Come See the Monkey
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
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
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
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.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200811monkey.htm
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