The man had a toy monkey. A fucking toy monkey.
Maybe it was for his kid. But as soon has he got talking, you knew he didn’t have no kids—at least you couldn’t imagine any woman desperate enough to either sleep with that nutjob or hang onto any kid that might spring from such an unholy union.
But the big man hired him for the job so we hoped he might have some skills that we were needing, like computer stuff. None of us knew shit. Everything seemed computerised now days. It was different from the old days. One thing hadn’t changed about the process though. When you’re all huddled in the back of a van waiting on the word, it’s best to keep your weird to yourself. Mr Toy Monkey was letting us down on that score.
So far, he mostly farted. With great abandon and considerable relish and not without a stench that might slow a charging rhino.
“Fuck sake,” Carey said at last, waving his hand in desperation to find some breathable air. “You wanna cut that out?”
Instead of answering Carey, the man talked to his fucking toy monkey. In a funny voice, too, like he’d inhaled helium. He said, “That which comes from the body is good.”
“Interesting philosophy,” I said, trying not to choke. In the confined space of the battered blue van, it was not so much a question of philosophy as one of physics—or maybe chemistry.
“Do you know,” the guy said, talking to us again and not the monkey, “there was a French guy what made a fortune from his farts?”
“Those frogs’ll swallow anything,” Carey growled. He had got beat to a pulp by a gang at the footie in Marseilles once and had never forgiven the entire country. We learned long ago: never mention France in front of Carey. Mind you, he would always bear a grudge over the least sort of thing, though of course getting the snot beat out of him wasn’t exactly a little thing.
“They didn’t swallow it,” the guy corrected, waving his toy monkey at Carey. “They went to the theatre to see him fart.” He pronounced the word ‘thee-ate-er’ which seemed to rile Carey even more. “He was a musical sensation.”
“Must have ate a whole lot in beans then,” I said trying to calm things down. I could tell Cary’d taken a dislike to this fellah. We needed to be calm because the big man hired us to do a job and we had to be ready when the hammer came down. Waiting always sucked. Made people jumpy.
“You’re telling me people paid to listen to his farts?” Carey sounded a tad belligerent now. The toy monkey wasn’t helping. If there’s one thing that irks, it’s having a toy monkey shoved in your face.
This guy wiggled the monkey at him and made farting musical sounds with his lips. Then he let fly with a few more of the real thing. Cary swore and waved his hand some more. I didn’t like the way he was holding his Sig because his hand was looking a bit sweaty and itchy.
“So what did he call the act? Musical fruit?” I figured it was my role as usual to play peacemaker. That’s why the big man liked me.
“Shut up, Louis. I don’t want to hear anymore about some French arsehole.” Carey’s expression wasn’t getting any sweeter. I hoped we’d get the word soon because either Carey was going to explode or we’d have to open the doors just to breathe.
The guy shook the toy monkey at me and it said, “Le Petomaine. He was the toast of Paris.” He pronounced it ‘Par-ee’ like somebody in a cartoon. There was a lot about him that seemed like a cartoon, including his pungent whiffs.
“If this guy is a hacker, I’m the village idiot,” Carey said. “I’m going to plug him one in the brain if he don’t shut up and stop farting. I’m getting nauseous here.”
“Tweet tweet,” said the toy monkey, shaking at Carey’s red face and farting like a machine. “I sing like the birdies. Tweet!”
“Shut the fuck up!” Carey brought the Sig up under the guy’s chin. The man started shrieking like the monkeys do in those nature docos when the lion or jaguar or what have you strolls into the jungle. Carey’s eyes bulged half out of his head.
The big man banged on the door just then which was the signal, but it pushed Carey over the edge or maybe his finger was just too twitchy on that trigger and the guy’s head suddenly exploded with a pop and a bit of his skull or hair or something hit the top of the van.
The big man stared through the open door as we sucked in some fresh air. He cursed a blue streak. “Get out of here. Now!”
Timothy gunned the motor and we hit the road, swerving through the backstreets until we got out to the warehouse. Carey just kept staring at the dead guy sprawled on the floor of the van, muttering under his breath. It was going to be a messy cleanup before a dressing down from the big guy. Kind of a wasted day all around.
I took the toy monkey. For luck, you know?
A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. EXTRICATE is out now from Fox Spirit Books; the print edition also includes the novella THROW THE BONES and a dozen short stories.