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A place to keep my entries for the Banana Bar
I recently joined a blogging challenge in Andre The Blog Monkey's Banana Bar. These pages are my entries.
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May 2, 2022 at 2:26pm
May 2, 2022 at 2:26pm
Why d they refer to Mondays as blue? Why is Monday such a dreaded day?

Blue is my favorite color, and I see no reason why it should represent sadness; maybe a lifeless shade of gray would have been better. Gray Monday

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"Reading soothes the soul, writing sets it free." T.J.

May 2, 2022 at 12:20pm
May 2, 2022 at 12:20pm
Word Count: 406

Although not written for the Banana Bar's Monday Night Blues; this poem depicts a time in my life, many years back, when I fought a battle against loneliness and depression.

I was in my first marriage at the time I wrote this, actually, it was at the point where that relationship was coming to a swift end, and with three children, I was uncertain how they would respond to me divorcing their mother. It seemed, at the time, the world as I knew it was coming to an end, I had recently lost my mother, my father had passed years before, and now it seemed I was also going to lose my children. I had little income, was staying with a friend, and my soon-to-be ex-in-laws were determined my soon-to-be-ex would have custody of our three children. Even so, the union was unhealthy and I found myself more alone in the relationship than if I ended it, so I filed for divorce and wrote this poem.


The ageless beast assaults me,
Enshrouding me in its cloak.
It crushes my ragged breath away,
Leaving my body bruised and broke.

Fanged teeth pierce my flesh,
Jagged claws tear me apart.
The beast rips savagely at my chest
To devour my quivering heart.

I struggle in vain against the beast
Although I fight with all my might;
Holding fast for the mornings birth
And an end to this torturous night.

Yet, even as the new day dawns
The onslaught does not halt.
For the beast, now deep inside of me,
Continues its endless assault.

I fear I cannot defeat the beast
For its rage continues to swell.
It tears away my hopes and dreams,
Leaving me trapped within my hell.

I cannot run to north or south,
There’s no escape from my distress
With woeful heart, I surrender to –
This beast called Loneliness.

Shortly after I wrote this, I sat in a courtroom with my lawyer as my divorce was finalized. All three of our children had been brought in with my ex, and when custody was asked, they all three requested to live with me. They went to the judge's chamber individually to discuss why they wanted to live with me, and shortly after, I discovered I would be raising them with full custody.

That afternoon, they, not I, defeated the beast that had ripped at my very soul since the day I realized divorce was imminent.

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"Reading soothes the soul, writing sets it free." T.J.

April 1, 2022 at 7:37pm
April 1, 2022 at 7:37pm
April 1st - April Fools Day Prompt

Write about April Fools Day or pranks.

538 Words

I just wrote something on this in the Newsfeed earlier, so I may as well do the prompt as well.

I pondered the tomfoolery I would instill upon our two grandchildren for half the day. I try and do something for to them every year and didn't want to disappoint them. In fact, they were discussing what they may expect as they departed for school this morning; they also looked in their school bags, checked the time on the clocks against their phones, and even inspect the wrappers on their snacks.

They knew I'd try and pull something over on them, and they were ready, looking, and expecting. When nothing was out of the ordinary, they chuckled in a non-humorous way, knowing something would happen sooner or later. In this case, it would be later, when they got home.

I came up with a couple of ideas, like hiding the remotes to their televisions; they tend to leave them most anyplace and always have to search for them, so this would have worked pretty well. I also thought since they both have the same brand of televisions in their rooms, about switching them out.

I know, it would be easier to switch the controls, but the youngest has worn a couple of buttons down and they would know right away that I had switched them. So, with the televisions mounted on wall mounts, I went about getting the needed tools to switch them out. They wouldn't be able to tell the difference and would think that the controllers weren't working. But, it was a bit of a job, and afterward, I'd have to switch them back. I decided to think of something different.

I even thought about putting some plastic wrap over the toilet, or across the door, but one or the other would fall for it, their sibling would be wise to my prank and not fall for it.

