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literature : first proof

Short Story Idea (The Macaque)

by Evan Lavender-Smith


Scott Eastwood. Tah Dah, 2014. mixed media on cut paper. Courtesy of the artist.

 

Husband and wife’s children finally grown, starting their own families, etc. Out of the house at long last.

Life is all good.

Husband returns to his home improvement projects, etc., wife returns to her writing, etc.

Finally socializing again, etc.

Life is pretty good.

Life becoming less good.

Life worsening with each passing week. Husband and wife grow bored.

With each other? With monogamy? Maybe.

Go see a marriage counselor, like they did way back when. Same counselor, now older, wiser, or, at least, more confident.

Marriage counselor insists on vacuum created by kids’ absence, etc. Makes silly suggestions re how to fill vacuum. Gives them worksheets, etc.

Husband and wife diligently follow suggestions, complete worksheets. Obviously in love, or, at least, obviously committed to the idea of being in love, they try their best to make it work.

Go on vacation? A cruise? Yes.

Still bored.

Have a threeway? Maybe? No.

Still bored, etc.

No kids around to yell at anymore, etc.

No kids around upon which to project anxiety re stymied dreams and goals, etc.

No kids around upon which to focus husband and wife’s shared predilection for caretaking—maybe the counselor was right.

Reverse vasectomy? Too old.

They get a dog.

They grow bored with the dog—maybe the counselor was right. Wife posts ad on Craigslist: “Free Shih Tzu.”

Wife goes on pilgrimage to visit daughter, husband to visit son.

Upon their return, they make love, announcing, simultaneously, mid-coitally, their shared desire to adopt a child. 

Forms, background checks, waiting lists, etc.

Finally hook up with pregnant teenager.

Awkward meetings as pregnancy develops. Baby born, teenager suffers last-minute change of heart, husband and wife left high and dry, etc.

Adoption idea abandoned.

Difficult times, etc.

Periodic talk of divorce, etc.

Regular talk of divorce.

Husband, anxious re disintegrating marriage, grasping at straws, goes online, happens upon website advertising primate adoption.

Not thinking clearly, emails monkey breeder saying be right there, gets in car, drives a hundred miles, drops $3000 on young rhesus macaque, struggles to drive home with macaque in car.

Parks car in driveway, takes deep breath, grabs macaque, carries macaque to front door, struggles to retrieve keys from pocket while holding macaque, sets macaque down on patio, macaque takes off. Husband races after macaque all around neighborhood. Neighbors standing on lawns looking on aghast, etc. Husband finally catches macaque by cornering it in neighbor’s backyard with help of neighborhood kids, carries macaque back home, more careful this time about not setting macaque down on patio while retrieving keys from pocket. Opens front door, calls out for wife.

Wife puts down iPad, gets out of bed. Finds husband standing in foyer, sheepishly displaying macaque.

Wife says, “WTF?”

First week, no sleep. Macaque locked in laundry room, banging on door.

Second week, no sleep. Macaque locked in garage, banging on door.

Third week, husband builds elaborate cage structure in living room. Wife helps out a little, in deference to husband’s harebrained but earnest attempt at salvaging marriage via purchase of macaque. Macaque still banging on garage door. No sleep.

Fourth week, macaque in living room cage, screaming all night. No sleep.

Fifth week, back to marriage counselor, who at first assumes husband and wife are using the word macaque metaphorically. Counselor soon comes to understand they’re talking about a real macaque, refers them to local vet. Husband and wife drive to vet. Vet suggests they either 1) butch up, or 2) get rid of macaque.

Drive to empty lot, scared to go home. Sun sets. Stars appear. Moon, etc. Look into each other’s eyes: still in love—barely. Climb in backseat, make love. Resolve to 1) butch up.

Husband and wife begin spending all day every day attending to macaque.

Macaque requires upwards of ten diaper changes per diem.

Macaque bites regularly.

Macaque slaps, hits, spits, farts, vomits.

Macaque enjoys destroying expensive furniture.

Macaque is obstinate.

Macaque a picky eater.

Macaque climbs up chimney, gets stuck.

Macaque finds way to enter AC duct, roots around in ceiling for two days.
           
Macaque pees on Marantz stereo components.

Macaque escapes house, gets shot in shoulder with animal control’s tranquilizer dart. Macaque pulls dart from shoulder, tosses it aside, laughs maniacally, runs off.

Macaque breaks ceiling fan, etc.

Macaque is a hair-puller, etc.

Macaque refuses to listen to anything but Michael Jackson.

Husband and wife call son and daughter on speakerphone, revealing their purchase and rearing of macaque. Daughter suggests they go see a marriage counselor.

Macaque disappears for two days—although cage door remains locked. On third day, husband and wife breathe collective sigh of relief, make love. That night macaque reappears in cage—cage door still locked.

Macaque tries to strangle wife.

Wife secretly posts ad on Craigslist: “Free Macaque.”

Macaque tries to strangle husband.

Wife retracts Craigslist ad.

Macaque has nightmares.

Macaque enjoys screaming at the top of his lungs.

Macaque’s excrement smells awful.

Macaque refuses to eat bananas.

Macaque can be a total dick sometimes.

Macaque refuses to sit still for photographs.

Macaque can be a real sweetheart sometimes, too.

Only thing that calms macaque down is Real Housewives.

Macaque so hates taking baths.

Sometimes seems like macaque really loves husband and wife, but they suspect he’s only faking it to get them to give him a handful of Teddy Grahams.

When husband and wife go into living room to try to play with macaque, a lot of the time he is either going to spit in their faces or try to throw something sharp at their heads.
 
