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Florida Man's Folly: Primates of the Caribbean

Jonathan Craig

 

DISCLAIMER: This is a continued series of fantastical adventures on mushrooms, pastas, communism, video-games, cartoons, Bigfoot, walls, and bananas. All resemblances to persons living or deceased are entirely coincidental.

Today is humid, weighed by an insupportable heat that clings onto drones of customers, listless. Some without shirts, others without trousers, even undergarments. All is seen with excruciating detail today, soured by the hours of waiting. They scratch their barren backs and swipe at flies indulged by the stench of dirtied flesh, splattered by grime. Everyone seems to be as living as they are smelling, with eyes glazed and shuffling lazily. Everyone is in the bank - that is, the one bank of this whole region, else hinterlands of marshes and wilds not yet chartered.

Like to the masses of sweating bodies that languish in these torrid tropics, this selfsame building wheezes in crumbling bricks and dust hovering. All its walls are covered in blankets of vines, ivy, and roots, overtaken wholly by the life of the land. The one ATM of the region is defunct, being cracked and scratched, marked by bites and claws. Some customers not acquainted with alien technology obviously made manual complaints to these hapless machines. The glasses of the windows are shattered, and monkeys roam about, not stirring anyone away from the breath of the oppressive air.

In fact, the sole employee of the bank is a simian, in proper dress of tie and suit. Pens in pocket distinguished by handkerchief and spectacles before keen, curious eyes. Using an abacus he steadily counts doubloons, hooting to himself quietly in the while. Paper-moneys are not yet known in this isle, and doubloons of the bygone times of cutlasses and conquistadors are in currency alone. Of all primates in this region, this state, no one competes against him nor his rudimentary counting skills, nor yet his hygiene. His tag: Bobingo B. Bonobo.

As Bobingo observes each customer’s file with due care, one man readies himself with wicked glee. Apart from his worn, outstretched overalls, he is ordinary. Almost unable to give the first letter of his name, stained nails and teeth, chewing a twig in his mouth over this last month as a cow would mindlessly. Typical. And yet he conceals something in his pocket. It bulges from his trousers, utterly betraying itself as if it were about to tear them asunder. What is abnormal in this strange scene is that he has clothes at all.

Not seeing the naked weapon tucked, everyone pants in agony as he approaches his destination of the counter. Widening his grin with each pass of his mud-cracked feet, he uses the final, functioning cell of his galactic brain to compliment himself on his master design. “ I’ve done waited for this day fer ma hole life. I’ll make those fancy city-folk pay me a mighty fine price. Once I get up that there counter I’mma raise hell, rob this here hole bank. Ain’t no pig gonna git me, yep...” He says aloud this maniacal design of his, but no one thinks to answer. Another normal day around these parts.

The bulge-bearing man survives through Purgatory and finds himself at the counter. Bobingo swiftly puts pebbles in place along the tracks of his abacus behind his cracked window before turning his head. He smiles cursorily as he folds his hands and checks his diaper. “The buck stops here. Armageddon it out right now!” Bobingo seems to be puzzled as his client reaches into his pocket, swatting away an infant alligator, fumbling over some pigeons and mumbling nervously so: “Uhh...Stay put, now. Wafer it, wafer it.........” Adjusting his poor posture, he stands firmly and dramatically lifts his arm from his overalls with banana in hand.

Bobingo’s pupils are dilated upon seeing this most curvaceous fruit, browned by months of ripening, smelling so as well. He then announces himself proudly, his voice making echoes over the crowds of customers and out from the dilapidated sides of the bank: “Spicier then ma ma’s jambalaya! Meaner then ma first cousin’s wife’s dog! This here’s Cletis Jr.! But that’s just Cletis to ya, ya hear?!”

Cletis shakes his hand in suspense, holding it directly at Bobingo’s head, locked and loaded. In uneasy nerves his voice quivers: “I-I’mma warn you. Omelete ya have it uh-unless you do give me all the gold in this here bank!” Bobingo glares through Cletis, piercing him. He gazes upon the banana, and it brings water to his mouth, drooling and drooling. When Bobingo hoots once, bearing his incisors in boundless joy, Cletis waivers in his stance, but returns to his ground and demands that his sum be paid to him: “I’mma git me some private islands, foreign all. And if ya even look me funny-like, I swear to sweet baby Jiminy Cripitor that omelete ya have it!”

