Monday, October 31, 2011

King Kong

Gonga was starting to think that running around on campus after midnight wasn’t such a bad idea this time of year. Any other time and he’d be the only non-human out and about. But it was only three days till Halloween, and apparently a lot of people felt the need to give their costumes a trial run.

A cat purred past him, walking on her hind legs. Gonga did a double-take. She was hand-in hand with a very large baby…with chest hair. He shuddered. Some people needed to take their costuming a little more seriously.

Why had Derrick dragged him out to go scare his professor tonight of all nights? There were so many other crazies running around campus, there’s no way the professor would look at the window unless he actually threw a rock through it and broke something.

A goulish-half dead figure drifted past on the opposite side of the road. Gonga hated those plastic head masks that made you look like a zombie out of a horror movie. They were just too realistic.

Pouding on the window of Derrick’s professor’s lab was about as disappointing as Gonga expected. The man didn’t turn a hair. He just kept going from one test tube to another, taking notes.

Derrick ribbed him, “Pound harder.”

Gonga pounded again, then Derrick started pounding and Gonga let out a full throated gorilla howl.

At least then the man looked towards them. But he only scowled and went on with his work.

“Well that was lame,” Derrick grunted.

Gonga shrugged and struck off across campus. No sense in hanging out here. And now that he was thoroughly awake, no sense in going back to bed.

He strolled towards Jessie Hall, enjoying the sliver of young moon hanging in the sky.

Wonder what Ann’s up to tonight, he thought. What was her real name again? Oh well. It didn’t matter. She was going to be Ann Darrow, and he was going to be King Kong for Halloween. That’s all that mattered.

He stood, staring up at Jessie hall. Then he got an idea.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Derrick was pounding at Gonga’s door again.

Gonga groaned. When would that kid ever leave him alone?

“Kid” may not have been the best term to apply to the strapping 6’ 4” mountain-climbing hobbyist standing outside his door at the moment. But it encompassed a certain amount of derision that Gonga felt was fitting.

It was as if they guy was still in college or something. Why in the world was he banging on his door at 1 AM this morning?

Gonga stumbled to the door and flung it open. “What do you want?”

“Good grief. What do you want me to do, call the police and file a ‘missing gorilla’ report? No one takes half an hour to answer their door.”

Gonga glowered at him.

Derrick shouldered his way past Gonga into the house. “And why didn’t you answer your phone?”

Gonga’s response stretched taunt as a frayed nerve. “I was sleeping.”

“With you phone off?” Derrick rolled his eyes. “Come on, you have to be accessible! The world needs a good gorilla like you at their beck and call.”

Gonga turned and stumbled towards his bed. “I’m going back to sleep.”

“Aw come on man,” Derrick’s hand caught his shoulder before he’d taken three steps. “I have something I need you to help me with.”

“What?” Gonga didn’t turn around.

“Remember my physics prof? The one who gave me a C-? He’s working late tonight. I saw him through the window in his lab. I need you to go bang on that window and howl.” Derrick paused. “Please?”

“You woke me up to go scare someone? Seriously?”

“Aw, come on,” Derrick pleaded. “It’s a Friday night anyway. You’re not supposed to be sleeping right now.”

Gonga closed his eyes. This had nothing to do with the mission he was struck trying to solve. Now even his best friend was coming up with the silliest excuses to get him out and about in the middle of the night. It was bad enough that he couldn’t sleep half the time anyway with all the puzzle pieces dancing through his brain. Now this.

“Fine. But you owe a dozen banana splits for this one.”

Derrick grinned. “No problem, buddy. Come on!”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Worst Homecoming Ever

It was homecoming.

Gonga growled to himself. Better call it “Leave-taking of your senses.”

This was the last thing he wanted to deal with this weekend. Apparently it was extra worse because it was an extra “special” homecoming since it was number 100. If they would only change things to a binary number system for a week, then it wouldn’t be so special. Then maybe people would leave him alone.

No chance of that.

Of course, he could just try to avoid the football stadium…and anywhere within a five mile radius. The roads were packs, the coffee shops were packed, and the streets and sidewalks were packed. Why oh why did he have to be here today!?!

He glowered behind his mask.

Smoke from the thousands of tail-gate grills drifted into his face and his eyes started to water.

