johnny's day off

When Johnny the monkey boy woke up the next day he saw that the fancy silver platter with its big silver dome was on the little table beside his bedroom door.  Whatever it was that he'd been given for breakfast, it sure smelled good.  Beside the platter there was a frothy coffee drink.  That made Johnny happy.  He liked frothy coffee drinks.  Then he noticed that there was a strange bottle beside the platter and the fancy coffee drink.  And sticking out from underneath the strange bottle was a folder piece of paper.

The curious monkey boy pulled out the piece of paper.  Then he unfolded it.  Johnny saw that it was a note from Calamity Burntwood.

Dear Monk K,

Good morning!  Your spot on the Balthus Zogar breakfast show was cancelled due to Mr. Zogar having a family emergency.  This is good however.  The stock rallies have continued and our advisors have explained that it is better to play it out slowly right now, lest consumers begin to hear rumours of over-inflated prices from their damned economic watchdogs.  Our plan, therefore, has evolved.  Infrequent exposure over the span of years.  Clooney Enterprises shall become a household word - in keeping with market performance.  Pawns move into place, my good monk!  It is a matter of time.

And speaking of time, you have the day off!  Use it well, my friend!  I know how all you monks enjoy cricket, so I've arranged for you to go down and watch a match.  Isn't that exciting?  You are all healed now, but still not strong enough to participate.  Be patient though, Monk K.  All it will take is a bit of waiting and you'll be fit as a fiddle and playing cricket with your monk friends before you know it!

Speaking of your health, there's a new development!  Tomorrow we're sending over to the Monastery a Dr. Lontrau from, our friends, The League of Scientists.  He has some innovative psychokinetic devices he'd like to attempt using with you.  These wonderful devices are geared towards increased confidence and performance in those in who the devices are installed.  Doesn't that sound nice?  And, after the, ah, procedure, we'll have those masseuses we spoke about visit you.  Your mind and body will finally be at peace, and you will know a hitherto unexplored perfection.

You lucky, lucky monk.

Included with this note you'll find a bottle.  Contained in this bottle is a mild sterilizing anesthetic.  Please apply it liberally to your forehead and temples after your morning shower tomorrow.  It smells like peppermint.  You'll like it!  The scientist's assistants will show up at your door tomorrow morning around 8:00 AM and they will take you to the operation theater being set up in the Monastery by the good Dr. Lontrau and his staff.  Please be ready.

And enjoy your day, Monk K!

We'll talk more soon!

Your dear friend,

Calamity Burntwood

Johnny stared at the letter.  He frowned.  Then he bit at a fingernail.  Then he frowned.  He looked at the bottle.  The bottle had a mister at its top - like it was containing something that might be sprayed on dirty windows.  Then the monkey boy looked at the letter again.  Maybe he was not understanding it well, but it sure made him feel nervous.  He thought of 341 Pink Flamingo Street and then wondered at the tight feeling of fear in his belly.  He drank some of his yummy coffee drink.  Froth got all over his lips.  And very soon the monkey boy was feeling jittery as well as very worried.

Why would they need anesthetic, he wondered.

What were they going to do to him?

Then he thought about the word 'attempt' in the sentence, "He has some innovative psycho-kinetic devices he'd like to attempt using with you."  To start off with, the monkey boy did not like the sentence at all.  And that 'attempt' word, in there?  Wow, it made him nervous!

Johnny went into the bathroom.  The monkey boy saw himself in the mirror.  He stared at his reflection.  There was froth from his coffee on his lips.  He looked like a worried, rabid dog.  Who was probably sick too.

The monkey boy brushed his teeth.  Then he washed his face.  Then he stared at himself some more.  And then he went back into the bedroom.

On the big television screen, George Clooney seemed to be trapped in a very small box.  Some creepy music was playing in the background.  It seemed to Johnny that the actor could have been in a coffin.  "I can't believe I'm buried alive again!" George Clooney yelled.  Then the actor beat his fists against the top of the box.  "Oh, damnit!" he shouted.  Then his nervous looking eyes peered this way and that in the little box.  Johnny sighed.  "I'm trapped in the damn earth and I'm going to die!" George Clooney said in his tinny television voice.  But the monkey boy was no longer paying attention.

Johnny wandered over to his room's long, thin window.  He peered at the big, forested property below.  The limbs of the big trees were swaying gently in the breeze.  The sky above them was slightly hazy:  it was a smoggy day in Summer City.  "Maybe there are a lot of cars driving around out there," the monkey boy thought.  "Maybe people are going places.  Working.  Or maybe visiting people.  Going off, maybe, to make exciting purchases for their homes.  Like maybe stylish new lamps.  Or a new pan 'cause the other pan has casserole gunk burnt into it hard as cement."  Johnny then recalled a pan that he had to throw away a long time ago after he'd left a tuna casserole in the oven for way too long.  He never had replaced it either.  And boy was that ever a pain anytime he wanted to make casseroles.