As soon as Cletis nears himself and his banana to Bobingo, Bobingo pounds his chest, hollering. His teeth are exposed, and his inner beast is unleashed. Leaping through a window where it once was, he grapples young Cletis. His arms tearing his sleeves, mad Bobingo reaches to get the banana fallen to the dirt, but Cletis dashes ahead of him. In frenzy they trample each other, snarl at each other, strangle each other. Primal fury animates Bobingo, and Cletis desperately tosses everything at him from his untidy trousers. He drops his living cargo, and Bobingo clenches his teeth and shrieks when Cletis’ alligator chomps the teller’s most favourite counting toe. Although Cletis lunges to the banana, he misses his mark and stumbles, tripping himself over his own banana. What tragedy.

Bobingo pries the alligator’s jaws from his deformed toe to see that Cletis is gradually understanding that he is in pain. After two minutes and twenty-three seconds, he begins to whine contentiously: “I’m down! I’m down! I’mma sue this daw-gone gummit fer all the gold it’s

worth!” Anxiously Bobingo hurries himself behind counter with a limp, gathering some bundles of doubloons into a bag and lugging them over to banana-betrayed Cletis.

Wincing because of his lame toe, Bobingo recalls that victims of physical injuries brought upon by misplaced bananas have to be compensated. It is the inviolable law of the land, after all. And thus Cletis is awarded with seventeen doubloons, deepening the debt of the state tenfold.

As soon as others get word of this legendary robbery by the state’s system of carrier-pigeons, some other clever types exploit this peculiar law by entering stores to plant some peels, whistling to attract no one’s attention. When fifty-three seconds are passed since no one’s memories last so long, they casually return to trip themselves over their peels. They allege that they were accidents and did not know at all, and to argue that they know anything is indeed tricky; and so owners and employers watch these banana-tricksters as they swipe all their doubloons, and then pilfer some more items away instead of spending their ill-gotten doubloons. This is the return of a scourge that history wishes to forget: piracy.

***

Pirates clad in wooden limbs and layers of patches sail over streets and swamps choked by peels, plundering anywhere that offers to them the prospect of golden doubloons. They smell strongly of brine and rum, and their beards are disheveled after months of setting sail over the seas of bananas. No one is able to put a stop to their abuse of the banana; the pirates’ scurvy renders them immune to the effects of nutritious fruits, especially those of the banana.

Every day, the pirates of the new order search unprotected buildings and raid them upon espying them. Not one decrepit convenience-store was able to escape the pirates’ sights: making binoculars out of their hands proved to be oddly effective. Upon arriving at solid ground above boglands they drop anchors of bananas and swing from ropes, holding them with one hand and banana in other. Fruitlessly shopkeepers make defenses from barricades and barbed wire, and even employ local chimpanzees to engage pirates in intense guerilla-tactics.

The swashbuckling is intense, almost something out of cinema. Inasmuch as monkeys in diapers fight against the spates of pirates valiantly, for the sake of the banana, pirates whelm them in numbers. Even though they know nothing of arithmetic, they attack as sharks do in packs, granting no quarter to apes of all diapers. To prevent further rebellions on the primates’ part, they are imprisoned and bound in shackles and chains. In darkness they lie, weeping to themselves, hopeless they are.

Of all pirates, Captain Blind-Beard was most cruel and dreaded. His arm lost some whiles ago by a nearly lethal bludgeoning that a banana-wielding gibbon inflicted upon him, he now carries a wooden arm as a bitter reminder. As his name implies, he has no sight, dependent wholly upon his refined senses of taste, touch, and smell to discern his surrounds. Patches embrace his eyes, blinded through prolonged exposure to the yellow hue of the banana that wears one’s

sights and deludes him, drives him to madness. Even his beard is adorned with some patches as a measure of safety; the pirate’s beard is his true treasure.