So, I pondered as I did my daily work, and suddenly, I had an epiphany! They would be watching, checking, and ready for something, so what if I didn't do anything. That was it!

When they came home they exercised extreme caution as soon as they opened the door. They looked around, moving to their rooms very slowly as they braced for just about anything. Nothing happened. They came back out to the living room, looking a bit confused, but not saying anything. After they told me about their day at school, I told them I had a good day and had come up with the best April's Fool gag.

Of course, they expected something, and now they went into high vigilance. Of course, the questions started, but I explained they would find out sooner or later and I wasn't giving them any clues.

They have been walking on eggshells, looking high and low, in and under, and not trusting anything. They are going a bit crazy trying to find out what's going to happen, but nothing does. When they get ready for bed, I'll let them know that the gag this year was having them expecting, looking, and anticipating the worst, when I didn't do anything at all...

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"Reading soothes the soul, writing sets it free." T.J.

March 31, 2022 at 10:51pm
March 31, 2022 at 10:51pm
933 Words

I kind of touched on this March -April transition in my blog on prompt 3, but not in-depth. In fact, I just kind of winged the whole conspiracy part to wrap up my entry. But now, having had a few days to think about all of this, I find the whole transition kind of hinky.

Here, in my part of the country, January and February are the two coldest months, but usually, by the end of February, the temperature begins to rise. Not a lot, but we see more above zero temperatures.

Then, March comes along, and we are pretty much done with any below zero readings, and we see highs in the thirties, and sometimes even low forties. Of course, the wind also seems to blow ceaselessly, and it snows; it typically snows a lot. In fact, I believe, although I’ve never researched it, that we get as much snow in March as we accumulated throughout the entire winter. What makes it even worse, in March the snow is wet and heavy. Good for kids to play in, to build snow forts and snowmen, but hell on the person who needs to shovel it.

Then, March ends, either like a lion or like a lamb, I guess. April arrives with warming days, fewer cold nights, the sun feeling warm on the skin, and the snow melting fast. We also get rain in April, and seldom much for snow. The rain drives the frost out of the ground and things begin to look like spring is here. Of course, we can still get snow in April, but it doesn’t happen often and when it does snow, it never sticks around long; most of it melts as soon as it lands.

In the grand theme of things, I know it has to do with planetary location, the tilt on the axis, and all that meteorology mumble-jumble just like all the other months of the year. That is, except March! March seems to defy all the natural laws and doesn’t follow any predictable patterns except to be unpredictable. It can still get bitterly cold, we can get rain, we can get snow, we can have a warm sunny day; March is like autumn, winter, and spring all rolled into one month. Is there such a thing as tri-polar?

March just doesn’t make any sense. This started me thinking about the months, how after a long winter the thought of spring is all that maintains our sanity, and then there’s March, messing with us for 31 days. Then it hit me, like a bad case of gas, March does not belong. It wasn’t even supposed to exist. Now, I don’t know a lot about ancient gods, or how the calendar has changed, and I’m by no means a mathematician, but I did the numbers, best I could, and March just doesn’t fit.

Now, I just ran these numbers on the calculator on the computer and they don’t come out perfectly even, but I have an idea on that, too. Don’t judge until you hear me out; if you dispose of March, you have eleven months in the year. That means there are thirty-three days in each month with 0.2 that doesn’t seem to fit in. That also gives us eight days in a week, just like the Beatles sang about. Sure, there’s 0.3 that doesn’t fit in the week, but we can deal with that later. I mean, given our current twelve months, with some having thirty days, some having thirty-one, and then February always coming up short and my figuring is just as accurate. And that’s not even taking in the need for a leap year.

So, I conclude that someone way back in history, got tired of people having a three-day weekend, that’s where day eight goes; he took one day away. But, that missing day kind of messed things up, and the whole calendar needed to be fixed. Knowing that people would likely stone, impale, and burn him at the stake for taking away their three-day weekend, he told them that they weren’t losing anything, they would gain a whole month; the twelve-month calendar was born.

