Ali was relaxing on a park bench watching peacocks follow children around the small food pavilion when Levi handed her a slushy. She wanted to thank him but couldn’t quite get the words out as he seemed intent on defeating the large “funnel Cake” that currently hid his face from view.
“Is it good?”
He grumbled something she didn’t understand.
“Are you sure this is where we want to be?”
“Mmm Hmmm” – Levi
Levi was convinced that something strange was happening at the zoo. There’d been reports of a number of thefts around the monkey habitat and during a news report highlighting them Levi was convinced he saw them exhibiting “Unmonkey-like behavior”. She’d agreed to check it out because of all the weirdness they’d seen over the last four months monkeys seemed downright fun.
“What were the monkeys doing, exactly?” – Ali
“I told you, girl, they huddle. A lot. They never move off that little island, just huddling there and looking at you all conspiratorially.” – Levi
“Is this why we watched Planet of the Apes all last week?”
“It’s not the only reason.”
Ali shot him a look.
“Look at me like that all you want, my buddy Wally D. swears up and down that he saw a Capuchin walking around on a cellphone.” – Levi
“You said the monkeys weren’t coming off of Monkey Island.”
“They’re not! Dun-dun-duuuuun!” – Levi, finishing his funnel cake.
The monkey enclosure was incredible, a vast island in the middle of a large shallow moat with trees, stone huts and rope jungle gyms.
“Let’s go by the Elephants first, I wanna get some pizza.” – Levi
“But the Ultimate Warrior is so iconic!” – Levi, munching on some cotton candy.
“I still don’t want to play that game.” – Ali
“Come on, Ali” – Levi
Something grabbed Alegria’s bag as Levi jumped up and down.
“What the –“ – Ali
For a single, solitary moment, Ali didn’t know if she could find words. There not five feet from her was a bright yellow capuchin monkey holding her bag and waddling away at an impressive speed.
“It’s a monkey! It’s a monkey outside of its exhibit!” – Ali
“Where?!” – Levi
Ali grabbed him.
“He’s got mi bolsa!”
“I don’t know what that means, but it obviously upsets you” – Levi
“The monkey stole my purse!” – Alegria
Levi looked around and indeed saw that Alegria’s purse was some distance away, lying open on the ground with most of its contents scattered, he did not, however, see a monkey.
Levi quickly grabbed everything that fell out and brought it back to Alegria.
“Where’s my phone? That monkey stole my phone!” – Ali
“Did you leave it home?”
“No, I just called my dad, remember?”
“Do you want me to buy you a new one?”
“No, Levi, I want my phone back!” – Ali
“Is there a problem?” – It was a young man wearing a garish orange shirt emblazoned with “Dulac Park Zoological Garden” over his heart. His name tag called him Eduard Moreno
“Your monkey just stole my cellphone!” – Alegria
“What monkey?” – Eddie looked incredulous.
“I don’t know it looked like them!” – Alegria, pointing at Monkey Island.
“Calm yourself, girl, I’ll call it.” – Levi
Alegria’s bag rang.
“It wasn’t there, I swear!” – Alegria
“Okay, okay, maybe the monkey put it back.” – Eddie
Alegria and Eddie both looked at Levi incredulously.
“I’m sorry, sir, I’m gonna take her back to the hotel, maybe get her something to eat, she might be anemic.” – Levi
As they walked away, a commotion could be heard coming from the enclosure as a dozen or so capuchin began shrieking from the top of the trees and jungle gym. Levi gave the enclosure a good hard look and for the life of him couldn’t figure out how the Monkey might have gotten out of it in the first place.
Ali looked back one last time and saw a single yellow monkey on the edge of the island, watching her.
“I think we should call Nick?”
The phone barely rang before he heard the familiar voice of his most nervous friend.
“Hey Levi, what’s up.”“We might have found something worthwhile, Nick.”
“Oh yeah? Not another haunted house, I hope.”
“Nah, nah, nothing like that; I’ve been hearing that something weird was happening down at the zoo with the monkeys and when we went to check it out, a monkey that wasn’t there stole Ali’s phone, which was still in her purse, but didn’t and then, when we went to leave the monkeys went nuts screaming and waving their arms around like this and jumping and then there was this one monkey and he was watching us leave and it was creepy.”
