Story: Monty Escapes from the Zoo – PART 3

PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5

The guard walked by with the flashlight, carelessly looking around, not really expecting to find anything or anyone unexpected. Monty was hidden in a sack which should have contained ipods. Having cheekily emptied all the iPods into the ocean for it, (monkeys don’t generally appreciate the kind of music we put on iPods) it had become his favourite hiding place. Far beyond the usual patrol of the guard, he did not seem to have any reason to worry. It was his fourth day on the boat, and every time he had heard the guard coming he had stopped rummaging through merchandise, exploring all the strange items which are transported on ships, and had hidden in the sack. The initial fear which he had felt at being caught had started to ease and now, instead of holding his breath shuddering, Monty struggled to suppress a yawn and quietly thrust his hand into another bag to see what it contained. He screamed out in pain. Something sharp had cut him, and yanking his hand out of the bag he found it with a nasty looking gash. But for now that was the least of his worries. The guard had heard his screech, and was coming through the piles of goods to find him.

Monty didn’t know what to do. He thought of staying where he was and hoping for the best, but he feared the guard would make a thorough exploration of the area where he’d heard the scream. So he climbed out of the sack and looked around hopelessly. Monty did not feel he could climb out of the area which for now concealed him; the guard would definitely see him. Agonising over his decision, Monty didn’t hear the creature come up from under him, through a small gap in the enclosure of sacks and containers where Monty was. For a second a strange sense of unease was upon him, a shiver went down his spine. Before he could even understand what had caused it, his tail had been yanked and he was dragged through the pile of goods. Then the merchandise gave way and he was falling through the air. Hitting the floor with a thump, Monty lost consciousness.

He awoke drowsily, opening his eyes slowly. It was dark in here, the only light coming from a very dim bulb and a window which looked out on the sea. Sitting up, he looked at his throbbing hand and found it had been bandaged expertly. He looked up and saw that he had fallen through a trapdoor, and was now in a small, seemingly unused room. Looking around he saw a teddy in the form of a monkey sitting on the floor, warming some soup in an old tin pan. Monty rubbed his eyes in amazement. He had never seen a teddy move before. He had seen children walking around with them in the zoo, and although the children had talked to them and sung to them and danced about with them, the teddies had never done anything to respond.

Monty bear looked around to see Monty the monkey staring at him. Giving a small smile, he emptied the contents of the pan into a bowl and handed it to Monty the monkey, who cautiously accepted. Gratefully sipping the contents, he nodded his head in thanks to Monty bear. Monty bear smiled and waved his hand as if to say, “That’s fine, anytime”. Then with the same, slightly sad smile, he turned away, and stared out through the small window into the vast ocean. Monty the monkey drained the rest of his soup and for a long while sat nervously, glancing on occasion at the teddy and wondering whether or not he should say anything, then deciding against it and looking around the room. But the bear made no signs of activity, sitting in the same position for ages; the only sign that he was still alive was the slow rise and fall of his chest. Finally Monty the monkey could stand it no longer and blurted out: “what are you?”

He hadn’t meant to be so abrupt, but Monty bear didn’t seem to mind. Turning his head slowly with the same sad look in his eyes he said: “I am you.” Monty the monkey didn’t know how to react this. Indeed he and the teddy looked very similar, but Monty was a monkey. He hadn’t been made in a workshop; he had been made the normal way, brought down from heaven by a stork and given to his parents. Shaking his head he opened his mouth again, this time choosing his words more carefully: “I beg your pardon, what are you? I’ve never seen a teddy talk before; I didn’t know you were living things. I just thought you were cuddly toys children like to play with. How did you come to life?”

Monty bear shook his head. He looked back out of the window, but this time his eyes were filled with a greater sadness, a pain. Monty the monkey had thought that the uneasy silence would return again, but then Monty bear opened his mouth, and told the monkey his story.

Monty Bear’s Story

“The girl who made me saw you in the zoo when she was younger. She thought you were beautiful, and funny and interesting, so she designed me after you. She loved me for a long time and I loved her. But she began to tire of me, and she felt embarrassed about me when her friends came round. They said she was a baby to still have a teddy. And so one day she bundled me in the attic with a load of her toys, and told me that when she was older and had children she would let me play with them. But then one day her dad came into the loft. “I’m fed up of all this old junk cluttering up the place” he announced angrily. Then picking up the bags of toys with me in it, he shoved us all into the back of his car and drove off to the charity shop. Only they didn’t want me. My fur had become very ruffled, and one of my ears had been chewed a bit by the cat, and so they said no child would want me. So my maker’s dad took me to the dump.” Here Monty paused for breath, and wiped a single tear away from his eye.

“I spent days on a landfill site trying to find some way out. It was huge, nothing but waste for miles. But finally I found my way to its edge, and there was a beautiful, limitless expansion of blue all around.” Here Monty paused again, as his heart filled again with the wondrous feeling which had consumed him when he had first seen the sea. “I built a small raft, and for days I drifted in the ocean. I felt so free and happy. The dolphins leapt over me in greeting, birds swooped down on me, and fish swam up to me. There was nothing but beauty all around.” Again Monty paused, and this time his eyes darkened as the next part of the story came to him.

“But then one day I saw a fin in the water. I thought it was a dolphin, and so I shouted out a greeting. But the next thing I knew I was struggling underwater as a shark dug his teeth into me.” Monty took a sip of his tea with his shaking hand. “Finally, after what seemed a lifetime of fear and pain, the shark realised I wasn’t edible and let me go. I was horribly injured, but I managed to make it back onto the raft. For the next few days I drifted, unable to heal the wounds which kept me in pain.” Monty ran his hands over the area his scars had been in the past. “But then one day I saw land, and with my last ounce of strength I made for it. Collapsing on the beach, I lay there for a few moments unable to move. Then a young boy in colourful, tattered clothes ran up to me, shouting in delight. I slowly moved round and asked him for help and he looked at me in wonder, just like you did when you first saw me.”

Monty bear smiled again at Monty the monkey. “But then he got his head together and ran back into his home. He came back with a needle and thread and carefully stitched me up. When I was back to normal, he laid me out in the warm sun to dry, coming back to check on me and talk to me all the time. He told me about his school, about how he had ridden out to sea in his dad’s fishing boat, about all the adventures he’d got up to with his friends. He told me he would always look after me and that I would never have to be alone again.” Here Monty sighed, and once again turned his head to look at the gentle rise and fall of the waves outside. “But then his father came home. Happy after a good day at work, he asked the young boy if he wanted to take a trip on the boat out into the sea. The young boy took me with him, and together we went off in the boat.

As they stopped to gaze at the beautiful view, his father asked him where he had bought me. When the boy told him he had found me in the ocean, the father shook his head in concern. “You picked a teddy bear out of the sea? Do you know where it could have been? All the dirt it must have been through?” Shaking his head he said: “Ok come on, throw it back.” The boy shook his head vehemently. Exasperated the father exclaimed: “What’s the problem? Your grandmother has given you plenty of toys. Chuck it in.” Again the boy shook his head: “It’s a special teddy.” The father looked at his son and laughed in disbelief. How could the boy be getting so worked up about a teddy bear? Raising his hands in surrender, he said: “Fine. Right we better go home.” Taking a last look at the sun which was beginning to set, we headed back for shore.

But that night, as the boy fell asleep, I heard the father creep into his room where I lay, curled up in the boy’s arms. Gently prizing me out of his son’s hands, he took me out of the house, making sure not to make a sound. Then he headed for a large dustbin and dumped me in it.” Monty paused again, allowing the gentle rocking of the boat to calm the emotions which always threatened to consume him when he thought of this moment.

“For days I crept about the town, not sure where to go. Then finally I found the dock. The idea of being on a ship appealed to me. It would be easy to hide there from the humans who keep making such a mess of me. And so I got aboard and here I am. I’ve been here ever since.” Monty bear sighed and shook his head. “I’m sorry I don’t mean to depress you with my sorry story. I just see you there with all your hope and energy and desire to do things, and it makes me a bit jealous.” There was a pause as both teddy and monkey collected their thoughts. Then Monty bear said, shrugging as if it was of no great importance to him either way, “so I suppose you’re not staying? You’ll be getting off when we reach our destination?”

Monty the monkey nodded. “Yes . I want to go to the jungle. I think it’s where I belong.”

“Where you belong?” The teddy shook its head. “So you think you belong somewhere? Do you think we all belong somewhere?”

“I don’t know,” Monty the monkey replied. “I just want to see what it’s like living like a real monkey.”

“Yes” Monty bear replied, a hopeless longing coming into his eyes. “I see what you mean. I’d loved to be held and played with by a child who loved me again. That’s what being a real teddy is. But I do not want to be hurt again. I’ve been kicked to the curb to many times.”

Monty the monkey didn’t know what to say to this. So instead he walked over to Monty bear and put an arm around him. Monty bear smiled sadly at the monkey, and then they both turned to look out the window. In the horizon they could see a shoreline approaching. “Well,” Monty bear said, standing up. “I guess you’ll be going soon then. Need any supplies for your route? I think there are some bananas around here somewhere…” On he muttered, stumbling around the room, careful to avoid Monty the monkey’s eye. The monkey knew why Monty bear was behaving so. He was upset that he would soon be alone again, and feared that if he saw the compassion in the monkey’s eyes it would make him cry. “Why don’t you come with me?”

Monty bear looked at the monkey in surprise. “To the jungle?! I can’t go to the jungle. The panthers, gorillas and what not would rip me to threads in seconds!”

“No not to the jungle. Just off the boat. I’m sure there’ll be a child somewhere who’ll want to take you in. Look at you. You’re a beautiful teddy. You were made with me in mind after all.” The monkey smiled, and Monty bear couldn’t help but smile back. For a few seconds he pondered the monkey’s proposal and then shook his head. “No. Not yet. Perhaps another day.” He carried on packing a bag for Monty, and then sat again by the window, looking now at the lively dock. Although it was mainly made up of adults, workers and tradesmen, here and there he saw children, skipping along, holding their mum’s hand, or playing together. That longing to be cuddled welled up in him, but he suppressed it, unable to face being thrown in another dump. Here he was safe. Here he could not be harmed.

As the boat landed, Monty the monkey climbed back up through the trapdoor, waving a last farewell to the teddy bear which had saved him. Monty bear smiled and waved back, part of him hoping that the monkey would stay with him, and they could tell stories, and sing, and laugh together. But the monkey had a dream and would not, could not, give up on it. And so he disappeared into the piles of sacks, and containers, to climb to the top in search of the forest and freedom.

PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5