The Monkey Dream
“Tell me about the monkey dream.”
Bob fidgeted. After playing with a button on the brown leather couch for a moment, he sighed loudly.
“Fine. I’m on the stage in the back holding, but not really playing, a long necked guitar. I’m wearing a green wool hat and we’re lip-synching “Day Dream Believer” again. Davy’s a little late but nobody seems to notice…”
Bob couldn’t see the doctor from his angle but thought he could hear his lips curling into a smile.
“Your being facetious, aren’t you, Bob?”
There’s that word again, Bob thought. Facetious. He had to look it up in the dictionary after their last session. Playfully jocular. Then he had to look up “jocular.”
“Yeah, doc, I guess I am.”
“Why do you feel the need to do that? Use humor as a defense mechanism?”
“Aren’t you the doctor? Why don’t you tell me?”
Bob leaned his head back to watch the doctor scribble something down in his small brown notebook. Then he glanced around the office. Everything seemed to be brown: the furniture, the carpet, the desk, the bookshelf behind the desk. What was this guy’s obsession with brown?
“Hey, what’s your obsession with bro-“
“Are you still having the dream every night?”
Bob sighed again. “Yeah, every night.”
“So, tell me about it.”
“What’s your obsession with this dream? Why do you always want to talk about the dream?”
Bob expected the doctor’s tone to change to anger or at least annoyance. He was disappointed when it remained exactly the same.
“We can talk about whatever you like, Bob. At the end of our last session you mentioned you were having a hard time sleeping because of the dream. I thought you’d like to talk about it.”
No, not really, Bob thought. Jesus, why am I even here? Sheila, that’s why.
“I’m sorry?” the doctor said.
“My wife. She’s the one who suggested I come here. Well, ‘suggested’ isn’t really the right word. More like she insisted.”
“And why do you think she did that?”
“Shelia said if I didn’t come here she’d be moving permanently into the guestroom. It’s these dreams, they keep me up most of the night. And when I do fall asleep I usually wake up yelling and carrying on.”
Bob heard the doctor write in his notebook again.
“Tell me about Sheila.”
What’s with this guy? I finally start talking about his precious monkey dream and now he wants to talk about my wife?
“How long have you been married?”
“It’ll be nine years in March.”
“Would you say you have a good relationship?”
“Of course,” Bob asked, turning his head so he could see the doctor. “It has been nine years.”
“That wasn’t the question. I’ve known couples who’ve been together for decades and they could hardly stand each other.”
Bob leaned his head back on the arm rest.
“Sheila and I are fine, we’re…just fine.”
“No problems, no big arguments about anything?”
“We’ll argue about stuff, you know, now and again, but doesn’t everybody do that?”
For some reason Bob wanted the doctor to affirm him, tell him that yes, everybody did do that. He was a little disappointed when he didn’t.
“When she told you she’d be moving out of your bedroom if you didn’t seek counseling, how did that make you feel?”
“I told her it was fine with me, now I wouldn’t have to worry about her elbow jabbing me in the back every night. Yeah, doc, you don’t have to say it, I was being facetious.”
“And how did Sheila respond?”
“How do you think? She got mad, said if that’s the way I wanted it, it was fine with her. That’s when I made the appointment.”
“Tell me about the dream.”
Suddenly Bob sat up and stared at the doctor.
“You think this has something to do with Shelia? She’s a good person, a really good person. This has nothing to do with her.”
Bob was a little surprised at himself for being so defensive.
“So who does it have to do with?”
Bob got up and started pacing. “I don’t know, okay? I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure it out. The only thing I could think of was this class trip I took in third grade.”
“What happened on the trip?”
“We went to the zoo and I saw this kid fall into the gorilla pit. It was crazy, people were screaming, one woman — it might have been his mother — passed out. The kid was actually fine, the gorillas weren’t even in there at the time, but it still scared the hell out of me.”
“So, you think this incident from thirty years ago has something to do with your dreams now?”
