He was already sweating under his pith helmet as he struggled through the jungle’s thick underbrush. He’d left his machete behind, having expected to have seen a monkey long before dawn and much closer to his property, so the bush was wearing him out.
Last night as he fell asleep his heard his wife say, “I’ll need some monkeys in the morning.”
“Yes, dear,” he replied as a lovely scotch buzz pushed him off into a dream.
When he woke this morning he recalled his wife’s request, and found it odd. But she was young, and far from home, and blonde – and she’d been dabbling in the local cuisine – so he thought nothing of heading out into the pre-dawn after a chimp or two.
Up ahead he heard the river and he looked forward to stopping there for a rest and some water. He was surprised he’d made it this far so quickly. He stopped on the bank and found a comfortable patch of dirt in the shade between two trees. He filled his canteen and sat back against the trunk of a tree to doze and regain some energy. The jungle was full of sounds around him, and they lulled him into a calm, quiet state of meditation.
A shrill, chattering broke his doze and he woke up abruptly. Across the river he saw a small monkey doing some sort of dance as a hawk circled close around him.
“That’s my fucking monkey, you dirty bird,” the man muttered to himself.
The man grabbed for his rifle, raised it to his eye and peered through the scope. He carefully placed its cross hairs on the monkey and followed the creature’s dance up and down a log.
As he watched the monkey, he realized that the bird wasn’t bothering the monkey at all. Rather, it was following the monkey’s instructions, pulling fish out of the river and tossing them on the bank. Before too long the monkey had collected quite a pile of fish. He let the hawk land to rest and feast on one.
The man noticed some motion in the jungle behind the monkey. A large shape crept out of the shadows.
“That’s my fucking monkey, you dirty cat,” the man muttered as he recognized the tiger prowling towards the monkey. His finger fell gently on the trigger and prepared for his shot.
Suddenly the monkey turned to the tiger and began to chatter at it loudly. The tiger listened a moment, then turned its attention to a nearby banana tree. The tree was on a ridge and hung out precariously over the river on an angle. The tiger went to the base of the tree and climbed up two-thirds to where it began to hang down from the weight of its bountiful fruit. The mighty cat was careful about creeping too far out over water.
The steel of the scope had become uncomfortable, and the man pulled it away and rubbed his eye. When he looked up again he noticed an alligator had taken an interest in the monkey’s pile of fish. The reptile seemed ready to pounce out of the water on the monkey, in fact.
“That’s my fucking monkey, you dirty lizard,” the man muttered. He returned the rifle sight to his eye and began to aim carefully.
Once again, he observed the monkey chattering noisily at a predator. The alligator stopped and listened, then calmly cruised across the water to a point just below the tiger. He turned and looked at the monkey.
The monkey issued a series of instructions to the alligator that were clearly meant to better position the alligator. Then the monkey directed the tiger to crawl a bit further out on the branch and bounce.
The banana tree began to sway wildly up and down and a shower of banana bunches showered down on the alligator’s back. Many more bunches fell into the river and sank out of sight.
After a brief time a mountain of bananas formed on the alligator’s back. The monkey was wild now. He motioned for the alligator to come back, then he instructed the tiger to leave its perch in the tree. The banana tree leapt back up into the sky, light of its fruit burden.
The alligator swam the short distance to a small patch of muddy shore. He climbed out and shook himself to dump the bananas onto the ground.
The monkey quickly ran over with several fish and tossed them down in front of the alligator. The alligator began to eat the fish.
The tiger made its way to the fish and began its own feast there on the log. The hawk returned and helped the monkey move some of the fish down to the alligator, as well. After a few trips the tiger took grievance with his own dwindling resources and let loose a nasty snarl.
The man watched all this through the sight on his rifle.
“What a clever fucking gibbon,” he muttered. The monkey ran to its newfound treasure of bananas and carefully dragged a small bunch to what it seemed to consider a safe distance from the feasting alligator.
The man’s stomach grumbled. He rolled over on his back and looked at his watch.
“Well, damn it all,” he muttered. “I’ll be late for tea.”
He rolled back onto his belly and sighted up the monkey again. As the creature settled in for his first bite, the man shot him through the heart.
At the sound of the gunshot, the other animals scattered. The man rose from his spot in the shade. He knew a wider, shallower spot just downriver where he could cross.
When he came upon the dead monkey, he marveled at his own good aim. The small creature still clutched the banana in its claw, and the man took it. Then he noticed that the monkey only had the one hand, the other was missing, along with part of its forearm. It was the same for its one leg, part of which was missing from the knee down.
“Fuck,” the man muttered. “Well I hope it’s not some hand and foot delicacy she’s preparing.”
He looked at the impressive mound of bananas in the mud.
“A whole fucking market’s worth,” he muttered. The man pulled back the peel from the banana he’d taken from the monkey and bit into the flesh.
“Lovely,” he muttered. “That should hold me till tea.”
He grabbed the dead monkey by the scruff of its neck and tossed it into his satchel.
When he arrived home he found his wife under the awning at the back of their house, enjoying a drink.
“Where the hell have you been, dear?” She barely looked up from her book when she said this.
“Well, I only got one, and its short some hands and feet, so I hope that’ll do for your purposes.” He tossed the satchel onto the ground beside her.
The man motioned to his manservant for a scotch. The man’s wife gave her husband an odd look and put her book down.
“One what? What are you talking about?”
“Why, one monkey, you said you needed some monkeys last night.” He kicked the satchel over and the monkey fell out into the dirt at her feet.
The man’s wife screamed, stood up and ran across the patio.
“Are you insane?”
The man was taken aback. “But you said you needed – ”
“Some money! Some money for the market you stupid old fool! I do wish you’d put that damned hearing aid in!”
The man’s wife started crying and went inside.
The manservant arrived with the man’s drink. The man drank it quickly and quietly and stared down at the monkey’s carcass.
“You were a clever monkey,” he muttered.
The man put the empty glass on the table. He took the monkey by the tail and dragged it across the yard. When he arrived at the high fence he paused for a moment before tossing the monkey’s body over into the grass.
“The wild dogs will get it tonight, I expect,” he muttered and then headed back to the house.