Ben Schmidt and I are sitting at a bus stop in downtown boston somewhere waiting for justin and damian to show up so we can go out for a summer’s eve of drinking. The bus stop is crowded, the buildings are distant and tall. The bus is taking a very long time, and I notice across the street a mysterious toy store I have never seen before.
Without a word to Ben, I arise, and stride across the strangely empty street. I enter the store, which too is nearly empty. The floors and walls are all in molded, expensive-looking light-colored wood, poplar perhaps, or oak. The displays are colorful and interactive, the toys are jaw-droppingly high-end. I stroll past the expanding polygonal plastic structures, the construction sets, scooters, and giant stuffed animals, and approach a giant jungle diorama that shifts within as if alive. I touch the figure of a tree whose fronds quiver and shake beneath a toucan’s weight–but it’s only plastic. Relieved, I reach deeper in, and lay hold of a large, cream-colored plastic monkey, pull him out and set him on the floor.
He comes alive.
Ben comes into the store. “Justin and Damian are here. The bus came, but we missed it.”
“Oops,” I say, “I’m sorry. Now we’ll have to wait around forever for it to show up again.”
“That’s true,” says he. “We might as well look around here some more.”
“Watch out for the monkey,” I say.
He turns and notices it there on the floor, commenting with suprise on its cuteness and that it is in fact real. It leaps into his arms to give him a hug. “Ow!” he shouts. “It’s scratching me!” He drops it, and scampers off to complain to the management about their hostile monkey.
But it looked like a nice hug to me, and I have never hugged a monkey, so I hold out my arms, and the monkey jumps up and obliges me. It is a very soft monkey.
I carry it back to the front room of the store, where management scolds me, sweeps the monkey out of my hands, and plunges him face down into a large, open-topped glass display case into which I cannot see. Immediately there are several of the store’s employees around the display case, reaching in and shouting complicated-sounding things at each other like surgeons at the operating table. “There, just look!” one of them enjoins me. “Why would you ever want to touch something with a scar like that?”
I lean in politely and look down into the glass case. Inside is the motionless, lifeless, taxidermized skin of a monkey, with a huge, badly-sewn car reaching all the way down it’s spine. Clearly, this was some sort of zombified undead vodoun monkey. I look uneasily at Ben, hoping the condition is not contagious, and vacate the room.