In a toast, hooks and prosthetics and bananas are raised in the air along with cheers over these impoverished lands. Cpt. Blind-Beard sniffs the odor of each pirate to give special congratulations and tastes each stair before ascending over them to the main deck of his ship. His first mate faces him to his crowds of crewmen as he addresses them:

“Avast me, me mates! We do well for ourselves, as these golden doubloons o’ ours, aye?” “Aye!”: thunders the audience unanimously. “Aye, it be about just time that those darned land-lubbers get some fear in their ‘earts! They’d plundered our forefathers’ doubloons, and made them dance the hempen jig...” He and others pause to lower their heads in honour of their fellows fallen ages ago. Rancorous epithets punctuate the still air of the ship, pirates deriding all others listening from land: “We ‘ate them scalawags!” “We’ll learn those land-lubbers for hornswoggling us!” When the attention of the multitudes is undivided, Cpt. Blind-Beard fixes his patches before continuing his discourse: “Nay, we can’t change what’s past. But aye, we can change what’s about to pass. In the power vested in me by the banana of the high seas, I declare this ‘our to be ours! Long live the banana!” “Aye, aye!”

Their celebration is saturated by whiskey and rum, and it is blessed by the heavenly scent of ripened bananas. Singing shanties and dancing livelily, pounding every wooden prosthetic of theirs against the barnacle-encrusted planks of the decks; swinging from sail to sail, dropping peels to the whimsical rhythm of the maritime tunes. They taunt their captive apes by shredding piles of peels and mashing them with their peg-legs, clanking their banana-holding hooks against the bars and chains of their head-scratching prisoners. Monkeys hear no evil as they block their ears with scowls on their faces and tears on their cheeks; they dart their eyes angrily at the pirates’ shadows beamed from above, at every banana put to misuse in their intoxicating rums. One man’s banana is another’s treasure: thus this saying is. But cruel it is indeed.

***

Surrounding the pathways of peels are ordinary citizens, clad in nearly nothing. Dirtied, starved. Typical. Instead of spending their time in leisure, in catching pigeons along the roadside and eating squirrels cooked ablaze, they cower and tremble and whimper away from the shining of the flames, else pirates shanghai them and trip them over peels upon peels. They laugh hoarsely and brackishly, and they brandish their rotten teeth and salty breath to remind their subjects that they are invincible. If only they were to know the power of the banana, that it could do much well, but also much ill.

One being is at his wits’ ends, fretful and beside himself over the miseries of the citizens and chimpanzees in bonds, and more so over the squandering of this fruit of paradise. A hybrid of

ape and man, as high as is an elder tree of the swamps, with arms as bulky as one is. He could crush an alligator’s jaws utterly, with but his smallest toe, which frightens anyone with sense. Not many persons in these parts, but formidable even then. Along with his protruding mandible and forebrow, his searching eyes bestow quarter to no pirate that has bruised and blackened even one banana of every other that he beholds to be his own. Knuckles against banana-smeared soil, clenched and shaken. Teeth shining wrathfully. He knows that justice is to be done by his feet. He is the one. He is Bigfoot.

When each pirate achieves the climax of the celebrating, having satiated his sea-hardened belly with kegs of rum, he strikes from above. Descending from the heavens, screams disrupt the malign serenity of the nightsky and feet of fury demolish anything beneath. Whole ships are sink into the ocean of peels, neglected over moons too many. From the hulls of the greedy galleons escape barrels of monkeys, with bonds loosened, convictions resolute, bananas readied in hand. Everyone fights by tooth and nail against the blade of the banana from all sides; pirates with patches, monkeys with diapers.

Bananas shot haphazardly, pirates alike with monkeys, wounded and confused and frenetic. They slip into the drink, wherein apes in their elements and fighting diapers drown any pirate star-crossed. And more, alligators and banana-sharks partake in the return of flesh to carnivorous water, staining yellow hues with those red, and last breaths are drawn abruptly, splitting ears and peels altogether. Every death is regretted, but now is the hour of retribution.

