Island of Monkeys

“There weren’t always monkeys on that island,” the old man said to no one in particular. “It used to be one of them family resorts took up most of the land. They say you can still see the ruins of the big lobby they had there.” He took of his battered hat and wiped at invisible sweat on his brow before replacing it on his head.

“Yes, sir,” He continued, his eyes far away. “It’s been many a year now. They say, long ago, before you, before me, there was a map. A very old, very hard to read map it was. But one thing it did show clearly on that old map, was that it showed the way to a treasure. A great treasure, if rumors be right. Which they often are not. But I’m getting a head of myself.” The old man scooched a bit down on his chair, settling in to tell his tale.

“This map was found one day by a young girl that just happened upon it, almost as though that map wanted to be found and wanted to be found by that little girl, in fact. She was a sweet, pretty little girl, she was. But that aunt of hers was something else—a real witch, that one. Had a whole coven and everything. And that’s exactly where that little girl took that map. Straight to her aunt. Come to think of it,” the old man took off his hat again, this time to scratch his wispy hair before cramming it back on his head. “I’m wondering if that map wasn’t really trying to get to those witches and just using that little girl as a means to an end. Hmmph.” The old man paused, contemplating this new idea, “well, neither here nor there” he said, slapping his knee.

“Well, them witches, they looked at that map, looked at it hard, and greed filled their hearts. They were ugly as witches are, but they were still women weren’t they? Still liked the idea of having fine things, wearing sparkly jewels, as women are wont to do.” He looked around to see if anyone would share a smile with him, and finding none, abruptly continued his story. “So, them witches, they got to hmming and hawing, and having decided they would make a spell that would take them to the spot the map showed. So, they pulled out their cauldron, dusted it off, as it hadn’t been used in some time, and got to making a spell. They hooted and hollered, threw things into the cauldron, consulted old musty books on spells, danced around the fire, and wouldn’t you just know it? A spell, a ghastly green potion it was, it started brewing right there in that cauldron. So, them witches, they went and poured that potion in the engine of their submarine. Where did they get a submarine, you ask? Well, they were witches, weren’t they? They just conjured it right up.” He laughed in a wheezy, breathy way. “After all, how else are ya gonna sneak up on an island?” His laughing wheeze dissolved into a cough. When he was done, he politely spit the phlegm he had coughed up into a crusty handkerchief and waded it back up into his shirt pocket.

“So, off them witches all go, piled into their little submarine—and no it tweren’t  yellow, so don’t even be asking,” He glared around, fiercely. “And off they be sailing to the island, all lost in their own thoughts of how they were each going to use their part of the treasure. So days, weeks even, passed, all the while them witches were getting greedier and greedier, and that treasure grew and multiplied in their minds to such huge proportions, they wouldn’t be able to spend all that treasure in a million lifetimes.”

“So, the day finally came and they arrived at the island. Excited and happy as can be, those witches burst out of the submarine, shovels in hand ready to dig up that treasure, and wouldn’t you just know it? They were smack dab in the middle of that fancy hotel’s lagoon. All them fancy tourist, eating their lunches, staring at these witches in their submarine.” The man let out a noise that sounded very much like a hysterical owl. “Those foolish witches,” he gasped between hoots, “they were so excited to find that treasure map, that they didn’t notice it was a tourist map. It was an activity set up to amuse the tourist for a day, digging around in the sand to find some trinket or souvenir.” The old man was just about falling out of his chair with laughter at this point, tears streaming down his face. “It was a joke! A prank! Just something fun for the tourists to do.” He gasped, wiping his eyes with that same crusty handkerchief from his shirt pocket.

“Well, don’t you just know it,” he resumed, when he had recovered himself, “them witches got mad, real mad, when they realized what fools they’d been made into. And they started plotting their revenge. So back to that cauldron they went, hooting and hollering and throwing stuff in, dancing around, and lo and behold, wouldn’t you just know it? They brewed up a potion, black as black could be. Now I hear tell it had an awful odor that accompanied it, so bad even the witches couldn’t stand it. So what did that old aunt witch do? She ran and grabbed that little girl and threw her in the pot. Because, you see,” the old man leaned forward on his knees, lowering his voice conspiratorially, “she figured anyone so good and sweet must be able to sweeten up just about anything.” He leaned back, feeling he had made his point. “And wouldn’t you just know it? She was right. That nasty old potion took on a lovely shade of lavender and smelled just as sweet as could be. So now they had a lovely smelling, pretty potion to be used.”

“Those old witches, they snuck up to that hotel and put the old potion in everything—the water, the food, even the pool, and before anyone knew what was happening, all those tourist started sprouting tails. Fur started springing out all over their bodies, and when they tried to talk, all that came out were squeaks and yips.  Soon, all them tourist had turned into monkeys, every last one of them. The witches were very impressed with themselves and they decided to have themselves a celebratory drink, toasting their cleverness. But those foolish witches,” the old man obviously delighted with his tale, smiled widely showing a mouth gaping wide with missing teeth, “they forgot they had put the potion in everything—everything!” he reiterated. “It twern’t long before them witches started sprouting tails and fur too!” He closed his eyes, relishing in delight. “And those old witches, they got theirs good! They couldn’t do nothing about it because whenever they tried to say the words of the spell that would turn them back, all that would come out were squeaks and yips! So, to this day, no one will go near the island for fear they will be turned into a monkey too!”

The old man finished his tale, his laughter abruptly stopping as he glared around, daring anyone to challenge his story. Getting no takers, he made a shrugging motion with his left shoulder. “Tours to the Island of Monkey leave every hour on the hour. Get your tickets in there.” He glared at each tourist as they obediently marched into the souvenir shop. He sighed as the last one went by, straightened his name tag and took a deep breath.

“There weren’t always monkeys on that island,” he said to no one in particular…..

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