Monkey Business

ELAINE HOWARD

 

Security Chief Urko rode up to his office at Ape Headquarters at a fast gallop. He felt refreshed and rested after two weeks of vacation in which he attended horse racing events, visited relatives and spent time with his wife. He was glad to return to work but id not like the news delivered to him that the fugitives had escaped once more. A twinge of frustration started in his stomach and was slowly rising. His mood would not remain happy for long. The gorilla entered the room in which he would listen to his lieutenant’s account of the recent escapade he had with the fugitives.

Alexander sat at his desk and stood up when Urko entered the room. The young gorilla ho was probably in his early thirties, was a rising star in the ape army. Today he appeared injured and defeated somewhat. A bruise was under his left eye and his upper right arm had a large white bandage wrapped around it. Swelling around the bandage could be seen easily and the gorilla’s silver back was visible because he was wearing a vest today. One might guess he had returned from battle. Urko motioned for him to sit down.

Urko had been proud of Alexander’s abilities as a soldier but had never told him so. This recent failure to capture the two humans and the renegade chimp, Galen distressed him.

Secretly, Urko wished they had been caught while he was on vacation. He was getting tired of chasing them but he never would admit it. Alexander made eye contact with him as if to signal his superior he wanted to talk and get this over with.

Alexander slumped down in the chair. He was exhausted.

“I read your report. The fugitives got away from you AGAIN!!!! You are so lucky I just returned from vacation because you would be sitting in jail for being a failure! But at the moment my mood is still good.” The security chief was not his usual agitated self yet.

Alexander had worked with Urko long enough to know his moods but still did not relish his impending tale of defeat. He sighed and wished he were elsewhere. Either horseback-riding or working in his garden. Silently, he prayed to the Lawgiver that Urko would not carry out any threats he made. The gorilla soldier had been through enough. The sunlight coming through the window reflected a hit of brown in his dark eyes. He remained silent until Urko gave him permission to speak.

“Well, I am waiting ,Alexander. Tell your story before I change my mind and slug you one.”

Alexander sat back in the chair and cleared his throat. “We received news that the fugitives were in that village close to the waterfall. The huge waterfall near the entrance to the jungle. As we were riding through the village, I saw the blonde human and started chasing him. He ran back to his friends and they must have been well fed.

"We were unable to catch them.”

Urko leaned forward. “Who hid them?”

“I don’t know. We just kept on chasing them.”

“Next time find out who hid them. Go on.”

Alexander struggled with his words. “Yes Sir…I could only think of pursuing them. We chased them through the waterfall.”

“Even that traitor Galen?”

“The two humans pulled Galen through the waterfall. Nothing more odd looking than a wet chimp.” Alexander feebly attempted to be humorous. Urko ignored the statement.

“What happened next?”

“I didn’t know what to do! Around the waterfall, the jungle is thick. We couldn’t take the horses. The only way was to go through the waterfall. So five of us decided to go through. We left the horses with the others and ran through the waterfall as quickly as we could. It was awful, so cold and wet.” Chills went up and down Alexander’s spine as he described being wet. He hoped Urko would be somewhat understanding since they did get wet in an attempt to capture the fugitives. Urko did not like water either and in his mind he cringed at the thought of getting wet. But the scowl he had on his face remained and he still had no sympathy for his soldiers’ predicament.

“Okay, you went through the waterfall. What happened next?”

“The fugitives weren’t around. There was an open clearing. The noise would drive anyone crazy.”

“What noise!

“Monkeys. They were everywhere. Big ones. Little ones. Mothers with babies. The screeching was deafening.”

Urko’s eyes grew wide. He didn’t like this story so far. He wasn’t especially fond of monkeys. They looked too human. Way too human. The hair on his neck stood up.

The security chief rubbed his chin. “So what! You were afraid of a troop of monkeys!”

