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Monkey Business part 2
Once they had safely returned to the Odesseiron Mansion Dekaras handed Edwin the cage containing the monkey.
"Enjoy", he said. "Since your father was kind enough to grant me a free day there will be no official lessons tomorrow. I suggest you make the most of the day."
"But what will you do?", Edwin asked.
"I", Dekaras said, "intend to retire to my room. Once there I will partake of a highly efficient sleeping potion, and I will not be bothered, for any reason. I have been working hard as of late, and I need my rest. I would be most displeased if I were disturbed. Am I making myself perfectly clear?"
"Good. Now go play with your monkey."
Edwin dragged the cage into his room and carefully opened the door. Blackjack huddled inside, watching him suspiciously.
"Come on", Edwin said. "It's all right. I won't hurt you." Still the monkey didn't move. Edwin reached inside the cage.
Galen Odesseiron's violin playing penetrated the mansion once again like the cry of a tormented banshee. Edwin suddenly found himself on his back with scratches all over his face and a distressed monkey jumping up and down on his chest. Obviously Blackjack wasn't a music lover. Or maybe that was exactly what he was. Edwin barely had time to finish the thought before the monkey leapt off him and onto a table. That wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for the fact that Edwin had left his homework on that table earlier.
"Blackjack, no! Edwin screamed. "Don't touch that!" The monkey grinned. Seconds later the room looked like a snowstorm had passed through it. Small bits of paper floated in the air like confetti and Blackjack licked his lips after swallowing what had previously been a report on the properties of pixie powder. The monkey burped and gave the stunned boy an evil grin.
"You - you stupid monkey!", Edwin yelled. "Look what you've done! That took me hours to write." And now he would have to do it all over again, unless he fancied telling his teacher that the monkey ate his homework. Somehow he doubted that would count as a valid excuse. Where his tutor was concerned he doubted getting killed, burned and dismembered would count as a valid excuse for not handing in his assignment on time.
"All right", Edwin said, trying to sound calm. "I guess you don't like Father's playing. I'll ask him to take a break, how's that?" Blackjack made a rude noise. "And if you're nice, I'll bring you some bananas." The monkey rubbed its belly with a wide grin. "Fine", Edwin said. "Just stay there, then. Nice monkey. Good monkey." He ran out of the room, slamming the door behind him. The angry hoots and hisses of the monkey followed him on his way downstairs; a disharmonious counterpoint to his father's playing.
It occurred to Edwin that perhaps he had bitten off a bit more than he could chew this time. Blackjack had seemed a lot cuter while he was still inside his cage. There was nothing to be done about it though, unless he wanted to admit his mistake. And Edwin thought to himself that he'd rather swallow a live snake than give his teacher that satisfaction.
"I'll show him", he muttered to himself. "I'll show 'em all. I'm old enough, I can fix this."
Edwin opened the door to the ballroom and peered inside. His father was still there, still producing what only a very charitable person would be able to call music. Edwin silently crossed the floor, trying to imitate his teacher's soundless way of walking. His father seemed not to be aware of his presence. Still, that could have had something to do with the violin. Edwin reached up a hand and yanked on his father's sleeve.
"What! What?" Galen Odesserion twisted around, accidentally hit Edwin on the head with the violin and bowled him over. "Edwin? What in the name of all magic do you think you're doing, creeping around like that?"
"I - I just "
"Now, see here, Edwin. I happen to be very busy. What did you want?"
Edwin rubbed his forehead. There was going to be a bruise, he just knew it. "It's about my pet, Father", he said, trying his best not to sniffle. That violin had hurt.
"What pet? Oh, yes. Dekaras bought you one, did he?"
"Yes, Father. Only, I don't think he likes your playing very much."
"I know he doesn't. He already said so. Really, I didn't think he'd stoop to sending my own son to tell me that. He's usually more subtle."
It took Edwin a moment to work his way through that. Then he felt the slow heat of rising anger. "I meant my monkey", he said. "Your music scares him. And - and I don't like it either! Nobody does. It stinks!"
With that Edwin ran out, hurrying lest his father see how upset he was. His father hadn't even asked him if he'd been hurt.
He doesn't care about anybody but himself, Edwin thought angrily. I hate him! He hastily amended that last thought. He didn't really hate his father. But why couldn't he be as important to his father as that stupid old violin apparently was? Was he so bad then? He didn't think he was. He tried to be good. Well, most of the time. At least some of the time. But his father never seemed to notice. Not like his teacher did. Dekaras noticed everything, but right now he seemed to be extremely angry with Edwin and probably didn't care one way or the other. And he'd thought that the monkey would like him, be his friend, but it didn't seem to care for him either. Well, that could still happen. He hadn't fed it yet, after all.
