...::: 18 :::...
In keeping with Isle De Willy tradition, Ron awoke to something annoying him. Although today “annoying” would have more accurately been described as “horrifically painful.” His muscles were burning, joints aching. He could barely take a breath through his swollen nose and his head felt as though someone had packed it full of gravel while he was sleeping.
He blinked a few times but only one eye was capable of blinking. The other was still swollen shut, the same basic color as an eggplant. He tried to sit up. It did not go well. All he could manage was a pathetic groan that immediately launched him into a fit of coughing. During the fit he inhaled some sand, which only redoubled his coughing efforts, which sent every muscle from his chin to his ankles into flaming agony.
He finally got it under control and opened his eye. He found himself looking into the face of a little brown monkey.
“Jesus!” he exclaimed and started trying to back-crawl away.
“He’s awake,” The monkey called over its shoulder.
“Double Jesus!” Ron added and collapsed on his back in surprise. He started to consider that he might not be awake after all, or he may have some serious head trauma. Either way it seemed pretty unlikely that he had just really seen a talking monkey. But then talking monkey seemed slightly more likely than a talking tree. So many things to ponder.
His pondering was interrupted by Willy’s face filling up his vision, grinning at him.
“Hey Ron, you’re awake!” Willy said.
“Are you sure?” Ron croaked.
“You were asleep a long time. I was starting to think you were really hurt,” Willy sounded concerned.
“I am really hurt you ass! Look at my face!”
“All things considered, you have looked better,” Willy conceded. “But not much better.”
“I hate you.”
Willy gave him a friendly slap on the shoulder that caused Ron intense pain. “Don’t be such a negative Nancy Ron. We got just the thing to fix you up. Just let me get Irv’s stuff and we’ll get going. Be right back.”
And with that he took off up the beach towards camp. In the end they hadn’t tied Ron up but Jessup insisted they set up camp a good distance away. The little monkey was there now, staring at Ron warily.
“Who the hell is Irv? And where did you get a monkey? And does that monkey talk?” Ron asked. He got no answer, Willy was speeding up the beach.
Ron lay in the sand another minute or two, replaying yesterday's events. The more he remembered, the angrier he got. He rolled to one side and saw the tree still standing there. Not twenty yards away. Then his gaze fell to the ax. Lying between them in the sand, handle sticking out as if to say “come on old friend, we must finish what we’ve started.”
“Fuckin’ A,” Ron swore under his breath and rose, unsteadily to his feet. He stalked towards the ax. As he neared it he grinned. He could see the coating of sap. Tree blood. He bent to pluck it from the sand, took it in both hands and filled his lungs with air.
“Alright Jessup! Time for you to die!” He took a step towards the little palm tree.
The tree did not respond.
“Wake up you little bastard!” he snarled, continuing forward. He tensed in anticipation of the attack he knew would come. The tree seemed totally unconcerned with the whole situation.
“Fine. You wanna play dead,” Ron raised the ax high. “Let’s play dead!” He lunged for the slender trunk, swinging with all the force his battered muscles could summon.
At least this time it wasn’t a coconut that hit him in the face. It was handful of sand. Instinct closed his eyes which cause him to trip, which cause him to suck in air, which cause him to suck in sand, which caused him to choke, which caused him to sprawl in the sand, face-first. His eyes burned, he coughed and spit trying to wipe his face clear.
“Who the hell?” he cried, turning in the direction of the attack, for it had not come from in front of him, but beside him. When he was able to see again, he saw the little brown monkey standing before him, fist cocked back for another throw. To his surprise, the monkey spoke again.
“I thought I told you to leave that tree alone,” the monkey said. “Now get lost or I’ll let you have it again. I mean it to, this handful has a rock in it!” The monkey shook his fist to illustrate how serious he was.
Lightning fired in Ron’s brain. He recognized the voice.
“The one and only. Now back off little man before I have to thrash you.”
Jessup may not have been a tree and Ron may have been terribly confused by this new situation, but he was balls deep in confusing situations at this point so he didn’t spend any more time worrying about it.
“Tree, monkey, I don’t give a shit. I’m gonna kill you.” He snatched up the ax, jumped to his feet and charged. Jessup danced backwards and began throwing sand at him with every available appendage (which worked out really well for him, being a monkey.) Ron raged, yelled, spit and took wild swings at the little monkey but was unable to catch him. The scene looked like some inverted circus act where the monkey tried to tame the wild man.
Willy had been running down the beach since the fighting started and finally arrived.
“Hey! What are you guys doing? Knock it off,” Willy cried.
