to Vince?”

“You lost Vince when you became Head keeper, now sit down!”

“What’s wrong, Mr. Fossil?”

“What’s wrong? You’ve been Head keeper for three days now. How are things?”

“Not bad, I mean, it’s a little bit more difficult than I expected…”

“Not bad? You think things are not bad? We’ve got marmosets swinging from the tannoy system. We’ve got gorillas raiding the ice cream van. There’s elephants in the beauty salon. The hippos are running around on roller blades, and the otters have somehow gotten hold of some baseball bats and are whacking the hyenas with them, and you think things are NOT BAD?!”

“Don’t worry alright? I’ve got it all under control.”

“How did this happen Noir? You used to be such a good keeper!”

“I’m not really.”


“I know it seems that way, I mean, I am practically perfect, but all the zoo stuff, Howard did all that. The animals don’t like him, but they feared him, he could control them. I can’t do that, the animals love me. They don’t listen to a word I say.”

“Well, where the hell is Moon?”

“He quit.”

“What? When?”

“About ten minutes after you named me head keeper. He came in here, shouted at you and then punched you with Maisie Green.”


“That’s one of his sock puppet characters.”

“Oh yeah, I remember her. He’s pretty good at that!”

“Oh! He’s amazing!”

“Yeah! Anyway! I want you to go to his place, and convince him to come back! Tell him I’ll make him head keeper!”

“No way! He won’t listen to me!”

“I thought you two were pals, or lovers or something…”

“We are! Friends, that is, but we had a bit of an argument, and now he’s not talking to me. Anyway, he’d love to hear you tell him that the zoo needs him.”

“Yeah, and I’d rather cut off my nuts and throw them at the lions! I want to see Moon back here tomorrow! Now get out of my office!”

Vince approaches a flat. The paint on the door is cracked and peeling, and there is a hole in the wall to the right. Vince knocked on the door, scared to ring the bell in case it electrocuted him. After a long while, the door opens and Howard is standing there, wearing nothing but a dressing gown.

“Hey, Howard!”

“What do you want?”

“What’s happened to you, you look awful!”

“…What do you want?”

“Can I come in?”

Howard shrugs, but steps back to let Vince through. Vince walks in through the door and trips over a pile of beer cans, sprawling forward. He lands on his palms, and pushes himself back up.

“This place is a mess!”

“What do you want?”

“Look, Howard, about the sock puppets, I’m really sorry about that, alright? I didn’t mean any of that stuff.”

Howard holds the door open.

“Apology accepted. Thanks for dropping by.”

“This isn’t just about the sock puppets, is it?”

“Yes it is, goodbye!”

“This is about me getting head zookeeper isn’t it?”

“No, it’s not. I’m really pleased for you, Vince, now shouldn’t you be at work?”

“Well, then what is this all about?”

“What’s all what?”

“You haven’t shaved, Howard. I can’t even see your moustache anymore. It’s buried under your beard! And look at this place, it’s a rubbish tip.”

“Look, you’ve apologised, I’ve accepted, now can you leave me alone? Unless there was something else you wanted?”

“Come back to the zoo.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Why not?”

“Look, just leave me alone, yeah? Please?”

“No, I won’t.”

“Why not?”

“I want you to tell me what’s wrong.”

“Oh, what do you care? You’re too busy preening yourself or running the zoo to care about how I feel!”

“That’s not true! I do care about you. More than anyone else!”

“Oh really? You must have a fondness for jazz freaks and spanners then!”

“I knew that was what this was about!”

“No it’s not! It’s a combination of things.”

“Look, I don’t care about that stuff Howard. If I did, I’d have got shot of you years ago.”


“Yes. Come back to the zoo?”

“Why? You don’t need me there, you’re head keeper!”

“I know I am, I miss you though.”

“Do you?”

“Absolutely! It’s no fun without you there. “

“Are you saying I’m fun?”



“You bet!”


“The best!”


“Fucking gorgeous!…Er…I mean, generically sexy.”

“What did you say?”

“Generically sexy.”

“No the first bit.”

“What first bit?”

“Don’t lie to me, Vince. What did you say?”

“I said you were fucking gorgeous.”

“I am, am I?”

“Alright! Stop milking it!”

“Oh, that little gem will satisfy me for at least a year.”

“I’ve really missed you Howard.”

“I’ve only been gone three days.”

“It feels longer. I just…you’re more than a friend to me, and it feels cold when you’re not around. I feel vulnerable without you to protect me.”

“Vince, you sound positively poetic.”

“Well, it’s true!”

“You want me back?”

“More than anything.”

“Fine, I’ll come back.”

“What? Nice one!”

“On one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“I want a bit of respect around the zoo.”

“No problem! I’ll get Fossil to make us joint head zookeepers, eh? You and me? The style and the brains?”

“Just like old times.”


“I’m glad to be going back actually. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but, I’ve gone to pieces without you Vince.”

Vince looks around the messy flat.

“Can’t say I have.”

“Look at me, Vince. I’ve missed you too.”



“Shut up.”


“Go and shave.”


“Well, gorgeous as you may be, I want to kiss you, and I’m not going anywhere near you with that on your face.”

Howard rubs his hand across his chin. He turns and runs down the hallway towards the bathroom before tripping up over a pizza box.

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