Horny Little Capybaras

Posted on May 26, 2016

Horny Little Capybaras

by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

In the years since she’d been dumped, the capybara problem had gotten so bad she couldn’t let Solomon out alone. Kristen went to the Mark’s Work Wearhouse on Keele and bought one of those fluorescent orange raincoats and a vest and then splurged on several pairs of fluorescent orange socks, because she was fashionable. She devoted herself—with significant resentment—to her new position as crossing guard at the corner of Bloor and Quebec, an unpaid, volunteer position she created for herself because it gave her an easy view of the park, which is where they lived, where they…scurried. The problem started six years earlier and was a direct result of a botched mating scheme on the part of a misguided zookeeper in High Park. On that day, mid-May if she recalled correctly, two horny little capybaras had escaped their enclosure and did precisely what you would expect from horny little capybaras.

Cabybaras, if you don’t already know, can have up to eight live babies at a time. They mate in water, which in Kristen’s opinion was a little too porno, and was also, in her opinion, where the team of frantic conservationalists and capybara fanatics should probably have gone looking for them in the first place. Certainly, these days, the herd tended to languish down at the pond, or even further south, at the lake, gazing out to the horizon. That is to say, you could find them there if they weren’t marauding through the brush, whistling through their sexy noses at each other and reproducing.

“They’re cute,” Sol had said to her that morning.

“They are filth made manifest.”

“Look at their adorable buck teeth.”

“That never stop growing.”

“Mum, I can walk to school on my own.”

“No, Sol. No you can’t.”

Kristen had basically taken it upon herself to (wo)man the entire route Solomon took to and from school—up Ellis, along Bloor, and down to Runnymede and then its reverse on the way home—and while he was safe and indoors, she stood guard for any kid needing safe passage along the park. It wasn’t unusual these days for capybara battalions to saunter up Bloor, making it impossible for traffic to penetrate. Someone had recently witnessed a group capybara love-in at the wading pool in the north end of park, and she had not been able to repress the visual of the description—thrashing water, nasal trills, and a crescendo of whiny culminations. Who knew rodents had such vibrant, noisy relations? She did not want Solomon or any other minor to be exposed to this.

She looked up Quebec Street to discover a man in a trench coat coaxing five renegade capybaras away from the subway opening. “Scoot,” he said. “Scoot.”

“Oh, brother,” she muttered, when she realized the man was Mel Cotton, aka Solomon’s dad, aka the last person on earth she ever wanted to see. She turned away and tried to look inconspicuous but it was too late. He’d seen her.

“Kristen! Hey, nice to see you.”

She hated his manipulative friendliness, his bon vivance, if that was a thing.

“Oh, Mel, hi.”

“They’re everywhere.”

“Right?”

“Breeding like flies.”

Clichéd, she thought, but okay. “Yeah.” She preferred not to speak about breeding with Mel. “I’m patrolling the perimeter,” she said, and gestured to High Park.

Mel nodded.

“I wanted to be highly visible,” she added, suddenly self-conscious about her outfit.

“You look good in highly visible attire,” Mel said.

What was she supposed to say to that? She just stared, scrolling through options in her mind until the silence became awkward, or to be fair, more awkward. In order to not be rude, she had left her post at the corner and met him halfway between the subway opening and the pharmacy, and in her frenzy to find the correct response, had become distracted. She saw some alarm on Mel’s face and turned in time to see a massive herd crossing from the park into the city—hundreds, thousands of capybara.

“A litter of four, say, a year,” she whispered. They were, she saw with a kind of paralyzed terror, running toward her.

“Up to eight,” said Mel.

“Have you done the math?” She realized he had sidled up to her in some sort of impulsive protective attempt. He was shielding her, or something.

“Three thousand, two hundred, and fifty, I reckon. I’ve missed you,” said Mel.

“That’s a lot.” She tried then to make herself big, opened her raingear and flapped about, but the capybaras menaced her. They saw her as a tree, something to sniff at, an obstacle. They advanced quickly, horrifically, but then parted where Mel and Kristen stood and just kept on up the road, gaining speed.

“Did you hear what I said?” he said, when the last had passed them.

“Yes,” she said. “I heard.”

“And?”

The capybaras had ravaged her socks, she saw. They were filthy. “You need to get a life,” she said. She looked up toward Sol’s school, and wondered what time it might be. She witnessed the scourge of rodent shit, and stench of capybara pheromones lingering up the street. The herd, she saw, had turned a corner.