Now, this dillrod could have given us another month of nice weather in the spring, autumn, or summer, but instead, he took a little of each of these seasons and mixed them all up, just like the number of days in each month, and gave us March. Why, just to depress everyone so much as they wait for spring, that they would forget how disgruntled they were over the missing day. Then to top it all off, he decided that every four years, we’ll get one extra day. In his original plan, this extra day would always land during the workweek, just to get back at people for the long-gone three-day weekend.

The easiest way to fix this whole mess would be to return to three-day weekends, stick March where the sun doesn’t shine, and have our 33-day months again. But there’s the little problem of the days not working out quite even.

This was supposed to be a gift from our Creator, those extra hours that don’t quite fit were supposed to be a break for people between December and January. Not a holiday or a very short month, just a nice, mid-winter break. But that dillrod took that away, too.

I’m sure this is what governments actually discuss at Geneva, how to uphold this conspiracy of old and keep the people of the world from having our three-day weekends and our mid-winter break.

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"Reading soothes the soul, writing sets it free." T.J.

March 30, 2022 at 10:29pm
March 30, 2022 at 10:29pm
552 Words

In my last entry, I talked about March coming in like a lamb and going out like a lion. It did just that; yesterday was nice, sunny, and warm, but by evening it had turned overcast and cooler. By early evening, it was raining and by midnight, it was snowing. I got up to about six inches of new snow and more still falling.

Most of our snow had melted, the muddy driveway had finally dried up. Now more shoveling, driving on sloppy, slippery roads, and when it warms up on April first, we are going to have to deal with a muddy drive all over again. I tell you, we needed more snow about as much as an octopus needs overshoes.

A couple of days ago I mentioned I was doing Keto. I have some back problems and taking off the extra weight will help a lot. I also want to get out hiking, kayaking, and just doing more. I’ve been trying to lose weight for quite some time, but it just wasn’t working out very well. So, on the first of the year, I decided to try something different, Keto. I’ve lost twenty-seven pounds so far, I feel better, and I have a lot more energy.

But, trying to cut carbs is difficult, especially with a family. It requires logging my food throughout the day and giving up a lot of good healthy foods; if you’re wondering what I can eat, do a little research. Avoiding high-carb foods is about as easy as running barefoot on rocks. Ok, maybe not that bad, more lie trying to shoot pool with a water hose.

Part of one prompt asked what keeps me up at night. I didn’t even think about one of the biggest challenges I have in getting a good night’s rest, Daylight Savings Time. Every spring we jump the clock ahead one hour, but my internal clock doesn’t work that way. I’ve gotten pretty good at going to bed between ten and eleven, then getting up at six the next morning. Only now, the clock says it’s eleven or twelve before I feel like it’s time for bed. I also have a difficult time getting woken up the next morning. Part of it is getting to bed later, but the other part is, it’s still dark out now. Setting the clock ahead to gain an extra hour of daylight makes about as much sense as cutting an inch off a board and nailing on the opposite end to make it longer.

I think it’s time we stopped changing the clocks back and forth. We don’t gain anything, we don’t lose anything, well except our sanity. I know some people like that extra daylight at the end of the day, but there are also a lot of us who like the extra light at the start of the day. I propose we split the difference and set the clocks ahead half an hour instead of an hour. You get thirty more minutes of light in the evening; I get thirty more minutes of light in the morning.

See, finding a happy medium doesn’t have to be as difficult as trying to teeter-totter with a fat kid. If we work together, we can all be as happy as a funky drunk monkey!

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"Reading soothes the soul, writing sets it free." T.J.

March 29, 2022 at 4:29pm
March 29, 2022 at 4:29pm
548 Words

A Scottish proverb:

March borrowit from April
Three days, and they were ill:
The first was frost, the second was snaw [snow],
The third was cauld [cold] as ever’t could blaw [blow].