“I don’t know! If I knew do you think I’d be here?”
Bob had reached the desk again and he spun around quickly and walked back to the couch.
“What do you think, huh? Why am I paying you to just ask me questions? Tell me what you think.”
He sat back down.
“I don’t think that trip to the zoo is the problem,” the doctor said. “Can you think of anything else? Something more recent perhaps?”
Bob thought for a moment. “I was in this bar ten or twelve years ago with some friends. This guy Mike who I didn’t know that well went over to play a video game. Well, the machine looked pretty old, I wouldn’t have put any money in it, but he did and of course it didn’t work. He was pretty drunk and he starts wailing on the thing. Before the manager or whoever could get over there, Mike picks it up, actually picks up this big video game. All of a sudden he loses his balance and falls backwards and the thing lands on him. He got pretty lucky though, I heard he only had a few broken ribs.”
Bob gazed at the doctor eagerly. “What do you think about that?”
“I don’t understand.”
“The video game! It was Donkey Kong!”
“Anything else?” the doctor asked.
There’s that hint of annoyance, Bob thought a little happily.
“I don’t know. Wait, Shelia and I went to this fair a few months ago. There were people walking around in these animal costumes, you know, for the kids. But the monkey costume wasn’t just like a regular monkey.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, it was a girl monkey for one thing. And it, uh, she was wearing this kind of low-cut dress. I might’ve stared at her for a little while.”
“And did you feel guilty for doing that?”
“Guilty? For what?”
“For ogling another woman.”
“First of all, it was a monkey, not a woman and later on I saw the person who was in there when they took the head off and it was some sweaty old guy. That actually made me feel kind of sick.”
“Tell me about the dream,” the doctor said after a moment.
“You just won’t give up, will you?” Bob lied down and took a deep breath. “Okay, here it is: I’m in bed sleeping or kind of sleeping. I hear all this noise from downstairs. And I know what going on. Even though I’m not down there, I can see it.”
“Monkeys, tons of them, are ransacking the house. They’re big and really ugly and they’re screeching, it’s just a horrible sound. And their mouths don’t look right; they’re just too wide, too many teeth, and a grayish liquid is dripping out of them. They’re destroying the house, breaking the furniture, ripping apart the floors; they’re clawing and tripping over each other, looking for something.”
“What do you think they’re looking for?” the doctor asked.
“I know what they’re looking for: bananas.”
Bob nodded. “That’s what they’re after. I don’t really like bananas so we don’t usual have any in the house so of course they’re not finding any.”
“What happens then?”
“I hear them coming up the stairs and just like they did downstairs, they start tearing apart every room. All of a sudden it gets really quiet and I think maybe they’re gone, maybe they’ve given up. Then the bedroom door bursts open and in they come, now maybe there’s a hundred or more. I’m under the covers but I can feel them all around me. Suddenly the covers get ripped off of me and for the first time I realize I’m in kind of a sleeping bag, a yellow, sticky sleeping bag. But it’s not a sleeping bag, it’s a banana peel. I’m the banana! A second later the monkeys are on me. That’s when I wake up. So, what do you think, doc?”
The doctor didn’t respond.
“Well, I’ll tell you. But first, do you have a banana?”
Bob chuckled. “Very funny. Facetious, right?”
Bob turned to look at him. The doctor had a peculiar expression on his face. And his hair suddenly seemed longer and shaggier. Were his ears always so big?
“Where’s my banana, Bob?” he asked in a near growl.
He opened his mouth to reveal several gleaming, pointy teeth. Just as he leapt, Bob screamed.
“Jeez, Bob, again?”
Bob opened his eyes. He was sweating and breathing hard. His wife, Shelia, her hair wrapped up in large, pink curlers, was leaning over him.
She frowned and lied back down. “I keep telling you, you need to see someone about those dreams,” she mumbled, drifting back to sleep.
“Maybe your right,” Bob said softly, closing his eyes again. “Maybe you’re right.”
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Portland Fiction Project
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