Natalie exited her school bus today full of gusto. She was given the honor of bringing the first grade class mascot, Bongo, home for the night. Now, some of you might remember what happened when she brought home the Kindergarten mascot, Huggy Bear, last year. Suffice it to say I was a little bit leery. I just steam-cleaned my carpets, after all, and mopping up a post-coital fluffy bear and bunny fest was not my idea of fun. So I regarded Bongo with both eyes open. By all appearances, he seemed rather harmless and actually kind of cute. A hell of a lot cuter than Huggy Bear was, anyway. He had a few scars on him, but he was otherwise well-cared for. I plucked him from the bag and gave him a nice squeeze, welcoming him to the family for what was hopefully going to be a quiet night.
After an evening filled with Natalie dressing up Bongo in every piece of princess clothing she could squeeze the animal into, I was finally given a few minutes alone with the weary monkey, and to my astonishment, he had plenty to say. The room grew dark around me, and I was thrust into a tale of brutal, visceral proportions. This was no ordinary ape.
"I know how I look, lady. You think I'm fresh from the factory. You think I ain't seen nothin' but a buncha screamin' kids my whole life. I wasn't always like this. I turned over a new leaf, ya know. It's amazin' what happens when ya ain't got nothin' left. Where ya go. Whatcha do."
"Bongo? Are you talking to me?" I asked.
"Shut up and listen, lady. I'm only gonna tell this once, and after that you ain't heard nothin'. Nothin'. Ya got me?"
"Well, all right Bongo," I said. I didn't want to piss the thing off anymore. Damned if I was going to let my kid be the one to take Bongo back all torn to shreds after a nasty throwdown.
"My real name ain't Bongo," he said. "Back in the day, on the streets of the Big Apple, my name was La Scimmia Mortale."
"The Deadly Monkey. Yeah yeah yeah. It ain't important. Look, do ya wanna hear this or not?" He seemed impatient.
"They called me The Deadly Monkey cause that's exactly what I was. I didn't fuck around. I'd just as soon rip out the stuffing of anyone who crossed me. I didn't care if you was a Beanie Baby or a Raggedy Ann, ya get me? They mess with La Scimmia, they get la lama."
He saw the look on my face. "The knife, lady, the knife!"
"Oh. Ok," I said. I was quiet after that.
"The night it happened, when I lost it all, I was goin' to meet my gang at the old underground club The Fuzzy Bunny. It was where we did all our business. Ya know, the usual. Sawdust was big in those days. All the crazy kids loved it. Couldn't get enough of the shit."
Sawdust? I thought.
"Anyways, I was there for a poker game with my closest boys. Mia Famigilia, if you will. Rocko the Mutt, Grizzly Benny, and my right-hand man, Snowflake.
"Yeah, Snowflake was a little eccentric. You probably wouldn't bust a nut tryin' to figure out his weapon of choice if you saw him. The others who didn't know him good thought he was a little on the girly side, but anyone who seen Snowflake's bad side knew not to fuck with him if they didn't want their filling all over the room."
Bongo started getting a little tense talking about Snowflake. But I was quiet. If there was one thing I'd figured out in the few short minutes I'd talked to this monkey, it was that I didn't want to make an enemy out of him. There was just something about him that was deadly and hard, that even years spent playing with little first graders would never soften.
"The game was goin' pretty slow-like, but I was cleanin' up the table just fine. I knew that I was gonna have to bring up the night's real business soon, though, but I was reluctant. No matter how I tried to think it through, it was just gonna be dirty."
"I look over at Rocko the Mutt, and I says to him: 'Hey, you got any leads on that break-in at our warehouse over on the east side?"
"Rocko looks at me and says: 'No way, boss. Whoever put that job over knew what they was doin'. It's like they knew where all the stuff was, how to get in and everything. They didn't leave nothin' behind.'"
"'Yeah,'" I says, and I turn to face my right-hand man. "'It sure is kinda interestin'. Ain't it, Snowflake?'"
"And he looks at me with his eyes kinda wide. Like he wasn't sure I was actually talkin' to him. What he didn't know was I put the pressure on some boys on our payroll downtown who had some witnesses on file. There ain't but one pink and white boy unicorn on this island, and they all seen him that night."
"'Snowflake, Snowflake, Snowflake," I says to him. "'Next time you try to double-cross me, you need to use a disguise.'"
"It suddenly got real quiet in the room. Except for the passed out broads behind me, anyone who wasn't at my table cleared outta there real quick."
"But... Boss..." Snowflake was caught and he knew it.
"I want you to gimme what you stole from me, Snowflake. I want it all."
"I didn't steal nothin' from you!" he yelled. It's like he thought like my head was filled with foam pellets or somethin'.
"Snowflake, I'm gonna give you one more chance to come clean with me. After that, you're gonna be one deflated piece of maggot shit sittin' in a Build-a-Bear workshop. So what's it gonna be?"
"I had him then. Snowflake goes to the bar and brings me a bag of sawdust. One measly little bag of the stuff. So I says to him: 'Don't tell me, Snowflake. Don't tell me that's all you got. There was at least ten times that stolen.'"
"He's shakin now. He knows that the jig is up. He knows that he fucked with the wrong monkey. La Scimmia Mortale."
"'You broke my heart, Snowflake. You killed us both tonight,' I says to him. And just like that, I took out my best friend. If I hadn't, I'da had all them other boneheads stealin' from me the same night."
"But then I look over at the table. Rocko's lookin' at me all funny. It's like he knows somethin' else."
"'You better start talkin' now, Rocko', I says."
'Russ is comin for ya,' Rocko says real quiet.
"Russ. My rival from way back. He has my entire east side supply. I knew right then I was finished. And they all knew. They all knew. I unzipped Rocko and left him for dead."
"And then, because I was mad, and because I felt like it, I decided to just choke the fuckin' bear to death too. He was always a fuckin' little prick."
After it was all over, it was real quiet. I knew Russ and his boys was comin' for me. They was gonna take me down and take me out. I had to act quick. I had to get away while I still had a chance. But oh how I hurt then. My boys. Mia famiglia was dead.
"I went and hid out in a toy store for few weeks. Used up the last of my connections to get in somewhere far away. I changed my look and changed my name to somethin' cutesy. Bongo. Yeah, the kids would like it. No one would suspect. And the rest... Well, lady, the rest is history."
I asked him if he ever thought about going back to the life.
"Nah... I lived it once. Let someone else do it. Besides, you would not believe the dames I meet on this job." He pointed over in the corner where Raggedy Ann was sitting. "That redhead over there... Well let's just say she's gonna be in trouble later."
I thought of her last escapade with Huggy Bear and I said: "Have at it. Just don't smoke in my house."