On the deck of Cpt. Blind-Beard’s betrothed vessel, he glowers at the behemoth before him with both his blind eyes, and strokes his patched beard in inexplicable excitement. Never before has some pungent odor overtaken this seadog’s almost lame nose, but the creature’s distinguished scent that is the essence of the banana whelms him. Upon inspection by tongue, he tastes that every lock of the creature’s fur is crystallized in ooze of bananas, saved as snacks if need be. And the creature’s snorting, weighed by an even purer smell of bananas chowed, assaults Cpt. Blind-Beard’s nostrils for the last time. They exchange words.

“Arrgh! Y’are a scalawag, coming to wreck me crews, rob me o’ me doubloons, stink th’ air which I -”

“You no tak! Me no wan fight. But you maked me come. You stealed me bananos. All bananos me bananos. Me can chop bananos. But me no chop bananos no more.! Me no getted it! But you hurted me frens. Anumanus. Me never forget!”

“ - and I think that yer mother’s a scurvy dog, all right. Y’ave not a chance against me. I’ve the deadliest shot with me fruit o’ the sea, even in me bad eye, mate...”

“Why tak you when me tak you too?! You give me word. Me hear good. But me give you word. You no hear good. Abeg you hear me speek! Abeg -”

“...and ye think that y’are better than the likes o’ me, too. I’m old salt, the best o’ all freebooters and filibusters out on these waters. I’ve you sent t’ the bottom o’ Davy Jones’ locker, ye lily-livered, hornswaggler, land-lubber,...”

“Me no take no more! I dey ache. You make me brain dey feel bad juju. Me no like you brain juju! If you no be still me land you little sea ! Me make you still!

“...feckless, good-for-nothing sharks’ feed, son o’ a biscuit-eater, and a banana-eater, too, and...”

“No more! No more! No more! Bigfoot stomp you hard!”

***

Cpt. Blind-Beard, blind in eye and blind in ear, draws his fruitful weapon from its sheath. His breath reeks of whiskey tainted by fetid juice of ripened bananas, teeth rotten throughout. Before misaligning his cap, emblazoned by the jolly roger, he stands in defiance to Bigfoot. Although this stance of his is slanted, almost faced behind instead of in front, he is intent upon cutting and gashing his invisible opponent.

Aimlessly but yet furiously he slashes at the air with his banana. The hilt of his deathly sweet blade iis gilded by the pieces of eight that he plundered from financially inept islander-folks; and its sabre is preserved in yellow-golden maturity, most curvaceous and broad, decorated in doubloons. Sails are torn and fellows are fallen by his blundering onslaught, cutlass against fabric and flesh, deck bedaubed by blood and bananas in excess.

Without effort Bigfoot eludes the captain’s rage, swinging from crow’s nest to mast with the grace of a swashbuckler, howling into the night. Peels tossed to deck drenched in bananas, feet stomping to block every misguided step of Cpt. Blind-Beard’s; everything in attempt to bring everyone’s suffering to an end is in vain. Groups of privateers cheer to their intrepid commander, wholly faithful in that their brine-soaked brother would slay this beast for its fur’s worth in doubloons: “Get him aright, Cap’n! Put fear in ‘is ‘eart o’ these waters! Put him to the plank! To the plank! No, starboard! Not to stern!”

However much so the crew-men's barks and chants embrace the deaf ears of their leader, every other primate makes another crowd that surpasses that of the pirates. Orangutans clapping their heavy hands, gibbons flailing their lanky arms, gorillas bellowing from their chests to the lands far away, chimpanzees gnashing their teeth, spider-monkeys shrieking primally, capuchins cheeping in thirst of blood stained by bananas. The primates’ concert of savage noises overwhelm the buccaneers’ cries, and their common love of the banana moves Bigfoot almost to joyful sniffling.

Even the hairless spectators of the shores pray to Jiminy Cripitor, swearing to all-seeing, biggest banana of the skies to his aid. They understand that he is the land’s one source of salvation. Their straw-hats lowered and trousers pulled to the ground, they sing in denuded and deluded harmony to Bigfoot, not knowing his name but knowing him in heart: “Git him, git him!” “Ya show that yeller-teethed Yankee what we people’s good fer!” He is about to lose his life, but he has everything else to gain, for himself and for all his banana-loving brethren.

