Monkeys Can't Play Hockey
1998 Steve Eastland
For anyone who reads and enjoys this story.
I grow increasingly weary of making up long disclaimers for my stories, so this one will be short. This is a work of fiction. It is not intended as a representative of some strange cult I've joined or founded. If it was, I'd be an ever better liar than I already am, and I really shouldn't lie at all. Speaking of lying, yesterday I was doing some lying down when I fell asleep. I didn't say it was an interesting story. Anyhow, if you are reading and start to slip into an unavoidable state of something or other, I take no responsibility for your actions. It was probably something you ate or were eaten by, in which case you probably shouldn't be reading this anyway. You should be one of two things: in pain or in heaven. If not, then, well, cry me a river, okay? I'm just trying to get this intro done. Which brings me to my point: Sometimes I get bored, and I take it out on people like you, just like this. How do you feel, knowing you're the recipient of the twisted workings of my mind? I'm grinning really evilly now just thinking about it. There, I'm done. That wasn't so bad, was it? Hey! It was shorter than you, okay?
It was a pretty nice day. Scattered clouds gave the azure sky a decidedly peaceful look. It was just the sort of day on which to start a story, so it's probably just dumb luck that the story actually begins on the next day, when dark clouds filled the sky and rain poured down in torrents.
The fact that it was raining forced Bandy the Turtle and Yugo the Monkey to stay inside, plotting against the weatherman on TV, and discussing what they would do if they ever got their hands around his scrawny neck.1 They'd planned such a fun day, but the weatherman had to predict beautiful sunny weather, so of course it rained. Eventually their raving subsided and they settled down for a nice little chit chat.
It's surprising what can get revealed in an innocent chit chat. Bandy ended up telling Yugo that the Helicopter Incident was really her fault. And for some inexplicable reason, Yugo revealed that his name was not, in fact, Yugo.
"It's really Grass Monkey," Yugo said. "I don't know why I have lived a lie for so long. I feel like a weatherman."
Which response of course brought back the heated feelings for the weatherman, and weathermen in general, and how they were the lowest of scum, worse even than Wendy's Corporate. Which of course reminded Bandy that she still worked at the local Wendy's. Luckily Grass had gotten out of that before he became too deeply mired in the awful intrigue of international business.
As the conversation wound down, Bandy left for home. She had to be at the Wendy's early the next morning. Grass laughed as he shut the door behind her. He couldn't help but laugh at anyone affiliated with the Wendy's. He couldn't help thinking, though, that they did have a mean grilled chicken sandwich.
As Grass Monkey lay in bed staring at the ceiling, he wondered about life. What was the meaning? He drifted off without coming up with a satisfactory answer. That night he dreamed of hockey, prophetically.
The next day after class Grass stopped by the Wendy's to check out the changes wrought by the evil Wendy's Corporate. The events which followed would change something inside him forever. As he walked in, gasps of astonishment seemed to come from everywhere at once:
"Gasp! It's Yugo!"
and so on and so forth. Then utter silence filled the room. Could it be, the people wondered, that Grass would re-enter the Wendy's scene, after staying away so long?
Not a snowball's chance in you-know-where, although rumor has it that with proper protection a snowball can be quite resilient.
After saying hello to all his friends and announcing to one and all that he now went by Grass Monkey instead of Yugo, Grass made a brave decision. He ordered something to eat. He was hungry, after all, and this was the closest available source of food.
"I'd like a chicken sandwich with cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce, mustard only, in a combo, Biggie sized, with a Sprite. And one of those game piece thingies you're advertising up there, please."
The crew was struck dumb. Or rather, they thought Grass Monkey was dumb, because of course they didn't have cheddar cheese anymore. The Wendy's was too cheap to keep that up for more than a month. Grass should know that, they thought. Still he was Grass Monkey, so they just smiled away his ignorance. Upon the reception of his meal, Grass retired to his customary corner table and proceeded to eat. All present kept a careful, sort of half an eye on him for the duration of his meal. After all, he was Grass Monkey, and widely respected as a master order taker, even if he had quit. After a lengthy consumption of food, Grass returned to the front counter.
