Monkeys (Spring, 84')

John Swort wanted to be a monkey. He checked out every book there was about monkeys from the library. He knew every species, what continent they lived on and the food each liked to eat.

His obsession became so intense, after a few months, he could no longer control himself. He'd suddenly leap up on a desk, grab his armpits, run this way and that, while making his idea of screeching monkey sounds. He'd drink a gallon of water and let out loud belches, spitting the biley backwash on anyone and everyone around him. During recess he'd climb to the top of the swings and hang upside down for forty five minutes like it was nothing at all. Everyone was scared of him.

John Swort once saw a bee during reading class and sprang to his feet grabbing a dictionary from off the teacher's desk. Before she could stop him, he swung, trying to flatten the bee, but he missed and smashed through a window cutting up his arms and hands bad, his blood gushing all over the floor.

The next year we heard John Swort went to military school. When he came back during the summer his hair was cut short. He answered questions with a "yes, sir," or a "no, sir," even though it was just us. At the mall he held doors open for older women, and his shirt was always buttoned to the neck, tightly tucked into his pressed trousers.

When we asked if he liked his new school he nodded, but his eyes never met ours once.

No one said anything about monkeys, and he didn't bring it up.

Bryn Mawr, PA - 10/7/06