In the intensest hour of the brawling, buccaneer against Bigfoot, Cpt. Blind-Beard, dizzied by his shuffling and staggering in intoxication, lurches downward. With a sickened sigh he belches, and from his scurvy-scarred mouth outflows violently a battered mixture of alcohols and bananas. Wiping his mess away with one of his patches, he babbles sporadically: “ I - I’ve never lost nerve o’er me sea-legs heretofore, but....*Hic* m-methinks that - *Hic* - those accurs’d bananas’ve go- gotten me alast...” Weakly he stands by the rails of the ship’s sides, withal his filibustering fellows, begging to him to return him to his senses, shuddering their peg-legs in suspended worry.

And now, Bigfoot dives from the heights of the masts and his shout is so resonant that it thunders, shredding sails and deafening salted ears: “Unga-Bunga! Unga-Bunga!” His landing makes tremors that rend the skeleton of the vessel, and everyone on board is rattled deeply. With his balance lost, Cpt. Blind-Beard’s wooden knees wobble, disjointed from his body and collapsed beneath him. He bumbles helplessly over a peel; the moment of his demise is sweet, enriched by potassium, and dispels his scurvy definitively. Drool and banana-juice trickle from his woeful jaw, and Bigfoot imposes himself before Cpt. Blind-Beard, barely conscious.

Every simian, ape and human, rejoices in Bigfoot’s victory over their rover-overlords, but he has yet to make consummate his winning. In Bigfoot’s shadow lies his adversary dismantled, defeated. Even he registers his chilling loss, blinded and deafened and lame, but yet feeling chills and shivering miserably. A grimace strains his face as he coughs to Bigfoot, aside from all the multitudes’ clapping their sweaty palms and slapping their muddy knees, shooting bananas liberally and exciting the air with booms and yells ecstatically.

“I’m walking the plank, painful as ‘tis to confess. But I’d a jolly life o’ sailing an’ plundering to me. I recall all those years o’ -”

“Mek me hear word! You no no nada. You dey little brain. You dey parrot and tak and tak. No more! You dey mental!”

“ - and that’s about how I’m come to this fated hour. I’ve to say that y’are a picaroon, tough an’ rough, almost as I was some tides ago...”

“You dey think you no but e no dey so. You no no nada. Nada! You no no big banano of skys that give me and anumanus yori-yori when we chop. But you no chop banano and you mek dey

juju. Nawa! Me no give you no no ada banano but me anumanus. Me now give you big slap! Vamoosh!”

Without words Cpt. Blind-Beard submits himself to his end and bows his head regretfully. With his own wooden leg Bigfoot punts him into the heavens, into the vastest ocean of the vacuum. The friction of the launch sears all Blind-Beard’s patches, and his doubloon-laden trail gleams with hues of gold. Along with him his vessels fly, Bigfoot tossing them with such incredible force into space that even all-seeing banana of the skies loses sight of the pirates’ astronomical voyage without limits.

Countrymen soiled trousers, diapers, and in nothing at all are amazed by Bigfoot’s mightiest display: to have every banana amassed, made possible by the opposable thumbs of his simian subjects. He orders to his anumanu-allies: “Unga-Bunga!”. By his behest every beaten banana is soothed, peel is preened, and restored to paradisiacal ripeness. They have mounds, hills, mountains of the yellow fruit upon mattresses of leaves to guard them from the mud-choked boglands beneath.

About to make his exit, Bigfoot is stopped in place by young Cletis, limping with his arm in a banana-sling and calling to him: “Thanks an’ all fer yer hep wit’ those mean ol’ seamens, but I wanna know it. Why’d ya take all our bananas away like that?” And Bigfoot, glowering over his shoulder, replies solemnly:

“Me no do this to you. You don doed this to you. We anumanus mek good word to chop bananos with equality. But you manchis no mek good word but you mek bad juju and you brek good word. You mek one anada hurt and you dey heavy ache for you mek bad grammar and you delete one anada. No more bananos to you and you dey ache no more. Me mek simple words simple. You no get bananos. We get bananos. Me dey sori. And we vamoosh!”

And so Bigfoot and the others disappear in the forests’ brush, into wildlands and jungles upon which no one not worthy of the banana’s blessing is daring to tread. Everything is as abnormal as it was.