Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Stacks III

Silently, Gonga stood to his feet, listening as the hoodlum crept down the aisle between the books. He was on the third floor of the stacks, in the inner part of the library surrounded by cages. He knew he had heard that sound before; the sound of the safety on a Ruger clicking off.

Gonga crept along the stack of books, tracking the sound of footsteps.

“Hey pal,” he heard someone say, “know where I can take out a loan?”

The voice sounded friendly enough.

“What?” a sleepy sounding voice responded. A sharp intake of breath followed.

“Yeah dude, I really need to get another student loan. Something came up, and I need some cash,” the friendly voice continued. “Got any idea who I can talk to? Maybe you can help me.”

Gonga slid down to the floor and poked his head around the base of the stack, knowing that people would be less likely to look to the floor to catch someone spying on them.

A figure stood silhouetted from the neck down against the light of the cage. The plastic shower curtain on this cage was folded back just far enough to leave his head in complete shadow.

“I-I don’t know,” the grad student stammered.

“Oh, you can help me,” the figure said, “I know you can.” He spoke confidently.

Gonga noticed his elbow twitch slightly as he gestured with his outstretched arm.

“O-okay,” the student reached toward his backpack.

“No rush,” the figure added.

Gonga stood to his feet quickly. This had to stop. In two quick steps he was around the stack of books and flying through the air towards the attacker’s knees. The silhouette went down like a rag doll under the onslaught of 200 pounds of gorilla.

In a second, he had halfway twisted around, but Gonga’s fist connected with his jaw, knocking him unconscious. The gun clattered to the floor. It failed to fire.
Gonga swept the gun into his hand and clicked the safety on.

The student sat frozen, his hand halfway into his backpack.

“Do you have a phone?” Gonga asked. He shoved the pistol into an unoccupied locked cage two doors down. “Call the police.”

With that, he turned and slipped out of the library.

There. Mission accomplished! He smiled to himself.

Now maybe he could think about Spring Break.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Stacks Part II

What was the mission anyway? Why was he here?

The thought had begun troubling him again even as he wore his gorilla costume and assumed the personality of Gonga. He knew he had received training specifically to accomplish the goal he had been sent to Columbia, Missouri to achieve. But after playing the part of Gonga for so long, he sometimes had trouble differentiating himself from the gorilla who spent his days advertising for a bookstore and whose family was in Africa.

The mission had seemed so clear when he was back in training. Protect people. Keep the world safe. Thwart the evil forces. It almost sounded like something a superhero would try to do. And back in training he had felt like a superhero.

But now…

He hunched over a little more, remembering that he was supposed to look like a gorilla. A gorilla in the middle of the library stacks, watching a National Geographic documentary of Congo. He snickered. It was all so surreal sometimes.

The door on the other side of the library stack opened and shut. Another weary studier shuffled into the room. Something metal snicked.

The hair on the back of Gonga’s neck stood up straight. The last time he had heard that sound was as he snapped the safety off on his Ruger handgun.

All his instinct snapped into high gear as he stared at his computer screen, clicking the mute button on his headphones and willing himself to see what was going on behind him through sheer sound.

Nothing moved.

Absolute silence.

Gonga leaned back in his chair, letting it squeak loudly as he stretched and yawned.
Beneath the sound of his own movements, he heard the rewarding sound of steps sidling away down one of the aisles between the shelves of books.

~To be continued.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Stacks

The sun bit into the edge of the African plain, trying to burn a hole through the dust with the fury of its glow. The very effort seemed to make the sun grow larger before finally disappearing into the ground in rage.

All nature paused to consider the outcome of the nightly contest. Somewhere in the distance a hyena laughed when the last orange rays disappeared into the darkness.

Gonga shifted in the creaky metal chair and reached forward to adjust the sound coming out of his lap-top. The glow from the screen lit up his face in the semi-darkness of the library stacks. His chair squeaked again as he settled back.

Something hit the ground across the room from him. Someone swore, and the plastic shower curtain fluttered as the prisoner bent down to retrieve his book. The door of his metal cage clanked softly.

Only the most desperate of graduate students rented out these chain link shielded prisons. Things the librarians euphemistically called “carrels.”

Carols? Wasn’t that something happy you sang at Christmas time? How in the world did these rooms of torture, these chambers of brain masochism become mixed up with jolly songs of “ho-ho-ho”, presents and hot cocoa? Perhaps the idea of the ruler of the world coming to join the rank of humanity as a tiny baby in one of the lowliest families on earth had something to do with it. Surely those who imposed the strict isolation of the carol on their studies had similar ideas of long term benefit.

At any rate, Gonga was here as well; but without the benefit of a chain link gate or shower curtain to shut out the sight of his fellow isolationists. Instead, he used this quiet chamber on campus to allow him to travel. To revisit his child-hood’s favorite vacation spots and hear the sounds of home.

Even the laugh of the hyena that night had been comforting. It was true that Missouri had coyotes, which were similar in size to their African cousins. But they lacked any ounce of jollity in their howling. It usually degenerated into a crazed mass of yipping which had no comparison to the hilarity of Africa.

Gonga sighed, peering deeply into the screen of his lap top, willing himself to be home for once, surrounded by the crazy mass of family, relatives and friends-who-deemed-themselves-related. It had been months since he had experienced the joy of close companionship. And even the mission had begun to lose its appeal.

What was the mission anyway? Why was he here?

Monday, March 7, 2011

If You Give A Gorilla A Banana

If you give a gorilla a banana, he will snarf it down in three bites. Unless of course, that gorilla happens to be Gonga. If you give Gonga a banana, he will want a ‘Nilla Wafer to go with it. As he’s thinking about where to find a ‘Nilla Wafer, he will carefully peel away the skin and look around for a trash can.

While he’s looking for the trash can, he will realize that his trash at home is overflowing and will want to go home to change it. On his way home, he’ll see a person riding a skateboard.

Naturally, he’ll want to try riding on the skateboard himself.

When he offers his banana as a trade for a skateboard rider, the rider will laugh at him and race away as fast as possible. Skateboard-riding teenagers do not eat bananas or anything else resembling health food. At least, not in public.
Feeling the sting of rejection, Gonga will look at his banana contemplatively, wondering what can be done to improve it. Which is when he will remember that the only true complement to a banana is a ‘Nilla Wafer.
So Gonga will head towards home once more, intent once more on finding his ‘Nilla Wafers.

When he gets home and finishes pulling every single box out of his cabinet, he will discover that his box of ‘Nilla Wafers is empty. After turning the plastic inside-out and licking every last crumb, he will regretfully drop the cardboard box into his trash bag. At which point he will see that his trash is overflowing.

Gonga will carry his trash out to the dumpster, still clinging to his banana in with one hand. But in his herculean throw to get the trash bag on top of the dumpster heap, he will drop his banana among the refuse. In his haste to find his banana, he will stumble backwards and squash the banana firmly into the ground.

And if he squashes his banana, he will have to find some sort of replacement.

The store across the street sells icecream, so he walks in, hopefully.

“Do you want a Sundae?” the owner will ask, seeing as he is a gorilla.

A smile spreads across Gonga’s face as he takes the banana bathes in chocolate sauce and smothered in icecream. But of course, he’ll still want a ‘Nilla Wafer to go with it.