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Madness Makes Strangers 6-28-21

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

WARNING: some gore and suggestive language

Brison’s long, nimble fingers gently strummed the sensually curved mandolin in his lap. For the first time, he sat at the head of the long table, proud to be hosting this year’s summer solstice celebration. His tribe of Rhesus monkey and their closest neighbors, the dainty pale-faced Capuchins, relished any and all excuse for celebration.

Brison was the now the head of his family. Until the month before, that honor had belonged to his father. He missed his father and his tune saddened as he gazed towards the river at the bottom of the grassy hill. The narrow suspension bridge widened in the center, and it was there Bri had said goodbye.

Father had simply gone mad.

Some monkeys say that if you sleep too close to the ground at night, the cunning and hungry black worm slimes into the ear like a dew drop slipping into a lily. It then proceeds to work its way through the head, snacking on tender grey matter, the host goes stark raving mad- and, more often than not, turns maniacally violent.

It was no secret that Brison’s father had been unhappy that his son was mated to a young Rhesus who apparently could not bear children.

On a lovely warm spring morning, the poor female monkey had been found with her head torn off. That was crazy enough, but what really indicated the lapse in sanity was the fact that his father had not disposed of the body.

Father had walked with his clan down the path to the bridge, the Rhesus guarding the east shore, the Capuchins coming in from the west. They met in the middle, the guilty standing on the platform.

This was the time for last words. Brison’s crazy father had woefully uttered the first two lines of Neil Young’s “Down By The River”.

Everyone knows the Rhesus can’t sing.

The awful warbling made the witnesses’ ears bleed. On the count of three, every monkey leaned to the south facing side of the rope bridge, effectively ousting the madman into thin air… and then sl-ploop-splash, into the river. Within seconds, the calm, clear, moss-green surface became a frothing red sea of boiling turbulence as the hundreds, perhaps even a thousand, piranha fed. Death was morbid but quick.

Instead of wastefully burying their dead, the monkeys believed in giving back to Nature; everything had to eat, and She was ravenous. In five minutes not a scrap of fur surfed the

settling surface, nor bone sank to the bottom.

Brison continued to play his instrument sadly. Then he shook the memory from his head, like a bear emerging from its hibernation cave. He beamed at his guests as his melancholy slipped away. He was glad his mother had not been around to witness the death. She had been crushed in the coils of a boa constrictor the year before. The enormous reptile had squeezed her like a tube of toothpaste until her brains shot out her mouth and her intestines out from the opposite orifice. Truly ghastly.

He picked up the pace of his melody, morphing back into the cheerful host as his guests finished desert, politely licking clean their bowls.

He was happy that father had killed Marny. If he hadn’t, eventually Bri would have had to. Brison was old, but not too old to have another go or two at fatherhood. ‘Am I as nuts as my father was?’ he wondered. ‘No,’ he decided, ‘I would not have left any evidence. I not nutso, I smartso.’

He smiled across the table at Yoset, the alpha Capuchin.

Brison had learned at an early age that a singing Rhesus was a Rhesus pelted with rotten fruit. However, he was pretty good at humming so he cheerily mmm-mmm-mmmmed while strumming the taut strings.

The shaggy grey bodies of the Rhesus and the black and ivory of the smaller Capuchins, mingled together in celebration. The small dark coats of the visiting Vervets bobbed in and out of the crowd. These three travelling strangers were magicians, it was not hard to guess they specialized in hypnotism. The spritely monkeys’ licorice-colored faces beheld mesmerizing marble eyes that glowed red like embers deep in the center of a bonfire. The talented Vervet troupe had started the festivities off with a jaw-dropping show, they’d more than earned their meals and drink.

Brison’s tangerine colored face hid his burning cheeks well as he surreptitiously stole glances at Yoset’s three daughters in turn. Each one was prettier than the other. Their lustrous black fur contrasted their creamy pale faces, each lovely heart shape surrounded by a regal ivory mane.

Each Capuchin sister had two tiny babies clinging to their silky soft bellies and Bri supposed that Yoset was the father.

Six of the Capuchin aunties at the feast table also held two babies each and Bri was amused to see that two of the four uncles were trapped with baby duty as well. Altogether he counted 16

babies. He was overcome by jealousy that glowed as neon green as kryptonite.

“Yoseeee, you’ve been a busy monkey!” exclaimed Brison, the sweet wine loosening his tongue, “Quite a barrel you’ve created!”

“Ha ha ha! Bri old pal, I saw your lustful eye lingering at this end of the table. In your dreams, you sly rascal. Ha ha ha!” Yoset bellowed good-naturedly. He knew none of his daughters would ever consider such an old and beastly oaf as Brison for marriage, let alone a romp in the grass. “They are lovely, are they not? My pride and joys!”

Brison forced a laugh as lewd thoughts circled his brain like a helicopter missing a rotor.

‘We’ll see about that.’ He thought to himself. Out loud he said, “Oh, they do indeed bring grace and beauty to my table. More wine?”

Yoset eagerly nodded, “But of course! Thank you. Always the most gracious host!” He clapped his drunken hands together and his three svelte young daughters passed the babies over to the elder aunts.

