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Fiction

Once upon a time, a monkey named Rory lived in a jungle. Rory’s jungle was particularly dark and especially terrible—full of flesh eating fish, savage spiders, and cunning crocodiles.

Rory resided with a troop of gargantuan silver back gorillas. The troop adopted Rory after a bask of crocodiles ate his tribe. (By the way, a “bask” is a group of land crocodiles, while a “float” is a group of water crocodiles.) Carl, the alpha gorilla, protected Rory from the evils of the wicked jungle, but not without remuneration. In exchage for Carl’s protection, Rory entertained the troop with stand-up comedy every evening after dinner. After a long day of gathering bananas and, well, just being gorillas, Carl—and the rest of the troop—revelled in hearing Rory’s outlandish jokes. 

One night, Rory told jokes from his joke stump, which was the remains of a tree that skirted the inner circle of the gorilla camp. 

“Three flesh eating fish walk into a bar and the bartender says, ‘Hey, we don’t serve flesh eating fish here,’ and the flesh eating fish say, ‘Really? Hmm. Must be a new rule because we had a Tom Collins and a grasshopper here yesterday?’” 

Carl and the troop burst into boisterous laughter. “Haha, do the one about the spider! The spider!” Carl shouted. 

Rory grabbed his tail and played air guitar with it.

“The itsy bitsy spider crawled up the ‘rilla’s snout.

Out flew some snot and slimed the spider out.

The spider creeped into his mouth, down his gut, and out in his butt.

And the itsy bitsy spider was all shit out of luck.”

Carl and the troop loved that one. They slapped their knees and howled. Then, Rory launched into his final joke for the evening.

“Why did the crocodile fall asleep by the side of the road? Because he ate the chicken.”

“Bawhaha,” Carl gaffawed. The troop followed Carl’s laughter. 

As the laughter died down, a slow clap rang from just outside the troop’s circle. 

“That was a good one, Rory,” Morrissey the crocodile said from the shadows. 

Carl jumped up from his seat, grabbed Morrissey by the collar with his left hand, and cocked his right fist back behind his head. “Crocodiles don’t belong here, Morrissey. What gives?”

“Temper, temper, Carl. I have a deal for you, brother.”

Carl eased his grip on Morrissey’s throat. 

Rory shook. He hid behind the joke stump. Morrissey was bad news. Morrissey led the bask who ate Rory’s tribe. And now, he was planning some kind of ruse.

“Speak,” Carl said. 

“It’d like to make a trade.”

“Whatcha got?”

“In exchange for your stock of bananas, I offer you—and the rest of your troop, of course—this magical elixir.”

“Elixir?”

“No! Don’t do it, Carl! It’s a trick! It’s poison! Morrissey’s bask killed my tribe! And, now he’ll kill us too!” Rory said. 

“Rory, please, the adults are talking.” Morrissey pulled out a jug from his cloak. “This here elixir is enchanted. It will magically take away all of your worries.”

“We don’t have any worries,” Carl said.

“Really, Carl? What did you do today? Y’all broke your backs gathering bananas, swatting down spider webs, and passing over pirahna. And for what? Only to sit around and be mildly amused by this junior amateur?”

“Carl, he’s lying. Don’t trust him,” Rory said.

Carl paused. He said nothng for a time and then exhaled sharply out his large nostrils. He turned to Rory in ire, “What do you know, Rory? You’re just a comedian—a joker, a liar.”

“Imagine, Carl. No conundrums, no pain,” Morrisey said. “And, what’s the worst that can happen? You lose your stock of bananas. You can gather those back in no time.”

Carl ran his knuckles across his forehead, in thought. 

“Deal,” Carl said. 

“Take it away, boys!” Morrissey said to his bask. His grin showed off his crocodile teeth. Then, ten or so crocodiles slithered into the camp circle and each removed a sizable bunch of bananas. Morrissey bowed and winked at Rory as he left with his bask. 

Carl yanked the cork off of the bottle, smelled its contents, and took a swig. Carl felt a sense of ease and comfort wash over him. He passed the bottle around to the rest of his troop. They too felt a sense of tranquility as they drank. The troop fell silent. Carl fell asleep in the circle and the others followed, letting the fire die out and covering themselves with their sturdy gorilla blankets. 

Rory panicked. He ran from the troop’s circle, deep into the jungle. But after a minute or so, he stopped and turned around. To his left was a river of flesh eating fish, fiesty to feast on fresh monkey flesh. To his right were the savage spiders, salivatng to suck simian blood. Beyond the camp to the South was Morrissey’s bask of crocodiles, lying in wait for their next chance to plunder. Rory climbed a tree and curled himself around the top end of the trunk. He waited there until dawn. 

The next day, Rory returned to the camp. There, the troop awoke complaining of dry mouths and headaches. Carl barfed in the empty banana pit. 

“Carl, please, I need to talk to you,” Rory said. 

“What now? Can’t you see my stomach is not constant?”

“Yes, I know, but Morrissey . . . he’ll be back tonight. Don’t drink the elixir again. Please.” 