Alexander stiffened, then relaxed. He rubbed his arm as if it were sore. “There were so many of them! They all stared at us. The chattering ceased and they watched us as if they were plotting to make a move against us!’

Urko’s eyes looked as if they had daggers in them. “You are telling me they were strategizing against you. That is ridiculous. They are monkeys. Stupid little monkeys. They do not have the intellect to develop strategies. I think going through the waterfall affected your brain!”

Alexander was used to Urko’s insults and he decided to proceed with the story. He was anxious to get this over with.

“We followed a path further into the jungle. It led to another clearing by a stream. All three fugitives were sitting there relaxing. Some of the monkeys were giving fruit to them. The dark haired human was eating a banana. I didn’t know that humans liked bananas.”

Urko grunted. “So they were eating. That was an opportunity to catch them. Why didn’t you?”

The lieutenant took a deep breath. This was so difficult for him to describe.“ The monkeys surrounded them. There must have been hundreds of them. One of them ran up to me and gave me a banana.”

Urko felt anger coming on. “So what! You were offered food! Why didn’t you grab the fugitives! These were monkeys! Little lousy stinkin humans!!

“There were too many of them. And some of them were big, not that little. They would not allow us to get that close to the fugitives. When I tried to grab the blonde haired human, several monkeys jumped on me and one of them bit me. It was a hard bite. The pain was excruciating! In fact, I couldn’t move my arm. Then one of them threw a rock at Ian and he was unconscious for what seemed like an eternity. I thought he was dead. The more we tried to get close to the two humans and the chimp, they fiercer they became.”

Urko grunted again in frustration. “They made fools of you! You should have shot them!”

Alexander felt his face getting hot and flushed. “The leader of the troop gave out a piercing yell. Several of the monkeys attacked us again and took our weapons. They ran off and threw them down the waterfall.”

Alexander couldn’t look at Urko. The security chief now put his head in his hands. “Are you telling me they managed to get your weapons away from you? Urko banged his fist on the table. “I can’t believe what I am hearing! You incompetent ape! How in the Lawgiver’s name could you let this happen!

“Sir, there were way too many of them. We were taken by surprise. If I had known about the monkeys before we went through the waterfall, I would have had more reinforcements with us.” Alexander was becoming increasingly upset and wished Urko would give him some credit for attempting to capture the fugitives. But he knew he never would. His superior was a perfectionist.

“Monkeys are tiny! How can tiny creatures like that defeat you?”

“I know, Sir. Most monkeys are fairly small. But these were a little larger than zoo monkeys and they appeared to be very intelligent. They protected the fugitives. The dark haired astronaut……what’s his name?”

“Burke.”

“A female monkey wouldn’t leave him and she is the one who bit me. She kept sitting on his shoulder grooming his hair.”

Urko didn’t really believe this part of the tale but decided not to discuss it. Obviously, these little hairy human traitors got the best of you! Continue.”

Alexander wiped his eyes. The whole process of telling this story was getting to be more painful than what the monkeys did to him. It seemed like nothing was worse than Urko’s wrath. “This female monkey appeared to be very fond of the dark haired astronaut and she……bared her teeth at me. She wouldn’t let me near him. She attacked me again and bit my arm again. This time, she wouldn’t let go. Burke got her off of me.”

Urko rolled his eyes. “So you were bitten by a monkey. Poor you! A female monkey stopped you. That will look great on your record. This whole story is pathetic! What are the other soldiers doing while you are being attacked by a female monkey?”

“Ian was still unconscious and the others were surrounded by the troop. When any of them attempted to move towards the fugitives, the troop started throwing rocks at them. Virdon, the other human, saved them from being stoned to death!”

“And how did he do that?” The security chief was disgusted with the whole situation and was now forcing himself to listen to the rest of it.”

Alexander gazed into Urko’s eyes and tried to remain calm. “The astronaut talked to them and they slowly moved away.”

Urko’s eyes grew wide. His brow was raised. “Excuse me? He reasoned with them and they obeyed him?”

