The gigantic ape statue surveyed Webster Way with a critical eye, causing pedestrians trickling through the sleepy street to stop, sometimes out of surprise, other times out of amusement. Bradley had not budged from the window since he put the statue out there. It had been well over an hour (he knew this because, despite his despair, he still checked his cell phone on occasion to check the scores of the Giants’ game—losing, of course! Could he not catch a break?), and every time someone stopped to look at the statue, his heart stopped in his chest. This must be what it’s like to lose your offspring to child services, he thought, except maybe worse, because I’m not entirely sure when or where to I’m going to lose Monty–only that I will.
Bradley thought about calling his friend Molly, who was a self-proclaimed poet. She frequently promoted her works on social networking sites with typo-ridden exclamations with inconsistent punctuation. Molly was always drinking from a box of wine, and only sometimes wearing pants. Molly would come up with something, some sort of eulogy for Monty. It wouldn’t be good, but it would be heartfelt. Molly was known for being overly emotional in her inebriated state. Perhaps he could channel her messy bathos into something concise, clear, beautiful.
His phone vibrated in his hand. He glanced down at his glowing device and read:
Babe, are you still pissed about the monkey? I love you. Celia 1:37 PM.
His hand inadvertently made a fist as he thought of a response.
Monty was not a monkey, to start–he was a gorilla, a mountain gorilla to be more exact. (Bradley wasn’t positive about the latter but he brought in a big book of gorillas for the apathetic clerk at the consignment shop to look at and identify. The clerk had pointed at the first entry without even looking at it, and continued to work on a sketch for his latest tattoo. Customer service, Bradley had thought, at its absolute worst!)
The problem with Celia had been twofold. Firstly, she had given him strict instructions not to buy anything from the consignment shop anymore. It creeped her out to have dead people’s things, she had said, and besides, she did not appreciate her coworker Chelsea recognizing her late grandma’s pearl brooch on Celia’s cardigan. The fight that had ensued after Celia learned of the origin of the aforementioned brooch was almost as bad as the time Bradley had lost her niece at the zoo. The problem with that scenario, Bradley learned between having pillows thrown at him, was that Celia expected the niece to wander off. She was six, and diagnosed with ADHD. What Celia didn’t expect was Bradley walking off to see the Hamadryas baboons, leaving the six year-old in front of the restrooms alone for an hour.
Secondly, Celia hated Monty. Not only did he used to belong to some now-dead agoraphobic, she kept waking up in the middle of the night, screaming at him because she mistook him for the South Berkeley Rapist hiding in the corner of their bedroom. Bradley thought that was ridiculous because the rapist had been captured well over a month ago, and also because Monty could never hurt anyone.
Celia had said earlier that morning that Monty symbolized everything that was wrong with their relationship, and in a fit of the drama Bradley had pushed him outside and proclaimed, “Fine! I don’t even care!” But that wasn’t true at all, Bradley cared a great deal. And if he’d had a space where he could hide a seven-foot ape statue, he would have done so the moment Celia had peeled out of their driveway blasting riot grrl music and staring daggers at Monty, who stood innocently out on the front lawn, rejected by the one who had loved him most.
Bradley loved Celia. That was never a disputed fact. And most of the time, he felt Celia loved him, except when she got drunk and invited her ex-boyfriend Edwin out and she allowed him to touch her breasts. When that happened, Bradley felt like he was Celia’s shadow, stretching thinner and thinner as she walked away to get another round. In his heart of hearts, he knew that one shouldn’t give up a significant other over what was, essentially, a decoration, though Monty meant far more to him than a decoration. But on the other hand, couldn’t the same thing be said in Celia’s case? Isn’t it equally ridiculous to break up over someone owning a gorilla statue as it was to break up because he didn’t want to give up his gorilla statue?
Bradley was positive his love for Monty was greater than Celia’s hatred for Monty. Celia went to the hospital and worked for ten hours; he doubted she spent every minute of it thinking about how much she hated Monty. When she was gone, Bradley sat on the stool with a leg missing, dipping back and forth as he talked about his problems to Monty. He even dreamed about Monty.
His most commonly recurring dream was that Monty got up and left the bedroom, and Bradley climbed out of bed. He looked back at Celia and thought about waking her, but she had just come home from work and needed the sleep. Bradley stepped over the dirty laundry on the floor, tripped on a sneaker, and opened the bedroom door to reveal a jungle, lush and full of life, and with Monty standing in front of it, beckoning him. Bradley hurried after Monty, but in the last moment of the dream, he turned around to get Celia, but the door to their bedroom had disappeared and several rubber trees had taken its place.
Bradley knew this would never happen. Monty was a gorilla and it was unrealistic to expect bipedalism out of a species that primarily knuckle-walks. Also, he was thousands of miles away from the closest rainforest. But the feeling of freedom, of being home lingered with him even after he had woken up and started putting on his Willy’s Weiners uniform, the hot dog hat never failing to fill him with vehement despair.
He couldn’t remember the last time Celia made him feel hopeful, free. Bradley’s phone vibrated in his hand again and he stared at the message from his girlfriend.
Are you ignoring me? You’re being ridiculous. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that my twenty-eight year old boyfriend grow up and not bring creepy toys in our house. Celia 2:13 PM.
It was the last straw. “Monkey” had been an insulting enough misnomer, but to call Monty a “creepy toy”? That settled it.
Bradley suddenly no longer cared that Celia was the prettiest girl he’d ever kissed, or that she was a champion at pub quiz. That sweet, startling moment when she had first pulled him into her arms and made him hers vanished from his mind. Bradley didn’t have epiphanies often, but the knowledge that there was nothing left settled on him like nits on the back of a chimpanzee.
Bradley hurled the front door open and shot out into the street like a bullet. Monty was nowhere to be seen. The street was empty, aside from a middle aged woman in a pink velour sweat suit jogging with a stroller in front her of; Bradley doubted that had anything to do with Monty’s disappearance.
He let out a scream–primal, and full of pain–as he fell to his knees next to the indentation in the grass that was the only evidence Monty had ever been a part of his life. The pink suited lady accelerated, looking back at Bradley with alarmed yet curious eyes as she swerved around the corner.
Later that evening, when Bradley stuffed his duffle bag full of clothes, he swiped some of Celia’s heavy-duty sleeping pills before hurrying out of the house.
On his mother’s couch Bradley took two sleeping pills with a glass of SunnyD, hoping soon to be taken to the world beyond his bedroom door, where he and Monty would brachiate between branches, living freely in the folds of Bradley’s subconscious.
Micaela is an 89-year old cat lady stuck in the body of a 22-year old. She loves cats, cardigans, and crosswords puzzles. She’s been published in Girls with Insurance, Pure Slush, and Monkeybicycle. Follow her at micaelalee.blogspot.com