The monkey boy squinted over at the trees that marked the edges of the monastery's property.  He could not see any cars or any details of Summer City at all.  The big trees below blocked the view of everything except for the vast stone expanse of the Clooney Monastery.

Johnny turned and looked back at his room - at the thick rug, the big television, the shiny statue and the comfortable bed.  He looked at the table with the forgotten breakfast and the bottle of peppermint anesthetic.  Then the monkey boy looked up at the ceiling.  It was a vaulted ceiling, way high up there.  The big vaulted ceiling made everything else in the room feel teeny and unimportant.  "There sure are a lot of bricks up there," Johnny thought.  The monkey boy was feeling very nervous.

There was a knocking at Johnny's bedroom door.  The unexpected noise startled the nervous monkey boy and agitated his nerves even more.  The monkey boy had problems with knockings at doors in the Clooney Monastery on the best of days, and today he was extra susceptible to surprises.  The poor fellow.

Johnny opened the door with a shaking hand.  It was Monk B.  Monk B looked happy.  "Hi, Monk K!" the smiling monk said.  "How are you doing, old pal?  And hey are you ready to go and watch some cricket?"  Monk B was excited because he thought that cricket was the cat's meow.

"Okay," Johnny said.  Then the monkey boy wondered if he should grab anything from his room.  He took a quick look around.  His eyes fell on the picture of Monk E that was hanging above his bed.  Monk E was grinning a big grin and offering the monkey boy a piece of cake.  Johnny looked at the rest of the room.  There was nothing for him to take on his trip.  The monkey boy didn't really own a lot of stuff in the Clooney Monastery.

They were soon off.

Monk B whistled as they walked down the big, airy corridors of the Tower of the Holy Ones.  The big empty hall echoed Monk B's whistling in a creepy manner.  As they shuffled towards the elevator, Johnny stared up at the pillars that lined the sides of the hall.  The big stone pillars went all the way up to the distant ceiling.  "What if one fell?" Johnny asked himself.  The monkey boy ground his teeth together a bit.  Then he wondered what would happen if there was a big earthquake.  He thought it wouldn't be nice at all to be buried under tons of rubble and ruin.  The monkey boy made himself look straight forward because that thinking about the weight of the stones above was just making him dizzy.  And more nervous than ever.

Then they were at the elevator.  "Age before beauty," Monk B said with a grin.  Monk B bowed dramatically too.

"Okay," Johnny said.

Then they were in the elevator, heading down.  After being in his big airy room and the big halls that felt like a church, the elevator felt like a teeny box to the monkey boy.  Like maybe the one George Clooney had been in on the TV.  The air felt too warm.  And the walls and ceiling and floor felt way too close together.  The monkey boy started to sweat.

"This is going to be an exciting match today, Monk K," Monk B told Johnny as they hurtled downwards in the teeny elevator.  "Me, Monks C, A and F have a freakin' awesome defense going.  M's 14, 12 and 3 have radical strategies but they can't compete with me and the others I think, and we're gonna get them today.  We're gonna get them good!"

There was a metallic bang and Johnny gasped.  The elevator had stopped moving.  The elevator's doors opened with an awful screeching sound.  They were deep in the Clooney Monastery now - down in the unpleasant part of the monastery the monkey boy had lived in before everyone had figured out how holy he was.  "Come on!" Monk B said, already down the dark hallway some and waiting for Johnny.  "We're running late!  Let's go!"

And Johnny the monkey boy hurried after Monk B the best that he could.  The halls were low and gloomy and all full of dank, humid air.  A couple of times the ceiling was so low, Johnny had to duck a bit.  Water dripped from the ceiling too and the monkey boy had a sensation they were traveling through caves - unstable caves that were maybe just waiting for some disturbance to collapse.

"Hey fellas!" Monk B suddenly shouted, having spied a couple robed figures up in the gloom.  "Goin' to the cricket match?"  The nervous Johnny clenched his teeth.

"We sure are!" a happy-sounding voice responded.  "See you up there!"

And they continued on.  A sudden wind blew against them.  It moaned creepily down the damp passageway.  The stones above them groaned.  Johnny shuddered.

And then, suddenly, they were at a door.  "This is where the fleet of Monk Transportation Devices - or MTD's as we like to call them - are kept," Monk B told Johnny.  Johnny looked in to see a big room filled with row after row of golf carts.  Each golf cart had a tall antenna sticking up from it.  This made the monkey boy think of bumper cars.  The monkey boy hoped that their journey to the cricket match wasn't going to be too rough.

At the far end of the room by big, open garage doors there were a number of monks piling into golf carts.  "We're just in time, Monk K!  Hooray!  Let's go!" Monk B said.  And soon, Johnny the monkey boy found himself strapped into a golf cart.  Monk B was at the steering wheel, laughing and joking with the other monks.  And then Monk B fired up the cart's electric engine.

And then they were moving forward.

And then they were clear of the Clooney Monastery.  Johnny looked up as they passed into the sunny day.  The wall of the monastery they just came through reached high into the sky like a formidable cliff.

