Grim News 

Monday, February 07, 2005

As longtime readers of Maktaaq remember, I used to work for a lightbulb company.

Along with an infinite number of monkeys, I would sit at my computer in the quality control department, typing manuscripts, trying to come up with Hamlet. When one of us succeeded by even a word in the right direction, the lightbulb affixed to our computers would light up. Then we removed the lightbulb, sent it to the packaging department and began testing procedure again.

So, a few months ago I quit the rat race, or better said, the monkey race, and settled down to the more sedate job of wrangling ghosts in the haunted museum.

Last night, which was a dark and stormy night, there was a knock at my door. As lightning split across the sky, I opened the door to behold a finite number of my former colleagues.

"Archibald! Samson! Ezekiel! What are you doing here?"

We all hugged and I invited them in from the cold outside for a glass of brandy by the fireplace.

Once we sank into the armchairs and I refilled their glasses, I rested my chin on my hands and asked how things were at the lightbulb factory. I wondered how the elephants were doing and if the flying poison arrow piranhas were the big seller we thought they'd be.

The monkeys cast sidelong glances at each other.

Ezekiel answered.

"Management decided to upgrade the system."

I flashed a risus sardonicus. "That's good news, right?"

"Maktaaq," said Archibald softly, "They want us to type out East of Eden now."

I shrieked. Dropped my glass. The brandy seeped rapidly into the polar bear skin rug at my feet, leaving a stain in the fur...just as lightning ripped the sky in half.

"We're Renaissance monkeys, dammit!" cried Samson.

My mouth open, I looked from monkey to monkey, hoping they would tell me it was all a joke.

Archibald continued, "They want us to type East of Eden no matter how long it takes. No one, not even the capuchins, have a clue as to what it's about."

"At least if one of us had read it or if we had access to Cliff's Notes or even the Hollywood version. But no one has read it. It's over six hundred pages."

Shaking my head, I muttered that the Workers' Compensation Board might have something to say about that.

"No," said Samson ominously, "Management has forbidden contact with government agencies."

"Something has to be done!" I raised my fist defiantly. Thunder roared outside and the chandelier crystals quivered.

Samson's knuckles turned white around his brandy glass until shards exploded out.

His hand bled.

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