Monkey See (1500 words, Day 7, 12/24/17, fiction, 3rd person, dialog)
“And they wanted to touch you?”
“Yes. The monkeys wanted to touch me.”
“They wouldn’t tell me.”
Cali looked at her client and tried as hard as she could to discern some sliver of reason for his fixation with monkeys. She stared at him, hoping an answer would jump out of him. It didn’t. It never did. She’d been seeing Tyrone every Wednesday at 10 am for six months and she found herself in this position every week.
“How did the monkeys wanting to touch you make you feel, Tyrone?”
“Tell me more.”
“I didn’t want them to touch me. I liked the attention and they made me feel special. They smelled weird.”
“How would you have liked them to give you their attention?”
“I don’t understand the question.”
“You liked their attention, and didn’t want them to touch you. What could the monkeys have done to show you their attention in a way you would have liked?”
She kept up the dialog on the outside while, on the inside, she was trying to figure out how she had ended up here talking about attention-giving monkeys. The sentences coming out of her mouth were not what she had anticipated when she left the house that morning. Perhaps, if she’d remembered that it was Wednesday and that Wednesdays meant an hour with Tyrone, she would have been more prepared.
“I would have preferred they sing me a song.”
“You wanted the monkeys to sing to you?”
“Any song in particular, Tyrone?”
“I would prefer they sing me a round?”
“I don’t understand what you mean, Tyrone.”
“A round. The kind of song where each group sings a different part, one after the other.”
“Ah, I understand. Any particular round?”
“Dona Nobis Pacem.”
“You want the monkeys to sing you a round in Latin?”
“Yes. I would prefer that to having them touch me.”
Cali took a moment to add some thoughts to her notepad. She wasn’t likely to forget this particular session, though she wanted to capture the feelings this unexpected conversation was conjuring up for her. Tyrone was outdoing himself today, and she felt a bit crazy in his wake. She knew that was a hazard of working with clients like this so she wasn’t worried about anything other than missing the chance to document it.
“What do you think the monkeys represent, Tyrone? Who or what are they standing in for in your dreams?”
“I think they’re monkeys.”
“Monkeys singing Latin-“
“I didn’t say they were singing.”
“I said I would prefer it if they sang Dona Nobis Pacem in a round. I did not say they did.”
“Right. My mistake.”
“The monkeys wanted to touch me.”
She could see Tyrone looking at her as if she were the one who needed support. She took a deep breath and willed her shoulders away from her ears.
“Tyrone, where do you see the monkeys?”
“Let me try that again. Where are you when you see the monkeys?”
“Tyrone, you said you saw the monkeys last night, right?”
“And you weren’t in India last night. You were here, in your bed, correct?”
“So, you dreamt about the monkeys.”
“I saw the monkeys.”
Looking at her notebook this time was just to give her a break – she didn’t have anything to write. Once composed, she ventured in again.
“Did you see the monkeys before you went to sleep, Tyrone?”
“Where were you before you went to sleep?”
Tyrone looked at her for a moment before answering, his words coming out very slowly and carefully.
“I was in the common room.”
The sigh escaped her before she could catch it, so she tried to mask it with a yawn.
“Excuse me. What was happening in the common room?”
“Other than the monkeys wanting to touch me?”
The soft chime of the timer saved her from continuing the conversation, and she felt more relief than was comfortable that this session was over.
“Our time is up, Tyrone. Thank you for talking with me today.”
“I hope it helped you, Dr. Frank.”
Cali shook her head as soon as Tyrone turned his back on her. She knew she was fine, and that Tyrone was the patient. She jotted down some more thoughts about him and monkeys and their circular conversations before standing up herself. The next 70 minutes needed to be monkey-free for her to make it to the end of her day intact.
She opened her door and was confronted with the sounds and smells of the ward and pushed her way through them all to get to the fresh air and quiet of outside. The big deep breath she took just across the threshold drew the attention of Marcus, the security guard.