This pretty much sums up our forecast for the end of March. It’s pretty nice today but overcast, by tonight we will be getting rain, by late night, it will be snow, and then it’s going to get colder and windier. Well, that’s what the people at the National Weather Service say, but they haven’t been the most accurate in their predictions.

The forecast does coincide with what my mother said. If March comes in like a Lion, it will go out like a lamb, but if it comes in like a lamb, it will go out like a lion. I don’t recall how often she was right with this old saying, In fact, it could be that she only said it at the end of the month when she knew if it would hold true or not. As for this year, March came in mild and it’s going out, if the forecast holds true, like a lion. Not a huge beast, but mayhaps like a Lion kitten.

Another of her favorite sayings for March was, “March winds bring April Showers, and April Showers bring May flowers”. This seems to hold true almost all the time. Not all the time, but most all the time. I remember March as almost always being a windy month, and I remember something from high school about the sun being hotter and warming the ground, creating more winds in March.

I also know that April brings a lot of showers, but then I suppose March would if it was warm enough to rain. In my part of the country, March is usually our biggest snow month of the year. As for the showers in April bringing May flowers, I suppose it has to do with the rain bringing the frost out and warming the soil up. Even so, if you don’t plant any flowers, I doubt April rain will do much besides make a lot of mud and turn the grass green.

Although it’s not a part of the proverb, I would think we could add that May flowers bring June bugs, but that’s probably about as true as the rain bringing us flowers. Wait, was that an intended pun? Did I mean that June is usually when most insects surface from the ninth gate of hell or was I speaking of the big, black, and dreaded June Bug itself?

As far as March borrowing from April, I don’t buy it. I mean, it’s supposed to be like borrowing three days, right? Now, let’s think on this; April has thirty days, March has thirty-one. February, however, only has twenty-eight. Therefore, I would conclude that March borrowed two days from February. Logically then, March would have its thirty days, plus two more it borrowed, or even possibly stole, from February, therefore, March is supposed to have thirty-two days. But, just like the lunacy of Daylight Savings Time giving us an extra hour, our government created a conspiracy to hide the extra day we are supposed to have in March so they could impose a leap year on us.

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"Reading soothes the soul, writing sets it free." T.J.

March 28, 2022 at 10:01pm
March 28, 2022 at 10:01pm
412 Words

Did you recently make a significant purchase? (Gasoline doesn't count)
Why yes, I did. I just purchased my mother-in-law’s Buick because our HHR and our pickup both need some work done on them. It’s an older car, but still, a few grand seems like a significant purchase.

Is there something you have that has reached its end-life?
I suppose that depends on what you consider the end life. The pickup has a lot of miles on it and needs some major work, so in that way, it’s reached its end life. However, since it’s still in really good shape and it will cost significantly less to have it repaired than it would to have it replaced, it may be getting a second life.

Are you planning any major purchases or changes to your lifestyle?
I am planning some major purchases over the summer. One item we are looking at purchasing is a newer vehicle to use for pulling the camper. The pickup, as I said, needs some work and it’s a bit small for four of us on longer trips. It’s also not very friendly on gasoline, so we are looking and working towards another vehicle. Also, my granddaughter will be getting her license soon, so the car we just purchased will make a nice, reliable, and safe vehicle for her to use.

As far as any major changes to my lifestyle, I’ve already done that, I started Keto on the first of the year, I have a membership at the local fitness center and use it at least three times a week, usually more, and I’m currently twenty-five pounds liter than I was when this year started.

What's your take on this 'New Normal' we hear about?
I don’t really put much into “New Normals”. From my perspective, we are constantly moving into “New Normals”, some bigger than others; time is fluid, it flows forward like a river, and like a river, it is constantly changing the world it flows through. So, today’s “New Normal” will fade into tomorrow’s “New Normal” and that in turn will fade again.

