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  The Lunch Monkey index007.gif

 The car salesman dropped upon one of the plaza benches with his take-out cradled before his belly, and grunted through his moustache. As he opened the styrofoam, steam arose from the chicken satay and asparagus, first bonus off of commission received from the sale of a plymouth with dubious rings to an elderly Fremont couple. That had been an excellent sale, going in the end for higher than initial tender, and the salesman smiled with the prospect of a trip to Hawaii plus bonus. The flags waved in the breeze.

Just as the salesman, named Larry, broke out the chopsticks, a proboscis monkey which had recently escaped from the circus, leapt from the shrubbery and came bounding across the tarmac to throw its long arms around his head and bite the salesman upon the nose, there holding fast for dear life. Larry jumped up, howling, tossing the styrofoam container in front of him as the food and fortune cookies went splattering in all directions upon the brick.

The salesman pulled at the monkey with both hands, but the thing's teeth remained embedded deep within the man's nose at the base and the ape's strong arms and legs remained wrapped about his head and neck.

A young man ran up to the pair, flapping his hands and shouting, "Shoo! Shoo!"

Larry had been planning to sit next to this very same man and make all manner of rude noises so as to disturb him as much as possible; the boyos in the tavern all agreed the guy could be "tapped" for some quick if they could razz him enough. But this was too much -- the monkey snarled and hissed but held fast to the salesman's nose while that geek just hopped about, waving a hankerchief and shouting.

The salesman yanked at the animal's tail, which only pulled the teeth deeper into his sinuses. "Owww!" said Larry. A grandame came up to inform him the fire department had been called and was on the way.

"Try lying on your back," someone suggested. "Maybe he's possessed," someone else offered. "Try using a crucifix." Yet another ventured a concern about rabies.

Larry extended his arms wide before violently clapping his palms against the sides of the monkey. This having no effect, the salesman began beating on the monkey with his fists. The monkey's eyes remained half-closed in a kind of trance as Larry shuffled back and forth among the ruins of the chicken satay.

"Shoo!" said the young man. "Shoo!"

"Ah, cruelty to animals, I see." It was the beat cop who had just pulled up to the donut shop around the corner. "Stop abusing that monkey immediately," ordered the officer.

For answer, the man put down his fists, stared at the peace officer over the monkey's head and let out a long, loud scream. The officer stepped back and spoke into his radio. "Got a fifty-one fifty here at Park and Blanding."

"The ape ran up and bit him," a voice from the crowd said. "Wifout no provocation."

"There oughta be a law!" someone else said. A discussion ensued as to the rights of animals to go about unfettered versus the public order. This segued into a heated debate on vivisection and the Humane Society, to which the cop added many insightful and informative comments on the legal side.

"Hey!", said the salesman. "Get this bugger offa me!"

The policeman took out his record book and began taking notes. "Name?"

"Larry O'Leary . . . Arrgh! My nose!"

"Larry Oh-Ah-Bynose . . . how do you spell that?" The officer asked.

The officer was made sensible, by word and guesture, and with the aid of bystanders that the chief point at issued remained that of the nose and the monkey attached and that it were best to halt the possible crime, if there be one, in progress before proceeding further. By this time, the salesman was leaning weakly up against a pillar, his clothes torn and soiled with blood and chicken satay.

The officer pushed his nightstick between the man's chest and the monkey, trying to lever the animal loose. Larry, monkey and officer did a complete 360 degree turn, leaving the monkey in the same position as before. When this failed to work, the officer rapped the ape several times, accidentally wanging a good one off of the head of the salesman who howled as the bystanders, by now numbering over fifty persons from the nearby banks, shops and sidewalk, shouted encouragement.

"Way to go! Get that monkey!" Others, in balance of fair play, rooted on behalf of the monkey, laying bets as to how long the affair would last. "Atta boy, Ape! Hang in there! I'll lay ya one sawbuck the ape goes another fifteen against the bigger guy . . ." . And so on.

Failing with the nightstick, the cop pulled out a can of pepper spray, which he jetted at the face of the monkey, also with little effect on the ape, but causing Larry to drop to the ground and roll about on the plaza.

A flashing light announced the arrival of the fire department, sheparded by a throng of little boys from the local school, which had been let out for the noon recess.

The cop pointed out the problem to the helmeted and slickered truck captain, who stared back at the cop with a look of total bewilderment. "Why in the name of christ on a bike did you not call the Animal Control Department? Bending over the joined pair, the fire captain spoke through his visor to Larry. "This your pet?"

The car salesman groaned.

The cop and the fire captain held a confab. "Well we could crowbar him, or maybe use the cutters and just take him apart piece by piece . . .".

This latter idea was negated by the crowd, who strictly ruled out anything cruel or inhuman to the monkey. Torching and weld-cutting also were excluded. Larry began making high-pitched keening sounds as the blood ran down his shirt front.

They tried blasting the monkey with halon, co2 extinguishers, foam, and someone's electric mace defender, which caused Larry to arch his back on the ground and convulse his arms and legs. The monkey remained fastened like doom to Larry's face.

"We're stumped, I think," said the fire chief. "Hafta transport to Highland. Maybe there they can knock him out with something."

"Yeah, they're useta getting things unstuck over there," the policeman said. "One time there was this NASTY accident on 880 . . . ". His story was interrupted by the blast of the one o'clock whistle from the gravel processing plant across the inlet, followed by a gasp from the crowd.

The monkey had disengaged himself, and before anybody could react, had snatched a banana from the hand of one of the spectators before leaping up onto one of the concrete pillars surrounding the area. There it peeled and ate the banana while observing the crowd with mild interest.

The fire chief looked up. "Think I'd do just the same before letting them take me to Highland too. Okay boys, let's go home."

The policeman began to disperse the crowd. "Okay, show's over."

The young man with the hankerchief waved it once at the monkey before going. "Shoo!" Gradually, the crowd thinned out, went back in singles and pairs to taverns and offices on Park Street, while Larry remained upon his back, his eyes glazed over. The monkey finished his banana and letting the peel drop to the ground, began grooming himself. The sky clouded over and a fine rain began to fall, wetting the scattered napkins, the extinguisher foam and the bricks. The monkey came down and began picking at the bits of chicken satay and rice kernals that lay under one of the benches, looking at Larry with disinterest.

The light began to fade and hard needles of rain appeared out of the empty and silent sky to fall on his upturned face.



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