“Yeah, knock it off,” Jessup echoed.
“I’ll knock you off!” Ron shouted.
Willy caught Ron off guard and made a glorious open-field tackle. They tumbled into the sand in a tangle. The ax pinwheeled up in the air.
“Ha!” Jessup mocked. “How’d that feel ya chump?” The ax thunked into the sand inches from his right foot, startling him back. “Holy shit!”
“Ron, what the hell are you doing?” Willy asked.
“I’m killing that damn tree- er, monkey.”
“In your dreams pansy,” Jessup said.
“Why on earth would you want to kill Jessup?” Willy pleaded.
“Because I hate him!” Ron yelled.
“Blow me,” Jessup added helpfully.
Ron shouted something unintelligibly offensive and struggled to disentangle himself from Willy. Willy locked his arms and legs around him as best he could.
“Hey!” Willy bellowed. “Everybody just CALM. THE. SHIT. DOWN.”
The force of it surprised all of them, even Willy. Ron stopped struggling and there was a few moments of silence.
“Now,” Willy continued, getting himself under control, “I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation for all this. Now you two stop trying to kill each other for five seconds, we’ll sit down, we’ll listen to each other like civilized mammals and then we’ll decide who gets to kill who.”
...::: 19 :::...
After breakfast, a poop and several hours of very touchy negotiations, it was decided that neither Ron or Jessup had really been in the wrong. Jessup told them the other trees that attacked Ron were also other monkeys. They had all just been defending their homes and had acted of their own free will under no influence from Jessup. In fact, it turned out Jessup really had nothing at all to do with them. He was an outcast from the rest of the monkeys.
Jessup was only guilty of defending his property and then his person. Ron, on the other hand was guilty of mass-scale vandalism and destruction of property. But then again, he still had that ax, so they let it slide.
Judge Willy decreed that they were all now friends and as a token of friendship Jessup was going to lead them to a hot spring he knew of in the jungle. The monkey claimed it would help Ron heal his numerous wounds. Ron thought that was a great idea and as a token of his friendship he agreed not to cut Jessup’s head off.
Jessup thought that was a great idea too. Everyone agreed.
...::: 20 :::...
They walked through the jungle towards the hot spring. Willy and Jessup chatted happily about this, that and the other. Occasionally Irving would chime in and Willy would have to relay his comment to the others since nobody else could hear him. Ron was in too much pain to listen to or care about any of it. He just plodded along in agony, a wary eye on the trees.
A couple hours later, they arrived at the hot spring.
It was a storybook setting. The spring was a shimmering little pool nestled in a basin of smooth, weathered stones. The stones of various shapes and sizes were almost all rounded and friendly-looking. The jungle canopy overhead enveloped the scene, filtering the sun into a diffuse green glow. The ocean breeze whispered through the leaves. No vegetation grew close to the spring. None of them noticed that fact because another fact had monopolized their attention.
The spring stunk.
It smelled not unlike very old whiskey. It was a bit unsettling to encounter such an aroma in a place of such beauty. Fortunately Ron and Willy were pretty fond of whiskey. So it didn’t bother them very much. Irving had loved whiskey back when he had been able to drink it. Jessup would probably love it too if he ever gets the chance to drink it.
They went closer to the water. Steam rose from the surface and bubbles flitted up from the cracks in the rocks to burst on the surface in endless supply. As they peered into the clear, bubbling water they noticed another oddity. The fish. The spring was populated by hundreds, perhaps thousands of little, fat, round fish. They were blue with large, round eyes and they swam in slow circles occasionally farting bubbles.
Willy dipped his hand in the water and brought it out, cupped to his lips for a drink.
“Hey, don’t drink that man,” Jessup said, staying his hand. “I don’t know what’s in it but it tastes like cat piss.”
Ron knelt down and sniffed the bursting bubbles. “It smells like alcohol.”
“Weird, right?” Willy said.
“I think this might be volcanic gas escaping. If this island really is a volcano,” Ron mused. He took his cut, scraped, bruised and busted hand and stuck it in the water. “OWWW!” He yelped, jerking his hand back. He pointed a finger from the other hand at Jessup. “That hurts like hell. How is that supposed to help me?”
“Trust me human. Put your hand back in. It hurts for a little while but then it gets better,” Jessup coaxed. “I’ve done it a million times.”
Ron eyeballed the monkey for a few seconds. He had a very clear mental image of how the little monkey would look sitting there without a head. He smiled in a way that made Jessup very uncomfortable. Eventually he put his hand back in the water.