Bhindi picked up her oboe played a haunting melody beautifully. When she picked up the

pace, Brison joined her with his mandolin. His youngest brother pulled his bongos over and kept an upbeat rhythm. Baphne Capuchin gracefully glided to the hard, tamped down earth and swirled on her toes as she moved her dark slender arms like grass blown by a gentle breeze, her delicate hands like happy birds.

Brison was not the only male at the table mesmerized by Baphne’s alluring dance. His guts filled with desire, and he tingled all over like a teenager. He could not take his eyes off her…

…until the third sister started singing. Berry’s airy voice carried through the jungle clearing and on towards the heavens as if returning home. Her voice was honey-sweet, her tone ranging in angelic octaves. ‘I must woo that one.’ Brison thought. ‘I’m head of our Rhesus clan. I’m the biggest here, there-fore the most powerful. She will not resist me.’

His two brothers and their wives had three young children amongst them. His cousins had mated but not yet given birth. Amongst the three Rhesus clan-children only one was female.

She had protruding lower teeth and a lazy eye, she was, alas, beyond homely. Laying with her was his alpha- male duty, his legacy must be a flourishing clan. He shuddered at the thought of bedding her. His eyes kept roving to Berry.

“Ah, Berry, Bhindi, Baphne! Ha ha ha! My precious daughters, laughed Yoset, “Brison, don’t you just love saying their names? I love the way my lips vibrate on the ‘bees’ and smile on the ‘ees.’”

Bri sighed, ”Yes Yosee, indeed fun names to speak.” He suffered this exclamation at every gathering. In his head, he thought, ‘I’m going to have even more fun up close and personal with that Berry.’

“How is your lovely wife Yoset?” Yoset’s plain wife had been past childing bearing years for some time. It was a sly jab, born of envy. He again felt relief from being unburdened by a barren ball and chain.

“She’s doing wonderfully my friend, thank you for asking. As you know she’s getting on in age…but she’s just about the best thing to have ever happened to me. She takes such good care of our entire clan, an amazing monkey. She’s at home caring for the youngest of our clan, you see we have six more at home. They had gotten into some of those yellow spotted berries today and have the bad poop. I tell you- turn your head for a second and mischief abounds! Ha ha ha!”

Brison was floored. That made a total of 22 babies! How was this possible? And Yoset so happy.

Jealousy became the black worm in Brison’s head. ‘I will have his singing daughter.’

As the party wound down and the last of the myrtle berry wine drunk, the older Capuchins stumbled over the bridge to their side of the river, their arms full of little ones. Bindhi and Baphne helped their father over the bridge and up into the tree canopy. They’d not see him accidentally suffer the same fate as Brison’s father had.

The Vervet troup said goodnight and goodbye and thank-you, they’d be on the road at the first light of dawn.

Brison’s sister-in-laws started clearing the dishes from the table and he said, “Leave the dishes on the table. By morning they will be covered in beetles and slugs and red ants. Behold- breakfast!”

“You are so smart, uncle.” They said gratefully. Happy to ascend to their beds in the canopy.

Alone at last.’ Brison stroked his mandolin, surely the beautiful chantuese would appreciate one more song. He strolled over to the torches – a big, hairy Don Juan, and one by one quenched them in the wooden pail. He left one lit for ambience and turned to Berry, “Any requests?”

She appeared nervous and said, “I really should be going...”

“What’s the rush? It’s such a lovely night…so romantic.” Brison admired her radiant face in the soft lighting. “You’re shivering,” he said, mistaking fear for chill. “Come here, sweet one, I will warm you.”

Before she could protest, he hugged her tightly in his arms.

She squealed, “Please let go, you’re scaring me.”

“Huh?” he said, confused. He pulled her closer. Berry’s throat started a making a low keening sound, she shook like a pot about to boil over.

She’s going to scream!’

He easily held her face to his body. Her cries only soft muffles in his dense smokey fur. His 20 pounds outweighed her slender frame by three times.

After she had quieted, he held her against him as if she were a rag doll. At last, he held her up to the light and saw that she’d actually become a rag doll. He shook the lifeless body. It flopped disgustingly like a deflated balloon full of sticks. Her once graceful poetic movement now a parody of puppet horror. ‘Am I mad like my father?’ he wondered again, ‘certainly not! I am clever and won’t be caught!’ He wound vines around the body, securing the limbs tightly into a log shape.

Brison made his way stealthily by the light of the strawberry moon, his nasty deed made mockery of the solstice celebration.

At the slope leading down to the river’s edge he dropped the body and gave it a mighty heave. It rolled down the steep slope, the sound of it entering the water merely a soft

burbly sigh. Though he couldn’t see far down the shadowed slope, he heard the explosive sizzle as the fish claimed the offering.

The Rhesus clan were eating a smorgasbord of bugs from the table the next morning when Yoset came over the bridge, his two daughters with him, each had three tiny monkeys on their backs. Six pairs of glossy brown eyes peeked over each of their shoulders. Something about them gave Brison the willies. ‘They know somehow.’ He shook his head, ‘wait- what a silly thought!’

