TITLE: The Capital Zoo
The first penguin disappeared on a Tuesday.
"I just came in and Kissinger was gone," Jenny told her boss, pacing in front of him, a bucket full of herring wobbling in her hand. Sy Dunlop looked across the ice-colored, glassed-in habitat at a flock of black and white penguins going about their business, like wealthy tuxedoed party guests conducting some last-minute business before the band started up.
"Kissinger is my favorite penguin! I always look for him," she explained.
Dunlop shifted around uncomfortably, trying to pretend he wasn't freezing. Outside, DC's August sun was roasting the zoo; inside, it was Antarctica.
Jenny was still talking: "But then he still didn't come out, even when I called for him, and I know calling a penguin doesn't really do any good, I know they're not dogs or whatever, but you know how it is, you sort of feel like you know them, right?"
Dunlop had no idea what she was talking about. He didn't feel like he knew any penguins, and he didn't want to, either.
As a middle manager -- well, upper-middle, he corrected himself -- his job never concerned animals, only personnel, and the zoo staff was more than enough to handle. He eyed the penguins skeptically. They seemed to be taking an interest in that food bucket Jenny was swinging around and had begun to waddle toward it.