Besides constantly changing, I’ve never really put a lot of stock into anything normal anyway. I was always the child who was told, why can’t you be like everybody else? I guess now I’m the adult who still doesn’t believe in being like everybody else. I think Popeye said it the best, “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.”

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"Reading soothes the soul, writing sets it free." T.J.

March 27, 2022 at 11:34pm
March 27, 2022 at 11:34pm
574 words

What do you do to relax?
I’m doing it. Sure, there are other things; in days past, after my divorce, I would go down to the lake in the evening and sit and watch the sun sink, the ducks swim, and I would write. Another form of relaxation is music, I like to chill out and listen to some of my favorite songs. Of course, my mood sets the music and I need to be able to really get lost in it to relax; like writing, it’s only relaxing if it’s uninterrupted.

Are you able to have a dedicated family day or day of rest in your home?
I’m in my second marriage and currently raising two of my current wife’s teenage granddaughters, I’ll ask you, is there a day of rest in our home? We’ve tried to set Sundays aside for a day of rest and family. Of course, that was also the case in my past marriage with our kids; it never seemed to work out. Sure, there were, and are occasional family days that are spent together. As for rest days, few and far between.

Share a memory of a peaceful, restorative Sunday from your past.
Growing up, I lived with my parents, a younger brother, and an older sister. Sundays were different back in those days, stores and businesses were closed and many of my friends spent the day with family, so we did church, then brunch at the café, followed by a pretty quiet Sunday afternoon. Two of my older brothers lived with my grandparents in another state, and my two oldest brothers had already moved out.

The most peaceful, restorative Sundays from my past were the times we all got together at my grandparents. The older siblings would often go out on Saturday night, us younger kids would hang out at the park, or sometimes we would get to go to the drive-in, stuff like that. But Sunday we would get to sleep in, enjoy a light brunch, and the day was spent with all of us enjoying board games, cards, and a full-out family dinner.

Then finally, tell us... What keeps you up at night?
Lack of sleeping! Actually, I sleep pretty well most nights, and I usually fall asleep minutes after my head hits the pillow. I don’t always get off to bed as soon as I would like, but that’s having two teenagers in the house. It was worse when they first moved in, but now they do pretty good and I can usually get to bed by eleven or twelve.

What messes up my sleep is having to get up and use the bathroom. It used to be a few times a night and even then I missed sleeping straight through the night. Now, with doing Keto, I’m drinking more water, and one of the side effects of ketosis is having to pee a lot more. Some nights it feels like I’m up every hour, even though it’s probably only four or five times. It’s nice that I can crawl right back into bed and usually fall back to sleep in minutes, but occasionally I find my mind going into overdrive. It’s usually the result of something stressful going on or the remnants of some bad dream. I have a difficult time shutting my thoughts down and if they restart during the night, I may as well get up and find something to do.

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"Reading soothes the soul, writing sets it free." T.J.

March 18, 2022 at 11:34pm
March 18, 2022 at 11:34pm
10.) How did Andre get into the bar business, how did he acquire the Banana Bar?
03/18/2022 Word Count:1163

After a long and busy week, I decided to spend a little time at the Banana Bar; I hadn’t been there for almost a week. It was early afternoon on a Thursday, so it was quiet inside. I had to drive later so I ordered a Jumping Monkey, but without any alcohol; I almost jumped off my stool when I heard a voice behind me, “Oh, a Virgin Jumping Monkey! I thought you drank bourbon.”

I turned and there was Andre right behind me, laughing. “I didn’t mean to scare the ape-crap out of you. Almost took you off the stool.” He hopped up on the stool beside me and ordered a Gilligan. I watched as the bartender put a banana, some coconut milk, and spiced rum in the blender, mixed and strained it into a glass of ice, then topped it off with a splash of lime vodka.

“Interesting drink, never heard of a Gilligan before.”