“Please put Ali on the phone.” – Nick
“Yeah? Oh, hey Nick” – Ali, taking the phone.
She told Nick the same thing Levi had, though she spoke less frantically.
“It was completely Hitchcockian, man! It was like the Birds, but with monkeys! Birds Two: The Monkeying!” – Levi over Ali’s shoulder
Ali covered his mouth with her hand.
“Yes, yes we’re going to go back tomorrow.”
“Good, and while you’re there, be sure to check out the lion enclosure.” – Nick
“Is there something weird going on there too?” – Ali
“No, it’s just really great, we had a cub born there earlier this year.” – Nick
“Oh, well than thank you.”
“Why’d he need you to tell him what I already said?” – Levi
“I’m sure he just likes my exotic accent.”
“Oh, yeah, that makes sense.” – Levi
“Nick thinks we’re onto something… also he says we need to see the lions.”
At that moment
The Zoological Gardens
Opie sat on a bench beyond the Monkey Island exhibit, eating his Muffuletta and watching the monkeys go nuts. He came here most days around this time, ate his lunch and, when no one was looking, launched bran muffins across the mote to the Capuchins. He was pretty sure he wasn’t hurting them and they seemed to enjoy his company.
He’d seen the scene that the hot little spanish number had made when that little yellow Capuchin had gotten ahold of her purse. He even thought about telling the employee, a dick named Eddie, that he’d seen the little guy, but to be honest, he was enjoying the shit he’d smoked on his way to the zoo and wasn’t looking for a reason to get hassled by Chuckie the Dick.
Opie was still trying to figure out how the Capuchin could’ve gotten off and then back on the island so quickly before when he watched it climb one of the trees and leap at least fifty yards, to the wall.
“Huh, Super-Capuchin… hey li’l guy, you wanna have some muffin.”
Opie couldn’t help himself, and decided to follow the little yellow superhero, pulling out his flip phone to catch a picture. He didn’t even realize he’d left his sandwich behind.
He was so busy trying to take the picture of the monkey that he just barely noticed the utility vehicle driving towards him and, in attempting to hop out of the way, tripped over his own feet.
“Woah, buddy!” – Levi
“I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting!” – Opie, his hands up.
“What the hell, man, don’t that guy know pedestrians have the right-of-way?”
Levi shook his head.
“Dude should have been watching where I was walking, he could-a hit the Capuchin!”
“Did you say you were following a Capuchin Monkey?” – Alegria
“Si, hehe, I don’t know where he went though, where are my muffins?”
“I think the truck got them.” – Levi, pointing his chin at a crushed paper bag.
“Language. Did you see it get out of the enclosure?” – Levi
“Yeah, man, it just jumped. It was some straight up Super Mario action! Here look, I got it on my phone.”
Opie flipped through the various pics on his phone, but somehow, they were just pictures of the sky, trees and some old lady’s rack.
“Are you sure you saw a monkey?” – Alegria
“400 percent positive, it was a rare Sapajus flavius to be specific, which is weird because the zoo is only supposed to house Sapajus apella… It was gold, but these Capuchins are supposed to be Tufted… what? I know things.” – Opie
“So where did they go?” – Alegria
“I know you, you’re the one that the gold monkey tried to rip off!” – Opie
“Wanna go look at the tigers?”
Alegria and Levi looked at each other as the stoner wandered off having evidently forgotten about them.
“We should follow, he may have seen something” – Alegria
“What if he’s just stoned off his butt?” – Levi
Alegria shrugged and kissed him on the cheek.
“Fine, we’ll follow the pot-head… but if I get a contact high, I’m eating on your dime.” – Levi
It didn’t take much to catch up with the goofball, he was busy staring at a sign.
They followed him for a few minutes as he snapped pictures of the trees and occasionally the sky before he suddenly took off running for the edge of the park.
“Where’s he going?” – Alegria
“How would I know?” – Levi
By the time they reached the edge of the park, he was gone.
Sometime after dark
The Corduroy Club
The Park District
The bar was full of smoke and jazz. It was everything that Remy loved and missed about Louisiana while he was away.
Remy was currently taking a long slow pull off of some nickel and dime bourbon that went down like well-aged turpentine. He could have afforded better, much better, but he’d paid the owner to keep a case of the really bad stuff on hand for him so he could let the Jazz do the work of lifting his spirits.
