Last week, I drew the two of spades and that took me back Siege 13 by Tamas Dobozy and his story “The Animals of the Budapest Zoo, 1944-1945”. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.
This is a longer short story (16 pages) and focuses on two zoo attendants, Sandor and Jozsef. What is interesting to me was that once again, this story contained two characters found in the other Dobozy story “The Encirclement”, Sandor and Teleki. At first, I thought that since this story appears before “The Encirclement” that it all 13 stories about these two and their journey. However, given how this story ends, it appears that either the character names are just recycled or the tale of their journey is told in a fragmented format.
When “The Animals of the Budapest Zoo, 1944-1945” starts, the Russian Army has just begun their siege of Budapest. Teleki races off along with other attendants leaving Sandor and Jozsef to take care of the animals. The story draws interesting parallels between humanity and war and the animal kingdom, especially fight or flight and survival of the fittest.
As the siege continues, Sandor appears to Jozsef to be turning into a lion himself and both seem to be losing their minds but are most sane when relating to the animals they eventually help escape. Knowing when to run or stand and fight like the lion or feed off whatever they can to survive like the vultures are key traits not just for the animals but for Sandor and Jozsef also.
Who can really say what they would do until put to the ultimate test? This story sets out to not only make the reader think about how they would respond to the situations Sandor and Jozsef find themselves in but to also to challenge the reader’s answers. Overall, a thought-provoking and enjoyable read.