“It’s my own design, I got the idea while watching Gilligan’s Island one afternoon. You know, about they had to eat was bananas and coconuts, so I thought I’d try it in a drink. It was a bit bland so I spiced it up with the rum. Still, it needed something, so I thought a splash of lime, but we didn’t have any cut, and I didn’t feel like messing around, so I used lime vodka. You should try one.”

“Another day, perhaps; I have to drive later so no alcohol for me. Well, at least not till I get back.”

“That’s smart. I knew you were a pretty smart cookie. I was kind of surprised, I hadn’t seen you around lately. Kinda thought ole-man Bittenbender scared you off.”

“Nope, just been busy. I actually had a pretty good talk with him, except for the flying spittle and tobacco. He claimed to know how you ended up with a bar instead of staying in the music business, but he wouldn’t tell me. Said that was monkey business.”

Andre smiled and shook his head, “Still hung up on that, huh?” He took a drink stared into the glass for a minute, then turned back towards me. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you the story, but you have to keep it to yourself. It’s kind of personal, a little embarrassing, and I don’t let too many people in on it.”

I agreed and ordered another Virgin Jumping Monkey and a Gilligan for Andre, then we went over to a booth and sat down.

Andre sat for a minute, then let out a long sigh. “I had just returned from a tour and was looking forward to some R and R. Bittenbender stopped by, he said his niece, Fanny Patter, really wanted to meet me and asked if I’d meet him and her later right here. It was a country-western bar called Cactus Jack’s back then, and I wasn’t really into country, but he insisted and I gave in.”

"Later, after I met Fanny, we hit it off pretty good and I actually had a pretty good time. We continued to see each other, and it was getting pretty serious. A month later, we were shacking up and life was good. But, then Fanny's dad comes to visit while I was playing a gig at a local nightclub. Now, I didn't know anything about it when I left, and by the time I got back, it was well past closing."

"I was riding with one of the other band members, and we stayed and drank quite a bit. Then he dropped me off and I came in, not knowing Jack was there. I went upstairs as quietly as I could, went into the bathroom and stripped down, then took a hot shower. After I dried off, I went into the bedroom and slid into bed beside Fanny."

"Being pretty sloshed, I didn't pay much attention to anything, but once I was in bed, I started feeling a bit frisky, so I snuggled up tight to Fanny's backside and started grinding against her. Only, to my horror, a male voice cried out, 'What the hell!' and then the lamp goes on."

Andre took a big drink and I noticed he was looking anywhere but at me. "Well, you can imagine my shock when I see Jack, buck-assed naked standing on the other side of the bed staring at me."

He looked into my eyes for just a second, then back down at his drink. "Fanny heard the commotion and came running in before either of us could move. There we were, one on each side of the bed, standing in the nude, staring at each other. Then, Jack grabbed the alarm clock and threw it at me as he accused me of trying to butt-rape him. The damn think hit me right in the face, and I lost it. I jumped on the bed and then from the bed onto Jack, both of us going down on the floor, hitting, kicking, biting, and knocking things over."

"After her initial shock, Fanny came over and broke up the fight. Neither me nor Jack said anything we just got dressed. Jack stormed out and went home, but not before he accused me of knowingly climbing into bed to have sex with him. He also said he'd never trust a damn dirty ape again. Then, just before he slammed the door, he yelled, "That stinking monkey shoved his banana right in my crack!"

Andre finished his drink, waved for another, then continued. "Things went downhill hast after that. Fanny believed me, but her dad came first, a couple of days later she left me. I did some heavy drinking for a while, but then I heard a rumor that Jack was selling his bar and planning on moving to Texas."

" An idea formed and I couldn't resist giving that guy a little pay-back for all the grief he caused me. Of course, I knew he'd never sell the bar to me, so I had my agent purchase Cactus Jack's for me. The first day I had the bar, I ripped down anything Country-Western and set it up like it is now. I also needed a new name before the bastard left. His accusation of me sticking my banana in his crack gave me the idea of calling it the Banana Bar."

