of comedians and origami


Johnny the monkey boy was walking down Pink Flamingo Street.  He was feeling very happy.  He was free.  And he was walking around under the sun, doing whatever he wanted to.  Which happened to be walking towards the apartment he had missed so much in the monastery.  How happy he was to be free of the Clooney Monastery!  He was happy too to be free of the monastic robes he had worn for so long: Eddie Machine had lent the monkey boy some nice clothes to wear so he wouldn't feel so conspicuous walking around Summer City in his monkish attire.

It was Johnny's first time walking down Pink Flamingo Street in in months and months.  It all looked the same as he remembered it.  It looked different too.  The palm trees seemed bigger somehow - and plants on the balconies of the stucco buildings looked fatter.  Or more lush.  A lot of buildings on Pink Flamingo Street also seemed to have new paint on them.  Yes, it seemed like the entire street had got a make-over after the Big Earthquake of the New Millennium.  It made the street look new and fresh.  Not that it would have mattered to the monkey boy because he sure was excited to be walking on it, out in the sunshine, and not trapped in a weird monastery and made to have alarming operations.

As the monkey boy walked further down Pink Flamingo Street that even the people who lived at the halfway house for the mad on the corner were wearing new clothes.  Like the rest of the fixtures of Pink Flamingo Street, they were given a make-over.  And they were all groomed-seeming, and looking nice as they sat out on the Pink Flamingo Sanitarium and Rest House front patio and smoked.  "Hello," one of the crazy people said as the monkey boy passed.  And then another said "Hello," and then one more said "Hello," too.  The others just sat and smoked and looked blankly forward.

"Hello," Johnny said.  Then he said, "and hello, hello."

His interactions with the people of Pink Flamingo Street Sanitarium and Rest House were always very much like this.

As the monkey boy passed Pink Flamingo Street Sanitarium and Rest House he noticed a dusty toupee was lying in the gutter.  "That is an unusual thing to see," Johnny thought.  "Even in front of a mad house."

Then Johnny the monkey boy saw 341 Pink Flamingo Street.  "Home," he said to himself.  "Wow."

The building looked quite horrible with dangerous-looking cracks running all up its walls and sides.  Chunks of plaster hung ominously from strands of rebar which poked out of the house innards from creepy holes on the walls.  Johnny smiled happily.

He was so happy that, as he bounded up the steps, he didn't notice that the porch was decorated with hundreds of paper animals hanging from strings.  Or that his mailbox was stuffed and crammed with so much junkmail that it looked close to exploding.  Or that three impatient and dangerous-looking hired goons were lurking there in the covered patio's shadows......

"Ahhhh!" said Johnny as he noted and almost walked into the three sullen looking men who were blocking the way to his apartment.  The three large men were wearing dusty black suits.  Their big arms were crossed over their big chests.  The monkey boy was suddenly very nervous.

"Well, well," one of the large men said in a hoarse voice.  "What do we have here?"  This very, very large man sounded like he needed a drink of water.

"Um," Johnny the monkey boy said.

This man with the hoarse voice - who was the largest of the very large dusty men - took one step forward.  The man was big, big, big.  And very angry-seeming.  The goon seemed to have so much anger in him that Johnny wouldn't be surprised if he exploded.  The monkey boy then noticed his overflowing mailbox.  He wondered if the mailbox would explode first and maybe make the big, big man explode too.

Johnny was afraid of the very big man.  And he knew that if the big, big man did explode, that it wouldn't be like his mailbox exploding.  Instead of junk mail, there'd be punches and pain for the poor monkey boy.

Hyena Banks.  Johnny remembered all of a sudden some letters he had received from them so very long ago.  The monkey boy remembered the last letter he had received from them which said he should probably consider giving them the money he owed them if he wished to continue to have use of his arms and legs.  "Money," he thought as the gigantic goon with the chiseled features took another stiff step towards him.  Then he thought, "oh oh."

