Come See the Monkey
Molly Gaudry

Before the monkey, the woman used the line to dry her husband's shammy cloths and her son's football uniform.


The year was 1954. A new Chevy rested in the drive. Both husband and son tried teaching the woman to operate it, but whenever she turned to glance at her blind spot the car turned for a quick look too. She didn't have anywhere to go, anyway, she said at their identical expressions—their furrowed brows and rapid-blink lids and chapped, chewed-up lips. As for herself, she had the make of Marilyn Monroe and the model of a few extra inches around the hips. She was the pride of both man and boy. The former drove her to their weekly bridge tournaments, where they often won, and the latter drove her to his practices, where she watched from the bleachers under a parasol under the sun or beneath a poncho beneath the rain.

Either way, her husband joked with their bridge friends, the team shouldn't be called Cougars but Rubberneckers.


Before the monkey, the man tossed the pigskin to his son in the backyard. The boy had grown big, too big to hold butter-knife to crown and make a mark on the pantry doorframe.

They were careful not to upset the woman's roses, for which she was famous in town and had won prizes. The boy always caught the ball. If he didn't, the man, who was still bigger than the boy, made him eat grass.


Before the monkey, the boy's parents made love Saturday afternoons. The boy knew to leave after breakfast and eat dinner at the diner and have supper with his grandfolks. The grandfolks had a retriever, and the boy tossed a deflated football into the air and asked the retriever to retrieve it. When she didn't, the boy made her eat grass.


In September of 1954 the boy went to college to play football in exchange for a scholarship. Driving home, the man held back tears while the woman did not. Not only was her mascara ruined but her lipstick, too. How on God's green earth, the man couldn't say. But to make her feel better, he pulled off the highway at exit 112 and followed handmade signs reading COME SEE THE MONKEY all the way to a pink-shingled Victorian with a pink picket fence. The owner of the Victorian liked the look of the man's Chevy and said, "I'll give you the monkey, you give me that car." 

The woman didn't know what her husband was thinking. If, instead of shaking their son's hand like a common stranger, he had cried, maybe he wouldn't have said what he said, which was, "Lady, you got yourself a deal." 

The lady drove them the rest of the way home in their Chevy that was no longer their Chevy, and the man complimented her on her driving. The woman did what she could to keep her reapplied makeup intact. She held the monkey in her lap in the backseat. The monkey wore a cloth diaper, and the woman wondered just who her husband supposed was going to change it.


After the monkey, the woman didn't look like Marilyn Monroe anymore. The Chevy was gone. Her son was gone. No more bridge tournaments. No more football practices. Nowhere else to go, anyway, so she stayed home and stopped wearing makeup. And even though her husband was still around, he was gone, too. He didn't make love to her on Saturdays, though he often forced her on other days, nights, and mornings. For some reason, never on Saturdays and never during the afternoon. Before forcing her, he took the monkey outside and buckled a collar around its neck. The collar was attached to a length of rope that was attached to a metal washer that slid along the woman's clothesline from which she used to dry things that mattered.


The monkey had free reign of the yard, enjoyed his wanderings from one metal post to the other, from where, if he pulled and stretched just right, he could eat the woman's roses.


After the monkey, the man spent more time at his folks' place, eating his mother's meals and ignoring his father's blindness as the old man bumped into doorframes and said "Excuse me" quite loudly.

"I can't hear you," the man said, "my glasses are broke." 

"I can't hear you," his father hollered, "my glasses are broke."

"I'm taking the dog for a walk," the man told his mother, and he took the dog for a walk.

The one time he tried to make her eat grass, she bit him.

He went home to his wife, who, before the monkey, would have washed his face and daubed it with Mercurochrome, but who, after the monkey, took one look and said, "You see?"


After the monkey, the boy never came home again.

"You see?" the woman said.

"I can't hear you," her husband said, "my glasses are broke."

Molly Gaudry is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's M.A. fiction program, and she is this year's Visiting Fiction Writer in Residence at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, in Cincinnati. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from Lamination Colony, Robot Melon, Quick Fiction, Dogzplot, Word Riot and others. She co-edits Twelve Stories and solo-edits Willows Wept Review.

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