surveillance


Leonard Cohen was in a dark room that had only one shielded light - a light somewhat like one that might be found over a poker table somewhere - pointing straight down at the room's two occupants.  The old poet leveled Johnny with a stern look.  "It takes a bit more dedication than you have to be a monk, Mr. Monkey," he said.

Leonard Cohen sighed and lit an Apocalypso brand cigarette.  Then the poet blew a perfect smoke ring.  The smoke ring floated up through the air.  Leonard Cohen stared at the smoke ring, then looked at Johnny and raised an eyebrow.  The smoke ring settled above Leonard Cohen's head like a halo.  "You see," the old poet said as he tapped on his shaved bald head, "It's a matter of concentration."  The poet smiled a big smile.  "Don't be dissuaded, Johnny, if it doesn't come quickly.  Simply maintain your faith.  And remember these words:  'Layer after layer of autumn leaves are swept away - Something forgets us perfectly'"

Then the poet backed away in a fluid motion from under that single light as if he were on a platform being wheeled back into the inky black.  "'Something forgets us perfectly,'" he repeated, then was gone.

Then an odd sound in Johnny the monkey boy's room woke him from his strange dream.  Floating right above him was the angel who had visited him so many times before.  Even though the monkey boy had been visited by the angel a couple times before, he was startled to be woken in such a manner.

The angel sighed.  "You're no longer dreaming about Mr. Meat," the angel said, "but even worse - you seem to have acquired a celebrity fascination.  That's pretty sad, Johnny."

"I'm sorry," Johnny said.  Then, because the psychic energy that always seemed to be around the angel was more painful than ever, he said "ouch."

The angel shook her head slowly and looked like she was very disappointed in Johnny.  "There's other sad stuff about you too.  Like, what in God's name are you doing in this gloomy monastery?"

Johnny just stared up at her.

"Haven't you had enough of this place, Johnny?  You have been here for a very long time."

"I have?" the monkey boy asked.

"Yes."

"Oh," Johnny said.

"And it's not exactly the most hospitable place here, Johnny.  They drug your food so that you don't masturbate or know whether you're dreaming or existing in the real world.  And they don't give you your mail; even though you don't really get mail."  The angel looked ponderous.  "Well, I suppose there was that piece of junk mail from Reader's Clearinghouse Weekly with that Reader's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes contest for 47 million bucks that was sent to 'Mr. Monkee' last Tuesday which you never got."  Johnny looked up at the angel and wondered what he could do with 47 million dollars.  "Oh," the angel said, "speaking of mail, back at your apartment there is an important letter from your grandmother waiting.  But anyway, back to the topic of this disheartening monastery and the problems with you being here.  Ok. Not only do they drug you and detain your mail, your would-be brethren also treat you like a lower class monk.  Have you ever noticed that?  And they sometimes make fun of you.  And Dr. Weaselfoot thinks sometimes of sending you off to the Scientists."

"Ah," Johnny thought.  "So that's what the name is of the doctor with the scary teeth."

"- And he doesn't treat your bowel cancer even though you are very sick."

"I am?" Johnny asked.

"Yes," the angel replied with a stern look on her face.  "Very very."

"Oh," the monkey boy said.

"They also monitor everything you do and say through electronic surveillance.  And they won't let you play cricket (though I can't see why you'd want to play that abominable game to begin with).  And they make you adhere to a spiritual belief system which you don't particularly believe in, although, of course, part of your acceptance is due to your rather debilitating case of ennui."

"Ah," the monkey boy said, and he rubbed his hurting head.

"So, something has to be done, Johnny," the angel said.  "Stella is worried sick about you and a group of angry goons from Hyena Banks is waiting for you back at your apartment and they are wondering which organs of yours they are going to sell on the black market to make up for the money you owe them."

"Ok," Johnny said.  Then he felt sorry for himself because of that ticket he had held in his hands in the park that day - the scratch and win winning ticket worth $7,243.22 that he had had that was now gone gone gone.

"Hey!" the angel said.  "Snap out of it, will you?  You can feel sorry for your silly monkey self later on."

"Ok," Johnny said.

"Now, anyways, I need to get going because I have some very very important things to do.  You very much need to think about the things that I've told you and figure out what you're going to do next," the angel said with a frown, and then added: "- you silly monkey."

"Yes ma'am," the monkey boy said.  Then the angel disappeared with a poof into a dramatic cloud of golden particles.

"Ooh!" said Johnny.

Right then the bell went off that informs the monks of the Clooney Monastery that it is time to stop praying and time to go get some food.  Johnny thought that it was strange that the tinny voice up in the shadows near the ceiling of his room had not told him to get out of bed today like it did every day.  Johnny stared up into the shadows of his room up at the ceiling that was so high up he couldn't even see it.  "Why didn't the voice tell me to get out of bed?" he asked himself.

Johnny didn't know that beside the small beat-up speaker (whose existence he had contemplated in the past) up in the shadows near the ceiling there was also a video camera that was always pointing down at Johnny.  The monkey boy had no idea that his every move was being watched by the monastery's Security M Class monks.  The Security M Class monks in the Monitoring Room watched Johnny all the time to make sure that he was not masturbating or maybe preparing to escape.  The monkey boy had no clue at all that he was being watched.  He also had no idea, of course, that the security monks who always watched him had seen Johnny's morning visitor.  The Security M Class monks had been very surprised.

Johnny also wasn't aware that an excited Monk B was waiting for him just outside his room's door.  So, when Johnny opened the door and saw Monk B looming right there and Monk B shouted "Hi Monk E!" in a very loud voice, the monkey boy said, "Ah!" in surprise and clutched onto his chest.  Quiet monastic living can make a monkey boy susceptible to surprises like looming Monk B's and angel appearances.  After his heart calmed down some, the monkey boy said, "Hi, Monk B."

Monk B was very excited.  The monk was hopping from foot to foot like he had to pee.  "Hi Monk E!" Monk B said.  "I was sent to get you to come to the Holy Halls to speak to the Venerable Ones."

"Huh?" Johnny said.  The monkey boy wondered what was going on.  "Why am I supposed to go to the Holy Halls to speak to the Venerable Ones?" Johnny asked.  Johnny had never even heard of the Holy Halls, or even of the Venerable Ones.  And the monkey boy didn't even really care about more weird surprises at this point in the day.  All Johnny really wanted to do was go to the cafeteria and get some food.

"I don't know, Monk E," Monk B said.  "But a lot of people seem to be very excited and want to talk to you.  So come on!  I'll show you the way."

"Ok," Johnny said.  Then he said, "Oh, wait - let me get my walker."  Then he got his walker and slowly shuffled and stumbled after Monk B who led the monkey boy up through the dark and damp hallways up to the Holy Halls where some important things were about to happen in the life of Monk E.

"Can we just stop at the cafeteria first?" Johnny asked Monk B as they passed the cafeteria and all the eating monks.  The food smelled very good to the hungry monkey boy.

"No," Monk B said.

"Ok," said Johnny the monkey boy.


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