Simeon the Monkey
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
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
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
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
“You’re such a little monkey,” he says.
Simeon sticks the sweet in his mouth and waves bye-bye.
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.”
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
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
died once before. It wasn’t so bad. It was waking up in the
white room that hurt.
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.
“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.
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"),
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
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.
Lyn's blog at
Contact Lyn Battersby at
llbatt (at) dodo.com.au