Alexander felt a flood of tiredness sweep over his body. “It certainly appeared that way, Sir. It seemed like they understood what he was saying. The leader gave out a piercing yell as if he was responding to the blonde haired human. Then the troop escorted the other three soldiers to the waterfall.”

“What was that renegade chimp Galen doing while all this was going on?”

“He was sitting on a rock watching the whole scenario. A baby monkey sat on his shoulder also observing everything. Female monkeys handed him food.”

Alexander was feeling the urge to get up and leave. He had had enough but he cleared his throat and went on with his story. “I asked Burke why these monkeys were protecting him and his companions. Apparently, they were hostile to them as well when they first had ran into the jungle a few days ago. Once the troop understood that they meant no harm, they adopted them as members of the troop. Burke said they were called “Howler

"Monkeys who are not indigenous to this area.”

“Simplify for me. What do you mean?”

“He said they must have escaped from a zoo and found a new home in the jungle. He thinks they are originally from a place called South America. Burke said they appreciated their hospitality but found them difficult to live with. They are also very vocal and rarely quiet. Burke described how they loved to play games and were always stealing stuff, thinking it was funny. He also said the females wouldn’t leave him alone, one even sleeps beside him.”

Urko stood up and gazed out the window in frustration. “So my guess is, the fugitives are no longer there.”

Alexander shook his head. His muscles ached and his arm still throbbed with pain. “After Ian regained consciousness, the two humans escorted us back to the waterfall. I doubt they are still there. There are many other animals in the jungle and the fugitives planned on moving on. Virdon stated he didn’t want to live with noisy monkeys, snakes and big cats. They were grateful to them for the food and protection they gave them but joining a troop of “Howler monkeys” was not an option.”

“So a troop of monkeys made fools out of my soldiers and you allowed this to happen. I can’t believe this. You are so much better than this! “

Alexander wished that Urko could have had more understanding about the predicament he had been in. He was grateful to the two humans for getting him out alive but of course didn’t mention this to Urko. He made one last attempt to get through to Urko. The silverback gorilla stood up and his voice was strong.

“Sir, I respect your knowledge and authority. You have been a great protector of simian society. But with these fugitives…..I don’t know…Sir. We spend so much time and effort chasing them……”

Urko who had been looking out the window turned around. He walked over to Alexander. Their faces were only six inches apart. He cut Alexander off. “In my report I am going to state that you chased the fugitives through a village and into the jungle. I am not going to mention this tale of monkey business and you will resume the hunt for Burke, Virdon and that chimp Galen. And if you ever get into a situation with these little hairy human freaks again, your career is finished! You will be sitting in a jail for the rest of your natural life! Is that understood?”

Alexander held his ground and still was eye to eye with Urko. He nodded yes. His stomach was in turmoil.

“I repeat. Anymore monkey business and YOU WILL REGRET IT!. Monkeys have always associated with humans. I don’t care how noisy or how many of them there are! This better not happen again!” Urko then slammed his fist on the table and walked out of the room.

Alexander had his head in his hands. Relief finally came over him and he relaxed back in the chair.

Alexander was also baffled by the fact a troop of monkeys defended the three fugitives.

He knew that humans and some apes had hid the fugitives, but a troop of monkeys? But they had shown him how intelligent they were, well organized and they communicated with a variety of different vocalizations. They were a determined group of small primates. He felt that Urko was really underestimating how powerful they could be. The thought crossed his mind that maybe Urko and Zaius were too concerned about the human threat to simian society and other creatures were being overlooked. If humans were eradicated tomorrow, these monkeys might replace them. Ape civilization would still be in danger. He had much to think about. Were the leaders of ape civilization worrying too much about the human problem? A twinge inside of him gave an uneasy feeling. The human fugitives had saved his life and he was not comfortable pursuing them. They said they only wanted to return to their own time or be left alone in peace.

He had much to think about.