How to be Cool
Finch did a wonderful job of showing Monkeyman around town. It was a perfect day with the season poised on the brink of turning to Fall. They saw the town square and the subdivisions. They saw the school and its playground. And what a playground it was! It had ropes, swings, a jungle gym and a slide.
Monkeyman vowed to come back when no one was around. What a blast that would be. He tried to imagine the slickness of the slide and the free-flight of the swings. In his mind, he swung across the jungle gym and vaulted high into the sky.
Finch led him down a path from the playground to a small clearing. There were many human foot prints here. Most of them appeared to have been made by high-top sneakers or hiking boots. Cigarette butts littered the dusty ground. A stump at the center of the clearing had become a graffiti wall for children’s pocket knives: “Metallica rules,” “Smoke Columbian,” “Mike Wehmueller’s sister gives good head….”
“Cool, it’s still here,” said Finch, pulling a bottle from beneath an old log. “Check out this stash.” Monkeyman helped Finch drag ten bottles of liquor from beneath the log. Glasses, like the ones men drank from at bars, were wrapped in plastic bags nearby.
“I saw them stashing this last week while I was looking for food. Fuckin’ kids. ‘Chirp!!! I don’t think they knew what they were going to do with all of this,” Finch said.
Finch poured himself a glass and kicked one back.
“Ahhhh. Chirp. That hits the spot.” Finch gave Monkeyman a weird look. But he just stood there not knowing what to do.
“Aren’t you gonna indulge Monkeyman?”
“I don’t drink,” Monkeyman said, idly looking around at the trees of the clearing – deliberately not making eye contact with Finch.
“You don’t drink??!! CHIRP!” Finch barreled. “What kind of monkey are you? You have to!”
“Well, I never have before,” Monkeyman said. “I’ve seen humans drinking in my travels. But I’ve never had the opportunity to myself.”
Finch set his glass down and took flight, landing shortly on Monkeyman’s shoulder. He could smell the liquor on the little bird’s breath.
“Let me explain something to you Monkeyman,” Finch said sternly. “Everyone drinks. If you don’t drink, then people wonder what is wrong with you. Drinking makes you a man. It makes people think you’re cool. It puts hair on your chest. Most importantly, it makes you feel good. You -DO—like to feel good don’t you?”
“Well then here…” He took flight and landed near a bottle of whisky and motioned back to him. Reluctantly, Monkeyman grabbed the bottle. He unscrewed the lid and smelled it first. The smell nearly made him vomit.
“Oh C’mon!! Chirp! Drink it! Be a man,” Finch insisted. Finally Monkeyman raised the bottle to his lips and took a small swallow. The liquor enveloped his taste buds, slid down his throat. And then, COUGH!! COUGH!!! EHHH! COUGH.
“Heh heh heh heh!!” Finch laughed. “That’s not how you’re supposed to do it. Your supposed to take a big drink, shake your head a little. And then real cool-like, you say ‘Damn, that was smoooooth.’”
Monkeyman tried it again. This time it went down a little easier. His head reeled from the liquor. The sun was going down and the forest began to take on an ominous, shadowy quality. But he looked around and saw things in a different light. He felt good.
“This is…” Monkeyman coughed suddenly. “Smooth.”
Monkeyman and Finch drank until long after the sun went down. The forest filled with darkness and a full moon rose in the sky. They felt good. They felt like men. They felt cool.
They watched the forest and the animals that moved amongst it. Crickets and tree frogs sang their songs and after awhile Finch and Monkeyman sang along. The smell of burning wood filled the air as the locals in town lit their wood burning stoves to ward off the chill of the night. Finch told stories and made Monkeyman laugh. It was a grand time.
“Shhhhhh…..” Monkeyman waived a drunken hand to at Finch who was warbling out a melody. Both of them held perfectly still.
“I hear someone coming,” Monkeyman whispered. They both listened. Sure enough, something was moving through the forest, disturbing undergrowth and weeds as it came closer to the clearing.
They listened with the hearing that only animals possess. And it was then that they both heard it clearly…
“Hail Satan, let his minions come forth.. Meow,” a low and guttural voice said.
[ Next ]