A short while later Edwin carefully opened the door to his room and carried a big bunch of ripe bananas inside. "Blackjack?", he called out. "Here, monkey, monkey, monkey. I've got some nice bananas for you." Silence. Ominous silence. Edwin took another step inside the room. Blackjack obviously had been busy. By now the place looked like even more of a mess than before. Broken toys were everywhere. Even the rocking horse that he had got for his latest birthday had had its entire mane and tail torn out. Clothes lay scattered all over the floor along with the sad remains of Edwin's homework.
"Blackjack? Edwin said again. "You there? Here, have a banana will you, you stupid monkey?"
The Thayvian Ghostmonkey is famous for the way it leaps between the treetops, not to mention the way the young males will drop from a great height to pounce on a rival. Blackjack had no such height at his disposal, but the clothes cabinet was at least adequate. He fell upon Edwin like a screeching Pit Fiend, pawing and biting. Moments later the animal had set up camp in the middle of Edwin's bed and showed no sign of wanting to leave. Banana peels were already adding to the terrible state of the room, giving it that special garbage heap atmosphere. Even worse, the monkey chose that particular moment to relieve himself on Edwin's pillow, and the rapid consumption of three bananas had done nothing for his digestion.
"You stupid monkey! Edwin yelled and clutched his bleeding cheek. "I just wanted to be your friend." Blackjack rolled his eyes and stuffed another banana into his mouth. That did it as far as Edwin was concerned. The monkey would have to go. Only, he didn't think he could handle it himself. The little beast had a really nasty bite. His Mother wasn't home. His Father was in a world of his own. That left his teacher, whom he had managed to insult into a quiet rage earlier and who by now was probably fast asleep. So he would have to choose between braving Dekaras' wrath and sharing his room with an evil, homework-devouring monkey. Edwin sighed and slipped under the bed. Possibly he would be able to get some sleep after all, and dustbunnies were pleasant company compared to Dekaras at his worst.
The sun had barely risen the next morning before Edwin slipped out of his devastated room. Blackjack was still snoring loudly on the bed, surrounded by banana peels. And now Edwin stood before the closed door to his tutor's chambers. It shouldn't be possible for a mere door to be that forbidding, but somehow it seemed to be sneering at the trembling boy before it. He didn't want to do this. He really didn't. But he had to if he was ever going to get rid of the monkey. And it wasn't as if Dekaras was going to kill him. Probably.
Edwin squeezed his eyes shut and knocked on the door. There was no reply. He knocked again, a little harder. Still nothing.
"Teacher Dekaras? Edwin hissed. "Are you there?" He tried to peek through the keyhole, seeing only darkness inside. Then the door was suddenly yanked open and Edwin tumbled unceremoniously inside to land in a heap on the floor.
"I thought I told you", Dekaras voice said from somewhere high above, "not to bother me. Which part of this did you find particularly difficult to understand? Please let me know. This poor servant has nothing better to do than to repeat himself, after all." He pulled the boy to his feet, then caught sight of Edwin's general appearance. Dekaras' facial expression didn't change, but his eyes narrowed dangerously at the sight of the cuts, the scrapes, the large purple bruise and the torn and dusty clothes.
"Who did this? he asked, his voice flat. Edwin explained, and as he did he could see his tutor's hands twitch as if he was reaching for somebody's neck. The fact that Dekaras was wearing slippers and a tattered old grey robe instead of his customary black apparel did nothing to detract from his usual aura of menace.
"So - so I thought that since you said you disp-dispose of awkward comm-comm-thingies", Edwin said, "that maybe " His voice trailed of uncertainly at the incredulous look in his teacher's eyes.
"Are you asking me", Dekaras said, "to 'dispose' of your pet monkey?"
"Well - yes", Edwin said. "I - I'll pay you, if you want. Please, I have to get rid of him, and I don't think Father will let me take him back to the shop. You know how he is. Please!" Edwin momentarily considered using the puppy eyes, but then thought better of it. Somehow he had a feeling his teacher wouldn't be amused.
"So you will pay me", Dekaras said. "To dispose of a monkey. Well, well." He gave a short bark of a laugh. "Isn't that a novel way of putting things. Takes me back a few years it does. Oh, don't look at me like that, boy. I won't bite. In fact, I think I'll do as you ask."
