Death of an Alpha Male Lion

“Why so glum?” I ask.

“I’ve just watched a video on how ends the reign of an aging alpha male lion: mauling to death by a usurping young buck from the pride, perhaps one of his sons or grandsons,” answers J, a Korean high school alum of mine, class of 1956, naturalized and a half century resident of New Jersey. “Tongue hanging out, torn and dangling, I had no idea their tongues were so long, eyes bleeding and closing, broken legs dragging, he lurches and collapses, panting. The whole body twitches, feet pawing weakly, futilely. Then the chest heaves once and all goes still. Instantly flies land on his tongue and eyes, ants crawl all over him. Vultures gather and peck at him. Hyenas arrive and chase them off, before tearing at the carcass. A leopard comes along and claims the whole thing for himself but, bayed and harassed by the hyenas, takes off with a chunk of the rump. The hyenas dig in furiously, snapping at each other, tugging, spilling enough bits and pieces for the vultures and other opportunists. In a few hours there is no sign of the lion, except for some red seepages of blood on the soil, which however gets cleaned up in no time by ants, earthworms, weevils. No trace remains of His Highness, the king of the jungle, as if he has never been.”

“But that’s life, an eternal cycle of something to nothing, then back to something and…”

“As if it ever is something!”

“Well, it makes no difference whether you notice and moan about it or not.”

“That’s the pity of it,” J sighs, eyes filling.

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