Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Act--Part 4.

The ape sat at the edge of his cot, trying to remember the dream he had just had. It had been green and pleasant and filled with large fleshy leaves, but beyond that, he could pull no details from his mind. He rubbed his eyes with the black knuckles of one hand and yawned. It was an impressive yawn, with many teeth and much red.

The ape got out of bed and nudged the man in the cot next to him. The man groaned and rolled over, so the ape left the man to his dreams and went to the mirror and basin propped up on a small table in the corner of the tent. He looked at himself in the rust and soap spotted mirror. Where those new grey hairs on his face? His left eye looked a little milky. He splashed water from the basin onto his face and left the tent.

Outside the sun was shining and the air was cool. It was morning and it smelled like morning—which to the ape smelled a little like mud and dead leaves.

Across a section of ground rutted with tire tracks, the Manager was sitting in a folding chair, drinking his last beer and fiddling with the handle of his new velvet hammer. He called the ape over to show it to him.

“Nice, huh?” the manager said. “I’ve been looking for one of these for ages.”

The ape nodded.

“It’s the kind they used to use on fugitive Gestapo guys. You know, those guys that used to hunt those bastards down after the war and drown them in their bathtubs or whack them to the death with one of these on a beach in Argentina or somewhere. You know those guys? The guys who tracked down the bad guys?”

The ape nodded again, but really he had no idea what the Manager was talking about. The ape had never heard of these hammer wielding hunters of retired Nazis, and wondered if maybe they were just something the Manager had dreamed up one drunken night or seen as a kid in one of those black and white movie serials with names like “Spy Hunter!” or “Ace Reilly, Defender or Liberty!”

“It’s a magic hammer you know,” the Manager said and the ape just looked at him blankly, wondering if it would be wise or rude to just walk away now.

“Let me show you,” the Manager said. Then he wacked the ape hard on the knee with the hammer. It made no sound. And the ape itself made no sound either when he opened his jaws wide to scream.

“See,” the Manager said smiling. “Magic.”

The ape closed his hand into a large black knot and punched the Manager squarely in the face. The Manager’s face gave some and made a noise like a peanut shell being stepped on. The ape knew then that he was in trouble.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Act--Part 3

The Manager drove through the town on the way back to the big tent. It was your usual small town, with no building over three-stories high, and faded and peeling advertisements for defunct products painted onto brick walls.

At the corner he saw a man wearing a sign around his neck as if it were a necklace. The Manager slowed down to get a better look; The man was pale and dirty. On the sign was a passage from the Bible. Something about praising something. The Manager had only a passing acquaintance with the bible from his school days. Mostly he knew it to be a heavy book with sharp corners.

He watched the man with the sign around his neck grow small in his rear view mirror. Poor sap, the Manager thought. How does a guy end up like that? How much family trauma does it take? How many lonely nights, missed proms, schoolyard fights?

He rounded a corner just as a pack of wild dogs attacked the man with the sign, knocking the man to his knees just like Christ with the cross.

It made the Manager sad and sentimental to think about it and he stopped at the grocery store just outside of town for a case of beer and bunch of bananas. Still green, just the way the great ape liked them.

While he drove, the Manager opened a beer for himself with the claw of his new hammer.