Macaque acts like he wants to come out of cage to join husband and wife in bedroom whenever he hears the bedroom door close. When they let him out, though, macaque always goes straight for the fridge.

Macaque tries to suckle wife’s breast, tugs on wife’s blouse during Real Housewives, pulling it all the way down.

Wife pulls up blouse, strokes macaque’s head, turns down volume on Real Housewives. Macaque content. For a minute.

Macaque tries to suckle husband’s breast.

Husband laughs, gently pushes macaque away. Macaque punches husband, breaking his nose.

Macaque refuses to listen to anything but Katy Perry.

Macaque sometimes squeezes way too hard when giving hugs.

Macaque often attempts to rest hand on wife’s inner thigh during Real Housewives, etc.

Husband and macaque watch Planet of the Apes. Macaque throws Blu-Ray remote at screen, cracking it.

Macaque inserts himself between computer screen and wife whenever wife is trying to write.

Macaque only ever wants to cuddle on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Macaque enjoys hiding husband’s woodworking tools in the craziest places. Like the toilet bowl, etc.

Apparently macaque cannot distinguish between thunderstorms and apocalypse.

Macaque always leaves a gross drool stain on pillow when sleeping in husband and wife’s bed.

When macaque espies husband and wife kissing, he attempts to insert himself between their faces.

Son and daughter come to visit for Christmas with new families in tow. On Christmas Eve macaque escapes cage, opens all presents under tree, pees on every last one. Son and daughter vow to never visit for Christmas again.    

When macaque hears husband and wife making love behind closed bedroom door, macaque screams at the top of his lungs and bangs on door until lovemaking sounds cease.

Macaque refuses to make his own breakfast even though they’ve shown him how like twenty times.

Macaque leaves toys lying around the hallway where husband and wife are prone to trip over them.

Macaque likes to sleep in husband and wife’s bed with arms and legs splayed. Husband often wakes up on the floor.

Macaque refuses to place napkin on lap at dinner table.

Macaque won’t eat his vegetables, etc.

Apparently macaque cannot distinguish between iPad and frisbee.

Macaque eats his antiperspirant, etc.

When macaque goes to put toothpaste on toothbrush, he fake-squeezes the tube and tries to get away with brushing without any toothpaste on brush.

Macaque claims he can’t sleep without a song and a back rub.

Macaque washes his hands too often. It’s like he has OCD about washing his hands.

Macaque refuses to play with the other macaques at the monkey habitat. Whenever other monkeys ask macaque to join in, he rolls his eyes and pshaws.

Apparently macaque is hiding vitamins in the back of his mouth and spitting them out in the toilet during his interminable morning bowel movements in the hallway bathroom.

Macaque insists on more expensive clothes, etc.

Macaque breaks into liquor cabinet when husband and wife are out on a dinner-and-movie date, gets totally sloshed.

Macaque regularly falls asleep during Real Housewives. Wife tries to nudge him awake—but macaque’s always back to snoring again within a minute or two.

Macaque not as into cuddling anymore.

Macaque stays up way past his bedtime playing on iPad.

Macaque refuses to help carry groceries in from car.

Macaque stays up way past his bedtime doing something husband and wife suspect is masturbation.

Macaque eats all his old favorite stuffed animals, throws up for a week.

Macaque gets in fight with neighborhood dog, bites off small section of dog’s ear.

Macaque eats way too much junk food, etc.

Macaque refuses to pick up his cage, etc.

Macaque sleeps practically all day long, etc.

Macaque refuses to listen to anything but Radiohead.

Whenever husband and wife tell macaque to go on timeout, he’s incredulous, like he’s too big for timeouts.

Macaque will not come down from chandelier unless husband promises to renew Playboy subscription on iPad.

Macaque sneaks into bedroom one night, attempts to make love to wife.

Maybe?

Next day husband sits macaque down at dining-room table to have serious man-to-macaque talk. Macaque apologizes, in his way. Macaque sneaks into bedroom that night and ejaculates all over husband’s face.

Maybe not?

Macaque refuses to listen to anything but Tom Waits.

Macaque refuses to play with the other macaques at the monkey habitat—until one day a female macaque sheepishly approaches him, begins stroking his head and belly. Macaque spends remainder of afternoon horsing around with other macaques. Macaque becomes obstinate, even violent, when husband and wife suggest it’s time to go.

For following three weeks, macaque despondent all day every day except for Tuesdays and Thursdays, the days on which husband and wife take him to the monkey habitat.

Husband and wife arrange weekend stay at monkey habitat for macaque. Drop him off, say goodbye. Maybe they get a little choked up. Drive car to empty lot, scared to go home. Sun sets. Moon appears. Stars. Look into each other’s eyes: still in love—very much. Climb into backseat, make love, announcing, simultaneously, mid-coitally, their shared desire to let macaque live at monkey habitat from here on out.

Won’t be easy, etc.

Pretty difficult saying goodbye, etc.

They really had come to love macaque, in their way, despite everything, etc.

But it’s probably for the best. Time for macaque to spread his wings.

Husband and wife return to monkey habitat, announce decision. Kiss macaque goodbye. Tears, etc.

Macaque out of the house at long last.

Husband returns to his home improvement projects, etc., wife returns to her writing, etc.

Finally socializing again, etc.

Husband and wife visit macaque at monkey habitat on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Life is pretty good.

Maybe macaque idea wasn’t such a crazy one after all, etc.

 

Evan Lavender-Smith is the author of From Old Notebooks and Avatar. He lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he teaches creative writing in the MFA program at New Mexico State University. His writing can be found in recents issues of The White Review, The Collagist, and Eleven Eleven, as well as at his website, www.el-s.net.

For more on artist Scott Eastwood, visit his website here.

 

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short stories
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