True, the energy was awesome to watch. So many people packed into such a tiny space, and all ready to scream at the top of their lungs if you shouted the right combination of letters.

Gonga twirled the tiger tail attached to his gorilla costume and shouted “M-I-Z.” The result was deafening.

So what if he could predict things? So what if he got exactly the reaction he expected? He still hated being at the game.

But The Textbook Game wanted him there. Why, he couldn’t fathom.

They wouldn’t even let him wear his Textbook Game t-shirt. He had to wear a tiger-themed shirt. Even worse, he was wearing a tiger tail.

Great. All they needed was a darker, furrier version of Truman. With two of them at the game, how would the Iowa State fans know which one to target? The uglier one, right?

Gonga glowered again.

Today was a good day to hire a rain cloud to hang out over his head. Maybe then people would know to give him space.

Three more people jostled him in their mad rush toward the stadium.

No, better yet, make it a lightning bolt. This crowd wouldn’t notice anything less.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Halloween Costume

It took almost two weeks of sitting and enjoying the accordion concerts before the girl said anything to Gonga. And even then it was simply a compliment to his music.

Her research project was going well, though it was a hassle to find anything at all after the disruption of the fire. Library staff had taken the opportunity to completely re-organize the way the Historic Collection was categorized and Susan volunteered to spend part of her library staff hours helping with the process. So, while the research project itself was on hold, she was able to see so many items she would never have dreamed of exploring otherwise.

Gonga’s investigation was also on hold. The higher-ups weren’t telling him anything. Either because they didn’t want to trust him with such weighty secrets, or more likely, they didn’t know anything themselves and didn’t want to admit it.

At any rate, it was time to think about Halloween. Some sorority was raising money in Speaker’s Circle today with a pumpkin carving contest. Gonga ran through a couple renditions of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor to help set the mood. Of course, no one else knew the title of the song. They just heard creepy pipe-organ music. The girls squealed in excitement and thanked him.

King Kong would be a good costume for him, Gonga decided. Now he just had to find a girl small enough to be Ann Darrow. Then things would be perfect.

The girl in the blue backpack plopped down about ten yards away from him and smiled. Susan was having a good day. The sight of pumpkin carving made her happy.

When she finally headed in towards the library Gonga had made up his mind. Once he made her understand his idea, she just started laughing.

“Stand up,” she said.

Gonga stood and suddenly realized that he had a least a foot and half on her. He grinned sheepishly behind his mask. This was going to be better than he thought.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Baby Blue Backpack

Orange leaves drifted down around Gonga and swirled away, seemingly in time with the music of his accordion. It helped that Gonga was practicing keeping tempo with the wind. It was something he liked doing to clear his mind. With thoughts of wind racing through, nothing else could trouble him.

It was fall. And it was beautiful.

That’s all that Gonga cared about at the moment.

The sun brushed his black fur with sparkles and gently warmed through to his skin.

It felt so good to just sit in the sun and play his accordion. It was good to be nothing more than an advertiser for “The Textbook Game” once again. The anonymity of the mask suited him; as well as the predictability of the job.

Whenever things started going rough, he could always slip back into that role.

It was fantastic.

A girl with a baby-blue backpack paused on the opposite side of Speaker’s Circle and turned towards Gonga’s music. A dreamy smile flitted across her face and she drifted back to the edge of the circle. Slowly, she perched on the stone bench.

She was still there almost four hours later when Gonga finally reached down to lay his accordion in its case. He stretched, working the kinks out of his back and gazing off towards the sunset.

It had been a good day. He had kept track of the tips as they fluttered into his music case from passing students, and the tally was good. Almost $75.00 on top of his usual hourly rate. He smiled again. It was a wonderful day.

The girl in the blue backpack thought so too. Her library science classes that morning had been a little slow, but nothing too boring. Her projects were coming along nicely for being less than halfway through the semester, and she had just witnessed the best accordion concert in her life.

Now it was time to hurry up and meet her study buddy in the library and figure out where to go next on their research project. She frowned. The closing of the Missouri Historical Society would certainly put a damper on things. Who knew when the documents would get dried out? And worse yet, when would they be back in order so they could locate the items they needed?

Gonga watched her stroll past, wondering why she had sat listening all afternoon, wondering where she was headed now. If only he knew she was researching documents in the Historical Society. If only he knew…