"I wish to claim my prize," he stated. Bandy took his game piece, eyes widening at an alarming rate as she saw that Grass had won every possible prize there was, all on one game piece thingy.
"I'm afraid you have to send this in via registered mail only, O great Grass Monkey, my friend and rehab partner extraordinaire. See, it says so on the back."
Unfortunately, those were the last words Grass heard Bandy speak. After pronouncing justice she keeled over rather noisily and simply winked out of existence. Grass proclaimed a moment of silence, in fond remembrance of past times: the Grandiose Yearly Pool Tournament, the grueling search for Bandy's Ariel band-aid, and those moonlit dances, Grass stomping the Chunky Monkey and Bandy doing whatever that cool dance was. Alas that it was only a moment, for the hockey was nigh at hand.
Rather abruptly someone coughed behind him and muttered rather rudely that someone was holding up the line. Embarrassed, Grass ducked his head and tried not to jostle anyone on his way to the nearest mailbox. Dropping his winning game piece in, he returned home and set about waiting.
Luckily, the wait wasn't too long. Within a relatively short time he was greatly rewarded. A new car showed up in his driveway, some old guy dropped off a huge check, and of course there was the hockey stuff. Moments after trying on the new gear, Grass was spotted by a pro hockey scout who just happened to be passing through the neighborhood on his way to visit his sick grandmother. Upon spotting the infamous Grass Monkey in a hockey outfit, he immediately abandoned all thought of his aged grandmother and placed a call to the team manager. "It's Yugo the Monkey," he exclaimed, "with hockey stuff!"
"Actually, my name is Grass Monkey now, kind sir," Grass called from his front porch.
And so it came to pass that Grass Monkey was drafted.
At his first game, Grass played horribly. He also played horribly at his second and third games. And at every game, for that matter. But he was The Monkey With Hockey Stuff, so the coach kept putting him in. His team had the worst record in the league by the end of the season, yet people just couldn't get enough of Grass, because he was Grass Monkey, and he had hockey stuff.
Eventually everyone caught on that Grass Monkey was really just A Monkey With Hockey Stuff and not The Monkey With Hockey Stuff, and not just because Grass kept yelling it at the TV cameras every time they focused on him. You see, hockey fans are a sharp bunch, yes sir. They petitioned for his removal from the league. After an agonizing review by whoever reviews that sort of thing, Grass was kicked out, and those who had to watch Bad Hockey--they said it like there was another kind--rejoiced, and offered up many thanks to whomever happened to be in the general area.
As Grass exited the stadium for the final time, he reflected that he didn't actually like hockey. That's why he kept shouting at the TV cameras. The only good thing he'd ever heard related to hockey was a cool story about drunken pirates shouting at the goalie that their dead grandmothers could eat more chicken than them, or something. Hey, they were drunk. And they weren't real pirates. Grass had only played because he won the stuff, and he figured he ought not to waste it. He was glad when they kicked him out of the league, because he liked Warcraft much better. He thought about all that life had to offer him. There were Slurpees, for one, and juggling. He figured that eventually he should find out just what it was that had happened to Bandy. Then again, what if she'd been captured by aliens and been forced to bend to their will and reveal the secrets of mankind? Grass didn't want to be involved in anything like that, and not only because people rarely believed you when you told them you'd been abducted by aliens and forced to serve them. Not that Bandy knew any great secrets of mankind, she being a turtle, but turtles have that knowing look about them and are pretty good liars once they've figured out exactly what it is they think you want to hear.2 At any rate, Grass wasn't going to be playing any more hockey for a good while. He just had to figure out what to do instead. As he walked away, thoughts of the future filled his head, and he composed a little poem:
They let me keep my hockey stuff
although I really suck.
Maybe I could sell this junk
and make a couple bucks.
1. Fluffy wasn't involved because she and Yugo had discovered that they had what the more astute of people call "differences."
2. They're kind of sneaky that way. In fact, Bandy had not been captured by an alien vessel, but merely transferred to yet another Wendy's locale. The keeling over bit was Wendy's Corporate's method of cutting relocation costs.