It stung something awful for five or six seconds then started to easy up. Blissful numbness set in. Ron’s look of cringing pain faded into something resembling ecstasy.
“How is it?” Willy asked.
“It’s good,” Ron mumbled already starting to take off his bloodied shirt.
“See there. Now everybody’s happy. We can all be friends,” Willy smiled.
Ron got undressed and slipped into the spring. The forest was rocked by a withering onslaught of obscenities as he lowered his body into the water but after a minute or so, things were peaceful again. Willy got undressed too and joined Ron in the bubbly goodness.
“May I come in as well William?” Irving asked. “Looks just lovely.”
“Of course you can Irv!” Willy answered, winning strange looks from Ron and Jessup.
“Willy, I’m just going to assume you’re pretending to talk to that skull because you want to drive me insane,” Ron said mildly. “I just want to let you know, it’s not gonna work. I don’t even care. You’re talking to a skull, I’m talking to a monkey. As far as I’m concerned everything is hunky-dory.”
“Good,” Willy said. “Then you won’t mind if Irv gets in the hot tub with us.”
So Willy, Ron and Irving relaxed in the splendor of nature's own hot tub for a few hours while Jessup caught a nap in a nearby tree.
The little blue fish kept their distance, farted their bubbles and eyed the strangers with suspicion.
...::: 21 :::...
“Look boys, there’s a few things we should probably talk about at some point in the near future,” Jessup said.
“Can we talk about them over dinner?” Willy asked. “I’m starving.”
“Yeah, lets catch some of these little fish here,” Ron agreed. “Willy, how about you and the monkey-”
“Jessup,” Jessup snapped.
“Ahem,” Ron cleared his throat. “Why don’t you and Jessup go get some firewood. Maybe see what fruit you can find. I’ll stay here and supervise.”
“Why don’t you supervise your lips while they kiss my furry, little balloon knot?” Jessup inquired.
“Whoa! Hold on fellas,” Willy said, laying a gentle hand on Ron’s chest in case he made a move. “We’re trying to keep it friendly here, remember? All pals and stuff? Good buddies having a big old time in the jungle together? You know, hot tubs and dude sweat and dangly balls and-”
“Shut up!” Ron and Jessup said in unision.
“You’re a sick bastard, you know that?” Jessup said with the slightest hint of amusement.
“I hate to agree with the monkey, but you got problems Willy,” Ron added.
“Dear Ron,” Willy favored him with a warm smile then turned it on Jessup, “and dear Jessup. I don’t have problems, I have friends. I am surrounded by them.” He climbed out of the water and started getting dressed. “Come on friend. Let’s go find some firewood and fruits.”
“Sounds like a country song,” Jessup said.
Ron watched them go. When they were out of sight, his gaze wandered over to the skull sitting silent on a stone beside the water.
“Oh don’t look at me like that Irving,” Ron said and splashed some water at the skull.
...::: 22 :::...
Ron and Jessup’s little problems notwithstanding, Willy thought the day was going really well. He smiled and tossed another piece of wood on the fire. They spent the afternoon foraging for supplies, then catching a dozen or so of the blue fish. Jessup turned out to be really good at it, using a little monkey-sized spear to impale them with startling efficiency.
At one point Willy managed to catch a particularly small one with his bare hands. He turned Irving’s skull upside down, filled it with water and put the little fish in it.
Iving said it was a “lovely gesture” and that it really “livened up the inside of his cranium.”
Ron and Jessup continued to try, without much success, to ignore the fact that Willy was still speaking to a human skull.
As afternoon faded to dusk they settled down around the fire and ate their fruit. Bananas and coconuts as well as some berries that did not give them diarrhea for once. The blue fish were not large enough to clean so they just roasted them all on Jessups spear and crunched them whole, picking bones from their teeth as they went. As they ate, they exchanged tales from the previous day.
Willy told them about his magical hike through the jungle, smoking random plants, tripping balls, seeing camels, seeing fields of flowers and eventually finding Irving hanging in the tree. While entertaining, the story wasn’t terribly helpful in explaining why he continued speaking to Irving. Or, the skull. Fucking hell, now Ron and Jessup were beginning to think of it as Irving too.
Ron and Jessup related, from varying points of view what happened on the beach. How Jessup and the other monkeys were just trying to defend their homes.
“Monkeys enjoy beachfront property just as much as the next species,” Jessup explained.
“Who doesn’t love some good beach front livin’,” Willy agreed.
“I used to,” Ron deadpanned. “Not so much any more.”
