Tuesday, September 08, 2009


This is not a story about monkeys. This is a story about my monkey rocket gun. Sort of like a bazooka, but one man can operate it. Fortunately, I'm one man.

When I was at the farm store the other day I bought some summer-leftover (i.e., cheap) shrieking bottlerockets and a one-meter length of gun-barrel caliber PVC pipe. I left the rockets inside by the kitchen door with a lighter, and the rocket gun leaning on the wall outside the door, just in case I saw some of them lowdown, lily-livered varmints.

A couple weeks later yesterday arrived, and as I was at the kitchen counter making lunch I glanced out the window and saw a couple of monkey critters, looked like an older and a younger brother - coupla teenage gunslingers, monkeywise - out to make trouble, just then climbing up to the top of my fence and sitting there all bouncy and excited, practically drooling as they sussed out the loot.

Like one of those cool guys in one of those cool guy movies I dropped the cilantro and ran for my ammo, ripped open a pack with my teeth, pulled out a couple of rockets and slipped through the doorway, grabbed my rocket tube and began to load, minimizing noise and movement. The monkeys paused at sight of these strange, yet not threatening actions, watching intently to see if maybe I was just out there doing some human/pipe thing - they are weird, the clothed ones - after which I would go back into the house and do whatever humans do in whatever inside is.

But there was a snag, like in the movies, where they do it for the tension, somebody's rifle jams or something, and there was tension here too, real life imitating Hollywood: the fuse was affixed to the stick of the rocket with cellotape, to keep it straight in the package; I had to cut the tape and bend the the fuse to light it properly-- would I get it fixed in time? Talk about tenterhooks.

So I had to set the pipe down and cut the tape, bend the fuse quickly as time was ticking away, and indeed the beasts became suspicious of all this frantic action, the camera panning right as they began to opt for safety, drifting off slowly to the edge of the picture, then unobtrusively down to the ground and across my shiitake logs to pause on my absentee neighbor's lawn, where they sat on their haunches to see what I was up to, if I would finally go back into the house and let them pillage in peace.

I got their range, pointed the rocket launcher, lit the bent fuse with the lighter, lit it again, it wouldn't catch, time was running out, then at last it began to spark, I tapped the rocket well into the barrel, aimed it right above the two peering red faces and held it steady in the hissing silence that followed for about 30 minutes though it could only have been 3 or 4 seconds, but what a long and heavy silence, a smoky length of deep dramatic soundlessness, in which the monkeys were entranced as well, thinking their own thoughts, it was kind of mystico-ethereal as we all stood there unmoving in our places for no discernible reason, like members of some sort of post-historic diorama, the mind enters strange channels at such moments, then abruptly the atmosphere was split down the middle by a soul-tearing shriek that filled it all with fear as a bullet of smoke streaked howling above the two really wide-eyed monkey faces and straight on beyond for another 30 meters when it ricocheted off a telephone pole and exploded with a bang that echoed from the mountain and put a big cap on the moment for the terrified beasts.

As soon as I recovered my senses and looked again, the monkeys were nowhere in that universe, they had disappeared without a trace, probably dug themselves straight into the ground, I hope they took with them advice not to go anywhere near the garden of that crazy guy with the magic pipe. I even heard my distant and usually quiet neighbor making sounds like what the hell was that? Who's firing rockets that loud at this time of day, as I blew the smoke from the end of my rocket barrel and sauntered back to making lunch like Clint Eastwood.

Later I noticed that the other end of the launcher had burned a hole in my shirt. Made my day.


Anonymous said...

Do they really point out the good stuff to each other? Honest?

Next you know they'll be turning up for a firework display!


R. Brady said...

Pointing in the monkey manner, of course; they're not that advanced. Yet.

June Calender said...

ah, a laugh out loud blog post. Capped an otherwise laughless day. Thanks.

R. Brady said...

Thanks June... Always glad to inspire a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

You should get paid to write funny stuff like that, or I will call the funny poleeece and tell them to hire you for their next re-union.

R. Brady said...

No, no, nooooo... not another salary!