Hard Earned Bananas and a Treasure Map.

by Gethin A. Lynes

Somewhere behind the flashy new 24-inch monitor, the one they provide the Primates of Bureaucracy with to distract them from the fact that their newly-updated PC was cutting edge technology in 1996, Monkey No. 2 is nattering. It has become a habit, and around in front of the shiny screen, half-mesmerised by flashing lights and repetitive warnings about out-of-date internet browsers, Monkey No.1 is developing RSI in his jaw from clenching it too much.

Overhead a discoloured light flickers, washing the room with its carcinogenic death glow, the fluorescent hue of productivity. And Monkey No. 1, slumped in this little tanning booth for the soul, this bureaucratic indoctrination chamber, his spine growing rounder, eyes dimmer, intellect duller, begins to realise that one day the prattle of Monkey No. 2 will stop. Monkey No. 2, having been awarded his long-service medal, his exalted place in the Entitlement Brigade, will move over to the desk of Monkey No. 3, who has in turn taken up residence in the former office of Monkey No. 4. At that stage, Monkey No. 1 realises, that he will take on the moniker of Monkey No. 2, and a new Monkey No. 1 will sit behind an even bigger, flashier screen, completely disregarding the fact that his terminal is even further out of date than Monkey No. 1’s is now, and he will grit his young teeth, hoping to whatever god still exists in that distant, dystopian future that the old Monkey No. 1 (now Monkey No. 2) will shut the fuck up, just for a moment.

The flickering light buzzes. It’s like the coiling of a spring in the back of Monkey No. 1’s head. He tries to block out the excessive palavering from the next desk, winding the spring tighter. Monkey No. 1 thanks fuck that he is hidden behind the high-def, wide-screen monotony-window, and that he can’t see the shower of spittle accompanying Monkey No. 2’s incessant jabber. The spring is getting dangerously close to snapping as it is, the rising tide of rage turning Monkey No. 1 a distinct shade of green. Unfortunately this green is not going to be accompanied by a muscular transformation, enabling him to leap the desk in a pair of purple shorts and smash the fuck out of that bloody chattering idiot. No, Monkey No. 1’s green is going to culminate in a prodigious bout of regurgitation, a violent upheaval, a vain attempt to rid himself of a sickening belly-full of inanity.

Monkeys are hardly well known for their love of quietude, but Monkey No. 1 muses on the fact that eight hours a day of stone-cold silence, for the rest of eternity, would be better than listening to another five minutes of Monkey No. 2 and his fucking babble. He ought to have nipped this whole thing in the bud. He ought to have subtly determined Monkey No. 2’s interests early on and stayed the fuck away from them. Better yet, he should have proclaimed an outright disdain for them – not that it would probably have made much difference. He’s never expressed a great deal of interest in American football, for example, and yet here he is, well into hour number six of Monkey No. 2’s minute by minute rundown of the NFL draft.

Monkey No. 1 can hardly be blamed for the situation though. Apart from the fact that it’s not really in his nature to take responsibility for his own problems, he was hardly to know it would turn out like this. In the sterile, lonely confines of an ageing government office, peopled by the Old Guard, the Entitlement Brigade, booths full of well-tanned souls, their spiritual necks as red as they come, a Monkey takes what he can get in the way of conversation, of discourse with the like-minded.

With the leaden weight of hindsight strung about his neck, pulling his spine further into the curl of the desk-bound, Monkey No. 1 now realises he has been quite naïve. Just because a Monkey likes sci-fi, fantasy, and knew the alter-egos of Iron Man and The Hulk before they hit the big screen, doesn’t mean he’s a Monkey of like mind; just because he voiced opinions about the disgracefully racist nature of the local Primate population, doesn’t mean he’s likeable; and just because he knows that two plus two equals five, doesn’t mean he’s a fucking ape – something that Monkey No. 1 is beginning to suspect himself to be.

In fact he’s sure of it. Monkey No. 1 is a chimpanzee in a zoo full of howler monkeys. He’s come to this conclusion, not just because in this artificially-lit cage full of the unending squawking of a bunch of thoughtless armpit scratchers with no more self-awareness than a bunch of, well, monkeys, he’s the only one dreaming of the tree tops, but because the other inhabitants don’t even seem to realise the cage isn’t the tree tops.

Monkey No. 1 finds himself dreaming of the tree tops more and more. After all, there’s only so long you can keep a Monkey in a cage before he starts to go a little bit soft in the head. There’s a threshold, and Monkey No. 1 is nearing it. He is on the verge of surpassing Monkey No. 2’s sociopathy. Before long he’ll be spending his days in the corner defecating and masturbating with banana peels.

Nobody wants that, least of all Monkey No. 1. He’s had it with banana peels. In fact, he’s not so big on the bananas themselves these days. He has a fraught relationship with them. If it wasn’t for all the fucking bananas on offer, they’d never have got him in this bloody cage to begin with. Their ripe yellow goodness coaxed him out of… well, not out of the tree tops as such, but at least (unlike this bureaucratic one) the corporate indoctrination chamber he was in previously was lit by natural light, and the Monkey’s there, while not very bright, were funny and aware of the fact that outside the limits of their little glass cage, there were actually tree tops. Of course, that is no great feat, being that the cage was all glassy, and said Monkeys could actually see the fucking tree tops from their desks.

So while Monkey No. 1 is angry with the bananas for convincing him to climb down from the canopy – not with himself, no, it’s clearly the fucking bananas’ fault. Also, everyone seems obsessed with them, and that makes them far less appealing than they might otherwise be – bananas are unfortunately like video games… or chocolate… or whisky… once you start eating them, it’s very hard to go back to turnips, and what with the resultant rush of endorphins, it’s impossible to stay angry with them all the time.

But they don’t compare to the tree tops. In fact, that’s the great irony of bananas. Monkeys left, right and centre are climbing out of the trees so they can hoard enough bananas that they can climb back into the fucking trees – though to be sure, they’ll be slightly fatter monkeys than when they climbed down.

Not much about this sits well with Monkey No. 1 and so, spurred on by the eternal gibberish of Monkey No. 2, by the tree-killing printing practises of Monkey No. 3, and by the backwards Monkey-numbering system that puts the title of Monkey No. 1, not at the top where is logical, but at the bottom because he’s the first to take any shit that happens to be flung by other passing Primates, Monkey No. 1 has gone and traded a great fuck-off bunch of his hard-earned bananas for a treasure map, and the ephemeral promise of a whole new forest of tree tops to swing about in.

Now, the problem with treasure maps is that they tend to be scrawled on tattered pieces of paper, barely legible, and stained by salt, blood, and mostly rum. And apart from all that, they’re never fucking drawn to scale.

Still, Monkey No. 1 has his sights firmly on the big red X, the one where the Diploma is buried, and when he finds it, he’s going roll it up and have it cast in steel, and while chanting the number of fifth-round draft picks the Chicago Bears traded for first-round picks, he’s going to beat Monkey No. 2 fucking senseless with it, and then he’s going piss off into the wilds of the Publishing Jungle, to hang out in the Editing Trees, and fling huge handfuls of shit at any Monkey stupid enough to pass below his lofty perch.