The Fieldstone Review

Cheeky Monkey, Or the Strangest Sentence on My Hard Drive

Have you ever written topless? At your desk, the door to your room open behind you because you are alone in the apartment. Everyone goes to their real jobs and you sit and the bra band is gone and your ribcage can finally open. Did you know that’s supposed to happen when you breathe? Your lungs are bigger than you know. Notebook pages brush the underbelly of your breast.

I only ask because this story is about tits. It ends weird shit and it starts with some smartass hipster poets but mostly it’s all tits in between. Maybe you think you know what that means and I suppose you could be right, who knows.

I used to write normal stuff, with fairies and satyrs and gods and shit. I wrote more than one story about goats. Anyway I’m saying I don’t start stories about tits on purpose. But it was almost midnight and Aiden showed up at Emma’s apartment where everyone but me was already drunk and he’d bought a typewriter from some high school kid online. It came with ribbons and everything for only fifty bucks.

Emma’s apartment should have been an omen, a tiny one-bedroom downtown that she shared with her animator/skate-board-shop-owner boyfriend. It was crammed with vinyl records whose faded covers I didn’t recognize, not that I would anyway. I wouldn’t recognize Justin Bieber standing in front of me. When Aiden arrived later he oohed and aahed over the collection, picking out his favourites for Emma’s record player. In attendance were also Luke and Dionne; they were all poets I’d met in a writing course. When the semester ended we decided to keep in touch, and this was the group’s first attempt at socializing outside class.

“Here’s your prompt,” Aiden said. Aiden the bearded wonder who had pointed ears. Our messiah who had brought us the holiest of all outdated writing hardware. Aiden who read Michael Ondaatje, which pleased Luke, who also read Michael Ondaatje, although neither of them liked The English Patient. I still have never read The English Patient, partly because of them. Aiden was a Campbell. Still is. Matt the MacDonald, also from the class, was absent that night. Perhaps if we’d had the MacDonald in the same room as the Campbell some clannish force of fate would have been thrown off balance, changed the course of history, spared me from what was to come.

Aiden said, “Here’s your prompt,” and pulled a stool up to the coffee table where he plunked the typewriter’s elephant case: “cheeky monkey ice cream.”

It should be said, if only for Aiden’s sake when he reads this, that I hate these games. I hate continuing stories that aren’t mine and I hate improvising and I hate performing on command. But Aiden snapped open the case and unfolded the typewriter over the table and wound a white sheet deep into its belly.

Emma wrote first and then Aiden and then Luke, but Dionne was refusing her turn because her boyfriend had just dumped her. And that’s when I got worried because I realized I would have to follow Luke. A significant proportion of Luke’s poetry is allegorical for sex and the prospect of writing a collaborative sex poem with a group of intoxicated poets I had no desire to see naked horrified me.

As per the rules, when I sat at my typing post, I read only Luke’s text, the rest of the sheet folded back.

were less than helpful. like modern octogenarians sans teeth and gnawing the air without control. this was only a small bit of what was to come and she had to get home soon. her ice cream was melting.

He had written, and I was relieved. I began to write,

its

with no capital, because the shift key didn’t work. And then, aiming for the beginning of an article, hit

t

and the typewriter stalled. And the paper shifted of its own agency, sliding to the right with apparent intention, such that the ‘t’ landed on the left of the beginning of the line and in effect I had written

tits

Well fuck, I thought. And Aiden was over my shoulder laughing and Luke was saying, “You can’t take it back, you have to keep going,” and I thought, screw you guys, you want cheeky monkey ice cream tits, that’s what you’re getting.

Aiden discovered in Emma’s collection a retro whale sounds vinyl of which he was particularly fond and Emma rejoiced because it was supposedly amazing and no one else knew about it. They turned it on and the high-pitched tremble of whale vocalizations crackled on the player as I wrote.

There was no hope for me in that den of hipsterism, only the inevitability of my inept uncoolness. I never meant to write about tits. And definitely, oh definitely, not in relation to cheeky monkey ice cream. In fact, I erased it from the dropbox of my mind, until days later Aiden typed up the hardcopy and sent it to us. It’s infamous, now, a bizarre inside joke relived at every new party, in retrospect stranger than it is funny.

tits, he thought looking at the ice cream bowl. it looks like tits, cleanly scooped and cherry-topped. she’d let it melt again, and it dribbled down the side of the bowl. the monkey watched her eat the ice cream and licked his lips.

Later we voted unanimously that Emma, chill, sweet Emma, was the coolest person in the universe, and later Aiden left to travel the world then learn museum restoration in a tiny college town, and later Luke lived in the basement of his Jewish mother for years while learning to cook and tearing it up on Growlr, and Dionne moved West all the way West to the coast. And some of us stayed in touch and some of us didn’t. And Cheeky Monkey sits still in my hard drive, an awkward couch-surfing undergrad friend.