Johnny took a deep breath.  Then he took another.  And the golf cart moved out and beyond the Clooney Monastery.

The park field was frantic with monks.  They shouted at each other using weird cricket words that Johnny didn't understand.  They dashed around here and there, setting up their game.  Some of the monks smacked other monks on the ass too as they darted around.  Everyone seemed happy and excited.  And off to the side of it all, feeling quite down, was Johnny the monkey boy.

Johnny had noticed that there were a lot of the red robed M Class security monks out at the park today.  He knew that their numbers made up one of the cricket teams.  But it seemed to him that a lot of the security monks were looking over at the monkey boy a lot.  They'd steal looks over at him.  When they saw Johnny looking at them, they'd look away quickly and seem to pretend to be interested in something else.  Like preparing the cricket game.  Or maybe smacking the ass of the monk next to them.  Soon enough though, they'd be stealing looks over at Johnny again.  The monkey boy wondered if the M Class monks were brought out specifically to make sure he didn't try to escape.

Johnny felt odd.  It was weird to be outside.  It was also strange to see people other than monks.  Away from the happy monks in other parts of the park there were many types of people.  The monkey boy saw a couple people jogging.  One young man was punching the air in front of him as he jogged.  And there were some people who were homeless - or maybe very, very poor - who were lying on the grass here and there, enjoying the morning sunlight.  And there were some people pushing baby carts.  And two young people with weirdly colored hair were riding their skateboards around.  The punky boy and girl held hands as they skateboarded around.  They looked like they were in love.

It all reminded Johnny of a spring day a long time ago.  Johnny sighed as he remembered those days long ago - when he was a free monkey boy and able to do as he pleased.

A whistle blast interrupted Johnny's thoughts.  The monks were beginning their game.

Monks were scattered over the field.  One was standing in the middle of the field, holding a creepy wooden paddle.  He held it like it was a golf club.  And then a monk threw something and all of the monks watching began to cheer.  "Run you stupid piece of poo, run!" some monks were soon crying.  And "Get him!  Yes!" shouted out some others.  All of the monks at the edge of the field edged closer to the action.  The red robed security monks who had been watching Johnny so closely also moved forward.  They were all quite caught up in the excitement of the game.

Then Johnny the monkey boy realized he was standing away from the excited monks.  They'd all moved forward, closer to the game.

He blinked.

He felt a nervousness grow in his chest.

Some monks were booing and cheering something that was going on over on the field.  They were more excited than ever.

Johnny's heart was pounding so hard he thought he was going to pass out.

No one was paying attention to him at all.

He took a little step backwards.  And then he took another.  And another.

And another.

And his heart was racing like mad.

He was edging back down a little hill, moving farther away from the excited monks and their game.  With each step, their noise grew a little fainter.  Then, with his next little step back, Johnny felt something solid under his foot.  He looked down.  He had reached a path.  It was one of the paths that cut through the park.  A jogger jogged past the monkey boy.  He gave the monkey boy a smile as he ran past.

Johnny grinned too.  A big, nervous grin.

The monkey boy began to walk down the path.  He was turned away from the monks and their game now, and walking as fast as he dared.  He walked past a happy-looking homeless (or maybe very poor) person who was sprawled out on the grass.  He walked past a park bench he had sat at many many months ago and didn't even think about a lucky lottery ticket because he was nervous and excited and walking and focused on walking this step and that step and every little step that he took.  Every step was taking him farther away.  He nervously stole a quick look back as he walked and saw that he could hardly even see the monks anymore.  And -

"Hey!" someone said as Johnny felt himself roughly bump into someone.  Fear coursed through his veins.  He looked up at the person, expecting to see red robes and an angry-looking monk.  "Watch where you're going!" the person said.  It wasn't a monk.  In fact, the person seemed really familiar to the monkey boy.

"Whoa!" the young man said.  "Johnny?  Is that you under those weird robes?"

"I think it is!" said another young man with the person who Johnny had bumped into.  "Where the hell have you been, man?  And what's up with the weird clothes?" Eddie Machine laughed.  "Is this a new fad or something?"

Johnny the monkey boy had just bumped into the Machine twins who lived on Pink Flamingo Street just down from Johnny's apartment.  He was so happy to see them he felt like crying.  "Hey, Johnny," Frank Machine said.  "We're going down to The Gun Shoppe to grab a coffee.  You wanna come?  You look kinda tired, Johnny."

"Yeah!" Eddie Machine said.  "A nice espresso will perk you up in no time!  Plus they have some crazy ass sexy girls working at the Gun Shoppe now!  You won't believe your eyes!"

"Ok," said Johnny the monkey boy.

And with the Machine twins on either side of him he continued walking.  He looked back once, but could no longer even hear the monks or their happy game.  He heard a faint cheer once and imagined that something exciting had happened in their cricket match.  But then he heard nothing else - except for the twins talking about Suzie - one of the sexy girls at the Gun Shoppe.  And some honking horns on Commuter Street.  And the tweeting of some birds.

And, with Johnny's heart pounding like crazy, they exited the park.

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