"You will? You will! Oh, thank you! Er, you won't hurt Blackjack too badly? I don't want that."
"Don't worry, boy." Dekaras grinned wolfishly. "I never hurt anyone unintentionally. Speaking of which, we really should get you cleaned up after your father's and your pet's little mishaps. Sit down."
"I said. Sit. Down."
Edwin hastily sat down on a couch. The shades were drawn and the room dark except for a single candle, so he couldn't see much. There was a door at the far end of the room, that presumably led to the bedroom. From what he could see this outer chamber served as a study. There was a desk near the window, covered with papers. Edwin morosely wondered whether his latest test was among them. A bookshelf was covered with heavy tomes and there was a large oaken cabinet. This Dekaras opened, and Edwin caught a glimpse of rows upon rows of potion bottles of different shapes and sizes. Dekaras picked one, then turned back to his pupil.
"Now hold still", he said. "This is going to sting a bit."
It did. Edwin forced himself to sit still, but it still burned, and he couldn't quite stifle a whimper. Afterwards though, the cuts no longer hurt, and even the bruise had faded.
Dekaras nodded approvingly. "Much better", he said. "Now let's go get that monkey. And then I think I shall have another word with your father about that violin of his."
As it turned out, Blackjack was nowhere to be found. Much to his chagrin Edwin realised that he hadn't closed the door all the way, and the monkey had taken this opportunity to sneak out. Dekaras studied the remains of what had previously been a beautiful room, the slight twitch of one eyebrow the only hint that the magnitude of the devastation surprised him in any way. "Interesting", he said. "I've never known one of Mr Buggers' animals to behave this way, apart from the hamsters. Otherwise they are usually well trained." He paused, tapping his lower lip with his index finger. "Yes", he said to himself. "Yes, that would fit. I can hardly believe he would have the nerve to try to pull that under my very nose, but that is the only logical explanation."
"What is? Edwin asked.
"Observe and deduct, boy", Dekaras snapped. "Use that brain of yours. Now, come with me. We have no time to lose." With that the teacher picked up his pace, walking so fast that Edwin had to run to keep up. He had no idea what was going on, except that it probably wasn't anything good. Then they stopped, and Edwin realised that they were standing outside his mother's room. There was a slight, tinkling sound coming from inside and the door was halfway open. Dekaras motioned for Edwin to stay put, then slid towards the door like a stalking tiger. The tutor leapt inside the room, so quickly that he looked like a grey blur. Edwin could hear an angry hiss and something clattering to the floor.
"Got you! Dekaras cried out in triumph. Edwin carefully stuck his head inside the room. His tutor was holding Blackjack by the scruff of his neck, in such a way that the animal could neither claw nor bite. That wasn't what caused Edwin to gasp with surprise however. That reaction came from seeing that the monkey was wearing several of his mother's more valuable necklaces, along with her diamond and ruby rings. The animal had obviously gone through her jewellery box.
"Mr Buggers is a very clever man", Dekaras said in an almost loving voice as he put the jewellery back inside the box. "A thief with an original way of thinking. It seems he had managed to teach this monkey a few tricks after all."
"He taught Blackjack to steal? Edwin asked incredulously.
"Yes indeed. Not only that, he taught him to make a mess if he was placed in a room without valuables until he was either moved or given an opportunity to escape. Very clever. Not very wise to annoy me like this, but clever all the same. Do you still want to keep this monkey?"
Edwin made a face. "I never want to see another stupid monkey again in my life!", he said with heartfelt disgust.
"Good boy. And have you learnt your lessons?"
"But I had no lessons today", Edwin said. Then he caught sight of his teacher's frown. "Oh", he said. "Those lessons. Er, not to ignore good advice?"
"Yes. Carry on."
"Not to be rude to others."
"Not to be rude to you?" Brief nod. "I'm really sorry about that", Edwin said. "I didn't mean to say those things. I'm sorry, really I am." He flushed slightly and studied the tips of his shoes.
"That will do", Dekaras said, and there was a hint of a smile to his voice. "After all, the punishment has already been meted out, so to speak. And now, there is the matter of my payment."
"For disposing of this monkey. I do not work for free, you know."
"I don't have that much", Edwin said. "But I have my piggy-bank. I'll go get it."
"No, boy, not money. I want you to fetch me a certain item and then do exactly as I tell you."
Edwin gave his teacher a curious look, and then listened with rising glee as the plan was explained to him. This was going to be fun!