“I understand you didn’t know and you were only trying to build a raft,” Jessup said to Ron. “But this is a great transgression in the house of apes. They will demand you make amends.”
“What the crap does that mean?” Ron asked.
“It means they will not forget and they’ll be out to get you,” Jessup answered.
“If that’s true, why would you help us?”
“Good question Ronald,” Irving asked. But only Willy heard him.
“Oh they hate me more than they’ll ever hate you, don’t you worry about that,” Jessup casually replied.
“I can’t imagine why anybody would hate you, little buddy,” Ron used all the sarcasm he could muster. Which was a lot.
“Well they do. It’s a long story. And cool it with that ‘little buddy’ shit, alright Skipper?” Jessup shot back.
“You cool it with that Skipper shit, Mary Ann,” Ron said.
You leave Mary Ann out of this, Ginger,” Jessup said.
“Hold it,” Willy interjected. “Jessup how the hell do you know about little buddy, the Skipper, Mary Ann and Ginger? Not exactly a lot of TVs floating around here.”
“For that matter, where did you learn to talk?” Ron added.
Jessup gave Ron an evil eye but directed his answer to Willy. “No, Willy, there aren’t a lot of TVs floating around here but I’m not from around here. Where I come from there are TVs. And that is the reason I was given the gift of human speech and the reason I know all Gilligan’s freaking Island.”
“Well that’s a confusing ass statement buddy. Care to elaborate?” Willy said.
“If you gents care to hear it, it’s actually a pretty interesting story,” Jessup answered.
“We’d love to hear it,” Willy said.
So they all settled in, cozy by the fire and the alcoholic hot spring to hear the tale of Jessup the monkey.
“As I said before, I’m not originally from this island…”
...::: 23 :::...
“I am originally from a nearby island called Hinnikki. It’s a really beautiful place. Tons of waterfalls and hot springs. Really great jungles with wild fruits, a bunch of animals and all kinds of other cool stuff. It’s pretty awesome, really. I wish you guys could see it.
Anyway, my homeland of Hinnikki is special for another really big reason. It also happens to be the home of one of the greatest demigods ever known to the world, Mussajabba!
I know, I know, you guys have never heard of Mussajabba. He was never big on the mainlands but believe me in the islands he is a great and powerful deity. He’s feared by all, respected by most and loved by at least a few. And so it is with Mussajabba, king of island gods, on the island of Hinnikki that my story begins.
Not to tell this tale properly, you’re gonna have to hear some Hinnikkian folklore, which is probably all ridiculous bullshit, but just bear with me and I’ll hurry along to the good bits.
In the old world it was said that Mussajabba was the guardian of all the earth. He watched over the people, guided them, protected and nurtured them. He was kind of an overseer for mankind, if you will. I guess the old peoples considered him to be a good guardian, a just god. Since the beginning of time, whenever the heck that was, Mussajabba ensured that everyone was relatively happy and lived in relative peace and that everyone had relative prosperity.
What all this is relative to, I don’t know. Can’t seem to get a straight answer.
So the followers of Mussajabba spread throughout all the lands of the world and his name was praised by many reasonably intelligent peoples. And by ‘reasonably intelligent’ here I mean people who wanted to avoid getting lightning bolts up their asses. Mussajabba is pretty big on lightning bolts up asses.
But we’ll get back to that.
Then dark times befell the followers. It was said that outsiders came with false gods, changing everything. The medicine men of old lacked the language to describe this horror. They described a ‘great enslaver’ that imprisoned the minds of men. They said the enslaver poisoned their hearts with lies of paradise and shadows of happiness.
Of course Mussajabba fought against the enslaver but to no avail. The enslaver did not live and fight as Mussajabba did, it endured in the hearts of the followers and Mussajabba could not cast it out. In the end, they say, the strain on Mussajabba was so great, he fell from the sky, coming to rest on Hinnikki. They only place left where all the people still believed in him.
So he made his home there. He set about regaining his rightful place in the sky and in the hearts of all men. These days his teachings are lost to all those except the ones who live on Hinnikki island. They keep faith in him.
After some time, Mussajabba decided to scatter the most faithful of the Hinnikkians to the four corners of the earth so they might spread word of his return.
We were taught that one day, when the time is right, there will be a sign. There will be a sign that his followers are ready and Mussajabba is to rise again and reclaim his greatness, casting out the great enslaver. And here’s the really clever bit, the message will be delivered… by the great enslaver itself!”
“Who is the great enslaver?” Willy couldn’t help interrupting.
“Television,” Jessup answered, matter-of-factly.
“No shit?” Ron said.