"It occurs to me that you are Johnny the monkey boy.  Are you that person, Mr. Monkey?" the giant goon asked in a scary whisper.  "And mind you before you answer that we had surveillance photographs taken of you and I have studied these photographs extensively.  In one of them an earthquake has - interestingly enough - just occurred.  Or, I should say, is in the process of occurring.  You look startled and unsure of your footing.  You are wearing blue jeans with a hole in the left knee.  Your hair is unkempt.  Fear emanates from you - much in the manner that it emanates from you now."  The goon's grin got nastier.  "Perhaps you were fearful for your life.  As you very well should be now."

"Yes, my good monkey.  I have studied photographs of you, but it is that one which caught my fancy.  Shall I describe more?  Very well, I will take your silence to mean genial permissiveness.  There is an old man behind you in that picture.  The tremor made the geriatric man lose his grip on the device he was using as an aid in his walking, and he is in the process of falling to the ground.  I have enjoyed that touch very much, though that little accent - that little oddity - has done little I confess to pacify me and my restlessness in this incredibly long wait for you.  How it has challenged my sense of self, this wait.  So much of my life, never to be recovered - planted here on this dirty little porch - looking out at this banal suburban wasteland: my perspective often seen through the filter of this impressive array of origami."

"And I've felt my heart pound out contrapuntal measure to those rhythms of my existential preoccupations - each beat a percussive measure of loss: each beat to never again repeat.  In an abstract sense, this wait has been a horrible, brooding song.  And now we reach the climax of this symphony.  Yes.  The bassoons will swell and the timpani will scream leaden, metallic screams, and the cellos will grind in feral fury."

"Real cannons were once used to signal the conclusion of the 1812 Overture...."  The goons eyes were flat and jaundiced-seeming.  His fists were clenched and white.  The gigantic goon ground his teeth together and then lifted his oak-trunk arms to indicate the dusty porch, and the other two goons who were tensely listening and waiting.  "My colleagues are a little scared of me, my good monkey.  Have you perceived that yet?  My name - Mr. Comedian - seems ironic to them, given that I am far from being governed by a sense of humour.  Not that it is not there.  Perhaps I could write out a dirty limerick...  Using your blood as the ink, perhaps, Mr. Monkey?  Yes - that sounds like a splendid act for a man named Mr. Comedian, does it not?"  And a grin appeared on the man's face that made Johnny feel like peeing his pants.

"Ah, Mr. Monkey.  To contemplate life in such spaces," the goon whispered, "and the nature of lost time.  To experience the incontrovertible passage of time - awaiting you.  Yes.  You.  And that monkey face of yours which I've studied so very much: contemplating possible punishments to rain upon it should you arrive here without adequate recompense for my employer, Hyena Banks.  How I have studied you."

"So, that all said, realize that my having asked you if you were Johnny the monkey boy was a mere formality as I am quite assuaged of your identity.  We arrive at a crystalline moment of truth.  This existential symphony needs must achieve its triumphant conclusion!"  Mr. Comedian took an ape-like lumbering step forward.  A frightening skull-like grain was plastered on his face.

Johnny the monkey boy took a step back.

"Do you have the money you owe Hyena Banks, Johnny?" Mr. Comedian asked.

"Ah," Johnny said, digging in his pockets, taking another step back from the looming menace of Mr. Comedian.  Then he could back up no more as he was backed against the railing.  He brushed against folded paper peacocks, dragons, squirrels, aardvarks, penguins, wildebeests, mules, spiders, geese, basilisks and giraffes.  Mr. Comedian took another step forward and Johnny dug deeper in his pockets, leaning back on the railing as far away as possible from the approaching threat of violence that was Mr. Comedian.  And the monkey boy's arm brushed against the ivy growing along the security bars protecting his apartment.

And something - unnoticed by the goon, or Johnny the monkey boy - dislodged itself from the ivy and fell forward.  And fluttered down.  To land neatly in the front breast pocket of the Land's End shirt Johnny had borrowed from Eddie Machine.