Andre grew quiet when his drink arrived. After a couple of minutes, he looked up. "I knew my having the bar drove Jack crazy, so I decided to put my energy into making it better and more popular than Cactus Jack's had ever been. I guess you could say the Banana Bar is a thorn in Cactus Jack's side. It also gives me the ability to help local musicians get started, and that T.J, is how all this monkey business got started."

"Hey, don't repeat that story. Now, let's go up to the bar and I'll get us another round."

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"Reading soothes the soul, writing sets it free." T.J.

March 9, 2022 at 3:14pm
March 9, 2022 at 3:14pm
4.) With what great musician did Andre study?
03/09/2022 Word Count:663

Saturday night an old man hobbled over and half sat, half fell into the chair vacated by Andre. “Evenin' Mister.”


“Seen ya chewin' the fat with the monkey.”


“It’s no problem, just thought mayhaps ya like to talk. Wanna talk?"

“Uhm, sure.” I nodded as well.

“Names Gilbert; Gilbert Vincent Bittenbender. You are?”

“You can call me T.J.”

“I’ll do that, T.J., you just call me C.V. then.” He was squirming back and forth in the chair trying to get the bartender’s attention. Once he did, he ordered a beer and shoved a huge wad of chew into his lip. “What was you and the monkey talkin' bout?”

I explained our conversation, and C.V. grinned, his teeth were yellowish-green and full of tobacco, I averted my eyes.

“So, whattaya think of the monkey?”

“I like him. I wouldn’t want to cross him, but he’s interesting. I’d still like to know why he got out of music and bought a bar, though.”

“Yea, I like Andre. He’s a good monkey, most of the time. I’ve known him for many a year… Yea, we go way back. Ain’t gonna tell ya nothin' bout the bar, that’s the monkey’s business. Get it? Monkey business, bar --- business?” He started laughing and banging his hand on the table, tobacco particles flew out of his mouth along with droplets of spit. I slid my chair back a bit from the table and put my hand over my drink.

When his beer arrived and he took a deep draught and wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve. “Yea, Andre is quite the fellow. I reckon he’ll tell you about the bar in his own good time. Hey, C.J., did ya know he’s edge-a-cated?” I didn’t correct the C.J. mistake, and before I could answer he continued on. “He weren’t no good in school, just never fit in I reckon, so his ma and pa hired him some tutors so’s he could study at home. Yep, that Andre’s one smart monkey. He don’t show it, but he’s smart as a whip.”

He took another drink and tipped his head forward, I think he spit on the floor, then sat back up and wiped the tobacco juice on the back of his sleeve. I didn’t know if he was waiting for me to say something or not, and I was trying my best not to look at his smiling, stained, and tobacco-spattered teeth.

“Ya ain’t much of a talker, are ya C.J. No matter, I talk enough for both of us.” He laughed and spewed more tobacco. “Yea, Andre even studied music, His ma and pa made sure of it. They hired this guy who had some symbol for a name --- What was his name? Oh, it was some guy named Prince. Ya probably heard of him?”

Again, I didn’t get time to answer. “Yea, that feller could play a lot of different stuff and taught the monkey to play em, too. Also taught him to read and write music, sing, and dance. Course Andre, bein a monkey, had some pretty fancy moves of his own. That Prince feller liked the way the monkey danced and jumped around. Yea, he started imitating Andre’s moves; recon they kinder taught each other. Andre told me once that if you watched that feller in them puter-videos, you’d see a lot of moves he got from Andre.”

He was taking another drink of his beer; suddenly his grey eyes went wide. He spewed a mouthful of beer all over the table, slammed the glass down, and with a terrified look stated, “I gotter git outta here, the ode-lady just come in!” He was up and moving in the opposite direction as spry as an otter, weaving and ducking around people until he was lost in the crowd.

“Interesting old fellow,” I thought out loud as I looked at my beer, spit, and tobacco-splattered shirt. “Must be time to head home.”

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