So I started writing for this weekly short fiction contest. They email me five prompts on Friday and I have until midnight the following Friday to respond to one of them. Well, long story short (pun intended), I missed the deadline this week so I am allowed to just post my story on my blog. So, I guess my lack of responsibility is your gain.
The prompt I chose was to write a story based on a meme. I chose a meme of Kevin Hart that says “That awkward moment when you’ve already said “What?” three times and still didn’t hear, so you just agree.” I don’t know why I chose to write my story from the perspective of a 35 year old woman but I did. You guys can psychoanalyze that all you want lol. So here is my story. “Minor Indiscretions.”
“You know. They always say that if you couldn’t go to jail for it, it’s probably not worth doing.”
I looked up from my drink. “No, no one says that.” I replied. “You’ve been saying that for fifteen years and I’ve never heard anyone say it but you.”
“Maybe so. But just because I’m the only one who says it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.” Olivia flashed her winning smile, giggled, and took a sip of her drink.
Whether or not she was the only one who said it, it was the way that Olivia lived her life. Ever since she waltzed into my world in the seventh grade, she’d lived life on the edge. Olivia had been a rock star from day one. As the daughter of a Jamaican father and Irish mother, she had been the only black girl in our little suburban school in northeast Ohio. When she had transferred into the school in the middle of seventh grade, everyone had been in awe. Not only did her skin tone set her apart, but her personality was positively radiant. Olivia had the ability to talk to someone for five minutes and make them feel like they had been best friends since birth. She was talented in almost every sense of the word; artistically, musically, athletically. She absolutely excelled in anything that she tried. Me? Well, I was kind of just there.
Which is why it absolutely blew my mind when she had come up to me on the last day of eighth grade and said, “Listen, I need to know right now are you in or out? Sisters’ pact.” It had caught me off guard so much that I had replied “in” without having even the slightest notion of what I was committing to. We made a pinky promise, our “sisters’ pact” right then and there. And that’s how I found myself on a flight to Montego Bay to spend two weeks in the mountains of Jamaica.
I still haven’t the slightest idea why she chose me to be her best friend. Like I said, I’m just kind of there. I’m not extremely intelligent, not gifted in music or art, definitely not athletically talented, and not really even funny either. My looks are pretty unremarkable. I’m just kind of your average white girl. I’m a brown hair, brown eyes, some freckles, 5’4” B cup average type deal. If I was a car, I’d be a Honda Civic, the sedan, not even the cute hatchback style. No one sees a Civic on the road and really thinks it’s an amazing looking car or an ugly car. No one really sees it at all. It’s just kind of there and part of the scenery.
However, whatever reasons she had or didn’t have, we were best friends. We did everything together. My high school and college years were filled with her calling or texting me, “Tell me now, are you in or out? Sisters’ pact.” Our sisters’ pacts almost always ended up with me sitting at my kitchen table explaining to my parents “And that’s how I ended up falling into the river.” or “And that’s how I ended up getting caught stealing from Wal-Mart to feed homeless people.” or something like that.
I had grown wiser over the years and started asking what “it” was first. Sometimes Olivia told me and sometimes she didn’t. The times that she didn’t were always nerve wracking but rewarding at the same time. “That’s how I ended up backstage at a Backstreet Boys reunion show.” “That’s how I ended up as an extra in the latest Avengers movie.”
As she spoke to me now though, I couldn’t really hear what she was saying. I don’t know if it was the drinks, the noise in the bar, or that my mind was elsewhere. I just couldn’t make out what she was saying. I’d already said “What?” three times and could tell she was getting annoyed. So I ended up just nodding and taking the sisters’ pact to go through with whatever scheme she had cooked up. And that’s how I ended up on a plane bound for Zimbabwe.
After graduating from medical school, Olivia had volunteered with Doctors Without Borders and spent a lot of time travelling the world. As happens with everyone she meets, she made friends with people from Peru to Bangladesh, Vietnam to Somalia. As we boarded the plane, she was chattering on about how this might actually work since she knew a man in Zimbabwe who trains monkeys. She also knew that the leader of the Makunde village had a pet monkey that he carried on his shoulder. At this point in our lives, I had stopped questioning whether or not she really knew the people she said she knew or how she knew things like the fact that the Makunde village leader carried a monkey everywhere. She just did.
I still hadn’t the slightest idea of what I had signed up to do or why it involved a trained monkey.
“So all we have to do is switch out his monkey with our trained monkey and we could really pull this off.”
When we sat down on the plane and she pulled out our estimated travel itinerary, I started to get nervous.