A frizzy haired blonde in a too tight by half blue and black dress lurched from her booth, throwing the saxophonist off as she stumbled towards him blindly.
“My purse! He stole my purse!” – Frizzy, pointing at no fewer than three men.
“The hell I did!” – one of the accused.
“Not you! The monkey! The monkey stole my purse!”
“You need to be cut off and get your ratchet ass home.” – the man’s date.
The crowd laughed, some murmured for the woman to sit down a few heckled her.
The Blonde turned and looked as if she might want to start something, forcing Remy to step in.
“Ma’am, there’s no monkey, maybe you need to go home. Can I get you a cab?” – Remy
“No, I need my purse back! That little orange monkey is just walking off with it and you all are letting him go!”
“Over there! That bitch’s monkey took it out the door.”
“So now it’s my monkey?” – the girlfriend.
Remy motioned for her to just go back to the music, which was starting to play again. He quickly did a onceover in the blonde’s booth before walking her out and she was right, there was no purse.
While he was looking under the chair he felt a hand on his back pocket. Was she really so drunk that she thought she could take wallet? Remy swiped his hand behind him, grabbing what he expected to be the blonde’s hand but instead felt a small, furry arm tipped with a dry, leathery hand before it jerked out of his too loose grip.
Remy spun to find himself face to face with a small, gold-haired monkey with golden eyes. The thing howled at him and then vanished into the crowd. No one seemed to notice.Terry, the bartender nudged his arm.
“The cops are on their way, I figured either she got her purse stolen or she’s trying to walk out on a $350 bill.”
Remy wondered what would happen if he corroborated the woman’s story. He couldn’t imagine it being a good thing.
At That Moment
The Magnolia St. Valero
The Park District
“So that’s not a Korean thing?” – Opie
His friend, Phil, wasn’t happy with the phone call. Evidently assuming that golden capuchins might be somehow lucky in Asian culture was ‘uncouth’. It didn’t help that Phil was more a customer than a friend.
Phil had already hung up.
Opie’s twitter feed wasn’t doing much better until a link popped up, it came from someone who called themselves @eNZocaligrrl linked to a YouTube video called “Monkey King Spotted at San Diego Zoo”
The link sent him to a YouTube Channel called “Zero Channel” and auto played a video in which a Blond Capuchin blatantly steals a guy’s camera phone out of his hand before turning to look directly into the camera, causing a strange lens-flare like effect with its eyes before bellowing, which coincided with some sort of static over the video, before turning and leaping some twenty feet over the fence of the monkey habitat.
Opie flipped through the comments and saw a slew of the usual suspects. “oh look, JJ Abrams went to the zoo” and “this is what happens when you let your animals go to public zoos” were some of the gems in the sea of “Fakes” and “Firsts”.
The video was pretty fantastic and, had he not seen something similar with his own eyes, he’d have thought it doctored himself.
Opie made a point to bookmark the channel, but when he went to follow @eNZocaligrrl the account had been locked, her tweet deleted. She never responded to his follow request or any of his tweets.
Opie tweeted a link to the Video and embedded it on both his Facebook page and his blog.
“I’m not crazy.” – Opie, to no one in particular.
His phone chirped.
“You said you were looking for a monkey?” – it was another link, this time to a local detective agency’s website.
The front page was dominated by a picture of a Capuchin that had been very poorly colored gold with what must have been Microsoft Paint.
Opie uploaded the picture to his blogpost, which was now titled “what are the Capuchins Hiding under Monkey Island?”
Opie flipped to his photo gallery and flipped through the pictures from the park. He’d been so stoned he was unable to get any good shots the entire time he chased it around. The only upside is that he got a real good picture of that Latina chick he’d met.
Wait. What was that?
In the last picture he took, or rather the first he’d taken of the day, a picture of the lovely Latina, he caught a glimpse of the monkey reaching up out of the foliage and picking a large woman’s fanny-pack, its back quite blatantly to the camera and yet, somehow the little monster was staring directly at him, its face split in a blatant roar, its eyes obscured by twin lens-flares.
Opie uploaded the picture to his blog, turned his phone off and concentrated on his work for the rest of the night.
An Hour Later
“I think I’ve found something, some guy called “Chef Boyardee” posted a video in…oh, like an hour ago.” – Levi, showing Alegria the video
“I wonder who he is.” – Alegria
“Let’s…you gotta be kidding me!”
