by Gethin A. Lynes


Monkey No. 2 is getting desperate now. His guffawing is going on longer and longer, jarring in the disinterested silence. Eventually his forced laughter trails off, swallowed by the jungle of the Bureaucratic Primate Sanctuary. Pale beneath the sickly glow of the flourescent strip lights, Monkey No. 2 looks around in confusion, peering between the great boles of the towering 24-inch monitors and the vine-like tangles of USB cables. Consternation is writ large across his dull, simian countenance. Something isn’t right, and Monkey No. 2 is earnestly trying to puzzle it out. After a few moments, no revelation forthcoming, he taps obtusely at his keyboard.

Monkey No. 1 knows what’s coming next, and he stays well-hidden behind the blinking intellect vacuum of his computer screen. In the mould of monkeys everywhere, and lacking the essential insight into the tactical failure of his attempt to start a conversation, Monkey No. 2 is simply going to try harder. He is, Monkey No. 1 reflects, about as subtle as steel trap.

Monkey No. 1 knows full well he could make things simpler, could mollify Monkey No. 2’s sense of being isolated in the uncomfortable confines of his own skull, but Monkey No. 1 isn’t going to give him the fucking satisfaction.

It wouldn’t be difficult. A little counterfeit empathy, the grunt of a laugh, laden with falsified amusement, and Monkey No. 2 would feel all warm and fuzzy, like he was part of a larger whole, and would go back to being quiet for ten minutes. But there is no larger whole, only a collection of Monkey’s connected by nothing more than their bent backs, hunched over beneath the weight of the artificial lighting and their inescapable ennui. Their spines have become so rounded they can nearly blow themselves, which thinks Monkey No. 1, would at least relieve the tedium of Monkey No. 2’s repeated attempts to garner some interest in whatever banality he’s just dredged up from the depths of the interwebs. If he laughs long and loud enough, seems to go the thinking, eventually Monkey No. 1 will ask what’s so funny. In the logic of the terminally uninteresting though – akin to never realising that it’s himself and not another monkey he’s seeing in the mirror – Monkey No. 2 will never work out that Monkey No. 1 asks the question for the sole purpose of shutting him the fuck up.

Monkey No. 1 understands. He is not completely without sympathy. Even the paradisiacal intellectual territory of the essentially stupid, alluringly populated as it is with lolcatz and icanhascheesburgers and offensively judgemental pictures of the denizens of Walmart, gets a little lonely when the other monkeys have no interest in sharing it. But while he feels vaguely sorry for Monkey No. 2, Monkey No. 1’s tolerance for things that just aren’t funny is far outweighed by his well-cultivated tendency to not give a shit.

And so, in the nick of time, just before the bitter reward for not responding to the first painfully entreating laugh comes, Monkey No. 1 puts in his earphones. He is concerned enough about his worsening tinnitus that he doesn’t turn the volume up quite enough to drown out the next round of hee-hawing, but Monkey No. 2 is unaware of this, leaving Monkey No. 1 with a perfectly reasonable excuse to ignore him, which he does, staring fixedly at his monitor.

In the absence of any nibbles at his proffered bait, Monkey No. 2 falls silent once more. After a moment, and the click of a mouse button, he gets up to pace about the room.

Thinking himself perhaps cleverer than he is, Monkey No. 1 takes satisfaction in his victory, and accompanied by the dulcet tones of Ministry’s N.W.O., he makes his first mistake and opens his emails. Finding therein a hyper-link from Monkey No. 2, Monkey No. 1 makes his second, and much more dire, blunder: he clicks the link.

A shadow falls across his desk. Monkey No. 1 looks over his shoulder to where, in a display of tactical genius far beyond what Monkey No. 1 would have credited him with, stands Monkey No. 2, a desperate and fatuous grin slapped all over his face.