Our meeting with the monkey trainer was generally uneventful. I could tell immediately that the man, like most men, was absolutely smitten with Olivia. He glanced at me once when we walked in and then spent the rest of the time fawning over her. It didn’t bother me. I was used to it. When you’re a Civic driving next to a Ferrari, you don’t expect a lot of attention. She went into the corner with him and spoke to him in hushed tones about our sordid scheme. His eyes brightened as he seemed to have just the monkey for the job. And that’s how I ended up on a bus in Zimbabwe with a vervet monkey perched on my lap.
As strange as it may sound, the monkey was really quite pleasant and cute. It was about a six hour ride to get from Harare International Airport to Bikita, the nearest large city to the Makunde village. However, Olivia spent the time solidifying the details of our plan. “I know it’s risky, but the payoff is totally worth it.” I totally disagreed but what could I do? I had made the sisters’ pact.
We got to Bikita and walked from the bus depot to a friend’s house. She lived only a five minute walk away and as we strolled through the streets, I was once again amazed by the ease with which Olivia both stood out and blended in to her surroundings. She was obviously not a native Zimbabwean but anyone watching her walk carelessly through the street with such confidence would have thought that she had lived there most of her life. She was as natural in Bikita as a polar bear in the arctic.
However, when we got to her friend’s house, no one was home. “Dammit! She said that she would be back by now!” Olivia said as we sat in front of the house. Night was falling and I was starting to get a little more than uncomfortable. We knocked a few more times then gave up. I figured that we would try to somehow find a hotel somewhere but Olivia had different plans. “You know. They always say that if you couldn’t go to jail for it, it’s probably not worth doing.” “Still not true.” I thought. However, that’s how I ended up breaking into a stranger’s home at 11:00 at night in Bikita, Zimbabwe.
Olivia’s friend returned the next morning. She had stayed late at work and slept at her desk she said. She came in, showered, and headed back to her place of employment while Olivia and I stayed to finalize our plan. We needed to hike out to the village under the cover of night to switch the two monkeys. No witnesses to see us come and go and the monkey wasn’t going to say anything.
We left around midnight to begin our trek to the village. The going was pretty easy. We followed the road the whole way. Although I wouldn’t have wanted to drive my Civic from home on it (yes I even drove a Civic), walking along it was not difficult. The moon was out in a cloudless sky and as we walked, I had a strange calm about what we were about to do. Depending on how they prosecuted us, the penalty could be fairly steep. The sounds of Zimbabwe were soothing and the lack of traffic along the road was refreshing.
We got to the village leader’s hut and I began looking around for some sort of cage. “Where does he keep it do you think?” I whispered. “Don’t be silly,” Olivia whispered back. “He sleeps with it.” And that’s how I ended up breaking into a village leader’s hut and abducting his pet monkey.
If that was the least of our indiscretions that week I would have been fine. It would have been a nice adventure to play a harmless prank on someone. However, Olivia had something much more devious in mind. As the sun rose, we had taken up a surveillance post in the wildlife reserve about three miles outside the village. We were close enough to view what was happening with some high resolution binoculars but far enough away that we were out of range of the secret service agents that arrived about six hours before the motorcade.
“What do you think we’re looking at if we get caught?” Olivia asked. “Lock us up and throw away the key? Ten to fifteen years? Slap on the wrist?”
“When,” I replied “It’s when we get caught. There’s no way we get away with this. It all depends though… I honestly don’t know the total illegality of it.”
Our conversation stopped as soon as the motorcade pulled in. It wasn’t actually any kind of real diplomatic mission. It was really just an overblown publicity stunt. The president was meeting with the village chief to announce a new initiative of U.S. humanitarian aid. It hadn’t even been officially announced hence the lighter than usual security. There was just enough press to get a few photos and minutes of footage to air on the evening news that night. Not enough to warrant a live press conference.
We watched as the president stepped out of the black SUV that had made the trek down the road to the Makunde village and approached the hut with the elder standing in front. Our monkey sat perched on his shoulder. We waited with bated breath as the two men talked. When they reached in to shake hands and the monkey jumped from one shoulder to the next, our breath stopped completely.
At this point, the secret service personnel were met with a moment of indecision. They had to take in several factors and answer several questions. First, what real threat did a vervet monkey pose? Second, if the decision was that it posed a legitimate threat, what is the correct course of action? Do you shoot a monkey just for jumping on the President’s shoulder? After what seemed like the longest five seconds of my life, one of the security personnel moved in to remove the monkey from the president’s shoulder. The monkey made its move and latched its little fingers onto the presidential scalp.
And that’s how I ended up running through the jungle in Zimbabwe with Donald Trump’s stolen hairpeace stuffed in my backpack.