“Hey Dr. Frank – You forgot your coat!”
“I’ll be fine, Marcus. The brisk air feels good after being inside all morning.”
“You do you, Dr. Frank. It’s colder than a monkey’s tit out here and-”
“What did you say?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend-”
“Just repeat what you said, Marcus. What was it?”
“I…Dr. Frank, I just said it was really cold.”
“Were those the words you used?”
“No, Dr. Frank. I used something more vulgar. I’m sorry.”
“Please, don’t apologize. Just repeat what you said so I can be sure of what I heard.”
“I said ‘it’s colder than a monkey’s tit out here’ and I was going to add-”
“I need to go. See you soon, Marcus.”
The monkeys were following her, and she needed a break. She almost felt bad for Marcus and how scared he was when he thought he’d offended her. A small smile crept across her face as she walked briskly away. While she was having a rough morning she still had an imposing presence among the staff here.
The tot-lot was only two blocks from the hospital and she was there before she’d realized where her feet were taking her. With a small shrug of her shoulders she perched herself on the edge of the bench in front of the playground equipment. Despite the chill in the air there were a few kids playing in the park being tended to by a huddle of adults clearly hoping the young ones would burn off some energy before they were forced back inside. Cali wished she could join them without raising eyebrows.
The two largest of the children were playing a game that didn’t seem to have many rules that remained static and that involved a lot of chasing after each other. As they careened their way towards Cali’s bench she could hear their banter.
“EEE EEE EEE”
“EEE EEE EEE”
“I SAID STOP!”
“STOP! I DON’T WANT YOU TO TOUCH ME, MONKEY!”
“Ha ha ha! EEE EEE EEE”
“I DON’T WANT YOU TO TOUCH ME, MONKEY!”
Cali’s hand found her forehead with a resounding clap that startled both children and froze them to their spots. The unexpected silence drew the attention of the adults and all eyes were on Cali. She shook her head as she stood up and walked away from the park, knowing the adults were still watching her. She didn’t care – she just wanted to find ten monkey-free moments. Her watch told her she still had enough time to grab a cup of coffee so she headed towards the café.
As she walked she racked her brain for some connection between hipsters and monkeys. She wasn’t aware of any sort of monkey-style beards or monkey-influenced lattes, so she felt safe enough joining the back of the line. As she inched her way to the front, her mind sifted through all the monkey references of the morning. If it hadn’t been for Tyrone, the other instances wouldn’t have stood out. Kids playing monkey? Totally normal. A doorman using a base expression? Annoying and normal. The only abnormal part of the morning was Tyrone and, honestly, his role in her day was because of his lack of “normal”, so that made his contribution normal as well.
She approached the barista feeling much better and ordered her drink by rote. The interchange went off just as it should – the minor polite words from them both, the simple transaction, the nods and the smiles. She had something of a spring in her step as she walked back towards the center with her warm coffee in hand.
“You made it back, Dr. Frank!”
“Yes, Marcus. I survived.”
“I hope we’re ok, Dr. Frank. I hope you’re not upset about the words I chose before.”
“We’re fine, Marcus.”
“Thank you, Dr. Frank! Here, let me get the door for you.”
Cali took the stairs two at a time up to her floor, feeling the warmth coming from both the coffee and the exertion. She still had fifteen minutes to spare, so she stopped at the nurses’ station to check in.
“Good afternoon, Ann.”
“Dr. Frank! Where were you?”
“The café and the park. Why do you ask?”
“Well, your cheeks are bright red…”
“Yes, well it’s chilly outside.”
“You went out without a coat?”
Cali didn’t understand Ann’s concern, and didn’t welcome it.
“What have I missed here? Anything I need to know?”
“Well, Tyrone was a bit agitated. We had to sedate him.”
“He wasn’t agitated when he left my office. What set him off?”
* All 1500Words are fiction. Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *