Anna Tambour presents 


The virtuous medlar circle
thoroughly bletted
Simeon the Monkey
Lyn Battersby

Simeon, the little monkey, is dreaming. He lopes along the pre-dawn street. The road ahead is clear, no traffic, or noise or grimy smoke mars the way.
Simeon enjoys the smooth roughness of the bitumen beneath his paws. The darkness shifts a little, black becomes grey, fades to white. Frightened, Simeon scurries home.
The little monkey turns over in his cot, pulls the blanket over his head.
“Time for work, Simeon.”
Papa Tony’s voice is insistent. Knowing what is to come, Simeon burrows further.
“Naughty monkey,” Papa Tony scolds. The blanket is ripped from Simeon’s head. Daylight rushes in past his eyelids. Good light, not white light. Strong hands grasp his waist, dig in. Simeon screeches and wriggles against the tickle. He jumps from his bed, dons hat and coat. He is ready to face the morning.

 It is a good day. Simeon dips and sways in time to the music. He holds little bundles of plastic streamers that billow in the breeze of his movements. The crowd applauds and tosses money into the tin cup. Simeon bares his teeth in an approximation of a grin. Papa Tony pats him on the head and feeds him a biscuit. “Good boy,” he mutters. “You’re my good little monkey.”

Papa Tony counts the coins and hands them across the counter. The teller eyes Simeon. “You know we don’t allow animals in here.”
“Simeon’s special,” Papa Tony replies. He hands her the deposit slip. Simeon wraps his arms around his Papa and laces his fingers together. He belongs to Papa Tony, never to part. Never again.
Simeon wakes up screaming. A siren disrupts the night, breaking the natural silence of the sleeping. Light floods the room and Papa Tony arrives to drive the terror away. Simeon bounds into his arms, chatters in his ear.
“I know. It’s okay. You’re okay with Papa.”
Papa Tony makes cocoa. He uses hot milk, not water. Soon Simeon’s eyes grow heavy. He slips from the table and lies down upon his bed. The blanket feels scratchy against his skin. He likes it like that. It reminds him he’s still alive.

It’s raining. Simeon refuses to dance. The streamers dangle by his sides. Papa Tony stands under an awning, grinding his organ, cajoling his pet. The crowds hurry past in their haste to be somewhere dry.

Check up day. The doctor slides the thermometer into Simeon’s rectum. Papa Tony gives him some blocks to play with. Simeon makes a tower, smashes it down when the thermometer beeps. There’s a slight sting. Simeon doesn’t mind needles. It’s the gas that frightens him. This doctor doesn’t use gas. He pats Simeon and gives him a jelly bean instead.
“You’re such a little monkey,” he says.
Simeon sticks the sweet in his mouth and waves bye-bye.

Simeon doesn’t feel well. He has to force his feet to move within the dance. Papa Tony isn’t smiling today. He glances at Simeon more often than usual. Simeon decides he’s had enough. Curling himself into a loose ball, he falls asleep at Papa’s feet.

Hushed voices. Simeon cracks his eyes open.
The white room!
He jumps to his feet, bangs his head on the ceiling.
Simeon shrieks and throws himself against the bars.
“Hush now, my boy. It’s for your own good.”
Papa Tony passes a biscuit into the cage. Simeon grabs his hand, holds it tight. Papa tries to pull away. Simeon opens his mouth, clamps down.
“Naughty monkey, that’s enough. It’s only for a couple of days, until we know what’s wrong with you.”

Simeon doesn’t believe Papa. He’s heard these words before. He has no choice, though. He’s trapped. He retreats to the back of the cage, hugs his knees and waits.

Simeon’s nostrils twitch. Gas. His eyes fly open, mind alert to the danger. He fights against the weight of the mask but, no use. Simeon slides back into the dark realm of sleep.

Pain. So tired.
“Take him home. We’ve failed.”
The bars swing back. Simeon is pulled into Papa Tony’s embrace. He doesn’t resist. He allows the hug without giving it back. Simeon, the little monkey, doesn’t lace his fingers around Papa’s neck. He doesn’t recognise his fingers anymore.

Papa’s crying. Simeon can’t cry. He’s tried but can’t get the knack of it. He can nearly make the sound, but not the tears. Papa’s not making the sound. Silent tracks wind down his cheeks, drip off his jowls. He is so sad. Simeon knows why. Simeon is home to die.

Simeon died once before. It wasn’t so bad. It was waking up in the white room that hurt.

“They warned us, didn’t they? They told us the procedure might not work. I just hoped, hoped for a second chance. I’m sorry, son.”

There’s something wrong with Papa’s face. Half of it has slid down onto the pillow. His blank eye sits where his cheek used to be, his lips work back and forth, trying to close. Failing. Simeon calls the doctor, forces the hated fingers to dial the number. He screeches his distress. The doctor assures him he’s on his way.

Papa Tony is awake. Or at least part of him is. His good face watches Simeon, the bad face works against the pillow. Simeon curls up against Papa’s side so he can only see the good. Papa smiles, wraps his arm around his pet. Simeon snuggles in. He winces in pain. More hair falls from his body and onto the sheet.
“You always were a little monkey,” Papa drawls. The doctor sticks a needle into his arm.
He relaxes.
“It’s a race to see which one goes first.”
Simeon changes his breathing until it matches Papa’s. In. Out. In. Out.
When Papa stops, so will he.

Simeon is dreaming. He’s racing down the street on his bicycle. Papa’s behind him, shouting encouragements. The streamers on the handle bar billow behind. Simeon lifts his face to the wind, shouting his joy. This time he sees the truck.


Lyn Battersby  is currently in the process of moving her husband and his collection of Goon Show records from one side of Perth to the other. She has sold about eight stories in the past three years, including placing stories with Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine ("ASIM"), Antipodean SF Borderlands, Shadowed Realms and Shadow Box.

As "Lyn Triffit", she won a Tin Duck award from the Western Australia Science Fiction Foundation for her novelette “The Memory of Breathing” which has also been nominated for an Aurealis Award. She has five children and a lot of contraception.

AT notes: Ah, my! What she didn't say! She's a modest soul, and one of the world's nicest people. But I will tell you confidentially that Lyn also manages to be an editor for at least two publications.

Read Lyn's blog at
Contact Lyn Battersby at
llbatt (at)

The virtuous medlar circle

is part of
Anna Tambour and Others

"Simeon the Monkey" copyright © February 2006 by Lyn Battersby. This is its 1st world appearance.
This story appears here with thanks to Lyn Battersby, whose payment was less than a brass razoo.
This is part of a series of invited pieces by people I find deliciously inspiring, always a hoot, and who write like a bletted medlar tastes. A.T.
The Virtuous Medlar Circle © 2004 - 2006