Galen Odesseiron rose early that morning, eager to resume his practise. He really thought he was getting the hang of this violin thing now; the servants certainly seemed to look awed whenever he saw them. Well, except for Dekaras, but he was such a dour fellow, always going on about this or that. Not inclined to let a fellow indulge in peace. Still, he supposed being an assassin wasn't likely to make a person very cheerful or carefree, as it were. Elvira had said she adored his music though. Pity she had been forced to go visit her mother that suddenly, but she had said she would look forward to hearing more when she got back. Galen put on his best robe and went inside the ballroom, whistling happily all the while. Moments later there was a scream of despair.
"My violin! Galen shouted. "It's gone! Somebody has stolen my violin, my darling. My Precious! Oh, woe, woe is me! I shall pine away and die without my Precious." He paused to catch his breath. "Dekaras! he yelled. "Help!"
"Master? Dekaras inquired politely into the woebegone wizard's right ear.
Galen almost screamed again but managed to choke it off into a strangled wheeze. "Must you do that?" he asked. "I'm upset enough as it is." He turned around to see the assassin give him an inquiring look. Dekaras was perfectly calm as usual, his black clothes spotless, his hands relaxed behind his back.
"What seems to be the problem, Master?", he asked.
"It's my violin", Galen Odesseiron almost sobbed. "My darling. My Precious. It's been stolen. How could you let this happen to me! You're supposed to keep these things from happening!"
"Yes, Master", Dekaras said. "And I do try. Regrettably however, even I need to sleep sometimes, as I am certain I have remarked before. I did however manage to catch the culprit before he could escape."
"You did? How Who was it?"
Dekaras made a short beckoning gesture with one hand and Edwin stepped inside the room, dragging an unconscious monkey by the tail.
"I'm sorry, Father", the boy said in a tremulous voice. "I had no idea he'd do a thing like that. Honestly."
"A sad affair, Master", Dekaras said. "I fear I must blame myself for trusting in Mr Buggers the pet-salesman."
"No, Father, it was my fault", Edwin said. "I wanted the monkey, I kept nagging. But how was I supposed to know that he'd been trained to rob his new owner's house of its valuables and then return to his trainer?"
"What a dastardly plan! Galen Odesseiron exclaimed. "So the little beast stole my violin, eh? Yes, it would be the most valuable thing in the house, wouldn't it? But where is it?"
Dekaras cleared his throat. "Sadly, Master, the instrument could not be saved", he said. He then removed his hands from behind his back to display the pitiful heap of wood that had once been a priceless violin.
Galen turned green in the face and his eyes bulged. "My Precious! he sobbed. "My Precious! What was the name of the thief again? Buggers? Dekaras, I want you to get Buggers for me. Any way you want. I hate him. I'll hate him forever for doing this to my Precious."
"Yes, Master. May I be bold enough to make a suggestion?"
"There is also the matter of the monkey to be considered. Young Master Edwin no longer wishes to keep him. On the other hand, I met Rory Ravonar the other day."
"Rory the Roarer? Galen spat. "The big, fat toothless lion? Is he still trying to lure you into his employment?"
"Well, I won't have it! I'll double your pay!"
Dekaras carefully studied his fingernails.
"I'll triple it! And your bonuses."
"Thank you, Master", Dekaras said. "Very kind of you. I did turn the Roarer down, as a matter of fact. And in doing so I learnt that he is very interested in acquiring a pet for his daughter Zabina."
Three pairs of eyes swivelled around to watch the unconscious Blackjack.
"Given your past differences", Dekaras said, "a peace offering may be well recieved."
"Dekaras, old boy", Galen said with a big smile. "You are a genius."
"Nice of you to say so, Master. I'll tell Ravonar that you are allergic to monkeys, shall I? That would explain why you would want to get rid of it. Of course, it may be that he gets a bit more than he bargained for, but such is the way of life. It may also be that Rory Ravonar will become a trifle unhappy with Mr Buggers in the near future. He always has had a hot temper. Indeed I fear for the safety of that poor, unfortunate halfling should his monkey manage to upset the Roarer."
Galen Odesseiron's smile now closely resembled that of a hungry shark. "Listen very closely to your teacher, Edwin", he said. "Listen and learn."
"Yes, Father", Edwin said and gave the destroyed violin
a pleased look. The sound of it breaking across the head of the evil monkey
had been extremely satisfying. "I always do."
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Last modified on February 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003 by Laufey. All rights reserved.