The Novel in Short: After graduating from university with a degree in business, Dustin has a problem. He needs to figure out a way to break through the confines the world has built for him. The confines of middling employment opportunities, family expectations, and the small imaginations of others. Luckily, he’s not alone. With his monkey sidekick at his side, Dustin braves the hazards of the real world, demonstrating his own unique brand of hippy entrepreneurship.
In Limbo with the Monkey – Part 1 – Confusion
Something to Think About: The Past is not the future. No matter how much you like the past, it cannot be the future. The future will someday be the past, but not at present.
It may seem like an insignificant point now, but the reason I did all those things for Cronon was for Susan. The asshole never gave me her number. Oh well, though.
So, five days have passed since the party. Conditions at my house are tenuous, really tenuous. Lisa is still missing. Shirley and Ben Jenkins are flipping out. The police are involved, maybe the FBI. I’m pretty sure they know it’s Cronon. They have to know. I’m surprised I haven’t been called yet. Maybe I have. I don’t know. I haven’t been answering my phone.
Meanwhile, I’ve been sitting in my room playing Nintendo—the old, old Nintendo. Donkey Kong, mostly. A little Mario.
J.P. is in the room with me and sometimes we play two-player. He smokes. A lot. I think the monkey has a problem, because he’s not very active the way I would expect most monkeys to be. He always bugs me when he wants more weed or needs some more food, and this is often.
My mom found me playing Nintendo with J.P. the other day in a cloud of marijuana smoke. She was cool about it, though, like I knew she would be.
She says to me, “Don’t let your father find out or he’ll be very angry.”
With a mouthful of Doritos, I’m not able to really thank her the way I should. Instead, I blow Dorito particles from my mouth in a resemblance of a thank you. “Sank Poooo…”
For some reason, J.P. thinks this is hilarious and bursts out in riotous monkey laughter.
From my second story window, I can watch her on the patio smoking menthol cigarettes because she’s nervous—or agitated. I think she suspects dad’s having an affair.
I wonder if she ever thinks about leaving him.
“What do you think, J.P.? Do you think she’s going to leave my dad.”
He shrugs as he tries to pass the third level of Mario Brothers, but Mario can’t figure out which way he wants to go. Eventually, J.P. just zones out and Mario lets himself get eaten by a giant mushroom. A mushroom with razor-sharp teeth.
I`m not even going there.
For five days me and J.P. are the two lowest forms of life. Lower than primates, I tell him. He scratches his butt with the second player controller and then goes into my bathroom to take a dump (I’m glad that Cronon has potty-trained him).
I look at the second player controller and decide that it’s his from now on.
By the fourth day, I finally go out of my house to rent some porno. The fresh air does me good. My car is back from the shop, brand spanking new. It’s an old ’92 Cutlass. It runs and it runs well. For the son of a well to do white lawyer, I live like a slob. I drive the wrong car, and eat at the wrong places: Wendy’s, 2nd class Chinese restaurants, Hungry Howies.
I’m class, though. Fuck it.
I’m one of those people who believe you make your own aristocracy. It’s Virgil, the Cutlass (i.e. my chariot), Daniel Boyle films, Malcolm X, and probably Nelson Mandela if I could ever get around to reading that biography I bought of his—and this Suzie girl I dated a long time ago, if I can ever get her to call me again.
She has class. Boy, does she have class.
I don’t want to talk about it, because then I get Suzie-sick, and then lonely. I like listening to alternative rock music too, like New Found Glory, who got their start not too far from where I went to high school.
But every once in awhile I’ll dig some Underworld (techno), or a little bit of Frank Sinatra—and 80’s music—that was my generation. “I’ll stop the world and melt for you” while listening to Talking Heads, Divo, and who can forget “Walk Like an Egyptian.”
I play my best of the 80’s CD for J.P. as he rolls another joint. I sing to him “I can’t fight this feeling anymore” as he lights up. It’s not until his third or fourth hit before he really starts to dig it.