“No shit,” Jessup answered again.
“Don’t interrupt,” Irving said.
“Sorry,” Willy replied to Irving.
“Sorry what?” Ron asked Willy.
“Ahem!” Jessup cleared his throat.
“Sorry,” Ron said.
“Sorry,” Willy said.
“Sorry,” Irving said.
“As I was saying, Mussajabba taught us that television was the great enslaver of man. Which I personally think is a load of hot monkey spunk but he’s the god, not me, so we’ll just get on with it. His plan was to use television against itself and when the time was right for his return, his followers would broadcast a signal and when he saw that signal we would return to glory, blah blah blah. You get it.
Anyhow, enough of that. Here’s the good bit because this is where I come in.
Now there are still some humans on Hinnikki but Mussajabba had sent most of them out into the world so at the time he wasn’t left with a lot of options for companionship. Not to mention remedial housekeeping duties. See he felt he had to monitor as much television as he possibly could so as not to miss the signal. Well after a couple weeks of pulling twenty four hour shifts in front of the old boob tube, he decided to employ us, the monkeys of Hinnikki to help out.
So he gave us the gift of speech and gave us jobs in the organization. Some were cooks, maids, farmers, gatherers, makers, there were a shit-ton of TV repair monkeys. But the most sought-after job in the whole shebang was Monitor. My great grandfather was a Monitor, grandad was a monitor, my pops was one of the best monitors and all the way down to me. I also was a Monitor. Not bad for a monkey who was voted “Most Likely To Fall Out of His Tree Drunk” my senior year of High Tree School.
So for about three years of my life I monitored. Day after day, after day, after day I watched television. It was honestly pretty tedious and it pretty much sucked the intelligence right out of you, but it was prestigious. I was respected. Looked up to as a leader of the community. I had all the fruit I could eat, the tallest trees were mine to live in and I got all the sweet monkey trim I could lay may hands and feet on. Gentlemen, I had it all.
But alas, boredom set in.
Every so often you had to rotate schedules and work the night shift for a few months. So naturally, Mussajabba tended to be asleep while I was on the clock. Now I’ll admit it, I took certain liberties with my job. But nothing anybody else wouldn’t have done in the same position!
To make a long story, slightly less long, one night Mussajabba woke up and decided he wanted a little midnight snack, or midnight smite or something. Anyway he comes waltzing through the viewing room with absolutely no warning. It just so happened that right at the exact moment he poked his big dumb, demigod head through the door, I had accidentally flipped one of the channels to some porn.
He was not happy.
I tried to explain that it was possible, maybe even likely that his followers would send the great message during an all-lesbian, pool-side, orgy.
He disagreed. He had some pretty strict rules about porn.
Up until that point in my life I had never been struck by lightning and let me tell ya now, it is not something you want to make a habit of. Especially if your own personal little lightning rod is fully hoisted at the time.
So he zapped me and went off yelling and ranting and shooting more lightning bolts and shit. He woke up every single monkey in the joint. He ordered us all into the meeting cave, did some more yelling. I perhaps, maybe did some yelling back. More lightning. More yelling. I might have thrown a coffee mug, so on and so forth and then BAM! Next thing I know I’m on this island, ass scorched bald and banished.
At first it was bad because I thought I was alone. Then I came across the other monkeys and realized he had banished them all. Because of me. As you can imagine that was worse. They all wanted me dead. I spent the first year on this freaking island running for my life and hiding out. After that first year or so they kinda stopped chasing me. I see them sometimes from a distance but most of them pretty much ignore me now. There are still a few of them who will try to kill me on sight but I’ve gotten pretty good at defending myself. Or escaping. Mostly escaping I guess. Eventually I was able to figure out that we’re on a smaller island not too far from Hinnikki. You can see it from the mountaintop. I guess that was just meant to further torture me. Vindictive old fucker.
Anyway that all went down about four years ago and I’ve been here ever since. An outcast. Left to die alone. Loathed by everyone I ever knew just because I wanted to see a little T and A.
I mean the big bastard could have a put a parental block on that channel if he really didn’t want me to monitor it. Is it really my fault for being as thorough as possible?
I ask you fellas, is that right? Are those the actions of a just demigod?
Nay, I say to you.
But I digress. Gentlemen and gentle skull. That is how I came to be here, how I came to talk, how these other monkeys came to hate me and how I know all about the Skipper and his nautical misadventures.
...::: 24 :::...
Ron and Willy opened the floodgate of questions.
