Monkeys Are Always Funny

MONKEYS ARE ALWAYS FUNNY Bob Dylan sings about monkeys. Bob Dylan sings about monkeys doing a dance in one of his songs on Another Side of Bob Dylan. In the song, he asks his monkey to do the dog, and it winds up doing the cat, to which he replies, Funky Monkey. I think he was on drugs.

Here’s a story I wrote: On what would turn out to be the swampiest, most disgusting day of summer, the Cary First Presbyterian Church parishioners showed up at 9 a.m. for the Sunday service, only to discover that their beloved Reverend Harris, church leader for 35 years, was nowhere to be found.Where could he be? asked Mrs.

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Drake, who hadn’t missed a Sunday service since 1963 (except for that one time she was in the city for a minor surgery). Mrs. Drake and her husband broke into the Reverend’s house, directly behind the hefty brick church after they had knocked loudly several times, even on the windows. Meanwhile, the parishioners swarmed the empty lot, Fellowship Hall and choir loft, in starched white shirts and the leather shoes they reserved for Sundays.

Mrs. Drake’s daughter, age 14, complained that beggar weeds were stuck to her favorite pair of frilly socks. They were her favorite because a silky pink ribbon was woven through the lace, and her best friend Susie Kemeny had a pair too. It was not until noon of the same day, in 98 degree heat that Mr. Tweedy, the Fire Marshal and Sheriff, decided that something, something, must be done. So he tracked down Mark, the Reverend’s delinquent nephew who was living with him at the time. Although Mark had not been to the Reverend’s house in three days, everyone knew that he could be found at Munnegin’s Bar on 13th Street, where his band often played.

When was the last time you saw him, Mark? asked Mr. Tweedy. Well, I haven’t really been back there in a few days cause I’ve been crashing at Darren here’s place, you know. Mark gestured toward his unclean, unshaven friend who was dressed in mostly black, except for the red bandana punctuated with fluorescent green skulls, tied around his greasy brown (possibly blonde) hair. Darren affirmed that he had indeed let Mark crash there, by nodding and holding his beer high up in the air.

Did he try to contact you at Darren’s house, Mark? Umm…. .

. mmm.. .. nope. Wait, Darren laughed, didn’t he call that one night during Spinal Tap, you know, when it was on VH1 and they had edited out all the funny parts? Oh *censored*! Mark covered his mouth with a fresh pint of Icehouse.

Yeah. That VH1 version really sucked. But do you remember the phone call? asked Mr.

Tweedy, who was growing impatient with the two boys in their late twenties. Nope.That wasn’t the Rev, that was a phone solicitor, remember? The two boys laughed, because they remembered how stoned they had been when the phone call was received, and they were surprised to have remembered any phone call at all. Mr.

Tweedy left Mark and Darren at the bar, where they would remain until their performance that night at eight. They were waiting for their bass player, Killer, who was supposed to show up twenty minutes earlier, in order to get butt- wasted before the show. Mr.Tweedy’s thoughts wandered, but not too far. Those boys are in need a good whipping, he thought. I don’t know how the Reverend could handle that ungrateful slum of a boy.

Good, God- fearing man, that’s all that could handle an S.O.B. like that boy.It was time for lunch, and Tweedy stopped for a sandwich at Olga’s Cuban sandwich shop, just a few blocks away. He ordered a Cuban on rye, hold the pork. Tweedy was lucky that he was so important to the town of Cary. Typically, only the trash in town ate at Olga’s ( a Cuban family ran the place), but because he had to keep up with all walks of life in town, he could have his delicious sandwich and maintain his equally satisfying reputation.

Cary, most society people thought, was too far north in Florida for any Cubans to raise a family. How could it possibly be hot enough for anyone with Latin blood, Ms.Nancy? Mrs. Drake asked her Negro housekeeper, after the restaurant had been purchased. And can you believe that Mr.

Hawthorne sold that cute little diner to them? It had so much potential. Ms.Nancy went on cleaning the French doors in the kitchen, which provided a view to the cow pastures behind the house. She didn’t look at Mrs. Drake, and Mrs.

