Johnny America


Rum Mon­key


He stole my drink the first day. I was green then. I was hav­ing a good time. I didn’t know that the mon­keys were wait­ing for me to get up and take a swim. Float­ing in the warm wa­ter of the la­goon, I looked up to see the largest one of them skit­ter­ing across the sand. He took a leisure­ly sip of my fruity rum drink. When I yelled at him, he looked right at me like he knew me and was try­ing to fig­ure out my name. The fur on his face was gray, and he had a paunch com­pared to the oth­er mon­keys. He chat­tered back and car­ried the sou­venir co­conut cup to the top of the tall wood­en fence bor­der­ing the resort.

The next day when I went to swim, I made eye con­tact to let him know that it was just fine with me if he took the rest of my Hur­ri­cane. This was the clos­est thing to a friend that I’ve ever made on va­ca­tion. It was nat­ur­al that I would take my prob­lem to him. Be­hind me, on the third floor, my wife was watch­ing me from the bal­cony. She had just bro­ken some news. This trip was to ease the telling and to make it up to me all at the same time.

“Mon­key,” I said, “things have not been good late­ly. Truth be told, not for months and months. I didn’t know why but now I do.”

He was a good lis­ten­er. He didn’t need to tell me that the same thing had hap­pened to him or that he saw it com­ing like one of my friends at home would. His flat face seemed to take it all in.

“She is wait­ing for me to be mad or cry or go up there and take it out on her. Not for­give­ness yet. She wants me to take part in some sex­u­al theater.”

I mo­tioned to the bar­tender and he sent a wait­er out to take my emp­ty cup and bring me a new full cup. The mon­key looked bored and I was scared that I was los­ing him. Fi­nal­ly one of the Span­ish women sun­bathing in front of me went in­to the wa­ter. He came down and took her drink. She cursed in Span­ish and splashed at the Mon­key. He went back to the fence.

“It’s good you got a drink. I don’t like to drink alone. Did I tell you that I know the guy? He’s a friend of mine. Small con­so­la­tion now but I slept with a few of his girl­friends in col­lege. I had the cour­tesy not to let him ever know it. Mon­key, we will nev­er have that prob­lem. We have a sim­ple and un­com­pli­cat­ed re­la­tion­ship. It is based on a mu­tu­al ap­pre­ci­a­tion of rum.”

My tele­phone start­ed to whistle.

“It’s her, Mon­key. She is grow­ing im­pa­tient. She’s hot and both­ered. She thinks I’m be­ing a ba­by about this all. I’m not even sure why we are here. I hate the beach. We could have done as well at the Hol­i­day Inn off the in­ter­state. I used to sug­gest that just for fun. You know spice things up. It was on­ly $39.99 with a coupon. She thought it was a waste of mon­ey. We could have pre­tend­ed we were the cou­ple hav­ing the af­fair. Of course, she knows what it would be like now.”

“Is she still look­ing out here? I don’t want to turn around and let her see that I care. You don’t have these kinds of prob­lems do you. You’re prob­a­bly the al­pha male. You get what you want. I haven’t had a blow job in years. Not that I like them that much but it seems like a re­spect thing. Lord knows I did the oth­er. Sex is sim­ple for you. A la­dy shows you her hind quar­ters and a few min­utes lat­er every­one is back to pick­ing lice off each oth­er. No books to read. No wor­ry­ing about whether or not she is at­tract­ed to you or fret­ting that you might be a lousy lay. I’ll tell you what. If I go up there, she bet­ter be on her knees. She bet­ter give me every­thing she gave that ass­hole. What we need is a to­tal sex­u­al accounting.”

“I think you rolled your eyes at me. I didn’t know mon­keys did that.”

“I could call him, Mon­key, and tell him he is a son of a bitch. Tell him I don’t want to be god par­ent to his chil­dren any­more. Tell him about my slop­py sec­onds he had back in col­lege. But every­thing seems pet­ty. Every­thing the cuck­old can do. Look, the Span­ish women have tak­en off their tops. If she was here, I’d have to pre­tend that I didn’t no­tice. But Mon­key I’m go­ing to take a par­tic­u­lar plea­sure in notic­ing these. They look like free­dom. They don’t do any­thing for you do they Mon­key. You are not from a pu­ri­tan­i­cal species. Nu­di­ty doesn’t do it for you.”

“I’m go­ing for a swim, Mon­key. I have to take a piss. You can fin­ish this one. You know it would be po­lite if you bought a round every now and then.”

I passed the women and nod­ded to them. They didn’t reg­is­ter any­thing be­hind their gi­gan­tic bug eye sun­glass­es. I walked in­to the wa­ter waist deep and made a warmer spot in the warm, warm wa­ter. Of course, I couldn’t go back to my chair right away. I had to stay out there and make a show of it. Swim a bit back and forth in the per­fect­ly clear wa­ter. I float­ed on my back, closed my eyes and felt the sun on my face. When I came back, the women had their backs to me and were ty­ing the strings of their biki­ni tops with ex­pert speed. I won­dered if it was me but I looked out be­hind the ho­tel and saw the black clouds rolling to­wards the la­goon. When I got to my chair, I mo­tioned again to the bar hut, and they brought out an­oth­er drink. The wait­er point­ed to the clouds and said, “Storm will be here in a few minutes.”

The mon­key was alone now, eye­ing my drink. He start­ed pac­ing un­steadi­ly across the top of the fence. He was drunk too.

“You are way over the le­gal lim­it, my friend. How much do you weigh? Twen­ty? Thir­ty pounds? You should have stopped with the first one.”

He showed me his teeth, a cross be­tween a hu­man and a cat mouth, and then he fell off the fence. I got up from my chair and walked over a few feet from where he fell. He was passed out like a col­lege kid at a fra­ter­ni­ty house. I had the strange de­sire to tuck him in. I took the tow­el off my shoul­ders and start­ed to put it on him when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

The bar­tender said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He bit some Swiss tourists this year who were mess­ing with him when he passed out. He gets mean when he gets drunk.”

“Like a person.”


“Frank, what are you do­ing?” my wife said.

I looked up to the bal­cony where I thought she should be and then back to her on the beach. She was wear­ing one of the thick green ho­tel robes.

“You know you aren’t sup­posed to wear those out of the rooms.”

“They don’t care, Frank.”

“I’ve made a friend. You say you hate how qui­et I am on va­ca­tion. Mon­key, meet my wife, Lois. Lois, meet Monkey.”

“You’re drunk.”

She turned to the bar­tender, “Don’t serve him any­more this afternoon.”

The bar­tender nod­ded and went back to the hut.

“We were hav­ing a con­test. I won.”

“I’ve been wait­ing for you. Are you com­ing up?”

I looked back at the mon­key. I wished he were awake and could tell me what to do. In the qui­et sec­onds that I con­tem­plat­ed an an­swer, the rain came down, big drops the size of small frogs hit­ting my back. Lois ran to the hut and watched me. The mon­key twitched a few times and tried to wave away the rain. He opened his yel­low eyes and shrieked at the sky be­fore fling­ing him­self to the fence top. The trees shook and he was gone. I car­ried my wa­tery drink across the sand and up the stairs to the lac­quered bam­boo par­adise of our suite.

Filed under Fiction on May 8th, 2015

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