“So what do you mean there’s a-”
“Hold on a minute man, you mean to tell me-”
The questions tripped over one another and merged into a babble of nonsense until Jessup stuck two fingers in his mouth and cut off the jabbering with an ear-splitting whistle.
“One at a time please,” he said. He indicated Ron with a nod.
“Are you seriously trying to tell me this Mussajabba guy is a demigod and he’s real?”
“As real as you, as real as me and slightly more real than Irving over there,” Jessup replied smoothly.
“And he really shot lightning at you?” Willy asked in a tone that conveyed just how rude he considered such a gesture to be.
“He did. And just for catching a little skin flick.”
“Seems a bit extreme,” Willy said.
“That’s what I’m saying,” Jessup agreed.
No one said anything for a few moments. Each lost in their own thoughts. Finally Ron broke the silence.
“I think you’re full of shit.”
“What a surprise,” Jessup sighed. “The how do you explain my ability to speak, genius? Or the fact that I know 1980’s popular television references?”
“There are probably a hundred explanations for that,” Ron protested.
“Uh huh. And are any of them even remotely more plausible than the one I just gave you?” Jessup demanded.
Ron sulked for a few seconds. “Fair enough,” he gave up grudgingly.
Willy did what he often did in potentially confusing situations and sought clarity in summarizing things. “So what you’re telling me, my newest and furriest friend, is that living on the island next door is a real life, honest to goodness, demigod type dude. And this guy banished you to this island for watching porn on the job?”
“That about sums it up, yes.”
Willy turned his head to listen to the skull, which was still sitting upside down with a fish swimming around in it.
“What does Irving think about it?” Jessup asked.
“He says it sounds like a pretty good gig,” Willy said.
“Oh yeah. Not bad at all. Especially during sweeps. Boring sometimes, sure, but much better than lying around in trees all day throwing coconuts at random passersby,” With that Jessup gave Ron a wicked look and winked at him.
But Ron was thinking hard and didn’t rise to the bait. “You said Hinnikki is nearby. Where is it, exactly?”
“It’s actually just a couple miles north of here,” Jessup pointed in the general direction.
“We have to get there,” Ron stated in a tone that brooked no argument.
“Why?” Willy asked.
“Maybe this Mussajabba character can send us home. He apparently teleported a bunch of monkeys from one island to another. And a bunch of humans to all corners of the earth. Why couldn’t he do the same for us?”
“Maybe,” Willy conceded. “But I don’t know about this old island god. He really likes lightning and he really hates porn and that combo doesn’t sit too well with old Willy.”
Ron was having none of that. “We have to get to that island as soon as humanly possible,” he waved a closed fist for effect.
“Good luck with that fellas,” Jessup said. “I tried for two years to get to that island and I don’t think it can be done.”
“And why not?” Ron demanded.
“The surf, the reefs, all those scaly little fuckers that try to eat you alive,” Jessup replied. “That’s on this side of the island, of course. On the other side, there’s no beach. Just huge waves crashing into sheer cliff face. Oh yeah, and if you managed to live through that, all those scaly little fuckers that try to eat you alive.”
“There’s got to be a way,” Ron slapped his palm against a rock.
“Maybe. But I haven’t found it. I think Mussajabba made damn sure we couldn’t get off this stupid island. I don’t think I’ll ever make it back,” Jessup said.
“Would it even be a good idea for you to go back?” Irving asked.
Jessup didn’t reply of course, he hadn’t heard the question.
“Oh, sorry Irv. I’ll ask him,” Willy said. “Irv wants to know if it would even be a good idea for you to go back? You know, with the angry island god and the lightning bolts and whatnot.”
“Probably not,” Jessup admitted. “But at least over there I would only have to avoid one angry dude. Over here I have to avoid a whole clan of them.”
“Plus Hinnikki is a big island. There’s stuff to do. Probably other monkeys. I don’t think he banished all of us. At least there are humans there. You dum dums are always good entertainment,” Jessup mused. “And it would be worth it just for one more chance to annoy that mean old bastard again.”
“There is that,” Willy agreed. “So how do we get there?”
They all sat thinking.
“William,” Irving said, “I would like very much to help but I’m having a little trouble thinking clearly with this fish swimming ‘round my noggin’. Could you do me a good turn and pull him out please?”
“Sure thing Irv.”
Ron and Jessup each looked over at Willy as he plucked the tiny fish from the upturned skull. He was sitting on the far side of the fire from the hot spring and he extended his hand, palm upturned holding the fish.
“Jessup will you toss this little guy back in the-” He stopped mid sentence as the fish wriggled suddenly. It flipped out of his hand, glistened in the firelight for a split second, then fell into the fire.