We watch pornos, and I’m surprised at how boring they are. I turn on the discovery channel to see if I can get any hot monkey action for J.P., but it’s only some documentary about sharks. That’s when the FBI calls or the police. I don’t remember which. I’m high. I’m just lucky J.P. doesn’t pick up.
“Do you know why monkey hair was found in Lisa Jenkins’s car?”
“What?” I say. Everything confuses me of late.
In Limbo with the Monkey – Part 2 – Paranoia
Rule: If your monkey has a drug problem, get him help.
Question for all business people: Will you stay in Limbo or embrace the future?
Motto: Capite diem.
I wake up at 2 a.m. in the morning in a fog of paranoia.
“What if I’m just afraid to let go of the past? Maybe that’s what this is. Maybe I’m like in Limbo and I have to reconcile my past before I can move forward. Maybe this is like Dante’s Purgatory, and you’re my Virgil and you have to help me to get through hell. But wait…my nickname is Virgil, so maybe you’re Dante…Holy shit,” I suddenly say (or think?). “What if this is all there is? What if I just spend the rest of my life like this—smoking weed and playing Nintendo?”
J.P. slaps me. For a monkey, he slaps hard.
“Thanks, J.P.” I needed that.
By the sixth day we’re out. And I mean empty. All we have left to sustain us is the cloud of smoke in our room.
“Oh man,” I say. “Moderation, man. Moderation was supposed to make that last the entire summer.” Six days. Where has the time gone?
“Where does the time go, J.P.?”
Six months ago, I was successful: I had my own business, I had Suzie, I was happy. I felt young. “See my mom out there, J.P. She’s miserable. My dad’s miserable. They’re old. That’s where I’m headed, J.P.—old age, golf, martinis, plastics corporations. I almost wish I could stay here with you in Limbo. It has to be better.”
I can see J.P. wants more weed. Every new direction takes a first step. I’m one of those people who believe you are constantly redefining yourself through action (it’s my credo, really.)
“Alright, J.P., first step in world domination—get you clean.”
Day seven is a revelation. I wake up J.P. early and we go running along the beach. With each step we expunge the weed from our system. “Carpe is the singular form of the imperative, meaning: to seize!; however, Capite is the plural form of the imperative,” I inform him. “Capite Diem. You and I will seize the day.”
He looks at me indifferently. One of many indifferent looks before he breaks the habit, but he’s running and this is good.
I’m one out of shape white guy and J.P. is one out of shape monkey. J.P. is a chick magnet, though, and I get the number of some twenty-eight-year-old hotty. Well, maybe not hotty…she looks alright anyway, but the point is I’m in the game again. I want to kiss J.P., but the monkey kind of scares me now that it’s been twelve hours since his last smoke. He has the shakes, and I’m not sure when the last time he bathed was. I decide this is something I’m going to need to work out if I’m going to take care of him.
“I’m going to get you better, little buddy. You just wait.”
I treat him to a big breakfast at Denny’s. They don’t let me in at first, but then I announce that I’m really Macaulay Culkin (that actor from Home Alone), sign some autographs, slip the waitress a fifty and J.P. is taken care of.
I announce my game plan to J.P.
“Okay, so we went running and that’s good. We’re eating breakfast at 8:30 in the morning instead of at 2:30 in the afternoon, and that’s also good. Next, we take the lame pornos back to the video store to avoid late fees, like normal citizens. We’ll listen to some Frank Sinatra on the way over there and take Ocean Drive so we can enjoy the view. Then, we’ll go get an air purifier and some cleaning stuff. We’ll air out the room, and clean up all your monkey hair. Afterwards, I’m going to check on my accounts and investment portfolio—see how they’re doing and what kind of capital we have to work with. Then I’ll put the Nintendo on Ebay. Meanwhile, I want you to tip off the F.B.I or Police about Cronon and his plan to go to Vegas…what’s that…okay, okay, I won’t make you sell out your friend. And then…well, then little buddy, you and I have to get jobs…Real jobs. Yes, yes, I’m afraid it’s come to that.”