when dr x returned from his relaxation period, he was stunned to find his humans gone.
he summoned nurse y, and asked her what had happened.
nurse y exclaimed that doctor z, who had long complained that dr x’s treatment of the humans was improper, had finally succeeded in bringing the board to his opinion. the humans had been taken away two days ago, preparatory to being released into their “natural habitat”.
but they do not have a natural habitat, dr x exclaimed. the laboratory, and the center, are the only habitats they have ever known!
i know you have discussed this many times with the board, nurse y reminded dr x. but there was nothing i could do. their papers were all in order.
of course, nurse, of course, i did not mean to fault you in any way. but dr z - there are no words to describe that two-timing rascal!
the humans have only been gone two days, doctor, and i took the occasion to give their quarters a thorough cleaning - in case you succeed in getting them back.
that was very good, nurse. i commend you for your farsightedness.
nurse y departed, leaving dr x alone with his thoughts.
dr x burned with righteous indignation. was his life’s work, all his hopes of fame and advancement and tthe approval of his fellows to vanish in an instant?
not that he had not had warning.
it had all begun on a cold winter day when dr x had been showing his laboratory and explaining his progress to dr z and a couple of other members of the interdisciplinary committee.
the interdisciplinary committee was a body charged with an easy oversight of individual researchers, basically to ensure that the researchers were actually doing something, anything, and not completely slacking off. their visits were regarded as routine, and most researchers looked forward to them as an opportunity to get a free lunch at the interdisciplinary committee’s expense.
so dr x had at first been mildly surprised, but not really annoyed, at dr z’s questions.
dr x had four humans under his care whom he had been studying for years. two males named genghis khan and johnny carson , and two females named jezebel and margaret thatcher. he had inherited genghis khan and jezebel from his mentor, dr b, and had raised johnny carson and margaret thatcher from the time of their births.
i do not think, dr z had begun, that these creatures are being provided with an environment suited to their needs and natures.
dr x was taken aback. they are being provided, he replied politely, with their proper environment, insofar as we can determine what that environment was. my predecessor, dr b, and myself have always followed the consensus as to what that is.
that is all very well, dr z replied in an acid tone, but your wonderful consensus has come under attack in recent years, as i would have expected you to know.
yes, dr x replied, dissenting voices have been raised, but dissenting voices are always being raised, in every discipline. i am confident i am still well within the boundaries of what is accepted in the discipline. dr x pointed to the humsns. look at them yourself, he asked with a confident smile, do they seem at all discontented?
the humans could be seen behind the large glass window of the laboratory. genghis khan was devouring an italian sub with fries, jezebel and margaret thatcher were watching masterpiece theater on a thirty inch t v, and johnny carson was taking a nap.
they are what they are, dr x continued, creatures who enjoy a curiously varied diet -
which does not come cheap. dr t, another one of the visiting committeepersons
dr x ignored the interruption. but who are easily pacified and and amused, with repetitious entertainment, he concluded.
but that is the problem, dr z insisted. they should not be pacified and amused, but allowed to assume their true natures as primates, as hunter gatherers in the forests, like their ancestors,
but this is all they have ever known, dr x, now becoming a bit annoyed, replied. and more to the point, all that their ancestors, for hundreds of generations, knew.
what many, not all, of their ancestors may have known for generations, dr z responded. but that was the problem - that was what caused their near extinction - that they had become so far removed from their true natures. but they are primates, sir, primates! and you are replicating the cause of their near extinction!
i think, dr t interrupted smoothly, that this is not the place for such a discussion. we see that dr x is running a tight and clean ship here, and that all the correct protocols are in place. that is all that need concern us here today. if dr z has objections to dr x’s basic approach, i am sure he is aware of the proper channels to pursue those objections. i believe it is time for lunch.
that was the first time dr x had been aware of dr z and his agenda. there had been annoyances since then, but dr x had never thought it would come to this.
so the humans were to be released into their “natural” forest habitat, to forage for themselves for the water they had been always provided with, and for food - grubs and roots and termites and whatnot - that they had never dreamed of - and maybe some berries that they would have no wheaties for the berries to be put on, and some bananas and mangoes that they would not know how to slice.
and in competition with gorillas and chimps and baboons who were stronger than they were, and old hands at the game.
and maybe bears and lions and tigers as well! and pythons!
his poor babies. he could imagine genghis and jezebel, who were not getting any younger, trying to climb a tree to get at a handful of poison berries, and falling and breaking their necks.
and poor margaret thatcher, how would she get through the day without her jelly donuts, and without perry mason and the real housewives of miami, and without her hot chocolate with opium before she went to sleep every night.
and johnny carson, with his endless yawns and naps, spending a day looking for a puddle or trickle of water. unfiltered water!
hunter gatherers, indeed!
dr x wept for his children, and for himself.