The resulting explosion knocked them all backwards five feet. Well, Jessup flew further given the differences between monkey and human weight ratios in the context of volatile exothermic reactions.
Hope that sounded scientific because I don’t know what the fuck it means. The point is, the fish exploded and that shit was pretty unexpected, ok?
...::: 25 :::...
The first thing he realized was that it was morning and that didn’t seem right. Also he realized he was wrapped in a yellow blanket. Also he realized he was still alive.
Before he even considered moving he tried to piece together what had happened the night before. He hoped for some clue as to how he’d ended up unconscious. But every time he replayed the incident his brain shut down when it got to the part where it seemed like a fish might have exploded.
Fish were not supposed to explode. He felt pretty firmly about that.
He began to take in some information from the outside world and realized he was overhearing a conversation between Ron and Willy. He decided to listen, hoping they might provide an explanation.
“I think it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard! And I went to college Ron, I’ve heard plenty of dumb ideas,” Willy’s voice was uncharacteristically raised.
“What’s wrong with it?” Ron sounded more calm than Willy. “Give me one good reason why it wouldn’t work.”
“One? Ha! I’ll give you five fucking outstanding reasons why it won’t work,” Willy was almost yelling. “It involves one of us, and God knows it’ll be me, flying through the air like a speeding bullet with not one damn thing between me and the almighty except the world’s oldest and ugliest non functioning parachute in an attempt to land on an island inhabited by a delusional demigod with a penchant for tossing lightning bolts at people who enjoy a little porn. Which I do, Ron.”
Willy had to gasp for air after that diatribe but he held up a finger, stifling Ron’s response until he was ready to continue.
“And furthermore, Mr. Wizard, this whole crack-pot plan revolves, rather precariously I might add, on the flammability of the local wildlife.”
Jessup was immediately sorry he had heard any of it. He pulled the blanket (which he now knew was the parachute) over his head and shut his eyes. He started wondering if he could convince them he was a tree again.
Willy glared at Ron, feeling as though his logic was pretty unassailable.
“That was only four reasons,” Ron said.
“You said five reasons. Technically that was only four.”
“Technically, this plan is horseshit,” Willy announced with finality and turned to have a good old fashioned storm out. He wished he had a door to slam. That made a storm out so much more effective.
“No, wait Willy. Seriously man, let’s think this through.”
He took a few quick steps over, put his arm over Willy’s shoulders and led him back to the rocks where they had been sitting before they got to animated to sit any longer. Willy went with him easily enough since he didn’t really want to storm off into the jungle, he was pretty sure he’d get lost.
Or maybe the monkeys would get him. Great, yet one more thing trying to kill him.
“Let’s break it down and look at all the parts individually,” Ron said. “If we decide it’s a bad idea, we won’t do it. Simple as that.”
They took their seats on the rocks again. Ron sounded reasonable but Willy knew he was anything but right now. His body language said he was settling in for a long debate. Willy rubbed his temples, already exhausted. Willy loved to argue about things that didn’t matter. It was one of his favorite pastimes. But when it came to important stuff he would rather not be involved. It pretty much went without saying that he was going to end up in this cannon. He knew Ron had decided it and he knew Ron would keep at him until he gave up.
Ron was the kind of guy who got shit done. Willy was the kind of guy who just did shit. Willy sighed and figured he should at least put up a fight. It was the principal of the thing.
“Alright,” Ron said. “Problem one, the flying through the air part.”
“Right. That sounds pretty disagreeable to me Ron.”
“Of course it does but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. People in circuses do it all the time, right?”
Willy just stared at him and wondered who the hell these “people” were and if they had any idea there were many happy and rewarding lifestyles that did not involve being hurtled through the air at speeds fast enough to cause unplanned bowel movements. Ron continued, undaunted.
“Problem two is the question of the parachute working. I’m telling you, that parachute is more or less fine. A few little holes in it, but not enough to matter and it’s missing some cords but we can replace those with the rope we already learned how to make. It’ll work like a charm.”
“Worked like a charm for Irving over there, didn’t it?” Willy nodded towards the skull.
“Solid point!” Irving called. “Score one for the lad there Ronald.”
“See, he agrees with me,” Willy pointed to the skull.
“Willy, he’s dead,” Ron said bluntly.
“No thanks to that parachute!” Willy snapped.
“Touche!” Irving laughed.
Ron was having a hard time hiding the irritation he felt towards these two idiots, one idiot… damn. The fact that he had just thought of the skull as an additional idiot made him even more irritated. He took a deep breath and mastered the urge to headbutt both of them.
