Tuesday, February 22, 2005

This is from a collection I'm working on, featuring animals and (surprise) food. I was thinking of calling it "Animals and Cannibals," but I decided on "Hotdogs at Monkey Beach."

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Monkey Beach

The monkey and I decide to take the subway to the beach. We start to take the A train to Far Rockaway, but there's construction at 59th Street, so we switch to the D to Coney Island. Just as we're entering Brooklyn the train stops in the tunnel. Lights flick on and off. The monkey gets restless, shits his pants. People move away in concentric circles of dismay. The train hums, shudders and goes still. The conductor gets on the loudspeaker, asks Ralph to give him a hand. No one moves but the monkey. He grabs a pole, sways back and forth, his wet trousers hanging low.

Ralph does not not appear. The conductor asks for him again, repeats himself twice, sounds angry. We look among ourselves for Ralph. No one admits to it. The train hums, then goes silent. The monkey sits on the floor. He whispers to me that the beach isn't so nice.

People are trying to pry open the doors, using fingernails, umbrellas. In their efforts they shout and laugh. No one can open a door. The men and women fall silent again and look at the floor. A man in the back plays with the ringtones on his cell. The conductor calls for Ralph. The monkey asks if the beach is always this way. I say no, sometimes it rains.

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