The Zoo is a miserable place with miserable animals and the Zooniverse is the worst offender.
Howard moon was a 35 year old man with light life-less wavy brown hair and a thin mustache. He was a tragically handsome man. He had the look of a sad shadow as he shuffled around the zoo with a broom and a bucket day after day. None of his coworkers were interested in talking to him as the vibes he put out weren't exactly friendly. He ate his lunch alone, fed the animals alone and cleaned up their pens alone. His days were long and dry, and out of loneliness he often talked to himself.
He mused about how he should be so much bigger than the zoo, and how no one else's opinions mattered but his own, and how he would show them all. It was such loser talk that even the animals were frustrated with his constant lamenting.
At the end of the day Howard would shuffle to the Zookeeper's quarters where he lived thanks to the kindness of the Zoo's previous Owner Tommy Nookah. Before getting hired at the zoo Howard was a University drop-out. He had all the brains but the lack of friends, and the bullying from peers was too much for him. His parents were ashamed and turned him away, so he found himself on the street. That was where Tommy Nookah found him, between two bins in an alley behind the zoo. He saw something in Howard and offered him a job at the zoo and a dry place to sleep.
Things were looking up for Howard as he spent his days mentoring under Tommy and learning the ropes at the zoo. He became very interested in animals and studied them on his free time, reading every book the zoo had to offer. Tommy became a role model and a best friend for Howard. The only friend he'd ever really had. Howard dreamed of becoming head zookeeper and one day taking over the zoo- his life had purpose again and for a brief time he was happy.
That all changed when Dixon Bainbridge bought the zoo.
Pay cuts were made, people were fired, and animals were not given the proper care the needed to survive in captivity. Bainbridge was a man of the world, and a very greedy one at that. He was always after his next dollar and he saw the zoo as an opportunity. Tommy and Bainbridge went head to head several times before Bainbridge had him mysteriously disappear. Howard was once again alone, but luckily he was allowed to live at the zoo even after Tommy was gone.
Tommy was replaced by a dimwitted man named Bob Fossil. No doubt Bainbridge selected him because he was easily manipulated. Fossil regularly ridiculed Howard and made him feel like the scum of the earth. He would put Howard through his paces and make his life a living hell. Things were worse now than they had been when Howard lived on the streets. The stress from his long days were keeping him awake through the night.
Night after night Howard would lay awake staring at the ceiling of the zookeeper's quarters. He tried counting sheep, he tried reading, he tried repeating facts about animals he'd read about, but nothing helped him to sleep. Now he was a shell of a man shuffling around the zoo with a broom and a bucket.
On this particular day Howard was sweeping the walkways for the customers. His eyes staring at the ground as he stroked the pavement slowly with his corn-broom. He stared for so long he started to get lost in the movement of the sweep. It had been months since he slept, he desperately wanted to see a doctor about it but that was out of the question. So he found himself zoning out on a regular basis through the days.
"Are you alright?" A soft male voice accompanied by a gentle touch to the shoulder woke Howard from his trans. He looked up into the eyes of a young man with a cheeky smile and a large hairdo.
"Yeah." Howard shook his head in embarrassment. "Sorry, enjoy the zoo." He turned quickly to walk away.
"Wait-" Howard stopped. A kind person talking to him felt very strange and unnatural. He turned slowly. The young man stood there with a hip out and both hands in his pockets. "This monkey is hungry." Howard's brow became wrinkled in confusion but did not make eye contact.
"The monkeys are fed routinely twice a day." He said his rehearsed line while staring at the ground shoulders slumped.
"Right, well that's not what he said." The young man threw his thumb backwards to gesture the monkey sitting behind him on a branch. The monkey had his tiny hands wrapped around the bars and looked straight at the young man. Howard gulped and now looked the man right in the eyes. "He says he barely gets one meal a day these days."
"How do you know that?" Howard shifted uncomfortably and wrapped his arms around himself and the broom handle.
"I just told you, didn't I? He said it to me." Again he thrust his thumb back at the monkey.
"That's impossible. Monkey's don't talk." Howard shook his head and looked at the ground with wild confused eyes.
"They talk to me." The man shrugged. "All the animals talk to me. That's why I come here." He flashed a smile and threw his head to the side.
"Yeah right." Howard tried to laugh but it came out as a weird breath and a creepy smile. His eyes darted up and back down quickly. "Look, I haven't slept in days I'd really appreciate you not messing with me. Please enjoy the zoo." Howard turned his back and began walking away. But the young man followed close behind.
"Wait- why haven't you slept in days?" He was right beside Howard now, looking directly into his eyes. Howard's eyes shifted to his and back down as he tried to speed walk away from him.
"I have insomnia. It's pretty common."
"No way! So how long has it really been- since you've slept?" He looked at Howard with wonder- it was a kind of look that made Howard feel like maybe he was someone people would want to talk to. He stopped walking and tried to straighten his back a little.
"It's been at least 3 months." His shoulders dropped again. "Or at least I think it's 3… you lose all track of the days when you're awake all the time."
"Cool." The young man looked on and nodded his head. Howard looked at him with confusion.
"It's not that cool, is it? I don't sleep. It's like a living nightmare. Every day is the same and there is no end to it. It could drive a weaker man mad." Howard looked right at the young man now.
"I imagine I would just party through the nights, work through the days."
"You wouldn't last five days without sleep." Howard scoffed. "You're a cream puff, you'd break down."
"I would not, I'm as hard as they come."
The two men were standing face to face looking directly at each other. Something Howard never did. It was a weird sensation for him- having a real conversation with someone. There was silence for a moment and then Howard looked away awkwardly.
"I can really talk to animals though." The young man said slowly swinging himself back and forth and looking at the ground. "I've been able to do it since I was a little boy." Howard looked down at the man's face to see some sign of lies- but there was nothing. He almost felt bad for him, coming to the zoo all the time, trying to make sense of this strange gift he had.
"Maybe I can get you a job here." Howard said it without really thinking first. The man looked up at him with a huge grin.
"Could you really? I mean, I've never really had a job before- but working here must be fun!"
"Not as fun as you'd think… but if you need a job, I'll see what I can do." Howard felt a warm feeling inside. Something he'd felt once before, when Tommy had offered him a job. It felt as though he was passing the torch and he felt proud.
"My name is Vince by the way, Vince Noir."
"That sounds like a Jazz name." Vince laughed as he shook Howard's hand. Howard gave a genuine smile.
"I love Jazz."
A/N: First Boosh fic. I've really wanted to write this for a long time- I'm totally fascinated by these characters. Feedback is truly appreciated. /p