And Johnny frantically patted his pockets.  "Um," he stammered.  "Ah," he said to the approaching mad skull grin of Mr. Comedian's face.  The monkey boy manically turned his jeans pockets inside out.  And Mr. Comedian was so close that Johnny could smell the man's peppermint candy scented breath.

And then the monkey boy patted his shirt pocket.  And felt something there.  Something which he didn't think was there before.  He wondered what it was.

Johnny the monkey boy retrieved from his pocket a lucky, lucky lottery ticket.

He stared at it.

Mr. Comedian stared at it.

"What the fuck?" Johnny said, as he looked at his long lost ticket.

"Ah.  What is that?" Mr. Comedian asked the surprised monkey boy.

"It's a scratch and win ticket," Johnny said.  He stared in disbelief at the weathered ticket he had lost so long ago.  "And the lottery ticket is worth $7,243.22," said the monkey boy.  "Which is the exact amount of money I owe Hyena Banks."

Mr. Comedian grabbed the ticket from Johnny.  He looked down at it.  He frowned.  The goon turned it over in his hands a few times.  He held it up to the light and squinted at it.  Then he looked at it some more.  "Well," the startled goon said.  "I'll be damned."

Then Mr. Comedian frowned.  He had been contemplating doing mean things to Johnny for a long, long time.  It was hard for him to accept that the monkey boy did in fact have the right amount of money he owed to Hyena Banks.  The frown on the gigantic goon's forehead grew bigger.  One vein on that forehead began to throb.

The monkey boy grinned nervously.  The monkey boy tried to look innocent and not look like a monkey boy whose legs should be broken.

"Hm," said Mr. Comedian.  Then the goon regarded his monstrous hands which were reaching out (seemingly under their own power) towards the monkey boy.  "Ah," the goon said, as he relaxed his hands, and smoothed out the wrinkles on Johnny's borrowed Land's End shirt.  "Well," he muttered.

"Ah," the monkey boy said to the looming goon.  "We're okay, then?"

Mr. Comedian looked over to his goon colleagues.  The dirty and tired-looking goons shrugged.  Mr. Comedian's face drooped and he sighed a big sigh.  "I guess you're off the hook then!" Mr. Comedian told Johnny.

"Hooray!" said the happy monkey boy.

"Or," Mr. Comedian said, considering, "you will be after I do this to you!"

"Huh?" said Johnny.

Then, with a nasty grin, Mr. Comedian punched the monkey boy right in the nose.

"Oomph!" said Johnny, and he grabbed onto his smarting nose.  Then he said "ouch."

Mr. Comedian smiled.  "There!" he said, smacking his hands together, and looking much more relaxed and calm.  "That is a much more satisfying conclusion to the Symphony of Lost Time!"

"Oh.  Okay," the monkey boy said.

"A happy ending, my colleagues!" Mr. Comedian shouted to the other goons, and he smiled.  "Now let's go, gents, and report to our next assignment!"

The goons all bid Johnny farewell.  Then they left the dusty patio which had been their home for so long.

"What a strange but interesting day," the monkey boy thought as he cradled his hurt nose and watched the large black suited men depart.  The goons were soon walking down Pink Flamingo Street, talking to each other happily, patting each other on the back, and congratulating each other on a job well done.

Johnny smiled as they walked out of view.  "Those were nice goons," he thought as he wiped at his bloody nose.  "And I still have use of my legs!" he thought, remembering a scary letter from Hyena Banks from a long, long time ago.

That reminded him to collect his mail.  It was tough to get all of the letters and flyers out of the crammed mailbox.  But soon he had an armload of correspondence, and was pushing the door open to his apartment.

Johnny took one step into the apartment and stopped there looking at his home.  The living room was dusty and still.  It felt undisturbed and quiet.  The monkey boy looked over at his comfy chair.  Then he looked at the unblinking answering machine.  Then he looked at his silent computer.

He smiled.

Johnny the monkey boy was finally home.


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