“Have you seen Berry?” asked Baphne. There was an accusing glare in her eyes that Brison did not like one bit. Sister and father stared silently.

“No. She wanted to clean up after the party, but I sent her on home. Why? What’s happened?”

“She wasn’t home this morning. No one’s seen her since last night.” Said Yoset, his boisterous voice softened with worry.

“Perhaps she went off with the Vervet. They were all quite charming and very handsome. Those worldly tales would make any young girl’s heart swoon.”

“Reall---” Bhindi started but Yoset cut her off. The twelve tiny marble-like eyes blinked in unison.

“I’m sure it’s something like that. Pah! Those Vervets have a sneaky reputation.” He concurred.

Bhindi glared at her dad but bit her tongue. The twelve little eyes narrowed to slivers.

A month later, Brison looked over the bridge and saw Baphne schooling the 22 little babies. It looked like a math lesson. She had a stick and was scribbling in the smooth dirt, looking up, and counting on her fingers. About half the class raised their hands and she took an answer from one.

I must have a large family such as that.’ Thought Brison. ‘Baphne is available, she’d jump at the chance to raise big strong Rhesus offspring.

Who wouldn’t?’

As one, the class of tiny monkeys turned their heads to look at him. A goose walked over his grave. ‘I’ll wait til she’s alone.’

The next day a troupe of five Proboscis monkeys came to entertain the two clans, the next stop on their tour. The probiscis were natural comedians, just their absurd appearance made you laugh. They were twice as big as Rhesus, all gangly limbs and long drooping noses that resembled penises- they were masters of funny stories, narrated with humorous expressions.

Brison’s aunts set the table while his sister-in-laws prepared a feast. He sent his nephew over to the Capuchin’s place to let them know of the upcoming comedy-act dinner show.

Brison was surprised to see Anya, Yoset’s wife arrive first, with a dozen of the babies in tow.

He greeted her warmly, “So nice to see you, Anya!

How are you?”

Anya said, “I have great sadness. We have heard no word at all from Berry, it’s been over a month.” She sighed, “Tonight I really need some cheering up.”

Yoset came over, six babies riding his shoulders and back, and said, “Hello my friend. Thank you for having us to your bountiful table.”

Brison took their hands and said, “Well, no daughter will run off with a Proboscis! Funny only woos a heart so far, am I right?”

Anya said, “I hope you’re right Brison. I can’t take more heartache.”

Yoset spied a keg of wine being rolled into the clearing, “I need a drink! Come Anya, let us partake.” He put an arm around his wife, and she snuggled to him.

Envy slithered through Brison’s mind, a cold damp thing.

The comedy troupe put on a special show for the children, they were quite adept clowns.

After the first keg of wine, the show turned more raunchy. Half the children went home with Bhindi, they were tired and getting cranky.

Brison’s niece offered to babysit the rest. “I need practice with babies after all…” to Brison’s horror, she winked at him. He gagged.

When the show was over and the wine nearly gone, Anya said, “Come Yoset, let me help you home.” He managed to make it over the bridge, the rest of his clan tottered along behind him.

At last, Brison was alone with Baphne. He felt she had been flirting with him all night.

She’d even ditched the babies in her care so she could be free to fool around with him. He extinguished all the torches but one. Then turned to the beautiful black and white monkey. She was smiling. She wasn’t trembling like the last one had. That was good. He lifted her face to his…

And heard a soft cry, “Baaaafffyyyy…”

“Wha---” he thought.

“Baffy, come tuck me in.” It was a wee little monkey. He’d come down to the slope on the other side of the river with blanky in tow.

Brison had another strange thought, ‘Can’t have any witnesses.’

Baphne said, “He won’t go way until I tuck him back in.”

“Will you come back?”

“Oh yes.” She said, a playful smile curling her lips. “Walk me home?” She batted her eyes.

“No problem.” He eagerly replied.

As they walked the bridge, Brison could smell her perfume- the scent of star jasmine mingled with her natural musk. He alternated watching his footing on the narrow wood planks, with looking at her graceful profile. At the center, frozen cockroach feet ran down his spine, as they always did when he flashed back to the day his father was executed. He looked up then, across to the Capuchin’s side.

There were 22 tiny glowing eyes there, on the bank before the slope to the river.

Baphne kept walking. Brison was frozen to the spot. He said, “I think I’ll wait for you back on my side of the river if you don’t mind.”

Baphne shrugged nonchalantly and kept walking. Brison turned and started towards the Rhesus side.

There were 22 tiny glowing eyes staring, unblinking…a mirror’s image of the far side.

Behind him, the little creeps grinned. Both sides came towards him, as slow and purposeful as zombies.

When the two sides came to within five feet from the center platform where he was now standing, he realized what was so unnerving about the little freaks. The realization hit him like a

kettlebell to the head. ‘These are not babies at all. These are full grown monkeys!’

He saw profound intelligence in their faces and adult confidence in

their posture.

As one, the 22 Pygmy Marmosets leapt acrobatically onto the southern rope railing. Brison the Mad was pitched into the river forty feet below.

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