Two monkeys meet in the mountains at sundown.

Each is alone, having been separated from his tribe.  Both are tired from trudging for days through the rocks.

But monkeys are wary beasts.  So for a long time they stand motionless, eyeing each other suspiciously.

Finally the tireder of the pair gets tired of this too. 

“Oh, screw it,” he says, and sits down in the dirt.

The other watches him for a moment, then sits down as well.

They look around at the dirt, the rocks, the huge sky, the sinking sun.  Finally their eyes meet.

“What’s your name?” asks the first monkey.

The second monkey scowls.

“What’s yours?” he replies.

They fall silent.

The sun’s lower edge touches the horizon.  The air chills. 

The first monkey reaches into his knapsack and pulls out a cigarette lighter.  He scratches together a tiny pile of twigs and pushes the lighter into the center of it.  The twigs catch.  A small flame appears.

“Got anything to burn?” he asks.

The second money is leaning towards the flame, but the question stops him.

“Do you?” he answers.  He places a protective paw on his knapsack.

The first monkey sighs.

The sun sinks below the horizon.

Now it is dark.  Dark in the mountains is especially dark.

“Oh, screw it again,” says the first monkey.  He reaches into his knapsack and brings out a small lump of something wrapped in cloth. 

“This is a secret,” he tells the other.   “I never show it to anyone.  It’s embarrassing.  But I guess it’s better than freezing to death.”

He unwraps a stinky old fish head. 

A rotten smell fills the clearing.  First Monkey swallows hard, then lays the fish head carefully atop the pile of twigs like an offering.  

It catches fire.  Flames leap up. 

The smell disappears.

Second Monkey now looks embarrassed.

“That’s not so bad,” he says finally.  “I can beat that.”

He reaches into his knapsack and comes out with a medium-sized lump, also wrapped in cloth.

“Really?” First Monkey smiles.

Second Monkey nods, unwraps his fish head, swallows hard and lays it on the fire.

Again a bad smell fills the clearing.   The second head catches fire.  Again the smell goes away.

The monkeys inch closer to the flames.  They reach out their paws.  Overhead the moon starts its climb across the sky.

“You got more, I hope,” Second Monkey says.

“I do if you do,” replies First Monkey.

Both giggle.

And so the night passes, hour after hour, fish head after fish head, each larger and more fragrant than the last, until both knapsacks are empty and the fire burns on without feeding and the sun peeks up over the mountains in the east.

“I’m Sid,” mutters Second Monkey suddenly.

“I’m Barry,” replies First Monkey.  “Pleased to meet you.”  


Nobody on this bus but us monkeys.

4 responses to “Parable

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