Levi knew that sallow, narrow face anywhere, the squinty eyes, the wild, unkempt black hair, it was the stoner from the zoo.
“Huh. So do you think he’s been tracking this for a while then?” – Alegria
“Maybe, the video’s from the San Diego Zoo, should we call Nick?” – Levi
“Yeah… have you seen my phone?”
“No really, I left it right here.” – Ali, pointing at her charging station.
“Check your purse.”
“It’s not in my purse!” – Alegria, reaching for her purse.
“I’ll call Nick, you find your phone.” – Levi, lifting the pizza box next to him.
“what is it?” – Alegria, dropping her purse, no such luck.
“I… thought I left my phone right here.” – Levi, double checking his pockets and his belt clip.
“I left it right… there it is.” – Levi, reaching down to grab his phone out from under the couch.
He looked again, the phone was gone.
“What the?” – Levi, dropping to his knees to look under the couch.
Two reflective golden eyes glared at him. The monkey, clutching his phone, howled menacingly.
Levi fell backward, slamming his back on the coffee table.
“Holy mother of Jay Adams!”
“What is it?” – Alegria, rushing to help him up.
“I reached for my phone and my phone wasn’t there but the monkey was and he was like RAWR!” – Levi
Alegria tentatively looked under the couch. The monkey was gone, and so was the phone.
“Maybe we should contact Mr. Chef Boyardee?” – Alegria
“How, the monkey stole our phones.” – Levi
“Doesn’t he have an email?”
_Dear Mr. Chef Boyardee,
You may not remember us but we met at the zoo today and we encountered the monkey you wrote about. It has stolen our phones. If you could get back to us at your earliest possible convenience, it would much appreciated.
Levi Ryder and Alegria Zurita-Sanchez_
“There, hopefully he’ll get back to us quick-like.” – Levi
“What do we do now?”
“Let’s go find a store that sells burn phones.”
The Magnolia St. Valero
The Park District
Levi and Alegria had asked the concierge the best place to by pre-paid cell phones and after some argument over the price of the hotel’s own small supply the lady told them that the Valero on Magnolia Street was the closest, and that it had a pretty good deli, which was good, because Levi could use a sandwich.
The gas station was one of those big ones you usually only saw at the on ramps of interstates, with a deli, a beer cooler and a coffee station.
“Hey guys, I’ll be right with you.” – A nasally voice from the back of the store.
“No prob, we’re just looking for phones.” – Levi, looking at the deli selection and wondering exactly what a “Muffuletta” was.
“I know you! You’re Chef Boyardee!” – Alegria
Levi turned around to find the stoner they’d just e-mailed.
“Do I know you?” – Opie,
“You were pretty gone the last time we saw you.” – Alegria
“Yeah, you almost got hit by a truck…nothing?” – Levi, off of the confused look.
“Is this about money? Do I owe you money?” – Opie
“No.” – both, together.
“Oh, cool, I’m Opie.” – Opie, flicking his name tag.
“I’m Alegria, this is Levi Rider”
“Like the jeans?” – Opie
“No.” – Levi
“We actually wanted to ask you about the monkey.” – Alegria
“Oh? You like that? Yeah, I did some digging. Weird stuff.”
“Well, that monkey stole our phones.” – Levi
“How’d that work?” – Opie
“There was one hiding under my couch.” – Levi
“Well I’m sure it’s not there, now.” – Alegria
“Well, yeah, but it could be back.” – Levi
“Okay.” – Opie
“He doesn’t believe us, Ali.” – Levi
“We sound crazy, Levi.” – Ali.
“Not especially. I’ve been doing some research, there are numerous references to mischievous monkeys across the globe.”
“Like the monkey king from those movies?” – Levi
“Yes, Sun Wukong, though I doubt that we’re dealing with a Chinese folk-hero-cum-deity, probably something closer to Louisiana, possibly West African or Central or South American.”
Levi looked at Alegria who only shrugged.
“I was thinking about doing more research, and to be honest I could use the company.” – Opie
The Next Morning
The Zoological Gardens
Remy didn’t see the big deal about these monkeys. Yeah they’re cute and all, but they were also foul, smelly angry little bastards that have absolutely no problem using their feces as projectiles.
He’d done a little research on the monsters the night before and was surprised to learn that there really was such a thing as a golden capuchin. But these weren’t them.
Remy made some calls, threw his dad’s name around and bullied an animal control prick into giving him a capture gun, which was currently holstered inside his cotton short-sleeved button-down shirt, and out of site.
“Which one of you shit slingers did it, huh?” – Remy, pointing a finger-gun at each monkey in turn.
The monkeys stared back at him accusatorially; their intensity forced the detective to reevaluate the chances of any of them getting to him.
“Yeah, if even one of you get anywhere near me, I’ll dart you so quick you’ll drop before your crap gets close.” – Remy, sure that there was no way for a monkey to cross.
“Excuse me sir, you seem to be frightening the monkeys” – some shrill pipsqueak of a man was standing behind Remy.
“Screw ‘em. If they wanted my respect they’d have stayed on the evolution train a few more stops.” – Remy
“Why are you so mad at them?”
“One of these mothers tried to take my wallet last night.” – Remy
“The golden one?”
Remy turned and gave the hipster a long hard look. The guy was definitely on something or somethings, and his hair definitely needed to see the business end of a comb, but he knew something.
“Yeah, the golden one.” – Remy
“There isn’t a Blond Capuchin in there, though. I’m Opie.”
“Remy, and they’re related, that’s close enough.”
“Well, the “golden one” if there is one, is at large.”
“Why not just call it what it is? It’s a God-Monkey.” – Remy
“If it were a God-Monkey, wouldn’t it send one of its Angel-Monkey’s to do its bidding?” – Opie
“When you want something done you have to do it yourself. The Godfather taught me that.” – Remy
“The Godfather never got his hands dirty though.”
“Yeah, truth be told, I never actually finished it.” – Remy
“Touché.” – Opie, sidling up next to him.
Alegria and Levi tracked down the zookeeper they’d met the day before at the tiger cage. He was currently loading boxes onto the utility vehicle.
“Hi, remember me?” – Alegria, embarrassed that she couldn’t remember the young man’s name.
“Yeah, hi, phone girl, right?” – Eddie.
“Right! Yeah, I was just wondering if you noticed that the monkeys seem agitated.” – Alegria
“What? Oh yeah, they’ve been like that on and off for a few weeks, we don’t know why, but they don’t seem too bad, so we figure it’s just a phase.” – Eddie, whipping flop set off his forehead.
“We were just wondering if they could be afraid of anything.” – Alegria
“Yeah, like I said, we don’t know the cause of their agitation. Can I ask you, are you a reporter?” – Eddie.
“We think one stole our phones.” – Levi
Eddie smiled toothlessly.
“Uh, huh.” – Eddie
“I’m just saying, we had ‘em until we walked past the monkey exhibit and now? We don’t got ‘em.” – Levi
“Didn’t you say that one stole the phone out of your purse yesterday? Didn’t you find it?” – Eddie.
“I don’t have it anymore.” – Alegria
“But you had it when you left?”
“No I didn’t… well…” – Alegria
“Well… according to the report I filed yesterday, and to your boyfriend here, you had your phone when you left. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do for you. But you know what; I’ll amend my report see if I can get people on the lookout for you.” – Eddie
“The phone doesn’t matter nearly as much as the monkeys’ wellbeing, though. And we’d much rather you concentrated your efforts on helping the poor things.” –Alegria, noticing Eddie’s watch as he once again wiped the sweat off his forehead.
Levi nudged Alegria, and glanced down at Eddie’s watch. It was nice. Really nice. In fact it was a Cellini Rolex Prince. She’d bought a similar watch for her father the year before for $12,500. America was a wealthy country but that seemed wrong.
“Who’s in charge of the Monkey Island enclosure?” – Levi
“Uh, me, actually.”
“When you were in there last did you see anything weird? Like maybe a watch, a wallet, a stack of cell phones? Do monkeys sometimes get food or other things they aren’t supposed to have?” – Levi
“Well if they somehow do get food it’ll get eaten before I find it, obviously. We do go in there three times a week and clean out any litter, scat and if we can, anything that might have been thrown in by our visitors. Of course the Capuchins aren’t exactly friendly, so… what’s this about?”
“So you don’t find anything weird? Things of value, I mean.” – Levi
“Why would there be anything of value? Okay, look, we did an inspection after the first accusations of larceny, but there was nothing in there.” – Eddie.
“Okay, so what you pullin’ round here? The job looks like fun.” – Levi
“$15 an hour.”
“Hmm, nice, might wanna put in a application.” – Levi
“Are you sure there’s no way for a monkey to get over the wall?” – Ali
“No, there’s no way.”
“And where is the golden monkey? These all look the same, why do you have a golden monkey?” – Ali
Eddie looked utterly baffled.
“Blonde Capuchins aren’t uncommon but we don’t actually have any here, I’m sorry. The different breeds don’t exactly get along.”
“Well I saw one here the other day, and I’m not alone.” – Ali
“Do you have a picture?” – Eddie
“I do. Hey, guys, sorry I was talking to a guy about the monkeys.” – Opie, flipping through his phone.
He handed it to Eddie.
“Was this doctored?” – Eddie
“No. I’ve checked it multiple times.” – Opie.
“That’s unreal… the video’s gotta be doctored this Capuchin is staring directly at the camera, as a rule monkeys don’t care about cameras, especially when jumping…just unreal.” – Eddie.
“there you are.” – Remy, clapping Opie on the shoulder.
“Well, I have to get back to work, that video’s really weird, man.” – Eddie.
Eddie threw the litter bin onto the back of his utility vehicle and drove off.
“He’s a liar.” – Levi.
“Ya think?” – Remy.
“Who are you?” – Levi.
“Oh, I’m Remy, did you see his boots? They had to have been worth at least $500 bucks.”
“Is that outside of his means?” – Ali
The three men turned to look at her. Levy threw his arm over her shoulder and planted a big wet kiss on her cheek.
“You’re adorable.” – Levy
“You a cop?” – Levy, looking Remy over.
“I’ll be back tonight.” – Opie, to no-one in particular, before wandering off.
“See ya then.” – Levi
Remy was already gone.
Opie slipped into the zoo unseen, dressed in a black fedora and long jacket. He felt like Dick Tracy. He slid from shadow to shadow walking on the outside of his feet to better mask the sound of his sneakers on the pavement. The monkey exhibit was in sight when he saw someone patrolling the area. They must have increased security after all the complaints.
What was he going to do.
“Whachadoin?” – a voice from behind him.
Opie turned to see Levi and Ali looking at him. Ali waved, she was eating what looked like a red vine, and was wearing a black mini-dress and a pair of thigh-high black boots. Levi didn’t seem to have changed at all.
“How’d you know I was here?” – Opie
“The theme song you were humming kind of gave you away.” – Levi
“It was very catchy.” – Ali
Opie’s head sunk.
“What about the guard?”
“What guard, that’s your friend Remy, he’s been pacing over there threatening the Capuchins since before we got here ten minutes ago.” – Ali.
Opie looked over the hedge again, sure enough, it was the odd man from that morning, only this time he had what looked like a dart gun.
“Oh, yeah, you’re not so big now that I have the gun, are you, you sons of bitches.” – Remy
“Where are the guards?” – Opie
“What guards? They lock the front gate and have a guard posted there, they’re not going to guard an exhibit in the middle of the park.” – Levi
“Then why are you hiding?” – Opie
“You’re friend seems a bit crazy.”
“I heard that.” – Remy, standing over them.
The others jumped.
“Who are you people and what’s your stake in this anyway?” – Remy
“I’m Levi, you might recognize me, I’m kind of a big deal…okay, not that big of a deal, this is my girl Ali.” – Levi.
“Cool, careful of where you step, okay guy, I kinda sorta shot the roving guards and they’re gonna be cranky when they wake up in 2-3 hours.” – Remy
“I guess they DO have patrols.” – Levi
The others followed him out into the open, there really wasn’t a point to hiding anymore.
Walking around the zoo at night in the dark was surprisingly calming. Most of the animals were either asleep or used enough to people to not react too loudly.
“Was there a gold monkey on the Island?” – Alegria
“Not that I saw.” – Remy
“guys, a light just came on over the maintenance office.” – Opie
Everyone hid behind one of the information kiosks.
Doo dee doo doo/ doo dee doo too doo
The chime was impossibly loud in the quiet of the night.
“Oh, my bad guys.” – Remy, checking his phone.
