Here is some short fiction that is has never quite made its way to finished. I don’t write much fiction, and if you are easily offended then I would urge you to read this crappy story.
The Ape Question
In the morning I am reading Newsweek while my wife is reading Bride. There is a radio on in the background, but we aren’t listening to it. It doesn’t bother me that we are married and my wife still reads bridal magazines. Just like it doesn’t bother me that, as I have learned from Newsweek, that there is a certain likelihood that I, or someone I know or love will be killed in a terrorist attack within the next twenty-five years. I have got a lot of time before that happens, and there is a greater likelihood that I will be dead from blood cancer, or a car wreck, or self-inflicted gunshot wound in the next twenty-five years. Newsweek doesn’t tell me this.
My wife says something about strapless shoulder dresses and I respond by telling her about Israel and the Palestinians. Then I get up and pour myself another cup of coffee and stare out the kitchen window. The Montello’s are having a party on Friday night. Today is Wednesday, and I am already dreading it. The last party the Montello’s had I wound up on top of Tess Montello in the bathroom while my wife was talking to Cheryl Laughton about the new fall line of wedding fashions. My dread isn’t from a worry that my wife will find out about the Tess fucking, but rather that I am not worried at all about her finding out. I fear that this has revealed some character flaw that I wasn’t formally aware of. My wife comes into the kitchen and asks what I’m thinking about.
“Monkeys,” I tell her. “Well not just monkeys, but all the apes.”
I have become very curious to know about the dental hygiene habits of apes and monkeys. Do they clean their teeth? In all the pictures I have seen they are always smiling with very white teeth. If they are using a tool of some kind to keep their teeth so white and gleaming, do they do it consciously? I mean do they know about tooth decay? Or is it like instinct or something? And if they are doing it consciously, then what does that say about the distance between man and ape?
I didn’t give my wife the whole spiel. I just gave her the basics. She ignores my answer to her question, and starts in about what I’m going to be wearing to the Montello’s party on Friday. The ape question is not her question.
“You should wear a tie; you always look so handsome in a tie. A nice silk Pierre Cardin one with a light grey Ralph Lauren shirt and maybe the wool hounds-tooth slacks.”
I’m not listening to her. I am still thinking about the ape question.
At work, Dustin, who sits in the cubicle kitty-corner from my own, and who steals office supplies and who I suspect of being a pederast or a very closeted homo. Asks me what I think about Veronica Lindsey’s tits.
I tell him, which is a lie.
“She really has a pair–wouldn’t really just like to fuck ’em?”
“No.” I say. Another lie.
In the break room I am having coffee and end up having a ten minute conversation with the new temp Jake or Josh or John about crisis management solutions. Whatever his name is is real eager to impress me with his business acumen. I don’t know if he is naïve or just too stupid to realize that as a collection accounts associate I have no pull in the hiring and firing department. I think about positing my ape question to him, but instead I pat him on the shoulder, give him a “you’ll do fine kid”
and leave him in mid sentence to go into the bathroom where I sit down in the stall and masturbate, thinking about Veronica’s tits.
Thursday on my lunch break Judy Nelson offers me her bag of Fritos and I decline. Judy is morbidly obese and I when I decline she gives me a look of hatred, as if me eating her Fritos would somehow keep her from getting fatter. So I uncrinkle the bag and shove a few hand fulls into my mouth, and the crumbs get all over my Pierre Cardin tie. I think Judy is happy. I usually sit in my car on my lunch break and drink Teachers and listen to the radio to get all the news that has happened since the morning. There is usually nothing. Sometimes a bombing somewhere, sometimes a story about an earthquake or some flood, or a fluff piece about how some local high-schooler has overcome some hardship or something or the other to achieve some meaningless feat or milestone. But today I just sit with fat Judy and munch Fritos and think about what Judy looks like naked, and if she likes it in the ass or not; it has been my experience that fat girls usually do. We are sitting at a picnic table that is shaded by some trees they planted after they bulldozed out the original trees when they built this business complex. The complex is on Pine Cone drive, but there are no pine trees here only tiny maples that sit in little circles of pine chips.
Judy asks me if I have had any luck with the Stevens account. I shake my head no as I swig some A&W root beer. Judy is an associate accounts collector. I don’t know why her title is different from mine, or if she makes more or less money then me, but we always seem to be doing the same work. She has a picture of two dachshund puppies in a red plastic frame on her desk, and always writes with a pencil that has the decapitated head of a troll doll on it, with its purple frizzy hair. I guess that she makes less then me as her clothes seem pretty cheap, but this may be on account of her size, as I don’t think they make nice clothes for fat women. I contemplate asking Judy about the ape question, but then think better of it. The ape question is my question.
When I get home my wife is standing naked in the kitchen, with a purple strap-on dildo attached to her waist. Most men would find this utterly disturbing. I myself am indifferent. She is not going to use it on me, but rather she has bought it as a gag-gift for a friend of hers who is getting married and they are having a bachorlette party next week, this is an attempt by her to send me a message. I am not quite sure what that message is. I know that the message has nothing to do with the ape question, so I grab her robe from the bathroom and put it over her shoulders and pour us both a double scotch.
That night I have a dream about the Montello’s party. I dream that all the hors d’oeuvres are made from ape. Ape on crackers with ape dressing drizzled over the top, ape canapés, ape crudités, some sort of ape salad, and a fermented ape drink, and there are smiling ape lips everywhere, their teeth gleaming at me so brightly that I have to shield my eyes. I go to wake my wife to tell her about the dream when I notice she is sleeping with the dildo strapped on. Instead of waking her I think about ape oral hygiene, I don’t think about my dream. Then it is morning, and I am happy to be able to stop thinking about apes.
Over coffee my wife informs me that she has decided to keep the strap-on, and that she would buy some other gift for the bachelorette party. She has decided to keep it because she likes the way it feels between her legs, she says that it is not a penis envy thing at all, and that anyone who believes in penis envy is a misogynist asshole. I am listening to the radio, and not to my wife. I really don’t care about the dildo at all. I really don’t. But what I do do is, as I am leaving the house, and my wife leans in to kiss me I slip my hand between her legs and give it a good tug. I know this excites her.
I have lunch with Judy again, and this time I bring my own 2 pound bag of Fritos and we share them. Judy smiles at me, and I smile right back at her. I really feel like kissing her deeply on her Frito stuffed mouth, but I don’t. Instead I decide to let her in on my ape question. I explain my dilemma to her and she just shrugs her shoulders and says “How the heck would I know?”
It really bothered me that she said heck. I am David among the Philistines.
At the party I hoped to meet a Primatologist, or a zookeeper and after a few banana daiquiris I would ask him my ape question.
How do they keep their teeth clean?
They brush them
You give them tooth brushes?
And they know what to do with them?
We teach them.
But do they know why they are brushing?
I mean do you teach them about cavities and gum disease?
But he wouldn’t be able to understand me. He would be too close to them to understand the implications of what I was trying to convey. The intricacies of ape oral hygiene would mean nothing to him.
Instead I ended up banging Tess Montello in the laundry room, and as the muscles of her body became ridged and cramped and just as my wife was in the living room explaining to a roomful of strangers about her new toy, and it was then that I saw them, peering in from the dark, teeth flashing like a revelation in the night.