Anita, Alma and Alice

Tuesday's gatherings were held at Alice's and this was definitely Tuesday. They would arrive at two, punctuality was the norm. Why the three of them gathered to gossip and enjoy each other's company was still a mystery but not as puzzling as why they were friends at all. They had nothing in common; therefore' tedium might be the singular reason. They were simply bored and felt life was passing them by.

Each had one offspring, now gone and on their own, rarely coming home to visit or going out of their way to stay in touch. Past the age for conception now, companionship was the only simple pleasure left. Sometimes their assemblage would end bitterly. Hurt feelings, harsh words uttered in a fit of anger or jealousy, their internecine squabbles were marked by weeks of solitude; no one willing to apologize. Eventually, all was forgiven and forgotten and things slowly returned to normalcy, whatever that was.

Anita was unshakable and steady but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. The other two depended on her unwavering rationality. The exception being the time Alice criticized her for not smiling and asked her why she started walking on her knuckles. Anita snarled and stuck out her rather long tongue to remind Alice just who she was. Regardless of the nature of their hostilities and ill will, eventually everyone surrendered their ego and made up.

If any of them had reason to worry, it was Alma. Her life expectancy was constantly in question and for good reason. Even her most distant cousins had reputations for short life spans. Perhaps that explained why Alma was the most high-strung of the three and given to periodic fits of histrionics. Clearly, she was also the most pleasing to the eye. Compared with the other two friends, she was atrociously beautiful.

The least attractive of them, physically, depended upon the eye of the beholder. Alice was the most intelligent and, in her own way, emotionally the warmest and clearly apathetic. She was also the only non-native of the three although her roots were close by. Of the three, she was the second most likely to take umbrage at an unintentional slur. Not unlike the time Alma, teasingly, called her a churlish chimpanzee. Quick-thinking and occasionally vituperative Alice responded with something to the effect that Alma was, in fact, nothing more than a steroidal camel with an over-priced veneer. Alma then proceeded to snap back. 'Then you must be a bilious baboon.' A retaliation she later regretted uttering. Alice slapped her so soundly the otherwise sure-footed Alma nearly fell. That sent Alma into a high dudgeon for weeks but all that was in the past.

The sun was fading as they enjoyed the afternoon together as if they hadn't seen each other in years. A most incongruous sight one cannot imagine and it was the second time they were oblivious to their being watched. Every move was under careful scrutiny.

Approximately eighty yards away, Guillermo Echeverria, an anthropologist with the Chilean Government, peered intently through his binoculars, stunned by what he saw. He had never observed such a sight in his entire career. No doubt one day the scientific journals will attempt to explain the phenomenon in one or more of their typical erudite theories along with global warming. The truth is, Alma Alpaca (distant aunt of Louise Llama), Anita Anteater (no relation to Anna Aardvark) and Alice O. Anthropoidal (the O. stands for Orangutan) are just good friends, nothing more' nothing less.