Drake didn’t notice. She had taken a new emery board to her fingernails and was hurriedly buffing away. That whole neighborhood is just going straight to hell, and that little sandwich shop is not helping one bit. I don’t know how you can stand to live in that neighborhood, Ms.Nancy. Tweedy climbed back into his cruiser and headed back down to the church. The Reverend’s receptionist was sitting on the church steps picking at her nails, which needed a touch up from her manicurist. Fifteen dollars a month, she mumbled.

Fifteen lousy dollars. ‘Afternoon, Lucy, Mr. Tweedy said, picking a bit of shredded lettuce off his blue oxford shirt.

Any luck Mr. Tweedy? Afraid not. That nephew of his is nearly drunk and it’s three in the afternoon.

Hasn’t seen his uncle in three days. Drunk at three in the afternoon, and on the Lord’s day, Lucy recited. I’m afraid I’m at a loss here. Nothing of importance has happened in this town since that little Bohiggins boy got his arm chewed off in the orange picker.That poor boy, Lucy made a disapproving tisk noise with her tongue. He would’ve been 25 or so about now. What a loss.

Lucy got up and brushed her rear- end off with her clumsy hands. Inside the church, a few people had gathered to pray for the Reverend’s return. Seated near the pulpit in pews that had been rearranged to create a more intimate atmosphere, were Mr.

and Mrs. Drake, their daughter, her best friend with the matching socks (whose parents were Professors in the neighboring University town and didn’t attend church), and most of the McLoone family (including their youngest daughter, Martha, who had given birth to a squirmy, pink baby less than a year ago). Oh, if anything ever happened to your faithful servant, Lord, I just don’t know what I would do, Mr. McLoone prayed. This is a man we’ve known and loved for thirty five years, Lord, a good man, Lord, and if you could please bring him back to us, we’d be mighty grateful.The prayer was so dull, that if God didn’t know better, He might have thought Mr. McLoone was reading from a cue card somewhere in the background. They had decided on a style of prayer, known in less traditional Protestant circles as Popcorn Prayer, which allowed whoever felt the Spirit to speak with the Lord, out loud, at any time.

Mr. McLoone’s wife, broke in at this time with her weepy petition. Mr.McLoone hated when she did this, and it never failed; popcorn prayer meant he would be interrupted by his wife. There were times when he would wait for her to pray first, so that he could interrupt her, but eventually they would be the only two left, and after a few unbearable minutes of silence he would driven to words. He generally spoke a furious, breathy prayer to God, asking for His graceful hand on all of their pitiful souls, a prayer of deep, dark, red words, which were forced out of his mouth through the spaces between his clenched teeth. Dear Lord, Mrs. McLoone began, Lord, be with us this day, and be with the family of our leader, Reverend Harris, who is such a valuable soldier in your army, Lord.

Her husband was the only one with his eyes open. No one could see the contempt he held for his wife and her permed hair. That perm made him sick.When they climbed into bed at night, sometimes her hair would creep over to his side and attempt to choke him with its powerful cloud of styling products. The group muttered their Amens, like drowsy cheerleaders that hadn’t practiced in weeks. The youngest girls got up to go outside, and then Martha got up, cradling her colicky baby. She was pregnant again and had to use the restroom.

When Mr. Tweedy and Lucy walked into the Sanctuary, the adults were speaking of the Reverend as though he had been dead for months.Remember that sermon he gave on Faith not too long ago? Mrs.

McLoone asked the group. They all nodded and mmhmm’ed, but the only one that truly remembered the sermon was her husband. She wouldn’t shut up about the message for two whole days.

In fact, he could recite his wife’s version of the sermon by heart.He pictured himself rolling his eyes, and wished he could make some sort of vomiting gesture in his wife’s direction. She continued, That sermon brought me so much pride in what I believe, gave me so much hope for our next Mission trip to the Bahamas. I’ll never forget what he said, ‘Faith,’ he said, I’m pretty sure this is how it went, ‘Faith comes when doubt creeps into our hearts, it helps us to persevere,’ and ever since then I have not doubted the Lord at all, not once, because I know that we don’t ne …