“Ok. How about me move on, and we’ll come back to the parachute,” Ron soothed. “Problem three is this Mussajabba guy.”
“And is he, or is he not, going to barbecue whoever comes knocking on his door.”
“Well I’m hoping the monkey will be able to help us out there,” Ron said.
“Jessup!” Willy said sharply. “His name is Jessup.”
“Yeah sorry, Jessup,” Ron waved his hands in surrender. “I think he can probably give us some good ideas on how to handle this Mussajabba guy. He obviously knows him pretty well.”
Willy didn’t have a reply to that. He just sat brooding and staring at Ron. When Ron added nothing more, Willy looked to Irving for support.
“You deal with him William. He thinks I’m dead,” was all Irving had to say.
Willy looked a little confused at that. “But Irv, you are dead. Aren’t you?”
“Well of course I’m dead William, but I don’t appreciate being treated like I’m not here.”
Ron slapped his hands over his face, feeling he was losing control of the situation. He took a few long moments to himself while he tried to figure out what to do. His train of thought was interrupted, as it usually was, by Willy.
“Ahem. Irving would appreciate it very much if you would stop treating him like he’s not here.”
Ron had a lot of things to say to that. He had a lot of reasons to take that damn skull and drop kick it into the ocean. He simply did not have the capacity left to deal with the new level of insanity their lives had reached. He just kind of went into mental overload and decided not to deal with it at all. He surprised even himself when he simply asked:
“Then how would he like me to treat him? I can’t hear him, after all.”
Willy grinned and turned back to the skull, huddling in close for a consultation. Exciting whispering ensued.
Ron couldn’t help but think that Willy didn’t need to huddle in close to hear the skull since Irving’s voice was in his head. He decided not to think about that either. No, he would leave such trivial matters to the professional people in white lab coats with powerful antipsychotic medications at their disposal.
The one-sided, whispered conversation wrapped up and Willy turned to him again.
“We feel it would be best if you and Jessup think of Irving as a very handsome, mute and invisible member of our party. I am the only one who knows sign language, so you can’t see him, or hear him but he can hear you and I can communicate for you guys.”
“If he’s invisible how can you see his sign language?” Ron asked.
“You’re missing the point Ron,” Willy shook his head. “This isn’t the truth, it’s just a useful way for you to think about Irving so you don’t treat him like he’s dead.”
“Instead I just treat him like an invisible mute person who can’t communicate with me?”
Ron considered it. It had a certain unfalsifiability that he could respect. He decided that yes, as far as he knew, this statement could be absolutely true. And if it allowed them to get on with what had to be done, he could deal with it.
“Ok Willy, fine.”
Before the conversation could get any more sidetracked, he launched back in. “Now to the problem of our fishy ammunition. I’ll admit, it’s a little unorthodox but I think after last night we can agree there might be sufficient firepower to get the job done. We’ll have to experiment, it will take careful planning but I think we can make this thing work.”
Willy stared down at the ground and made no reply. He had his thinking face on. As far as Ron could tell, Irving didn’t have anything to say either. He waited as long as he could.
“Well, how does that sound?”
“Sounds like you were better of whacking trees with a pointy rock, numb nuts.” Jessup said from underneath the parachute.
Ron reopened hostilities without hesitation, “Oh shut it Donkey Kong, what do you know about it?”
“Nothing,” Jessup said, throwing off the parachute and getting to his feet. “And I don’t want to know anything about it. Just let me know a few minutes beforehand if anything is about to explode.”
Ron’s fingernails dug into his palms and he fought the urge to strangle the little monkey. Jessup walked by and patted Irving on the smooth top of his cranium just to irritate Ron.
“What a kind gesture. Why thank you young Jessup,” Irving would have smiled, had he any lips.
“Where you going buddy?” Willy asked.
“To pee and find some food. You geniuses want some breakfast?” Jessup said without looking back.
“Sure thing man,” Willy said happily.
“Absolutely. I’m famished,” Irving said forgetting that upon being placed in his mouth, food just fell out of his head.
Ron said nothing until Willy fixed him with an admonishing glare.
“If you don’t mind,” Ron ground his teeth with just a little less pressure than necessary to turn coal into diamond.
Jessup walked off into the jungle, limping slightly and scratching his hairy monkey butt.
“Hey, I’m glad you’re awake,” Willy called after him, “for a while there I really thought you were hurt.”
Jessup was already out of sight but his reply was clear. “I am really hurt, you ass.”