Editor’s Note: “Traffic Report” is an excerpt from the novel, Setting the Family Free, published October 2019 by Loyola University’s Apprentice House Press. Copyright, © Eric D. Goodman. This excerpt is reprinted with the permission of the publisher.
This is your eye in the sky, the WCHL Traffic Copter. If you’re just now tuning in for the first time today, here’s a word of advice: stay home. You heard me right, folks: authorities have advised everyone in the Chillicothe area to remain indoors today and to stay off the roads. If you’re already driving to work, go back home. It’s a zoo out there—literally.
Lions and bears, wild cats and wolves have all escaped from a local animal reserve here in Chillicothe. If you leave your house today, you’re walking into a danger zone. It’s best to stay indoors.
For those of you braving the commute, be advised that bears have been spotted along Main Street headed into the downtown area. Already this morning, four reports have come in of bears attacking cars at stoplights. No windows have been broken or injuries reported, but there have been some frightened passengers and some dinged up vehicles.
A pride of lions—that’s a whole family of them— is reportedly traveling together. I haven’t been able to spot them from up here, but authorities believe they were in the city early this morning and may be headed north outside of Chillicothe. They could still be in the downtown area, so stay alert.
Also, leopards and panthers and other wild cats are on the loose that have not been found since their escape yesterday afternoon. I’m telling you folks, it’s the day to call in. If you can stay home, you’d better do it.
Right now, I’m looking at a major traffic jam entering downtown Chillicothe on Main Street, and the cause is a bear that keeps banging into bottlenecked cars. Police are aware of the bear and are said to be on their way.
Oh, my! I’m seeing police respond now! The police—two of them, racing up the shoulder, jumping out of the car and . . . yes, they have opened fire. The bear—yes, yes, it’s down. It looks like the bear’s dead, right in the middle of Main Street. Wow.
Folks, the bear is down, but lions and other wild cats remain on the loose, so today is the day to avoid the roads. Do not leave your house if you don’t have to. All state, federal and local government have implemented liberal leave for the day—you will not be denied leave—and schools are closed throughout Chillicothe and the surrounding areas. Businesses and employers have been asked by police to approve requests to take the day off, and everyone is encouraged to stay home.
If you’re just tuning in, folks, a bear has been shot and killed by police on Main Street only moments ago, and that’s causing a major backup. Other wild animals are on the loose and may possibly be in downtown Chillicothe and the surrounding area. I’m your WCHL eye in the sky, looking today not only for traffic conditions, but for the animal conditions in Chillicothe. Stay indoors, and stay safe.
Eric D. Goodman is the author of four books, including Tracks: A Novel in Stories (Atticus, 2011) and Womb: a novel in utero (Merge, 2017). “Traffic Report” is an excerpt from his new novel, Setting the Family Free (Apprentice House, 2019). Learn more about Eric and his writing on his website. This is his first feature on The Fictional Café.