“Rory, I think we can handle ourselves. And besides, I’m the alpha. It is I who will makes the decisions for the troop, not you. You are the omega.”

After breakfast, the troop left the camp to gather bananas and supplies for the day. They crawled slowly and lethargically. The troop only collected 5 bunches of bananas, half of what they usually harvested on a given day. 

At his appointed joke time that evening, the troop ignored Rory. 

“Did you hear the one about the disappearing Gorilla? His name was King Gone.” Rory heard crickets in the distance. 

“Give it a rest, Rory,” Carl said. The troop waited in silence, each gorilla twitching a little as he awaited Morrissey’s arrival. 

A half hour later, when Morrissey did eventually slip into the camp, the troop fell alert and expectant. 

“Did you bring it?” Carl asked.

“Why, yes,” Morrissey said.

Carl leaped to his feet and ran straight for the jug. 

“Not so fast, Carl. You can’t get something for nothing, now. Your bananas, please.”

“But, Morrissey, we only collected 5 bunches today. We don’t have enough to trade.”

“How about your existing stock of bananas. . . and your blankets?”

“How will we keep warm?”

“Come now, Carl. The elixir will keep you warm.”

Carl exhaled from his large nostrils. “Take it all then,” he said. 

Morrissey and his bask took the five bundles of bananas and the gorilla blankets. Carl took two big swigs from the new bottle of elixir and passed the bottle around. Soon after, they welcomed oblivion.

As they slept, Rory looked around in digust. The troop shivered as it slept. Rory thought of a plan. He grabbed the empty bottle and ran to the river. The flesh eating fish smelled him as he dipped the tip of the jug in the water, filling it. 

The next morning, the troop awoke well after sunrise, later than ever. Carl threw up in the empty banana pit, as did every other member of the troop. They attempted to gather bananas later that day, but together, and with all their might, they could only collect one bunch of bananas.

That night, Rory didn’t even bother taking his place on the stump. Carl and the troop were sullen, their hollow eyes awaited for Morrissey’s return. 

“Anybody thirsty?” Morrissey asked.

Carl ran headlong to Morrissey and said, “Give it to me!”

Morrissey placed the new jug on the ground and stood on the stump to speak.

“Now, now, everyone. Hear me. You want a new jug of elixir and I want . . . your stuff. Wait, let me guess, you only collected two bunches of bananas today.”

“More like one,” Carl said.

“One? That’s it?” Morrissey said. “No matter, I want your last bunch, your firewood, and . . . the deed to your camp.”

“You want our camp? But where will we live?”

“You’ll find a new place, I’m sure.” 

Carl paused and looked down at the ground. 

“OK, then. We need the elixir. We can’t live without it,” Carl said.

Morrissey reached down behind the stump and gave Carl the last bottle of elixir. 

Carl grabbed it, blushing.

“Take it all, boys,” Morrissey said. His bask slithered in to the vomit filled banana pit to retrieve the last bunch of bananas. They also took the troop’s firewood. “I’ll be back tomorrow for the deed, Carl,” Morrisey said. 

As they slithered toward the camp exit, their crocodile arms loaded with gorilla loot, Carl took his first swig of the elixir. He immediately took a second. Then, he took a third. Then, he threw the bottle to the ground with all his might. 

“What the fuck, Morrissey!”

Morrissey turned and gasped.

“Carl. What’s the problem, Carl? That’s good elixir Carl! Wait, Carl! No, Carl!”

“It’s fucking water.”

“N-n-n-no, it’s elixir. Opium concentrate. From my private stash.”

“If it’s elixir, then what the fuck is this?” Carl pulled a pirhana from his teeth. “This is river water you croc-o-shit!”

Carl and the troop growled, howled, and brayed with anger. Carl blew a fuse. He took Morrissey by the neck and threw him to the ground, punching him over and over and over again in the snout as hard as he could. Carl was very strong. When he finished thwacking him, Morrissey looked as if a ton of bricks had landed on his face. 

While Carl was punching Morrissey into dead, green goo, the other gorillas similarly pounced on the remaining crocodiles, taking no prisoners, giving no quarter. 

The troop did very little gathering over the next week as it recovered from the its figurative and literal monkey. While the shaking and hallucinations sucked, the troop enjoyed copious amounts of crocodile meat grilled over open flame, which, much to Carl’s chagrin, tasted a lot like chicken. 

“Rory, I am sorry I didn’t listen to you. You were right.”

“Carl, I forgive you.” 

Carl patted his monstrous hand on Rory’s back.

“But, Carl, can I ask you something?” Rory continued. “Why did you call me a liar?” 

“Well, before all of this, I used to think that entertainment was a facade, a constructed untruth. A lie, if you will. A fantasy world that, at best, could only poke fun at the real world.”

“What do you think now?”

“That I should not be so quick to judge a joker. Sometimes, they speak the truth. You aren’t an outsider, Rory. Not anymore.”

"I switched the jugs, Carl. I poured the elixir in the river."

"I know."

"How?"

"All the fish are dead."

April 09, 2021 16:46

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