“I really should take this, hold on. Sup, buddy” – Remy walking off.
The light turned off and the door opened to reveal Eddie Moreno, looking like he was heading out, and was in need of some sleep.
“Look around his neck.” – Ali whispered
Sure enough, around Eddie’s neck was a large golden medallion.
“That’s some bling.” – Levi
“Is someone there?” – Eddie into the darkness.
They couldn’t help but notice that what had looked from the shadows like a baseball cap, was in fact some sort of small furry headdress, a tarnished brass band fastening it to the employee’s head. At the top of it was a mummified blond capuchin’s head.
“That’s messed up.” – Levi
Remy appeared out of the shadows next to the oddly dressed zoo employee and raised his dart gun, shooting the kid between the eyes.
“What did you do!?” – Opie, coming out of the shadows.
“Oh come on, its pretty obvious, the guy wears the headband, the headband controls the monkey, the monkey’s not really evil… dibs on the watch.”
“We’re not looting the guy! This is not a video game!” – Levi
Opie unceremoniously dropped the brass and fur cap.
“It was a joke, kids.” – Remy, flipping the unconscious Eddie over and cuffing him.
“We should go inside.” – Levi.
He and Remy grab Eddie by his shoulders and drag him into the office and handcuffed him to a swivel chair.
Opie picked up the headdress, and followed them in, talking “through” the mummified monkey head. It was clear that he was still under the influence of something.
Levi threw a glass of water in the unconscious man’s face.
The zookeeper sputtered.
“What happened, where am I? what am I doing here?” – Eddie
“We’re PETA.” – Remy
“No, you have to let me go, I have to go Right Now!” – Eddie
The man began straining against his hand cuffs, it was clear that he was going to hurt himself.
“Why do we need to let you go, Eddie?” – Alegria
“Where’s my head dress? Where is it?” – Eddie
Opie spun it around a finger.
“put it back on me, please!”
“You have to or it’ll get free!” – Eddie
“Wait… what?” – Levi
“Okay, I was at Michigan State University on scholarship for their Ag program and my scholarship fell through and I needed money so me and my friends were reading about this South American culture, I don’t which, but they worshiped this monkey god. And if you caught him you could make a wish. Well it turned out that the vestments were there at the school in the museum so one of us had to wear the vestments while the rest of us had to catch him. It made sense after a few dozen shots. I drew the short straw and had to wear the vestments, if they caught me they’d each get one wish, if I was able to stay away until dawn I’d get the wish. So we played and I stayed away until dawn and then suddenly there he was, this golden howler monkey and he had with him a bag of money. But then my friends started losing things, and then the guys that chased me… well, they kind of died.”
“And so you’ve pissed off the monkey king and he’ll kill you without your headdress.” – Remy
“You guys are buying this?” – Opie
“I’m dead se –“ Eddie began to choke
A large bulge formed in his throat.
“No, no no no, I can’t handle this, man, I’m out of here.” – Opie, running.
The bulge began to glow with a soft golden light, the same light that was now starting to come out of his opened mouth.
A single monkey-hand thrust its way out of the man’s mouth, soon followed by another, and they flailed until they found purchase on his nose and chin. After only a heart beat the monkey pulled itself out of Eddie’s throat.
It looked at them, its eyes like lens flairs even in person and it howled hideously.
Ali was hiding behind Levi who was himself backing up against the wall.
The monkey turned and looked each of them in the eye before bounding out the door.
Somewhere in New Calais
Opie was running for his life, he’d run and hidden in turn, but the golden capuchin was still on his tail.
Why didn’t he just throw the headdress away?
Because that’s what the little monster wants, he thought to himself.
Opie decided he had to destroy it.
Up ahead he saw the light of a fire. He must have run into Green Lawn or West Clay. Either way that was a burning barrel.
He heard the monkey hiss from above him and looked up to see its golden eyes glaring at him.
Opie ran at full tilt, his lungs burning, his legs a bundle of knots and raw nerves.
He saw the burn barrel. He was almost there.
Something heavy landed on his back and slid down until it grabbed his leg. He felt the little monster bite into his leg.
He felt himself falling, and with one last heave, launched the headband into the fire. He felt excruciating heat on his leg as the Monkey God burned to ash, even as the burn barrel erupted in golden flame.