“We were surrounded by a gang of ****ing humans. What would you do, invite them to tea?” So says Black Llama, one half of Sun City Arizona’s famous camelid pair, now safe in their home corral after spending an hour roaming the city on hoof. Startled by the closing of a trailer door, the two llamas booked for open ground, evading their handler, area police, a posse of well-meaning residents waving romaine, and a visor-wearing woman, who for some reason thought running towards a llama waving her hands about like a madwoman was a viable strategy.
“Trailer door my ass. I saw daylight. That was enough for me. Did you see visor-woman? Let’s just say she wasn’t exactly a llama whisperer.” Black Llama accentuated his outrage with a derisive snort. “The best part had to be the search chopper. Must have been a slow news day. We went for a canter, people. It’s not like we killed someone.” After a pause, he added, “Guess I should be glad they were only armed with lassos and lettuce.”
White Llama, his partner in non-crime nodded from the sidelines. Still skittish from their earlier encounter, throughout our discussion, she occasionally checked the sky for hovering onlookers. Black Llama gave her a reassuring lean, then said as an aside, “Thank goodness Amazon doesn’t have drones yet. We’d have to put her on Valium.”
When reminded that he ran from the same rancher who gave him food and shelter, Black Llama scoffed at the idea. “It’s not like he invented grass. He’s not even Peruvian. He’s a retiree from Jersey or something, I don’t remember.” He nudged me with his nose. “Come on. Think about it. ‘How about a trip to Sun City?’ sounds like a euphemism if I ever heard one.”
“We have trust issues. Can you blame us?” said White Llama, finally joining our conversation. She checked the area for eavesdroppers, and the sky once more, just for good measure. “Just a few months ago the human said, ‘maybe you’d like a trim?’ I agreed to a half inch just to get rid of the split ends, maybe a sleek blow-out. Next thing you know, I look like a poodle. Bangs are NOT a good look for me, and the awkward grow-out phase took forever.” She stifled a sob. “I did not sign up for this.”
Black Llama doled out the low-down. “When the human asks if you want to do something, it’s not really a question, and nothing good is coming. Especially when he uses the voice.” To demonstrate, he squished up his face and said, in a sing-song, “Who wants to go for a ride in the trailer? That’s right! You!”
White Llama shuddered. “I hate the voice. It is the harbinger of doom.”
Black Llama rolled his lip, baring a sizable set of teeth. “The stupid dog falls for it every time. He doesn’t even need a harness. He just hops right in the truck.” He gestures at a hound rolling a well-loved tennis ball around the corral with his nose. “Sucker.” The dog looked up briefly, then went back on task, moving the tennis ball another few feet.
Black Llama continued. “We know it’s either a show or a shot, and frankly, I’m not sure which one I hate more. It’s a sick game of would-you-rather. Stand still for one sharp poke that lasts a few seconds, or a million little pokes over a three hour time frame. Either way, it’s a pain in the ass.”
“And when it’s all done, the human gushes ‘you’re such a good llama’. Like I give two shits.” White Llama’s use of the voice devolves into a verbal sneer.
“You usually do, and then some,” countered Black Llama, which elicited a embarrassed titter from his partner.
White Llama nodded toward Black Llama “He’s the clever one. I’m the pretty one.”
Her smile faded and she looked toward something in the distance only she could see. Her voice was a whisper. “I almost made it.” Perhaps it was the shadow of hope. “I’m not asking for much. A green pasture, clean water, some sunshine, and not having three dudes in a pickup following behind me while trying to throw a lasso over my head. Comprenderme?”
“Don’t listen to these two. They’re dramallamas.” The third llama (now known as the llama that stayed at home or Llama TSAH), who stayed in the trailer while White Llama and Black Llama went on the run, chewed on a wad of grass while speaking. “We were going to walk hallways and let people pet us. Big deal.”
Black Llama snapped at the Llama TSAH. “No one asked you.” He turned back to me. “Petting is for dogs.” Just as he finished speaking, the dog sauntered past me to bring the ball to the approaching rancher.
The rancher stopped and the dog dropped the ball at his feet. The farmer bent over both knees and sang, “Who’s a smart boy? You are! Yes you are!” and winged the ball over the fence to the next yard. The dogs ears flapped as he ran.
The rancher made his approach, calling to me with a friendly voice. “Nice creatures, llamas. Smart, too. Not as smart as the dog, though. He comes back when I call him.”
Black Llama gave me a knowing look. “I rest my case.” He sighed. “I deserve a little dignity.”
Well said, Black Llama. Don’t we all.